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7 Strategic Partnerships Every Startup Practice Owner Should Forge

By: Wendy O'Donovan Phillips

You are finishing up dental school or perhaps wrapping up a stint with a corporate practice, and you have your sights on practice ownership. Congratulations!

Here are 7 strategic partnerships to forge right out of the gate in order to achieve long-term success:

  1. A trustworthy, relationship-focused lender. Before anything else can happen, you'll need capital on hand. While the average startup loan is $500,000, it's best not to look at the loan as simply a transaction. This is likely the beginning of a decades-long journey of practice ownership. Your competitors are shopping for lenders based on lowest interest rate. The real key is to forge a long-standing relationship with a lender that has worked in your industry and has a great reputation for taking care of customers in far more ways than saving them money. In fact, the best lender can advise you on how to make more money, which is a much better perspective than scrimping and saving.
  2. A healthcare-focused real estate broker. The next step is to scout out where to locate the practice. Not all properties are created equal. There are nuances about a dental practice location: demographics, number of competitors in the area, traffic patterns. A broker who can distinguish these details specific to the dental industry will be able to help you accurately gauge whether to lease or buy, as well as which property best fits your objectives.
  3. A general contractor that can deliver on time and on budget. This is an area that can bleed a lot of resources if not wisely selected. Ask your lender and your broker for referrals to at least 3 general contractors. Between them, they will have worked with nearly all of the viable candidates in your area and chosen their favorites, typically the ones who get the job done on time and on budget. The build out budget can soar unexpectedly for countless reasons: faulty wiring, unseen plumbing repairs, missed appointments, failed inspections? The list is limitless. The right general contractor takes measures to mitigate these risks, so your practice doors open as close as possible to when they said they would and at the estimated cost.
  4. A marketing expert. Whether you hire someone on the dental team, outsource all of the marketing to a full-service agency, or some hybrid of the two, it is imperative that you have at least one true marketing expert in your corner. Gone are the days of hanging a sign and waiting for the schedule to be full. Today, only the most strategic marketing campaigns bring patients in the door. The American Dental Association reported that the percentage of dentists with perceived workload being ?not busy enough? was up from 20.5% in 2007 to 35.9% in 2013. Be proactive with marketing to avoid falling into that percentage; start six months prior to opening the doors to have the schedule full from day one.
  5. An architect that understands brand. To stand out in the community, ensure that the patient has a memorable experience from the first time hearing about your practice all the way through to leaving after that first appointment. Have your marketing team and architect work together to formulate and execute a brand that truly captures your reputation and vision. This approach will make your practice the most memorable one in town.
  6. Reps by referral only. The minute you open your doors, you will be inundated with offers from representatives (or reps) of suppliers, implant manufacturers and other dental service providers. Ask friends in the industry who they use and vet providers by attending their educational courses at state and local dental meetings or by researching the insights they offer on the blog portion of their websites. Work only with those providers who have proven track records and data to back up their claims.
  7. You! Dental practice owners get a lot of advice over the years. After doing your research, listen to your gut. To yourself be true.

The lovely thing about all of these partnerships is that each will likely be a relationship that will last the lifetime of your practice. Choose your partners wisely from the get go, and they will serve you well for years to come.

About the Author

Wendy O'Donovan Phillips is CEO of Big Buzz (www.bigbuzzinc.com), the nation's third-largest dental marketing agency and only full-service firm, offering more than 50 different marketing tactics, all backed by research. She is the author of "KABOOM! The Method Used by Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results," which is on the Amazon Top 100 List for Dental Office Practice books. She has been honored by the American Marketing Association for excellence in her field, and she has been hired by the American Dental Association as an expert consultant in marketing. Her firm celebrated 10 years in business in 2017. Read more insights like these at www.bigbuzzinc.com/blog.

View all articles by Wendy O'Donovan Phillips


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The articles and materials on the Wells Fargo Practice Finance website are provided for general information only and do not constitute, nor are they intended as, a substitute for consultation with accounting, tax, legal or other professional advisors. Wells Fargo makes no representation regarding the articles available in the Strategies for Success Library or the completeness or accuracy of the information contained therein. The articles and the information contained therein may be incomplete, may contain errors or may have become out of date. Wells Fargo makes no commitment, and disclaims any duty, to update any of the articles or materials in the Strategies for Success Library.

The views expressed in the articles are those of the authors alone. They may or may not reflect the views or opinions of Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

ADA® is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a service mark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a program brought to you by ADA Business Enterprises, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

Wells Fargo Practice Finance is the only practice and commercial real estate lender recommended for members of the American Dental Association.

ADA® is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a service mark of the American Dental Association. ADA Member Advantage is a program brought to you by ADA Business Enterprises, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Dental Association.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

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