Earlier this year I had a discussion with a dentist who owned two dental practices.
As you know I recently posted an article where I shared an interesting perspective from Simon Bowen about the downsides of trying to grow a business in a second location.
In that article, I touched on the fact that I personally, had almost purchased a second location dental practice but withdrew from doing so because I couldn’t be guaranteed secure tenancy on the second location.
Interestingly, my withdrawal from purchasing that second dental practice helped me to avoid a potential second error of judgement and that error is simply this:
IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO BE IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE AT THE SAME TIME.
The other primary concern with operating two dental practices at one time is that in the initial stages, the principal dentist can often find that the income of the two locations is limited by the number of hours the principal can share between the two sites, while the overhead of having two locations is usually double the overhead of operating from only one location.
And so the success of the dual location practice relies imperatively on the business being able in the very first instance to have reliable and productive associate dentists seeing patients at one location whenever the principal dentist is working at the other location.
And as soon as possible.
The trouble is….
The trouble is that in theory, a model like this works very well, but in reality, a model like this can sometimes be nothing more than a pipe dream.
And sometimes this is because there are factors affecting our practices that are totally outside of our control.
- Imagine opening a second location branch dental practice and then having your trading hours restricted at both practices because of an unforeseen pandemic, such as COVID-19, causing your industry to have to close down?
It hardly seems fair?
- Sometimes it can be difficult to find and locate and train dental practice staff.
When you double your location numbers from one to two, obviously there is a significant increase in manpower required to ensure that both practices are adequately staffed.
And both facilities are appropriately utilised…
You see, there are no guarantees in life any more for business owners when it comes to securing long term employees who are dedicated to their employer.
Be those employees dentists, therapists and hygienists, or they are office staff and assistants, the employment pendulum has swung so far to one side that planning any sort of long term business future can be quite difficult.
In dentistry, a lot of the success of dental practices is built around the creation of long-term relationships between the patients of the practice with the team members, and the owners.
And that’s because of the personal nature of the processes of delivery of dental services…. it is a very personal and often emotional experience for the patient, most of the time.
I saw a dentist comment recently in an online forum that the successes that he had in building a multi-practice organisation was done by adding one new practice at a time and SEQUENTIALLY building his organisation, rather than trying to go from one practice to many in a very short space of time.
I think paramount to his comment is the fact that each practice should be independently productive and profitable before seeking to add more locations.
And additional locations should be only added on a foundation of data and due diligence, rather than on raw hope.
Get one location right firstly…
As I mentioned previously, rather than spread myself thin in two locations with double the overhead, I decided to refocus my dental practice ownership goals on my original location in Parramatta, and the rest, as you know is history.
And I did grow that one location.
In 15 years I grew my dental business’s turnover by a multiple of 8.5x.
That’s an 850% increase in turnover in fifteen years.
And I did it by:
- Focusing on creating a World Class Patient Experience for all my patients that they had never experienced at a dentist ever before…
- Once my patients had experienced THE DIFFERENCE in service and attention at my practice, compared to anything they had ever experienced anywhere else, they never wanted to go anywhere else for their dentistry.
- And once I had both these factors in place, I was able to market my practice as THE ONLY PLACE to choose when it came to wanting a WORLD CLASS DENTAL EXPERIENCE.
And in the end, the growth and production that I experienced in my business at my primary location was more than enough to satisfy me compared to the efforts required in managing multiple practice locations with a variety of achievements and outcomes.
In the end, however, it’s really horses for courses.
The beauty of owning multiple successful practices is that each should run as a successful and profitable stand alone entity, without being propped up by other practices within the empire.
Remember, if you do choose to become a multi-practice owner, to always keep that thought front of mind as your binding principle…
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