Why Buy a Dental Practice?

Running your own dental practice can be extremely gratifying and profitable. But just how do you know if it’s the right move, and if you’re the right candidate to run it? Being a great dental practitioner doesn’t necessarily make you a good business owner. We’ve put some tips together to help you navigate these tricky questions and more.

You could buy a dental practice if …

… You are moving to a new area

 If you are relocating, starting a practice from scratch will be a huge step backwards. That means, the fast-paced working style you are used to will probably shift down a few gears.

Buying a dental practice that is already established can help you keep a similar momentum to what you are used to. It can be more fulfilling financially and emotionally than starting from square one.

… You want to be your own boss

Not everyone is a good follower; some of us have leadership traits that are extremely well defined, making it difficult to work for someone else. If you are an independent person who has a clear path in front of you, owning your own dental practice might be for you.

… You do not want to start from scratch

Buying an existing practice that has a staff contingent means you don’t have to start training people while canvassing for new clients, and that can make the world of difference to your working life.

… You want more business

Another common reason why a dentist might buy an existing dental practice is because their current operation is quiet. Buying an established practice gives you access to new patients, but there are some questions that should be considered.

Why is your current practice slow? Is it because your location is not ideal, your marketing is too flat, or your staff are not supportive enough to help you build and grow the business? If your current practice is experiencing set backs, sit back and take stock of why, before committing yourself to more financial debt. You may very well be treating a symptom and not the root cause of the problem. Identify and address the problem before embarking on an adventure with another practice.

If you are doing something wrong, there is a big chance you will transfer this error to your new endeavor.

… You want to find a better practice location

Renovating and redecorating can be expensive. In some instances, it makes better business sense to buy a newer practice than to fix an old one. Is your upgrade attached to a rebrand? Do you want to introduce new services? If so, buying a practice could be for you.


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3 Tips to Keep In Mind To Maintain Longevity Throughout A Dental Career

Starting in the field of dentistry it can be a new and exciting challenge.

Sometimes, however, as time goes by, obstacles may arise that sway our capacities and our motivation. As human beings we crave novelty, and doing the same job day in day out for many years can become challenging.

To make sure you maintain a long and profitable practice you will want to keep a few things in mind. These are equally relevant for young dentists who may be passing through the honeymoon phase of their new career and older ones who are looking to reignite their interest.

Here are 3 tips to consider in order to maintain longevity throughout a dental career:

  1. Keep yourself in good physical health.

One problem with healthcare professionals is that they often don’t practice what they preach. For example, I’ve known a large number of dentists and doctors who smoke cigarettes – despite knowing better than anyone the health risks. But this doesn’t mean they are immune to the laws of nature.

The health of a dentist is incredibly important when it comes to career longevity. Being stuck in the same static positions all day for years can do a lot of damage to your neck and back – typically resulting in a poor posture.

It’s important that dentists take up some form of physical exercise, whether it is simply running or swimming, or a practice that improves flexibility and stability such as Yoga or Pilates can help make a difference in their health.

You may also want to consider periodically visiting a chiropractor if you’re experiencing any kind of pain.

  1. Stay interested in the practice of dentistry

Generally, the more you know about a topic; the more it interests you. Unfortunately, as dentists who have worked in the industry for many years will attest, at a certain point everything starts to get a little repetitive. There are only so many filings, root canals and check ups you can do before you start to lose the spark you once had.

Keep on top of industry news, such as updates in technology and legislation, so you’re coming across some of the more fluid and interesting aspects of dentistry.

  1. Find new challenges

When something becomes too easy for us, it is inevitable that we will eventually find it boring. Try to find new ways to challenge yourself whether that is in the procedures or the practice itself.

You can always experiment with marketing and other areas of running your business. If you’re doing well financially but are relatively bored, you may want to hire new staff or try utilizing social media to increase your presence in the community.  This may also help to maximize the value of your practice by bringing in new patients.


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NAPB Dental Practice Broker 3 Important Points to Keep In Mind When Rebranding Your Dental Office - Source Flickr CC, Credit Wurlitzer Heart

3 Important Points to Keep In Mind When Rebranding Your Dental Office

Markets and trends change, and eventually, there comes a time when your dental practice may need to be rebranded.

