An orthodontist who’s been there himself offers practical strategies for getting started

By Tonya Johnson

Have you found the right space in the right community to open your first orthodontic practice? If so, take a lesson from Virginia Beach-based orthodontist Nicholas Maddux, DDS, MS, who opened his solo practice in 2017. Maddux offers his recommendations to help you develop a competitive practice and create a lasting impression beyond opening day.

1: Make a plan—and then another plan

Planning is great, but it’s important to remember that nothing ever goes as planned the first time, or even the second time around. You can work hard to think of every possible outcome but something, at some point, can and will go wrong. It’s important to not sweat the small stuff. Your location will still open, patients will still come, and your team will still support you whether the process is perfect or not. Enjoy the process, support your team and be gracious to those who are helping you to make your dream of opening an orthodontic practice come true. 

2: Document your business process

If you are looking to open a practice and offer your services in a nearby community, you need to have a successful business plan. Develop strategies that you and your team can implement on a daily basis.

3: Less is more

Start with manageable expectations. Knowing what your patients need is the most important part of opening an orthodontic practice. If patients feel that you are doing a great job, they will return to you and will often refer others to you. This will help your practice to grow and thrive. 

4: Demographic Analysis

Take some time to get to know the area and the community, focusing special attention on community needs and support systems. Meet with the local Chamber of Commerce, the city council, and other business owners to create long-term relationships that will serve your patients and your practice far into the future. Develop a strategy to meet the needs of the surrounding community without dividing the patient population that currently exists.

5: Marketing your location

Find a great marketing partner that can take some of the burden off of you. Focus on advertising the new practice and getting it set up in Google Maps. Your marketing partner can also manage important details, like email marketing, advertising through social media, and leveraging your presence online and within the community to make you known to prospective patients and referral sources. A good marketing partner will also handle all of the necessary printed materials that will be used in the office, as well as photography. This can prove to be very helpful for a busy orthodontist!  

Read More: Learn about Dr Nicholas Maddux’s experience setting up his own practice.

6: Develop a timeline – but allow for wiggle room

When shopping for contractors, keep in mind that they can only give estimates on build and installment times. Contractors can be impacted by weather and other jobs. Therefore, deadlines often come and go. In the end, it will get done! So stay as flexible as possible throughout the process.

7: Offer promotions

Everyone loves a deal, especially hard working families with multiple children. When opening your new practice, you may consider offering a promotional discount (in the amount of your choosing) that will attract new patients. It doesn’t have to be much—it can even be a sibling or military discount. 

8: Reach out to dentists in the community

As you plan to open your first practice, it’s important to get to know the dentists in your community. These dentists will likely refer preteens and teens to you for orthodontic evaluation. Taking a few business cards to nearby dentists, introducing yourself and letting them know where your practice is will be a great way to form business relationships and possibly patient referrals.

9: Never lose sight of the goal

Opening an orthodontic practice is a great opportunity to give children, teens and adults a lifelong beautiful, healthy smile. No question about it, patients can feel when you truly care about them and are excited for their treatment milestones and the end results. As you open your practice, stay focused on the patient experience and the positive impact you can have on so many new people. 

10: Stay positive

It takes time to build up a practice. Some days will be slow while others will be full of new patients. Trust your business process. The results will come in the form of great patients, referrals and community support. You will be thankful for the outcome when you stay the course! OP


Tonya Johnson is associate editor at Orthodontic Products.