Private Practice

How to find the PERFECT PRACTICE location

I get asked a lot about practice locations and how to start the search for your new practice. The simple answer is this: your ideal location may be different than mine, BUT there are several KEY aspects of practice location that will dramatically increase the likelihood of GROWTH. That's ultimately what you're trying to determine when evaluating practice purchase/startup locations - how easily will it allow you to create growth? Because it's my belief that as young dentists buying out boomer practices - we must transform the declining or old/stable practices we acquire and transform them into growth practices in order to counter declining active patient #, sub par revenue, patients lost during the transition and non existent marketing/growth systems. 

All this said, location is one of the most important (fundamental) aspects of your new practice purchase. It affects patient type/demographic, dentistry type and ultimately your income. Think it through...

So, what should you look for and where should you begin. There are a lot of services that will help you evaluate practice locations (practice cafe, etc) but unless you are entering a STARTUP situation...you probably do not need to use one of these services. Save yourself the money and dig in a little on your own. Honestly, all the info you need can be found on zillow, google and other demographic sites. The trick is knowing what you're trying to interpret.

Here is the formula (I'll list everything you could do to maximize growth...BUT, in the end you may decide to decrease the size of your "net" you use to create growth; and sacrifice some aspects of growth in order to create a practice that better fits your dream. The goal is to create and ensure success...but more importantly to build a practice you love. 

First - Choose a location you'd love to live; a place that you can invest in the community. This should be withing a 15 - 20 minute drive time from your home; beyond that you risk burnout simply from the wasted commute time. I've spoken with handful of dentists this year that are selling their practices simply because they are NOT in the right locations and are sick of the commute. Plan to invest time - energy and marketing $ into the surrounding area/community - throw patient VIP BBQs, engage the local school and businesses. These investments will definitely be an important part of growing your dental business.

So, rural vs urban vs suburban? Truth is this - and the numbers don't lie: a quality rural location delivers less competition and more income for dentists that urban and suburban (generally). So, if you don't mind heading out state...your practice will be cheaper to purchase AND you'll have a higher production/income potential. 

Second - Look at the number of dentists in the surrounding area. Pull up google map and do a "dentist"search. How many are within 10-20 miles? How big are the practices? Are they older  (future acquisition targets)? Are they newer practices with killer reviews and great marketing ( this is a threat to your growth potential )?  Look at the demographic info for the surroundings 10 mile area (patients will usually NOT travel farther than this unless they have no other choice...again rural wins out). What type of patients do you love to work with? Does the patient demographic demand the TYPE of dentistry you love to do? Ideally you patient to dentist ratio should be around 1:2000...anything over that means the market is getting saturated, and growth could be affected. What's the household income? White collar vs blue collar? Is the area full of young families, new builds and anchored (families with stable jobs, kids in school that are less likely to move around)? To see the demographics for your target area, check out zillow demohraphics, neighborhood scout, census bureau, areavibes, point2homes.

Third - Are there schools, large businesses and industry in your target area ( check maps ) that will supply large numbers of patients? What types of insurance are common in the area (call local dentists)? Do most dentists participate with lower reimbursing PPO plans or do you have the ability to remain out of network and focus on cash patinets? 

Fourth - Getting more into the micro aspects of location selection...do a drive by of the practice location. Does it have good signage and street visibility? Is it in a high traffic area (again creating good visibility)? Good visibility is not essential to growing, but it definitely helps you cast a wider net to create growth. 

Ok! That's a good start. If you want to dig deeper or get help while buying/growing your practice - shoot me an email! Check out www.practicingdentist.com to learn about my one on one coaching program. I help with as little (or as much) as my clients like: getting a dentists guidance and perspective on a potential practice appraisal and growth plan to full one one one help setting up and growing their new practice. I've helped so many new practice owners avoid costly mistakes and set their practice up on a sound foundation for growth. See if it's right for you!

