Introduction to the Series
The first question that my supervisor in my MBA program asked me, albeit after 28 years in practice and having built a highly successful group of practices and a global dental laboratory, was to clearly define my “sustainable competitive advantage”, both as a dentist and in my other dental business activities.
Even though I had already managed to build considerable achievements in both realms, it was painfully obvious that much of this success had been achieved in a somewhat haphazard and disorderly manner. Indeed, I struggled initially to define, in clear terms, exactly what my competitive advantage was, especially as a dentist.
The journey I embarked upon to fully comprehend the importance of this concept was fascinating and I have no doubt that this fashioned and influenced my decision making in every venture that I was involved in thereafter.
If only I had some form of basic business tuition or instruction in tandem with my dental degree! Even 5 or 6 lectures to teach me how to write a cheque, balance the books and prepare a budget. Alas, I look back and appreciate the wonderful 5 years of dental education that I received, but wonder what would have ensued with at least some commercial training.
This series is a simple, bite sized look at a fundamental concept that is relevant to every dentist, dental practice and dental organisation. The principles apply equally to all other businesses and your own personal life.
What do I compete on? Why should patients come to see you? What do you have that your competitors don’t have? Ask yourself these questions!
In my group mentoring programs, I always ask each practitioner to define this. This is challenging for many: I receive a repetitious set of responses such as “I’m gentle” , “I’m really good, “My staff are friendly” etc etc.
My rebuttal is to remind them that almost everyone in the room will reply with these stock standard answers and in fact, you are just part of the herd. The truth is, you need something special or something rare (or both) to make it in this overheated, hyper-competitive environment.
This is competitive advantage. Ideally, we want it to be sustainable!
Let’s consider them in that sequence and pinpoint some thought provoking strategies for you to consider. I trust that when you reach the end, your mind will assess every aspect of your work life and personal existence differently.
About the Author
Dr. David Penn is the Head of School of The Postgraduate School of Dentistry.
He graduated from Sydney University Dental school and was trained extensively in the United States under two of the world’s leading aesthetic dentists.
In 1983, he established Southern Cross Dental Laboratories, which grew to become one of the leading state of the art dental laboratories in the world.
Dr Penn lectures and teaches extensively, principally in the areas of aesthetic orthodontics and facial aesthetics. He has taught more than 2000 postgraduate students in the use of Sequential Aligners and Aesthetics and wrote and gained government accreditation for a unique post-graduate qualification in Aesthetic Orthodontics via the Postgraduate School of Dentistry.
He also is responsible for the research and development of many unique dental appliances and devices including the Penn Composite Stent, Somnomed appliances, the Atlas Cabriolet orthodontic retainer and a series of accelerated orthodontic treatment devices (OrthoMunchies).
Dr Penn was Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011.