Opening a Dental Practice in 5 Steps
You’ve spent years mastering your trade in dental school. You’ve practiced with some of the top doctors in your area. Now, you’re finally ready to take a leap of faith and open your own practice. It’s exciting, but also a little bit daunting: After all, dental practices can be complex organisms, with considerations ranging from staffing to compliance to basic business planning. Where do you even start?
In this post, we’ll provide a summary of the process in five basic steps. It’s crucial to note that there’s nothing simple about opening a practice, and each of these steps calls for a high level of thoughtfulness and intentionality. With that said, these guidelines should furnish you with the basic lay of the land as you seek to get your dream dental practice up and running.
5 Steps for Opening a Dental Practice
1) Talk with a lender. There are a number of costs associated with opening a dental practice, including equipment/technology, staffing, and of course office space. You probably don’t have that kind of scratch just lying around, so you’ll almost surely need to take out a loan. Meet with a few different lenders to determine what they look for in a borrower, what the basic lending process is like, and what your startup budget really needs to look like.
2) Choose an area. Selecting your physical location is critical to the success of your dental practice. You’ll naturally want to be somewhere that’s accessible to patients and isn’t already well-served by a number of more competitive practices. Your lender can likely introduce you to a commercial real estate agent, who can not only show you some different spaces but assist with demographic studies, enabling you to make a truly strategic decision about your practice space.
3) Get the equipment you need. From patient workflow technologies to basic dental chairs, from nitrous gas machines to lasers, there’s a lot of equipment that dentists need to promote the best outcomes and prioritize patient wellbeing. To source the equipment you need, consider talking with other dentists who have more practice-owning experience; networking is key. Shop around to find the best deals on equipment, always ensuring you buy stuff that comes with a robust warranty.
4) Assemble a team. The practice may have your name on it, but it won’t be something you can run or sustain all by yourself. On the contrary, you’ll need a dream team of office staff members, hygienists, technicians, and more. As you hire a staff, seek those who have some experience working in oral health. Also make sure you hire not just for aptitude, but for fit. In other words, interview candidates who share your convictions when it comes to patient experience, bedside manner, etc. The best dental teams are marked not only by their professionalism but by their kindness and compassion.
5) Market your practice. For dental practices, the “if we build it, they will come” method seldom works. You’ll need to spread the word about your new dental practice, and that means developing a marketing plan. Create buyer personas to help you get to know your target demographic: Exactly what are they looking for in a dentist, and what could compel them to switch over from their current dentist? Also research the outreach methods that offer the biggest bang for your buck in your market, whether that’s physical mailers or PPC advertising. Be sure you have a good website that conveys your professionalism. And, be clear in your marketing message: What do you do, how do you improve patient lives, and why should someone choose you over a different practice?
How Long Does it Take to Open a Dental Practice?
Naturally, these steps are impossible to complete all at once, which raises the question: What’s the standard timeline for opening a dental practice? There’s no clear-cut answer here. Depending on the lending process, your staffing success, and other factors, it may take months or even a couple of years before you can open your doors.
Having the right team of advisors can expedite the process considerably, while also eliminating a lot of the hassle. That’s where we come in. Connect with the LenDRgroup to find out more about what it takes to open a successful dental practice.