Opening and running a dental practice is a costly endeavor. Between buying or renting a location, purchasing equipment and supplies, and staffing your office, it’s a wonder that many dental offices function as profitably as they do.
Because of the inherent challenges involved with running a practice, dentists are always looking for ways to reduce their overhead costs. There are all sorts of ways to cut down on unnecessary spending in a dental practice: finding cheaper office spaces, searching for less expensive suppliers, and getting your staffing to manage the practice as efficiently as possible.
In recent years, communication technology has developed to help businesses run more productively. This internet-based technology has impacted all of our lives and simplified many of the tasks that once took hours, days, and weeks to accomplish. Dental practices have also benefited significantly from advances in the way we communicate.
This blog post is dedicated to showing dentists how communication technology can decrease their overhead costs. By using more sophisticated lines of communication to relay information to patients, prospective clients, and employees, dentists end up chipping away at their overhead costs, eventually creating savings that can be invested into other parts of their practice.
Reducing overhead costs makes it possible to expand your practice to new locations, invest in your office’s equipment, and hire new employees. Optimizing your communication system makes life easier in your office and opens up new avenues for growth.
Here are ten ways to decrease your practice’s overhead costs:
- Consolidate your communication
- Emphasize a text outreach
- Rely on patient histories
- Automate your scheduling
- Make payments contactless
- Utilize an internal team chat
- Dig into practice analytics
- Optimize your email marketing
- Advertise with online reviews
- Work remotely with a mobile app
1. Consolidate your communication
Traditionally, dentists have communicated with their customers and prospective customers in a number of ways: mailers, calls, newsletters, media advertisements, billboards, and conferences. More recently, dental offices have begun to employ tools like texting, emailing, and online marketing. Practices can feel that they’re spread a bit too thin with all these outreaches; bringing these initiatives together with an integrated system is a step toward saving on patient communication.
The foundation of a consolidated communication system is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones. Unlike conventional phone lines, VoIP phones use the power of the internet to improve the way dental offices make and receive calls. Unlimited local and long distance calls, better phone trees, and call recording, forwarding, and tracking save offices both time and money while boosting their customer service.
2. Emphasize a text outreach
When dental practices have VoIP phones, they can use the same system to text with their patients. Calls, letters, and emails aren’t opened at nearly the same rate as text messages. In fact, texts are open 98% of the time¹, making sure that vital information reaches your patients.
Utilizing text messages means your office doesn’t have to spend as much on alternative lines of communication. It reduces the amount of time receptionists spend on the phone, freeing them up to focus on other tasks. Text messages can be linked to phones in a way that allows them to automatically go out to patients who couldn’t reach your front desk. This basic automation prevents callers from going unnoticed, improving patient relations and boosting revenue.
Less costs equals more revenue.
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3. Rely on patient histories
Every dental office keeps extensive records of past and present patients. Dentists used to keep these files in clunky cabinets that took up big chunks of space in their offices. Now that patient records are being stored electronically, dentists and their staff don’t have to sift through files to check patient information, but they often have to sort through a digital space to access patient histories.
A VoIP phone system with the right software puts dental records at your fingertips. When patients call and ask about their upcoming appointments, overdue balances, or scheduling family members, their information is automatically populated onto the call taker’s screen. Having patient records this readily available, including specific notes from past visits, saves space in your office and renders complicated and expensive software unnecessary.
4. Automate your scheduling
Text messages don’t only work in conjunction with missed calls in a VoIP phone system. They’re also essential tools for getting patients on the schedule and ensuring that they arrive at their appointments on time. Scheduling with texts saves dental practices time and money by reducing the number of reminder calls receptionists make and getting rid of outdated tools like mailers.
Software now enables office workers to automate and customize text reminders for upcoming visits. Confirmation texts combined with sentiment analysis makes it possible to automatically interpret and record patient responses, notifying front office employees of any alterations or cancellations. Patient reactivation is optimized using Quick Fill lists that identify inactive customers and distribute mass text messages to them about schedule openings.
