Starting your own practice can be the most rewarding step in your career as an orthodontist– and the most challenging.
Whether you’re just out of residency and looking to start up your own practice, or an associate looking to control your destiny, you’ll need to quickly build a steady stream of new patients for your startup practice to be successful.
The average orthodontist leaves medical school with between $600,000 and $800,000 of student loan debt. Overhead costs for orthodontists have swelled by nearly 10% over the last few years, rising to 60% of collections, as the cost of new technology, rent, supplies, and payroll has risen.
At the same time, the average orthodontic practice makes about $1.2 million in revenue and employs six full-time employees.
Between debt payment, payroll, and overhead, $1.2 million is not a lot of money. In fact, many new orthodontics practices will struggle for years before even turning a profit.
So you might ask yourself…
Why Start Your Own Orthodontics Practice?
For most orthodontists, owning your own practice is what you dreamed about during those long hours in residency. You may see working as an associate as merely a stepping stone to someday setting up your own shop.
And while it’s true you have less responsibility and less financial risk as an associate orthodontist, you also have to play by the head doctor’s rules.
You’ll have less flexibility with your schedule. You’ll have to perform the work assigned to you, and even if you outlined the treatment, that can mean handing off lucrative procedures to the head doctor. By choosing the path of a lifetime associate, you’re essentially putting a hard cap on your potential earnings.
Owning your practice is the only way to access unlimited growth opportunities and build the life and lifestyle you were promised when you chose a career in orthodontics.
As a practice owner, set your own schedule, determine your workload and choose when to take time off. You decide how to run your practice. If you don’t like something, you can change it. And if you want to make more money, you can spend more on marketing, add another exam room, hire an associate, open a second office, you name it.
As a practice owner, you control your own destiny. But before you run out and sign a lease on a shiny new office, there’s one big truth you’ll need to face before breaking out on your own…
Medical School Didn’t Prepare You For This
While starting an orthodontic practice comes with unlimited opportunities, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And your medical degree won’t prepare you for the realities of being a business owner.
The average cost to start a new practice is around $500,000. Add that to your student loans, and you could be staring at 7-figures in debt. So you’re under the gun right away.
You’ll need to hire skilled personnel and be responsible for payroll, training, and performance. At the same time, you’ll need to start generating new patients, organize your office efficiently, and provide top-quality clinical care.
Plus, you’ll need to learn to navigate government regulation, plan for taxes, get a property lease or mortgage, and borrow even more money to fill your new office with cutting-edge equipment and keep it stocked with supplies.
Among the other things that medical school doesn’t teach you?
How to run Facebook ads, convert digital leads into patients, organize an efficient front desk, optimize your time profitably, or build a 5-star reputation that helps you become the dominant orthodontics practice in your local market.
Because you don’t learn these things in school, many startup practices lack organization. And they struggle to find the new patients they need to keep cash flowing and cover their expenses.
They have no systems in place and inefficient processes, so everything relies on one person to run smoothly.
And, too often, that one person is YOU.
You CAN’T Do It All Yourself
As a new practice owner, you’ll want to have a hand in everything that happens inside those doors. But, in addition to treating patients and running a business, you need to find time to live a life that makes you happy.
All the hard work and investment in your startup practice won’t be worth it if the cost is destroying your relationship with your spouse, neglecting your family, or losing your enthusiasm for life.
Burnout impacts more and more medical professionals every year. For example, a recent survey found that nearly 25% of doctors in the dental and orthodontic field suffer from depression.
With the constant financial pressures and demanding workload, it’s easy to see why. Many doctors leave residency without the life skills they need to run a business, manage a family, and look out for their mental health simultaneously.
You MUST maintain a work/life balance that makes sense for you and your family if you’re going to avoid burnout and build a fulfilling life.
How to Launch An Orthodontics Practice Profitably
Owning your own practice is the only way to hit the goals you’ve set for your life. And many doctors have succeeded at it, so you don’t HAVE to struggle.
But when you’re planning to start your practice, it’s not enough to prepare for the clinical side— a physical space, equipment, furniture, etc. You need to plan for the business side too.
You need a plan to get an influx of new patients immediately so you can hit the ground running. And you need to implement the support systems, best practices, and structures that will help ensure your practice grows rapidly without ruining your quality of life.