If you have an established practice, you may just want to update your image. For example, maybe your logo needs a redesign, perhaps you’ve recently purchased a practice, or maybe you have a partner that has moved on. In these scenarios, you may want to let your community know of the changes that have been made to your practice.

Here are 3 important points to keep in mind when rebranding your dental practice.

  1. Invest in a high-quality logo

A modern image can bring you thousands of dollars in revenue in the long term, so it’s not unreasonable to invest in a high-quality logo. It’s important to strive for something that will be iconic and memorable.

To save money there are dozens of websites that offer professional graphic designers at affordable prices – for a crowdsourcing or freelancer networks you can look to something like Coworks. Your logo is the moniker everyone will associate with your business and reputation so consulting with a trusted experienced brand marketing agency first to at least understand your options and take advantage of their associations is most advised.

One option is to have two or three alternative logos and show them to your clients via social media or in person in the office. Ask them which they prefer and they’ll be happy to be involved in the process.

  1. Recognize the importance of oral health on the rest of the body

The world is slowly but surely becoming more accustomed to the idea of a holistic approach to medicine. Long gone are the days when dental procedures were performed by barbers.

Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene can cause problems with digestion, inflammation, and even brain function. Patients want to know about the systemic impact of their dental health on the rest of their body, so ensure all of your staff are knowledgeable enough to answer any questions they may have.

This also means working with patients to suggest when they should see a physician, should you see signs of potential illnesses such as diabetes, allergies, or sinus issues.

  1. Double check that your branding is consistent in all areas

This seems like something that would be pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many practices fail to make sure this is the case.

It may be a signature at the end of an email, a twitter handle or some old business cards, but typically something is forgotten in the transition. This may not seem like a big deal but can cause a lot of confusion if prospective clients come across a now defunct brand and think that your dental office is under new management or has moved.

Whether you are looking to hold on to your practice for years to come, or potentially sell in the near future, rebranding can bring your dental practice a lot of value.


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Is Direct Mail Still Worth It for Your Dental Practice?

If you are looking to establish or maintain a reputable and profitable practice you will sometimes find it hard to balance being both a dentist and a businessman.

Regardless of where you put most of your attention, you need to understand the importance of effective marketing.

Much has been said in the last few years about the increasing importance of digital marketing and the changes in both technology and clients, as Gen Y becomes the largest demographic of consumers in the world.

Many businesses however still focus heavily on print related marketing – they hand out physical business cards every chance they get and are committed to using direct mail as part of their marketing strategy.

So one pressing question is; is direct mail still effective?

And the answer is a resounding YES!

This is for a couple of reasons. First, for local businesses such as dental clinics, a large part of the marketing is based on building a personal connection and a printed letter or handwritten message will always feel more familiar than an email or text.

Second, the Internet can be incredibly competitive, and as more and more businesses are focusing their efforts on Internet marketing, the potential for you to have some success with direct mail increases.

So how can you make sure you direct mail is effective?

We’ll cover this in more detail in a future post, but for now here are a few points to keep in mind.

Integrate your online and offline efforts. Your mail should include a call to action and a link to your website, as well as a contact email and Facebook details for your practice.

Provide offers. If you offer coupons or discounts for whitenings and check ups then prospective clients are far more likely to open the mail. Something as similar as a 25% discount for an initial consultation could give you huge value in the long run if it brings you a long term client.

Make it easy to read. People are used to reading differently in the Internet age – their attention spans are a lot shorter. So don’t include a mountain of text in your letters, just make sure it is simple, spaced out, and anything important is bolded.

Track the mail. Don’t just send everyone the same mail; existing customers and prospective customers should receive different messages. Customize the letters as much as possible depending on whom the client is that you are sending it to.

With a little focus, direct mail can bring your practice a lot of value. Experiment with different offers and formats today and see how effective they are at generating leads in your area.


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6 Phone Tips for Closing Prospective Patients

Keeping regular dental patients coming in the door is a matter of having a proven and reliable sales funnel in place.

