Whether you’re planning a new start-up dental practice or you’re looking to grow your existing practice by adding more offices around town, the importance of location shouldn’t be underestimated. The ideal location is where there’s sufficient demand for the kind of practice you want to have, or that you already have in the case of an established, growing practice.
To determine whether a specific spot will be a good fit for you and your professional goals, demographic location analysis is mission critical.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions that we hear about dental practice demographics:
Answer: It is possible to do your own dental practice demographics research by utilizing a combination of free information from your broker and/or lender, plus whatever you can find out by searching the internet and by physically canvassing the area. We actually suggest doing all of these things before making your final practice location decision, but we also recommend getting a professional dental demographics report to include among your sources of information. Find a provider with proven experience in the dental industry, and check out references from other customers. A professional report can really help you along your way!
Your dental practice location is one of the most important business decisions that you’ll make. Don’t leave it to incomplete information or, worse, unreliable data from unknown sources. Ending up in an inferior or downright bad location could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Don’t risk it by trying to save the small initial investment of a professional report on the front end of your practice journey.
Answer: When we offered demographic reports for our dental clients, they were generated using two main proprietary software systems that compiled multi-source household data for the target population information, and multi-source dental data for the dentist location and saturation information. The household data came primarily from major US data compilers, the White Pages, and Nationwide Directory Assistance. Numerous secondary data sources included estimated mortgage tax and deed transactions by area, household spending trends and other consumer behavior information, product registration and warranties, magazine subscriptions, email databases, self-reported information, new movers data, and statistical modeling and analysis. Every six weeks or less, household records were run to match and verify them, and to remove duplicate records. The dental data came primarily from multiple national lists of dentists that were renewed on an annual basis and refreshed as needed. We recommend asking the demographic company of your choice what data sources power their reports.
Answer: When Practice Cafe offered dental demographic reports, our software automatically updated the household data for the target population information every few weeks (six weeks or less). The dental lists that we used were wholly updated on an annual basis and refreshed as needed. We suggest asking the demographic company of your choice how up-to-date their data sources are.
Answer: Our reports provided dentist-to-target population ratios that were created using customizable parameters (including estimated household income, dwelling type, age brackets, presence of children, etc.), so the demographic location analysis would reflect only demographically relevant prospects for patients of the intended practice. This kind of targeted information enables you to have a more meaningful look into your desired area. We think dentists should be concerned not only with how many people live in an area, but rather how many of the people who live there can be considered part of the realistic target market for patients. If possible, get this information from your demographic report provider in addition to straight dentist-to-population ratios (because ideally, you get both pieces of info).
Answer: The best timing depends a great deal on your location and individual situation, but a good standard timeline to keep in mind is 6 to 12 months in advance. Data older than a year will start to get outdated, but updating the data more frequently than 6 months typically won’t show enough change to warrant the additional cost of new reports.
Answer: We commend you for your flexibility! Your professional success will likely be enhanced if you’re able to live and work someplace where a new dental practice is apt to flourish. Many dentists have been hindered professionally by a lack of flexibility in where they can or want to live, and they’ve had to make do with less-than-desireable practice circumstances, whether they deal with high competition or a patient base that doesn’t match their practice vision. Life is about choosing what’s best for you from among your realistic alternatives.
When the sky is the limit for your practice location, start by researching areas to live in that match your personal and/or family goals. Things to consider include proximity to family and friends, population density, cost of living and local real estate, climate, transportation, culture, local education system, and healthcare facilities. Find a few areas that appeal to you and resonate with the lifestyle you want to have, and then we can help you narrow the search by identifying the best available locales for your practice within those areas.
Answer: In densely populated regions, your marketable area will typically lie directly around your office. Look for a report that takes this into account by dividing the customizable area (generally spanning 40-50 miles of a metro) into a grid of overlapping radii, showing the demographics information and dentist-to-population ratios of each and highlighting the radii with the most opportunity for a new practice.
If you’re looking for practice opportunities within more rural areas, we suggest finding a report based on neighboring zip codes than on smaller radii.
Answer: Look for a detailed report that presents the demographics and dentist-to-population ratios around a specific prospective site (address or coordinates). How far out the report should go will vary based on the area’s population density, but we usually recommend looking at the data for 1-, 3-, and 5-mile radii around the office.
Answer: Even though Practice Cafe’s dental demographic report services have been retired, we’re still happy to take a look at demo reports that you’ve been given by another company to share any insights we might have, specifically in relation to how they should inform your practice’s dental marketing strategy.
Answer: Consider the potential cost of ending up in an inferior practice location and you can probably answer this question pretty well yourself. Demographics analysis isn’t an area that we think you should cheap out on. Research the available dental-specific demographic report options to determine the current market and pricing, and then choose a combination of reports/services that feels appropriate to the overall investment you’ll be making in your practice. Especially for a scratch de novo practice, you may need multiple reports to get all of the input you need for an informed final decision. We suggest budgeting anywhere from $500-$2,000, depending on what kind and how many reports you’ll need throughout the process.