In this post, we will explore the possibilities and advantages/disadvantages of opening a dental practice in a small town compared to much wanted urban areas. Therefore, this post is aimed at both new dental graduates and also for experienced dental practitioners who wish to expand further.
For every dentist (New or Old) it is always the priority to first establish a posh and successful dental practice in an urban location. It is a familiar feeling, and it has been the norm for many years.
There is the notion that, starting a dental practice in an urban area makes it more profitable and quicker success. Moreover, to some extent it is still true but not in entirety.
In last decade or so, the scenario has changed a lot, and presently opening or expanding your dental practice at an urban location does not guarantee you immediate or delayed success.
In fact, there are multiple cases of failure where dentists have invested millions in setting up a practice at a posh urban area which ultimately did not click leading to substantial financial losses.
With this introduction, let us start with our current case study. We asked around 500 dentists (a mix of new and old dentists within the age group of 35). Our questions were simple:
Would you like to open or expand your dental practice in small semi-urban town away from the primary urban area?
What are the various advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
From the responses, this article has been written with a clear-cut aim to make dentists understand the various possibilities of establishing a dental practice in small towns.
Advantages of having a dental practice in a metro city or urban area
1. The general public is more aware of oral health importance. (this aspect is on a constant rise in small towns and semi-urban area too)
2. More paying capacity of patients leading to more money inflow to the practice (this factor is also fluctuating with increase in inflation and price of the commodities)
3. You have the option to target only high paying clients/patients to your dental clinic which increases your chances to earn more for lesses quantity of work.
4. The most prominent advantage is to stay in an urban city with all the modern day amenities. (However, most of the small towns are also gradually getting better in this aspect)
5. It is relatively easy to arrange all the materials required for setting up a clinic in the urban area. (Here also, dental companies are now willing to supply products to small towns unlike before)
Disadvantages of having a dental practice in a metro city or urban area
1. The PRICE/EXPENDITURE factor: Establishing a practice in a metropolitan area requires a significant financial investment. It is similar to starting a startup where you keep on investing capital with the hope that it will work.
However, if your financial background is NOT STRONG to start with or you raise a considerable amount of LOAN from the market you immediately are burdened with DEBT.
For a start have a look at this post below, that covers all the financial points required for a dentist. Learn how to arrange funds for either starting a new set up or expanding your existing clinic brand.
2. The High Prices of Real Estate: If you do not own your personal practice space, then it can get costly to pay the monthly rental. In addition to that, the rental will keep on increasing annually.
3. The High and Increasing cost of living: Better lifestyle is one of the reasons why people flock urban areas. However, if your practice is still picking up (without any additional source of revenue), it can get stressful to maintain the increasing costs of an Urban Life Style with modern amenities.
4. High Expectation from Patients: Be aware that patients in the urban sector are highly demanding. They can pay the high prices you charge. However, you as a dentist needs to be perfect in your work.
Most of the urban dentists we talked with reported this as a constant stress point. It is the pressure of always being correct and satisfying the patients. If you cannot handle this, then your practice will go into loss very soon.
5. The Constant Need to Promote Yourself: In the urban areas, there is already a massive crowd of dentists. So, just setting up a practice will not make it successful. You also need to Promote it and take it for granted, and it is a mad rush.
You will be under constant pressure to be visible in the crowd. You will also need to spend much money to promote yourself in every online and offline medium. There is no way out, and many dentists complained that it does put them under much pressure.
6. You need to put extra effort into getting new patients. In an urban setup, just being good in your work does not guarantee success. You are in the constant struggle to get new patients in your practice. It is an ongoing process every day. Doing so is not easy, and many dentists also reported this as another high-stress point.
Read this article to know how to get new patients to your dental practice in the crowd of dental practices.
In the next Slide: What are the Advantages of Setting a Dental Practice in Semi-Urban, Small Towns, and Rural Areas?
