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13 Steps to Starting a New Dental Practice


Some say 13 is an unlucky number, but I say 13 is my favorite number! 

That’s because I know I’ve been able to take thousands of dental associates across the country and help them open their own dental startups through these 13 stages:

1. Vision

The vision stage helps you get clear on what it is you really want out of your dental practice.

How do you want your patients to feel? What do you want it to look like? How do you want to be innovative? These are all questions we’ll ask you during this phase to help you get clarity on your vision.

2. Financing

I hate to be brutally honest here, but listen… if you don’t have financing, you don’t have a dental practice! 

You need to have financial backing for your startup, but don’t worry. We’ve helped thousands of dentists secure financing from banks almost effortlessly and timely.

Check out How to Secure Funding for A Dental Startup

3. Demographics

Determining your demographics is a key step that many dentists forget about!

You need to figure out who your ideal patient is! You’re going to be spending the rest of your career with the patients in your chair, so make sure you have a clear idea of what patients you want.

This may take you 1-2 months to really narrow down, but it’s important that you do!

4. Site Selection

Site selection is absolutely crucial to your startup’s success – it will determine everything from long-term progress, to construction costs, to marketing efforts!

A good rule of thumb is the 1-2000 rule. You want to pick an area that has a ratio of at least 1 dentist to 2,000 patients in order to ensure you won’t have too much competition to thrive.

Make sure you do your research! Talk to people from the area, read Fortune 500 studies and Google. This is such an important decision, so it can take dentists anywhere from 1-3 months.

5. Design & Floorplan

Determining your buildings’ design, layout and floorplan is an opportunity to be creative and innovative. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to building a dental office from scratch, so expect this stage to take about 1-2 months to complete.

Ideal Practices help you map out your dream design, while making sure the floorplan stays realistic and within budget. 

6. Equipment Selection

Certain equipment will require that you spend extra to ensure good quality, and certain equipment is unnecessary to splurge extra on! Our team runs a cost analysis to determine what equipment you need, and more importantly, what you don’t need. 

This stage takes about 1-2 months to complete.

7. Construction Bidding

The bidding process may be daunting, but luckily, this stage is quick! If you know what you’re doing, construction bidding should be completed within a month.

8. Permits

To ensure safety and legal compliance, dental startups need to make sure they have all the required permits in place. We’re talking zoning permits, HIPAA compliance, controlled substance license, local building occupancy permit and more.

This stage can take 1 month or 5 months, depending on where you’re already at in the permit process!

9. Marketing & Hiring Begins

Over the course of 3-5 months, you’ll start hiring your staff and implementing your marketing strategies.

Marketing will depend on where you’re located (this is why site selection matters!), your budget and your demographics. With social media, there are more marketing opportunities now than ever before! 

Plus, we’ll make sure you’re equipped with all of the best practices for marketing and hiring by working one on one with you.

10. Construction Begins

Construction is a lot to think about. This process will take about 3-5 months.

Luckily, when you work with Ideal Practices, we help manage all of your contractors. This means we can ensure everything is getting done ethically, timely and appropriately. Remember, we’ve done this all before!

11. Equipment Installation

Time to install all your equipment! This is a bit of a lengthy process, so expect it to take 3-5 months.

12. Dress Rehearsal

This is our favorite part!

We’ll travel on-site to your dental practice and go through a test run of open day. We have a huge checklist, and we’ll spend all day with you making sure you feel prepared for your grand opening.

13. Grand Opening

The final step! After 12 months of following our 13 stage process, you’ll be ready to open those doors and start filling your chairs.

Remember to take a look around and pat yourself on the back – you did it!

But how do I actually start?

If you want guidance on how to get started and commit to opening your startup, take it from professionals who’ve been in your shoes and have a proven track record of opening startups!

Sign up for our Startup Practice Blueprint – a 2 day event where we will sit down and create an individualized, real business plan for you and your dental startup. 


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