3 Tips for Selecting Your Dental Practice Location
After years of dental school and working as an associate, it’s normal to begin daydreaming about taking control of your career and opening your own practice.
One of the first steps to opening your own practice is to begin considering prospective locations. At Ashton Gray, we’re experts in guiding the development of medical, dental, and veterinary practice real estate. Here are a few tips we’ve learned that’ll help you find your dream practice location.
Research Location Demographics
Start with the big picture and find your target market. If you’re currently working at a practice, start digging into your practice’s data to determine the type of patients visiting and why.
Once you have demographic data that lays out the people who need your services, the next step is to find out where they live and work (but not in a creepy way).
There are plenty of places dentists are in high demand. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there is a need for over 10,000 more dentists all over the United States. Your next practice location could be built to serve a community in desperate need of dentistry services.
Also, consider the growth of the community – is the population expanding or shrinking? Are new developments being built or are houses on the market for long periods of time? It’s easier to establish a relationship with patients who have just moved to an area.
There are plenty of tools available online to research relevant demographic data, such as the United States Census Bureau. It offers stats regarding language, education, employment, health insurance, housing, and more for every community in the nation. The University of Virginia’s Guide to Publicly Available Demographic Data is another great resource for a large overview of demographic data resources. The team at Ashton Gray can also pull demographics for any area, nationwide.
Narrow the Search
Once you’ve established the general area that will suit your services, you can start to dig a little deeper into specific available locations. There are a couple of things to consider when looking at possible locations:
- Nearby Competition – Similar practices can be a sign that your prospective area has enough demand to support your business but there are only so many practices an area can support. Researching your competition’s wait times or online reviews can offer some insight into their performance and help you determine if there’s a gap in the community that needs to be filled.
- Accessibility + Visibility – While a town or county might be able to support your practice’s services, they’ll need to be able to access it and hear about it. Finding a location that is on the corner of a major intersection could offer high visibility but does it have enough parking or is it accessible for traffic going in either direction? Finding the right balance between practicality for your facility and visibility to market your practice is crucial. While most dentists can be found online, there is something to be said for the folks that say, “Oh, I drive by that place all the time – I’ll check it out.”
Does the Location Fit You and Your Practice?
The type of dentistry you practice will also affect your location. If you specialize in pediatric dentistry you’ll want to research areas with a high concentration of schools or growing families. Or if you’re even more specialized, locate near a high-density population with general dentists that can refer your services.
No matter your specialty, be sure to visit the prospective location yourself before making any sort of commitment. A location with excessive wear and tear or a less than ideal surrounding area may affect a patient’s desire to visit.
As a practitioner, you’ll want to consider your daily commute. Are there areas nearby you’d be happy living? What about your staff? If you’re bringing existing staff from one location to this new one, does this location make sense for them? If you’re not bringing staff, maybe research employment data in the area.
There is no perfect science when it comes to choosing a practice location. Each practice has to prioritize what’s most important to its business, whether it’s price, visibility, competition, accessibility, or any of the above. And even then, it’ll likely be a balancing act to satisfy every need. Take the time to do the research, it’s the surest way to achieve that warm and fuzzy feeling you’ll get when your first patient walks into your brand new location and says, “Wow.”
From concept, all the way to retirement, the experts at Ashton Gray are happy to help you navigate all of the rewards of opening your very own medical, dental, or veterinarian practice location. Contact us here to learn more about how we can help.