How to finance your dental practice: the most important questions to ask
As a dental professional, you’ve probably spent at least eight years in school preparing for your career (12 to 14 if you are a dental surgeon). After that, your focus will be on growing your new practice by building your patient panels and providing quality dental care to the community you serve.
But what’s next? There are questions you need to ask yourself as soon as you open a practice:
- Does your practice need remodeling or construction?
- Do you see yourself bringing on a new partner at some point?
- And most importantly, are you adequately planning for your retirement?
As we work with dental practitioners, we’ve noticed a trend within this profession. A lack of strategic borrowing to pay for their practice’s expenses is a leading cause that prevents dental practitioners from retiring when and how they want. Only around 8 percent‡ of dentists are able to retire and maintain the lifestyle they had during their working days.
Dental practitioners face many challenges in today’s market. Those challenges are further motivation to properly manage your funds. An important aspect of your finances is considering the best borrowing practices for your office. Some questions to consider when thinking about a loan for your dental practice:
What are your goals for your practice?
Determine where you see your practice over time. Figure out how quickly you want to grow your practice or if you have aspirations to open multiple locations. Identify a plan and partner with industry professionals who will help you achieve your ultimate objectives. Then discuss with your banking partner what financing structure will help – not hinder – this plan.
Are you borrowing with the best interest of your practice in mind?
Ask your banking partner to explain all loan options so you can align the loan structure to the best interest of the practice. For example, some loans have a balloon payment‡ at the end, which could require you to pay additional interest. The money you might have to pay in additional interest could be used instead to help expand the practice or could be committed to your retirement.
What are your ramp-up and wind-down strategies?
In addition to determining the long-term growth of your practice (ramp-up), you will also need to eventually consider succession and retirement strategies (wind-down). Have you considered hiring an associate to purchase your practice as a component of your exit strategy? Have you engaged a CPA firm to complete an evaluation of your practice? These are potential issues to consider as part of a succession plan.
Every practice is unique and you might even find that long-term goals change over time. Start planning early and understand what financing options are paramount for your practice. Find a banking partner who will help you determine the best loan options for your practice and your eventual retirement and succession plans.
For more financial advice, take a look at my video on Business Banking for Dentists.
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Dave Bauer is a Vice President / Region Manager for UMB Business Banking. He is responsible for leading the Business Banking teams in the St. Louis and Oklahoma City regions. He joined UMB in 2011 and has eight years of experience in the financial services industry.