~ Cole Brenny DDS

A Dentist's Guide to Life After Dental School...#5 "What The Heck Do Dental Patients Want From Me?"

#5 “Initially, my biggest struggle was a lack of confidence in my clinical skills, ability to diagnose quickly and accurately during a brief hygiene exam and then to clearly articulate a thoughtful treatment plan that would motivate the patient to pursue ideal treatment, without using too much dental jargon.”

~ Practicing Dentist, MN

 

As a young dentist, it is inevitable that you are going to get feedback and questions about your experience level…or lack thereof. You’ll probably start to wince every time you hear the question “My God! How old are you?” and “ You’re just a kid!” Don’t take it personally and be prepared for them. Initially your steepest learning curve is going to be providing competent care under the pressure of a time clock.

 

You’re going to be doing 1-3 hygiene exams and hour and trying to finish your 2 MOD Composites in that same timeframe. You WILL feel the crunch and pressure of the clock...and you WILL get behind unless you have a plan. To be honest, the daily flow of dentistry is like a battle. You’ have to have a plan and a system, but also be flexible.

 

You’ll start to develop a timeline for scheduling and completing procedures.

 

For example: a single 2 surface filling will be a 40-minute appointment block. If a second filling is added onto the plan - add an extra 20 minutes to the appointment. Is a mandibular block required? - Add another 20 minutes. Crown appointment? Start with 75-90 minutes for prep and impression and 60 minutes for the crown seat.

 

Understanding and anticipating this flow will become a reflex, and will allow you to predict and manage the chaos of your day. Start SLOW! And as you become more seasoned - shorten and pack your procedures tighter together. You’ll be able to see the holes in the hour that will allow you to stop in for a hygiene exam. You’ll see what appointment types are the most frustrating to be pulled away from, and learn the best moments are best for you to complete your exams. Usually this will be at the end of your hour, but you’ll soon learn (as you get busy), that times when the patients are waiting on anesthesia or are waiting for a radiograph - can be great times to stop in early for a hygiene exam. This will prevent you from getting behind. Print out a schedule each morning and think/plot out your tentative plan.

 

Also, start working on your new patient or hygiene patient greeting. In the beginning it helps to script everything. You will save yourself so much stress and embarrassment if you sit down for half a day and physically write out how your ideal conversations would go with patient when greeting them and explaining treatment. Recommended treatment and discussions need to be spoken in real world language, not dental jargon or scientific lingo. Try to understand the patient’s fears or concerns, and ASK them about their questions and reservations.

 

UNDERSTAND THIS: In the minds of patients you are not a great dentist because you know all the right answers, can complete a perfect MOD composite, or prep the best crown margins...What makes you great in their eyes are the things that they PERCEIVE to be a benefit or value to them.

 

A) How comfortable do you make them FEEL about treatment? How well do you COMMUNICATE? How well do you explain procedures? Do you seem compassionate?

B) Are you “good” at giving anesthetic? Which is often the #1 patient fear.

C) Do they FEEL like you have their best interest in mind and understand what THEIR dental concerns?

D) Does the work you do last? Does your work NOT cause them pain afterwards (hence - the need for a plan and discussion regarding cracked teeth, and post-operative sensitivity). Do they trust you and do you seem to actually CARE?

 

Explain the WHY and not so much the WHAT - regarding their recommended treatment plan. Patients are motivated by emotional triggers and really just want to understand WHY a condition or treatment will impact them in a positive or negative way. What is the perceived value to them?And don’t overwhelm them by talking too much. Stick to the point, ask questions, be compassionate, and NEVER let them feel that you are in a hurry. Even if you hear that little clock ticking away in you mind...putting you farther and farther behind schedule :) It will get easier and you will learn to be great at the “dance” of keeping up with the daily schedule. If you master these things and learn to be a great communicator; You will set yourself apart, deliver great care and build a loyal patient base. Your work life will be much happier.

 

 

- Cole Brenny DDS