Starting a dental practice - should you start building interest?
When launching a new dental practice, it pays to have a plan to determine how you will market your services to potential patients.
In this article, we delve into the process of opening a new dental surgery. We also focus on the different marketing strategies you can use to promote the practice and build interest in your services.
How to start a dental clinic
1. Create a business plan
A detailed planning document will help you get your clinic up and running. A business plan should include your business strategy, standard operating procedures, costs, earnings, and other financial information. This will help you to obtain a business loan.
This is also a good place to note any responsibilities you have according to your current employment contract. Before going out on your own, review these with a lawyer to make sure you are not in violation of any non-compete clauses. Here at Dentec, we make confidentiality a top priority, ensuring you are protected during all stages of your clinic fit-out.
2. Choose a location
Choosing the right location for your dental clinic requires extensive research and careful thought. You’ll need to look at the accessibility, population, cost of living, and competition in the area because these factors impact your ability to attract patients.
3. Source dental equipment
Next, determine which equipment you will need to effectively run your clinic. This may include dental chairs, stools, dental imaging, 3D printing, suction, compressors, sterilisation, hygiene, lighting, tools, and laboratory equipment. The Dentec team can guide you through this process and recommend trusted products from our range.
4. Determine your fitout design
The design and fitout of your practice must deliver patient comfort, practice efficiency, and staff satisfaction. Whether you're planning on starting a practice or want to rejuvenate an existing premise, speak with the Dentec team to make sure you get the design right the first time.
5. Obtain financing
The cost to finance a practice can range anywhere between $150,000 to $550,000, including the design, fitout, and equipment. To obtain dental financing, we recommend seeking a specialist lender like DLL, which has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry.
6. Hire staff
Finding the right employees for your dental practice can be challenging so it’s worth planning ahead. You’ll need to decide how many employees you need, calculate salaries, and create a personnel budget. As the opening date draws near, you can start to recruit your team of dentists, dental nurses, and support staff.
When opening a new dental practice, you need to ensure you have all the necessary permits, licenses, and documentation. To practice dentistry in your area, you will need a Dentist Registration from the Dental Council (DCNZ).
Develop a dental marketing strategy
A comprehensive marketing plan for your dental practice will help to attract new patients and build a positive reputation. We recommend using a combination of online and offline marketing channels such as a professional website, social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), local advertising, and patient referrals.
We explain more about this below.
How to promote your dental clinic
When building awareness of your new practice, you’ll need to consider the right timing, marketing platforms, and patient retention. Combined, these factors improve how your clinic is perceived and how many patients are drawn to book an appointment.
Some practice owners prefer to keep their new clinic hush-hush until it opens while others like to build interest gradually. This is up to you, largely depending on how busy you hope to be from opening day.
Promoting your clinic before opening day
If you need to be booked out from the beginning, we recommend promoting your practice through social media, email marketing, and Google Ads for weeks or months leading up to the opening day. This will ensure you can bring in sufficient income to cover all the expenses of launching the practice, such as the fit-out, recruiting, and lease.
Promoting your clinic on opening day
If you can afford to, you may wish to wait until the clinic is finished before promoting it. This way, you can be confident that the fit-out is ready and that you have the staff you need when the first appointment is booked. To ensure all your setup costs are covered, you will need to budget for any gaps in your appointment schedule.
First and foremost, you should always have a website for your dental clinic. This will be the one-stop shop for all the relevant information about your practice and services, and even a tool for booking appointments. Your website should be completely set up and ready before the practice is open for business.
Email marketing is a great way to drive potential patients to your website. This way, you can increase awareness and bookings by targeting the right groups of people. For example, you can target leads in your local area who may be interested in your particular dental services.
Social media platforms are a great way to connect with your community and show that you’re active. It also gives potential patients an easy way to reach out to you and find out what you offer. Leading up to the opening of your new practice, you can start to share social posts as a way to build interest.
Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile is what appears on Google Search results and Google Maps when searching your business name or dentists nearby. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to claim your business and ensure all the information is up to date. Your Google Business Profile will display your practice address, reviews, contact information, and links to your website.
With Google Ads, you can pay to have your practice appear at the top of certain search results. Depending on how competitive your local area is, you should budget around $500 to $1,000 per month.
Search Engine Optimisation
In search results, Google uses a variety of factors to decide which website is the most relevant. To rank as high as possible on these search results, you need to use Search Engine Optimisation techniques. In a nutshell, this involves making improvements to your website to appear for relevant searches.
If a patient pays for your services, they expect to get what they have been promised.
That’s why, the single most important thing you can do to promote your dental clinic is to provide consistently high-quality care to your patients. This will ensure patients are not disappointed or tempted to look elsewhere. This will also encourage word-of-mouth recommendations to your clinic from your happy clients.
To ensure your patients aren’t tempted to change to another dental provider, we recommend offering some or all of the following services:
- Follow-up calls
- Appointment reminders
- Offer discounts
- Loyalty rewards
- Referral schemes
From a marketing perspective, these benefits delight your patients and make their experience with you more memorable. This way, they’ll be more likely to come back and pay for your services again. It also means they’ll be more likely to refer others to your clinic and share positive reviews.