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Plan Now for the Practice You Want Tomorrow

By: Jeffrey Jellerson

After all the time, effort, and money that you've put into your dental education, now may be the time to start creating the practice you envisioned and living the life you anticipated. To help make that dream a reality, have a strong plan. And a great way to showcase your plan and seek support is to put it into a formal business plan. Your lender, for example, will  typically want to know that you have considered not only cash flow but also marketing and staffing. It's important that you have a strong plan for building the practice that includes not just today but the future, as well. Think of it as a road map for your practice journey.

Sometimes new dentists may believe that more is better: more patients, more associates, and more staff. Even if your goal is a large practice with multiple operatories and a big staff, that may not be how you start. Depending upon your circumstance, a plan to grow over time may be in your best interest. Set some milestones that include your expectations for success in a measured and monitored way. Bigger may not fit your true success measure. For example, if starting a family is in your plan, growing too fast might not be the right choice in the near future, as growth takes a considerable amount of your time. Sometimes more of one thing means less of another — less time for family, hobbies, teaching, or other interests. It's all about making trade-offs and balancing priorities.

You have a greater chance of success in any style and size of practice if you first define your practice goals rather than letting your practice take its shape by chance or through unexplored assumptions. Having a team of advisors, such as an attorney and a CPA, around you can help you formulate your plan and, when you are ready to put it in motion, you will know where to start with their guidance and support. 

The Business Plan

It all starts with the business plan. The plan you put together may be a formal document that you present to a lender or just a few pages of bullet points. Whichever format meets your unique needs, the business planning process can help ensure that you plan for the resources you need to run a profitable practice: suitable space in a suitable location, the right number of operatories, reliable computers and software, secure financial systems, sound business processes, and an effective team to help attract and keep patients.

As you develop your business plan, here are a few ideas to include:

  • Start with a high-level description of the proposed business.
    • Executive Summary: this includes the practice description, mission statement, and financing requirements
  • Practice description
    • Your personal history, your management team, any professional advisors and their roles, the business and legal structure, business insurance, and what types of dental insurance you will accept
  • Market analysis
    • Demographics, including ratio of the population to number of doctors in your area
    • Growth potential for the area
    • Amount the community spends on healthcare and average household income
  • Who are your patients?
    • Describe your patient focus. That will also help you determine if the area can support the type of dentistry you plan to practice. A pediatric dentist, for example, may attract more patients in a growing family community.

It may seem like a lot of information to gather, but your team of advisors can help. They may have experience that you can draw from. Lenders and equipment vendors are also a resource. If your family will be involved in your practice, include them in the planning process, as well.  

One last thought about your business plan: Once you open your doors, don't cast aside your business plan. It is a living document that can help you chart your path and keep you on track. Some years into the journey, you may need to revise the plan, so keep it handy. It's also a good idea to revisit it frequently with your practice team to ensure their buy-in and support through their daily work.

By taking the time to map your course before you start, you can increase your odds for success. Unexpected problems and opportunities could present themselves at any point. With your vision for the practice clearly defined and on paper, you'll be much more able to choose the answers and options.

Now that you have your advisors on hand and your plan developed, it's time to get started. Be sure the team understands your goals and objectives. With a carefully crafted business plan, you are ready — it's time to take the next steps. Best of luck on your journey!

About the Author

Jeffrey Jellerson is the northeast region Business Development Manager for Wells Fargo Practice Finance. With over 15 years of experience he helps doctors successfully transition into an ownership role, by providing not only financing options, but also leveraging his experience in the healthcare market to help ensure a smooth and successful transition. Jeffrey also enjoys speaking with seasoned practitioners to help them expand, grow and transition existing practices. Contact: jeffrey.jellerson@wellsfargo.com 888-688-7901

View all articles by Jeffrey Jellerson


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All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

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