If you’ve decided to open a new dental practice or expand your current office, choosing the location is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Some factors that go into this decision are straightforward, like avoiding too much competition, but other aspects of choosing a location require more research than you might expect.
How to Choose a Great Location for Your Dental Practice
Here are a few of the main areas to look into before opening or buying a new dental practice.
Not just population density, but also age, income levels, education levels, and overall economic confidence. In general, an affluent, educated population that is confident about the economy is more likely to increase consumer spending. You also want to look for a population level that is growing, not shrinking.
What percentage of the population is insured, and what are the major insurers? Also, what percentage is covered by Medicaid? Insurance reimbursements vary by carrier, and your ability to collect on receivables will have a huge impact on long-term profitability.
How many other dentists are in the community where you want to practice? What are their specialties? If there are multiple dental practices in your desired community, make sure you will offer something different. Are the dental practices start-ups, mature, or somewhere in between? How old are the dentists? This could impact your ability to grow in the future. Perhaps your long-term goal is to buy other practices; if that’s the case, locating in an area with dentists who are retiring within five years may be a good idea.
Other things to think about in regards to location are real estate and traffic patterns. Figure out if it’s best for you to own or lease your office space, if the square footage allows you room to expand, and parking availability. Traffic patterns are important, because the slower the traffic, the higher the visibility. Look for offices that are near major businesses or successful retail centers. Also check into regulations on signage, both from your landlord (if you’re renting) and the local government.
When You Get To Choose Where You Live
If you have the ability to choose where you live, locating in a state that’s ranked high for dentists is a good idea.
According to a Dental Products Report study, the top three best states to practice dentistry are Minnesota, Iowa, and Hawaii. Rounding out the bottom of the list are Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. This is not to say there aren’t successful dentists in the lowest three states, or that in the top three states there are only successful dentists.
In general, you want to locate your dental practice where the dentist to population ratio is lowest. The national average is 60.9 dentists per 100,000 people. It varies by state; for example, Washington, D.C. has one of the highest ratios in the country at 89.9, (followed by New Jersey and Alaska). The ratio is lowest in Delaware, West Virginia, much of the South, and in some Midwest states.
There are also opportunities in Western states. Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas experienced the most growth in dentists. In addition, most western states (except for Utah, Colorado, Oregon, California, and Washington) are still under the national average of 60.9.
Resources for More Information
When you’re considering opening a new practice, or choosing an area to buy an existing one, you can consult the following sources for more information about dentist to population ratio, regional dental practices, population density, and other demographic information.
- State dental association
- Local dental club
- Chamber of Commerce
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Federal Reserve Bank economic statistics reports (per capita income and per capita retail sales)
We can help you establish your footprint, whether you’re buying your first practice or you’re expanding an existing one. Contact us to discuss how we can help you open your dental practice.