Staying Private or Going Public: Should You Turn Your Dental Business Into a Chain?

dental business

Given that 60% of people suffer dental phobia, it might not seem like it to a dentist who can’t find a gap in their weekly schedule. As more people have gotten access to insurance in recent years, more people are going to the dentist. Because of this, the dental business is booming.

If you’re currently running an office, you’re seeing what has happened. Here are five questions to ask yourself if you’re considering branching out into a chain.

1. Can The Market Handle You?

One of the first things to consider before you start this long road of growing your dental business is whether there’s room for you in the market. If you’re operating in a small market, you might be benefiting from a lack of competition. However, if you start competing with yourself, will you still be able to make money?

If there are plenty of other good and qualified dentists around, you might be making life harder for you as a business owner.

Do some research before you turn your office into a chain. You need to ensure that you have the market that you need to thrive. You don’t want to stop the growth of your chain beyond that second office.

You need every new branch that you open to having enough clients to grow and to thrive.

See where there aren’t enough dental offices through research. See if there aren’t any offices in a densely populated area. For bonus points, call up a dental office in a region where you want to expand into and see if they’re booked tightly for the coming months.

This will let you know if there’s room in the market.

2. Is There Enough Talented Staff?

If you have enough potential customers, you might not have enough potential staff. Having customers and an office are essential but having no one to serve your patients will render your office useless.

Making a few postings online can let you know if you have enough free staff to serve your chain. Post a job listing and see how many applicants you attract. While you might find a lot of people willing to relocate, see how many local applicants you can get.

Having adequate staff is important to maintain the strength of your brand’s perception. If patients deal with long waits or don’t feel like they’re getting enough attention, they’re going to seek another dentist to work with.

You don’t want talent that’s just good enough. You want to have the best people in the business staffing your office.

3. Can You Manage The Costs?

Managing the costs of opening a second practice is a struggle for any dentist. If you don’t have someone already handling your bookkeeping, it might be time to hire an accountant. There should be someone around who knows how to fairly assess your growth potential and ensure your money is managed when your work doubles or triples.

The cost of running a new office will entail finding real estate in an area where people can find you. The cost of prime real estate won’t be cheap.

If you want to have state of the art equipment, you’ll need to have enough capital to invest. If you don’t have the capital, you’ll have to take out loans. This can be both costly and risky depending on the state of your current practice.

Talk with your accountant realistically and see what the ideal state of your business should be before you go investing in a second office. It could be seriously detrimental to your current practice to open a chain before you hit your current market’s cap.

4. Do You Love To Practice?

One of the things you’ll have to sacrifice as a dentist is the ability to keep practicing constantly when you open a chain. Much of the work in keeping your chain running will be logistical and administrative.

If you’re happiest when you’re sitting beside a patient, working on a tough set of teeth, you won’t love the idea of opening a chain. You won’t be able to provide the same degree of service when you’re worried about the survival of your new branch.

However, if you’ve trained your hygienists and the other doctors in your practice properly, you could spread good dentistry around. There are so few dentists who truly love to practice that if you’re infused your office with that energy, you can ensure it’s spread around with the right staff.

Even if you don’t get as much time to do what you love and practice dentistry, you’ll still be able to give your patients great service. It all comes down to the execution of your expansion.

5. Will Your Patients Benefit?

Building onto the argument from question #4, you need your patients to be better served by multiple branches. If the quality of service that you provide suffers, your new office will only serve to damage your reputation. A new office must mean better service and expanded offerings.

Expanded offices lead to an emphasis on the amount of profit you make the volume of patients you serve. With one branch, profit is secondary to service. By necessity, multiple branches bring a host of problems, one of them being the need to thrive.

Patients being served by chains complain of procedures they didn’t need. Patients complain of worse customer service at some dental chains.

Other patients cheer the convenience of getting to their dentist. Getting time with your favorite dentist, closer to home, is priceless. Execution determines whether or not your dental office should follow the chain or franchise model.

Expanding Your Dental Business is Exciting

No matter how long you’ve been practicing, expanding your dental business reinvigorates you about your practice. Turning your dental business into a chain brings a whole new level of excitement to your career.

Once it’s time to expand, check out our guide to ensure that you rid your office of unnecessary clutter.