Earnings of a Dental Practice Owner


November 15, 2023 Written By: Joyce Kahng, DDS

Setting up a dental practice and becoming your own boss is the ultimate career goal for many dentists. As exciting as it sounds, though, it also brings forth an important question: how much does a dental practice owner make? Also, if you’re considering taking the plunge, how do you go about buying a dental practice? And how can you market it once you have purchased a dental practice?

Below are the answers to these questions, along with a comprehensive guide for purchasing and advertising your new practice…

Earnings of a Dental Practice Owner

The income of a dental practice owner can vary greatly, depending on factors such as geographical location, practice size, specialty, and years of experience. It’s also important to remember that owning a dental practice is the same as running a small business. Because of this—while potential earnings can be higher than working as an associate dentist—it also requires an investment of time, effort, and resources.

According to the American Dental Association, the average net income for a dental practice owner in the U.S. was $170,160 for general dentists and $323,780 for specialists in 2020. However, other sources report different figures. For instance, according to Dental Buyer Advocates, a dental practice owner in the U.S. makes an average of $335,207 per year.

So, let’s put this in perspective. As a dental practice owner, your income would include your salary as a practicing dentist plus any profit the practice makes. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that you have to account for expenses like rent or mortgage, equipment costs, salaries for your staff, insurance, and other overhead costs before paying yourself. Moreover, the financial risk associated with owning a practice is higher, as the onus of the business’s success rests on your shoulders.

Despite these challenges, owning a dental practice can be incredibly rewarding, both professionally and financially. It offers the potential for higher earnings, the freedom to make decisions, and the satisfaction that comes with helping patients.

How to Increase Your Earnings as a Dental Practice Owner

While the average figures above provide a benchmark, it’s worth noting that many dental practice owners earn significantly more by adopting smart business strategies. Here are a few tips to increase your earnings:

1. Expand Your Services

Offering a wider range of services can attract more patients and increase your revenue. This could include cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, endodontics, and/or pediatric dentistry.

2. Invest in Marketing

A well-executed marketing strategy can help attract new patients and retain existing ones. This could involve online advertising, social media marketing, community events, or even direct mail.

3. Focus on Patient Experience

Happy patients are more likely to return and recommend your practice to others. Ensure your practice provides excellent patient care, maintains a friendly atmosphere, and values patient feedback.

4. Manage Expenses Wisely

While some expenses are inevitable, others can be managed or reduced. Regularly review your expenses and identify areas where you can cut costs without compromising patient care.

5. Continual Education and Development

Staying updated with the latest dental techniques, technologies, and practices can enhance your services and attract more patients.

Buying a Dental Practice

If you’re considering owning a dental practice, you might be thinking about buying an existing one. This can be a strategic move, as it comes with an established location, existing patients, trained staff, and functional systems.

Here are some steps to guide you through the process:

1. Self-Assessment

Before you start, it’s essential to evaluate your readiness to own a practice. Consider your professional goals, financial situation, managerial skills, and commitment level. Consult with mentors or colleagues who own practices to gain a realistic understanding of the responsibilities and challenges.

2. Define Your Criteria

Determine what you’re looking for in a practice. This could include the location, size, patient demographics, range of services, and growth potential. Having clear criteria can help you focus your search and evaluate potential practices effectively.

3. Financing

Buying a practice is a significant financial undertaking. Research different financing options and understand their terms and conditions. It might be beneficial to consult with a financial advisor who specializes in dental practice acquisitions.

4. Practice Evaluation

When you find a potential practice, conduct a thorough evaluation. This includes reviewing financial records, patient records, staff contracts, and equipment condition. It’s also crucial to assess the practice’s reputation and patient satisfaction levels.

5. Professional Assistance

Buying a practice involves complex legal and financial transactions. Consider hiring professionals such as a dental practice broker, attorney, and accountant to guide you through the process.

6. Transition Planning

A smooth transition is crucial to retain patients and staff. Plan for an overlap period where the previous owner introduces you to patients and staff. Also, be prepared to address any concerns or questions that arise.

Marketing Your Dental Practice

In the ever-evolving landscape of dentistry, one aspect that is becoming increasingly important for running a successful practice is effective marketing. Proper marketing helps distinguish your practice in a crowded market, attracts new patients, and fosters relationships with existing ones.

First and foremost, establish a strong online presence. The reality is, most people look online for health care providers, and if you don’t exist on the internet, you’re missing out.

Social media platforms offer another avenue for reaching prospective patients. Regularly post engaging content related to dental health, behind-the-scenes glimpses of your practice, and more.

Another effective strategy is leveraging local SEO and listings. Ensure your practice is listed in online directories and Google My Business. Focus on targeting local keywords in your SEO strategy—people often search for dentists near their location.

Essentially, marketing your dental practice is about increasing visibility, building trust, and establishing relationships. With a well-planned and executed marketing strategy, you can attract new patients and keep your practice thriving.

Should I Buy a Practice?

Owning a dental practice can be a lucrative career move if done strategically. While it comes with its share of challenges, it offers the potential for higher earnings, autonomy, and professional satisfaction. Buying an existing practice can be a wise strategy, provided you take the time to evaluate the practice thoroughly and plan for a smooth transition.

If you’re aspiring to be a dental practice owner, consider taking that leap of faith—but do it only after careful consideration and doing your homework!

Smile Smarter,
Dr. Joyce

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