The good news is that it is possible to start an orthodontics practice that turns a profit and empowers you to live the life you’ve imagined. But you can’t go it alone.
You Need The Roadmap to Orthodontic Growth
HIP is the growth partner behind dozens of the nation’s biggest orthodontic success stories, and we’ve uncovered the formula that allows new orthodontists to be successful from day one.
Working with 100+ practices, and studying thousands more, we’ve unlocked the secrets of the nation’s most successful startup and established practices. And we’ve assembled our learnings into a proprietary framework we use to grow practices from coast to coast, like Knecht Orthodontics in Mont Belvieu, TX:
“I opened my practice at the start of the pandemic, but with HIP’s support, our growth has still been exponential. They helped me get visibility quickly and start making a profit in less than a year. I know doctors who worked 5 or 10 years to get to this level, and it’s all happened so quickly. I couldn’t have done that on my own.”–Dr. Kristen Knecht, Knecht Orthodontics
The true test of how well your practice runs is this: how well does it run when you aren’t there?
If the answer is “not very good,” then you will never find any time away from the practice to actually enjoy the lifestyle of success..
That’s why you need a system, a proven framework for building a successful and organized practice that ensures you’ll find more clients without depending on you to do everything. You need systems and proven processes that help you make more money with less work.
So you can work smarter, not harder, and actually enjoy the life you’re building for yourself and your family.
What is HIP?
We’re a full-service growth partner for orthodontists. We’ll give you the marketing, systems, training, and traffic you need to unlock the full potential of your startup practice and put you on the fast track to profitability.
To see how you can avoid building your practice the hard way, through trial and error, watch this short video to see how HIP can give your practice all the tools for success from day #1:
Or, keep reading to learn more about how you can make your orthodontic startup a roaring success!
Find A Location For Your Orthodontic Practice
Where should you locate your new practice? It’s one of the most important decisions you can make, and believe it or not, one that many orthodontists overlook. Unfortunately, there aren’t any do-overs when it comes to establishing your practice.
When choosing a location for your startup practice, you’ll want to consider how easy it is to get to, the convenience of parking, and the visibility of the storefront. After all, a location on the main drag with lots of street traffic is like free advertising. Paying a little more for a high-traffic location with a brightly-lit sign might pay big dividends.
But even if you choose a high-traffic location in an area with few strong competitors, patients aren’t just going to magically appear in your waiting room. And if you want to grow your practice quickly, you can’t rely solely on dental referrals as many orthodontists did a decade ago.
You MUST have an aggressive plan to attract patients to your brand-new practice.
And in 2023 and beyond, that means having a robust online presence and an aggressive digital marketing strategy.
“Acquisition of new patients the new way is digital. You must have a digital presence. You must have high SEO. You must have the marketing that goes along with that. If you don’t have the right digital presence, you’re not going to win in today’s world.”–Dr. Keith Dressler, Dressler Orthodontics
How to Attract Patients to Your Orthodontic Startup
Once you’ve done all the hard work securing an excellent location for your practice to thrive, you will need a steady stream of new patients to keep the lights on.
As Dr. Kristen Knecht of Knecht Orthodontics told us, “As a startup, the hardest thing for me is just getting people in the door.”
Due to the structure of orthodontic payment plans, it will often take you 12 months or more to receive the money for your services. So you’ve got to start treating patients from the first day if you’re going to make the economics work.
The good news? There are millions of potential patients out there. And they want to start treatment. You simply need to make it easy for them to find you.
Create An Attention-Grabbing Website
A professionally built website that ranks high on the Google search engine results page can be the most cost-effective way to attract and convert new patients online.
Mobile searches make up about 65% of all web searches, which may be even higher for many service businesses, like orthodontists. So your website should have a mobile-first design to look appealing and functional for mobile users.
A well-designed site is more than a digital business card—an expert partner like HIP, with experience in creating leads for orthodontists, will optimize your website to make it easy for potential patients to book a consultation in your office.
Develop A Strong Local SEO Strategy
91% of users never get past the first page of Google Search results, so your practice must show up among the first orthodontic practices in your area. You can use Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, to gain more visibility in your community.
