1. Situation analysis
1. 1 Analysis of the 7 Ps
1. 1. 1 Product Dr. Beckett’s and her team’s goal is it, to “provide superior dentistry in an efficient, profitable manner within the confines of a caring, quality environment” as they stated in their mission statement. According to the case study, they offer the complete range of dental care from simple teeth cleaning to complicated dental surgery and implants.
1. 1. 2 Price The practice is no member of one of the HMOs, because Dr. Beckett was not of the opinion that she could provide the level of service she wanted, at the reimbursements given by the HMO. Therefore she offers now her dental services at a higher price, but therefore also at a higher quality.
1. 1. 3 Promotion The practice does with 2000 “active” patients very well, at the moment. Dr. Beckett got her patients mainly form her old practice and from positive word of mouth by current patients. She did no advertising whatsoever, as she believed word of mouth promotion to be the best way. According to her, this means that the new patients would already have heard of her service and her business strategy of high quality and appealing environment. Patients wait for appointments even for 3 or 4 month, so the promotion worked so far very well in respect of attracting new customers.
1. 1. 4 Place Dr. Beckett is providing her service in her own practice in a Northern California town. That means that patients will have to go to her to receive the dental care. Therefore, it is important, that her customers do know where her practice is located and how to get there. In the case study is no further information provided as to where the practice is located, but it seems likely that the new office building was built in a reasonable area, with good access to public transportation.
1. 1. 5 People An essential ingredient to any service provision is the use of appropriate staff and people. Recruiting the right staff and training them appropriately in the delivery of their service is essential if the organisation wants to obtain a form of competitive advantage. Even without any marketing background, Dr. Beckett seems to have understood this perfectly. She selects her employees very carefully and bears in mind that the team fits together and that there is no rivalry. First of all, Dr. Beckett divided up the team so that each team member can work in his/her field of specialisation.
Additionally, each team member received special training so that they can fulfil their part of the job as perfectly as possible. To build up a corporate identity, the whole team wears the same uniform (which also fits with the office design) and they also meet up socially outside work to build up frindships. Further, to strengthen the feeling of acting in concert, the whole practice meets every morning to briefly check the daily work. Dr. Beckett way, of letting her employees contribute to the practice’s processes is very good, as it is an efficient way to keep your personnel satisfied. And satisfied service personnel will always appear much friendlier to the customers or patients.
1. 1. 6 Process Dr. Beckett tried to standardise the procedures as much as she could, in order to improve the level of service and to provide the same level of care to each of her patients. Special times where introduced as to what kind of care patients need, so that the doctor could fully concentrate on the topic and also, that all the equipment is ready. As an additional service for the customers, the practice offers the possibility to reschedule their appointments, if they have to wait too long.
1. 1. 7 Physical Evidence Physical Evidence is the element of the service mix which allows the consumer again to make judgements on the organisation. If you walk into a practice your expectations are of a clean, friendly environment. But Dr. Beckett does not only want to fulfil the “normal expectations” of her patients, she wants to provide a friendly, caring and calming atmosphere so that the patient feels comfortable. To achieve that, she designed the whole building with a lot of light and bright, friendly colours.
Besides, there is classical music playing in the background and coffee and tea is provided to the patients. Like this, the customers feel more like guests than patients. During the treatment, patients can listen to music via headphone and they can observe birds through the large windows so they are distracted from the pain that might occur to them.
1. 2 Economic Environmental Analysis
1. 2. 1 The dentist profession The dentist profession is generally considered as a not so much rewarding profession. People, who go to the dentist, generally go there because they have to. Only a small percentage of the population really goes twice a year to the dentist to have a routine check, as it is suggested by the health care organisations. This is simply because they are afraid of the possible pain, a dental treatment can involve. Also the atmosphere in dental practices is mostly quite cold and sterile and the receptionists are unfriendly. That makes patients even less comfortable. Therefore, the idea of Dr. Beckett, to improve the whole service around the dental care is a very good and promising idea.
1. 2. 2HMOs Today, more than half of all Americans who have health insurance are enrolled in some kind of managed care plan — an organized way of both providing services and paying for them. Different types of managed care plans work differently and include health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and point-of-service (POS) plans. The most obvious advantage to belonging to an HMO is cost. First, the premiums of managed care are usually lower than traditional health insurance, which can end up saving you money if you are now paying any of your own insurance costs.
Secondly, HMOs and most other types of managed care do not require that you pay for your medical care up front, so there are no claim forms to fill out or waiting periods for. But there are disadvantages as well. What most people dislike is the requirement that you use only doctors and hospitals that are part of the HMO plan. Also, HMOs do not cover all medical services. In some HMOs, the dental care is not included at all, or only to a certain extend. The most common HMO used in Northern California is Kaiser Permanente with around 2. 6 million members (2007).
2. Problem Definition
As said before, people normally do not want to go to the dentist, because they are afraid of the pain and the often displeasing treatments. But this leads also to dissatisfaction for the doctor. As Dr. Beckett said, it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude, when patients tell her “that they hate to go to the dentist”, even if she is giving the best service and dental care she can. The challenge is therefore, not only have enough patients but also to make them feel as comfortable as possible and even to enable them to enjoy their stay at the dentist. Only like this, it is possible, that both, dentist and patients will be satisfied by the provided service. In the following, I will analyse the situation and provide solutions as to how this can be achieved.
