Dental Clinic Practice Guide

Building a Prosperous Dental Practice

The only way to succeed in the practice of dentistry is to also succeed in the business of dentistry. This is where you can learn what you need to know not only to survive in the dental industry, but to thrive and grow your business from the ground up.

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Part One: Envisioning Your Dentistry Business

If you are like most dentists preparing to start their first successful dentistry business, you have a lot to learn about the nuts and bolts of setting up and managing your practice. However, before you tend to those details, it is a good idea to spend some time visualizing what dentistry success looks like to you.

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Who you are as a dentist can have a profound influence on your ability to attract and retain dental patients. You need to identify your unique personal qualities and the characteristics you are most interested in developing if you want to have a clear vision of your dentistry business’s success. Beyond that, it is crucial to know what you stand for when it is time to develop the branding of your dentistry business.

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The first hardcore, life-altering decision you have to make as a new dentist is what kind of dental clinic you will be a part of as you begin your dentistry career.

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Part Two: Your Building

Your building will have a character all its own. From the location you choose to the way you maintain your office, your building has a large impact on your ability to gain and retain patients. Whether you lease, buy or build, it is important to put time and effort into making the right decisions on which community and building is right for your dentistry business.

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Choosing the right location can make the difference between a thriving practice and one that struggles to make ends meet. Where you practice determines to some extent how you can practice dentistry.

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At this point, you have chosen where to open your dentistry business. Now you are ready to lease office space or buy a building.

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Part Three: Equipping Your Dental Office

Setting up a well-equipped dental office can mean the difference between being able to meet your patient’s’ needs and struggling to provide basic services.

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Before you are ready to start the process of setting up your treatment rooms, you need to get all the basic office equipment and supplies ready to launch your business. Why? While it may be more fun to look through sales brochures and talk to sales reps about the latest dental equipment, you can do that much more easily in a well-equipped office.

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Are you ready to get started equipping yourself and dental team for treating patients? Before you rush out and buy the first treatment equipment you find, stop to design your treatment rooms. Decide how many treatment rooms you want to make from the space you have available. Then, get to work designing the rooms on your own or with the help of a treatment room designer.

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Your basic office is equipped and ready to use. Now the fun begins. It is time to explore your options and purchase all the dental equipment and supplies that will transform this basic business office into a place where you can practice dentistry.

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Buying computer hardware for a dental clinic is just like buying it for any other type of business, right? That is the natural assumption, but the truth is that the programs you are going to run have specific requirements that may differ from those required for other business software.

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Part Four: Building Your Dentistry Team

You are about to hire employees who will work to make your dental practice a success. And, if you are wise, you are about to hire team members to work together to create the dental experience for your patients that will keep them coming back again and again.

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What team members do you really need? Some dentists actually run their daily business operations on their own without the help of a dedicated staff.

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Training your staff can be a huge job even if they already have experience. You need to set up a training plan so that each time you hire a new employee, they can immediately begin training in the way you deem best.

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Part Five: Shaping and Fine-Tuning Your Web Presence

You already have some sort of web presence. That much is certain in this digital age. And, no matter how your patients hear about you initially, they are typically going to look for you online before they come into your practice for the first time.

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Your website provides an introduction to you and your practice for potential customers. In many cases, it is their first impression of who you are as a dentist and what kind of attitude you have towards them.

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Search engine optimization consists of a group of methods for helping search engines find websites. When you type a word or phrase into Google, Google rapidly brings up a list of sites that contain that word or phrase on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) The sites are displayed according to their Pagerank, which is determined by the way those words and related words are used on each website.

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Where are you most likely to find prospective users who are not actively searching specifically for a dentist? According to new research, Internet users spend an average of 1.72 hours per day on social platforms.

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Part Six: Meatspace Marketing and Patient Retention

Meatspace is a term that people who spend a lot of time online use to describe the physical world as opposed to cyberspace or digital communications.

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As a local business, serving local patients, meatspace marketing is at least as important to your business success as Internet marketing if not more so.

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You have something to offer your patients. You do not need to beg them to come to you nor make them feel inferior for not taking care of their dental health up to this point.

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Part Seven: Creating a Steady Stream of Income

You obviously need revenue coming into your dental business if you want it to survive. That isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Even if you have plenty of patients to fill up your time, there is no guarantee that you will get paid what you are worth, or even that you will get paid at all.

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Your fee schedule is the single most important factor determining how profitable your dentistry business can be. Set it too low and no matter how hard you work, you can never get ahead.

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You can plan all the treatments you want to, but if the patient does not accept your proposal, you cannot create that revenue. If you pay too little attention to your patients’ needs, your acceptance rate can go as low as 35%.

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Dealing with insurance companies is perhaps the most neglected topic in dental schools today. Dentists need to accept dental insurance if they want to have a profitable practice. Yet, there is no formal training for this aspect of their work.

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Except for routine dental treatments which may be covered by insurance at 100%, your office will need to collect payment for at least a portion of the cost of the dental treatments you offer. It is always best to collect this payment at the time of service.

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Part Eight: Managing Costs and Accounting

In the previous chapter, you read about how to keep money coming into your new dental practice. However, keeping costs under control and maintaining accurate accounts of all transactions are just as important to your business success as bringing in that revenue.

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Do you feel like you already have a handle on what your costs are going to be to run your new dental practice? Or, do you feel overwhelmed just thinking about it?

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You probably won’t be the one to take care of keeping records and managing your accounts. You will need to hire an accountant to help you with auditing your books and preparing taxes at the very least.

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Part Nine: Working with Other Professionals and Businesses

Both during startup and throughout your dental career, you will need to work with others to achieve your goals for your business. Having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish can help you work with these other professionals and businesses in a more effective way.

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Consultants come in many different flavors. The Consultant Journal, a publication written with the future consultant in mind, separates consultants into four broad categories, each of which can be subdivided further.

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There is no doubt about it: at some point you will need to work with a lawyer for the success of your business. In fact, you might need to work with several lawyers who specialize in different aspects of business and dentistry. Understanding how lawyers work can help you get the most benefit from them.

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Working with dental labs may not be as simple as you think. There is going to be more to the relationship between you and the lab than simply placing an order and receiving a product. You need to find common grounds for a working relationship. You and the dental lab will both benefit when you do.

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Part Ten: Work/Life Balance

If you have gotten this far, you already know you have a huge job to do if you want your dental business to succeed. What you may not be thinking about is that you also need balance in your life if you want to truly feel like a successful person.

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Dentists are at a higher risk of burnout than members of most other professions. The dentist has a unique position as both healthcare provider and businessperson. This dual role can cause dentists to feel overwhelmed and suffer from significant levels of anxiety.

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Right now, you are understandably focused on building your dentistry business, and that’s okay. That is what you have been working toward for many years. But, you need to realize that having a satisfying life will take more than getting more patients or bringing in more revenue.

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