The Most Common Mistakes New Dentists Make

This article is an excerpt from the free “Dental Practice Startup Guide.” It reviews some of the most common mistakes dentists make when opening a new practice and how these pitfalls can be avoided. Get a free copy of the Dental Practice Startup Guide today.

The contributors to this guide have helped hundreds of dentists open their first dental practices. Through years of experience, we have identified several common “pitfalls” that can hinder a new practice’s success. The good news is that these mistakes can be easily avoided. Here are some of the most common mistakes that we have seen startup practices make and how to avoid them:

Trying to Negotiate Real Estate Terms on Your Own

Securing the correct location is one of the first significant decisions when starting a dental practice. Many dentists attempt to negotiate real estate terms on their own, thinking they can save money on fees. However, this often backfires. A specialized real estate advisor understands market conditions and can leverage them to get you the best terms possible on your lease or purchase. They have the expertise to negotiate favorable terms, such as rent-free periods, tenant improvement allowances, or lower annual rent increases.

Without professional guidance, you may end up with unfavorable terms that could strain your budget and affect your practice’s profitability.

Not Hiring the Right Staff for the Front Desk

Your front desk staff are the face of your practice. They are the first and last people your patients interact with when they visit. Many new dentists make the mistake of hiring friends or family members who need more skills for this critical role. While hiring familiar faces might seem convenient, it can lead to inefficiencies and a lack of professionalism. Your front desk staff should have excellent communication skills, be adept at handling administrative tasks, and possess a warm and welcoming demeanor.

Investing in the proper training and hiring experienced professionals can significantly enhance patient satisfaction and streamline operations.

Failing to Manage the Budget Properly

Effective financial management is crucial for the success of any dental practice. New practice owners must pay more attention to closely managing fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs include rent, utilities, and salaries, while variable costs range from supplies to marketing expenses. Without a detailed budget and regular financial reviews, it’s easy to overspend and deplete your resources. To avoid this:

  1. Create a comprehensive budget that includes all potential expenses.
  2. Regularly review your financial statements, track expenses, and adjust your budget to ensure your practice remains healthy.
  3. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in dental practices to help you navigate the economic aspects of your business.

Not Using a Dental Contractor

Hiring a specialized dental contractor is essential when building or renovating your dental practice. Many new dentists make the mistake of hiring general contractors who may offer lower prices but need more expertise to size and manage a dental office project correctly. Dental contractors are familiar with the specific needs of dental practices, such as the layout requirements for dental equipment, plumbing for dental chairs, and ensuring compliance with health regulations.

They can complete the project efficiently and within budget, whereas non-dental contractors might take longer and cost more in the long run due to delays and potential mistakes.

Not Allocating Enough Resources to Marketing

Marketing is often an afterthought for many new dental practices, but it is critical to attracting and retaining patients. Many practices need more effective dental marketing in the first few years. It’s essential to allocate sufficient resources to marketing efforts to build awareness, engage potential patients, and encourage them to choose your practice. This includes creating a professional website, engaging in social media marketing, utilizing search engine optimization (SEO), and possibly investing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Additionally, community outreach programs and referral incentives should be considered to attract local patients. Effective marketing requires a strategic approach and consistent effort, so working with a marketing professional specializing in dental practices might be beneficial.