How Do You Handle the Stress of a Seasonal Dental Practice? Find a Financial Partner Who Understands
Bankers Healthcare Group
There are many well-known seasonal business models: from landscaping to ski lodges to tropical hotel resorts. While those may be some of the first businesses to come to mind, many people might be surprised to hear that dentistry can also be seasonal.
I live in Upstate New York, where I run my dental practice. During the winter, the weather becomes bone-chillingly cold. People head south for the season (can you blame them?), so my practice slows down by default.
With a seasonal business, owners need to think creatively during the off-season in order to sustain their business and workforce. Among the greatest challenge is ensuring there’s enough working capital throughout the year.
Balancing the Business, No Matter the Season
Most people have an experience in their past that led them to their chosen career. In my case, I had braces as a kid. I was not only a patient, but my dad was a dentist as well. I even had the opportunity to practice with him for a couple of years when I was getting started.
I’ve always loved the freedom of running my own practice and taking on the challenge of a new venture. My experience is as varied as it is extensive: I’ve worked as an independent contractor, been in the military, and was a reservist for 10 years. I've worked at the Department of Corrections, at a Native American Reservation clinic, and even provided dental missionary work around the world (Venezuela, Guatemala, Ukraine, Russia, and Romania).
Throughout my career, I’ve had my own practice, which I’ve been able to scale up or down depending on the other demands in my life. My current practice is just four dental chairs, three employees, and myself at the moment.
Although this practice operates full time, the seasonal nature of my location means I need to cut costs in the off-season. As a small business, this translates to less pay for myself and shouldering the responsibility of keeping the practice running. This ebb and flow puts a lot of strain on my finances. As a result, I started looking for ways to maintain a healthy amount of working capital during the offseason.
A Healthy Boost from BHG
One day, I received a mailer from Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG) advertising their services to healthcare professionals. I was curious, so I decided to give them a call. I spoke to a representative who explained that, unlike many community banks or other traditional lenders, they understand the healthcare industry. BHG knows the demands on healthcare professionals, so they get our needs and can help make our lives easier.
That being said, back then I wasn’t familiar with BHG, so I was a little nervous about working with a lender I didn’t know. I wanted to do my due diligence before I made any final decisions.
At the time, I was also considering a loan from my local bank, so I decided to apply to my community bank for a loan while also applying to BHG. The bank proved to be a big headache: They bounced the application back and forth, and it ultimately didn’t work out.
With BHG, in contrast, they essentially took me by the hand and walked me through the whole process. I was even able to negotiate a lower interest rate than I was originally quoted. By the time we got to the negotiation stage, I realized I was dealing with consummate professionals. At this point, my hesitation and concern about the unknown had completely evaporated. I had a good feeling that everything was going to work out well.
Another aspect that made BHG stand out is that the business loan wouldn’t impact my personal credit score, which wouldn’t have been the case had I gone through with the bank loan.
A Financial Cushion for Peace of Mind
My ultimate goal was more security through a working capital loan, and that’s exactly what BHG gave me. They actually offered me a lot more money than I wanted to borrow, but I decided I’d just dip my toe in and accept the initial loan amount to cover my working expenses of payroll and taxes.
I received my loan from BHG very quickly—all told, it took less than a week, including the weekend. While it hasn’t been long since I received the loan, I felt the impact immediately. This financial cushion gives me more peace of mind now, both professionally and personally.
I sleep better at night knowing that I have that financial wiggle room to meet the business needs. My employees are special, and I want to make sure I have the money to take care of them. As an owner, you feed them first and then feed yourself last. But with this cushion, I know our practice can handle the fluctuations more comfortably than before.
Re-Focusing on What Matters Most
Now I’m able to concentrate on the aspects of my dentistry practice that I love. With my renewed focus, I’m specializing in mini implants, which permanently replace patients’ missing teeth. I get immense satisfaction from helping my patients feel their best, and their reactions to the procedure puts a smile on both of our faces.
In my opinion, dentists need to find an aspect of dentistry they truly enjoy and then pursue it. Becoming a successful dentist isn’t all about keeping busy with a high-volume practice—it’s about practicing smart. BHG has allowed me to re-focus on the kind of dentistry I love and not worry about the seasonal fluctuations.
I feel for the younger dentists who are starting out in their careers with a large amount of debt, because I had to struggle with that myself in the early days of my career. The accepted way of thinking is that you have to keep busy and see a lot of people in order to succeed, but that’s not true. It's about seeing the right kind of patients and to be able to help each person who walks in your door.
Changing lives is a commitment. And being able to do that without the added stress of variable income is rewarding in a way that I hope more people get to experience. Peace of mind is finally in season.