The UK’s dental sector is, in many ways, in rude health, with strong demand for good quality, profitable practices in most locations from investors. Braemar Finance’s detailed research into the professions sector outlines dentists’ views on a range of key subjects, from access to finance to their diverse business priorities.
Access to funding and appetite for investment
Despite half of dental practice owners in the UK finding access to finance a challenge, the majority still intend to press ahead with seeking funding for investment in the next 12 months. In fact, less than one in five dentists are finding it easier to access the funding they need from lenders, with only a quarter never having had a problem.
The results show 60% of UK-based dentists answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘do you plan to seek funding for business investment in the next 12 months?’
There is a common perception that there is a strong appetite from funders to lend to the businesses in the professions sectors but what our research shows is that there is a far more nuanced picture out there, with some practices still finding it a challenge accessing the funds they need to invest, despite businesses wanting to do just that.
Dentists in the UK are best described as ‘cautiously optimistic’ about their prospects for the coming 12 months, with 38% ‘confident about the steady recovery of the economy’ and a further 26% feeling that while the worst is behind us, albeit with a slow path to recovery ahead.
Looking at forecasts for anticipated business performance, a healthy 47% are hoping to expand, the highest of all the professions polled. A similar number (48%) are expecting to tread water with only 3% predicting a scaling down of their operations.
Achieving business growth is by some distance the main priority for dentists, with 38% of those polled citing it as their primary focus in the coming 12 months. This is followed by ‘paying down debts’ and investing in the business.
Interestingly, staff training came bottom of the list by some distance, with only 3% seeing it as a priority.
Barriers to growth
Contrary to the commonly held view that finance is readily – and cheaply – available, nearly one in five dentists cite the high cost of finance as their primary barrier to growth, and a further 16% say obtaining finance is a problem.
The general economic conditions are also acting as a barrier to growth for many, with continued economic and political uncertainty not helping.