Practice Promotion Defined

Most private dental practices are independently owned and operated. Every single business decision has to be made by the owner, usually the doctor.

Just for a second, let’s think about what that means. The doctor not only has to work IN his/her business (by seeing patients), he/she also has to spend time working ON his/her business (to stay in business). That’s pretty much like having TWO full time jobs. Take a look.


Treating patients
Performing dentistry
Writing treatment notes
Overseeing team members
Returning/making patient calls
Speaking with specialists
Completing continuing education
Repairing equipment
Dealing with sales meetings
Communicating with labs
Meeting with the team
Reviewing reports


Dealing with accounting/banking
Implementing marketing strategies
Arranging for various insurances
Negotiating with landlord
Paying bills
Networking with other professionals
Learning about new developments
Participating in dental associations
Reviewing reports
Creating efficient systems

As you can see, there are many things to take care of in a dental practice. Truthfully, there are probably 100 more things to add to each list.

But let’s move on and put this into context. Most dental offices aren’t like the store, Target. Target has corporate offices that handle things like marketing. The employees who work at your local Target store don’t have to worry about creating Target ads or commercials. They don’t have to even THINK about promoting their business. They have a department that takes care of all of that. Most dental offices don’t have a corporate office (unless of course, they ARE a corporate dental office) that takes care of advertising and promotion.

Most dental practices have to promote their own business. With all that the doctor/owner already has on his/her plate, practice promotion becomes the responsibility of EVERY team member.

The doctor should not be the only one supporting marketing efforts.
The doctor should not be the only one asking for referrals or reviews.
The doctor should not be the only one seeking out opportunities.
The doctor should not be the only one to participate in community events.

Before we go any further, I want to put this section into context for you.

I visited a local bakery once. The shop was clean and smelled like all kinds of deliciousness.

I quickly scanned the menu and then got in line. There was one undecided customer in front of me and a bored looking female behind the counter. The customer was talking with his friend about his choices, but was clearly having a hard time making up his mind. After a minute or two, he gave the employee his order.

She took a cookie out of the case, boxed it up, and finished the transaction with very few words. I placed my order, shoved my cupcake in my mouth before I even got to my car, and started thinking about the service the female employee had just demonstrated. It didn’t sit well with me and, in fact, I thought about it for many days afterwards. That sweet bakery had left a sour taste in my mouth.

Here’s the thing. That counter employee did NOT realize what she REALLY should be doing for that business. Yes, she should have smiled more. Yes, she could have been friendlier. But there’s more. Her job REALLY should be MUCH more than just handing over orders and collecting the payments. So much more. She missed out on SO much opportunity for that bakery. In other words, when the customer was not sure of what to order, she should have been making suggestions or offering samples. She could have mentioned specialty items or best selling items. She could have ended the transaction by mentioning that the bakery also bakes special order items for parties and events. She should have been a true advocate for that business-promoting the brand, the product, and the amazing baker.

Speaking of the baker, let’s talk about her for a minute. At this particular bakery, the baker was also the owner. Where was the baker during that transaction with the undecided customer? She was in the kitchen, of course, baking additional goods! It is not practical for the baker/owner to be baking all day AND promoting the products to the customers out front. Do you see how it would be impossible to be in two places at once all day long?

Have you read the book, The E-Myth? This real life experience reminded me of that book. The E-Myth discusses working ON verses IN a business.

That bakery closed about six months after I visited. It made me kind of sad because they had quality products. It was a nice little shop. But those things aren’t enough. I can’t help but wonder if they would still be open if they had a team full of people who were promoting their products to every customer who walked in.

What does this mean for dentistry? A dentist/owner is often in the back making cookies doing crowns and it is impossible for the doctor to be in two places at once. A dental practice cannot survive unless the whole team is supporting the business by expressing value to patients and promoting services.

All this talk of baking is making me hungry for cake. Will you make a recommendation for me?