5 Facts to Consider before Building a Dental Practice

By: Marcey Bearrs, Team Leader and Regional Manager

Question from a new dentist:
I just found a great space for my new dental practice.  It is near my home and in a medical/dental building which I think is better than a strip mall location.  I am stuck on whether to sacrifice reception room space for a fourth treatment room.  What do you think?   Dr. Nice, Office Anywhere, USA

Dear Dr. Nice,

The excitement of opening your own practice and the “build it, they will come” romance needs to be quieted to some real time considerations.

  1. My first question would be did you complete a business plan prior to choosing this location? In this business plan would be your Vision for your practice success.  The vision is about you and what your perfect day schedule as far as services and products you wish to provide to patients.  Do you want to treat children?  Do you want to treat the underserved in your community?  Do you want to do endodontic therapy and oral surgery in your general practice? Will you be providing oral or IV sedation? Will you be employing a hygienist at once or further down the road?   The vision of your practice also includes where you see yourself in 6 months, 1 year and five years from now.  This vision helps you to establish goals for the practice growth.  If your desire is to hire an associate as soon as the patient base is at 1,400 patients because your vision is to work only three days a week then this will have a bearing on the number of treatment rooms you will be plumbing.  If you want your practice to be mainly children and later to add an orthodontist then you must include in your design a larger reception room and restrooms away from treatment areas, quiet rooms and more treatment rooms.
  2. The location of the practice is critical for success.  Some doctors have the drive and the personality to be successful anywhere they decide to open shop but for the majority the location needs careful thought and due diligence in researching the pros and cons of the location. A detailed study of the demographics and the psychographics of the community around the practice site is a must before making a decision on whether to purchase in the area.  Do you really want to practice close to your home?  You will be running into patients when shopping, dining or going to movies.  This has to be a comfort zone for you.  If your practice is in a strip mall or shopping complex you will have higher visibility and “walk-in” patients.  Some patients like the convenience of seeing the dentist and shopping for groceries in the same morning.  If you are in a medical/dental complex make sure there is plenty of parking available in your lease and check out the signage requirements.  Visibility can be an issue in buildings that forbid signage.
  3. Start-up costs and operational costs for the new practice must be estimated as realistically as possible. Careful planning and management of the start-up monies and the complete understanding of where the money will be going is critical to the getting the practice up and running and profitable as quickly as possible.  Included in these cost is the marketing expenses necessary to get a new practice up and running.
  4. Marketing and visibility in the community is a do or die commitment.   A thorough demographic and psychographic study of the competition important.  Is your practice area already saturated with dentists?  Is the opportunity to do the kind of dentistry you are envisioning a demand in the area? How will you set yourself apart from other general dentists in the area?  If you are a specialist, who else is offering the same services in the area?  What are they not doing that you could do for your patients?  Marketing is everything and everyday and never stops.  You will need a plan of action for marketing both internally and externally.
  5. Human resources will tax even the most prepared of new doctors.  What will you have to pay in staff salaries?  What benefits do you have to offer if any? How do you find and hire great employees and how do they look and act?  The necessity of the Employee Policy Manual for preventing difficult situations such as wrongful termination suits.  Again an area that calls for expert consulting advice.

Opening a new practice is an exciting and also overwhelming time in the life of a new dentist.  eAssist is here to help with insurance billing specialists to file all of your insurance claims the right way for a fee less than hiring someone to come into your office.  eAssist can also bill for patient balances and take over the responsibility of the practice accounting for an affordable price.

eAssist Helpful News and Billing Tips; Edition #109


  • Excellent article with many thought provoking points.

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