If you are a dentist running a successful office, you’ve probably had the thought cross your mind: “Am I ready for dental practice growth? Should I open a second location for my dental practice?”
Immediately followed by, “I don’t know, might be too overwhelming … ”
And then, “Maybe, but think of the growth opportunities … ”
“Maybe … ”
Today, we’ve enlisted the insights of DentalHQ founder, Dr. Brett Wells, to help you through this internal dialogue. Having built his own family of practices in North Carolina, Dr. Wells has a unique perspective on the thought process behind deciding if your dental practice is ready for growth. Here are some questions he suggests you ask yourself (internal answers are up to you):
Is there an area that needs a dental practice?
This is obvious, but it’s an important question to start with. Maybe the town next to yours isn’t saturated with dental practices? Or maybe you know of an up-and-coming area that will eventually benefit from having its own local practice.
When Dr. Wells considered opening a second location, he already had a thriving office in the northern suburbs of Raleigh, NC. He and his business partner saw a void in the market in the then-growing downtown Raleigh area. Downtown was hip and happening, but just starting, and new residents certainly weren’t going to drive all the way up to his first office for their regular cleanings. Office #2 was born! And indeed, it was a huge success.
You likely already have a sense of what your entire region looks like from this perspective, but if you aren’t sure, do some research. How many practices are there in the area you’d like to open in, and how does that number compare with the population?
Once you’ve figured all of that out, there is another question of numbers you must contemplate: double the staff.
Do you feel comfortable hiring and managing additional team members, including associate dentists?
One dentist can’t run the show at multiple offices, all at one time. If you want to open a second (and third, and…), you’ll have to find some associate dentists you can collaborate effectively with and trust to care for your patients.
A useful tip from Dr. Wells is to consider allowing associate dentists to work their way into partial ownership of your business. By doing this, he has been able to attract and retain some of the East Coast’s most incredible dental talent.
That said, the dentists aren’t actually the hardest part of the staffing.
For some time now, there has been a shortage of dental hygiene faculty nationwide. This is largely due to the too-short list of universities that offer relevant programs in the U.S. As a dentist, you likely already feel the implications of this, but don’t forget the fact that you’ll be doubly pressed for team members when you have two locations to staff.
On that same note, think about this: There will be two weekly meetings, two teams of employees, two opportunities for staffing issues and turnover, etc. Many dentists don’t enjoy this part of the job, so we think it’s worth it to carefully consider how much of this part of running a practice you want to multiply.
If you do feel you can manage all of that, turn inward to ask yourself one final question.
Are you far more passionate about dentistry than the business side of things?
If so, owning and running multiple practices could prove frustrating for you. A fervor for the trade is beneficial in growing a business, but if you don’t think you’ll ever want to leave the dentist’s chair for the boardroom, this transition might actually rob you of the fulfillment you already find in your work.
Dr. Wells offers his take: “I learned that I enjoyed the operations of the business as much as patient care. It wasn’t long before I was totally into the ideas of optimizing systems and running a profitable, multi-location business.”
Does that sound like you? Great! There's plenty of help to be found between networking groups and group practice organizations. Plus, plenty of dental software solutions exist to make that business-running part of things easier, from cloud-based Practice Management Systems to automated patient communications systems to analytics to membership plan platforms.
Yes, membership plans (you knew we'd get there somehow). Membership Plan platforms like DentalHQ make running a program at multiple offices just as simple as it is for one office: multi-office dashboards, multiple user permissions, reporting...all the good stuff. Implement the same program practice-wide or customize each office – it's up to you. End result: more efficiency, happier team, happier patients.
Now, if you read Dr. Wells' statement and thought, “eh, not me,” then becoming an entrepreneurial multi-location owner through dental practice growth might not be your calling. As cheesy as it sounds, now is the time for some soul-searching!
As a successful dentist, the last thing you want is to overburden yourself to the point of failing not only at your new location, but with your first one, too. Sometimes, when you take on too much, everything you touch can suffer.
Let’s recap to make sure that doesn’t happen! Do you agree with each of these?
- I know of an area that needs a dental practice, and I would like to open one there.
- I'm comfortable handling not one, but two sets of staff.
- I would like to dive further into the business-running aspect of practice ownership.
If all of those sound true for you, congratulations and good luck! Your dental practice is ready for growth! We would be happy to jump in and help you along the way, and you can learn more about how we could do that at dentalhq.com.