Cash flow is critical for dentists taking the leap from the NHS to private

Wesleyan explains why it is important to make a good first impression in today’s dental practices.

Life is all about change and the career of a dental professional can take many twists and turns. Options such as buying into a partnership, acquiring a practice or adding additional treatment specialisms all come loaded with financial implications. However, arguably the greatest cost conundrum dentists face is whether to quit the NHS to go private or to retire.

Research conducted by the British Dental Association (BDA) suggests there is a sharp rise in dentists intending to leave the NHS within the next five years. While the story is a familiar one, this disillusionment appears to be growing with up to three quarters of dentists in some areas threatening to sever ties with the NHS and go it alone.

If you are more entrepreneurial in your business outlook then owning a private practice could represent the perfect fit for you. Private dental practices, including those operating practice-branded membership plans, can be very profitable and grow in value as the strength of goodwill will be greater as the percentage of patients you have on plan increases.

Attracting patients

The ability to attract new patients and keep existing ones when transitioning from NHS to private ultimately determines whether a practice has a sustainable future. Private patients typically have greater demands for specialist services situated in modern and comfortable premises, so your treatment environment must be able to meet their expectation levels when coming up against strong levels of competition in the market.

Technological advances are transforming modern dentistry and creating limitless opportunities and choice for patients. Computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing systems enable dental practices to rapidly produce accurate crowns, bridges and braces in hours rather than days to dramatically improve efficiency. Air abrasion systems, which represent an alternative to drills or injections, are also helping private dental practices to attract nervous patients by enabling tooth decay to be removed without any noise, vibration or patient discomfort.

Furthermore, demand for cosmetic dental treatments that are not available on the NHS are increasing. A study by Acumen Research and Consulting forecasts that the market for teeth cleaning machines in Europe is expected to grow by 6% in the next six years, reaching a market value of almost £500 million by 2024.

Spreading the cost

Keeping up with new innovations can undoubtedly place a strain on a practice’s cash flow but forward-thinking dentists do not need to miss out on accessing the latest technology. Tailored and flexible finance solutions from specialist finance providers include funding for a wide range of dental technology, specialist equipment and practice building refurbishments and relocations. As a result, practice owners no longer have to dip into vital cash reserves and attempt to pay for new investments in one lump sum. In doing so, they can spread the cost (usually over one to five years) to protect essential working capital without compromising existing banking lines.

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is particularly relevant in dentistry today due to patients having a wider array of treatments and practices from which to choose from. Take a moment to consider whether your practice is providing an exceptional customer experience and how could this be potentially impacting your patient numbers and retention rates.

First impressions tend to stick, especially from the perspective of new patients. Partnering with a trusted finance partner who has an intrinsic understanding of the dental sector will ensure you can continue to invest to give patients the highest standards of clinical care, whilst they in turn give you a glowing reference.

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