As we approach the New Year I would like to share a few thoughts.
2017 was an exceptional year on many levels but it was also a transformative year. For many, there was a cloud of uncertainty and a lingering sense of urgency. The engines of change were busy at work and for many of us the business seemed more demanding and less fulfilling. The realization that many of our business practices are no longer effective or our equipment and technology is outdated is daunting.
The movement towards (DI) digital impressioning and advanced radiography (2D/3D imaging) forced many reluctant dentists to invest in their business. Truth be told, those acquisitions will pay dividends for those practice owners. Both categories are recognized as the new standard of care and acquisition is an inevitability. The early majority benefits from early adoption by differentiation and patient attraction. Early adopters act when trends appear and the early majority acts when trends becomes movements. The laggards will slowly become marginalized as the millennials age. Millennials were raised with technology and they expect their care givers to be current. In dentistry and in all business, inaction destroys momentum and momentum is what attracts opportunity!
On the B to B side of things, margins continue to erode and the movement towards ecommerce is certain. Dental distributors, direct sellers and web based fulfillment houses are gearing up for war. They are all focused on the emerging dental marketplace. The ambitious and entrepreneurial dentists and group practice will dominate the dental newsfeed for many years to come. They want to do business with companies that provide solutions and services effectively online and in person. All companies that interact directly with customers must have a respectable web and social media presence. The more relevant your online presence is, the more relevant you are! It’s that simple.
Brick and mortar organizations can no longer follow or play catch-up to online competitors. It is time for them to lead. They must leverage their expertise, array of services and their consultants on the street. Their online tools must be intuitive, interactive and functional. In many cases, these firms need a new customer service orientation. Team members need to be more appreciative and should thank customers at every point of contact. Nothing is to be taken for granted anymore. People do business with people they like and trust!
The good news is that dentistry is more relevant today and will become even more relevant in the future. The abundant research and science supporting the dental/systemic link is profound. In addition, the medical community’s movement towards a preventive model will only add to dentistry’s popularity. Over the next five years we will continue to see a movement towards group practice. My best guess is that regional groups (3-15 offices) will represent about 30% of the market place. Another 10-15% of the market will be comprised of community health centers, hospitals and governmental facilities. The larger national groups (DSO’s) will represent about 7-10% of the market. Thus, leaving about 45% of the market place as is (independent).
While many industry gurus are holding on to an industry that was, I am optimistic and excited for what is to come.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year (2 0 1 8)!