Dentist Saturation Map

What is a Dentist Saturation Map?

By Susan Tibbles & Jeff Francis

A Dentist Saturation Map shows dentists mapped for an area.  Some Dentist Saturation Maps are color-coded to show concentration of dentists.  These are typically for larger areas like a metropolitan area or state.  Others will show where offices are located with pinpoints.  

A map with pinpoints works well for smaller geographical locations.  The most detailed and informative will be maps with pinpoints indicating the number of dentists not just the practice.

Why do I need one?

A Dentist Saturation Map showing where dentists are located is a great added tool for existing and new dental practices.  While the color-coded saturation maps can give some general information, it is more vital to know the number of dentists in the area that you are located rather than a whole metroplex or state. 

Knowing where your competition is located will help you know where most ideally to locate if you are a startup office.  You would want to be away from your direct competitors and even more ideally on a major thoroughfare between residents and your competitors in a destination center.  Having your competitors mapped out will allow you to evaluate possible locations that are available for lease or purchase.

For existing locations, knowing where your competitors are located can help drive your marketing in conjunction with other demographics.  For example, marketing to residential areas in which you are closer than your competitors, can make your location more appealing and more convenient than your competitors.   Convenience is still a major benefit people desire.

What makes a good Dental Saturation Map?

A good Dental Saturation Map is one that is accurate and specific to your type of practice whether you have an existing practice, or you are considering a new startup. Some lists pull by state registration of the name.  This is far from ideal as many practices show an attorney or CPA address since they often set up and maintain the state registration of the name.  The address needs to be the actual practice location.  Google maps is a great way to find practices rather than address by registration.

Dental Saturation Maps should be tailored to your type of dentistry as well.  A map that shows all DMDs and DDSs is not going to be very useful.  Often specialists will cluster in a medical building together.  Sometimes there will be a cluster of family practice dentists, but not always.  By including all specialists, you may view an area as too saturated when in reality, the dentists are not your competition. 

The Dental Saturation Map should also show how many dentists that do the same type of dentistry that you do at each location.  For example, if you are an adult general dentist, a practice that has a GP, oral surgeon, and a pediatric dentist should really count as one – not three. 

The Dental Saturation Map should also include additional information about each practice in the area: name, address, phone number, website, and the number of dentists.  For the map to be clear and easy to read, this additional information should be in a table. 

With this additional information, you can do additional research if needed.  Additional research may include determining services not offered by practices around you that you intend to offer that might be unique like IV sedation.  Reviewing websites of competitors to see what insurances, services, and hours they offer to determine any gaps you might be able to fill.  If you are feeling so inclined, you can even call to “shop” the other practices.  Seeing how front desk personnel approach fee for service questions or out of network questions or if they are asking to book appointments, will help you determine if they are “true” competition.  If you call and they are booked out 6 weeks, they may be great at what they do but that also could mean they are at capacity and not competing for new patients.

What other types of maps or Dental Graphics are helpful?

Color-coded maps also known as heat maps, concentration maps, or saturation maps that show basic demographic information can also be helpful in evaluating areas.  For example, a color-coded map that show differences in income, education level, percentage of people that go to the dentist or money spent at dental offices can help you focus your practice marketing dollars.  If you are looking for high income households, a color-coded map with a color breakdown of incomes can help you determine geographically where to send mailers or target other marketing activities.  If you are looking for Medicaid patients, you could look at the same map.

When determining the best area for a practice, information is key!  Having a comprehensive dental demographic report and interpretive study can determine viability.

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