Dental practice start-up success:
We’ll discuss the main factors that influence the success of a dental start-up in this article. Please note these factors do not include start-ups that bring across an existing patient base.
The location of a start-up is the most important of these factors. We’re not talking the micro location or physical attributes of the tenancy (i.e items such as exposure, parking and signage), although important. Rather, we’re talking about the broad location within Australia. Most metropolitan areas within a 20-minute drive of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane’s CBDs have their dental demands being met and demand generated by any projected future population growth in these areas can be absorbed by the current dentists. A start-up in these locations, unless bringing a patient base across, will be an uphill battle and business profitability may never be reached. For all other potential locations, it is important to view them from the perspective of the current dentist’s present, current population and projected future population growth. There are still locations around Australia that are considerably under-serviced by dentists, identifying and setting up in these locations can lead to rapid growth of the start-up.
Marketing is important for any start-up business. However, in dental given our high set-up costs, it is even more important to ensure the success of our investment. Identifying gaps in the current competition’s offerings and concentrating on marketing these areas is important. We recommend allocating roughly 40K to marketing in the first year for a dental start-up. The exception for this is a regional or rural area with no competition. A large marketing budget will likely be wasted in this population as they will have no other choice of dentist.
Operator communication skills:
Many will be surprised to see that we place more emphasis on the communication skills of the operator in a start-up compared to their clinical skills. It is obviously important to have solid clinical skills. All dentists looking to be a private practice owner should be competent in fixed prosthodontics. However, being able to communicate treatment need and convert patients to treatment is more important. Without the conversion there is no treatment being done. We’re not talking about over-servicing or unethical conduct. We’re talking about presenting the ideal treatment plan and having patients consistently chose it.
Operator clinical skills and experience:
We view the clinical skills and experience of the operator as the 4th most important item which may surprise many. No matter how good the dentist is, if they have set-up in a saturated location the start-up will never succeed. There are many definitions of success. However, from a purely financial perspective we define it as the start-up achieving 550K in annual billings. This is the rough point at which business profitability will be achieved (as long as annual rent is reasonable and other expenses have been kept within industry benchmarks – please see our previous articles for this). Offering a niche procedure such as implants or orthodontics will certainly help a start-up succeed. Although, the location, marketing and communication still trumps this.
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We cover this and much more at our practice ownership seminars. Our next practice ownership seminar is coming up in Melbourne on the 5th and 6th of February 2022. These seminars now only have a few spaces available – please register ASAP to avoid missing out.
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