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Helping You Succeed as a Dentist

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Managing debt to ensure practice success

Editor’s note: This is the seventh and final article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoFor most dental professionals, incurring significant debt while completing dental school and acquiring a practice is an inevitable part of becoming successful. The trick is to recognize the types of debt so you can effectively evaluate where you stand – and manage your debt to your best advantage. It is common to think that you are better off financially if you eliminate your debt, which is true with regards to credit cards, auto loans, student loans or other debt that does not help to generate revenue. But there is such a thing as “positive debt” – debt that is used to invest in income-producing activity.

Some types of debt can overwhelm your success

Let’s say that after purchasing your dental practice, you are paying $5,856 per month to cover both business and personal debt, including an office remodel, auto loan, student loan and home mortgage, for a total loan balance of $450,000. Now assume you want to buy a new, advanced piece of equipment priced at $125,000 and the vendor is offering financing with payments of $2,610 per month. This would bring your combined monthly payments to $8,466.

Originial loan

Suppose this new payment wipes out any excess funds you were planning to put towards your retirement. You would now have to consider whether to wait to purchase the new equipment so that you do not jeopardize your retirement funding, cover the additional payment with increased production, or put off saving for retirement. The new equipment loan can therefore hamper your ability to save.

To avoid this kind of debt management crisis and ensure you’re effectively managing your debt situation, work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to develop a broad financial picture of long-term personal and business goals. Be sure your plan includes an assets and liabilities spreadsheet, profit and loss statement, and a plan for large annual debt expenditures.

Working with your lender to create “positive” debt

A specialized dental lender can help transform a financial liability into “positive” debt that still allows you to accumulate security and wealth. This may be accomplished through a consolidated loan that minimizes interest and total payments.

Using the example above, assume your lender offers a consolidation loan for $225,000 to cover new equipment and remodeling, and a home equity loan with a somewhat longer term to cover your auto and student loans. The new loan reduces your total monthly payment to $6,891, for a savings of $3,001 a month.

Consolidated Loan

If you invest this difference monthly, you may eventually have a healthy fund for your retirement. Or, you can use this savings to reinvest in your practice, including:

  • Technology investment. You might use your new-found funds to leverage the purchase of advanced technology that allows you to expand your services and make your practice more competitive.
  • Enhanced marketing. Reinvesting your added cash in a well-thought-out marketing program can potentially lead to more patients and procedures for your practice. If well-planned and executed, your expanded marketing efforts should generate additional cash flow.
  •  Accelerated Debt Payoff.  Some doctors take advantage of lower interest rates to accelerate their debt reduction program and become a debt free practice more quickly.

By managing your debt situation through the use of long-term financial planning and, if necessary, loan consolidation with a specialized dental lender, you can move a long way towards building a successful practice that meets your ultimate goals.

¹Interest rates cited are indicative only. Actual interest rates depend on your creditworthiness.


Research: Practice setting may determine dentists’ satisfaction

HPIBig or small, there are pros and cons to working in various dental practice settings, and dentists measure their career satisfaction in different ways.

Researchers found that dentists working in large group settings reported more satisfaction with income and benefits than dentists in solo practices, as well as less stress compared to dentists in solo or small practices, according to ADA News.

The ADA Health Policy Institute released a study analyzing dentists’ job satisfaction within different practice settings, finding that those working in small group settings reported the highest overall career satisfaction.

HPI also released two additional studies on group practices, with one finding differences among two types of large group practice settings and the other discussing the growth in large dental practices’ market share.

“In large practice settings, providers may lose autonomy and feel enhanced pressure to produce revenue when making treatment decisions,” according to the authors. “They may have less flexible hours and schedules that could cause dissatisfaction. Conversely, they may benefit from administrative assistance, which can allow for having more predictable income and hours.

“Dentists working in solo or small group practices may have more autonomy; however, they are not immune to pressures to produce revenue, and they may have to perform more administrative tasks on top of their clinical duties. Running a small business may not suit every dentist; the burdens of financing, fixed costs and reimbursement could lead to dissatisfaction even among dentists in solo practice.”

To read more on the study, click here.