3. SWOT – Analysis
3. 1 Strengths
- High dental qualification of the doctor and good trained and specialised assistants
- Appropriate organisational structure ? the different treatments are divided up so they are done at different times of the week
- Differentation advantage ? the practice is specialised in high quality treatments
- Many (satisfied) customers/patients
- Corporate Identity ? The whole team works together, they meet up socially and therefore appear as a unity towards their customers
- Well designed, bright and modern offices to make the customer feel comfortable
- The whole team is working very obliging and trying to serve the customer as much as possible.
3. 2. Weaknesses
- High costs because the practise is no member of a HMO •No marketing or advertising •The practice offers the whole set of dental services ? that can lead to incomprehension about high prices for basic services 3. 3 Opportunities •Entering into a new market segment, e. g. aesthetic dental surgery •Introduction of a new dental service, e.g. combining wellness with dental care •Advanced and high-standard equipment •Market growth by advertising.
3. 4. Threads
- High competition from “dental holiday” providers
- Consumers might not like the high amount of service at a dental practice but prefer quick and low-cost service
- Competition form other local dentists
- Downturn in economy ? people do no longer have the money to pay for the higher service
4. Possible Solutions
4. 1. Advertising Advertising is not only a method to generate new customers. It is also a way of informing them and to communicate your unique selling proposition.
Obviously, the main issue of Dr. Beckett is that people still tell her that they don’t like to go to the dentist, even if the service at her practice is much better than that is generally the case. Therefore, the practice should advertise actively their new concept of a dental practice and accentuate that this practice can in fact provide a good dental service AND enable the customer to enjoy their stay. It is important to stress this topic on an advertising campaign because it is that point, which differentiate this practice from others and makes it unique.
There are different ways how to communicate the practice’s strengths to the public. First, there should be a webpage developed. On there, in any case, all the dental services the practice offers should be listed and briefly explained. But it is also very important to include the mission statement and the aims and goals of the practice towards customer service. Pictures of the building, the examining rooms and the practice team should be on display so that people, who have not been there yet, can already see for themselves how calming and attracting the atmosphere in the practice is.
That can take away fear and therefore decrease prejudices towards the visit at the dentist. Another way of advertising would be a radio spot on the local channel. This media offers the possibility to reach many people in the area. And again, to emphasis on the special atmosphere and the obliging personnel could attract new customers who normally dislike to go to the dentist but are now willing to give it a try because of the “all-around-service” the practice offers. It is also possible to advertise “serious” magazines or newspapers, read by the clientele of the practice. As mentioned in the text, these are mainly upper class people with a decent income.
4. 2 Specialisation into a narrower field of dentistry
The main reason, why people do not like to go to the dentist, is because normally they need to go in emergencies. This could be intensive toothache caused by caries or a broken or missing tooth. Older people also often need to go to the dentist for periodontal treatments or to get set dental implants – all painful and displeasing procedures. But there are also many good things to dentistry: such as teeth cleaning and bleaching.
Also, there is cosmetic dentistry, for example for people who had an accident and need to get new teeth. So instead of being scared, they will be really pleased and thankful to go to a dentist that offers them help. By providing only these “special” dental services, the customers or patients who would come to the practice would not come because they have to but because they want to. That is a completely different attitude towards the visit to the dentist and would probably help Dr. Beckett to enjoy her profession even more.
4. 3. Combination of dental care and wellness
This third solution would concentrate even more in the service aspect of the practice by trying to make the patient even more comfortable then it is the case now by following the trend of Dental Holidays”. These “Dental Holidays” are organised by companies who offer stays in wellness resorts in countries all over the world. In these resorts people can relax but also receive dental surgery in a specialised clinic within the resort. “SmileDentalTours. com”, or “dental-holiday. com, are some of these companies.
They offer for example trips to the Fiji Islands or other places where they provide not only dental surgery but also a relaxing atmosphere by providing of course trips to all the local attractions the area has to offer but also wellness services such as hot springs or massages. This could also apply for the dental practice of Dr. Beckett. She could rent some offices of the building to other doctors as well as for example a masseur practice. Additionally she could offer over-night accommodation for her patients.
Like this she could offer a whole wellness-package over a couple of days or a weekend. Like this, stressed-out customers can regain energy and receive dental surgery in one go. The anxiety about the visit at the dentist would be eliminated by the fact that the customers can actually enjoy a relaxing weekend and are therefore much calmer towards the medical procedures. 5. Recommendation and Conclusion In my opinion, Dr. Beckett is perfectly on the right way. She has obviously a big target market which can be detected by the big number of customers she has already.
I also think she has very well understood that it is the service that makes the difference between a “normal” dentist and her own practice. Nevertheless, it is not only important that she and her team, know about these differences and the additional value added by the greater amount of service and customer orientation, she also has to communicate these competitive advantages to her actual and potential customers or patients. Therefore I think it is most important to build up an appropriate marketing campaign, probably by an external marketing agency, as Dr. Beckett has no experience in marketing or advertising whatsoever.
Secondly, I would recommend her as a strategic decision, to go even further into the service direction and transform her purely dental practice into something like a dental-wellness-clinic as suggested in section 4. 3. This could also come along with a specialisation into more complicated and sensitive dental surgery instead of carrying on offering the whole set of dental care treatments. By making these changes, it should be possible to provide a high quality service to the customer and for her and her team to be get acknowledgement for their work and services.