Setting up his own dental practice in a larger than expected space was a risk that paid off for Dr Ken Chan.
The planets aligned late last year when Dr Ken Chan set up his dental practice.
With about six years’ experience at three different clinics, he felt he had the requisite skills to chart his own course. He also wanted the long-term security of running his own business and in BOQ Specialist, he knew he had the right alliance with a trusted banking partner.
“I felt like it was time to set up my own clinic and run things the way I wanted to,” says Dr Chan, founder and principal dentist at Capstone Dental in Seven Hills, north-west of Sydney.
Starting from scratch
Opening the doors to his clinic in September last year in the Seven Hills Plaza shopping centre, Dr Chan faced the test of starting a new business that incurred quite high set-up costs given its relatively large retail footprint.
The bold move, however, is already showing promising signs. Capstone Dental now has three dentists and six part-time dental assistants who are servicing two dental chairs, with more on the way. Dr Chan believes a combination of factors has helped the clinic prosper. It’s in a high-traffic location, with strong brand visibility and generous patient word-of-mouth.
Establishing a clinic in a small shopping centre has been instrumental to growth. “Having natural foot traffic really helps,” Dr Chan says. “It’s convenient for patients and there’s lots of parking.” Being genuine, honest and real with patients has led to numerous referrals, Dr Chan notes.
“They all seem to really appreciate our service and we’ve already had heaps of referrals for families and friends,” he says.
A comprehensive range of dental services has also been important. In addition to regular treatments such as teeth check-ups, cleaning, fillings, crowns and dentures, Capstone Dental offers orthodontics such as braces and clear aligners that are in high demand from families that may not want to use a specialist. As Dr Chan observes: “It’s about giving patients enough extra options at an affordable price, especially for braces. It’s a way to build up the clinic but also help patients. It’s a win-win in that sense.”
Dr Chan says the biggest challenges to date have been hiring the right staff and learning how to market the clinic through social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram.
“We are also posting blogs to make our website informative for patients who want to learn about different treatment options.”
Despite not previously having run a clinic, things have gone relatively smoothly so far for Dr Chan. He did his research in advance, including speaking to dental colleagues about their experiences. Thomas Wald of BOQ Specialist helped manage the finance, providing a fit-out loan and other banking services.
Capstone Dental occupies a space of 182 sqm, well above Dr Chan’s original expectations of up to 120 sqm. He says having the backing of a bank with proven experience in the dental and medical sectors has given him a lot of confidence.
“I haven’t needed to worry. It’s taken away the headaches.”
He especially welcomes the flexibility of tailored loans that can be adjusted according to the development phase of the clinic.
With the clinic now established and enjoying a strong reputation in the community, Dr Chan wants to pursue steady growth.
“I’m happy with how the trajectory is going,” he says. “I want to go at a pace that is sustainable for our staff and our patients.”
He ultimately envisages having four to five dental chairs operating in the practice, while the plan is to rent out another room to an allied health professional.
Dr Chan wants to relish the experience of loving his work, showcasing his dental skills and fine-tuning his managerial skills.
“I’ve loved it so far. I see it as a way to problem-solve and I really enjoy that aspect of running my own business.”
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