Whether your clients are coming from direct mail, personal referrals, or by way of the Internet – at some point you’ll need to speak to them either on the phone or in person. If you’re looking to sell or hand over your practice you will need to establish a solid sales funnel to prove to a buyer that your business model is sustainable.

When receiving a call from a client, make sure you and your staff are pushing for appointments and not simply going through the motions or passively answering questions.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when speaking to prospective clients on the phone.

Set an intention. Make sure you have a goal from the call, whether it’s for the client to set a date to call back that week or to get them to agree to an appointment.

Be knowledgeable. Answer any questions your patient has with complete confidence. People come to a dentist to get their teeth cleaned but they also want to be as comfortable as possible, and they need to have confidence in you in order to feel reassured about their care.

Spend enough time building rapport. You don’t need a master’s degree in communications to be able to understand the basics of building rapport. For the most part, it is a matter of developing empathy and general interest in your patients. One thing you can do is to start the conversation with a question. Simply ask them how their family or work is going – if they are a returning patient, try and get into the habit of picking up the conversation where it left off last time.

Make sure you answer all questions. Always finish the call by asking if they have any more concerns. Not everyone will speak up on the phone. They may think the question they have is silly even if it’s completely valid. It’s up to you to get it out of them.

Give them instructions about what they need to do next. Let them know when you’ll be in touch or when they need to be in touch, and exactly what they need to do if they have a procedure coming up. Also, always make sure to follow up with an email or a text so they don’t push your conversation to the back of their mind.

Have you trained your staff in best communications practices? Are there any tips we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments!


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5 Unique Dental Marketing Ideas

Do you ever feel like you are going around in circles with your marketing efforts?

Well you shouldn’t. Marketing for the sake of marketing is simply a waste of time and resources. Having a specific plan in mind and setting tangible goals is important to the running of a sustainable business.

If you’re struggling to gain traction, what you may need are some fresh ideas to experiment with.

Here are 5 unique ideas for your dental practice:

  1. Print and hand out business cards with personalized notes. Handwriting and personalized notes are a great way to go the extra mile and build an authentic relationship with your patients. After someone has come in for a clean, simply hand them a card with a handwritten note on the back that say something personal and friendly. For example: “Thanks for the visit Sarah! Hope Billy’s football game goes well.”
  2. Send an email newsletter with weekly dental tips. An email newsletter is a great way to stay in the minds of your patients. The more value you can offer them, the more likely they are to come to you. Show them your knowledge and keep in touch by sending weekly tips.
  3. Create a referral rewards program. Offering incentives for your patients to refer their friends and family can be very effective. Simple gift cards such as iTunes, Starbucks or even local movie tickets are a great way to do so. You can even take it a step further by creating a mutually beneficial relationship with a local business, such as a health food restaurant. You may want to suggest offering a free entrée for everyone you can refer to them.
  4. Record a mini-documentary. This is a great way to introduce prospective clients to your staff and practice. If they watch the video before coming in, it will feel like they’ve gotten to know you and what you’re about. You can share this on your website, via your email newsletter, and through your social media channels. Make sure to keep in mind relevant keywords when uploading it to YouTube.
  5. Text your patients after treatments. This might not be necessary for basic check-ups but should be done for any larger procedures, it shows an extra level of care that will spread fast via word of mouth.

If you are looking to sell your practice, remember that having an effective marketing strategy in place is a great asset to your business model and could work to your advantage during the valuation process.

Have you had any success with dental marketing? Any tips you think we’ve left out? Let us know in the comments!


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What Dentists Should Look for in a Financial Advisor

As an owner of a dental practice your financial needs are unique. It’s a good idea for any professional in any business to have a financial advisor help them maximize their earnings to keep the money they have earned safe. There are a few things that separate your financial needs from other professionals, so it’s important to work with a financial advisor that knows how dental practice operates, how to value a dental practice, and how to address your unique set of circumstances.

