With patients willing to pay more, can dental practices afford to invest less?

Many dentists find access to finance a challenge despite realising it could be the best way to boost revenues and retain patients, John Clarke says.

In today’s digital age, most dentists acknowledge that having the latest equipment is vital to staying ahead of their competition. In part, this is being driven by the impact technology is having in directly influencing the future of dental practice as we know it. The rise of the ‘patsumer’, a new buzzword to describe patients who think and act like consumers, is heralding a shift in customer behaviours as they take more control over their own healthcare.

From receiving a wider range of cosmetic treatments to dental practices offering more welcoming facilities, patients now expect much more. But a poll conducted by The Oral Health Foundation suggests that patients also accept that their preferred service levels must come at a cost. The research highlights strong public support for an increase in NHS dentistry funding, with 48% of British adults claiming they would be willing to pay more for dental treatments.

Access to finance ‘a challenge’

Choosing to run a business by depending on outdated equipment and unreliable IT systems is a sure way to get left behind. But dental practice owners can be forgiven for being cautious due to a perceived lack of support from financial lenders. Recent findings based on a *Lightspeed survey discovered that exactly half of dental practice owners in the UK and Ireland admit that finding access to finance is ‘a challenge’, with a fifth of UK owners stating that this is a ‘major’ issue.

With the same survey suggesting that 60% of UK practice owners plan to seek finance for business improvements in the next 12 months, deciding how to fund significant investments must be considered carefully.

Cash flow

Electing to pay for new investments in one lump sum can be cost prohibitive and detrimental to a business’s cash flow. Specialist commercial finance providers to dentists, such as Wesleyan Bank, can help. Flexible asset finance solutions enable dental practices to invest in IT software and services, specialist equipment and surgery building refurbishments and relocations by spreading the cost from one to five years. This ensures ambitious dentists can access the equipment and technologies they need, when they need them, without impacting their cash flow or working capital.

Given the rising costs of materials, labour and property maintenance, which have a negative impact on profit margins, it’s understandable for dental practice owners to be cautious about making additional financial investments. However, investing in new assets can often be the best way to boost revenues, attract and retain patients and strengthen a business’s competitive position. Technology is constantly evolving and represents an exciting window of opportunity. Dentists need to be equally as fleet-of-foot in embracing modern treatments to maximise efficiency and differentiate their services in a way that their patients now demand.

Bespoke asset finance solutions allow practices to gain rapid access to new equipment and technology to take advantage of emerging market opportunities without being inhibited by large upfront costs.

For more information visit www.wesleyan.co.uk/wesleyan-bank.

You can meet John and his team on stand M35 at the BDIA Dental Showcase.

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