Dental Home Care: A Blue Ocean
Do you want to own your own dental practice? How often does someone ask you this?
You know that this is such a common question that dental students, young dentists, or pretty much any dentist gets asked anytime they meet someone new. If you’re a dentist without a practice, people assume that you don’t have your own practice yet.
This assumption has some merit because today, 77% of dentists are practice owners. There’s a lot of entrepreneurial spirit amongst dentists, relative to other healthcare professionals. While 77% is the vast majority of dentists, there’s been a significant decrease in dental practice ownership due factors of traditional ownership that are actually huge turn offs to new dentists.
Are you a Practice owner? Or yet to own one? Or are you completely uninterested in practice ownership? If you are any of these, this episode is for you. Click here to follow along as I go through my journey to mobile dental practice and the 6 benefits I have experienced so far.
1. Increasing Access
I became a dentist because I want to increase access to care. I wanted to treat patients that most traditional practices were not equipped for, or not willing to treat. Home care dental practices exist to meet the needs of patients who cannot get to the dentist. This is NOT most patients, but it’s a patient group that needs care and has been neglected by the traditional practice model. The good thing about increasing access through mobile dental care is that it can fit any dentist today. It could be a practical way to start a private practice, it can also be an extended service offered by an operating practice or it could grow as a business that specifically serves that niche.
2. Low Start-up Cost
A mobile dental practice has an incredibly low start-up cost. All you need is the right equipment and a moving vehicle. No more waiting for years or accumulating more debt. Unlike the traditional private practice model which involves a LARGE investment upfront of either cash, years of sweat equity, or usually, a big ol’ pile of debt from the bank. You probably need more debt like you need a hole in the head.
3. You can start without employees
It’s possible to run a dental home care practice without any employees. Your success is based on your reliability and your performance alone. Plus, if you decide to outsource, you can find contractors. These private practices have a team- from hygienists and assistants to front desk staff and office managers. If you are not ready to manage employees and all of their personalities. This can be a stressful task, especially considering that their performance and reliability are directly correlated with the success of your business.
4. Lower Overhead
A dental home care service has extremely low overhead. You can only see so many patients in a day and only offer so many procedures at home, so the expenses are minimal. The profit margin can be anywhere from 70%-85% depending on the specifics of your practice. Compared to a traditional private practice which runs with about 50-60% overhead. This means you better be busy! Running behind can lead to patients lined up in the waiting room. Plus, the hygienists are waiting on you and they don’t want to run behind either! Some days can be a stressful mess.
5. Time Freedom
Your time is dedicated to one person and their family for an extended period. There’s no rushing. You’ll never have to worry about a waiting room full of people. Plus, you can schedule your visits whenever you’d like. This model offers a ton of time freedom. Traditional practices usually have rigid hours. You agree to be at one location for a set amount of time. So what if you need to run to the bank or store or do laundry at home? Too bad. You’ve got to be there for your staff. Here in New York, hygienists need access to a dentist while they’re working. So even if your patients don’t show, you’re stuck there! It’s like being stuck in work jail and it’s your own business!
6. No Real Estate Cost
A dental home care service is real estate independent. You can pack up equipment at your home and return home at the end of the day. Not only are you not off the hook for real estate expenses, but you can also write off part of your residence and utilities. Owning a traditional private practice has some type of real estate component. You either pay rent that you do not determine and is subject to change, or you enter into the commercial real estate business and get a mortgage payment. Now, you’re married to a location AND have the liability of building and repairs. I hope you’re handy!
Dental home care is an incredibly different dental model. It’s the only practice ownership model I felt comfortable pursuing and I’m so glad that I did. Whatever path you’ve chosen, I just hope you’re happy.
I often like to describe it as venturing into a blue ocean as explained in the Blue Ocean Strategy by Renee Mauborgne and W Chan Kim. In the book, they explain the difference between starting a business in a red and blue ocean. In short, imagine being a shark swimming in a blue ocean. Everything is so vast and clear, you’re not even sure exactly what’s out there. Maybe there’s nothing out there and you’ll be hungry forever! Or maybe, now that you’ve left the pack, you’ll stumble upon something to eat and you’ll have a feast to yourself because you’re the only one who was around. It describes creating demand and a new business model rather than competing within an existing business model. Definitely give it a read.
If you’re curious about how life as a house call dentist might work, grab my FREE scheduling template called ‘A Day in the Life of a House Call Dentist.” It’s based on my days. Grab the download at residentalmovement.com/adayinthelife
Ultimately, whether you decide to pursue dental home care or not, you can still support the patients who need at-home dental care by contributing to Home Smile Care Foundation. This is an organization founded by myself and my loved ones to provide grants to patients who cannot afford dental home care. Check out homesmilecarefoundation.org for more information.