Opening a new dental office isn’t a stroll in the park. While an exciting new chapter, it also presents a lot of challenges. You’ll have to make numerous decisions and navigate unknowns you didn’t know when you were in dental school or working as an associate. Here’s what you should know when you embark on this new journey.
1. Dental school didn’t teach you how to run a business
“But I took one of those business classes!” you may say. That’s true, but the reality of running a business is more than you can learn from a textbook or two. In fact, most new dentists we talk to feel under-prepared for business ownership.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and confused. You aren’t the only one in this boat and don’t have to go it alone. There are many resources from which you can learn about the business side of running a dental practice, so keep your eyes peeled for these opportunities.
2. It's okay to ask for (and pay for) help
Surround yourself with a reliable team — besides hiring experienced staff, you should have access to knowledgeable and reputable people who can help you structure your business and get it off the ground. These professionals include an attorney, CPA, banker, business consultant, commercial realtor, etc. Here’s a customer story about this.
While you’ll need to pay for professional services, you can often get free advice from mentors and other dentists — they can give you the latest, most relevant, candid, and from-the-trenches insights.
3. Take your time and do it right
Go slow to go fast — you’re more likely to make mistakes when in a rush. Take the time, craft a plan, do your homework, and don’t cut corners. The choices you make will likely affect your practice for years to come.
Most decision-making processes can be a Goldilocks situation: If you overthink it, you get stuck in analysis paralysis. If you underthink it, you risk taking hasty actions. Trust yourself, and don’t feel pressured to make decisions before you feel ready. Seek sound advice to build your A-team, find the right location, and get your finances in order (see tip #2).
4. Your practice isn’t about you
Successful dental practices deliver a patient-first experience. From marketing messaging to patient communications, you must put your patient’s challenges, concerns, and desired outcomes front and center.
But how to implement a patient-centric operation? Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Dental practice management platforms like tab 32 offer patient communication features that integrate with online booking, EHR, and revenue discovery functions, allowing you to send the most relevant messages (e.g., recare and incomplete treatment reminders) at the right time.
5. Don’t just focus on chasing new patients
You know you need to market your practice to get new patients. While attracting people to your business is essential, don’t forget to build relationships with existing patients. Retaining a patient is less costly than acquiring a new one, plus loyal patients have a higher lifetime value and are more profitable.
We have done the math: A modest improvement of 2% to 3% in patient retention rate over three years will increase the practice value by $100,000. A dental practice without a patient retention strategy is like a leaky bucket — you’d be spending a lot of money on patient acquisition without the profits to show for it!
6. Choose a robust dental practice management platform
The software you use to manage your day-to-day operations will impact your practice’s efficiency, employee productivity, and patient experience. Imagine your staff spending all day wrangling the software or trying to transfer data from one application to another manually — nothing else gets done!
It may be tempting to cobble together a few applications to cut costs. While we’re all about being smart about your spending, you shouldn’t cut corners here. Stitching disparate software together could lead to various maintenance, scalability, and security issues down the road.
Instead, do it right (see #3). Invest in a robust all-in-one cloud-based dental practice management platform like tab32, which has everything you need to run a successful dental practice. For example, you can start with our solo practice package and add features and capacity as you scale. You can access the capabilities you need as you need them without paying for ones you don’t use.
Request a demo to see how we can help you grow your dental practice with the right tools.
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