By JONATHAN FINE
As UK and Irish dental practices begin to change format we should be careful not to simply think in terms of 1,500sqft boxes in high streets, shopping centres and urban convenience shopping areas.
The motivation for dentists to dash (well maybe it’s not a dash quite yet…) to retail formats is understandable and logical. There’s good reason to abandon the converted semi-detached or terraced house and the surgery above a shop: you need to secure your retail catchment. But there are so many more formats and locations to consider. What about train stations, leisure centres, hotels, hospitals, yacht clubs and golf clubs?
In terms of size, consider the mini-practice I came across in a large international hotel in Malaga this morning: it’s 15x12sqft, has a simple consultation area , a chair, intra oral camera and a screen that pulls across the window when the dentist is in surgery.
It presents three obvious opportunities for Irish and UK dentists:
- spoke in a hub and spoke dental business
- direct access dental hygiene unit
- low cost, quick start squat in a high traffic area
As you can see there is a giant screen in the window selling all treatments at 40 per cent less than UK prices – all cosmetic.
So would this actually work in the UK and Ireland? I think it would need a touch more space to deal with CQC compliance (in the UK at least) – perhaps add in a decon room/cupboard and a bit more client confidentiality. But the answer is yes. Recently I’ve seen several physiotherapists and chiropractors using similar spaces and formats.
This format could suit a big practice that’s maxed out in terms of catchment. Opening a compact singlehanded unit like this could feed big treatments into the main site while building a customer base in a new catchment (a spoke in a hub and spoke business). It would also work in conjunction with a dental therapist or hygienist.
However, probably the biggest opportunity here is for a young entrepreneurial dentist who wants their own practice. It’s a fairly safe, low cost squat that will be easy to replicate, particularly if the branding reflects the profile of the selected catchment.
If you’re interested in taking this format forward I’m happy to expand my thoughts with you, just give me a ring on +44 7860 672727.