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A Complete Guide to Opening Your Own Dental Practice

Millennial Magazine - dental-practice

Even though one of the most feared professions, a dentist is crucial to maintaining optimal general health. Just like a doctor or a physiotherapist, every single person will need the assistance of a dentist somewhere in their lives, whether it be for a simple extraction, braces, or to fix an ache that won’t go away.

In accordance with the high demand for dentists, you can never have too many practices in your town, and when you need help as soon as possible for your aching tooth, a dentist is nothing short of an angel in disguise. Becoming a dentist takes six to eight years of studying, as well as endless hours of apprenticeships, so getting to the point of opening up your own practice is exciting yet daunting in some ways.

A dental practice is, in many ways, like any other business and has many moving parts. This can become a bit intimidating for some individuals, which is why this complete guide can act as a helping hand for you to tackle each task one at a time and open up an efficient and profitable practice. 

Step 1 – Startup Capital

To begin with, you’ll need an initial investment to cover the costs of setting up the practice. The startup capital will pay for buying or hiring offices, purchasing equipment, at least a few months of staff salaries, and marketing. A dental practice’s startup capital can be pretty costly and can range more than $250 000; this is a large sum of money that needs to be available immediately to complete the setup.

One of the most significant factors contributing to such a large amount is the required equipment, which includes advanced machines and gadgets such as x-ray machines, dental patient chairs, equipment to sterilize instruments, etc. Suppose you don’t have the immediate funds available to invest in your practice. In that case, you can consider applying for a business loan at a financial institution, or you can approach an investor with whom you are willing to partner up. Both of these alternatives will require a business plan to be set up in order to present it to both parties. 

A business plan is a document where the goals and objectives of your practice are laid out, along with how the company plans to achieve these goals. Your business plan will also include timeframes in which these objectives must be reached as well as marketing strategies, cost layouts, and more. A neat and comprehensive business plan will ensure you acquire the necessary funds to open your practice and have enough capital to promote it correctly as well.

Step 2 – Location

One of the critical elements of your dental practice will be its location. Most practices are either in bustling areas, like malls or centers, or in a residential neighborhood conveniently situated close to people’s homes. When viewing potential offices, make sure that it is spacious enough for all the equipment that will need to be placed inside and a reception area where clients can sit and wait for their appointment.

Also, be sure that the rental costs of the offices are reasonable; even though you need a prime spot, it’s not worth costing an arm and a leg and strangling your practice’s livelihood each month. The location should be visible from nearby roads and also have signage that catches the eye. Take precautions not to be located in an area that is already saturated with similar services, seeing as it may impact the number of patients you receive as well as your revenue flow.

Step 3 – Buy equipment

This is the step that will require the most of your startup capital. After you’ve found a suitable space to set up your dental practice, you will need to purchase the necessary equipment. This includes reception furniture, dental chairs, dental equipment, software to manage the practice’s appointments and accounts, and stock. There are many platforms where you can buy dental equipment, so be sure to do some research in order to find what you’re looking for at the best price. You’ll also need to purchase the proper attire for yourself as well as your assistant and receptionists; check out Uniform Advantage women’s scrubs to buy uniforms that will look and feel great.

Step 4 – Website

A website is a great way to gain business exposure and attract patients. One of the many benefits of having a website is that it is open 24/7 to the public, and they can look at the services you have to offer and your rates without the hassle of calling to find out. Patients can also use your website to book appointments and pay their accounts, minimizing the amount of administration required from your side.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many dentists have also started to have virtual appointments with patients, which boosts productivity in these trying times and ensures patients get the assistance they need.Your website should be seamless and uncomplicated in its layout, allowing patients to navigate it without any hassles or trouble. You can consider contracting a software developer to build your website for you, one that has all the bells and whistles you want it to have. Or, if you feel you are up to the task, you can build one yourself using online platforms that provide you with the tools to develop and launch a website.

Step 5 – Hire staff

One of the things you’ll need to have ready from day one of trading is your staff. Consider putting enough time aside to look through candidates and interview them properly as well. You’ll need a receptionist to start with, an assistant to help out when working on patients, and perhaps also someone to handle the accounts and collections. Regarding the staff, there will also need to be funds allocated in the budget to cover salaries, health insurance, paid time off, and other benefits. 

Step 6 – Legal Aspect

These are some of the finer details that need to be sorted out but are just as crucial as anything else on the list. In order to open a dental practice, you’ll need a few documents ready to be compliant with government health care regulations. Acquiring insurance from the government can sometimes take up to a few months, as well as earning the credentials needed for your practice. Ensure you have a license to practice in your state, and remember to have a national provider number and are registered through the DEA.

Try looking at your local regulations that apply to your area as well and ensure you are compliant. Next, you’ll need to set up a legal structure for your practice and start the registration process for local and state taxes. If you feel you need some assistance, try getting in touch with a healthcare attorney to help with all the legalities – they will also make sure you aren’t missing any documents or approvals.

Step 7 – Marketing

Properly promoting your business will ensure that you receive a steady stream of clientele from day one. Since your practice is new and you don’t yet have a reputation that supplies you with patients, your marketing will be crucial to get the word out there that you are open and ready for business. Times have changed, and there are many ways to promote a business along with word-of-mouth and pamphlets – these methods include the utilization of online tools and platforms. Since you’ll have a well-designed website by the time you start your marketing campaign, the website will be the place people go to when wanting to find out more, meaning your marketing will also increase the amount of traffic your website receives.

Not only is this crucial to gain exposure, but you need to position yourself right up there with your competitors who have been in the game perhaps much longer than you have. Marketing strategies include paid social media marketing; this is where you will be able to promote your advertisement and allow it to reach thousands of viewers by paying a fixed rate. Another technique you can try is SEO, short for search engine optimization. This method will enable you to utilize the tools available to you to ensure that your website will rank much higher on google when anyone in the vicinity searches anything dentistry-related. Another method you can also utilize in google ads – all of the above will be essential to forming an initial stream of patients to get your practice going and making a name for yourself. 

Opening your own dental practice can feel intimidating, and you may sometimes feel as if you’re not up for the task and all the challenges that come along with it. But, by adhering to the above guidelines and tackling them each one by one, the task at hand will feel much smaller and more manageable. Before you know it, you’ll have a practice that is not only open but also booming and profitable!

What do you think?

Written by Taryn Barnes

Taryn Barnes is a freelance writer and blogger obsessed with HR, Millennial culture, work life balance, and all things tech.

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