Starting a Dental Practice? 7 Absolutely Essential First Steps You MUST Do to Be Successful
Thinking of venturing into the world of dental entrepreneurship and wondering how to open a dental practice? The odds are in your favor! Only 2.1% of new dentists fail during their first 5 years of practice ownership.
These stats don’t make the process any easier though — starting a dental practice still takes a lot of time, sweat, and tears. And doing it right will mean the difference between running a dental practice that struggles to keep patients flowing, or one that leads the pack and stands above the competition.
Don’t struggle! We’ve worked with start-up dental practices and this is what we’ve learned.
Right now, you have an idea — opening a successful dental practice. To make it happen, you need an actionable, achievable plan. That’s where a business plan comes in.
What is a business plan? A written document that:
- Describes your dental practice business
- Outlines goals & objectives (long and short term)
- Defines your patient base
- Addresses financials
A business plan will be your north star during this entire process, so make sure you get this step right. It will be imperative for things like securing loans, pinpointing any red flags early in the process, and helping you make informed decisions along the way.
If you have some flexibility in where you’ll open your practice, take advantage of the opportunity to do competitor research and identify an area that meets at least a few of these criteria:
- Isn’t oversaturated with other practices within a few blocks
- Has visibility — whether in a highly foot-trafficked area, next to a popular landmark, or easily spotted from the road
- Is in an area where you can easily target your ideal demographic. For example, if you want to push dental implant services, choose an area that’s convenient and accessible for an older patient base
- The address is in the city you want to target — if you dream of being a top Phoenix dentist, but your office is on the outskirts of town and doesn’t have a Phoenix address, you’ll have a hard time ranking in local searches
What will make your practice unique from any other dentist in your city? The way you answer this question and communicate what sets you apart is incredibly important. Marketers call it “your brand,” and it’s a concept that’s vital for standing out from the crowd and opening a successful dental practice.
Start by defining your mission statement. Then consider your target demographic and ideal patient while you outline the following:
- What is your unique selling proposition? (What makes you special?)
- What patient experience do you offer?
- What problem will you solve?
Many dentists find it helpful to use the StoryBrand concept to clarify the value they bring to patients. If you’re having trouble answering the questions above, we recommend learning more about this concept and applying it to your practice.
Who can help: Your network of marketing and advertising experts
Once you have a firm grasp on your brand, it’s time for the fun to begin — creating a website, developing a marketing strategy, and getting your name out into the world!
Your marketing agency can guide you on what specifics to include in your strategy, but it often includes:
- Dental website design
- Onsite optimization and ongoing website maintenance
- Compelling SEO copywriting
- Local search and Google Maps optimizations
- Strategically targeted paid advertising campaigns
- Online reviews and reputation management
There are a lot of great marketing ideas out there — make sure you’re focusing on the ones that will make the biggest impact on your practice.
A note on your website: Your website will be the backbone of your marketing strategy and has the potential to be your #1 source of new patients — but it must be done right. Without a high-quality website designed and developed by professionals who understand the dental industry, you risk poor results, a low return on your investment, and worst of all, a failing dental practice.