Oral care experts that run their own dental offices need an efficient team to help them achieve their business goals. Having reliable partners and friendly employees is a good start. Still, independent practitioners also need to work with dental professionals who can offer valuable insights and help them succeed, such as dental practice consultants.
Dental consultants are experts that help dentists and other practitioners solve a variety of challenges and obstacles. This is possible because dental consulting experts have an in-depth understanding of the industry and experience in business administration.
Professionals that take the time to fulfill all the requirements to become dental management consultants enjoy more job opportunities. Moreover, they also become integral members of the oral healthcare ecosystem. However, becoming a dental practice management expert is a gradual process. So, you need to work hard and focus on the big picture to stay motivated.
In simple terms, a dental consultant plays the role of a knowledgeable advisor responsible for providing insights about standards of care, dental care programs, issues with the provider networks, and many other areas. These professionals help dentists make positive strategic changes to their practices and achieve growth and success.
What Is a Dental Consultant?
According to the American Association of Dental Consultants or AADC, a dental consultant specializes in helping dental hygienists and other professionals establish a successful practice.
In simple terms, a dental consultant plays the role of a knowledgeable advisor responsible for providing insights about standards of care, dental care programs, issues with the provider networks, and many other areas. These professionals help dentists make positive strategic changes to their practices and the benefits in the form of growth and success.
Dental consultants have helped dentists build successful practices for decades. Because of the sheer nature of the industry, it’s possible to become a dental clinical practice consultant without a specific degree. That said, the most renowned consultants in the dental world have certifications from the AADC, American Dental Association (ADA), or qualifications from a similar entity.
If you want to become a leading consultant in your area, you’ll need to evaluate the different certifications at your disposal and meet those requirements.
What Do Dental Consultants Do?
Dental consultants can support practitioners in many different areas. This includes providing information and best practices about advertising, office management, human resources management, software, provider relationships, recruitment, and training, among other areas.
It’s important to note that consultants can help both beginner practice owners and seasoned care providers. For instance, it’s common for consultants to help first-time owners find the right team, build a solid marketing mix, and decide what services to provide. When it comes to established practices, consultants usually address one major issue or area of improvement, for example, increasing additional treatment sales.
Practice Managers vs. Dental Consultants
Practitioners can work with consultants or managers; learning the differences between the two is essential.
Dental managers don’t necessarily have a background in oral healthcare. These professionals often start as assistants and eventually gain more experience before transitioning into managers. These team members can have a background in business administration or a similar field.
Consultants, on the other hand, have first-hand experience working in the oral care field. Not only this, but a dentist consultant usually undergoes leadership, finance, and management training to handle a broader scope of responsibilities.
How to Become a Dental Consultant
Dental consultants are essential members of the oral healthcare ecosystem. To properly serve their clients, these professionals have to meet many different skill requirements, seek certification from the AADC, become part of the ADA, or join a similar organization.
Below, we’ve put together 12 steps to help you become a dental consultant. Keep in mind that these are general steps. So, take the time to evaluate each suggested step and adapt it to your specific scenario to get the best results.
1. Create a Plan with Clear Objectives
Achieving any goal without a plan or blueprint is tough and becoming a dental consultant is no exception.
Before you start collecting knowledge, you should create a plan that includes a list of goals and a detailed explanation of how you will achieve these objectives. This will help you stay on track, measure your goals, and make better decisions in the future.
Your set of goals is unique, and it can include achieving specific certifications, attending seminars, and creating a self-education program for yourself. Just make sure to include specific information about how each goal will be achieved and a target date to hold you accountable.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Lifestyle of a Dental Practitioner
A dental consultant focuses on helping dentists, dental hygienists, and other oral care professionals achieve their goals. As a consultant, you need to be aligned with your clients, understand the important elements, and familiarize yourself with the lifestyle these practitioners live.
For example, the vast majority of practitioners want to increase their revenue streams, but they also want to avoid working at night and during weekends. By knowing this, you’ll be able to offer suitable solutions that meet both of these requirements.
3. Align Your Lifestyle with Your Professional Goals
If you’re a professional provider servicing dental care experts, you’ll have to run on their schedule. Moreover, dentists are more likely to hire services from a consultant who shares similar values. By adjusting your lifestyle and ensuring that your perceived appearance matches your clients, you’ll have a higher chance of joining a dental team in an advisory role.
4. Leverage Word of Mouth
Word of mouth has been around for centuries, and it’s still one of the most powerful forms of marketing, especially in the dental industry.
Make sure to speak with dentists, providers, and other stakeholders to garner some positive attention, especially after completing your first project.
5. Research Local Practices and Gauge Their Requirements
The requirements you’ll have to meet to become a dental consultant depend directly on the standard in your area.
If it’s normal for dentists to only work with advisors with higher education degrees, you’ll likely need to meet these criteria to garner significant attention. Keep in mind that the AADC’s certification is an excellent qualification, but you’ll need to meet the requirements set forth to receive it.
6. Join the ADA and/or AADC
We’ve mentioned the AADC certification and its importance already. But, this isn’t the only organization you can join as a consultant.
Dental care professionals transitioning into consulting should consider keeping or activating their ADA memberships. This gives you more credibility and increases the chances of building a stronger connection with your clients because of the shared background.
7. Work on Your Communication and Collaboration Skills
Just like basic computer knowledge, communication and collaboration skills are essential in order to succeed as a consultant in a dental practice. You should take the time and fine-tune your communication skills and ensure that you’re following collaboration best practices when working with other team members, be it the practitioner or a support employee.
8. Gain an In-Depth Understanding of the Oral Healthcare Guidelines
If you want to become a consultant but don’t have any prior experience in the field beyond management, you should study independently and gain an in-depth understanding of accepted oral healthcare guidelines. This will help ensure that you and your practitioner remain on the same path.
9. Attend Workshops and Seminars
The AADC certification is a great start, but you should invest energy and resources into expanding your knowledge through workshops and seminars. Again, the ADA and AADC are the leading organizations for dental best practices. Attending events organized by these institutions can help you gain a huge amount of knowledge while also giving you the chance to work on your networking at the same time.
10. Stay Updated with the Top Marketing Techniques and Business Structures
There is no such thing as the perfect marketing and advertising channel, so consultants have to stay updated with the latest advancements in the area of dental care promotion.
Dental care plans, for example, are among the latest major trends as these programs provide people with access to quality services at a discounted rate in exchange for a monthly subscription.
11. Polish Your Analytical Skills
A few decades ago, the practice of analyzing large data sets was only left to big corporations. Today, digital tools allow us to leverage analytic information in all settings, and dental practices are no exception.
Consultants require the ability to analyze these data sets, decipher them, and transform them into actionable data. This means that you need to work on your analytics skills and ensure that you’re confident enough to make decisions using statistics to avoid early setbacks.
Setting Up Your Clients’ Practices for Long-Term Success
You can provide many pieces of advice to help your clients achieve their goals. Still, the only way to identify the best solution for each scenario is to learn constantly and implement innovative solutions like dental care programs.