Dentists who want to start a practice should be well prepared. As an independent dentist, they are entrepreneurs, marketing, personnel and financial managers all in one person. The more thoroughly they consider the critical points and clarify them in advance, the better they calm their nerves and financial resources.
We asked Thies Harbeck, Managing Director of OPTI Zahnarztberatung (Damp/Germany), what to look out for when starting up a practice. Find out more!
Mr. Harbeck, what do dentists need to consider when starting up a practice?
Thies Harbeck: Starting a practice is like establishing a business. An independent dentist is not only a dentist, but also an entrepreneur. For this reason, there is a lot to think about in advance. The first question he or she should ask themselves is whether they are cut out for self-employed work at all. This form of employment won’t appeal to everyone.
Which details should be considered?
Thies Harbeck: It is important to consider what it really means to be self-employed. It requires commitment, self-discipline, self-management and initially, no regular working hours or social insurance protection. In addition there is a high level of responsibility - including the practice team. And of course, they should have a practical and sustainable vision for the practice. After all, this is a lifetime project. However, the multiple and positive possibilities in self-employment often prevail in the overall view.
Another question is whether to go it alone as an independent dentist or be part of a cooperation with other dentists.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a cooperation?
Thies Harbeck: First the advantages. A partnership with other dentists can relieve the financial burden. There are lower investment costs. The risks are carried on many shoulders and resources are shared. You are not responsible for everything alone.
The disadvantages: You will have to negotiate and comply with your partners. You have to compromise, you are not the sole boss, who determines what to do.
What do you advise dentists who are thinking about being part of a cooperation?
Thies Harbeck: They should establish contractually clear rules in order to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings during the cooperation. As in many other areas in life, clear, open communication as well as unequivocal rules help to avoid disappointment and stress in the future.
What else does the founder of a practice need to consider?
Thies Harbeck: It is important that the practice fits into your own personal life concept. Do you want to be in the city or countryside? There is a difference. If you choose to practise in a town or city for example, it is easier to specialize, whereas in the countryside it is important to offer a wider spectrum.
How do practice founders find a suitable object?
Thies Harbeck: The search for a practice should also be a professional decision. If possible, an expert should be consulted to examine the seller's practice report and analyze the practice in question. A location analysis is also helpful. This way, practice founders can ensure that the location is compatible with their personal concept and vision.
What should practice founders consider when selecting their team?
Thies Harbeck: Unfortunately, the importance of an appropriate practice team is often underestimated. Never forget that as a self-employed dentist you are also a personnel manager! In particular in the initial phase, it is extremely important that the dentist has a team that he or she can rely on. Careful selection of the staff is therefore a must. Two aspects are important. Firstly: The qualifications. Determine which qualifications you need in your practice. And secondly: Motivated staff who will understand and live your practice philosophy.
What else is there to consider?
Thies Harbeck: The external appearance. Unfortunately, this aspect is also related. It is no longer enough to simply sit and wait for patients in a newly founded, state-of-the-art practice. You will need to make an active effort to offer your services! Market yourself! A coherent marketing concept will help you. The external appearance covers many areas, from team clothing to practice website. Everything should be consistent and convey the exact image, which is most important to you.
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OPTI Zahnarztberatung GmbH is a consultation company specializing in providing comprehensive consultancy services for dental practices in the areas consulting, organization, business management, management, personnel and marketing.