Braemar’s Business Barometer: Rising costs impact dental businesses

Braemar Finance, which offers financial solutions tailored to the dental sector, has recently conducted its latest Business Barometer Survey. The survey examines current trends and business owners’ mindsets pertaining to finance within the industry, while also comparing the dental profession to other industries.

Cost of living – and working

When asked which of the following cost rises have had the most impact on their business’s income, 79 of the 200 dental professionals asked responded that the rising cost of energy had had the biggest impact. Supply costs and staff pay rises followed, with 38 and 39 respondents respectively selecting those as having the biggest impact on their businesses. Rent increases provided the largest impact for 27, while fuel increases had most affected 14. Just 2 respondents said that they had not been impacted by cost rises, while 1 stated that the impact had been caused by none of the options listed.

With 39.5% of dental businesses surveyed answering that the rising cost of energy had the biggest impact, this closely reflects the wider range of industries that answered the survey as, overall, 41.63% selected that option.

Unsurprisingly, 90% of dental business owners said that they were taking measures to reduce their energy use.

Rather alarmingly, 36.5% responded that they had considered closing their business as a result of rising costs, and 45.5% said that they had made redundancies due to the impact. 79.5% have passed on additional costs to their customers, either partially or fully. This again closely mirrors the wider set of businesses that undertook the survey across sectors.

Recruitment and retention

When it comes to staff vacancies and looking at the impact of the recruitment and retention crisis that is so often reported in dentistry, 45.5% of dental businesses replied that they had a vacancy to fill, but were not alone, as 45.55% of businesses as a whole had also stated the same. Recruitment and retention therefore appears to be a more widespread issue, although there are still factors for dentistry to address specifically. The majority of dental practices (53.33%) have not had any issues filling a role in the last 12 months.

While 47% of dental businesses responded that there is a skills crisis in the sector, 47.54% of overall businesses across professions felt the same about their own lines of work.

The UK’s economic outlook

The ripple effect of Brexit continues to be felt and a now infamous Autumn Mini Budget in 2022 has not helped matters. In fact, 85.5% of dental businesses surveyed responded that they were concerned about the UK’s current economic performance. 88.76% of businesses overall answered likewise.

83% of dental businesses said that the rising rate of interest had affected their business and 86% by rising inflation. 65% said that it was likely that they would seek funding in the next 12 months.

There was a little optimism to be found in that most do not expect their business to shrink or to go under completely in the next 12 months. Although only 21% of dental businesses expect to grow, 60% predict that their business will stay the same, performance-wise, over the next year.

The environment

In spite of the economic challenges being faced across the board, it is reassuring to see that 62.5% of dental businesses are working to limit their environmental impact and that 81% have considered climate change and other environmental factors within their business plans. 82% of dental businesses believe that they can help to tackle climate change, as do 81.18% of businesses overall. This is encouraging as, if we all believe we can make a difference and go on to play a part, together, we really will make that difference.

New technology

Another area that provided interesting responses, despite rising costs, was that 57.5% of dental businesses are still looking to invest in new technologies over the course of the next year. This makes perfect sense when coupled with the fact that 72.5% of dental businesses stated that they feel that keeping up to date with modern technologies is a key differentiator for customers and a reason that prospective patients may choose their practice over a competitor.

91.5% of dental businesses are confident about being able to keep ahead of technological developments within the profession.

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