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Building and managing your cash flow

Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoYour dental practice is a valuable and beneficial investment that can be an important resource for generating cash flow. Simply defined, cash flow is the difference between your monthly revenue and monthly expenses. This is the figure that determines your net income, or the amount you will earn from running your business. Here are a number of ways to build and manage your monthly cash flow from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources.

Manage your financing term

The financing term, meaning the time over which your debt is payable, for your dental practice purchase or start-up may be more important than you imagined. A dental practice is a cash flow based business, and choosing financing that supports your cash flow can be critical to creating a sound financial future.

Most lenders or banks provide a maximum loan term of seven years, which may in fact allow enough cash flow to pay expenses and income while paying off your debt in a shorter period of time. However, if you could have a term that was almost 50 percent longer, such as a 10-year term, you would have a substantial increase in your monthly cash flow. For example, when you borrow $300,000, the difference between a seven-year note and a 10-year note is approximately $1,200 per month. If you opt for the 10-year term, the added savings to your annual cash flow would be approximately $14,400 per year! And, all of the interest you pay on the note can be used as a line item expense and written off against the revenue of the practice, along with the depreciation of the principal amount.*

Consolidate your debt

If you have existing debt that’s over five years old, another option for creating cash flow is a debt consolidation loan. By taking advantage of lower interest rates, you can lower your monthly loan payment and redirect your savings towards your dental practice. However, it would be wise to move quickly on this option as interest rates are poised to rise.

To qualify for debt consolidation financing, you will need to maintain an excellent personal credit profile and be able to demonstrate that your cash flow can support and meet a lender’s minimum standards for the level of financing for which you are applying.

Expand practice capabilities

On its face this may seem counterintuitive: How does taking on new debt to expand your practice help generate additional cash flow?  The key is to structure your expansion so it pays for your debt.

Adding square footage as well as new dental services generates both higher fees and increased patient flow.  While you may need to consider bringing in an associate to help manage increased patient flow, more overall production for your practice ultimately means greater cash flow. And if you are able to add specialty services while expanding your practice, you have doubled your opportunity to improve your income. The debt you incur to expand your practice can usually be paid for by the increased traffic flow and level of services – particularly if combined with a Section 179 tax deduction.*

Reinvest with a practice equity loan

If you have owned your practice for three or more years, you have equity that you can use to generate cash flow and reinvest in your business. Whether you need to purchase equipment, fund a partnership transition, or pay for education, tapping into your equity may give you the cash flow you need to work towards growing your business or securing your future. Some lenders offer practice equity loans up to $500,000 depending on the value of your practice, with terms up to 10 years.

*Consult your tax advisor and/or accountant for a statement of tax and accounting rules applicable to your particular situation and for all other tax and accounting advice.

3 months before opening checklist – part 1: Finance

In previous articles, I’ve covered some of the very first things you’ll do as a new dentist who is planning to open a new practice. These included forming a legal entity and then actually setting one up.

Rich McIver

Rich McIver

In this article we’re shifting gears and turning to the first of three articles covering some of the more practical steps you’ll need to take approximately three months before opening your practice, and some things you should consider when taking on these tasks. This article will focus on finance related tasks:

1. Bookkeeping:

It may seem like overkill to hire a bookkeeper (or if you’re doing it yourself, to buy Quickbooks and set up a file) months before you actually open, but a lot of your most important bookkeeping work is done in well before you actually open for business. That’s because you’re going to be making large equipment and fixtures purchases (that should be properly capitalized), and you’re going to be incurring initial expenses (that should be properly categorized into custom expense categories), among other considerations. Not setting up your account properly means that while you may be able to accurately file your taxes, you won’t have accurate financial reporting, which will become necessary as your practice grows.

My Advice:

The temptation for most new dentists is to try to do your own bookkeeping initially, or at a minimum to hold off on hiring a bookkeeper until after you open in order to save money. While the motive to save money early is smart, fight the temptation here and pay for a bookkeeper. I can virtually promise you, you will screw up your Quickbooks file by not setting up expense categories properly. And then when you do end up hiring a bookkeeper, they’ll have to manually backtrack to fix everything you did wrong, and end up charging you nearly as much as if they would have just handled it for you from the beginning. To the extent you can, find a bookkeeper that has experience with dentists, as they’ll know industry norms and can help guide you, and will know a lot of the suppliers already, so they’ll be fewer questions from your bookkeeper each month asking “what was this charge for?”

