Next Steps for New Dental Office Owners

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows 20% of small businesses don’t last 12 months, and 50% of them won’t make it to their fifth year. This article outlines some tips for new dental offices to help you defy these statistics and succeed.

While at dental school, you were trained to become a dental practitioner. How to actually run your dental office was likely not in the curriculum. Yet, you have more than the usual challenges new business owners face due to the uniqueness of the dental industry and the responsibilities that come with dentistry.

Here are some tips to help you when contemplating the next steps for your new dental practice.

3 Key Tips For New Dental Offices

While you need not attend business school for business success, implementing the following key aspects can help you lay a sound foundation and build a thriving dental practice.

1. Create a Business Plan

While studying, you followed a structured blueprint that provided guidance and highlighted the steps to become a dentist.

A business plan lays out your goals and purpose in a similar way. It outlines the core aspects of your business for easy reference and guidance. It can also help you make adjustments or determine specifics such as employee numbers, the type of practice you want to build, and expansion plans.

Without sufficient planning, you could get side-tracked or make costly business decisions. Besides helping you build and scale your practice, a successful business plan helps you maintain focus—even when challenges and distractions arise.

If you haven’t already, create a business plan. Use it for reference purposes and update it whenever your goals and needs change.

2. Understand Business Principles for Dental Office Success

To run a new dental practice successfully, learn business principles regarding leadership, operations, funding, marketing, service delivery, and profit generation. For example, running a successful practice requires awareness of how funding, finance, and budgets affect profits, cash flow, a nd operating expenses. With such knowledge, you can lead and manage people and your business effectively. This includes payroll, premises (e.g., rent or mortgage, fixed costs, and overheads), equipment, and professional advisors for your accounting, legal, and insurance needs.

  • Get licensed and registered: You must obtain relevant licenses and register with appropriate bodies. For example, you need a dental license from your state dental board to practice. Ensure all oral healthcare professionals in your practice have valid licenses. Also, to write prescriptions for controlled substances, you must register with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration for your DEA Registration Number.

Join your state’s dental industry association and consider joining a national dental profession association. You’ll find them useful as you operate and grow your practice. They offer resources, training, and even facilitate connections with other dentists.
Visit your state business website for guidance, or find a short course or book on building a successful dental practice.

  • Develop effective leadership skills: A thriving business needs great leadership. You must lead and communicate with employees and contractors effectively and encourage excellent customer service. Take leadership courses or workshops to learn how to find team members that align with your vision, build strong relationships, and maintain a healthy work environment.
  • Adopt effective marketing strategies: Promoting your practice is essential, even if you took over an existing business and retained its clients.

Find room in your budget to market your practice and services effectively. Learn different marketing strategies and aim to choose up to three most suited to your requirements. For example, you might focus your marketing efforts on internet marketing (e.g., search engine optimization and social media), newsletters, and referrals.

3. Seek Specialist Advice

Specialists can help you avoid jeopardizing your business, losing your business license, liability for a legal violation or malpractice, and more.

For example, as tax benefits vary according to business structure, specialist advice can help you make an informed decision on whether to set up as a sole practitioner or a partnership. You must also file federal, state, and local taxes. As filing requirements vary by business structure and locality, localized specialist business knowledge is valuable for addressing your specific requirements.

Evidently, each business entity has its pros and cons; a dental specialist in each of the following areas can advise best practice based on your specific needs:

  • Specialist legal knowledge: Apart from having an appropriate business structure, you and your staff must be legally compliant. For example, you must follow privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Check your state bar association’s directory or ask trusted dental practitioners or mentors in your network to recommend specialist dental lawyers who have helped them achieve great results.
  • Specialist accounting and financial advice: You must manage business records properly to be compliant and stay up to date with tax, payroll, and other relevant laws and regulations. Get recommendations of dental CPAs from successful dental practice owners. Additionally, financial advisors help you plan and understand financing opportunities for your practice and avoid unwanted financial situations. To increase profits and manage debt, seek recommendations from a financial advisor.
  • Specialist professional insurance coverage: Understand the different insurance types. Professional liability insurance, for instance, provides malpractice protection for patients’ claims against medical professionals.  Other dental practice insurance plans include Business Owners Policy, Workers’ Compensation, Cyber Liability, Commercial Property and Liability, Employment Practices Liability Insurance, and Specialty Coverage.


Fundamental Next Steps For New Dental Office Owners

Comprehensive coverage can lessen the already challenging experience of running a dental practice. Have peace of mind by getting adequate protection to keep you from losing money, time, a ruined reputation in the community, or even your business.

Aon provides liability insurance for healthcare professionals, including dental practitioners and dental practices.

Get a quote on for our professional liability and other dental practice insurance protections for your business.