Take Your Time ...

Ray Cox, Managing Director of Medifinance explains why it pays to take a careful look at funding options when undertaking a major project

Ray Cox, MD Medifinance

In business, as in life in general, we are constantly making decisions, both big and small.We never consciously decide to make wrong decisions, but it is only after those decisions have taken effect that they can be judged good or bad.We simply must expect the unexpected and recognise that many variables impact on our lives.Having said that, I believe that it does make sense, where realistically possible, to minimise risk by drawing on experience.

Over the many years that I have worked with the Health Professions, sourcing funding has been relatively straightforward. Banks and lenders have taken the view that they represented a good risk and, as a result, most applications for finance went through 'with a nod'.In the current economic climate this has changed…..not dramatically, but significantly…… andfor major projects particularly, plans need to be seen to have been thoroughly researched, considered and realistic before money is forthcoming.

But I see this as a good thing.It focuses the mind, makes our thinking more diligent and mitigates against our rushing into making hasty decisions.

The point I really want to make is that when 'money is easy' we can fall into the trap of disregarding sensible financial management and the longer-term implications of our decisions.I'll give you an example …..

Recently a client of mine decided to set up his practice and fund both renovation and refurbishment and equipment with a single loan from his bank.He was being offered a good rate and, at face value, it seemed a good deal.However, what he had not taken into account is the shorter life cycle of equipment which would need relatively frequent updating and replacement.I pointed out that a single, consolidated loan would ultimately cost him far more than funding renovations and equipment separately. And we are talking thousands of pounds saved here.

Getting the balance right

No business can grow without taking a degree of risk but taking the time to plan carefully and review the options will be time well spent. So, my advice is always to strike a balance between ambition and caution. I have been fortunate enough to work with clients whose businesses have evolved and developed with considerable success but by the same token I have seen mistakes made that, with a little discretion, could have been avoided. I would never claim to have 'seen it all before', but Medifinance does have an unrivalled depth of experience of the healthcare markets and its funding. This is experience that we are happy to share with clients and potential clients without any commitment on their part. Another quick example demonstrates the value of marrying ambition with experience, taking a moment to step back, and as a result avoiding losses that could have run into hundreds of thousands ...

A long standing and very successful client wanted to expand and extend the existing practice. Concerned about the upheaval and impact on patients the decision was made to set up another practice with a 10-year lease to compensate for a short-term reduction in the existing facilities. I was concerned on three levels. Firstly, the effect on patients, many of whom might resent being selected to attend what was clearly going to be a less well-appointed practice, secondly, of course, the cost of setting up, and thirdly the long-term viability of running two practices.

We discussed these concerns openly and together assessed the pros and cons and the risks involved. In the end, working with the architect and builders, we went back to Plan A, amended the extension project with minimal impact on patients and without taking on the additional costs of setting up another practice. 

In conclusion

 Particularly if you are considering a major project for your practice, you would be wise to get an early overview of the likely financial, funding and tax implications before you start planning and briefing architects and builders. If you fail to do this a great deal of time can be wasted and unnecessary expense incurred as the project evolves. And as I have pointed out, sourcing the most advantageous funding goes a lot further than simply interest rates.

If you feel we may be able to help you with sourcing funding for your practice requirements do please give me a call. There is absolutely no commitment on your part. My mobile is 07785 757782 and my email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Private Dentistry September 2022

In this, the first of four articles, Ray Cox, Managing Director of Medifinance, looks at the key aspects of financial planning dentists should consider as their careers progress 

Based on working with and for the dental profession for many years I want to pass on some suggestions that I hope you will see as useful guidelines as your career progresses. This is the first of four articles (that will run on alternate months until next March) and will concentrate on the early years following graduation. Future articles will cover:

  • Setting up squats and practice purchase
  • Maintaining profitable and sustainable growth
  • Planning for retirement

None of these articles is intended to be a definitive guide or promote any specific product or service. Rather they will reflect the stages in financial planning taken by the majority of the dentists with whom I have worked. Having said that, it is important to recognise that every case is different, and needs vary from dentist to dentist and practice to practice. 

Finance in the early years 

The right way to borrow money in your Associate years is to borrow as little as possible. Whatever your financial circumstances, this is the time to be thrifty and put in place the building blocks of your career. Save what you can……sensible sacrifices now will pay huge rewards in the time to come.

One decision that will, of course, dictate how you move forward is whether you see your future as an employer or as an employee. That is for you to decide. All I would suggest is to keep an open mind, but the issues I will cover in this series are fundamentally aimed at those who want to run their own practice. 

Planning 

This is so important. There is no set formula but I would recommend writing down the way you see your career progressing and what things you feel you need to take into account (including funding) in order to reach your goals. Review your plan regularly keeping in mind that this is a steep learning curve for you and if it is your ultimate intention to run your own business, it is particularly important to observe what things work….and what things don't. 

Start to build a support team 

If it is your ambition to run your own business you are almost certainly going to need good, experienced and trustworthy advisers. In future articles I will spell this out in more detail but do not be tempted to cut corners and feel you do not need knowledgeable advice. So, use these first few years to make contacts and talk to colleagues with a view to having in place a professional support team when the time is right to take the next step.

You are going to need marketing, accountancy, financial and legal support and you would be well advised to think about companies that provide such services as surgery design, data base management, social media and training.

And a tip. Get recommendations from colleagues whenever you can. Some people are prone to rather exaggerate their achievements and capabilities!! 

Developing and enhancing your skills 

In my opinion this will prove to be a sound investment for the longer term. The perceived value of good dentistry is far greater now than it was just a few years ago. There will always be those who consider a visit to the dentist should either be free or only in an emergency; but this is their problem, not yours! Good dentistry merits and commands good prices. 

Putting it bluntly, the better you are at doing dentistry, the better placed you are to be successful. So if you are going to spend (or even modestly borrow) during your Associate days, this is where you should do it.

Life balance 

This may seem to be something rather outside the remit of a series of articles based on using and making money. But the bottom line is (to repeat an old cliché), Money doesn't buy happiness, and it's no good making bags of it if you're constantly stressed out and worried.
I would recommend setting alongside your business plan the lifestyle you want and the things that you will enjoy and find fulfilling. Then look to see how you can use money to achieve these. Putting it another way, a wise maxim is to remind yourself that you are not simply going to make money, but that you are going to make it work for you. 

Moving to the next stage 

My next article will address the major considerations that need to be taken into account when you set up a squat or purchase a practice.

If you wish to discuss, confidentially and without obligation, any issues regarding financial planning, you can contact Ray on his mobile 07785 757782 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. www.medifinance.co.uk

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