Can Your Dental Practice Withstand Group Practices?

Corporate dentistry is bad news for the vast majority of dental practices. But the chains aren’t the only competition you’re facing. Large group practices are increasing, and you’ve definitely going to want to watch out for them.

The ADA noticed as early as 2014 that large group practices with 20 or or more employees were gaining market share. At the same time, small practices were losing market share. There’s no sign that the trend is slowing down.

Several factors are driving the growth of larger dental practices. The debt load of new dental school graduates is a major determinant of the venue in which those graduates begin practicing dentistry. Corporate dentistry is attractive to many of those graduates, frequently offering significant sign-on bonuses and even paying off school debt.

However, corporate dentistry is still trying to shake off some its mistakes from years past, including selling unneeded care and providing substandard treatment. Group practices offer security, learning opportunities, and the opportunity to pay down or pay off that debt while still adhering to high standards of care. For many new graduates, larger group practices will be a very attractive option.

What “GroupThink” Means for You

Larger private practices don’t enjoy all the economies of scale that the chain practices have, but there are several areas in which they can outcompete you. One of those is the fact that they can generate more revenue per square foot than you can. If you’re a solo dentist, you can only be in one operatory at a time. Larger practices can fill six to ten operatories and staff every one every hour.

Given their larger revenues, larger practices can also wield bigger advertising budgets than you can manage. Greater name recognition by multi-dentist practices can seriously cut into your new patient stream.

Not only that, but larger practices can offer many more specialties than a single-dentist practice could possibly include. An “all under one roof” approach is very attractive to patients who don’t want to run all over town and deal with multiple practices and billing departments.

Finally, group practices are generally large enough to contract with a dental service organization to handle insurance, billing, and routine tasks. That lets nearly everyone in the practice focus on patients.

All is Not Lost

That’s a pretty depressing scenario, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Larger practices have difficulty personalizing all the doctors in their practices. Sure, they can and do include dentist bios on their websites, but those are basically snapshots. It’s tough for prospects to get a real sense of how a dentist would interact with them once they’re in the chair.

That’s your edge over group practices. You can focus your marketing on conveying to your prospects that you’re likeable, trustworthy, and the only logical choice to solve their dental problems. Differentiating yourself from your competitors is not an easy or quick prospect, and not all dentists have the bandwidth to pull it off. Fortunately, the services to accomplish that type of differentiation are included in SmartBox’s industry-leading Patient Attraction System™.

If you’re serious about ensuring your success by fending off both corporate dentistry and group practices, you’re going to need help. Here’s a suggestion: go to and schedule your Practice Discovery System call. We reserve these calls for dentists who want to see a Patient Attraction System™ that can double or even triple their practices.  

You can watch your competition grow and possibly overwhelm your practice, or you can take steps now. It’s up to you.