In India, we are taught dentistry but no one taught us business cycle of Dental Practice. This business illiteracy has put many dentists in dilemma; leaving them unsure about their future. I believe this is one of the primary reasons why many dentists are unhappy with their practices.
Let’s get into the details of "Lifecycle" of your practice...
An average life of your practice is 25-30 years. It undergoes five different stages which are Introduction, Growth, Maturity, Saturation and Decline & all these stages have their own set of pros & cons. The beauty of your practice lifecycle is; unlike human lifecycle these stages can be reversed, delayed or avoided to a certain extent.
Understanding practice lifecycle gives you the orientation of Do's & Don'ts of the respective stage. It acts as a guide in strategic planning & building a successful practice. Let's try to identify which stage your practice is in..
Stage: 1 Introduction (Practice age: 0-3 Years)
Introduction stage is the beginning of your dental practice which lasts up to 3 years. The avg. age of the doctors in this class is between 24 to 30 years and most are bachelors. This is your first opportunity to earn (after stipend) after studying for 5-8 long years. You try your best to establish the practice; no matter however hard it takes, you are always ready! You entertain each and every patient even when you understand he/she won't go for the treatment. Sometimes if the spot selection is not proper, you end up with stiff competition.
Stage: 2 Growth (Practice age: 2-12 Years)
Growth stage lasts for 5 to 10 years and avg. age group is 26 to 40 years. It is the best stage of your practice as patient flow is good and you leap towards financial stability. You will observe the rise in your income by 15%-25% every year. Most doctors get married in the beginning of this stage and plan baby in mid-stage which sometimes adds to your financial burden and so you are ready to work as per patient’s convenience.
Stage: 3 Maturity (Practice age: 10-20 Years)
Maturity is the stage where you enjoy the premium. This stage lasts for 5-10 years & avg. age group is 35 to 50 years. You are financially stable by this stage and you will appreciate 10%-20% rise every year but it doesn't increase like it was there in the growth stage. You will also observe change in the approach towards practice; of course you work to earn but money isn't your priority. Your priority becomes "Time" for your family which stops you from entertaining every patient; you get relatively rigid about the treatment charges and are least bothered about the competitors.
Stage: 4 Saturation (Practice age: 20-25 Years)
This stage can last for 5-10 years & it is commonly experienced after the age of 50+ years. In this stage you appreciate stagnation in your income whereas increase in your expenses. The financial requirements are increased as your kids will need money for education, marriage or business. You will also experience the increase in competition; as the young dentists to whom you considered "Bachchaa" has now entered into their growth or maturity stage...
Stage: 5 Decline (Practice age: 25+ Years)
This is the last stage of your practice which is experienced after 60 years of age. Dentistry is a skill driven branch unlike other medical fields where green cloth, stethoscope and a prescription pad is enough for practice.
It is the stage where either you have to close down the practice or hand it over to younger generation. But there are always exceptions; I personally know some dentists who are into their 60's and still enjoying the maturity stage.
The above blog is based on my interactions with doctors, market research & understanding of business. You need not agree with all the points but I am sure that somewhere it co-relates to your practice. Now you know which stage your practice is in; you can always extend, delay or avoid particular stage.
One of my good friends, a well known speaker & author of New Age Dentalpreneur (soon to be launched) Dr.Sujit Pardeshi says "Pranav, attitude is everything! Age is just a number in our mind.. almost always!"
Believe me,"It is possible to be always in the growth stage.."
Check out what strategies you should follow in my next blog, Life of Your Dental Practice: [Part 2] Strategic Planning!