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Should You Buy Or Start Your Own Dental Practice?

Should You Buy Or Start Your Own Dental Practice?

If you’re out of dental college, you may want to start assessing your career options. Many dentists start as associates with experienced dental professionals, while many start their practices right off the bat. For those of you (experienced and novice dentists) wishing to kick off your careers, the biggest question will be whether to start your practice or buy one.

With either of the choices (buying or starting a practice), you would have to consider investments in marketing, public relations, good quality filling materials, dental implements, dental equipment, and handpieces. In addition, you would also need to have a comfortable patient waiting area and provide for excellent health and safety measures.

While there are several things you should consider between buying or starting your own dental practice, you must always concentrate on providing excellent quality care to patients. Your patients will help spread the word only if they are satisfied and happy with the services you provide.

Let us look at both aspects to get a clearer picture of whether you should buy or start your own practice.

Pros of Buying an Existing Dental Practice

Ongoing Revenue: Many dentists prefer purchasing existing practices because the infrastructure is already present, patients are regular, and revenue is ongoing. Steady revenue helps cover the total purchase cost and allows for other overheads like salaries, utilities, and more. Buying an existing practice also helps budget efficiently in the long term.

Existing Patients: Existing practices have set patients that bring in predictable income. It becomes easier to conduct due diligence and immediately spend less on patient acquisition if there are existing patients.

Experienced Staff: The most significant plus point of purchasing an existing practice is getting experienced staff. Staff who are previously working in the dental practice are well-versed in handling all aspects of the practice and are familiar with patients. For patients, having friendly faces greet them will also help reduce anxiety.

Lenders: Most lenders and banks are usually more comfortable offering loans and grants to established businesses exchanging hands. Practices with established income patterns are considered less risky than those that are not.

Cons of Buying an Existing Dental Practice

Reputation: When you purchase an existing practice, you are also inheriting the reputation of the previous dentist. Patients will be used to a particular manner of getting their services and may keep comparing your philosophies to the earlier owner.

Staff Retention: Previous staff may have issues with the new management. You may either have an excellent team or may have apprehension about your practice. Many experienced staff are loyal and tend to leave the practice and move on.

Dental Implements and Equipment: You will have to replace all the dental implements, materials, and equipment according to your standards. As we mentioned earlier, you should always ensure your patients get the best care with quality materials and equipment.

Pros of Starting a New Dental Practice:

Business Development: You get to develop your practice from scratch. You can implement all your ideas without relying on someone else’s vision.

Make All Choices: By starting a new practice, you get to make all the choices regarding interiors, hand-select the staff, dental tools and equipment, layout, business name, and more.

Cons of Starting a New Dental Practice:

Cost: It takes a long while (nearly two years) to break even and start making a profit. You will have to start making a profit soon to pay off loans for a business start-up. The cost is financial and mental since you may face a lot of stress when you start your practice. You will also have the cost of patient acquisition to consider.

Marketing: Starting a dental practice from scratch means you will not have any previous recommendations or referrals. You will have to rely on excellent digital marketing and social media to get attention to your practice. You will not have an existing patient base and will also have to grow the business.

Staff: Other than your budget concerns, you will have to employ excellent and reliable staff. Your team needs to be competent to understand the challenges of a start-up dental practice, take care of patients, and understand various dental techniques, procedures, and processes. You may have to spend additional money on training and development.

High Risk: Start-ups are always considered high risk by lenders and banks. Many dental clinic start-ups face issues due to over or underfunding, while many have unrealistic business plans.

There is a right or wrong way to start or purchase your dental practice. It would be best to go with the best option for your future, depending on your financial situation and your goals.


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by Dirk DeBie // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.