3 years on, growing EBITDA is tougher than revenue

by Business growth, Buying & selling, Finance, Interiors & exteriors, Planning

We met David Murnaghan, 34, when he was planning an audacious practice relocation, and three years on he’s smashed his targets and wants to establish Boyne Dental & Implant Clinic as a household name for advanced dentistry in Ireland (we can’t tell you how yet).

We checked in with David to ask him about the challenges ahead.

David, give us a brief overview of your achievements so far.

In 2012 I acquired a practice and built up a digital list from scratch. Then we bought the old courthouse in Navan and with Fine Company’s help we turned it into a busy five-surgery practice. Now we have 24 staff members, 5,200 active patients and an off site business hub with a call centre, accountancy and marketing.

Have you hit your targets?

Our new patient numbers have significantly exceeded our targets— I thought it would be at least five years before we needed to kit out the fourth and fifth surgeries, but it took half that time. We run a study club every six weeks, with about 12 dentists attending each time, which is helping to grow our referral base. It became a well known event pretty quickly.

How much headroom is left in the practice?

We’re only at 60% capacity on a 12 hour day across the five surgeries, so there’s plenty of growing left to do. We’re open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-2pm Saturday.

Tell me about your revenue growth versus EBITDA growth

If I took out my 45% each month the business would run out of cash. That’s a real wake up call, and it’s unsustainable, so we need to improve this situation. Our high cost base needs to be streamlined. Our EBITDA is negative, which basically means I don’t pay myself properly. Instead, for the time being I am consciously investing in the business. On the other hand, our revenue growth looks good: we have more patients and more money coming in.

What’s the personal price for all this growth?

Right now I am maybe taking home 30% of my money. If I was an associate I’d be making 45% with no stress and I’d go home to see my wife and kids. But at least I’m getting the 30%, and I’m investing my profit rather than borrowing. The goal is to reach a point where I am making 55%, or not working so much and letting the other clinicians support me. I’m looking at it as a cycle: I started in another building and after three years reinvested in another site, and now I’m reinvesting again. It’s a conscious decision — hence the negative EBITDA, which reflects what I should be taking out. It feels a bit like a game of pass the parcel, you just have to hope you’re not stuck with the parcel. So I’ll be planning to exit at the right time.

What’s your work life balance looking like?

Me and my wife Carol, who is the practice manager, are expecting our fourth child under six in January. I’m doing a fair amount of clinical hours and the business side on top, although we have hired a general manager which helps. My professional objective is for Boyne Dental to be at the forefront of at least Irish dentistry, and we have a plan to get significant exposure — watch this space…

Boyne Dental & Implant Clinic is in Navan, Co Meath. For more information visit http://boynedental.ie

Puzzled by EBITDA? Read our guest blog by Ross Martin from Hive Business  — EBITDA is only meaningful if you pay yourself properly  

David Murnaghan presenting at Fine Talk

“Our EBITDA is negative, which basically means I don’t pay myself properly”

David Murnaghan, Boyne Dental & Implant Clinic

Author: fineco