Building a dental practice from scratch and dealing with practice management is challenging- especially considering the nature of the industry and the increased need for safety at work brought on by the pandemic.
There are many aspects to consider and nuances to get right for a successful dental practice. If you’re looking for a business you can launch hassle-free and quickly, this is not it.
Let’s carefully go over the steps you should take to build a dental practice from the ground up – and you’ll see why shortcuts aren’t the right way:
1. A Business Plan Shouldn’t Be Prepared In Haste
Having a well-structured business plan is the first step to success – don’t rush into developing it.
Before you even start writing a business plan, research the competitors.
Knowing the ins and outs of your competition will help you identify your business opportunities, and understand the market you’re about to enter.
Cover these areas in your business plan:
- Budget and investment
- Services and offers you will provide
- Costs of your services and payment methods
- Your profit margin
- SWOT analysis
- Insurance plans you’ll work with
- Departments and staffing needs
- Physical space to rent or buy
- Marketing plans
If you prepare your business plan well, it will help you move on to the next steps with clearer expectations.
2. Recruiting a Great Team Takes Time
Dental practice owners should pay special attention to the recruitment process and onboarding. Determine your personnel needs – even if you don’t need another dentist to start with, you’ll probably need a receptionist, an office manager or an accountant, an IT person, and a dental assistant at the very minimum.
After deciding the type of job profiles you need, it’s time to develop the job ad description and structure your interview process.
Then, you can advertise the job opening on dentist job boards and social media.
Be creative and ask for referrals from your partners, friends, and network. Word-of-mouth can give you a great outcome when recruiting for your new dental practice.
Once the application process is over, you’ll need to screen resumes and start interviewing potential candidates.
Remember to keep diversity, inclusion, and fair pay in mind throughout the selection process.
Considering the dental staff shortages we’re experiencing at the moment, attracting, recruiting, and retaining quality staff in your practice is crucial for success. Retaining a current employee takes less effort, time, and money than recruiting a new one.
3. No Shortcuts In Optimization – Tailoring Technology Means Trial & Error
Think about the technology, software, and tools you’ll need to use in your dental practice. Don’t be afraid of technology. On the contrary, embrace automation and AI since they can make your life easier by streamlining every workflow in your practice.
The basic types of tools you’ll need to use (or outsource) are:
- An accounting/book-keeping software
- Software for internal communication
- A client communication tool
- A shift scheduling software
- HR and payroll software
- CRM (customer relationship management) software
If you want to offer cutting-edge services and stay ahead of your competition, think about technologies like 3D printing and computer-assisted designing of artificial crowns. This will shorten the time a patient needs to wait for new crowns, bridges, or veneers.
4. Designing the Patient Experience – Research, Research, Testing
Great dental care practices are patient-centric and have a well-structured patient experience. There are many different ways to improve patient experience in your practice, such as:
- Simplified appointment booking
- Regular follow-ups and reminders
- Friendly and attentive staff
- Protective measures against COVID-19
- Waiting room entertainment
- Taking time to educate your patients
- A wide payment method selection
- An option to pay in rates or installments
All of these might sound like small details at first but lead to a much better patient experience in your practice when bundled up together.
If you’re not sure how to measure your dental practice patient experience, simply ask your patients how satisfied they are with the service. A great way to get patients’ feedback is by asking them to fill out a short survey. There is no better way of learning what your patients want than asking them directly.
5. Developing A Marketing Plan That Drives Both Acquisition and Retention
Last but not least, it’s time to build a marketing plan and decide on ways you’re going to reach and attract patients.
Take advantage of technology and digital marketing to grow your practice. Here are some ideas:
- Keep your branding consistent
- A user-friendly and mobile-optimized website
- Blog with dental SEO in mind
- Social media profiles and organic engagement
- Google ads (PPC)
- Paid social ads (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Remember to polish all your social media channels and appearances. For instance, optimize your Google My Business page to increase clinic exposure and discoverability.
Finally, once you attract patients to your dental practice, make sure to retain them. With a great patient experience, technology, and friendly staff, it can be fairly easy to gain their loyalty.
To Sum Up
Overall, the most important thing when starting a dental practice is to strike and keep a balance.
Don’t get caught up in the technical business aspects and forget about patient care- and the other way around. Building a successful practice is a balance between patient care and optimized workflows.
Building a dental practice from the ground up is a costly project, so don’t look for shortcuts and use the above tips to get it right the first time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Derek Jones spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets, and communication. With a focus on healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor costs in line, and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.