Building a New Practice? Consider 3 Critical Factors
By Gene St. Louis
So you’ve had enough. You are tired of settling for runner up. You’ve decided it’s time to build your own practice, set your own rules, and hire your own team. In the immortal words of Jon Bon Jovi, “It’s my life. It’s now or never.” Now let’s just make sure you’re not “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
For some, building an office from scratch is the ideal choice, while practice acquisition is better suited for others. Truth be told, either option will at times feel like hugging a rose bush. If your dream is to build your own practice from scratch, I have one word of advice - STOP. Take a deep breath and a good long look in the mirror. Do you really have the chops to do this? It’s not for everyone. The dream can become a nightmare very quickly. It takes an enormous commitment and no small serving of fortitude, not to mention you’ll need a solid business plan and more than a year’s worth of planning.
It’s important that you are painfully honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. If you have difficulty making decisions, this could be a very long row to hoe because building a practice requires making hundreds of decisions. Some are huge, such as choosing a location and a team of qualified experts. Others, such as picking paint colors, fixtures, and finishes can quickly become overwhelming. And then there’s the multitude of setbacks, frustrations, and delays that commonly accompany most building efforts.
I don’t make these points to discourage you. Rather, my intention is to encourage you to recognize that in building a practice you are taking on a second job that will, at times, require your undivided attention. Can you do that in addition to treating the patients you have now and minding your family obligations? If the answer is yes, there are three key factors that will make or break this experience both in the near and long term.
#1 - The Planning Team
These are the people who will be instrumental in taking your dream and turning it into a reality. They include the lender/bank that will finance your project; the dental real estate agent who will help you choose a suitable location; your various equipment, merchandise, and technology contractors; your architect, builder, and interior designer who will help ensure that the building you have meets your needs and desires for today as well as in the future; your management consultant who will make certain that your management systems are in place and patients are lining up for your care; as well as your certified public accountant and attorney.
#2 - The Location
When it comes to choosing the location for your practice, don’t make assumptions. Do the homework. Study the data. Ask questions. This isn’t a temporary decision. You will be signing on to spend many years at this site. Think carefully about where you want to live and work as well as how far of a commute you consider to be reasonable. Gather as much information as you can about the area. Is this a location where new homes are being built? Is it a long-established and stable community, or is it trending in a direction that could impact the long-term growth and stability of your practice? Is it saturated with other dental practices or can the area support another dental office? Is this an area in which you can attract the types of patients you want to serve, such as young families to support your general family practice or perhaps urban professionals to support your boutique style practice? To ensure a successful future, it will be essential that you gather reliable demographic information and data.
#3 - Your Staff
You can have a beautiful building and a great location, but if your internal infrastructure, i.e. your staff, is slapped together, your practice will suffer under the weight of inefficiency and dysfunction. This is where the advice of your practice management consultant will be crucial. They should help you establish solid management and training systems to build a strong team of star performers who are capable of carrying out your vision and goals daily. Your team will make or break your dream. If you choose them carefully and manage them successfully, you’ll enjoy far more success.
To learn more about how to ensure a successful practice start-up, click HERE
Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
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