So, you want to start your own dental practice. You want to help patients better their dental health and have pride in owning your own business. Deciding to start a private practice is a huge decision to make, especially in a growing market like dentistry.
There are approximately 100,000 practicing dentists in the United States currently. Research shows that the dental market is projected to grow to nearly $37 billion worldwide by 2021, and will continue to grow in the coming years. Competition in the dental health field may become fierce, but if you have a solid plan for starting your practice, you’ll be a worthy contender.
You may have a few questions about starting your own practice. What does it take to successfully start your own dental practice? What’s the first step that should be taken? What should you do if you need more financing? These are all valid questions, and they should be answered before you officially open for business. If you’re thinking about opening your own dental practice, but aren’t sure where to start, here’s are 10 steps for getting started.
Step 1: Do Your Research
Before you officially start your own dental practice, do your research on the dental health field. What does the market look like? Are there other dental practices in your prospective area to compete against? You should have an idea of what the market looks like, and if you’re truly ready to enter it.
It’s also a good idea to explore all your options. Sure, you’re looking to start your own dental practice, but you may also want to explore what it takes to buy a dental practice. Buying a practice could help you achieve your goals at a faster rate. Make sure you evaluate all your options and do your research before starting your own practice.
Step 2: Determine Your Budget
At this point, you’ve decided to start your own dental practice. Now, you should take a hard look at your finances and determine the kind of budget you have.
Starting your own practice in the dental health industry can get expensive. You have to pay for office space, dental equipment, repairs and upgrades, staff hires, etc. You could have a rather large dent in your wallet before you know it.
Take an honest look at what you can afford right now. Don’t max out your budget right away and spread yourself thin. The average cost to open your own dental practice falls between $300,000 and $500,000. If you don’t have enough money to start your own practice right now, you could do one of two things. You could wait until you have all the funds to start your own practice, or you could look for financing. There are certain loans banks will give out to dentists who start their own practice.
Step 3: Write Up Your Business Plan
If you’re looking to secure financing for your startup dental practice, make sure you’ve prepared a business plan to present. A business plan is essentially a blueprint of your business. In it, you’ll elaborate on what your business is, how you’re going to make it succeed, and the details of your financial plan.
Having a business plan is incredibly important when shopping around for financing. Banks want to know all the details about your practice, like whether you’re a childrens dentist or a cosmetic dentist. These details give them insight into what your practice will look like, and how successful it will be. You should also include the management structure of your practice. Is it just you in charge, or will there be other managers in the office? These details are important to know.
It’s also important to have a business plan for your reference. It does help strengthen your case when looking for financing, but it can also serve as a valuable tool for measuring your practice’s growth. Write down the five-year and 10-year goals for your practice in your business plan. These goals will help you stay accountable through the years and help you make decisions that improve your practice.
Step 4: Look For The Right Location
Once you have financing secured for your startup dental practice, it’s time to start looking for office space. You’ll need a space big enough to fit a waiting room, a reception area, and exam rooms. You’ll also need a big enough space for all the dental equipment you’ll need to buy.
Keep in mind that you may need to make repairs to your new office, which will eat into your budget. You could need a new roof, updated plumbing, or you may need to knock down a wall or two to make more room. If you need repairs done, let the professionals handle it. Contact a professional roofing installation company, a local plumber, and/or other repair professionals to get your building in good shape.
You should also look at where you’ll want your dental health office to be. Do you want it to be along a busy road that has a strip mall and a 24 hour emergency care facility on it? Or do you want your office to be located in the an office park in the suburbs? You’ll want to think about which area you’ll get the most clients from. You should also put yourself in your patients’ shoes when picking a location. You should ensure your patients can find your office easily, and that they feel comfortable once they’re inside.
Step 5: Evaluate The Legalities
There are a lot of legal parameters that come with opening a dental practice. Before you officially open your practice, consult a lawyer to make sure you have all your bases covered. They will help you determine what licensing you need and how you should register and file your state and federal taxes.
You should also brush up on the legal responsibilities you will have as a private practice dentist. If you were previously working for another dentist’s office, you may not have had as many legal responsibilities think about. Now, you’re in an entirely different situation. You will still be a dental health professional, but you’ll also be a business owner and manager. You’ll have new legal responsibilities on your shoulders, and you should know exactly what they are.
