Buying your first dental practice can initially be very overwhelming. There are many components to dental ownership that are not taught in school and learning to navigate the ways to find the “perfect” practice is like buying a home. Below are some tips to help with the process.
Find the Perfection Location
Finding the perfect location is the first step in buying a practice. You need to take into consideration a few things when you are looking for an office because you may remain in that area for many years or even your entire career.
How far from home do you want to travel?
Is the area you are looking in saturated with other dentists?
What demographic are you looking to treat?
Are you looking for a standalone building or a medical condominium?
Depending on your area of expertise, you want to choose a location that is close to other businesses to network. If you are a dental specialist like a pediatric dentist, choose a location that is highly saturated with schools and young families.
A specialist like an endodontist or periodontist relies heavily on dental referrals, so choosing a location that has many general dentists is key.
Acquire a Dental Loan
Most dentists are experts at acquiring bank loans because of school debt. The good news is that most banks see very favorably to dentists opening new practices because the risk of failure is very low.
Dentistry is traditionally a safe business venture and banks acknowledge this by offering several hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans for dental build-outs.
If you are in need of a business loan, you need to plan out the cost of purchasing a practice and how much you will need to begin your new office. A typical office that is around 2400 sq feet can cost anywhere from $240,000 to $500,000.
Besides building an office, you have to take into consideration the cost of equipment, supplies, and overhead.
Unlike other healthcare professionals, dentists need the most equipment and supplies to see patients. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of supplies needed for preventive, restorative, and surgical dentistry.
Equipment alone is an expensive venture, but there are many ways to purchase equipment on a budget.
Remember that not every piece of dental equipment needs to be new. There are dental discount websites and refurbished equipment sites that sell dental chairs, x-ray units, and more to help dentists get started on a budget.
As you grow your office you can slowly replace older equipment with newer pieces, but it is wise to invest in equipment that is updated and beneficial to your patients like digital x-rays, panoramic machines, intraoral scanners, and CAD/CAM technology.
Having advanced dental technology can greatly contribute to better work efficiency as well as increased safety for your patients.
Hiring a Dental Team
Once you are ready to open your office, you’ll need a dedicated team to assist you. This may consist of receptionists, hygienists, dental assistants, and dental floaters. Some offices also need dental billers, office managers, and equipment/IT staff.
Hiring a team can be challenging because you want to find motivated employees with welcoming personalities. Your dental team helps define your office culture and without a positive, uplifting staff, it can turn away patients.
Set Realistic Expectations
Your first year is a learning experience for your entire team, including yourself. You need to give yourself grace to learn the best way to run your practice and get comfortable doing clinical dentistry while also managing an office.
Set a quarterly production goal and if you can reach that or come close to it, give yourself more than a pat on the back. It takes years of positive feedback and mistakes to run a successful dental practice, but year one is certainly one of the memorable ones.
Buying your first practice can be stressful but just remember that remaining organized (and calm - if possible) is the first step in the process.
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