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Survey results: Dentistry in your veterinary practice - a success or just painful?

Posted in Festival of All Things Dental @ Jul 31st 2014 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
2013 Survey Results

After the Festival of All Things Dental last year Vetanswers ran an online survey, Dentistry: a great part of your veterinary practice.... or a pain in the ...mouth?

164 people took part in the survey and respondents were veterinary practice owners, nurses, vets and practice managers.

Questions included:

  • Do dental procedures currently account for at least 7% of your turnover?
  • What do you believe are the three main reasons for the success of your dental program?
  • Apart from healthy teeth and gums, what do you believe are the other main benefits as a result of your dental program?
  • If your practice doesn't achieve at least 7% of turnover in dental procedures, why do you believe your dental program isn't so successful?
  • How would you rate the dental equipment in your practice?
  • Do you find it easy and convenient to source information when you are considering purchasing new dental equipment?
  • When you are considering the purchase of new dental equipment where do you go to find information?
  • If you were considering purchasing new dental equipment - what would make your life easier?
  • How would you rate your skills in performing dental procedures?
  • Would improving your skills have an impact on the number of dental procedures you did?  
  • Would you like to improve your skills in dentals?
  • What skills would you like to improve?
  • What are the reasons why you haven't already improved your skills in dental procedures?
  • If you are interested in improving your skills in dental procedures how would you prefer to do so?
  • If money was no object what would be the one thing that would make the biggest difference to the success of your dental program in your veterinary practice?

Not only did 164 respondents answer the questions they also left hundreds of comments which all made for very interesting reading.

The report I’ve compiled based on the responses is 16 pages long but I thought you might be interested in the highlights.

Survey Result Highlights.....

35% of respondents said that dental procedures accounted for at least 7% of turnover, 65% said they either didn’t know or it was less than 7%

Top 3 reasons why those with sucessful programs felt they were a success:

  1. Well trained, educated staff (dental & communication skills)
  2. Consistency in message to clients (dental checks part of consults, health checks)
  3. Informed clients, good communication with clients (they understood the importance  of dentals to pet’s health)

Top 3 reasons why those that achieved less than 7% turnover from dental procedures felt they were not successful:

  1. Didn’t believe clients were interested in paying for the necessary procedures
  2. Support staff / team didn’t see dentistry as a high priority
  3. Didn’t feel confident in selling procedures to clients

41% of respondents felt their skills in performing dental procedures were either advanced or awesome, 40% felt their skills were moderate

70% felt that improving their skills would have an impact on the number of dental procedures they did

Skills respondents would like to improve (could choose more than one):

  1. Dental procedures – 70%  
  2. Dental radiology – 70%
  3. Marketing (design & manage marketing of dental program) – 48%
  4. Selling (confidently sell benefits of dental program to clients) – 48%
  5. Change management (manage staff buy-in of dental program) – 33%

Top 2 reasons why respondents haven’t already improved skills:

  1. Don’t have the time (44%)
  2. Location of training unsuitable (42%)

For those interested in improving skills the preferred training delivery was practical workshops

If money was no object the top 3 things that would make the biggest difference to the success of the program:

  1. Having dental radiography 
  2. Skills training for the whole team (including advanced training) 
  3. Client education program including suitable marketing & resources encouraging client compliance

To sum up - some interesting comments

Comments from respondents who currently have successful dental programs - the top 3 reasons behind their success:

  • “1. Educated vets, 2. Educated nurses, 3. Educated clients”
  • “1. Staff training, 2. Staff training, 3. Good equipment & more staff training”
  • “1. Talking with clients consistently about dental care at every visit starting from 1st puppy visit. 2. Preparing owners that it is safer, cheaper & easier for us to provide dental care sooner rather than later. 3. Providing discounts to owners moving forward sooner rather than later on the dental.”

Apart from healthy teeth and gums, comments from repondents as to what they felt were the other main benefits from their successful dental programs:

  • “We have changed some of the perception of ourselves as a "pain" service and been able to be perceived as a "pleasure " service this changes connectivity with the clients and repeat expenditure”
  • “Improved profits; nursing staff enjoy the responsibility given to them with respect to dentistry; Challenging caseload”
  • “Closer human-pet bonding focus on well care & prevention ability to communicate & educate clients on a topic that they understand - human dental disease uses same terminology, progresses the same, pain is the same- which allows us to develop relationship and talk about other medical issues with client already invested in our practice & trusting our advice”

Hopefully over the next month we can provide information and resources that will help those wanting to develop their dental program further to be able to do so successfully.

(A complete copy of the report will be made available to those business who have a Paid Listing in the Vetanswers Business Directory – contact me if you would like to find out more.)


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