There are many benefits of setting up a dental practice in a Small Town of Semi Urban Area. Most of the dentists practicing in small town mentioned the following points which they feel makes it better/ more comfortable for them.
1. Less Financial Burden:
You will need to spend less money in:
- Cost of setting up a clinic.
- The amount that you need to loan from the banks.
- Lower maintenance cost.
2. You do not need to fight an Army of Dentists:
Unlike in Urban centers (where there is a vast crowd of dentists competing for patients), in a small town set-up, you can be hugely relaxed.
3. Much easier to make your mark as a Dentist:
In a small town set-up, professional life is more relaxed as the number of dentists is limited. If you are good at your work, you will soon have name, fame, and money as a dentist in that area.
4. The better financial stability that leads to stable future:
A dental practice set-up in a small town gives you more chances to cover the first 3 points mentioned before. It overall leads to a much better financial future and stability. In contrast, the failure rate of dental practices in an Urban area is much more than in small towns.
With this backdrop, lets us analyze the best ways to market your dental practice in smaller cities.
1. Write Coloums in Local News Papers:
Contact the most circulated newspaper in the town and start writing columns in it covering various aspects of dental health and importance of aesthetics.
This method is highly effective in making a name for yourself and your dental practice. You can meet the editor of the newspaper/magazine and reach an understanding to publish an article related to oral health, either once every month or every week.
Even if it costs certain finance, it is entirely worth it.
This approach is more efficient in creating a positive outlook on your practice than a regular pain advertising.
2. Use direct advertising in the Town Yellow Papers:
It is one of the primary ways to gain new patients for a dentist and also the simplest and most straightforward. However, in the effort to achieve complex solutions, most dentists tend to neglect the most straightforward route – Marketing of dental practice in the local directories.
Irrespective of where you reside, you must always list your practice in the local directories and yellow pages. List your dental practice in both the offline yellow pages and online directories.
3. Use Local TV and Radio Channels:
Purchase paid to advertise for your dental practice (highlighting all the facilities you provide and also the exclusive discounts you are offering to patients and their families) in TVs and Radio.
It will take your practice directly in the living rooms of the town people. It is easy and sure shot way to reach the town population.
4. Attend or Sponsor Town Social Events:
Look out for programs of social significance & contact the organizers to be a part of it. Try to get the opportunity to address the gathering on the importance of oral health. You may also contact the schools in the town to provide free oral health checkup and lecture to children.
Put efforts to make your speeches and presentations attractive. If possible, use many after before pictures of dental treatments highlighting the improvements in patient aesthetics. Be conscious to attend at least one such event every two months.
You stand to gain a lot from these social endeavors:
- You will be successful in creating a brand for your dental practice and more importantly for your self as a Dentist.
- These social events are the perfect place to make valuable contacts with the influencers in the small town.
- You will able to create goodwill in the community that will propel your dental practice.
Articles continue next slide: Points 5, 6 & 7 on how to expand your dental practice in small towns
We are analyzing the best ways to promote your dental practice in small towns
5. Do Business with the local businesses in the town:
Running and managing a dental practice is after all a business venture.
Therefore, be aware of the local businesses in the town and establish commerce with them.
How? It is straightforward.
- A dental practice requires many commodities on a daily basis. (other than dental materials). Make a habit of purchasing all those from the stores within the town.
- Put a conscious effort to establish a connection with people and businesses around your dental clinic. Over time, they will play a role consciously and subconsciously in spreading a positive word of mouth for your dental practice.
- The more business you provide to your local business community the more, you will get in return.
6. Create a referral and discount system:
The success of your dental practice depends on the word of mouth publicity in the town. Your referral program might offer existing patients an incentive if they refer a new patient to you. For example, you might give them a discounted procedure if they send you someone new.
Another approach is providing certain discounts to families. For example, if a previous patient gets his immediate family members to your practice then you can give them a discount. It is an excellent way to get families to your practice.
