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13th May 2021

10 Top tips to setting up a Squat Practice

So you are considering setting up a new squat practice and not sure where to begin?

Many dentists are looking at this option, particularly those who have worked through the challenges during COVID-19. To begin with, all squat practices are essentially single surgery practices until they have enough patients to fill their second surgery. Although you are your own boss, at this stage owning a single surgery practice is incredibly hard work so you need all the help you can get to make this happen smoothly.

What is a Squat Dental Practice ?

A squat dental practice is essentially a practice started from scratch, usually with a single surgery to begin with and aspirations to be a highly profitable business.

There are many aspects to building a successful squat practice and the most important from the start is to focus on a clear plan.

Here are 10 Steps to setting up a Squat Practice:

  1. Professional goals
  2. Location
  3. Regulations and compliance
  4. Finance
  5. Marketing
  6. Staff
  7. Design
  8. Fit-out
  9. Equipment
  10. Maintenance

This short list is just the start, and each aspect will need to be covered and researched well before you begin making decisions. Hiring an experienced practice manager at the very beginning of this project would be a great asset to the process as they will be able to offer advice and guidance concerning other members of staff, marketing and purchasing.

Knowing your budget and how to attain the finances needed will also keep your decision-making focused. Having your branding in mind throughout the design stage and your marketing will ensure consistency. Even starting your marketing early will make sure that you hit the ground running when you open the doors of your practice.

Regulation and compliance are vital to your CQC registration as a new provider and a registered manager. At QCS, we provide a pre-registration pack that sets you up with policies, procedures, and other useful content such as how to set up your decontamination room. The full QCS management system then enables you to maintain compliance simply and easily via a cloud-based system with content written by GDC registered policy leads.

Set out the Goal of your Squat Dental Practice

You will need to create a compelling proposition and build your business plan around this. You need to decide what services you will provide and consider the treatments available locally making sure that your market research indicates there is enough demand for your supply. Consider opening hours to include evenings and weekends or something that is unique and different to the competition.

Have a clear direction for your dental practice and where you would like to get to in a set time frame. For example, attracting a certain number of new patients within the first 6 months. Forecast your cashflow for the first year and draw up a timeline of how your practice will grow.

Location

The general area that you choose must be one that you either know well or have done extensive research into. Look at demographics, competition, footfall and even ease of parking or public transport links. If there are business or residential properties that could generate your initial customer base, consider how that could benefit your new business.

Regarding the actual building, parking and disabled access are important factors, as is ventilation for plant equipment and space for the various rooms you will need and possible expansion. The look and feel of the property will also be important to the overall aesthetics and building customer confidence.

Regulations and compliance

For any practice undertaking regulated activities in England, you must plan to register as a provider with a registered manager with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

These can be very daunting tasks and there is a lot to consider including various policies the CQC registration manager will wish to see before they allow your registration to be approved and you can open for business. We have full details of how to register your service and a registered manager in our Pre-Registration Pack.

Once you have your interview date you can move to use the full QCS management system simply by a self-service function, so you continue to have access to the policies, procedures, audits, mock inspections, and regular updates to take the headache of compliance away.

Finance

The project including equipment, maintenance, staff costs, marketing and any refurbishment will need to be budgeted for. Bear this in mind as it may take some time before the practice starts making a profit, so you will need working capital to finance this.

Make sure you have a good accounting package or someone who can keep track of this for you. A practice manager can do this for you and produce regular reports for you to have sight of then commission an accountant for your annual returns and to carry out comparisons in the dental market. You may be surprised what a specialist accountant may pick up for you and save you money in the longer term.

Marketing

Investment in marketing is essential for a new dental practice, especially a quality website and regular social media engagement and activity. Include marketing in your project plan and consider asking a student to support you as they will likely have the latest ideas and you will be helping them to gain valuable experience. Start your marketing early so that potential customers know that you are opening soon and even arrange an opening event with a press release. Reduced cost initial check-ups are a great way of gaining new patients and a referral scheme can bring in customers for a very small cost.

Staff

As mentioned, a practice manager will be valuable to you in these early days. They will be able to take on most duties for the day-to-day running of the squat practice so that you can focus on meeting the customers’ needs.

You should consider the team you need around you and who will lead on key areas such as infection prevention and control, compliance, HR, rotas, customer enquiries, ordering supplies, cleaning and the general day to day running of the practice.

Design

The customer experience is vital to keep customers returning and your customer target group should be kept in mind when designing each room within your squat practice. Designing a dental practice reception area and waiting room will give your patients that amazing first impression which is so important in the customer journey.

The design of staff workflow depends greatly on the layout and size of the building and focuses on good infection control procedures. The decontamination process should be carried out by ensuring that a dirty-to-clean workflow is maintained, and you meet the requirements of HTM 01-05: Decontamination in primary care dental practices. The mandatory requirements are that where instruments are reprocessed in the dental treatment room, the CQC would expect to see that reasonable steps are taken to reduce the risks to patients.

These include:

● Having the reprocessing area as far from the dental chair as possible

● Reducing the risk of exposure to bacterial aerosol by not manually washing or using ultrasonic cleaners without a lid when the patient is in the dental treatment room to ensure patient comfort, reduce noise in the treatment room as much as possible

Do not operate ultrasonic cleaning baths and autoclaves whilst patients are undergoing consultations or treatment.

Another aspect not to over-look is good lighting, and not just in the surgery. The lighting within the whole practice should be practical and functional. By creating an enjoyable environment to work in and making a professional impression with your patients and staff will be of benefit to you in the short and long term by retaining customers and your team members.

Fit-out

As the owner of a new squat practice, you will likely have design ideas in mind. You may wish to gain some assistance of an experienced project manager unless you have a practice manager already in place who can use their experience to identify any potential issues or roadblocks before the design is finalised.

Equipment

What an exciting stage to get to where you can order and take delivery of equipment. Do bear in mind any potential delivery delays so build in some contingency time for this and do research earlier on in the project with preferred suppliers.

Knowing what equipment you will need and budgeting for it is something to do at an early-stage as the cost will be significant. There are options you can consider, like lease financing, rentals and used equipment but make sure that compliance rules are met, and new technology is utilised.

Your equipment needs may include:

  • Dental chair or treatment centre
  • Suction pumps
  • Air compressors
  • X-ray machines
  • Handpieces
  • Decontamination equipment
  • Stools
  • Cabinetry
  • Reception desks and seating
  • Lighting
  • Supplies and PPE

Maintenance

Once your practice is set up and running you will need to be proactive in maintaining and servicing your equipment. Having a regular annual service plan will not only ensure that you are CQC compliant but will also extend the working life of your dental equipment. Keep a list of all maintenance plans and when services are due, so these are not overlooked.

In Conclusion

This is a great opportunity, and you will need to have a robust project plan covering all aspects of making this happen.

We recommend you segmenting this activity into two parts:

  • Pre-registration to the point of the CQC interview and registration
  • Post successful registration including launch and business operations

Why not arrange a free trial of the dental pre-registration and full management system here.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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