Success story: Dr Linda Gao on building a new coastal dental practice

Linda Gao spent seven months transforming her level of business knowledge from ‘clueless’ to ‘confident’ in order to create a dental practice that is all about the patients.

 5 minutes

 

Early in 2015, when she decided it was time to open her own dental practice, Dr Linda Gao realised that she had very few people who could help her. Dr Gao and her partner Nate were hungry for knowledge around start-up challenges. What exactly was involved? Where were the likely costs? How do you identify an area in which a business is more likely to succeed? How do commercial loans work? Their most valuable meeting in those early days was with BOQ Specialist consultant Angela Warren.

“We were just clueless on how to do a lot of this, so Angela sat with us and gave us information on likely costs for various options; for buying an existing practice or setting up from scratch, for instance,” Dr Gao says. “She told us about how loans work and how to look into location.”

Over seven months the pair spent hours investigating their options, including looking into various Australian cities. Dr Gao had been to school in Melbourne, so knew the city well. The market saturation, she thought, would make life difficult for a new business in the market. 

They also felt a sense of urgency. It was as if they were in a race against insurance companies that were buying up health care practices across the country, Dr Gao says.

 

The sea change

The answer, in terms of location, came after the pair exploited the power of big data. “We liked the Sunshine Coast, where I had worked as a dentist, so we decided we were going to stay here,” Dr Gao says. “We got onto the Australian Bureau of Statistics website and researched population demographics, and cross-referenced this with the number of local dental practices in various areas. That’s how we identified this location [Mudjimba, QLD]. Then we began looking for commercial properties to rent.”

TLC Dentistry opened its doors on 6 November last year and has been experiencing healthy demand ever since. Currently operating out of one room with a team of five, the property has the capacity to expand to three rooms in the future.

“We always thought the Christmas period would be quiet but it surprised us. We have been very busy,” Dr Gao says. “Right now we’re doing three days a week just to see how our appointment book goes. Our first goal is to open one room for six days. Once that’s busy enough we’ll go to a second room, then to a third.

 

Putting patients first

The practice’s real point of difference, Linda says, is the fact that she puts patients first. “When you walk through the door you receive personalised attention,” she says. “We try to provide the very best experience because we don’t just want to be fixing your teeth. We want to know the person behind the teeth and build relationships and grow with you.”

“We have done a lot of things that we think make the dental experience better. We’ve got a machine called The Wand that gives very gentle injections. For a lot of our patients, injections are the most difficult part of a visit. We have a television on the ceiling to distract our patients. We take time and there is never a rush. It is about being gentle and caring at the same time.”

And what about experiences with Angela, their BOQ Specialist Consultant who helped with information and options all those months ago?

“Choosing BOQ Specialist for our financing was mainly influenced by the experience we had with Angela,” Dr Gao says. “We felt she had our best interest at heart and that she really knows what she’s talking about. We felt Angela would have our back and we were happy to be in good hands.” 

 

Thinking about starting a practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for setting up a practice. Ready to take the next step? Contact us to find out how we can tailor a practice finance solution for you, or call us on 1300 131 141.

Subscribe for regular insights

All the best advice on how to build a practice, delivered to your inbox.

BOQ Specialist - a division of Bank of Queensland Limited ABN 32 009 656 740 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence no. 244616 (BOQ Specialist). Use of the information contained on this page is governed by Australian law and is subject to the Terms and Conditions which can be read by clicking here. View the BOQ Specialist Privacy Policy by clicking here.

The information contained in this article (Information) is general in nature and has been provided in good faith, without taking into account your personal circumstances. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate and opinions fair and reasonable, no warranties in this regard are provided.