7: Use a business card and provide useful gifts to patients:
In small towns, residents are more mindful of gestures than the patients in a fast-hectic city life. So, after every treatment (along with patient instructions) give away simple and easy gift bag to the patients!
Don’t worry! You do not need to give anything costly but something useful. A souvenir that reminds the patient of your dental practice. For example, a sticker of healthy oral habits. Along with that, you can add a complimentary mouthwash, friendship band, and others. For pediatric patients, you can include cartoons or small soft toys. See a demonstration of a sticker you can add as a gift.
These gifts do not cost much, however, they do go a great length in establishing a friendly connection with your patients which makes them a returning client.
Also, always make it a point to drop in your business card in the gift bag. Design a professional looking business card for your practice and get in the habit of carrying it with you and sharing it every time there is an opportunity.
Go to next slide: Points 8 & 9 for expanding your practice and the conclusion
Is Online Promotion Effective in a Small Town
8. Work towards establishing an Online Presence:
Many times dentist working in small towns overlook this aspect assuming that online presence is not of much use in their case.
However, in the 21st century, nothing can be farther from the truth. With the speed with which internet connectivity is spreading every small town is connected online.
Also, this is also the era of internet-powered smartphones, everyone in a small also has access to world wide web, Google, and social media. So, it makes complete sense to invest time in building an online presence even if your practice is located in a small town.
It is an elaborate topic to discuss. However, you can keep a track of some of the important points:
- Use online directories and list your dental practice.
- Use google to create targetted advertising for your practice. This essentially means if any prospective patient is searching on Google for a dental practice with 5 Km of setup, your practice will appear in the search results. See an example below, for a search of dentist in relation to Mumbai.
- Use Social Media to also interact with previous patients and new prospective ones. Similar to Google, you can also create highly specific social media advertising for your practice directed at your town and other areas around it.
If you want to know the details on how to bring new patients to your dental practice, then you may read this article:
The success or failure of every dental practice and health establishment depends on the number of clients visiting it. In this post, we will read about 9 ways that every dentist can use to get new people to visit their dental clinic.
9. Create a Web Site for your Dental Practice:
Do not take opinions on this from many people. Take it for granted that you do need to have a website for your dental practice.
It used to be difficult to create a website for your practice. However, now with so many designers and online tools, it is no more very costly nor difficult to create a website. So why not have one? It will act as the online space/address for your dental practice.
10. Use Emails & SMS for connecting with the local patients:
Another important aspect of online promotion of your dental practice in a small town is email and short messaging service. Almost everyone is using mobile phones to receive their mails via mails apps. So, emails are a great tool to connect with the patient. And the best part is they directly receive it as a notification in their inbox.
Hence, make it a habit of collecting the basic patient details like Name, email id, and phone numbers. Subsequently, use those emails to maintain a periodic connection with the patients.
Please keep in mind not to mail them too frequently. In fact, send out emails once in a month or in 15 days.
Include useful and short dental information, link to your dental practice website and social profiles. Also, make it a habit to wish the patients on festivals, holidays and birthdays.
In a small town set up, all these small things go a big way is creating a sense of attachment and reliability in the minds of the general population for your dental practice.
Read the article to know complete details on how to use email in the marketing of your dental practice.
Next Slide: Conclusion and the takeaway points of this article
In this post, we discussed the benefits of practicing in a small town. We also had a look at the ways how you can reach more people in a small town to expand the reach of your practice.
As discussed in this article, you now know that there are a lot of benefits in practicing in a small town over a metro/urban city.
However, at the end of the day, you need to make a decision based on many factors. Each individual will have their set of reasons. So, weigh your options thoroughly and decide if establishing a dental practice in a small town is suitable for you or not.
In our opinion, irrespective of where you set up your dental practice, tricks mentioned in this article will be helpful in expanding the reach of your dental practice.
Useful reading: In one of the previous aticles, we have covered in detail the points that you should consider before making a decision on the location of your dental practice. You can read the detailed article below.