Opening your dental practice is a big step--but before you can open your doors, you have to give your practice a name! Your name can be a key factor in bringing in the right types of patients, ensuring a steady stream of business, and helping to build confidence in your new practice. You should also be careful to understand the legal ramifications of choosing a name for your dental startup or renaming a practice purchased from another dentist. Follow these key guidelines to choose a name for your new practice that will allow you to experience a number of key benefits without getting bogged down by legal troubles.
Step One: Think Dentist
When you're opening a new dental practice, you want to make sure that you've chosen a name that automatically makes people think, "Dentist!" You don't want potential patients to overlook your practice simply because they aren't aware that you're a dentist. Keep in mind that your practice itself is one of your primary advertising tools. By choosing a practice name that indicates what you are, you can help draw in foot traffic or bring in patients who have driven past your practice on their way to another location. If you're opening a specialty practice, including that in your name will help highlight the specific things you can provide for your patients.
Step Two: Make It Memorable
You want your practice name to be short and easy to remember. If patients hear it in passing, especially if they're referred by a friend, you want them to be able to easily remember it! If your practice name is a mouthful, you may find that it's difficult to share--and that can lead to lost business. You should also carefully consider such aspects as:
- Alliteration, which can help make your practice name more memorable
- Whether or not you want to use your last name to help identify your practice
- How easy it is to write down/spell the name of your practice (hint: if you have a long, difficult-to-spell last name, it might be better to avoid using this as the basis for your practice name)
Keep in mind that you can always add a tagline to help share more information about your practice. This will allow you a little more freedom and keep your practice name shorter, which will make it easier for patients to remember.
Step Three: Research the Name
First thing is first: you need to check with your licensing board to determine if there are any special rules associated with the use of a fictious business name. For example, dentists must use the words, "Dental Practice," "Dental Office," or "Dental Group." Next, you need to be sure that the name you've chosen isn't in use in the county in which you are practicing. Use a search engine such as Google to research the "fictious business name" in your chosen county. There, you should be led to a business name search in that county. If the name is not in use in that county, complete the application with the county and the application to use a fictious business name with your licensing board. Additionally, you want to avoid any names that are trademarked or that are currently in use by another dentist, since this will prevent you from stirring up a number of potential legal problems in the future. Instead, opt for a unique name: one that is yours and yours alone! If you're concerned with any potential ramifications of the name you've chosen, make sure to consult with a dental lawyer who is familiar with your local area.
Step Four: Talk It Over
You've selected a name for your practice that you think is fairly simple and memorable. It's not in use by any other dentists anywhere in your state. Now, you need to talk it over with someone else to get a fresh set of eyes on the name. Ask some of these key questions:
How would you pronounce the name, according to the spelling? Write it down without saying it aloud. Then, ask your adviser how they would pronounce it. If others consistently get it wrong, you may want to consider a different name for your practice.
How would your advisers spell the name of your practice? Ask them to write it down. Keep in mind that your patients will be writing down the name of your practice for the next several years, and they need to be able to get it right. Whether they're visiting your website or doing a quick Google search, spelling matters--and if you choose a name that's difficult to spell, you're going to find yourself and your receptionists spelling it over the phone for the next several years.
Are there any potential hidden meanings in the spelling of your practice? Make sure that you have someone else take a look at your chosen name and carefully consider how the arrangement of letters could potentially spell something else--often something entirely unintended. It's best to do this with a fresh set of eyes, since you may have looked at it too long to be able to see it clearly.
Step Five: Think About the Future
Many dentists choose to name their practice after themselves. It's fairly unique; there's less worry about potential trademark issues; and it's readily identifiable. Unfortunately, this strategy may be a problem in the future: eventually, you may want to sell your practice, bring in a partner, or do something else that will make the name problematic. You should also consider whether or not you'll want to add or change specialties in the future, if you'll be interested in expanding your practice to more than one location, or the potential that you'll eventually want to move to a new location.
Step Six: Consider a Trademark
If you've chosen your business name with care and no one else is using it, the next step is to ensure that you're able to protect the goodwill you've built for your business. Trademarking your name makes it yours! Consult with a dental lawyer to ensure that you're taking the right steps to trademark and protect your business.
The sky's the limit when it comes to naming your new dental practice, but you still want to be sure that you're taking the necessary steps to do it right. By following these key guidelines, you can create a name for your dental practice that will help your business, build your client base, and create an atmosphere of goodwill toward your new practice.