Is Now The Right Time To Expand Your Dental Practice?

Growing your dental office and expanding your practice offers many benefits to you, your staff, and your patients.
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dentist and dental assistant showing child patient a mirror to look at his teeth

When the time comes for you to expand your dental office, the experience can be both exciting and terrifying. You’ve followed all the steps to build a successful dental practice, but turning your modest office into something bigger, better and more profitable is a major next step with lots of important things to consider along the way.

Why Do You Want to Expand Your Dental Practice?

The first question you need to ask yourself is why you want to expand. This will help you understand how best to develop your business to solve your problems and achieve your goals. 

  • Are you struggling to fit your patient appointments into your schedule?
  • Do you find yourself too busy to handle dental emergencies?
  • Is your waiting area too small to comfortably cater for all your patients?
  • Do you not have enough space in your treatment rooms for the latest dental equipment?
  • Are you fed up of referring patients to other practices for specialist treatment?
  • How much will it cost?

The second thing to consider is the total cost of expansion in terms of immediate expenses you need to pay without delay and long-term expenses, which will add up over time. Having an idea of how much expanding your business will cost will let you know whether it’s possible or something you need to work toward. 

Consider these factors:

  • How much new equipment you need and the price
  • The cost of a new lease and forwarding expenses (notifying clients of your new address)
  • How much salary you’ll have to pay new employees, including specialist dentists, general dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and reception staff
  • Marketing expenses

Is Now the Right Time to Expand Your Dental Practice?

When it comes to expanding your dental practice, you should also consider timing. You need to make sure your business is stable enough to support such a big change and you have the finances to cover it. It’s important you grow your business at the right time and not rush it because you want to get it over with. Evaluate these variables:

  • Your patient load. Do you have the ideal number of patients? Are there gaping holes in your schedule? Or are you struggling to treat all your patients?
  • Your time. Are you currently following your preferred work schedule? Are you working more hours than you like? Or are you finding yourself at a loose end without enough patients to fill your working week?
  • Your lease contract. Are you able to terminate it now, or is there time left on the lease and you need to wait longer?

How to Expand Your Dental Practice

Expanding your dental practice takes many different forms, according to the problems you’re trying to solve. When you’ve answered the above three questions, you’ll have a good understanding of how best to develop your practice to achieve your goals. Here’s an overview of some of the different choices available to help you decide. 

Offer More Dental services

Providing your patients with access to more services is one of the best ways of expanding your dental business. The primary benefit of this is you get to increase your profits by retaining a greater percentage of your current patients.

If you only offer basic treatments at this time, you’re forced to refer patients to other specialist dentists when they require more complex treatment. Patients prefer to visit the same dentist (or at least the same dental practice) for all their procedures. If the dental office you refer your patient to has a broader scope of treatments than your office, the patient might go straight to the other practice the next time they have a problem. If you already offer specialist treatments, you won’t have to refer your patients anywhere else and risk losing them.

Attract New Patients

When you offer a variety of dental treatments, other dentists in your area who only offer essential procedures are more likely to refer their patients to you for specialist work. If you provide these patients with a five-star experience, it’s likely that they won’t return to their previous dentist and instead will come to your practice for treatment in the future. 

Increase Your Office Hours

If your patient schedule is fully booked for the next few weeks, increasing your dental office hours means you can make room for additional appointments, walk-ins, and emergency treatments. Not only does this help you retain your current patients, since they don’t have to wait a long time for appointments or be turned away without an appointment at all, but it directly increases your income, since you can carry out more procedures. 

Appeal to a Greater Number of Potential Patients

When you only treat patients Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you’re limiting your number of potential patients. If you offer early morning, evening or weekend appointments in addition to your regular schedule, you appeal to a much greater number of people. Determine when your target audience is most likely to want dental appointments and try to operate during those hours for the greatest ROI. 

Hire More Staff

Hiring more staff takes a weight off your shoulders as a dental practice owner, and helps out the rest of your team, too. Having more people working in your practice means a greater flexibility for everyone, as the working hours, patients, and dental procedures are shared. This results in enhanced productivity, a greater patient experience and an increase in profits. 

Reduce the Risk of Burnout

When staff are forced to work extra hours over long periods of time, they’re at a significant risk of burnout. Professional burnout takes many forms, but it’s harmful for both the individual suffering through it and their workplace.

When you expand your team, your staff are able to stick to a reasonable work schedule, carry out an acceptable number of treatments and take time out when they need it. This ensures their wellbeing is taken care of and they’re able to do the best job they can. 

Move to a Larger Location

Moving to a larger dental practice creates more room for better equipment, an increased number of rooms for more dentists to practice in, and a larger waiting area for patients. Something as simple as having a larger space to work in and receive treatment benefits almost all aspects of your business, from your staff’s working conditions and your patients’ experiences to your practice’s reputation and ultimately your profits. 

Opportunity for a Fresh Start

Not only will changing your dental office provide you, your staff and your patients with more space, but it will also give everyone a fresh perspective. When you work in the same place every day, with the same people and the same surroundings, you can easily grow bored. 

Sometimes you think you’re fed up with your job when in fact you’re simply tired of your surroundings. Moving to a new office with a fresh look and a brighter atmosphere is often all it takes to remind you why you went into dentistry in the first place.

Think About Expanding Your Dental Practice

While the idea of expanding your dental practice is a thrilling opportunity, there’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge and begin the process. It’s important you take your time, ascertain why you want to expand, if you can afford to do it, if now is the right time to do it, and the best way to go about it before you make any big changes.

Written By Nicola Quinn