Dental and Medical Counsel Blog

Questions to Ask Your Equipment Specialist When Building a Dental Practice

May 23, 2021
startup consultant

Building a dental practice from the ground up requires a lot of help. An equipment specialist is one of the professionals you will work with as you make decisions about the building process. The equipment specialist will help you find and install your equipment, including everything from dental chairs to office equipment. Here are some questions that you need to ask to help you find the right equipment specialist and equipment for your dental practice.

Questions About the Specialist’s Procedures

Before hiring an equipment specialist to build your dental practice, you need to know that the professional will give you the right service. Here are some questions you can ask to determine if you’ve found the right specialist:

  • How will you choose my equipment? The right equipment specialist will not only take into account your budget but also your practice goals. You don’t need to spend every dollar allocated on equipment if a smaller purchase will fit your needs in the short term while you are building your practice. As you grow your practice, you can easily add chairs and other equipment to a pre-plumbed operatory.
  • Will you work with my other advisors? It’s ideal for your equipment specialist, your building contractor, and your building designer to all work together on the plan for your new practice. If your team doesn’t like to work with one another or if they don’t get along, then it will cause you a lot more stress as you will be in the middle.
  • Will you compare prices? Vendors that sell dental equipment vary significantly, and you want to work with an equipment specialist who will compare prices and even negotiate discounts on your behalf. You do get what you pay for, so make sure you know all of the benefits and drawbacks of the equipment you are purchasing.
  • How can I finance the equipment purchase? Your equipment specialist may be able to assist with financing for your dental equipment. Be sure to ask if this is an option and what financing venues are available to you. This has become even more important as the cost of construction has skyrocketed and you might not be able to get bank financing for your entire project.
  • What do others say about this equipment? Before purchasing equipment, read online reviews and ask for recommendations from other dental practitioners. Discuss these with your equipment specialist.
  • Can I add to this? A skilled dental equipment specialist will know how to help you choose equipment that grows with your practice. Sometimes the best option is to buy what you need now, then add more equipment as your dental practice grows. Choosing a vendor that has a wide selection of options and the ability to grow with your purchases is helpful.

Questions About Choosing the Right Equipment

Next, once you feel that you are on the path towards choosing the right equipment vendor, you need to ask some questions about the equipment itself. Here are some to consider:

  • What is the potential return on investment? A skilled equipment specialist will be able to estimate the potential return on investment for your purchases, so you can make informed decisions about whether or not to make the purchase.
  • What else do I need to make my dental office the best? You may already have excellent equipment or have a plan for purchasing it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from the help of an equipment specialist. Ask if there is any additional equipment you need to make your practice successful by increasing case acceptance, reducing lab costs, or diagnosing treatment that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
  • Should I upgrade my current equipment? If you aren’t building a new practice, but rather are updating an existing practice, discuss equipment upgrades. Sometimes you need to upgrade, and sometimes you can continue using your existing equipment depending on its age and capabilities.

Questions About Purchasing Equipment

When purchasing dental equipment, you have many considerations to make. These questions will help you make the right purchase choices.

  • Does this vendor work with startups regularly? If possible, choose equipment from a vendor who works with startups. This will ensure you get the right equipment for a new practice’s unique needs.
  • Does this equipment work well ergonomically? Consider the comfort of your patients and your team members. Choose equipment that will protect the back, neck, shoulders, and hands for all who use it, especially the dental team who will be leaning over and working on patients. Ergonomics impacts lighting, loupes, chairs, and stools which you will use daily. Choosing well will help prevent chairside fatigue, which is a common problem among dentists.
  • Does this equipment fit my vision for my practice? Work with an equipment specialist who can understand your vision for your practice. While your main goal right now may be getting started or renovated, you should also have a long-term, future goal in mind.

Questions About New Equipment

If your equipment specialist thinks you will be best served with new equipment, ask some questions like these:

  • What brand do you recommend, and why? Does the equipment specialist prefer a certain equipment brand over others? If so, find out why. If you have a vendor you prefer, make sure the equipment specialist works with that vendor.
  • How will this piece of equipment help my practice? If the equipment specialist suggests a particular piece of equipment, and you aren't sure you need it, find out how it will help your practice. Will it attract better talent or improve patient experience? Make sure every piece adds value to your practice.
  • Does it have a warranty? New dental equipment should be backed by a warranty from the manufacturer. If it is not, then you may want to look elsewhere for equipment to purchase. 

Questions for Used Equipment

Buying used equipment can help you save money on your equipment procurement, which can be particularly helpful when building a new dental practice. However, you need to work with your equipment specialist to ensure you’re getting quality equipment, even if it is used. Here are some questions that might help.

  • How was the equipment used? You can stumble on some gems that have had minimal use but have a much lower price tag because they are, in fact, used.
  • Was this an overstock item? Overstock items can give you the benefit of new equipment at a used price. These pieces are the previous line from the manufacture that didn’t sell for some reason, but they typically have no hours of use.
  • Is it certified or refurbished? Certified and refurbished dental equipment has a lot of life in it, even though it is previously used. This can be a great way to stock a new dental practice without sacrificing the quality of your patient experience.
  • How was the unit refurbished? If the unit was certified and refurbished, find out what process was used.
  • Does the equipment have a warranty? Used equipment can be backed by a warranty, just like existing equipment.
  • Can I get training on the equipment? Training on the proper use of dental equipment is an important part of the purchase process, so make sure you can get training even when purchasing used.
  • What is the expected lifespan? Before purchasing used equipment, make sure it still has a long expected lifespan. You need to get the right amount of use to justify your investment.
  • How much cheaper is it compared to new? The main reason to buy pre-owned dental equipment is to save money. Make sure the price difference justifies purchasing pre-owned instead of new, because sometimes it will not.
  • Can I get parts to repair the equipment? One drawback of used equipment can be the difficulty of finding parts, especially if the equipment is particularly old. Choose equipment that you will be able to service.

Do Your Homework to Find the Right Dental Equipment

Dental equipment is a major financial commitment. It’s vital to the success of your practice because it is what you use to care for your patients and staff every day. This is not an area to cut corners, and a dental equipment specialist can be a vital consultant to have on hand as you make these choices. Prepare your list of questions so that you can choose a specialist who will assist you every step of the way to make sure you have a great experience.

If you are considering a dental startup, are already in the process, or looking into updating your practice, contact Dental & Medical Counsel to schedule a complimentary consultation with dental attorney Ali Oromchian to discuss these topics and other strategies to pick the right equipment specialist.

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