Being Proactive vs. Reactive: How one pediatrician prepares his practice for uncertainty
Dr. Philip Chow, MD, San Francisco
SEEKING SUMMER STABILITY
Dr. Philip Chow is part of a private practice in San Francisco, where he works as a pediatrician. In business since 2003, he recognizes the various expenses it takes to run a practice and understands that having the necessary funding is essential for keeping up with day-to-day operating costs. Treating approximately 30 patients a day for most of the year enables Dr. Chow to function with stable cash flow and little worry of uncertainty. However, for various reasons, Dr. Chow sees patients come through his doors more sporadically during the warmer months of the year, putting his practice in a position for a potential decrease in cash flow. “For us, some months can be very tight when we see fewer patients. It’s variable, but often during the warmer months such as late spring and summer, people seem to be less sick,” Dr. Chow explains.
"For us, some months can be very tight when we see fewer patients. Working capital really gives you peace of mind to know the funds are there.”
THE PROACTIVE APPROACH
Knowing that the lower influx of patients during the summer has a direct impact on both the overhead and cash flow through his practice, Dr. Chow proactively reached out to BHG to prepare for the slower season. “I had a good experience and the team was very professional,” Dr. Chow says. “What I liked about BHG was that the process was very simple and streamlined, I applied on a Monday and received the funding on Friday.” While the need for funding was definitely urgent, he didn’t wait until the last second to look for financing. Along with the necessity of steady cash flow through his practice, Dr. Chow highlights how it’s reassuring to have funds on hand; you can stop stressing and stay focused on the big picture. “It’s comforting to know the funds are there; it gives you peace of mind,” Dr. Chow says. “Be sure you have a financial cushion and consider your fallback options.”
Starting Over: How one dentist rebuilt his practice
Dr. Rodney Leibowitz, DDS, New York City
Initially, getting back to business as usual proved easier said than done. Dr. Leibowitz faced major obstacles with the insurance company, and needed money to rebuild—right down to putting up new sheet rock, electrical and plumbing—basically everything a dental office needs. While he had bits of financing here and there, he needed more—and fast. Every day that the office wasn’t repaired was another challenging day that made the actual work an incredibly hard chore.
“I was hurting, so I called Bankers Healthcare Group. I was able to secure a loan in two days,” Dr. Leibowitz says. “It was simple, it was quick, I had no issues, and I was able to start rebuilding my practice to where it was, and above and beyond before Sandy even occurred.”
BACK IN BUSINESS
Within a week after the storm, Dr. Leibowitz’s office was up and running again. He says his office wasn’t perfect by any means at that point, but it was a start, and he kept working on it, never closing for repairs.
Having access to financing in an extreme time of need enabled Dr. Leibowitz to rebuild his office from the ground up, a project that served as the launching pad to transforming his business into a state-of-the-art practice. Today, he has seven operatories and has grown his annual revenue by over $1 million more than before Hurricane Sandy.
“Getting a loan isn’t hard, but it can take up to six weeks with a traditional lender—and that’s six weeks of lost business,” Dr. Leibowitz says. “Whether it’s a crisis like Sandy or an expensive piece of equipment that breaks, every day without funding to make necessary repairs is lost time with patients.”
Ellen currently works in a very specialized field and wanted to gain credentials that would give her a broader background so she could offer more services. She decided to pursue a second nursing degree and work toward becoming an independent nurse practitioner. This enabled her to treat patients at multiple healthcare facilities and maintain her own schedule.
Once she determined her second career path, she wrote a business plan. Before she could execute it, she needed to get her financing in order.
“When you want to ‘hang your shingle,’ there are a lot of startup costs you need to plan for, like certification exams, licenses, getting registered with insurances and the cost of education. I really wanted to have access to working capital without having to use a credit card,” she says.
THE SEARCH FOR FUNDING
Ellen first went to her bank, then a credit union. She says neither could fully meet her needs and she needed a better package. That’s when she took a closer look at a mailer she received from Bankers Healthcare Group.
“I like the fact that BHG focuses on the healthcare industry,” Ellen explains. “But the best thing about working with BHG is they’re very personal, answered every question and were willing to work with me. Business isn’t the thing I’m geared in, but I know that if you don’t have enough capital, it is very difficult to be successful.”
Ellen has a few years yet before fully committing herself to her new venture, but she says she’s looking forward to getting herself established as an independent practitioner in her community.
Entrepreneurial dentist reaps rewards with dental practice consolidation business
Dr. Ken Tralongo, DDS, Florida
"Working with BHG is the best banking experience I’ve ever had."
His company, Tralongo, LLC, based in Atlanta and Sunrise, Fla., partners with dentists across the country to help them acquire existing dental offices and provide behind-the-scenes support, including financing management, marketing, HR management and ongoing education.
The process of acquiring a practice can be expensive and time consuming, but Tralongo strives to make it more efficient, cost-effective and, ultimately, profitable for the dentist. Tralongo’s model of growth through acquisition requires, of course, financial investments. “When I find a practice to buy, time is of the essence to get it closed. So when I’m working with a lender, I need the funds turned around as soon as possible,” he says.
Dr. Tralongo explains that he hasn’t borrowed money from a bank in more than 25 years, recalling times when traditional banks have declined loans if they feel acquisitions were made successively. The past several years, he’s worked with Bankers Healthcare Group for funding. “When we need funding quickly, we look to BHG to do it,” he says. “Speed is critical to my business and that’s what BHG brings.
“I need a partner that is aligned, focused, straightforward and fast. Working with BHG is the best banking experience I’ve ever had. It’s always a fast, no-nonsense customer-centered transaction,” Dr. Tralongo concludes.
Tralongo’s relationship with BHG has been so successful that the two have expanded their relationship through a partnership in which BHG provides financing options to Tralongo’s network of dentists looking to expand their footprint. Today, Tralongo has 80 dental offices across the country to support the company’s model of growth through acquisition and consolidation.
Many new dentists have the dream of opening their own practice. Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities to make that dream a reality, like Dr. Umekei Smith did.
After completing dental school, Dr. Smith spent six years as an associate at two practices before deciding to take the plunge into practice ownership. In 2009, she opened US Dentistry (Houston), which she built from the ground up. Starting and maintaining any new business takes drive, determination, hard work—and funding.
Dr. Smith’s husband/office manager, started researching funding options, using Google to search terms like ‘capital funding for dentists,’ and ended up on the Bankers Healthcare Group website.
“We contacted BHG for a business loan to purchase supplies, technology, and equipment for my new practice,” Dr. Smith says. “BHG made the process fast and easy, so we were able to get the office ready quickly for seeing patients."
With her practice going well, Dr. Smith hired two associates; one who specialized in oral surgery, the other in root canals and cosmetic dentistry. As is true for any business, pains often come with growth, and Dr. Smith didn’t see an immediate profit that year. After re-evaluating the business model, she turned again to BHG for capital.
The funding helped US Dentistry do even more than originally intended. In addition to injecting the practice with additional cash to get through the challenging stretch, the funds also helped Dr. Smith to make necessary equipment upgrades.
“I’ve learned that equipment only lasts for so long or doesn't always work the way it should—and usually the need for repair or replacement happens at the most inopportune times,” Dr. Smith explains. “We ended up needing to make some updates sooner than we had anticipated, but having access to funding through BHG really helped us. As a practice owner, you need to plan for this type of ongoing expense.”
With the funds, Dr. Smith purchased digital x-ray sensors, hygiene equipment and a dental auto-clave. The office also received some necessary computer updates.
“When you get a loan, the plan is to pay it back. BHG’s terms are organized in a way that makes repayment very easy. It also helped us budget for the future.”