The property market for private dental practices is growing in popularity, according to business agents Christie & Co.
While buyers for these practices are still looking for a good General Dentistry Contract (GDC), the growth in demand also reflects a rise in the popularity of private dentistry, and in specialist dental treatments.
In an increasingly competitive market for private dental practices, they must work hard to attract and retain customers, and to differentiate themselves.
Reasons for the Rise in Private Dentistry
Many dental practices are finding GDS contracts harder to fulfil, while feeling the pressure on their margins.
Whereas a mixed practice with a GDS contract is the norm for many aspiring practices, increasingly the number of units of dental activity (UDAs) dentists can realistically carry out as set against targets is now a source of considerable strain.
The UDA is the NHS’s currency and how dentists earn these units varies depending on the treatments they undertake.
It all adds up to a pressurised system, where, for example, a dentist might earn three UDAs for a lengthy root canal treatment, but the same for an extraction, which will take a lot less time.
There is upward pressure on pay scales, and a consequent difficulty in retaining skilled staff.
This contributes to making private dentistry a more attractive proposition.
At the same time, private dentistry is also consumer-driven.
A growing number of customers in the UK is opting for cosmetic dental treatments such as laser whitening, straightening and computer smile analysis.
The notion of crooked British teeth being the norm is fast becoming outdated.
This cultural shift, combined with the pressures involved in working under NHS contracts is fuelling the rise in private dental practices.
Business Implications for Private Dental Practices
There are pressures connected with running a private dental practice that may be different to GDCs but require a dynamic, strategic response.
Essentially, private practices must compete for patients by offering them something more than basic treatments.
The focus must also be on the patient experience as a totality. This includes not just the treatment and its outcome, but how the patient experiences visiting the practice and interacting with the staff there.
This is where total surgery creation for a dental practice fit out can make a huge difference.
It is about embodying brand values in a physical space, including everything from the waiting areas to the treatment rooms and even items such as dental cabinets.
As customer demand rises, so does the demand for the right spaces for quality private practices.
And as valuations for private practices rise, it is vital that buyers ensure they are in the best possible position from the outset to compete for customers.
“Investing in your own private practice means knowing what your best options are for surgery fit out, and the installation and ongoing maintenance of state-of-the-art dental equipment. It’s vital to get these foundations right for building a profitable business out of a private dental practice.”
Pete Higson, RPA Dental