Meet the New Machias Dental Practice

When Your Dental Practice’s Building Just Isn’t Big Enough

Dr. James Sparaga built himself a healthy dental practice in a coastal Maine town. Machias Dental grew slowly but steadily, meeting the dental needs of neighboring townsfolk.

Finally, after 27 years in practice, Jim and his wife, Kathy, decided it was time to upgrade.

They were thinking forward to their retirement. Constructing a new building would be an ambitious expenditure of resources compared to other options (i.e. staying the course or expanding the existing facility). For the Sparagas, staying the course was not an option, as their building would have been prohibitively expensive to renovate. As a husband and wife team, they did a preliminary projection of their potential earnings. They realized that although Jim working by himself could carry the new building, it really was time for an associate.

Machias Dental
Proposed plans for the new Machias Dental
[click to enlarge]

A well-placed dental trade netted the doctor land for his new building. A colleague helped him draw up plans for the new practice. And the Sparagas invested a healthy pile of money. “We’re already on the edge of the waterfall, with no turning back,” Dr. Sparaga joked. “All we can do now is scream on the way down…”

And so ground was broken on the new Machias Dental, a 5000-square-foot building with 7 operatories. For a town in rural Maine, this is staggeringly ambitious. I asked Dr. Sparaga about the scope of the project.

Machias Dental blueprints
Plans for the new Machias Dental
[click to enlarge]

“I want to have a practice that can attract quality associates,” he explained. “That’s why we’ll have Cerec, laser, conscious sedation, and other accoutrements, so that any associate with ambition and brains may pick us out of the crowd (despite our desperate location – this is truly a berry and twigs local marketplace!) as a practice they can grow with.”

With no children, it was a logical choice for the Sparagas to invest in their retirement via the new practice and the associate route. “Having just completed coursework for a fellowship in the AAID and NYU in implants, I’m just now at the peak of my game, and starting to really enjoy dentistry. Implants are the most exciting (and hardest) thing we do. It keeps me passionate about dentistry!”

I was understandably nervous about his plan; finding and keeping associates can be one of the biggest challenges a dental practice faces. “Think through the staffing issues that you have faced in your area from day one and multiple them by three,” I advised.

But Dr. Sparaga was undaunted. He’d already written up an ad for an associate opportunity. “Soar with eagles on the rugged coast of Maine with a dynamic team in a state-of-the-art facility,” it read. “Instead of fighting traffic, take part in our adventure: providing complete dentistry to our neighbors in our rural coastal town. An unusual practice opportunity: practicing big-city dentistry in an historic village.”

It turned out that I was more dubious than potential associates. Dr. Sparaga shortly had several qualified candidates ready to check out the new practice. “We’re delighted that we’ve found an outstanding dental student from Pitt, and he’s planning to join us in June,” the doctor told me.

Other dentists will wonder if taking such a big plunge would be right for them. Dr. Sparaga told me that he couldn’t have done it without the help of various advisors. “You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. It makes all of us bigger people.” He continued:

“My dental consultant helped me redefine my definition of success. He said, ‘Success isn’t necessarily doing what you like, but learning to like what you have to do.’ I wanted to continue flying airplanes for a hobby and knew I’d have to work for it. So I decided five years ago to create a practice I could love. That’s what we’re doing with our new facility, and we’re building a dynamite dental team that enjoys coming to work. It’s a tall order, but life without a quest is pretending to climb mountains on flat ground: there’s no excitement in it and no view from the top.

“Years ago, Jim and Suzanne Du Molin studied our demographics. They vigorously told us, ‘You have to move – the demographics of your area clearly won’t support your lifestyle!’ When confronted with our refusal to listen to conventional wisdom, Jim showed us how to change our demographics by marketing. Instead of moving the office to better demographics, we brought the demographics to us via marketing. So now people come from all over the upper half of Maine to see what we’re about.”

Stay tuned… I’ll continue to give you weekly updates on the status of the new Machias Dental.

Dr. Sparaga is thinking big. Are you? Post your thoughts on Dr. Sparaga’s plan below.

Do you have a dental practice story you’d like to share with The Wealthy Dentist? I’d like to hear it! Submit your project for review

About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.


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