For any ambitious dentist, the idea of opening a dental squat practice is an intriguing and exciting one. To get started you will need to take some steps that may seem daunting at first, but that can be broken down into manageable tasks which will see you well on the road to realising your dream practice in no time.
So, we’ve put together these 10 Top Tips to help you get started setting up your own Dental Squat Practice:
Top Tip #1 – Create a watertight business plan
Not the most thrilling place to start, huh? You just want to get on with the exciting stuff. Maybe, but sitting down and creating a comprehensive business plan doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth.
Setting yourself clear, achievable objectives will be key to your success AND prove invaluable if you need to obtain finance or attract business partners to your venture. Think about the business and personal goals you want to achieve over the short, medium and long term and write them down. It doesn’t need to be a weighty tome, but a little bit of upfront thought and planning now will save you time and money in the long run.
Top Tip #2 – Location, location, location!
Perhaps one of the most important and biggest decisions you’ll have to make is where to physically set your practice up.
Your surgery is nothing without patients, so think about how easily they can get to the practice. Ideally it needs to be easy to find and accessible. If the majority of your patients will travel by car, consider how easy it is to park nearby and whether there are parking charges. If patients travel by public transport, how good are the links? Where’s the nearest bus stop or train station?
The location of your dental surgery will also define your footfall from the surrounding area and passers-by. You’re more likely to get noticed on a busy road than a quiet side road or rural location.
Your patients should be front and centre of your location choice, but don’t forget your staff and even your own journey. How easy and far is your commute and is it easy for your team to get to and from work as well?
Also, it’s worth a quick scout around the area to see how close your competition is too. Are there other dental surgeries in the vicinity and how will you stand out from the crowd and differentiate your surgery?
Which leads us on nicely to…
Top Tip #3 – Your brand and identity
Here’s one of those exciting bits!
But there’s a serious element at stake here too. Everything from the way your surgery looks from the outside, the ambience of the reception area and waiting room, to the calmness and comfort of the treatment rooms will influence patient experience and their likelihood to recommend you to others. More on this later, but don’t underestimate word of mouth (No pun intended!)
Having a clever, funky logo and painting the practice your favourite colour is all well and good, but how the surroundings make the patient feel and the consistency of how you apply your brand are hugely important.
Some careful consideration upfront and consistent application of your brand from the start will go a long way to establishing you in your new neighbourhood.
Top Tip #4 – Choosing your equipment & fit out
Another area we all get excited about!
But this one really is of utmost importance and will affect the efficiency of how your practice runs, your workflows and patient experience. Ask yourself what equipment you really need to get your practice up and running.
Are you going to be offering chairside restorations and digital dentistry? Is space limited, so a knee-break dental chair may work better for patient access? What about decontamination workflows and the ‘unseen’ suction equipment every dental practice needs?
Do you need every piece of kit on your shopping list from the outset or can some be added or upgraded as your patient base expands?
Our golden nugget of advice here is to partner with a dental equipment supplier who has the experience and expertise of guiding you through setting up your first dental practice from its first inception to the day you open the doors to your first patients.
You’ll need someone who can help you with everything from dental surgery design & workflows, project management to make sure everything happens at the right time, in the right order and on budget to someone with the technical skills and expertise to execute on-site installation, commissioning and training, with the minimum amount of fuss and mess.
And, yes, here at Blueprint Dental, that’s right up our street and we’d love to discuss your project with you from an early stage.
Top Tip #5 – Financing your dream
So, you’ve created that business plan, found your premises, thought about what equipment you need and even have some ideas about that funky logo…
Now it’s time for the really serious stuff…how are you going to pay for it all?
Well, the good news is there are some awesome specialist finance companies out there who can help you make the right financial choices as you start your business. They can provide you with illustrations and choices for lease purchase and rental options that will provide clarity for your payment plans and options as your business grows.
But, be sure to find yourself a good, reputable finance company, who understand the dental business as well as they do money matters.
In our eyes, you’d do well to find anyone better than Vector Finance, who we’ve worked with on many projects and will also be able to provide guidance on tax planning and efficiencies, as well as any government grants and schemes which you can take advantage of.