 2. Credit Card Processing:

This is something a lot of dentists forget to do until the week before they’re opening for business. Normally for existing businesses, switching credit card processors just takes a couple of weeks. But for new businesses, particularly where one of the owners has less than ideal credit, it can take a couple of months.  Given that not being able to accept credit or debit cards effectively means that the majority of your patients won’t be able to pay you, starting early is a good thing, and you can usually get them to waive any monthly fees until you’re actually ready to start accepting payments anyway.

My Advice:

Dentists generally fall into a pretty good risk category, so you can get pretty cheap rates even as a new business. But to get cheaper rates, in general, you will have to obtain service through an actual credit card processing company rather than your practice’s bank. When you do get quotes, unfortunately, credit card processing is priced so confusingly that it can be hard to compare offers across multiple providers. So, I recommend either using a third party negotiating service, or demanding that any offer be presented in the more transparent interchange plus pricing format.

3. Business Checking Account:

Getting a business checking account is very similar to a personal checking account, it’s quick and easy. That said, you still need to do it early, before you start incurring expenses. Otherwise the temptation will be for you to pay for things out of your personal accounts, which will complicate your taxes and accounting immensely down the road.

My Advice:

You can find still banks with no monthly fees, and you should consider that. But perhaps more important is finding a bank with a banker you can actually get a hold of, and who is competent enough to get things done for you. As a dentist, you won’t need much, but getting a wire sent out without having to go into a branch, a hold placed on a check via a two minute phone call, or getting a phone call from your banker in lieu of an overdraft fee, are, in my opinion, what separates a good bank from a bad one.

Conclusion:

These three items are each things are the sort of mundane details that you may overlook entirely when mapping out your new practice. They are, however, very important, and cannot be done last minute. As far as product recommendations go, it’s a good idea to ask around for recommendations from your colleagues. The ADA, and perhaps your state dental society, offers endorsed providers (check out ADA Business Resources) for some products and this is a good place to start.  For provider recommendation information in each of these items from me, contact me. In the next article in this series we’ll discuss three operational tasks that you should do three months prior to opening your practice.

Rich McIver is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and the founder of MerchantNegotiators.com, a company that helps businesses obtain cheaper and better credit card processing. He also assists his wife, Dr. Holly McIver at her orthodontic practice, Kingwood Orthodontics. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Planning for growth and expansion

Editor’s note: This is the fifth article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoMost new practice owners don’t open their first practice with thoughts of immediate growth in mind. Nevertheless, it’s critical to layout future plans early in your career so you are prepared when the time comes to expand. While there are some clear indicators that will tell you when it’s time to update, expand or relocate your office, getting ahead of the process so you are in control will make the process easier, and the outcome more rewarding.

There are three facets to growing your practice – increasing the number of patients you treat, increasing the types of services you provide, and expanding your physical space to accommodate these patients and services. Your plan for growth needs to address all three aspects, using the following guidelines.

Put your growth plan in writing

The first task in preparing for growth is to have a written plan that outlines your vision for your practice. For instance:

  • How large do you ultimately want your practice to be? Specify the number of patients, operatories and associates you envision for your practice, and the amount of revenue you would like to achieve over the next five years or so.
  • Outline how you will attract new patients. Will you use local advertising, internal marketing, promotional programs?
  • Can you manage this growth in place with your current office set-up or an expansion, or will you need to move your practice location?
  • What kind of financing will be required for a practice expansion or relocation? Is your financial profile robust enough to ensure you can fund future growth?

Putting these details in writing mentally prepares you to take all the necessary steps for making a smooth transition to a larger practice when your growth plans succeed.

