When it comes to analyzing and optimizing your business and its marketing, you probably have an immediate, inherent sense of where you stand and what you need to accomplish. But underneath that first layer, there is so much more to explore and dissect.
You are “in” your business every day. As a dentist, this holds even more meaning, as your work to improve your patients’ oral health is a highly detailed process that demands your undivided attention for most of your working hours. The goal, in the best of business and marketing examination, is to transition your mindset to being “on” the business. By gaining the perspective of looking at it from a holistic viewpoint, you can help the business side of your practice move forward.
But how can you do this? Well, we think we have the answer. It’s a formula many have long revered and it will guide you to cover all your bases when analyzing the biz. Sit back and enjoy, “What is S.W.O.T. Analysis and Why Should Your Dental Practice Do It?”
What is S.W.O.T. Analysis?
Investopedia has a great generalized definition of S.W.O.T. analysis: “[It] is a framework used to evaluate a company’s competitive position and to develop strategic planning.”
In other words, S.W.O.T. enables you to understand where your practice should be investing the most time and effort in regard to marketing and business strategy. It tells you what you need to focus on and opens your eyes to the challenges that could present themselves as you attempt to grow your business.
This is accomplished through a framework that organizes different aspects of research into four categories: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
The S: Strengths
As you might imagine, the Strengths section of S.W.O.T. analysis can sometimes be the most enjoyable. It invites you to pause and contemplate the success your practice has already reached. This is also a good time to identify your more standout characteristics as a business.
Here are the elements you should think about for analysis of strengths:
- Specific things your practice does well
- Qualities that make you different/better than competitors
- Resources you have and why they are great (think, your skilled team)
- Technology, licenses, etc. that improve your standing in the industry
Once you make this list, we think it is a great idea to pull out two or three things that you feel are especially relevant for your audience. Maybe your practice does appointment time management well and has a state-of-the-art machine that makes filling cavities extra quick and painless. Those two factors would certainly matter a lot to your patients and potential patients. Make note of that!
The W: Weaknesses
When you think about the weaknesses of your practice, try not to get too emotional or take the concept too personally. This will hinder your ability to make a more objective analysis. Instead, approach it from the perspective that life and work would be nothing without ongoing opportunities to improve, and these are ways you can continue to build more great business for yourself. If your practice were perfect, there would be nothing you could do to create more revenue, right?
Here are the elements you should think about for analysis of weaknesses:
- Specific things that your company needs to work on
- The things your competition does better than you do
- Any functional problems you need to solve (staffing shortages, need a new office space or equipment, etc.)
- Complaints/conflicts that have arisen from patients and their root causes (long wait times, confusing communication from front desk, etc.)
Outlining the weaknesses of your practice can sometimes feel a little demoralizing, but as we said, try to see it positively. It is key to S.W.O.T. analysis. Focus on the growth it can inspire! If you find yourself struggling to nail down the answers to the above prompts, consider looping your team in. Whether you want to send out an email survey all of your team can answer anonymously or ask a trusted few for their opinions, hearing the perspective of your hygienists, dental assistants, front office crew, and marketing managers could be super enlightening. And again, pull out two or three items to focus on.
The O: Opportunities
Ah, now we’re getting to the exciting part! Exploring the opportunities there are for growth will start to expand your thinking beyond your practice. While Strengths and Weaknesses are very focused on you, the O and T are centered more on your industry, competition, community, and audience.
Here are the elements you should think about for analysis of opportunities:
- Needs you could capitalize on (e.g., an area that is underserved in regard to dentistry and could commute to you or would jump on a new office if you built one)
- Societal and environmental circumstances that may increase or change the needs of your existing patients, and how you could accommodate (think, more without insurance than ever thanks to pandemic-related job loss, so maybe it’s a good time for you to create a dental membership plan)
- Trends you could jump on to increase recognition of your “brand,” whether that means producing viral social media content or offering a new cosmetic procedure everyone is talking about
- Marketing collateral, press/media coverage, and other ways you could create more awareness of your practice, its location, and what your team can do for you patients
As you are mulling all of the above over, be sure to keep the strengths you previously outlined in mind. This is the time to consider how you might mold the above opportunities to uniquely showcase your strengths. For example, let’s say you identify that one of your strengths is the big, friendly personalities you have on staff. Taking advantage of a social media trend that showcases that (maybe a day in the life video on TikTok), could be the perfect combo of strength meets opportunity!
The T: Threats
The word threat sounds scary, we know, but in the context of a S.W.O.T. analysis for your practice, it really just means that you need to be cognizant of the challenges that might come your way. The best minds in business (never forget that your practice is absolutely a business) are always thinking about what might come at them so they can be ready to respond.
Here are the elements you should think about for analysis of threats:
- Who and what is up and coming (new practices being opened in your area, changing technologies that would impact your work, etc.)
- Regulatory issues you foresee being potential future problems
- How the general public’s perception of dentistry might change negatively in future (it could change for the better too, but if that happens, you don’t need to worry about it)
- Problems your weaknesses could expose you to if they aren’t addressed
As with the opportunities, you’ll want to position the threats alongside your weaknesses. This will help you better see the full picture of both how certain threats could hold greater potential for problems because of your weaknesses and how your weaknesses might create the problems. Remember, analyzing potential threats isn’t about creating fear and anxiety. It just helps you to see a potential downside from miles away. And why is that important? Because it allows you to prepare for impact or, ideally, turn it into an opportunity.
Now we’ve reviewed each of the touch points in S.W.O.T., but you might still be wondering why it should matter to you. After all, your practice is rocking and rolling as it is, right? Why can’t the marketing stay as simple as brochures and billboards?
Well, it could, but …
This is Why S.W.O.T. Analysis is Worthwhile for Your Dental Practice
It helps you see your practice as the business it is.
In the process, it invites you to narrow your focus and make strategic decisions that will end up benefiting you and your patients. And while we’re on the subject, let’s note that word: focus. Don’t be afraid to focus your efforts, because often, that is how we get the best results. S.W.O.T. analysis can help you identify what your unique corner of the market might be, but just remember that you don’t have to be everything to everyone!
Even if you are able to offer pediatric care, restorative procedures, and cosmetic treatments, you don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t, overwhelm your marketing by touting yourself as the best at them all. Use S.W.O.T. analysis to determine which (or which few) best showcases your team’s skill set and reflects the needs of your community.
As a dentist, you are in a unique position. Yes, your practice is a business, but it also provides health-giving services to your patients. It is a much more serious endeavor than most businesses, and considered an essential part of society. That makes it feel a little different. Sometimes, it may seem odd to approach a dental practice with the ruthless, money-minded lens of most marketing techniques. You do, after all, need to be “in” the business day-to-day, as we mentioned before.
But, the truth is simple: Your dental practice is a business, and you need great revenue to keep it moving. Otherwise, you won’t be helping any patients! You’ve got to think “on” the business from time to time, too.
By conducting S.W.O.T. analysis (which, by the way, we recommend doing on an annual basis), you can place your dental practice into the framework of a revenue-centric business more easily. It enables you and your team to switch gears and think like master marketers. And that can be invaluable.
So, get to S.W.O.T.-ing! If you find you need some help with the process or the marketing moves you decide to make because of its results, don’t forget about us here at DentalHQ. Sure, we’re a software to support your dental membership plan dreams, but we also have some pretty pro marketers in-house. Not to mention, new tools to help our dentists with marketing are always in the works!