Running a dental practice requires more than just dental work.
When you decided to become a dentist, you likely focused all of your time and energy in school on the core components and skills of dentistry. You became an expert in all things related to oral health. You learned about where to stay abreast of the latest technologies, how to improve and update your skills once you were out of dental school, and what kind of specialty you wanted to practice.
Being a dentist involves more than just dentistry when you own your own dental practice. When you run a dental office, you are also a small business owner and that comes with a lot of additional skills and responsibilities. What should you expect when you start running a dental practice on your own?
The Critical Business Elements of Running a Dental Practice
When you own your own dental practice, you suddenly find yourself in the role of head entrepreneur. There are a lot of important elements that come with running an office. You need a range of services, various types of insurance, high-quality equipment (and maintenance), and of course, a staff to manage.
Since you might not have studied business while attending dental school, here are the most critical aspects you’ll need to understand when you finally get to the point of running your own dental practice.
Marketing Your Dental Practice
In order to stay in business, you need patients to find you, and in order to find you, they need to know you exist. In addition to keeping an up-to-date website, there are a range of other marketing tactics that you need to maintain. Here we’ll just look at some of the basics.
Many people search for a new dentist or healthcare provider on social media platforms. New patients may also evaluate a new dentist by reviewing their social media posts to get more information about a practice. Google also scans social media accounts for keywords and text, so having an active profile on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok could make it easier for new people to find you.
Of course, nothing is more important than your business website. Make sure it’s easy for prospective and current patients to find all the pertinent information about your business on your home page including:
- Location and address
- Phone Number
- Business Hours
- How to schedule an appointment
- Any particulars about directions or parking (or any special instructions if your office is hard to find)
Also, the more details you have on your website, the better! Search engines, especially Google, give better ranking to websites with more web pages that have a lot of relevant content. Even though your bio and background may not be interesting to you, a well-written “About Us” page is SEO gold.
Speaking of SEO gold, don’t forget about updating your blog a few times a month. Blog content that includes the right keywords also helps people find your business when they perform a web search. Use topics and subjects that your patients will enjoy like explaining how certain procedures work or tips on good dental hygiene.
Working with a marketing specialist, like those at Heartland Dental, can help alleviate the non-clinical administrative burdens while still improving search rankings. An experienced marketer can help produce the right kind of web content that will increase your online visibility.
Advertising & Public Relations
Other forms of marketing could include public relations, especially if you are involved in charitable activities or working with the local community. Your local newspapers and news stations may be interested in learning more about fundraisers, sports tournaments, mentoring activities, and more.
Online advertising may be another marketing avenue for you to consider, especially if your practice is new. A marketing consultant can let you know what kind of advertising to purchase but it could include:
- Local media like newspapers and business journals
- Google ads and online paid search advertising
- Promoted posts and paid ads on social media
Payroll and Insurance
Now that you have a team working for you, you need to invest in tools and services that manage their benefits. All dentists need a payroll service provider that both generates employee salary payments and year-end statements for filing taxes. You may also need to consult with a payroll service provider to determine how you will pay your employees (salaried or hourly) and how to keep track of their hours.
What kind of benefits are you going to offer your employees? How much liability coverage will you need? To manage those issues and more, you also need either an in-house office manager or a third-party administrator:
- Employee health insurance
- 401k benefits
- Short and long-term disability policies
- Workers compensation coverage
- An umbrella liability policy
- Policies for your equipment
- Malpractice coverage
- …and more
Supplies and Facility Management
Your office can’t succeed without having high-quality and state-of-the-art supplies and equipment. Your in-house equipment will need regular maintenance, so having someone responsible for scheduling and monitoring performance is crucial.
Additionally, your office needs a constant inventory of important supplies for your dental practice. It’s unlikely that you will have the time or the energy to manage all of these issues while you’re busy dealing with your patients, so make sure you have allocated the proper resources to keep your office running smoothly.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Keeping solid track of your practice’s books is as important as your dental training. How you manage the flow of income and expenses is critical to your success and is a large part of overall dental practice management.
You need bookkeeping expertise to keep track of:
- Processing insurance payments and billing
- Deposits and receivables
- Setting up and maintaining bank accounts
- Monthly, quarterly, and annual P&L statements
- Income taxes
- Equipment leases
How to Balance Your Management Duties with Patient Care
As soon as you start to add up all the hours it takes to complete all those tasks along with patient care, your workday could become painfully long. Dentistry by itself is a full-time job even without the compounded stress of administrative tasks.
If you find yourself balancing an 80-hour week that is the combination of management duties and patient care, it’s time to look into some solutions. Sharing the load with a third party can help offload the business side of your dental practice to experts, leaving you to focus on your patients.
Heartland Dental provides dentists management relief from marketing, IT support, supplies, human resources, accounting, and more. Contact us today to find out how we can help support you and your practice.