The research is being carried out as part of the Forum's Get Britain Trading campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the huge importance of small firms – including many dental practices – and address the barriers preventing them from growing.
Dentists are being asked how they plan to develop their practices over the coming year – including whether they anticipate being forced to cut costs, hiring more staff, improving patient service or introducing new products and services – and also what factors they believe will help their businesses to grow.
Earlier Forum research into the ‘cost of compliance' with red tape showed that complying with regulations now costs smaller firms a total of £16.8 billion per year – with tax compliance top of the list at £5.1 billion per year and external legal consultants pocketing £5.8 billion annually – so dentists are also being surveyed on their industry's regulatory requirements and to discover how much they pay consultants.
They are also being asked to detail the main cost burdens that are preventing their businesses from growing – a further survey on costs carried out by the Forum recently revealed widespread high energy, transport and raw materials costs over the past year have impacted negatively on small businesses.
Further, dental practices are being surveyed about skills gaps within their profession and their training and investment plans for 2012 as well as preferred methods of contacting customers and communications issues they come up against.
The Forum and Frank Taylor Associates are currently surveying approximately 3,000 dentists throughout the UK, with the results expected to be published in February.
To take part in the survey, dentists can visit www.fpb.org/ftassociates. For more information about Get Britain Trading and to support the campaign visit www.getbritaintrading.co.uk or call 0845 612 6266.
"As part of our Get Britain Trading campaign we want to discover the opportunities and issues across all industry sectors," said the Forum's Chief Executive, Phil Orford.
"Perhaps dental practices are not as readily associated with commercial activities as other businesses but they are an established profession and play an important part in the UK's economy. It is essential to understand their plans and what drives dentists to grow and innovate – as well as what holds them back."
Andy Acton, from Frank Taylor and Associates, said: "We want to offer all our clients added value and share the benefit of dealing with thousands of dentists on a regular basis. This survey can help us and our clients make effective plans for the future."
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