One month ago, Aspen Dental reached another milestone. It proudly announced the opening of its 700th office in the United States.
If you’ve been following the growth of the dental support organizations (DSOs) and chain practices, that announcement probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Aspen and its counterparts – Heartland Dental, ClearChoice, Kool Smiles, Midwest Dental, Pacific Dental Services, Affordable Care, Smile Doctors, and many, many more – are firmly entrenched in virtually every state.
And they’re growing: Aspen’s most recent new office is one of 80 in the state of Florida.
Granted, the growth of all the chains is uneven, but it’s only a matter of time before you’re facing a challenge on several fronts.
Who Are You?
With 700 offices in 38 states, Aspen is one of the largest of the DSOs and enjoys considerable name recognition. It should, given what the company has spent on advertising over the last 20 years. The same holds true for ClearChoice which seems to be everywhere on television these days.
Name recognition is something that every independent dentist struggles to achieve, particularly in crowded markets. But at least you have a relatively level playing field against other practice owner. When it comes to the chains, it’s a whole other ball game.
If yours is a standalone practice, you’re in for a rough time against corporations with enormous economies of scale. Everything from billing to supplies to dental insurance can be accomplished for much less than you have to pay. The chains are arguably the low price leaders in virtually every market they’re in.
Dentists are forced to cut their prices just to remain competitive which drives down their average case value. With the economy at so-called full employment, dental patients seem to be coming out of the woodwork everywhere. However, wages haven’t nearly kept up with the cost increase in providing dental services, so those patients are price- and insurance-driven. The lowest bidder “wins” – which is usually those practices that can still make money at rock-bottom prices.
What Are Your Hours?
With today’s increasingly busy schedules for people everywhere, appointments that don’t interfere with work and/or school are in greater demand. There are few private dental practices that can match the availability offered by Heartland, Aspen, and the like.
You may have decided to open early and/or close late some evenings to try to match the chains. That’s costing you in time away from the practice, in money, and in fatigue. Unless you’re pulling in enough to afford an associate, how much longer can you keep up this pace?
Take Control Of Your Market
You don’t have to play the low-price game on an uneven playing field, and you shouldn’t. The competition on that level is only going to get worse as time goes on.
If you’re ready to start getting better dental patients – the ones who have the ability and willingness to go fee-for-service for the dentist they want – contact SmartBox.
Schedule your free, no-obligation Roadmap call. The process takes about as long as it takes you to place a single crown or an implant. Following the call, you’ll receive your customized Roadmap that details your path to the success you want. Use it however you like; there’s no obligation of any kind.
You can work less, earn more, and enjoy life again.
The chains and the DSOs will be in your market. Will your practice be ready for them?