Can your location make or break your practice? Yes, indeed. But it’s a far more complicated matter than just having your location be “good” or “bad.” Let’s dig deeper…
I currently live in Huntington, NY. It’s where I grew up and I always wanted to do my dentistry here. It’s a charming Long Island city with restaurants, shopping, culture, and nightlife all within walking distance. It also has a shitload of dentists. On this map the green arrow is my apartment and the red dots are dental offices:
Seriously, we have a lot of dentists.
So when the time came for me to open an office, I decided to not root down in Huntington. It would have been cool to walk to work everyday but I can’t hang my business plan on that luxury. I opted to open about ten minutes South of Huntington in a town called Melville. Here’s why:
(1) I can still draw patients from Huntington, where I am an active member of the community. Tip: try to live and work close together.
(2) There are only a few general dentists in Melville. Tip: don’t be yet another dentist who opens up where everyone else is.
(3) Melville is rapidly growing. It’s an average-sized residential area but the business sector is what caught my eye. I read an article a few years ago that declared Melville to have the second highest population on Long Island between 9 am and 5 pm. It’s a massive corporate and industrial hot spot and still growing. They’re constructing new infrastructure (roads, etc) just to handle overflowing people that have to drive around here. I took the risk to work in a busy commercial area rather than a sleepy residential one. Tip: watch for an influx of commercial and industrial, not just residential.
(4) Melville is the literally the center of Long Island. I’m surrounded by three major East-West highways and one major North-South road. As such, I even treat patients who don’t live or work in Melville. I’ll see people who live far out East and work far out West because I’m on their way to and from work. Tip: watch how people routinely migrate and set up in the middle of that flow.
So if you’re looking to buy an existing practice or start one from scratch, please, please, please actively think about your location. Settle in a place where there aren’t too many dentists and where you can stand out as a prominent member of the community. Think about where people are and how they migrate.