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Setting up for Success: What You Really Need when Starting a New Practice

Published on : 9/9/2015

Building up your own dental practice can be one of the most challenging things you will ever do. There’s so much more to it than simply mastering basic dental procedures and then setting up shop – this is a business, and in a business, several things must be in place in order to secure success in the long run.

Apart from and before gaining the physical aspects of your practice such as the location, equipment, Dental Digital X-ray systems and the like, there are certain things you need to establish. These will create a solid foundation from which your business can grow and thrive.

First Things First: Create a Support System

Successful practices know that the hard work begins even before the patients start coming in. So many dental practitioners go about building their practice without much background or knowledge on how to build a business, which is essentially what a practice is. What happens with many of these practitioners is that they rely only on their clinical skills and knowledge of basic dental procedures, that they miss some critical steps and in the long run, make costly mistakes.

In order to avoid such mistakes, it’s important to first create a support system for yourself of people and institutions that have industry expertise and experience. These can be your most valuable assets, as they can guide you in making the right decisions and give you great advice based on first-hand experience. Your support system can include a local veteran practitioner, providers of dental software in Australia, finance specialists and equipment specialists. They can all assist and advise you on various areas. Ask questions and learn as much as you can from them. They may be able to provide you with more than just advice, but connections to people and other valuable resources as well.

Develop a Business Plan


You need to develop a solid business plan in order to define the direction of your practice, and enable lenders to better understand your goals and long-term vision. The more detailed and well-thought out a plan is, the better your chances for financing and long-term success.

In creating a business plan, there are five key components you need to consider, which can be summarised as ‘CREPT’:

C – stands for capacity: how many treatment rooms you’ll have, how many hours you’ll be operating daily, how you’ll retain patients over the long run.

R – stands for revenue: how many patients you’re likely to have, the rate of new patient growth, the amount of money you earn per hour, as well as the success of collection from financial policies.

E – stands for expense management: predicting your overhead and at which point you’ll break-even.

P – stands for patients: from which demographic they will be, the technology you’ll need for this specific demographic, and the basic dental hygiene practices and basic dental procedures involved in the periodontal program to be implemented.

T – stand for team: the roles in your dental team that you’ll need filled, where you’ll look for good candidates, and the traits you’ll look for in candidates.

Set and Write Your Goals

Any undertaking must have a goal, otherwise it will be aimless. By establishing clearly defined goals, every decision you make will be guided by these goals.

Given the significance of these goals, it’s important to take time to sit down and really think about them and write them down. Make sure that they’re SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and trackable. For instance, do not just say that you plan on getting additional training; be specific and say you’ll get Dental4Windows training for purposes of practice advancement and capturing more discerning patients of a certain demographic.

Build up Your Team

Research indicates that 85 per cent of dental practice success relies not on a dentist’s expertise in basic dental hygiene and procedures, but on a practice team’s ability to meet their patients’ ‘human’ needs. This means that your team should not only assist you in catering to your patients’ basic dental hygiene needs, but also show great care and attention to detail when it comes to patients’ needs and making them feel comfortable.

3d small person
3d small person the leader of a team allocated with red colour. 3d image. White background.

Of course every team needs a good leader, and that should be you! Remember that a practice is a business, and it takes excellent leadership to run a business. If you’re not confident with your current leadership skills, the good news is you can always learn and develop them through leadership training and coaching.

Create Effective Revenue Drivers

Just as a business ceases to operate without customers, a practice ceases without patients. Two of the most significant drivers of revenue for any practice are active patients and new patient flow. In order to lure patients in and keep them with you, you will need to spend some time, effort and of course money to market your practice both internally and externally.

Also, make sure to find an outside patient financing partner. This will ensure that your cash flow remains consistent, which you will need especially during the first few years of operation.

If you’re planning to build your own practice remember: it takes more than just expertise in basic dental hygiene and basic dental procedures to enjoy a long-running and profitable practice. Extensive planning in the right areas is necessary. Make sure you take note of the points given above to achieve better chances of success, and we wish you good luck on your future endeavour!

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