Options for expanding your dental practice

So your current dental practice is thriving and you're ready to grow - what's next? Expansion provides the opportunity to capture a wider group of patients, increase your revenue and establish your practice more firmly within the community. There are many different ways that this can be achieved, including expanding your existing clinic, relocating to a larger premise or setting up a secondary practice. In this article, we explore these options further to help those who are already running a successful dental practice decide on the next best step.

The right option for how to go about growing your dental practice will often depend on why you want to expand your business. Is there physically not enough space in the waiting room for everyone? Are you turning new patients away due to reaching capacity? Or are you referring patients to other practices because of a lack of specialisation?

Along with your key reasonings behind expansion, it's also important to evaluate the costs of each growth method. This will determine if your current business can afford any expansion and if so, which option aligns best with the allocated budget. Both the short-term upfront costs and long-term ongoing expenses should be factored in, including any additional salaries, equipment, leases or marketing required.

The preferred option for you may also depend on timing - it's best not to rush any expansion decisions and ensure that your business grows at a healthy yet sustainable pace. Consider the timeframe of any current lease agreements, how your work hours are currently balanced and your patient volume. Is there spare time in your work day to focus on expansion or are you struggling to keep up as it is?

Dental fitout

Once you've determined why you want to expand your dental practice, as well as confirming you can both afford the changes and that it's an appropriate time to make them, you can then evaluate which practice expansion option is the right fit for you. The most successful types are outlined below:

Expanding your existing practice

The first expansion option is to grow your existing dental practice and increase the revenue. This can be achieved in a few different ways:

1. Diversifying the practice's treatment options

Often general dental practices refer specialised treatments to other practitioners, as they do not have the training or experience required to carry out the work required. By having staff that specialise in niche dental treatments that there is an established demand for, such as orthodontics or prosthodontics, you can attract a new market and grow your patient base, as well as improving the experience for existing patients.

Broadening your treatment capabilities can be achieved by hiring a new practitioner with specialised experience or providing upskilling opportunities to existing employees. Hiring new staff to fill this void can often be costly, as their salary is typically higher, yet a more efficient option. Providing a training program for an existing staff member can take longer, however often improves employee engagement through professional growth and development. You can also keep them longer with a 'return of service' clause in their contract. Along with the experience, there will be the expense of any new equipment required for specific treatments and likely more space within the practice will be needed.

Keeping dental treatments in-house rather than referring to other practitioners improves patient satisfaction as they can remain with a trusted provider and have the convenience of the same location. This also minimises the risk of an existing patient transferring to a different practice after being referred there for specialised treatment.

2. Increasing the practice's opening hours

If you are struggling to fit all of your patients into the working week, it may help to expand the practice's opening hours. Late night and weekend appointments appeal to a wider range of patients and will help attract an untapped market. This may also leave some free time in the weekly schedule to capture emergency dental cases and last-minute bookings.

Your work-life balance needs to be considered in order to ensure you avoid burnout. These extra hours should be balanced out with time off during the usual working week. It's also important to ensure that staff are willing to work these different hours and it is covered in their contract.

3. Hiring new staff to increase patient volume

If you have spare treatment rooms in your existing practice but aren't able to keep up with patient demand due to the limited staffing resources, hiring additional staff can help to ease the load. The shared workload can help improve staff wellbeing and productivity while increasing the number of patients able to be seen at the practice. It's important to factor in the expense of any additional salaries and their compatibility with existing staff members.

4. Renovating your existing practice

If your existing practice is looking dated or has a clunky layout, it may be time to give it a refresh! Not only will a modern refurbishment result in a more inviting and comfortable patient experience, but changing the layout design can optimise the practice to treat patients more efficiently. When renovating your practice wasted space, such as large hallways, can also often be utilised to allow for more treatment rooms or improved facilities. As dental fitout specialists, Dentec can assist you from the initial design right through to installation - feel free to contact us to discuss a tailored solution for updating your practice.

Building a dental practice

Relocating to a larger premise

Another option when it comes to expanding your dental practice is to move to a new, larger premise. Having a bigger site will allow room for different technology and equipment, a bigger waiting area and/or additional treatment spaces. This will give your practice a fresh start and result in staff feeling more satisfied with their work conditions, more comfort for patients and improved overall experiences at the practice.

However shifting your whole practice does have some disadvantages, including disruption to work and a large investment of time, resource and money. It also inconveniences patients and you may lose some if the move ends up being too far away from your original clinic. You'll also need to consider if your key staff members are happy to move to a new location, as the change in commute may not be satisfactory for all.

Setting up a secondary practice

Finally, setting up a second practice is one of the most popular ways to expand your dental business. This option has larger upfront costs and therefore higher risk, however, it also has the best opportunity for increased revenue. It allows you to target a new area and expand your customer base while utilising your acquired experience and established reputation. It provides the unique opportunity of being able to apply the learnings from your first practice, including an improved layout design and fitout features.

While there are obvious expenses such as a new lease and practice fitout, it's also important to consider the marketing costs. A new location needs promotion, which may include flyers in the neighbourhood, digital advertising or a referral program. This shouldn't be underestimated as increasing awareness in those initial few months to build up the patient base is crucial for success.

Having the right staff that share your vision is also important when running two practices, as you can't be everywhere at once. Employees that are efficient, skilled and friendly will help provide a positive patient experience, however, it's important that they are also trustworthy, productive and use their initiative, especially when you're not around to directly supervise.

When considering a secondary practice there are two options that you should consider; setting up a new dental practice from scratch or buying an existing one. Our recent article 'Should you buy an existing dental practice?' evaluates each of these methods to help you make the best decision based on your circumstances.

Growing a dental practice

As outlined above, there are many different ways to go about expanding your dental practice and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. The right option will typically come down to your reasoning behind wanting to expand in the first place, as well as timing, cost and the level of risk you feel comfortable taking.

Considering expanding your dental practice?

We understand that taking the next step to expand your dental practice can be a nerve-racking experience. If you'd like to discuss the options of setting up a second practice or refurbishing your existing one, talk to our team of dental fitout specialists who are more than happy to answer your questions!


The team at Dentec operate across New Zealand. We are always happy to come to you and ensure we have a full understanding of your requirements and establish a strong foundation.