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  07.29.05 Issue #177

Best City, U.S.A.

Scott McDonald

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So where EXACTLY is the best place to practice?

That is a question that no one can answer. They cannot answer it because the question is too broad. The better question would be:

Where EXACTLY is the best place to practice FOR YOU?

That is precisely why Sally McKenzie offers demographic reports on her web site.

We get calls every day from doctors around the United States . Some are excited about the prospects for practice growth and are trying to figure out how to take advantage of all the great fee-for-service patients they are receiving as they scout for a second and third office site. Others weep bitter tears that their once fertile garden of patients has grown barren. The most interesting thing is, many of them are calling from the same neighborhood.

What makes a practice location good or bad does not depend upon an entirely objective set of criteria but upon the specific definition of “best place” in the mind of the dentist.

There is a company, OnBoard, Inc ., that compiles ways of looking at cities primarily from the standpoint of relocating one's home. They have about 1,300 cities in their database that rank cities in many ways. They recently published their list of the Best Cities in Which to Live. Here they are, in their order of rank (the City that follows is the Metropolitan Statistical Area with which the community is associated):

  1. Moorestown, NJ 20,700 Philadelphia
  2. Bainbridge Island, WA 21,600 Seattle
  3. Naperville, IL 163,900 Chicago
  4. Vienna, VA 61,700 Washington , DC
  5. Louisville, CO 32,400 Boulder
  6. Barrington, RI 16,800 Providence
  7. Middleton, WI 21,400 Madison
  8. Peachtree City, GA 35,800 Atlanta
  9. Chatham, NJ 17,600 New York City
  10. Mill Valley, CA 29,200 San Francisco
  11. Larchmont, NY 18,200 New York City
  12. Greenwich, CT 62,000 Stamford
  13. Westwood, MA 14,500 Boston
  14. Blue Bell, PA 19,700 Philadelphia
  15. Princeton, NJ 48,700 Trenton
  16. Chanhassen, MN 22,100 Minneapolis
  17. Gaithersburg, MD 132,500 Washington , DC
  18. Powell, OH 30,300 Columbus
  19. Mequon-Thiensville, WI 23,400 Milwaukee
  20. Ellicott City, MD 72,000 Baltimore
  21. Yorba Linda, CA 64,400 Los Angeles
  22. Delmar, NY 16,300 Albany
  23. Papillion, NE 27,400 Omaha
  24. Fishers, IN 48,900 Indianapolis
  25. Coronado, CA 23,800 San Diego

It is interesting to note that only 4 are found on the West Coast. Four of the fastest growing states are entirely left off ( Nevada , Arizona , Georgia , and Texas .) We have done very few demographic reports for those locations. And yet, OnBoard recommends these as the top 25 cities in which to live. But will they work as good places to practice ? Not necessarily.

In another survey, they found the top ten fastest markets in job growth are:

  1. Castle Rock, CO 244.43%
  2. Parker, CO 244.43%
  3. Boerne , TX 157.91%
  4. Cumming , GA 157.70%
  5. Ashburn , VA 132.66%
  6. Leesburg , VA 132.66%
  7. Sterling , VA 132.66%
  8. Mcdoungh , GA 130.12%
  9. Henderson , NV 107.82%
  10. Las Vegas , NV 107.82%

Dentists are told by classmates, professors, equipment salespersons, friends, and family information about where to practice. “This area is doing GREAT!” they will say enthusiastically, And darned if the Chamber of Commerce doesn't agree!!! But the sobering reality is that a single set of statistics, however, true, may have nothing to do with how well YOU will do in practice at any given location.

There is also a signficant disconnect between what makes a location a great place in which to live and a great place in which to practice according to this company's priority list. Competition ratios (the number of dentists practicing per resident or per household in a given market geography) are not to be ignored. Neither is the historic as well as the projected rates of growth. Unfortunately, your friends and family, classmates and teachers usually operate from only a limited set of data.

The bottom line is that no single set of statistics should be relied upon in order to find the best place to practice. And even a location that seems not to do very well may have simply changed in its demographic character. People are, after all, a moving target. So as a practice ages and local populations shift, grow, decrease, or increase, so the doctor must learn to use demographic information to target the NEW target market that has just moved in.

Scott McDonald is the former Marketing Manager for the California Dental Association, national lecturer and author and provides demographic marketing and site analysis recommendations for The McKenzie Company. For more information email or visit our website.

McKenzie Management's Seminar Schedule
2005 Location Sponsor Information Topic Speaker
August 13 Topeka, KS Delta Dental Plan of Kansas 800-733-5823 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Sept. 9-11 San Francisco, CA California Dental Association 916-443-0505 Successes Sally McKenzie
Sept. 22 El Paso, TX El Paso Dental Society 877-777-6151 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Oct. 14 Riverside, CA Riverside Implant Study Group 951-279-7847 TBA Sally McKenzie
Nov. 18-19 Griffin, GA Endo Magic Root Camp 877-478-9748 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
Dec. 1 Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati Dental Society 513-984-3443 Breakdown Sally McKenzie

McKenzie Management
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