Here are some of the most important things to look for when searching for a financial advisor:

  1. Make sure your financial advisor has worked with other dentists. The more, the better. You want an advisor who has already experienced the financial patterns of a dental practice and knows what dentists need, from the time they begin practicing until they get ready to make a dental practice transition. There are many areas that a general financial advisor has no understanding of when it comes to dental expenses and income.
  2. Find out how your financial advisor gets paid. Do they earn their income through commissions on selling products for a larger company or do they earn based on fees paid by you? The commission earners will be biased toward a specific product and may not give you a full picture of what you can do with your money.
  3. What type of education and licenses does your financial advisor hold? Many companies provide “weekend workshops” allowing almost anyone with any background to become “certified” as a financial advisor. There are only two designations you want to look for – Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Financial Advisor (CFA).
  4. Look for a fiduciary planner. Someone that is licensed as a fiduciary has made a legal commitment to putting their client’s needs above their own. This is not something that just any financial advisor will necessarily have.
  5. Talk to other dentists that you know and respect. Who do they recommend? This may be your best source for locating the ideal financial planner for your dental practice and for your transition of that practice.

Picking the best financial advisor for your specific financial needs is one of the most important steps to peace and security for your future. If you’re considering selling your dental practice it’s a good idea to use the best financial advisor available to you. Likewise, if you’re just starting your dental practice and want to make sure your financial needs are met for the duration of your dental career, use this checklist to determine if the planner you are considering is the best for your situation.


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Tips for Growing Your Dental Practice During a Tough Economy

The last decade has seen industries across the board from retail to hospitality to healthcare all facing tough economic times. Many families have been forced to reduce spending, and unfortunately dental services often become one of those cuts.

When it comes down to it, even in a difficult economy there is still revenue circulating and there will still be people needing to visit the dentist. Though there may not be the same opportunity that exists in a healthy economy, a simple change in marketing may make all the difference.

Find a mentor

This is particularly relevant if you are a younger dentist, but age really isn’t a factor here. What you want to find is someone that has been through financial slumps in their own private practice who can offer you advice on how to best deal with it. Finding a mentor may include becoming part of a club or hiring a business coach.

Any way in which you can gain advice from others who may have practical recommendations for your dental practice or have more general mindset tips from a wider business perspective – all of it can help.

Get into the minds of your patients

When patients start to come through the door at a slower rate, many practices go into panic mode. As the owner of a private practice you need to understand that there is still ample opportunity for you to find new business.

Take a step back and try and get into the minds of your patients. Who are they? Do they have insurance? What demographic are they in? What motivations drive their purchasing decisions (including healthcare) during a recession? What might make them want to invest in going to the dentist?

For example, if you are going to be working in an area where the majority of patients have insurance, you’re going to want to focus on becoming a preferred provider.

Participate in your community

When times get tough people can get into the habit of worrying and as soon as this happens they’ll forget about some of the peripheral aspects of their life – which may include those things your business provides. One way to counteract this while continuing to build valuable relationships is to participate in local community events. Make an effort to help others, make friendships and network with other local businesses. Look for your local Rotary Club as a place to start.

Step up your customer service

When a market is competitive it’s the little things that make the difference. Spending time focusing on how you can improve your customer service may be the reason a prospective customer chooses to go with your practice as opposed to someone else’s in the area.

Though it may be more difficult to sell your practice during a tough economy, if you want to continue to generate revenue through a valuable dental practice, it’s going to be necessary that you put in extra effort. With that said it is not impossible to grow your practice during these times, it just requires focus.

How have you managed to stay profitable during the recession? Is there any advice you would add? Let us know in the comments!


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Should Dental Clinics spend money on paid advertising?

Have you ever looked at the Google rankings and wondered how you can get to the top in the shortest time possible?

You might be in competition with some huge businesses and think that there is no way you could match their SEO. This is particularly likely if their internet marketing budgets are much greater than yours.

If this is the case, but you are still looking to develop a consistent and reliable marketing strategy to bring in clients and bolster the market value of your organization, you may want to consider an approach that leverages paid advertising.

Paid advertising is a way that you can promote your business at the top of Google or in the sidebars of the websites that your clients visit. This form of advertising works similar to traditional marketing and means that you don’t have to spend months or even years climbing through the search engine rankings.

