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Opening a practice can be a daunting task full of many unknowns. One practitioner shares her top tips for making the process easier.
Dee Dee Meevasin, DMD, has learned a lot from her mentor, Dr. James Saycich, her dentist since she was a child. Dr. Saycich inspired her to go into dentistry while she worked as his assistant in high school. After graduating from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, dental school in 2007, Dr. Dee Dee worked with Saycich at his dental office for five years. “He taught me how to run a practice,” Dr. Dee Dee said. “Everything from managing my assistant to doing payroll.”
As Dr. Dee Dee’s patient load grew, and she became anxious to work with updated technology, she decided it was time to open her own practice. She and her husband, Mike, opened Dee for Dentist in 2011. As the office manager, Mike handles many of the details so Dr. Dee Dee can focus on patient care. They learned these five important lessons along the way:
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Start with a solid business plan.
A solid business plan is the foundation of a new practice. Dr. Dee Dee developed a basic business plan and recruited a friend who works as a financial planner to help with the hard numbers. “At first, try to keep everything you do in-house,” Dr. Dee Dee said. “If you have a family member or a friend who can help out, by all means, ask for it.” Dr. Dee Dee revisits her business plan annually to compare financials with the prior year.
Dr. Dee Dee said it’s important not to overestimate the amount of new patients you’ll get right away. She said to keep your business plan simple and straight-to-the-point. If anything, underestimate the amount of money you and the business are going to make right away.
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Find good employees.
“The hardest thing is building the team,” Dr. Dee Dee said. “A great team will have the same vision as you, and it’s hard to find good people that are on the same page.” To do this, Dr. Dee Dee suggests interviewing lots of candidates and involving the team in the selection. “You want to find people who see this not just as a job,” she explained. That’s why each candidate is asked: “Which matters to you most: Job satisfaction or pay?” If the candidate responds with “pay,” it’s a red flag.
Once you have hired good people, give them a reason to stick around.
At Dee for Dentist, this means profit sharing, team lunches, holiday parties, scavenger hunts, 5K races and volunteer events. “If employees get along and are friends with one another, they are going to enjoy being at work, and they’re going to stick around,” Dr. Dee Dee said.
“Technology is expensive,” Dr. Dee Dee said. “But if you’re investing in it to make yourself a better clinician, the investment will be worth it because it will set you apart from other offices. Your patients will know you care about their treatment. It’s a steep investment, but if it’s part of your business plan, it’s always doable.”
Dee for Dentist was opened when the economy was down, but, despite that, business has grown tremendously. Dr. Dee Dee and Mike have hired more staff members, continue to add new technology and are enjoying great success. “I’m very proud and surprised,” Dr. Dee Dee said. “I didn’t realize we would get to this point this fast.”