Understand the growth indicators

How will you know when it’s time to expand to a larger practice? Some key growth indicators for triggering an expansion might be:

  • Your space is not adequately meeting patient demand, with appointments booked out for two or more weeks. Generally speaking, if you are at 85% of capacity in your current facility, it’s time to start thinking about expanding or relocating your office.
  • You are referring too many patients out for specialty services. This represents lost revenue that could be kept in-practice if you can add an associate who offers these services.
  • Your technology is not keeping up with the competition. If your equipment is clearly dated and incapable of delivering a high level of efficiency and performance, it’s time to expand your services with a technology upgrade.

Prepare for the impact

Remember that an increased patient load not only impacts your facility with potential overcrowding and traffic flow issues, but also your staff and operations.

  • Staff– Be sure you have capable staff that can continue to provide excellent service to your full patient base. Consider including part-time or temporary staff positions to maximize your cash flow and build flexibility into your payroll until your patient base stabilizes.
  • Support – Don’t forget that more patients means you will be making a greater demand on your dental laboratory. Make sure your laboratory can continue to provide the turnaround time you expect, and add an additional lab to your support team if necessary.
  • Dental tools – Your computer software should be able to absorb an increase in patients, but not necessarily your dental tools. Take an inventory of your equipment and determine how many units you need of each tool to service your existing patient base. Then determine how many new patients you have added or plan to add this year – say, an additional 15%. Multiply your current inventory by 15%  and this will tell you the equipment purchases you will need to include in your practice growth budget.

Once you have carefully outlined a plan for the growth of your practice, understood the key growth indicators, and primed your facility for increased traffic, you have taken some of the key steps in preparing for the success that is bound to come your way.

Finding value in ‘newness’ in your new dentist life

Dr. Joe Vaughn starts his cross-country drive June 8 from Birmingham, Ala. to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle.

Dr. Joe Vaughn starts his cross-country drive June 8 from Birmingham, Ala. to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle.

I drink two cups of coffee a day. Minimum.

Sometimes, I don’t even want to drink that second cup. I do it because I feel like I have to. Like people will look at me in a strange way if they found out. I can hear it now. “You only drink ONE cup a day?!” they would gasp.

Let me explain.

DrVaugn

(From left to right) Drs. Joe Vaughn, AJ Fennell and Ben Samuelson sightseeing in Los Angeles on a June 11 trip.

I’m a Seattleite. A new one. A very new one. My waiters still do double-takes whenever they see those beautiful red “ALABAMA” letters plastered across the top of my driver’s license.

I graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry just two months ago. It wasn’t seven days later before I had my entire life packed up in a moving truck heading across the country for Seattle, Washington. It was just me and two of my classmates. Traveling the country. Driving all through the night. Experiencing America as we never had before and may never again. The trip of a lifetime.

I grew up in Alabama. I ate middle school lunch pizza in Alabama. I studied college physics in Alabama. I spent my childhood looking into the eyes of Paul “Bear” Bryant and Joe Namath in the paintings above my parents’ fireplace. As a teenager, I sat in the stands amongst 100,000+ people in Tuscaloosa all yelling “Roll Tide” at the top of their lungs every time our team did something even remotely exciting.

So what am I doing here? Why am I sitting in this minimalist coffee shop in the Emerald City? Why do I eat Thai food now and drink lattes and ride the bus twice a day? Good question. Let’s talk about it.

Newness

I think there’s value in “newness.” Something new, something different. I have friends that will buy the newest version of the iPhone no matter how long it’s been since the last one came out. The iPhone is their fix of newness. That works for them, and that’s awesome. In a weird way, they are an inspiration to me.

For us dentists, finding that change, or that newness, is just as important. We all hear about those stories of the older guys who have fallen out of love with dentistry. The ones who have lost touch with their younger selves and just can’t wait to get out of the office. We may have even had a classmate or two drop out of school because they couldn’t handle the routine.

DrVaughn3

Dr. Vaughn and Dr. Devon Cooper on graduation day in Birmingham.

Newness gives us and our profession a tune-up. Seattle is a big change for me. But one day, I’ll have to find another source of newness.