5. Make payments contactless
Dental practices that accept a variety of payment methods inevitably pay a number of different dental payment processing fees that go into their overhead costs. Like communication, payments can be consolidated and optimized by switching to a complete payment platform with no confusing upfront or monthly fees. Since the majority of invoices are processed manually, going with a payment platform that emphasizes digital payments can be a step toward saving on processing.
A complete payment platform allows dental practices to collect traditional payments, like cash, checks, and cards, while pushing toward contactless payments. Contactless payments include mobile wallets provided by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung, as well as text payments. Text payments are rapidly becoming popular with dental patients because they let them pay quickly with their device and avoid having to stop at the front desk following their check ups and cleanings.
6. Utilize an internal team chat
In today’s workplace, 86% of employees cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication² for organizational failures. Dental practices need more effective ways to communicate internally, especially if they have multiple office locations. Instead of relying on calls, texts from personal devices, or emails, dentists should consider adding a team chat to their practice in order to enhance their internal communication.
A team chat speeds up the way your team communicates during the day. They no longer have to bounce around the office searching for answers to patients’ or their own questions. Resolving problems faster ends up reducing overhead costs by helping your office team work more collaboratively.
7. Dig into practice analytics
Businesses in all industries are putting a premium on the collection and analysis of data. Dental practices are no different, and having a user-friendly analytical tool in your office is one of the best ways to clearly identify inefficiencies in your office. Analytics give you concrete statistics regarding your patient communication, scheduling, and upcoming treatments.
Data-gathering that’s coupled with an analytical interface lets dental offices see their busiest call times and adjust staffing to meet their needs. AI (Artificial Intelligence) in software scans practice schedules to spur teams to action by identifying inactive patients and unscheduled treatments. Payment analytics show how patients are paying for dental services, allowing dentists to find ways to push toward more optimal payment methods.
8. Optimize your email marketing
Almost every dental practice uses emailing for some sort of patient communication. However, many offices don’t realize how optimizing their email outreach could bring in more business and decrease their overhead costs. Email marketing is one of the best investments for dental practices; email generates $38 of revenue for every $1 spent!³
An advanced email marketing tool makes it easier for employees to compose eye-catching emails. It comes with pre-written templates for getting your emails started, as well as an image library for adding a visual component to your emails. CTA (Call to Action) buttons allow patients to take immediate action after reading an email by clicking a link to scheduling and payment pages.
9. Advertise with online reviews
Marketing efforts for dental practices have evolved significantly over the past decade. Dentists with a modern marketing strategy are putting their practices on the map by finding ways to advertise in online spaces. This strategy involves creating a user-friendly website, publishing social media content, and asking patients for online reviews.
Buying ads in the newspaper, on local programs, or on the side of the road should not be the extent of your practice’s marketing efforts. Following successful appointments, send a text message to patients requesting that they leave a review on prominent websites like Google and Facebook. Because 95% of consumers read online reviews before making purchases,⁴ gathering positive reviews on key sites is an incredibly cost effective form of advertising for today’s dental practices.
10. Work remotely with a mobile app
Situations like pandemics have created some unpredictable conditions for dental offices. Practices have dealt with temporary closures, altered office hours, and more precautionary measures. With some employees working from home, a mobile app is a crucial tool for maintaining effective communication and ensuring that variable conditions don’t increase overhead costs.
A mobile app gives dentists and their teams access to all the communication tools they have in the office. Traveling to other locations and working from home can be done from the palm of your hand. Using a mobile app, dental practices have established curbside waiting rooms, screened patients with electronic forms, and maintained good social distancing during pandemic times.
Decrease your overhead costs with Weave
Weave is a complete business toolbox for dental practices. Our combination of hardware and software tools let your office put all of these tips into action through a single, easy-to-use system. To discover more about how Weave helps dentists reduce their overhead costs, watch a free demo.