The Disciplined Dentist

If there’s one group of individuals who personify discipline, it’s elite athletes.

These are people who exhibit extraordinary commitment to success and a total focus on making themselves the best they can be.

Elite athletes know that success doesn’t come overnight. They subject themselves to daily, if not twice daily, training sessions; rigorous diets; intense physiological monitoring; and the advice of the best coaches they can get. And they do all of that for years. In some cases, where their athletic potential is recognized in childhood, success can require a decade or more of focused effort.

There’s a lesson there for dentists.

I think that most dentists who open their own practices understand that it will take time to become established, to build their patient base, to increase billings, and to achieve a measure of financial freedom. Most dentists that I’ve met exhibit patience and common sense when it comes to the nuts and bolts of operating their practices

Where all too many fall down, though, is in how they market their practices.

Most dentists have learned to maintain and build their patient bases through advertising. That was the go-to for many decades for the dental profession, and it worked well for a lot of dentists. Dentists who advertise focus on the results of last month’s and this month’s advertising, calculating their return on investment by how many new patients total they realize in a single month. If one or more successive months shows a drop, they’ll frequently change up their newspaper ads, TV and radio spots, and special offers to generate more business.

Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. These days, it’s working less and less often because today’s “playing field” is different than it’s ever been. Between increased competition, a lot of it from corporate dentistry, and declining reimbursements, what used to work isn’t working well any more.

To return to the sports analogy, let’s take the hypothetical case of an athlete who appears to have plateaued. No matter what, he or she just can’t seem to run any faster, jump any higher, or catch the ball better. Sometimes, his or her performance is actually worse than expected for days, weeks, or even months.

Faced with this situation, a savvy athletic coach and/or trainer will go back to basics. They’ll examine all the test data, all the performance data, review the mechanics of the athlete’s stride, swing, or strength. They’ll try to isolate the weakness in the athlete’s game, what’s not working as well as it should.

And then, they’ll devise a plan to correct that weakness or compensate for it.

Leaving the sports analogy, that’s where a lot of dentists fall short. They don’t analyze their marketing’s performance, they just react. They don’t have accurate ways of measuring what’s working to bring in new patients and what isn’t. Research has shown that patient self-report about where they first saw the dentist’s advertising is grossly inaccurate.

With the tools in place to accurately measure the exact ROI for each marketing investment, dentists will be able to improve their new patient conversion “performance.” Our experience working with over 450 dentists shows that the best way to measure your marketing ROI is through phone tracking.

If you’d like to learn more about our exclusive Zetetics® phone tracking system, visit We can help you not only get back in the game, we can help you win.