Cash flow is also an important consideration in the control of your finances. Make sure you are registered with all the right patient insurance providers and keep up to date with your treatment claims, as well as ensuring patients who pay for treatment do so before leaving the practice. That way, you’ll be in good financial health to make sure you’ve always got the cash to keep well stocked of the consumable items you need to run your practice and before you know it there’ll be enough left over to be drawing a decent income from the practice yourself too.
Top Tip #6 – Who’s in your dream team?
You’ll need to decide what your staffing structure should be from the start and how you might look to add to it as the practice becomes more established.
As tempting as it may be from a financial perspective to minimise wage costs and go it alone from the start, you should consider whether that works on a practical level. You are a skilled clinician, highly trained to perform intricate dental procedures on patients, not a jack of all trades also managing patient appointments, payments and rotas.
We’re assuming you’ll need a dental assistant, but also consider whether some administrative support in the shape of a Practice Manager or reception team would be prudent. With the greatest respect, we all know some superb dental surgeons who freely admit that admin is not their forte. And that’s not to mention that it can be pretty lonely managing all elements of the business on your own.
Maybe you just need some part time help when you first start, building up to a bigger and possibly full time team as time goes by.
Are you offering hygienist services? Do you have a spare surgery you can rent out to other dental professionals who may want to treat patients in your area? These are all things which are good to consider and discuss with your dental equipment supplier from the outset.
Top Tip #7 – Marketing Matters
Marketing your dental squat practice can be difficult, but it’s worth the effort and will pay dividends.
Research the best channels to reach your potential patients. This is likely to be a combination of digital channels like a website and social media, together with non-digital channels like advertising in local newspapers, leaflet drops and word of mouth (we said we’d come back to that and here we are!)
Make sure you make it easy for people to contact you. It might sound obvious, but make sure the telephone number and email address are easily seen. Check, recheck and then check again for spelling mistakes and typos (…we’re back to that brand and patient experience again)
And keep it simple. You don’t have to spend thousands on the swankiest website in town, but you should tie everything in with your brand and keep at it. Regular postings and contact with your potential clients will get people through the door. And as soon as you can get patient testimonials, do so, and don’t be afraid to ask your satisfied patients to spread the word and recommend you to their own friends and family. Word of mouth really is a hugely powerful and wholly under-rated form of marketing.
Top Tip #8 – Get the legal stuff sorted
Taking on premises open to the public, whether you’re renting or buying, entering into financial agreements and potentially employing staff all come with legal implications.
Make sure you’re clear from the start what your legal obligations are and take legal advice to make sure you have everything in order. You don’t want any nasty shocks or surprises further down the line.
The same goes for any building regulations you may need to have in place before starting work on your practice, indemnities and liability policies when dealing with the public and dental-specific legalities around treatments and hazardous waste disposal.
Top Tip #9 – Keep your equipment in tip top working order
The smooth running of your practice once opened will be vital to your reputation and stress levels. The last thing you need is to have to cancel dental procedures due to faulty or unreliable equipment.
Talk to your dental equipment supplier about on-going maintenance routines early on when you’re specifying and choosing your kit.
Get an understanding of what the preventative maintenance schedules are, choose a supplier who has experienced and factory-trained engineers and maximise the uptime of your key pieces of equipment by choosing a dental maintenance team who can service your kit around your schedules to minimise the impact on your working day.
You may even be able to factor in maintenance costs to any lease purchase agreements, but however you’re financing your kit, don’t overlook this element and be sure to include it in any cashflow forecasts you create.
We’re pretty confident at Blueprint Dental that we tick all the boxes when it comes to keeping your squat practice in tip top working order too.
Top Tip #10 – Take time to enjoy your dream
So, you’ve done it! Your very own dental practice, all set up and running; a steady stream of patients coming through the door, some even recommended by their friends and families.
It’s been hard work, you’ve learned so much and you’ve worked incredibly long hours to get to this point, but we hope that with the help of an experienced and reputable dental equipment company, it’s been worth it.
Stop. Look around you and give yourself a minute to take in all that you’ve created, all that you’ve achieved for your patients, your team, your family and yourself.
At Blueprint Dental, we’d love to be part of your journey to realise the dream of your squat practice.
Drop us a line to discuss your dream today.