Step 6: Invest In Equipment
There’s a decent chance you didn’t have to worry about buying dental equipment before you decided to open your own practice. You’ll have to get familiar with the equipment buying process and determine what equipment you need to get.
This equipment includes patient chairs, sterilization tools, microscopes, dental health tools, and x-ray imaging technology. You also need to invest in equipment for the administrative side of business, like an appointment scheduling software and computers for the reception area. You should also remember that you’ll need furniture for the waiting room. It would also be wise to invest in a commercial elevator and lifts to help wheelchair-bound patients.
Buying equipment may eat up a lot of your overhead, but it’s essential that you have this equipment for your practice. You can’t function without it. This equipment can also get pretty heavy, so you’ll want to have the best movers in town help you move everything to your new office.
Step 7: Hire Your Staff
You can’t run a dental practice by yourself. You’ll need to hire a staff that’s dedicated to helping patients with their dental health needs in a supportive and professional way.
You’ll need to hire people on the dental side of business and the administrative side. These roles include dental assistants, dental hygienists, lab technicians, administrative assistants, and if your practice provides oral surgery services, you’ll need an oral surgeon on your team.
Hiring a new staff can feel like an overwhelming process. You may be tempted to hire the first people who apply, but you should go through the proper hiring process with these job candidates. You should bring them in for interviews and see how they act in person. They may have a great resume, but lack people skills. Someone who works in the dental health industry needs to have good people skills, since they’ll be interacting with patients all day. You should bring prospective candidates in for a job interview to evaluate all their skills and determine if they’ll be a good fit within your practice.
If you want to make sure you job postings are seen by actual dental health professionals, post them to an industry-specific job board. There are multiple online job boards that solely cater to the dental industry. If you post your jobs on these boards instead of general job boards, you may get more qualified applicants.
Step 8: Market Your New Practice
Once you get everything in your new practice ready to go, you can focus on a marketing strategy that attracts new patients. Your marketing strategy should include creating a website, creating social media accounts for your practice, and a budget for traditional advertising.
If you don’t have a website already, make creating one a top priority for your marketing plan. A majority of the world’s population searches online for products and services. If you don’t have an online presence, you’ll miss out on a LOT of digital traffic. You can use your website to explain your practice, tell your story, and list your services. You can also have patients make appointments on your website, if you have the right technology. The more user-friendly you make your website, the better.
You should also create social media profiles for your practice. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are free to create. Set up accounts for your practice and start sharing content that helps patients. Ideally, you’ll want to create this content yourself and put it on your website to help boost your SEO ranking. The more channels you have, the more people you’ll reach.
Since your practice is so new, you’ll also want to set aside some money for traditional advertising. These are ads that run in the newspaper, on television and on the radio. These ads will help get your message out to the public and draw in new patients.
Step 9: Reach Out To Former Patients
Statistics show that getting a new customer can cost five times more than keeping an existing customer. Reach out to former patients and see if they’d be willing to check out your new practice. You could even offer them a special deal for making an appointment with your new practice, like getting a free cleaning.
You can also reach out to former patients and see if they’ll help spread the word about your new practice. They may want to stick with their current dentist, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have family or friends looking to switch dentists. The more you use your network, the more likely you’ll get new patients via word-of-mouth.
Step 10: Plan A Grand Opening
All your hard work in the dental health field has paid off. You have your own practice set up, and now you want to tell the world you’re open for business.
A great way to get the word out about your practice opening is to plan a grand opening event. You could invite former and current patients to help you celebrate this achievement. You could also run a special offer that coincides with your grand opening to attract new patients. You could give out a free check up to your tenth new customer, or you could launch a referral offer. Here’s an example: if your current patients refer five new patients, then they get their next cleaning for free. This entices them to spread the word about your new practice, and they could get something valuable in return.
Having your own practice in the dental health industry is something to be proud of. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are now, and there will be more hard work down the line while opening your own practice. There may be times when you think you’re in over your head, but you’ll get through it. Remember that you’re doing this for you and your patients. Don’t stop until you achieve the goals you set for yourself as a dental professional.