Sustainable Competitive Advantage in Dentistry - Part 5

Sustainable Competitive Advantage in Dentistry - Part 5
A five part series focusing on positioning yourself and your 
practice in an ever increasingly competitive environment.
By Dr David Penn
What is sustainable competitive advantage ? 

The true magic of a dental practice is its people performing a myriad of treatments and services daily that undeniably improve patients’ lives. In doing these procedures, the hope, is that over time, a practice develops some sort of sustainable competitive advantage, which encompasses those elements that give a practice an edge over competitors, and are sustained over time.

Sustainable competitive advantages are typically difficult to create and not easy to replicate.

There are seven main sources of sustainable competitive advantage:

  •  Brand Loyalty
  •  Location
  •  Scale
  •  Intellectual Property
  •  Innovation
  •  Proprietary Information
  •  Network Effect

Sustainable competitive advantage is hard to create, but once you have a beachhead, you need to press your advantage, continuing to build on it and protect it. 

How do you develop a sustainable competitive advantage ?  

Here are some further thoughts for developing the eight sources of sustainable competitive advantage:

Brand Loyalty

Often the go-to advantage of most successful dental organisations: the key is to make raving fans out of your patients. Do everything within your power to give them the best experience, to make them love you, your team, your product and your brand. Once you achieve this, you’ll expand rapidly by creating brand advocates who will be loyal for life and drive unbridled free marketing, telling everyone they can about you and your practice.


There has never been such a time when innovation is so prevalent in the dental world. I feel we have been gifted access to a plethora of time during CoVid to develop new practice protocols and concepts, begin examining research and technology projects and to infuse them into your practice.

Dental practices that want to capitalize on Innovation need to ensure they are continuously encouraging, enabling, scanning for and incorporating out of the box ideas into their products and services.

Intellectual Property

Dentists and dental organisations with potential intellectual property should put the right management systems in place to constantly develop, evaluate and secure intellectual property. Undoubtedly difficult to achieve in the dental profession, but potentially worth a fortune long term.


Scale advantages can be created at the neighborhood, local, regional, national or global levels. You see this often with dental corporates, who operate through multiple locations so that they can maximize their marketing spend, inventory buying power and patient convenience. However, the regionally scaled corporate is sometimes surpassed by nationally spread organisations who can operate at even higher levels of efficiency.


The old adage of location, location, location rings particularly true in dental practice. Situated in the right location, where competitors may find it difficult to operate, these ideally positioned practices are often exceptional performers.

If you have a location-based, cost competitive dental practice model, spend a load of time and energy researching and then securing the ideal premises.

Conduct demographic surveys, evaluate other practices in the area and if the location fits your core patient needs and your practice philosophy, invest wisely.

Proprietary Information 

Dental organisations often collect massive amounts of data on their patients, yet frankly, most practices don’t utilise this information to gain a sustainable competitive advantage, even though they could.

With well manicured patient information, you can often turn that into modes for better engagement and drive loyalty with your customers and actually, increase your patient base.

This use of proprietary information will create significantly more value for the practice.

Network Effect

Social media is an extraordinary way to build patient community. People of all ages are socialising on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms in staggering numbers. These social networks have become an integral part of patients’ everyday lives.

In establishing your social community, you’ll keep your dental practice top-of-mind throughout the year. In turn, this ongoing interaction can promote patient retention and boost patient referrals.

The challenge is publishing insightful content that stimulates engagement from your followers.

Utilise an expert to establish and maintain this important source of sustainable competitive advantage.

 Dr David Penn

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