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Get Your Dental Business and Marketing Strategy Right – Start with the SWOT analysis.

Vandana KatyalBusiness Coaching, Dr Katyal’s Publications, Uncategorised

Information about both the external environment and your organisation’s internal capabilities is crucial to informing your goals and strategy and making the right business decisions for your practice. If you are at the helm of a dental practice start-up or run an established business it is essential to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to your business.

The SWOT concept  is the work of Kenneth R. Andrews who is credited with writing the text portion of the classic: Business Policy: Text and Cases. For Andrews, strategy emerges from aligning “environmental opportunity” with “corporate capability;” he writes:

“In deciding what strategy should be [. . .] its principal subactivities include (1) identifying opportunities and threats in the company’s environment [. . .] and (2) appraising the company’s strengths and weaknesses. The strategic alternative which results (is) a matching of opportunity and corporate capability (Learned et al., 1965, p. 20).”

Get Your Dental Business and Marketing Strategy Right
SWOT analysis guide for dental practices

SWOT: Strengths and Weaknesses

A good starting point is an assessment of what a dental practice does well and what it does less well. In general good strategies take advantage of strengths and minimize the disadvantages posed by weaknesses. These are internal environmental characteristics of  a business and help assess business capabilities internally.

An example of strength may be the unique selling proposition of your practice such as extended hours offering flexibility or payment plans with no interest, increasing reach and affordability of your services. An example of weakness may be inadequate staffing, training or equipment available to grow the business.

SWOT: Opportunities and Threats

Opportunities assess the external positive factors that represent the reason for a business to exist and prosper. These are external to the business. What opportunities exist in its market, or in the environment, from which the dental practice will benefit? An example of opportunity could be to respond to market forces and start to offer virtual dental appointments via tele-dentistry (e.g. via Dental Monitoring) or create more brand awareness to increase your market penetration and share. Change in demographics, economy and attitudes can also be a potential opportunity to grow and develop your practice.

Threats include factors beyond your control that could place the strategy, or the business, at risk. A competitor starting a new business and offering more value in response to the customers needs in order to satisfy their needs. Increase in costs of dental supplies or lack of supplies could also be a potential threat that could affect your business. An economic downturn is another area of threat leading to reduced spending by the consumer for their health care. Its is important to be aware of all potential threats that are realistic and know then year-by-year.

In a nutshell, SWOT analysis helps you identify alternatives that address the following questions (Carpenter et al. 2010. Principles of Management):

1. Strengths and Opportunities (SO)—How can you use your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities?

2. Strengths and Threats (ST)—How can you take advantage of your strengths to avoid real and potential threats?

3. Weaknesses and Opportunities (WO)—How can you use your opportunities to overcome the weaknesses you are experiencing?

4. Weaknesses and Threats (WT)—How can you minimise your weaknesses and avoid threats?

You will be surprised how much this exercise will help you identify your key strengths and where to go next in your business. For practice sales, this is a useful exercise as well – giving the buyer a nice overview of current and future directions. It will help you formulate your Unique Selling/Service Proposition and why should the customer choose you! Good luck and make this a team activity!

Author: Dr Vandana Katyal, Specialist Orthodontist, Business owner, Author, Speaker and MBA candidate 2019

What People Are Saying

  • I completed the BOSS UK Diploma in 2021 and when it became available, signed up for the AU course as well. I completed the AU course at the end of last year and can honestly say BOSS (now Digital Orthodontic College) has completely changed my approach to clear aligner treatments and increased my confidence with treatment planning immensely. The fact that the course is 100% online was a huge drawcard for me initially since I have two young children, work clinically part-time and run my own business. It allowed me the flexibility to study when I had the chance and didn’t result in any loss of clinical time. Dr V is extremely passionate about orthodontics and more importantly sharing her wisdom and that comes through in her approach to teaching. The course is extremely comprehensive (NB: the AU course has quite a few complex assessments) and covers everything starting from the basics of tooth movement, which sets a good foundation and is therefore suitable even for beginners. The monthly/bimonthly webinars allow students to share cases and is a safe space, non-judgmental and therefore an incredible learning platform. I had been doing clear aligner treatments prior to starting this course, but BOSS helped me see patients with new eyes and has overhauled my treatment planning approach. I would not hesitate to recommend this course to anyone interested in learning, or to extend their knowledge about, clear aligner treatments.

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    Dr Charles Sun, Dentist WA
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    Most of all the course gave significantly more confidence what can be done with aligners, how plan the setup efficiently with the end in mind and how to make the processes to get there smoother. As a result, a MUCH larger chunk of my work is now aligner based. My conversion rate for aligner treatments has definitely increased along with my confidence. The course has easily paid for itself. Full disclosure: I was invited to deliver a webinar on intra-oral scanners, 3D printers and in house aligner manufacture to my BOSS batch mates, which I also thoroughly enjoyed doing. I declined any remuneration for this, although it was offered.
    Dr Shammi Moopen, Dentist VIC
  • Since I have joined the postgraduate diploma in orthodontics I have noticed all the applied practical learning/knowledge on my patients and I am only half way through the year. Dr Vandana is a genuine educator. She goes way beyond to simplify every lecture and I really like her evidence based information and that is available for us 24/7. Her webinars helped a lot for busy dentists and loved the feedback we get in the one on one sessions with our cases. It make us think every step of the way. But the best thing I like is to see she is giving back to the community and her association with Smile Train in helping children with cleft palate is just beyond words. Thank you so much for being nice and approachable.

    Dr Claudia Braybon, Dentist NSW
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    Dr Gregory Nguyễn, Dentist NSW

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