Because newness is not geographical. You don’t necessarily need a new city. Your newness will probably be different than mine. It could be a specialty. A procedure you’ve never tried before. A new technique to an old procedure. Working one day each week in a community health clinic. Joining a social club. Reading a book. Challenging yourself with ideas you’ve never considered before. You could keep a journal or write a blog. Play an instrument. Bake something.

Whatever it may be, the point is to keep you, your life and your job fresh and fun and totally worth all that hard work you put in to get it. And a healthy happy you makes for a healthy happy profession. Which means me and you and everyone we know benefit from the newness you and I decide to add to our lives.

DrVaughn4

Dr. Vaughn with one of his clinical faculty members, Dr. Rama Kiran Chavali.

Dentistry promises great things. It is so overflowing with potential that even its opportunities have opportunities. But we always run the risk of falling into the pattern of dread and routine. And before you realize it, all of your techniques and equipment and philosophies are 15 years behind the times. Don’t be that dentist.

Instead, join me in adding newness to your life, whether it’s work or personal. And in turn, keep our profession crisp. Fresh. New. We are a part of one of the greatest professions in America, and we have our entire careers ahead of us.

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly “Roll Tide” to that.

Dr. Joe Vaughn is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He grew up in Alabama and recently graduated from The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry in 2015. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, where he attends the General Practice Residency at the University of Washington. Two cups of coffee, writing and indie music are everyday occurrences for Joe. Go Seahawks and Roll Tide!

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Developing a technology plan

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoDental technologies have evolved at a remarkable pace over the past decade due to the digitization of medical equipment. While the investment in digital technology can be significant, the benefits are real, and many – from increased production and expanded services, to improved administrative efficiencies and greater patient comfort, according to Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. In fact, the goal for every new dentist today should be a fully digitized practice that makes one-day dentistry possible.

Jumping into the ‘digital waterfall’

There is a tangible connection between integrating new technologies as they become available, and positioning your business for future success. One way to ensure you are not left behind in the face of advancing technology is to jump head-first into the “digital waterfall” – a sequence of digitized dental solutions that typically occurs in phases and forms the basis for the transition to a fully digitized practice. Each phase of the digital waterfall lays the foundation for the next.

SIX PHASES OF THE DIGITAL WATERFALL

Phase

Digital System Outcome

1

System hardware Network construction with offsite backup

2

Practice management software Computerized patient information and website templates

3

Patient clinical records Ability to create a digital patient record (electronic health record or EHR)

4

Digital imaging Digital radiography and oral x-rays, for example

5

CAD/CAM impressions Capturing dental impressions digitally, eliminating molds

6

3D digital imaging Unlimited views of the bone structure of the teeth, face and neck

 

No matter where you are in digitizing your practice, work with your equipment supplier to create a technology plan with a key investment perhaps every three to five years. As you work towards a full digital platform for your practice, you will find you are not only more effective in treating your patients, but more competitive as well.

 

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Working with professional advisors

Editor’s note: This is the third article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Whether you’re buying or building a practice, you will need a team of reliable advisors to support and guide you through the process and create the outcomes you envision. You’ll want to surround yourself with people you trust to help meet your goals. Here’s an overview from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources, of the professionals who should make up your core team of advisors, the services they provide, and why they are important.

Wells FargoCORE TEAM OF ADVISORS:

Accountant

  • Develops tax projections, plans, and estimates
  • Prepares and files tax documents
  • Can help establish financial procedures and collections practices
  • Advises on tax and accounting implications of business and investment decisions
  • Impact: Your accountant protects your business by accurately tracking your income, expenditures and cash flow for tax filing purposes, and helping to ensure your business runs efficiently within budget.

Lender

  • Provides funds and resources for opening your practice
  • Services financing agreements
  • May offer useful tools and resources to help manage and grow your new practice
  • Impact: Your lender can make your practice investment possible by structuring a financing program that fits within your budget.

Practice Broker (Acquisition only)

  • Identifies practices available for sale
  • Can offer valuation and appraisal services
  • Works with attorney to provide sample agreement of sale
  • Helps negotiate the transaction, structure the transition, and coordinate financing
  • Impact: A practice broker can save you time and money by presenting qualified purchase options.

