By Keith Merklin
When it comes to building your dream practice, the single most important step is an experienced dream team to help you develop and manage your project. A dream team helps you create a sound plan for your practice development, ensuring you get the outcome you want while keeping your objectives and project on track. Who makes up the dental practice dream team? Depending on your specialty, it should include your lender, architect, general contractor, equipment supplier, and a real estate agent if you're purchasing property. The best teams communicate with one another during the development process. Most importantly, team members should be experienced in dental office development and construction because this will save time and money in the long run. The following overview defines the role of each dream team member:
While you can get a construction loan from various sources, a lender who specializes in dental practice financing can help you complete your project more efficiently, saving you many headaches in the process. A specialty lender understands the needs of the dental office, such as plumbing to support dental equipment and wiring to meet OSHA requirements.
Also, specialty lenders have greater flexibility in loan terms and payment schedules. For instance, some can offer up to 100% financing for real estate purchases. Because they know the dental industry and have confidence in its debt repayment history, they are typically more willing to offer an aggressive loan package with zero down payment and loan terms up to 25 years. New dentists with little equity and cash flow may find that building their dream practice is more feasible when working with a dental financing specialist.
Architect and contractor
Using an architect who is familiar with the dental industry helps ensure that the practice you are investing in meets your needs. While you have a vision, an experienced architect has worked with numerous dental practice designs and knows what's available for your goals and budget. It's far less costly to have your practice designed properly the first time rather than having to rework areas of your office due to poor functionality, or worse, lose productivity and profitability.
Similarly, an experienced contractor will understand which elements of a project can be completed to commercial specifications, and which have unique requirements. He or she will know where to cut material costs, and where to provide top quality. For example, a high performance HVAC system is critical to help maintain healthy air flow. An experienced builder will know the best systems for your practice and where to source them, saving research time for you and the architect.
Your dental equipment supplier is an important member of your dream team as he or she can help you select the appropriate equipment and tools according to your objectives, budget, and growth plan. A professional supplier takes into account your size and specialty, and helps coordinate installation services with your general contractor. Your equipment supplier may also provide valuable input regarding the proper location of dental equipment and supporting systems.
Real estate agent
If you are planning to purchase a building or land, then a real estate agent or commercial real estate broker is a critical member of your dream team. An agent will guide you to properties that meet your needs, and will have an eye toward the best location for your budget. With experience in dental practice purchases and sales, your agent will understand which building spaces allow the type of build-out you require, and which properties are properly located to help you fulfill your goals.
Remember that you are at the center of your dream team, guiding the planning and communication process and driving the ultimate product. With your supportive team, you are well positioned to create the dental practice you truly want – on time, on budget, and with an outcome that will make you, your staff, and most importantly, your patients, happy.
Keith Merklin, chief lending officer at Live Oak Bank, joined Live Oak Bank in 2010, bringing with him over 14 years of experience as a commercial lending officer. He is a top producer and has spent his career working with small health-care practices. Contact him at [email protected].
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