Variable Costs in Practice Ownership

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Finances

Variable costs include such expenses as consumables, repairs, and maintenance, training or continuing education, and doctor compensation. Many dentists, especially those just starting out, pay themselves a salary only after paying everyone else. The amount they’re paid varies based on how the practice is doing. Experts recommend managing-and paying-your salary as a fixed expense based on the practice’s current analytics. Revisit those numbers periodically, preferably monthly, to determine if any adjustments are necessary. If a monthly review isn’t practical, take a look at the data each quarter or consider assigning responsibility for gathering practice performance data to a trusted member of the team.

Develop a preliminary financial plan and budget with the help of your professional advisers so you’re sure to live within your means.

It's a good idea to build some savings in advance or have an alternative source of income for the first six months since the practice likely won’t be profitable enough to provide a salary to you when you’re first starting out.

Check your loan documents to see if they contain any requirements, such as maintaining a certain cash flow. While you might think you remember all of the terms, it’s a good idea to review the paperwork to make sure you’re not unknowingly violating any of the terms.

Again, it’s important that new practitioners, or new practice owners, carefully pace any significant changes to their lifestyles. It can easily take four to seven years to build a practice into maturity. Getting into debt too quickly can make it hard to see a way out later.