Attorney

  • Negotiates and drafts contracts, leases, and employment documents
  • Assists in forming business entity
  • Can provide legal advice on business and tax planning, estate planning and will preparation
  • Impact: Your attorney functions as your advocate, helping to ensure contracts and legal documents are prepared and executed both legally and in your best interest.

Insurance Broker

  • Evaluates existing coverage and recommends most effective protection

Impact: An insurance broker can help preserve your practice value by insuring you against loss.

ADDITIONAL TEAM MEMBERS FOR START-UP

If you’re building a start-up, you’ll need several additional advisors on your team to help manage the project.

General Contractor

  • Builds your facility according to your plans, and to suit your business and personal needs.
  • Recommends structural changes to optimize the practice’s functionality
  • Impact: Your general contractor can help protect your physical assets from structural and environmental damage, and can provide counsel and advice on transforming a new practice location to fulfill your vision.

   Equipment Supplier

  • Measures your selected location to evaluate whether it is suitable for a dental practice
  • Suggests possible office design layouts
  • Works with architect to develop structural drawings and mechanicals.
  • Helps you select and place equipment.
  • Impact: Your equipment supplier can help assure the appropriate selection and integration of equipment and technology in the practice.

Depending on the nature and scope of your project, you may also want to include any or all of these professionals on your practice start-up team:

  • Architect.
  • Interior designer.
  • Lease negotiator.
  • Local practitioner/mentor.
  • Marketing consultant.
  • Project manager. (Click here for more information about the benefits of adding a Project Manager to your team)

Benefits of a Practice Management Consultant

Another specialist who might prove valuable to your practice acquisition or start-up is the Practice Management Consultant. This type of advisor works with you and your team to help ensure your business systems and internal structure are properly positioned for full functionality, profitability and success. The Practice Management Consultant can help minimize the stress of transitioning to a new practice by identifying potential areas of improvement and working with you to develop a plan for change.

It’s neither necessary nor advisable to go it alone when purchasing or building a practice. Start putting together the right professional team for your situation, and you’ll soon find that your new practice is becoming a reality.


So you want to be a practice owner someday: Paths to ownership – Should you acquire or build?

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Congratulations on your decision to become a practice owner! You have many challenges and rewards ahead of you. One of your first tasks is to decide whether to acquire an existing dental practice, or start your own. The ideal choice for you depends on your personality, professional interests and circumstances, and will become increasingly clear as you explore each path to ownership. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a practice acquisition versus start-up, according to Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources.

Wells FargoPractice acquisition: Pros and cons

A practice acquisition can be an easier transition for new doctors as systems and cash flow are already in place. In a true turnkey situation, you could potentially start working on patients the same day you obtain the keys to the office. Benefits of acquiring a practice include:

  • Immediate source of production. A beneficial practice acquisition provides an established patient base and income flow, so you can immediately cover loan payments for the purchase while tweaking the details of the practice over time.
  • Ready staff of employees. If you can retain the employees currently in the practice, you will save hours of time in hiring and training hygienists and office staff and have a ready foundation for ongoing operations.
  • Support systems in place. An existing practice will have scheduling, patient tracking, and operational systems in place, saving you time in selecting and installing these types of support mechanisms.
  • Less reliant on marketing. Since you are purchasing a practice that already produces income, you are less dependent on aggressive marketing efforts to generate interest, commitment, and cash flow.
  • Easier loan approval. You may find it’s easier to attain a loan for a practice acquisition than a start-up, as the business has a proven track record upon which the lending company can base its decision.

However, acquisitions can also have their share of problems, which makes it especially important to conduct thorough due diligence. For example, you could inherit troublesome employees who require training or discipline, inefficient procedures or office systems that need to be overhauled, outdated equipment that should be replaced, or a dated facility that needs remodeling. You may also find that the type of dental services provided at the facility are not a true fit for your interests or specialty, requiring you to gradually transition to the offerings and services you prefer. It’s up to you to determine whether it’s worth your time and money to overcome these issues.