Many factors impact Google’s search rankings, from the design and structure of your site to frequent updates with high-quality content. You’ll want an experienced partner optimizing your SEO to ensure ideal patients in your area can find you before they find your competition..
Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Do you know that little “digital business card” that pops up when you search for a business on Google or Google Maps?
That’s called a Google Business Profile.
It’s free, so make sure you claim your Google Business Profile and load it up with accurate information and pictures of your practice and your smiling employees. It’ll go a long way to creating digital curb appeal for your orthodontic practice.
Book Orthodontic Consults From Digital Leads
At the end of the day, the leads you get from your digital marketing are worthless if you don’t book them to your office for a consultation. And then convert those consultations into patients.
And to convert those leads into patients, you’ve got to be fast— a recent study by Harvard Business Review showed that if you don’t respond to a lead within the first five minutes, your odds of converting them drop by 400%.
Our research with orthodontic practices around the country shows that most offices wait too long to follow up with the leads they get, even when they’re paying an agency to generate the leads for them.
Plus, they don’t stick with them either—only 44% of leads get contacted more than one time.
That won’t cut it in today’s competitive online environment. So here’s what you need to do instead:
Follow The 5×7 Rule To Book More Consults
We’ve simplified the most-effective lead follow-up practices into The 5×7 Rule.
The rule is simple: it requires that you attempt to contact 100% of new leads within 5 minutes (24/7) and then attempt to contact them at least 7 times over the next week, using a mixture of phone, SMS text, and email (until you’re successful, then you can stop).
Our data covering over 80 partners tell us the top-performing practices are following up with new leads 14 times over10 to 14 days. It’s proof that you can’t afford to give up too soon!
Once a potential patient has taken the first step by reaching out, the ball is in your court. You’re not bothering them. On the contrary, they’ll appreciate your dedication to getting them the help they want. Besides, if you don’t do it, one of your competitors will!
Get Patients To Your Chair Within 72 Hours
When a patient is ready to come in for a consultation, don’t make them wait weeks to get started. Instead, get them to your office before they have a chance to change their mind.
Booking a potential patient for a consultation that starts within 72 hours of reaching them boosts the conversion rate and slashes no-shows. By getting them into your exam chair while their motivation is highest, they’re much more likely to start treatment. Also, it prevents another practice from swooping in to steal them away from you.
Following the 72-hour rule won’t be too challenging when your schedule is relatively open, but it can be difficult when it starts getting full. HIP can give your front desk and treatment coordinator (TC) strategies for optimizing your scheduling and consultation processes to help you see more new patients every week.
Steal the Strategies of the Nation’s Top 1% of Orthodontic Practices
The practices we’re showing you here are the exact same techniques and processes that 7-figure and 8-figure ortho practices use every day to grow their revenue.
And we know it because we’ve worked alongside those top practices, like Fishbein Orthodontics, Dr. Jennifer Orthodontics, AllSmiles Orthodontics, and more—as they’ve developed, tested, and implemented these practices.
Knowing how to attract digital leads and consistently convert them into patients makes growth so much easier.
Just listen to what Dr. Jennifer has to say:
These groundbreaking practices didn’t have the benefit of this inside knowledge as they launched their practices. Instead, they started at ground zero, figuring out the best way to run their business little by little, growing, stalling and struggling until, one day, they broke through.
But you have a massive advantage over other startups and established practices in your market.
When you choose to work from HIP, you’re choosing to run your practice like a world-class, 8-figure practice from the very first day.
We’ll create leads for you using proven and profitable digital marketing strategies. And we’ll teach your team exactly how to turn those leads into consistent, predictable sales growth for your orthodontics practice.
Plus, we’ll set you up with the software you need to track your success metrics and keep your leads moving through your funnel to ensure you NEVER have blank space on your calendar (except when YOU choose to).
“Started in January 2021. It is now March, and I can tell you our new patient exam comm looks quite a bit different than it did even a few months ago. We used to have openings here and there, but now we are booked, to be honest, a little further than I would like to be. So I look forward to continuing to work with them, to accommodate this growth, to come up with strategies to accommodate growth.”–Dr. Noam Green, Green Orthodontics
Want to fill the calendar at your startup orthodontic practice? You don’t have to do it the hard way.
