Playing with the Big Boys – The Beginning

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog and what a busy couple months it has been. I had decided to suspend day trading after 6 months in order to focus more on my newest venture. Opening a Dental Practice! From scratch. Sure conventional wisdom tells you to buy an existing practice or partner/associate with someone right out of school. But each of those options has their limitations. Waiting for an appropriate practice to purchase or looking for an opportunity to find a worthy associateship can take months or years. Then once you’ve gotten yourself into it there’s the risk of not being happy with the practice be it the staff, facilities, location or clientele. Then, what happens if the existing clients are not receptive towards you. On the flip side, you get an established practice with a proven cash flow with comparatively little headache and if you decide to, you can modify things over time.

But dentists in general are peculiar people. We  like things done a certain way. We are seemingly very OCD about things that people don’t even notice. We demand perfection out of every thing we do. Anything that wavers from our preconceived notion of how things should be starts to gnaw on us and eventually causes us to snap or break down. Or at least that’s how I am. So after more than a year of searching and poking and prodding at different opportunities I snapped. I had a quarter-life crisis at the ripe age of 25 and said screw this, I’m doing it my way. So, back in May, I secured a sizable loan at a reasonable rate and set foot on a path I knew very little about. I don’t care which dental school you go to, but all the practice management courses and lunch and learns in all the dental schools combined fall way short of preparing you for what you need to know to start an office from zero and be successful.

My methodology of starting my first practice and rationale differs from many people that I have talked to. Some suggested that my first office should be as low budget as possible. You don’t want to spend a lot of money and then find out later on that the practice doesn’t meet expectations and you’re left with a huge debt. Start off with a small practice 2-3 chairs and then later on you can expand or move to a bigger space. You should constantly be looking for who’s got the best deals/lowest price, etc etc. Also there are a lot of things that you should do yourself to save money. In all honesty, I feel that most people who make these claims are short sighted and miss the bigger picture. Not wanting to spend a ton of money is somewhat valid. But that is with anything. The issue is how much you can spend and still be able to recoup that money in a reasonable time period. Starting small, in my eyes, is a direct contradiction of their first point. Why would I want to build two offices to get to where I want to be when I could just build one to start. Sure the cashflow is more manageable but the total cost will be considerably higher. Penny pinching at every step and doing things yourself is flat out dangerous if you make the wrong decisions. Clearly, I don’t have much experience with starting dental practices, but there are many people out there who have tons of experience. And this is where many people have irreconcilable differences with the way I am going about my first practice. I would rather pay someone who specializes and has a proven track record a considerable amount more, over someone who has some experience and a lower bottom line. And for me, this applies to my realtor, lawyer, equipment supplier, designer, contractor, sales rep and marketing director. Why do I want to risk trading off long term success with short term savings? As a first dental practice, I will gladly pay a premium if I truly feel it will increase the odds of being successful in the long run.

So now that I’ve vented a little bit of my frustration and responded to past, present and future naysayers, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from my decision to start a practice to some of the details of the practice. Just a quick list of the team I have assembled so far to help me on this journey:

For my realtor/broker: Phelps Commercial Realty: They only represent doctors, dentists and other medical professions and they do their own demographics studies so they know the ins and outs of what makes a location good or bad for a practice.

Equipment and supplies: Burkhart Dental: They’re a relatively new face in town but wildly successful on the West coast. They are not limited to just their standard inventory (which has a wider selection than Schein and Patterson) and will automatically price check and get the best pricing for you. The Houston Equipment Specialist Lee Palmer is by far one of the most knowledgeable equipment guy I have met. And I am constantly reminded by those who have worked with him in the past.

Design: Ramon Gisbert at RJG Design Studio: RJG has only been around for a couple years but they’ve been making a big impact and have become one of the top office designers in the Houston area. They are also Dental/Medical Specific.

Contractor/Construction: Robert Dering Construction: Again, I went with a Dental/Medical specific company. One of their main guys left MedTech to start RDC. Another was a dental equipment specialist. So collectively there’s a good bit of dental specific know how there. Yea I could have gone with a cheaper contractor and put my project up for bid, but the timeframe I was handed by the landlord along with the no nonsense, to the point nature and proven record of RDC just made them a solid pick.

After working with the above people for about a month now, I’ve realized that the fluidity between each party is just as important as the relationship between them and myself. Obviously many of them had worked with each other in the past so that helps. But the inter-relationship between each party greatly expedites the process. If I want to change something on the design, I don’t have to contact each of them individually to see how it can or cant be done.

 

So the great preliminary reveal for the new practice.

The address for the office will be at 15455 Memorial Drive in the Energy Corridor

As far as practice name, it will likely be Edge Dental

Projected opening: Feb 2015

Here is a picture of the retail center.

1

 

Here is the floor plan

 

2

 

And lastly for this post are the preliminary 3D renderings:

5 4 3 2 1

 

More pictures and details to come later!

Feedback is always welcome.

 

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