The perfect dental practice?

Dental practices come in many shapes and sizes and it is almost impossible to generalise about how successful (in terms of profitability and pleasure in owning) any particular size and style of practice might be. However, coaches like me are always looking for a formula that they can explain to their clients about what works best.

My criteria are different to most coaches in that having been a dental practice owner in the past, I find it easy to slip into my clients’ shoes and imagine owning a practice and making some sort of judgment as to whether this would work for me.

My criteria would look something like this:

  • Profits in excess of £200k
  • My week to be no more than three days clinical and one day working on the business, with three-day weekends and 10 weeks holiday
  • Enough financial resources to employ both an operational manager and a business manager
  • When I come to sell it, buyers will be fighting over it for a good price
  • Headroom to grow

Pipe dream? No, I’ve met a handful of principals who I have helped generate a version of the practice model above.

In my experience a practice has to have reached a certain size in order to have sufficient momentum (often down to patient numbers) to deliver on all of my criteria.

Something like this:

  • Turnover £1m-£1.3m
  • Two full time continuing care dentists and a new patient dentist (me) three days a week
  • Three surgery days a week of new patient dentistry @ £2,500/day = gross £315,000/year
  • 10 surgery days a month of continuing care @ £1,200/day = gross £552,000/year
  • Seven surgery days a month of hygiene @ £750/day = gross £241,500/year
  • Total gross = £1,108,000
  • 2,400 patients
  • 15% patient attrition per year
  • 360 new patients per year, 30 new patients per month to maintain steady state, more to achieve growth
  • Average new patient value: £1,200
  • Average patient value £525

This practice could generate profits of circa 20% or £221,000/annum (depending on the levels of borrowing and the repayment term) and would require 21 surgery days per week in either three very busy surgeries or four more relaxed surgeries.

I’d want it located in a wealthyish mid-sized UK town, preferably with a John Lewis or Waitrose store, an indication of plenty of potential middle class patients with an average age of over 50 (lots of pathology and disposable income)! I’d want it inhabiting a modern building (I’m not fussed about owning it) with lots of car parking on the doorstep. I‘d happily pay my associates 50% and my hygienists 33% if they can hit their average daily gross figures (above). I’d fill the building with appropriate technology and fully embrace digital dentistry. I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.

Over the years I’ve met many, many clients who have had the opportunity to build a practice like this. Many already had some of the building blocks in place. However most didn’t. I think one of the main reasons for this is that holding ideas or a vision without execution is simply delusion. Over the last 17 years the truly exceptional principals I’ve coached didn’t create exceptional dental practices simply by listening to my presentations or even reading my book(!) but by deconstructing and systematically implementing the ideas they learned with small and consistent actions, that over time created a practice like I have described.

In short, it only works if you do it!

If you want some help in creating a perfect practice, contact me for a chat,


m. 07770 430576

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