How to navigate the UK dental market

Emily and Eleanor Pittard discuss the methods and tools you need to position your business for growth and excellence in the dental market.

This month, Emily and Eleanor Pittard discuss the methods and tools you need to position your business for growth and excellence in the dental market.

The dental industry in the UK is a dynamic and ever-evolving sector that demands a deep understanding of market dynamics to thrive. For laboratories, dentists, clinics, and dental-related businesses, conducting a thorough analysis of the market is essential for informed decision-making and sustained success.

I mean, let’s be honest, we all know this. But getting down to the fine print is always more difficult than it first appears.

Hopefully by the time you get to the end of this article you’ll have a few tips on where to focus and how to create a working document that can aid decision making moving forward!

Understanding your competition in the dental market

In a competitive dental landscape, knowing your rivals and their strengths and weaknesses is crucial.

The first thing to do is to conduct a comprehensive competitor analysis:

  1. Identify competing practices: Pinpoint dental laboratories or clinics within your vicinity or a target market that offer similar services. Knowing your client base will help you narrow down location. Are they willing to travel only 10 miles? Or 30 miles? Do they usually get the bus?
  2. Competitor Swot analysis: Examine their strengths, such as specialised services or skilled staff; weaknesses, like outdated equipment; opportunities, such as expanding to new services; and threats, like increased competition or equipment that allows in-surgery printing
  3. Differentiation strategies: Identify what sets your practice apart. For example, if you offer advanced cosmetic dentistry, emphasise this unique selling proposition. Do you offer an unparalleled client experience? Do you have someone with a strong knowledge of implant systems? Do you mill in-house?

The easiest thing to do is get a few people together over a pizza and all shout out answers to these questions. Write everything down – no matter how silly it sounds at the time, and then leave it for 24 hours. When you come back to it with a fresh perspective you can start to narrow it down and pull out tangible thoughts and potential lines of enquiry that can then be delegated.

Understanding your dental patients or clients

Catering to the needs and preferences of your patients or clients is fundamental in the dental sector, especially with the increase in patient/client choice and access to wider information (like reviews)!

So, how can you break it down to something you can work with?

  1. Demographic analysis: Understand the age groups, gender, income levels, and locations of your primary patient or client segments. Print an outline of a person on a sheet of A4 and write all your thoughts on this piece of paper. Give them a name and let everyone know – then when you are having meetings about improving your value proposition, you can refer to this person by name
  2. Feedback: Collect feedback through surveys or post-appointment discussions to understand satisfaction levels, pain points, and suggestions. This way you can start to build a picture of where you may be repeatedly failing or someone who may be an unappreciated star in your company!
  3. Emerging trends: Stay attuned to evolving dental preferences, such as a growing demand for non-invasive treatments, an increased interest in oral hygiene education, in-lab shade taking, or faster turnarounds.

Your customer is incredibly important and, while you may think that you know what their gripes or preferences are, you may be surprised by what you find after you delve into it further!

Swot analysis: evaluating your laboratory or practice

A Swot analysis helps assess your dental practice’s internal strengths and weaknesses, along with external opportunities and threats (surprisingly!).

  • Strengths: Highlight your experienced dental team, state-of-the-art equipment, positive reviews, or convenient location
  • Weaknesses: Address areas that need improvement, such as longer turnaround times or limited material options. Perhaps you’re not as digital as you would like yet
  • Opportunities: Explore potential growth avenues like introducing new implant systems, material options, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, or expanding to underserved areas
  • Threats: Consider factors like regulatory changes, economic downturns affecting patient spending, or the emergence of new dental technologies.

Pestle analysis: considering external factors

A Pestle analysis offers insights into the external factors influencing your dental practice. This is why these two analysis frameworks work well together – one feeds the other:

  • Political: Assess government regulations and policies affecting dental healthcare, such as changes in dental reimbursement rates, GDC requirements or CQC updates
  • Economic: Understand how economic factors like inflation rates and changes in disposable income might impact patient decisions to seek dental treatments
  • Social: Stay attuned to societal trends such as an increased focus on aesthetics and oral hygiene, influencing the demand for cosmetic dentistry and preventive care
  • Technological: Analyse technological advancements in dental equipment, digital patient records, printing, milling and scanning that could enhance experience and operational efficiency
  • Legal: Address regulatory compliance in dental healthcare, patient data protection, and professional licensing requirements
  • Environmental: Consider the growing emphasis on eco-friendly practices and sustainability in dental materials and equipment choices.

The key to success

The UK dental market is a challenging area – one that is constantly changing and subject to a lot of stakeholder opinions (your client is never just the dentist or the patient), where the key to success lies in effective market analysis.

By understanding your competition and your patients, and utilising tools like Swot and Pestle, you can position your dental business for growth and excellence.

With insights gleaned from a comprehensive market analysis, you can not only anticipate shifts in the dental landscape but also make strategic decisions that enhance satisfaction, drive innovation, and ensure your long-term success.

Catch up with the previous Technically Speaking columns:

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