Sterilization Isn’t a Profit Center–Or Is It?

When you run a business, it’s a reflex to look at expenses and question their necessity based on whether or not they directly generate revenue. And while certainly from a clinical standpoint sterilization is important,  I also want you to look at it from a marketing standpoint, along with other “expenses” in your practice.Friendly assistant

The reason I focus on sterilization is because my company recently did a consumer survey asking people the three most important factors in choosing a dentist.  We were a bit surprised to find that “cleanliness of the office” scored the highest. (As an aside, “the honesty and trustworthy-ness of the dentist” was second. How they would gauge that I do not know.)  So the fact is, having a clean and obviously well-sterilized office will have an effect on practice growth.  I say “obviously” because you want people to be able to see clearly, perhaps in a new patient office tour, the lengths you go to sterilize your facility.  And of course it should always look clean, which may mean new paint, or carpeting, or new ceiling tiles on a regular basis.

What I find interesting is that this new potential patient will not mention this concern to you; they will just not come back.  I think the same is true for the entire experience of the practice. The friendliness of the team members, the appealing design of the reception area, the office artwork, even the smell of the practice, are all worth focusing on and investing in, because they are indeed contributing to the real long-term profit center of a practice: a patient who accepts treatment and recommends the practice to their friends.

This point I think even carries through to your technology.  Patients may not say that they are surprised that you don’t use digital radiography, but that old light box hanging on the wall with the tiny x-ray slides on it is making an impression, and that impression is not that you are a modern high-tech medical facility.  And once again, that new potential patient is not going to tell you their reaction, they are just won’t become a patient. Or even worse, your existing patients might migrate away for the same reason. And they won’t tell you either. (But now they might write about it on Yelp.)

When looking at expenses in your practice, factor in the marketing value, because some may seem too expensive or unnecessary or unprofitable, but  the indirect value could be critical to your growth and success.


7 thoughts on “Sterilization Isn’t a Profit Center–Or Is It?

  1. Great stuff Fred, we have been doing office tours for over 10 years. The sterilization area is especially hi tech and clean and we make it a point to show the patient this area and point out our procedures.

  2. Fred, I think it’s important that your customers and patients see that your sterilisation area is clean and organised and functional. Always great to point it out and to also ask patients if they wish to see where we clean and process and sterilise all our instruments….great blog!

    • Thanks, David. I think it’s a terrific idea to ask the patients if they’d like to see the sterilization area–they may not even be conscious of their concern, but once you show them I think it makes a powerful impression.

  3. You bring up a good point Fred. When I worked in a dental office, we proudly took every new patient on an office tour, which included a visit to our state-of-the-art sterilization area. I agree with you, just about everything you do in a practice is part of your marketing.

I welcome all your comments!

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