There are multiple forms of paid advertising, the most common is Pay Per Click (PPC) whereby how much you pay is determined by how many people click on your ad.

If a prospective patient searches for dentist and your location, there is a high likelihood that they will visit your website if you are top of the search results. So as long as you make sure your website is professional and is able to guide the patient to make an initial consultation, the few dollars that you’ll pay for the click are worth every penny.

So what are the specific benefits of paid advertising for dentists?

Faster results. If you are in an uphill battle, such as if you have a new business or are dealing with some fierce competition, getting customers in the door as soon as possible is very important. Paid advertising is the fastest way to get your brand in front of a target audience, and generate new leads.

Less dependence on Google. Whereas SEO will often take 6-12 months before you start to see a decent ROI from your efforts, paid search can be almost instant. Also, when the Google search algorithm inevitably changes you can see drastic deviations in your rankings, which can impact your business, so it is best that you develop a balanced marketing approach.

Tangible and targeted results. Unlike many other marketing methods where you have to track the ROI over time and it can be difficult to gauge exactly what you are getting back from your investment, paid advertising allows you to set clear measurable goals for what you will spend on advertising per client and how much you’ll get back from that over time. With retargeting ads, you can also be sure that your efforts are reaching the right audience. You are able to target a number of factors including keywords, location, time and even device.

Ultimately Paid Advertising should be considered part of a short to medium term solution. Unlike organic search, paid advertising is not as sustainable and is dependent on your consistent investment. However, it can form an important part of a well-rounded marketing plan.

It is recommended that you start small, with a budget of a few hundred dollars to learn how to best target your audience.

Proof of a successful digital marketing strategy is a huge asset when looking to sell your practice. You may also want to consider hiring a marketing consultant to help you best approach paid advertising.


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Unique Business Tips for your Dental Practice

Dentistry can be a tough business.

Many young dentists are entering the industry with tech and marketing experience. In the emerging market, simply having more experience than the next practice won’t necessarily cut it. Business acuity is now vital if you are going to compete with a Generation Y driven demographic. It is also important if you are looking to create a valuable asset and at some point sell your practice.

Here are some unique business tips to keep in mind for your Dental Practice.

Build an inviting waiting room. The waiting room is where most of the stress happens for clients. Remember that creating a relaxing customer experience is important to the patient, and is going to help ensure repeat business. Consider the colors, lighting, and seating arrangements of your waiting room. Make sure the room is well-lit but not too bright, the colors are inviting but subtle and the seats are comfortable and accessible. Also, make sure there is adequate reading material and that sound coming from the dentist office is minimal – you may want to consider playing some music.

Teach your patients with visual aids. Patients want to take care of their teeth and most of them want to know how things work. Don’t hesitate to use visual aids such as models or charts which can be much more memorable than dry explanations.

Identify your patient base. Knowing your segment of the market helps you in two ways. Firstly, it allows you to best target your customers when it comes to marketing and strategy. Secondly, it helps you in a competitive market by allowing you to take on a manageable and profitable niche.

Send cards to clients. Dentistry is a business based on customer services. Most people feel anxious going to a dental office and therefore the dentists who can develop the best relationship with clients and their families (particularly children), are more likely to get repeat business. Strengthen this relationship and build new ones by sending out postcards to clients during holiday times or after check-ups – the more personalized the better.

Hire employees based on chemistry. If you are hiring dental assistants, receptionists or anyone else for that matter, understand that a lot of skills can be trained, what you probably can’t teach however, is chemistry. It is the relationships between your staff and clients that will keep them coming back.

Leverage deal based websites like GroupOn. A lot of practices start by offering free check-ups for first time customers, but if you are already established and don’t have the time to offer free services, you can try and leverage GroupOn or other coupon related sites to promote your service in other ways. Many mobile users now look for deals in their area and if you are nearby they’ll at least be aware of your brand even if they don’t purchase the coupon.

Remember that dentistry isn’t just an art, it’s a business. Make sure you are constantly looking to improve your business skills and knowledge so when you are ready to sell your practice, you have a well-oiled machine that is worth the investment.


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