Are you ready to start your own practice? The thought is probably both scary and exciting. Maybe you’re a competent dentist with a few years of clinical work under your belt, and you feel like you’re ready to step up and run the show.
Or perhaps you’re a savvy business person who recognises that dental practices are some of the most successful small businesses in the UK, and you’ve spotted a gap in the market.
Whatever level of dental experience you have, starting a new dental practice shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, so we’ve put together a few thoughts on the subject.
Let’s first take a look at the different options you have: purchasing an existing practice, and starting one from scratch.
Purchasing An Existing Practice
By far the easiest way to hit the ground running is to purchase an existing dental practice.
If you go this route, it’s important that you have a clear idea of the following:
1) How closely the price reflects the true value of the practice, or whether it’s over- or under-valued
2) How you intend to add value to the particular practice you have in mind.
Generally, you’re only going to get a great deal on the practice if the owner has significantly undervalued it, which is rare. So that means that your path to profitability lies with point number 2) – how you intend to add value. The most favourable situation is one in which you can see one or two clear areas that could do with improvement, and you can use your particular skills or knowledge to pull things together and crank up the profits.
For example, if you have a solid background in marketing, you might be able to find practices that aren’t reeling new patients in effectively, and they could benefit from your expertise. These kind of practices make for attractive purchases, as the avenues for profit growth are clear and within your reach.
Another crucial factor for ensuring your purchase yields a good return on your investment is your negotiation skills. The lower the price you can convince your seller to settle for, the better.
Negotiation should be taken seriously, and it pays to get as much practice as possible and learn from the best in the field. If you haven’t made many major purchases before in your personal life or business career, take the time to absorb a few of the best books on negotiation. Good negotiators can save themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds with just a couple of hours of discussion.
Starting a New Practice From Scratch
This option is definitely suited to people who have previous business experience. Hiring premises, buying all new equipment, negotiating great deals and designing your practice layout is definitely a lot to tackle in one go, and you might find it overwhelming if your professional experience has been exclusively clinical.
That said, there are several advantages to starting from scratch.
One prominent one is that you won’t be inheriting patients who have an attachment to “the way things were” – you’ll be able to set things up exactly as you want right from the beginning, and attract the patients who are drawn to that. You’ll also be able to take the time to select a great location for your premises, which can be advantageous if you’ve spotted a gap in the market or an underserved area and want to jump on the opportunity.
Starting a new dental practice is a lot of work, and you’ll have to significantly invest in marketing at the start of your venture to get the ball rolling. The initial marketing push needs to be well-organised, well-funded and intelligent – it’s easy to pour thousands of pounds down the drain if you don’t know what you’re doing. Our post on dental practice marketing would be a good place to start!
And if you do decide to go it alone, remember we’re here to help you get the staff you need, quickly and efficiently. Once you’ve made the commitment, head on over to the Dental Gateway and check out the highly trained candidates looking for jobs in your chosen location.