Keep reading to discover how you can start more patients just like Dr. Green!
How Orthodontics Startups Can Start More Patients
Did you know that the average ortho practice has a consult-to-start conversion rate of just 52%?
Given that these patients want to start treatment— that’s why they contacted you—converting barely half of them doesn’t seem very good.
In fact, the best practices have a conversion rate of 75% or higher. So what’s their secret?
They remove obstacles to starting treatment by keeping things simple, fast, and efficient. And they anticipate success by preparing patients to start treatment before they even arrive in the office.
Here’s what that looks like:
Get In And Out Of The Exam Room
Sharing too many clinical details about your patient’s condition and treatment can make their decision to start treatment seem more complicated than it is. Offering too much detail raises objections. It adds complexity. And it ends with many patients telling you they need to “sleep on it.”
Meanwhile, high-converting practices limit the doctor’s involvement in the consultation process to five minutes or less. A talented and friendly Treatment Coordinator with good sales skills should be able to handle 95% of your patients’ questions. And they’ll be more skilled at closing the sale than you are.
Make It Easy To Say Yes
The cost of treatment is the biggest thing standing in the way of your patient getting the help they need. To avoid scaring them with the total cost of treatment, your team should avoid talking about the total cost and focus on the monthly payment instead.
Offer one simple payment plan to your new patient with a low down payment and low monthly payments. If you give them two or three payment plans, you ask them to make another decision, making it less likely they’ll start treatment.
Finally, be flexible to overcome objections. Usually, splitting up a down payment or extending the length of the plan to reach a lower monthly payment is all the patient needs to commit to starting treatment today.
Start Treatment On The Day Of The Exam
Want to get more patients to start treatment with less effort? Offer to begin their treatment that very same day.
They’re more likely to make a down payment if they get something in return the same day. Plus, it saves them another trip to the office (and another day off of work). So begin by preparing patients for the possibility of a same-day-start over the phone when scheduling their exam. That way, they’ll show up prepared to say a little longer and get started!
These Strategies Could Be Worth $1 Million Or More To Your Startup Practice
You’re guaranteed to convert more of your leads into patients when implementing these simple basic strategies consistently.
And if you can turn every 4 consults into 3 patients (rather than 2), you’ll start 50% more patients! That’s a big deal in any practice.
And it will help your startup ortho practice start to turn a profit faster than your med school friends will believe!
“Since we’ve been with them, we’ve noticed that our new patient exams have gone up quite a bit. We have a pretty large practice, nine locations, and we were kinda hoping for 5-10% growth in new patients, but I looked last week, and they’re all the way up to 61%. Which I’ve never had before.”–Dr. Ed Wentz, Wentz Orthodontics
Keep in mind that just one new patient start per day adds up to over $1 million per year in sales!
Add just a few more new starts each day, and you’re on your way to a wildly-successful practice.
Or keep reading for even more success secrets for your orthodontic startup!
Prepare Your Orthodontic Startup for Success!
You need to attract, convert, and treat new patients to keep your practice running. Unfortunately, medical school only prepares you for the final one, and without the first two, you won’t have any patients to treat!
But HIP has developed a proprietary Patient Acquisition and Retention Framework (PARF™) that’s created over $80M worth of revenue growth for our orthodontic partners.
It’s a comprehensive program that can help your startup practice start successfully and never look back, building on these three pillars—Marketing, Training & Software.
“HIP is different than consultants we’ve tried because they listen and are super-responsive. It’s more like a partnership. They clearly understand the orthodontic market and bring us new ideas that help us get results. HIP has helped us generate more than 945 new patient leads and almost $4 million of revenue in the pipeline!”–Kristen Anderson, Behl Orthodontics
Marketing for Orthodontic Startups
As a new practice without an established following, you’ll need to get your brand in front of many new faces. You’ll need strong branding, an optimized website, and a plan to reach your community quickly.
The good news is that digital marketing lets you reach a targeted audience quickly like never before. HIP will help you quickly create an A+ online identity and get your ads in front of thousands of your ideal clients within weeks.
From there, we’ll help you build a 5-star reputation, dominate local SEO, and become a dominant force in your local orthodontic market much faster than you’d imagined.