Practice start-up: The satisfaction of doing it yourself

Nothing beats the feeling of being in control of your circumstances, and this is the key benefit of the practice start-up:

  • Complete control. With a start-up, you have the ultimate degree of control in creating the professional environment you want.  From the facility itself to equipment, systems and employees, you’re in charge of deciding what works best for you.
  • Creative endeavor. You have a unique opportunity to express your professional and personal taste, unimpeded by dated equipment and facilities or the inheritance of someone else’s problems.
  • Set your own pace. Since you don’t have existing patients to serve, you can set the pace for your transition to ownership, continuing to work as an employee a couple of days a week if necessary while you gradually build your facility and practice.

Of course, start-ups come with their own brand of challenges and risks, such as:

  • Time consuming. Time you could be investing in patient relationships will be spent making numerous decisions about office design, equipment purchases, employee hiring, systems and protocols, and patient outreach. You will need to invest more time in growing the practice than with an acquisition, requiring excellent organizational skills.
  • Marketing-intensive. The success of your start-up will be dependent on your ability to sell your services, and will require a significant degree of planning and marketing skills to establish the business.
  • Location constraints. You will need to choose a location that can demographically support a new dental practice to ensure long-term success. This may limit your practice location options.
  • Loan limitations. Some loan companies may be more reluctant to lend funds for a practice start-up as there is no income history, existing equipment or property to use as collateral. This is particularly true for lenders who are not specialists in professional practice lending.

No matter which path you choose, it’s most important to ensure your choice fits your personal style, situation, and needs. This is the key to attaining professional success, personal satisfaction and enjoyment throughout your business career.

New Dentist Conference, ADA annual meeting inspire new dentists, dental students

Westwood, Calif. — While many 2015 dental graduates are busy looking for or settling into practices, one of their fellow graduates is urging both them and dental students to mark some days in early November on their calendars.

Dr. Mendoza

Dr. Mendoza

The New Dentist Conference, which for the first time will coincide with the ADA annual meeting, which takes place in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 5-10. New dentists can participate in both meetings this year and experience all ADA 2015 has to offer, featuring high-level networking opportunities during Leadership Day; a new dentist reception at Penn Social; inspiration from keynote speaker Daymond John, entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” co-star; an exclusive, customized continuing education track featuring real-time interactive technology and more.

Dental students and new dentists alike should make every attempt to attend both events, said Dr. Kristopher Mendoza of the UCLA School of Dentistry Class of 2015.

He should know, considering that he is the immediate past president of the American Student Dental Association and has been an active participant in two past ADA annual meetings.

“It’s a great time to recharge and see what’s beyond dental school,” Dr. Mendoza said.

The 25-year-old dentist, who has just begun a three-year residency in dental anesthesiology at UCLA, said that while the advantages of attending the annual meeting are myriad, one in particular is especially useful for dental students and new dentists.

“One of the greatest benefits for students at the annual meeting is definitely networking with other dentists and students,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Everyone there is extremely helpful, helping the next generation of dentists. They want to see you succeed.”

New Dentist Conference 2015There are several reasons why connecting and interacting with students and more established dentists is important, Dr. Mendoza said. One is that dental students close to graduation and new dentists are seeking jobs, and he has found that some of the established dentists have looked at dentists to join their practices or even sell their practices to.

A second reason is that the ADA annual meeting exposes current and new students to a national community of dentists who provide perspective and inspiration. Attending dental school can place students in a bubble but going to a conference with hundreds of other people who had gone through the experience or were going through the experience invigorated him, he said.

“It was my break,” Dr. Mendoza said. “It helped keep me going. You’re not the only one going through it. It gave me a better outlook on the dental field.” It helped Dr. Mendoza because when he grew up in Fresno, California, he didn’t have any dentists in the family to relate to.

Dr. Mendoza gets asked frequently from younger dentists and dental students if they should join the ADA. “I would challenge them to explore all that being a member offers,” he said. “The value far exceeds the cost.”

Registration for ADA 2015 is open online at ADA.org/meeting.

For a list of courses planned, visit eventscribe.com/ADA/2015.

Search for #ADADC on Twitter and Facebook for more on the ADA annual meeting.