Report after report shows that patients in the UK are finding it increasingly difficult to find an NHS dentist, and it can take literally months to be seen. According to some data sets, there are roughly 35,000 dentists in the UK working for the NHS while there are just less than 3,000 working in private practice. With more than 21 million patients being seen in 2018, you can see how the system is overburdened and why an increasing number of dentists are going into the private sector. Unfortunately, the cost involved is more than some dentists can manage, but with a few money saving tips, it is possible to open a private dental office. Here are 5 ways to save money to make this goal possible.
1. Get Experience First
Sadly, the cost of opening a private practice could run to more than the average NHS dentist makes in several years. Along with the cost of buying a private practice which could cost upwards of £1 million, there are other costs associated, such as licences and the cost of solicitors among other variables. Lenders are reluctant to take that kind of risk on new dentists just starting out, so one sage piece of advice is to get some experience first. This may be a huge determining factor in acquiring affordable rates on financing. Bear in mind that lenders’ rates are often risk based.
2. Shop Around for Competitive Prices
One thing you can do when starting your own private dental practice is to shop around for competitive prices, especially on such things as rent and utilities. You may not want to buy your own building at first, so take the time to look for a building in the location you wish to practice which is reasonably affordable. Also, dental equipment can be bought from other dentists who are retiring and when it comes to utilities, prices for business electricity can vary from provider to provider. Sites like Utility Bidder enable you to compare prices for business electricity online before talking to each provider individually. The cost of electricity continues to rise, so this could be a huge savings in operating costs.
3. Spend Weekends Working as a Locum
While not exactly a “money saving technique,” it is a way to bring more money into the coffers. Locums get paid fairly well, and that money can be put aside into a savings account for those bills you just can’t seem to manage timely. This is especially true in the beginning years as you build a practice, but it will pay off over time. Gradually take on less work as your finances improve.
4. Cut Overlooked Regular Expenses & Save the Difference
When you’re wanting to save towards starting your first dental practice, getting enough money in place is critically important. Even if you plan to borrow much of the start-up costs, the larger the deposit you have, the better it’ll support your loan application. Also, if you can save more aggressively, you’ll have the option to borrow the planned amount and open the doors sooner.
Reduce your regular expenses to push up savings for your dental business. Cut out the coffee run every morning and the expensive sandwich in favour of office coffee (bring your favourite coffee brand to work) and pack a lunch. You’ll instantly save 20% on the VAT if you were buying lunch from a restaurant and not preparing lunches at home from a weekly supermarket run too. Also, re-examine any online or offline subscriptions that are paid automatically and go unnoticed. Then watch the money add up!
5. Market Efficiently to Find Customers
Plan a marketing budget to drum up customers once the doors have opened.
Take appointments while the finishing touches are being put on the dental office before opening day. This way, you’ll have the first few customers, some much needed sales and positive word of mouth. Then use affordable online marketing, rather than traditional media, to get your message out without breaking the bank.
Finally, it might be beneficial to cover a wide range of services which aren’t widely available on the NHS, if at all. Cosmetic procedures are a big money maker, and something that will help to keep the lights on as your practice grows. Remember, more and more people are becoming disenchanted with the long wait times in the NHS, and with fewer dentists than needed, you can build a strong practice quite quickly that will enable you to save over time. Saving money is more than saving on operating costs; it’s growing your profits as well to help fund better technology or hire a larger staff. Starting a private dental practice can be done, but it takes saving money to realise a profit.