When should you start your own dental practice?: part two

In the second of three articles which provide a roadmap for dentists looking to start their own practice, Ads Thanki shares the first 10 steps for building a successful dental business.

Part one of the series explained how to establish whether its the right time to open a practice – catch up here.

Before making definitive decisions regarding your dental practice, thoroughly review your options and obligations.

Before commencing a new practice, brainstorm your thoughts in a centralised place. It’s easy to overlook steps when all the information is in your head so keep organised with a dedicated notebook to track your ideas and define your ‘why?’

Starting a new dental practice checklist

Preparation is key when starting a business. Here are my essential points to check through: 

Create a business plan

Consider a partner

Find a location for your dental practice

Decide on necessary equipment and calculate associated costs

Determine space requirements

Secure financing

Sign a lease

Assess staffing needs

Develop a dental marketing strategy

Obtain necessary regulatory approvals eg CQC, NHS.

This list doesn’t cover every factor in opening a new dental practice, however it provides a framework to start somewhere! 

Some tasks involve financial planning. Perform thorough research and include detailed financial information in your business plan, covering lease, salaries, equipment, website creation, licensing fees, and other costs.

Progressing through these steps will most certainly be fluid and non-linear. You might complete them out of order, start a step and return to it later, or complete some concurrently. Addressing all steps ensures readiness for challenges ahead.

1. Developing a business plan

The initial step in opening a dental practice is creating a detailed business plan. This master document should encompass your business strategy, procedures, costs, earnings and exit strategy.

Include an outline of categories in your business plan and incorporate information gathered from this checklist. An exit strategy, brand details and marketing strategy are crucial components.

2. Weighing the pros and cons of having a business partner

Decide whether to open the practice alone or with associate dentists. Consider a partner for cost-sharing and easier loan acquisition. Choose a partner aligned with your vision and mindset. Ensure you have a robust legal partnership agreement covering potential business changes.

3. Selecting a strategic location for your practice

Choosing a practice location is a critical decision requiring thorough research. Consider population, cost of living, competition, and services offered by other providers. Analyse dentists per capita, practice locations, and potential for walk-ins. Factor in parking accessibility and proximity to public transportation.

Rent costs vary, so compare options based on location and space type.

4. Identifying necessary dental equipment

Allocate funds for upfront equipment costs, including furniture, computer systems and practice management software. Research options, considering leasing initially. Choose reputable equipment suppliers and seek lender options for equipment financing.

5. Evaluating space and layout needs

Determine required square footage for waiting, reception, exam rooms, X-ray room, storage, break room, and additional spaces. Envision practice layout, considering private offices or consultation rooms. Calculate total square footage needed.

6. Obtaining financing to start your practice

Apply for loans or lines of credit based on business plan projections. Research lenders, understand requirements, and have legal review of loan offers. Compare financing options for cost-effectiveness.

7. Leasing space

Initiate a thorough search for clinic space, communicating preferences to a practice real estate broker. Compromise on some requirements if necessary. Ensure lease affordability, considering potential rent increases.

8. Staffing your practice – personnel needs

Plan staffing needs early, hiring receptionists, dental nurses, treatment co ordinator and/or practice manager. Research salaries, create a personnel budget, and incorporate costs into financial projections.

9. Building a patient base – marketing strategies

Develop a marketing strategy with a website, social media presence, and a Facebook business page. Explore website creation options, considering web design or dental marketing companies. Begin SEO efforts early for visibility.

Consider paid digital advertising for quick patient influx through PPC for dentists.a

10. Navigating legal requirements – compliance and licenses

Ensure compliance with all necessary compliance, licenses, and business organisation papers. 

Execute the starting a new dental practice checklist by addressing these steps. The order may vary based on needs.

Read more from Ads Thanki:

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