Soaring inflation and the pandemic lockdowns have affected the current business climate. Even dental practices are suffering from lower profit margins. Against the backdrop of these challenges, there’s one question in the minds of dental professionals: When is the right time to expand my dental practice?
This article highlights key points should you decide to expand your practice, as heard from Dr. Jim Clark, speaking from his 30-plus-year clinical career. He is a consultant for Benco and has recently appeared on Accumulating Wealth podcast about the topic.
Dr. Clark has experienced creating, buying, and selling multiple practices, merging his practice with a DSO, working as a military dentist, and finally joining Benco as a consultant to help doctors transition in and out of their practice.
Let’s see what he has to say about the issue.
When Is the Right Time To Expand My Dental Practice?
#1 When you need additions to your dental team.
Every practice owner has to start thinking about hiring more hygienists and assistants to their team. This allows room for the practice to grow.
One indication that shows your business needs new members is when patients have to wait more than two weeks to get an appointment at your clinic. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to hire part-time assistants and hygienists. You’ll need those extra hands to grow and get ahead.
According to Dr. Clark, the need to hire dental assistants and hygienists is a sign that you might need new space.
“You need two chairs for an associate. And if you can add another hygienist, that’s great too. So that’s three,” he said.
More staff means there will be more people to care for your patients. Delegating preventive care to hygienists and dental assistants gives dentists more time to focus on complex procedures like surgery and restoration.
#2 When you need to upgrade your dental equipment.
Outdated equipment could be hurting your business. The same goes for an old-looking dental clinic.
Patients today don’t just look at the dentist’s quality of work. They also scrutinize your clinic and your equipment. Keeping up with advancements in your industry will surely widen your client base.
Dental equipment is a long-term investment. Additionally, you could cut down on maintenance costs with new equipment.
Similarly, a well-designed, comfortable, and aesthetic clinic will attract more business.
So, combining your need for additional equipment and, at the same time making your clinic spacious for clients are clear indications that you need to expand your dental practice space. And the right moment for that is now, while you’re early in your career, or as Dr. Clark puts it, when you’re still young.
“It also depends on the age of the dentist. You don’t want to take on another big debt if you’re over 50. If you’re going to build a building, do it before 50,” he said.
But, Dr. Clark reminds us not to forget to do research.
“If you’re going to…build ground up, what kind of properties are available for you, and where are they located?”
Upgrading may seem expensive at first, but in the long run, modernizing your practice will allow you to treat more patients and make more money.
#3 When you need to increase cash flow.
Is your practice barely breaking even, or worse, losing money? Cutting corners isn’t the right solution. Your business has grown stagnant, and it’s time to grow your practice.
“[If you’re] getting infiltrated with new patients and can’t keep up…having to push them further and further back. My advice in those situations is: don’t make a weak decision.”
Holding back will only cause you to lose more money. Take the giant leap.
Expanding your patient base is a sure way to bring in more money if the business is slow. Hire more staff—level up your marketing game. Get better facilities.
The returns outweigh the costs. It’s better to invest in your practice than to keep running a money pit.
#4 When you need to provide additional treatment.
You’re not just losing money if you keep referring patients to your competitors because you can’t perform specific procedures or treatments. You also run the risk of losing them as clients.
Are you looking to add more specialized treatments to your general practice? Then it’s time to expand your space.
Dr. Clark stressed the importance of visibility when it comes to specialized practice. Here’s one example from him.
“Visibility is really a good thing for ortho practice and a pedia practice…People that want their children to go to a children’s dentist. They search them (pediatric dentist) out,” he explained.
#5 When you want to increase patient satisfaction.
Are you worried about high patient churn rates? Or maybe you’re having trouble gaining new patients? You should probably look into your patient satisfaction.
Running a successful dental practice is not just about oral health and hygiene. To keep your patients satisfied, you need to make your clinic a safe, comfortable, spacious environment.
Remember that dental visits can be scary for first-timers, especially children. A cramped clinic can be stressful for bored children and their parents.
One way to address this is by renovating your clinic. The best clinics cater to patients’ needs. For instance, if most of your patients are professionals, your clinic could be set up like communal workspaces with free Wi-Fi and charging stations.
If you’re looking into buying a bigger space, Dr. Clark recommends this: “Don’t just pick an area and pick a spot without you doing your own research. Go there. Look at what the median income is in the different parts of the area. What patient population is going to suit the way you want to practice it.”
Grow Your Practice with Benco
With almost a century of success in the industry, Benco has the advantage of thinking forward in decades. Our experience has enabled us to become America’s most innovative dental distributor. We can provide you with everything you need to keep your practice up and running. Our experts help dental practice realize their marketing, support, financial, and more goals.
Are you looking to expand your practice? Benco can give you access to America’s largest and most complete dental showrooms for practice design, equipment, and cutting-edge technology. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.
Click Here to Listen | Dr. Jim Clark joins Cain Watters & Associates on the
“THE RIGHT TIME TO EXPAND YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE” Podcast