by Jim Du Molin
Over the last five years I have watched the dental spa phenomenon continue to grow. Generally I’m supportive of this kind of innovation. Then again, in some cases, I think it may have gotten out of hand.
I just received a press release about a dental practice in Woodstock, New York. Tischler Dental Studios is opening a 10,000 square foot facility that includes 12 operatories. It will be staffed by 3 cosmetic dentists, 6 assistants and 3 hygienists in addition to office personnel. Located on a secluded 9-acre property in the Catskill Mountains, the goal is to provide patients with “a dental spa vacation.”
Upon visiting their website, I must admit that I was impressed with the architectural and design aspects of their facility. The part I question is the wisdom of building such a facility on a “secluded 9-acre property in the Catskill Mountains.” I have to ask, what is the marketing plan that will support such a facility and staff?
I was reminded of a past client who came to us after building a ten-operatory practice twelve miles from the nearest rural town on the frontage road of a major highway two and a half miles from the nearest exit. Somehow he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t keep his two associates busy in his new Taj Mahal facility. I asked him why he built it so far from where the people were; his answer was that’s where he could get cheap land.
The solution to his problem was an outrageously large sign situated next to the freeway that rivaled anything you would find on the Vegas strip. The darn thing used enough electricity to power a small town, but it delivered forty-plus new patients a month.
When building a new facility, it is always a good idea to have done your calculations first. Start with the net increase in monthly operating expenses needed to keep the new doors open. Then add in any additional marketing costs, plus a serious increase in your net profit to justify the economic risk of the new venture. Once you’ve figured that out, you need to calculate the net contribution of an average new patient, then divide that into your increased expenses to determine how many additional new patients you’re going to need to justify this new venture to your spouse.
Now you will notice that I mentioned “additional marketing costs” as part of your needed calculations. Don’t wait until you complete your new monument to begin thinking of how you are going to fill it with enough additional new patients to pay for it. Remember, “Build It and They Will Come” may make for a great screen story, but life is not a movie script.
Jim Du Molin