5 Critical Considerations Before Building a Dental Practice
I just found a great space for my new dental practice. It is near my home and in a medical/dental building which I think is better than a strip mall location. I am just stuck on whether to sacrifice reception room space for a fourth treatment room. What do you think?
Dr. Newbie, Office Anywhere, USA
Dear Dr. Newbie,
The excitement of opening your own practice and the “build it, they will come” romance needs to be quieted to some real time considerations. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. Did you complete a business plan prior to choosing this location? In this business plan would be your vision statement for practice success. The vision is about you and what your “perfect day” schedule is - as far as services and products you wish to provide to patients. Do you want to treat children? Do you want to treat the underserved in your community? Do you want to do endodontic therapy and oral surgery in your general practice? Will you be providing oral or IV sedation? Will you be employing a hygienist at once or further down the road? The vision of your practice also includes where you see yourself in six months, one year and five years from now. This vision helps you to establish goals for the practice growth. If your desire is to hire an associate as soon as the patient base is at 1,400 patients because your vision is to work only three days a week, then this will have a bearing on the number of treatment rooms you will be plumbing. If you want your practice to be mainly children and later add an orthodontist, then you must include in your design a larger reception room and restrooms away from treatment areas, quiet rooms and more treatment rooms.
2. The location of the practice is critical for success. Some doctors have the drive and the personality to be successful anywhere they decide to open shop, but for the majority the location needs careful thought and advice from experts such as McKenzie Management. A detailed report of the demographics and the psychographics of the community around the practice site is a must before making a decision on whether to purchase in the area. Do you really want to practice close to your home? You will be running into patients when shopping, dining or going to movies. This has to be a comfort zone for you. If your practice is in a strip mall or shopping complex, you will have higher visibility and “walk-in” patients. Some patients like the convenience of seeing the dentist and shopping for groceries in the same morning. If you are in a medical/dental complex, make sure there is plenty of parking available in your lease and check out the signage requirements. Visibility can be an issue in buildings that forbid signage.
3. Start-up costs and operational costs for the new practice must be estimated as realistically as possible. Careful planning and management of the start-up monies and the complete understanding of where the money will be going is critical to getting the practice up and running and profitable as quickly as possible. Included in these costs are the marketing expenses necessary to get a new practice up and running.
4. Marketing and visibility in the community is a do-or-die commitment. In the Community Overview Report of demographics, the competition is addressed at length. Is your practice area already saturated with dentists? Is the opportunity to do the kind of dentistry you are envisioning a demand in the area? How will you set yourself apart from other general dentists in the area? If you are a specialist, who else is offering the same services in the area? What are they not doing that you could do for your patients? Marketing is everything and everyday and never stops. You will need a plan of action for marketing both internally and externally.
5. Human resources will tax even the most prepared of new doctors. What will you have to pay in staff salaries? What benefits do you have to offer, if any? How do you find and hire great employees and how do they look and act? An Employee Policy Manual is necessary to prevent difficult situations such as wrongful termination suits. Again, this is an area that calls for expert consulting advice.
Dr. Newbie, there is so much to consider…and realize you do not have to do this alone. McKenzie Management provides programs for Practice Start-Up and Practice Acquisition. Call us today at (877) 777-6151 and we will guide you to achieving the practice of your dreams.Forward this article to a friend
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