If you are a newly qualified dentist, or you have been working as an employee for a dental practice for some time, and you are thinking about setting up your own business, there is a lot to consider before you will be able to open your doors to the public and start accepting patients.
The Talk Business team spoke to Dr Katy Pirayesh, principal dentist and owner of Preston Circus Dental Practice in Brighton, who has many years of experience as both a dentist and as a business manager of dental practices. Katy has provided the following advice for anyone looking to set-up a clinic of their own.
Location is Key
One of the earliest decisions you will need to take is where your clinic will be located. You’ll need to consider the accessibility and visibility of the location, as well as the demographic of the area. “If your plan is to provide private cosmetic dentistry services, you will want to be close to an affluent urban centre” says Katy, whereas “if you plan to service NHS patients and provide general check-ups, you can be based further out”.
Create a Clear Business Plan
“If you need a start-up loan to help you fund the opening of your clinic you will need a clear business plan otherwise the bank won’t lend you the money”, says Katy. Be sure to outline your practice’s goals, marketing strategy, budget, and financial projections, before you approach a lender for funding.
Choose a Legal Structure For Your Business
The options here include setting up as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or an LLC. “It’s best to consult with an experienced business lawyer at this stage” says Katy, “as they will be able to give you guidance on which structure is best for you based on your business plan”. They can also help you to navigate the legal requirements for setting up your business, including registration, licensing, and permits. When it comes to employing staff, they will be able to assist you with contracts and they will also be able to ensure that your contracts with suppliers and contractors are compliant with laws and regulations.
Determine What Equipment and Supplies You Will Need
“This is one of the most important considerations when planning your business” says Katy, “as the latest dental technology is not cheap. If you want to position your practice as leading edge in terms of the technology it uses, then you will need to consider how you will afford materials such as your chairs, x-ray machines and dentistry tools”.
Create a Recruitment Plan
To grow your business, you will need to consider how to attract qualified staff including dental assistants, hygienists, and receptionists. “Your lawyer will be able to provide advice on the legal side of taking on staff for the first time” says Katy, “but you will also need to consider your internal human resources policies, payroll, holiday & sickness allowance, incentives, and other HR related matters”.
Organise Your Insurance and Licensing
It’s vitally important that you obtain the necessary licenses and permits required to operate a dental practice in the UK. “Make sure you have liability insurance to protect you against potential negligence claims by patients, as a minimum” says Katy.
Develop a Long-Term Marketing Strategy
You may successfully reach the point of opening your doors to the public but without a solid marketing plan, you may struggle to generate some of the higher value business that you need to keep operating. Consider the ways you will look to increase enquiries for the services that you plan to offer, be it dental implants, Invisalign, teeth whitening, or any other specific services. Think about developing a website and local advertising campaign to promote these services. Consider hiring a digital marketing consultant to help you drive more visits to your website.
Ensure That You Meet All Regulatory Compliance Obligations Before Opening Your Doors
In the UK, you will need to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) and your practice must be assessed and approved by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Failure to register with the CQC or comply with their standards can result in enforcement action, including fines, prosecution, or closure of your practice. Furthermore, you will need to ensure that your dental practice manages health and safety risks, and conducts inspections in line with HSE regulations. If your practice uses products or equipment classified as medical devices or medicines by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency), you will need to ensure you are compliant with their regulations. Finally, you will need to register with Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to ensure that your practice complies with data protection regulations.
Consider Your Patient Experience
Finally, an essential consideration before opening your doors to the public having a clear roadmap in place regarding your patient experience. “It’s vital to think about how you will put your patients at ease, listen to their concerns, and create a unique care plan based on their needs” says Katy. “Delivering an excellent standard of care keeps our patients happy and brings more work to us via their recommendations to friends and family”.