Once qualified, dentists can choose whether to join an existing practice or to establish their own new practice, or indeed to acquire an existing practice. To help plan for success, it is important to have a strategic overview and create a practice assessment and objectives report. This is a document that outlines the professional business and lifestyle objectives and the considerations and requirements for a practice in order to meet those goals. The assessment is to be quantitative and qualitative. The qualitative aspects of the plan will cover the professional goals and practice business objectives. There are many areas of considerations and this article outlines the key areas.
Desired patient demographics are vital to plan for success. For example is the practice to be located in a central or rural location, what is the ideal patient demographic? what is the level of demand for certain types of dental treatment. What is the ideal profile of patients, for example national health or private patients. What are the preferred payment methods and how will this impact cash flow for the dental office. How far will the professional have to travel to the practice, how accessible is it for patients and providers.
The running and branding of the practice is also key. What will be the philosophy, how will the team be recruited, what areas of specialty will be offered. What is the level and commitment to education in the areas of dentistry, business and management. The business specifics will be vital to the success of the practice, for more information it is advisable to consult with other dentists in the area. Other information can include the practice size, revenue, operations etc. The practice running costs will need to fit the business profile in terms of patient growth and revenue, in addition to recurring income for stability.
Equipment and furnishings are important for the practice as patients expect a standard to fit with the practice ambience. Standards are important as there is a growing trend towards a dental spa experience and will be influenced by the ideal patient demographics. However, property, refurbishment and equipment are all high cost categories so financing and debt planning and repayment will need to be factored in carefully to ensure profitability. Renumeration packages will need to be established for the the owner and associates, in addition to planning for taxes, pensions and reserves.
This planning exercise works in the same was as a business plan and should be completed thoroughly. The document will then act as a reference document for planning and benchmarking. Regardless of the choice of career path for dental professionals, forward planning and asking the right questions will put professionals on the right path for success.