“We renovated my whole website, everything became fresh and new. New logo, new everything, the dominance in my area just became very, very prevalent…I was using another firm that was telling me how great they were doing for me but compared to HIP, they were doing nothing for me.” -Dr. Keith B. Dressler, Dressler Orthodontics
Training for Startup Orthodontic Teams
Before we open the floodgates, HIP will train your front desk, scheduling team, treatment coordinator, and others on the follow-up practices of the best orthodontic practices. That way, when the leads start pouring in, your team is 100% ready to turn them into paying patients.
Whether you’re taking over an established office or building your own team from scratch, we’ll give your office all the resources and training they need to become an efficient patient-starting machine.
From mastering follow-up to running efficient new patient exams to making patients feel welcomed and valued, we’ll teach your team how to perform like a world-class practice from the day you open your doors.
“Having Harrison jump on the phone with my Treatment Coordinator. I would never have thought that your TC would…teach my TC how to be better at their job. That shows the relationship.”
Dr. Craig Murphy, Murphy Orthodontics
PracticeBeacon: The Software Designed for Orthodontic Practices
Only one Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) meets the specific needs of orthodontic practices, and we know it well—because we built it ourselves!
PracticeBeacon is the secret weapon of the top 1% of orthodontic practices from coast to coast. As part of our PARF framework, we’ll train your team how to use this game-changing software to help you convert more leads into patients and never lose track of a patient conversation ever again.
PracticeBeacon allows you to automate the 5×7 Rule, guaranteeing you contact every lead within 5 minutes (or 1 minute!) without anyone on your team lifting a finger. You can even automate additional follow-ups via email and text to ensure no lead slips through the cracks.
We’ll even use PraticeBeacon to secret-shop your practice every month, so you can see if your team is following the training we’ve set up and fill the gaps in your conversion process.
“This program has really helped to generate a lot of leads. They also give you the framework and all of the tools to then communicate with those leads through PracticeBeacon, so it’s made it really easy for my staff, and we’ve seen a very noticeable increase in consults and phone calls coming in…we’re beyond thrilled so far, and I can’t wait to see the long term results.”—Kristen Knecht, Knecht Orthodontics
HIP Gives You The Tools To Dominate Your Local Orthodontics Market:
“We’ve been able to grow tremendously. We’ve added four new team members. We’re opening a second office location. It’s been really, really good for us.”—Dr. Connor Despot, Buda Orthodontics
“We have meetings every single month. They ask me what my goals are for the whole year, and then we work backward from there instead of just hoping for the best. There’s less hope and more predictability.”–Dr. Greg Efros, Efros Orthodontics
“I can tell you the one thing I like about HIP: it’s different from what I’ve experienced before. You can learn and read about things that you need to do, but the things that they don’t teach you is follow through and the ability to have metrics set up. Have checks and balances and actually be able to track and monitor. And they actually set that up for you, and they help you do it, so you can really see that your investment is paying off. And what it makes you want to do is not only see that it’s working, but it makes you want to invest more because you see the value and the benefit. I mean, marketing is an investment, and if you’re doing it right, the more you market, the busier you should get, and eventually, your only great limiting factor should be the facilities and how hard you want to work.”–Ernie McDowell, All Smiles Orthodontics
Want A Booming Orthodontic Startup Practice in 21 Days?
Twenty-one days is all it takes to prepare your startup practice for 7-figure success— just three weeks to create your new website, onboard your staff, and implement the software that will enable your success.
Once the structure and processes are in place, your marketing campaign goes live on Day #21. And we’ve seen a practice generate a lead and book a consultation that very same day.
Above, we’ve already shown you again and again how much money we’ve made for our partners. And we’ve shown you exactly what we’ll do to make your practice the envy of all the other doctors in your network.
Your investment in our expertise and partnership will pay for itself many times over, starting from the very first moments, so you’ve got to ask yourself one question:
How much will I lose if I do nothing?
The lost opportunity cost is in the millions. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
So don’t struggle through the growing pains of launching a new practice without a proven plan for making money from the moment you open your doors. Instead…
And your new orthodontic practice could be just 21 days from mind-blowing success.