Starting a dental practice in 2023 is a big undertaking, but with the right preparation and understanding of the current market, it can be incredibly rewarding. The dental services market is estimated to reach USD 72.09 billion by 2027, a testament to the advances in dental technology and treatment methods. With a rising cost of living and interest rates, it is important for practice owners to stay on top of key performance indicators to identify potential growth opportunities. Before making any decisions, factors such as industry trends, partnering, hiring staff, and marketing strategies should be taken into account, as well as personal and financial aspects. This guide provides an overview of the necessary steps to take for launching a successful dental practice in 2023.
Create a Business Plan
To begin setting up a dental practice from the ground up, creating a business plan is the first step. This type of plan is a comprehensive, dynamic document that lays out your strategies, processes, costs, profits, and other financial information. You may need to secure a loan for the practice, and for that, you will need a detailed business plan. There are plenty of resources that can assist you in creating your plan, such as online templates and outlines. You should also include an exit strategy in your plan, even though it may seem premature; this will make it simpler to sell your practice in the future when you are ready to move on.
Decide Whether You Want a Partner
When deciding to open a dental practice, it is important to consider if you’ll want to team up with a partner. A partner can offset the costs of business and help obtain a loan; however, finding someone who shares your vision can be challenging. If you decide partnering is the right choice for you, be sure to include details about the partnership in your business plan, such as what will happen if one partner wants to leave the practice. Even if you don’t plan for a partner in the beginning, you can always reconsider if it becomes difficult financing the practice on your own.
Settle on a Location for Your Practice
Before you commit to a location for your dental practice, you’ll want to research areas and analyze the competition. First, consider where you want to live and work, and then research the demographics and dentists per capita in the region. Take into account the potential for walk-ins, and think about the advantages of being on the ground floor or upper levels of a commercial property. Additionally, pay attention to the services provided by other dentists in the area and how you can make your practice stand out. With an understanding of the competition and, you’ll be able to make the best decision when choosing the location for your dental office.
Determine What Equipment You’ll Need
Significant expenses associated with launching a dental practice include the initial costs of purchasing the necessary equipment. This includes dental tools, furniture, computers, medical and office supplies, and dental practice management software. You’ll want to find a reliable seller of quality, affordable equipment, research all available options, and even consider leasing.
Determine Your Space and Layout Requirements
Before your search for office space, consider the amount of square footage you need for all the rooms in your practice. Take into account the waiting room, bathroom, reception area, exam rooms, x-ray room, storage space, and break room you may need. Consider including a private office, a consultation room, or a sterilization area, depending on your practice’s needs. Create a list of the rooms you need and their approximate square footage, and then you will have an overall idea of the space you will require.
Obtain Financing to Start Your Practice
To open a new dental office, you need to secure financing. Typically, the amount required for this is around $475,000. Therefore, you’ll need to apply for a loan from a bank or other lender. If this isn’t possible, you may have to consider a partnership. To get the loan, you’ll need to start talking to lenders and put together a loan package, then apply for the loan and finalize the package. You can also get a line of credit and then apply for any required equipment financing.
Obtain a Lease for Your Office Space
Once you have identified the perfect office space for your dental practice and have secured the necessary financing, it is time to begin the process of signing a lease. Working with a practice broker may be helpful, although it can be a lengthy process. Most dentists will sign a 10-year lease to ensure that their monthly rent is locked in and to protect them from rate increases. Before signing the lease, be sure to have your attorney look it over.
Determine Your Personnel Needs
When planning to open a dental practice, it is important to start considering your staffing needs early on. Though you may not be ready to hire another dentist right away, you still need to bring on a receptionist, dental assistants, and a billing specialist or office manager. If you can’t hire a full-time IT person, you should look into having someone available on call. To begin, decide how many employees you need and what a reasonable salary for each position would be. This information should be included in your business plan and used to determine financial projections. As you get closer to your opening date, you can start the process of hiring the necessary personnel.
Come Up With a Dental Marketing Strategy
A website is essential for any business. A Facebook business page and social media presence for a dental practice is not enough. A website can help bring in new patients, increase recognition of your brand, and will be a primary marketing tool. You can make a website yourself using a website builder like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix, but hiring a web design or dental marketing company is a better option as they can help create a website that is tailored to your dental practice and help with SEO. You should start early to begin generating attention before the practice is running. Paid digital advertising, such as PPC for dentists, is also a good way to quickly draw in patients.
Apply for Necessary Permits and Licenses
In order to open a dental practice, you’ll need to secure the necessary permits, licenses, and other documents. This may include business organization papers (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation), a tax ID number, and a business license from the state. Additionally, joining professional and/or dental organizations may be beneficial in order to become familiar with other local entrepreneurs. It is important to research applicable laws and regulations in the state to ensure everything is filed correctly and to leave enough time and budget to acquire any necessary permits.