Pros and Cons of Joining a DSO

If you are an upcoming or recent dental school graduate, you have lots of big decisions to make. One of the most important ones is where to work. A key component of your success as a dental professional is to weigh your choices and career goals carefully and spend time looking into the pros and cons. This post is a brief overview of some of the pros and cons that come with joining a dental service organization, or DSO’s.

PROS

Dental service organizations are companies that manage the operations aspects of a dental practice. These can include services like IT, payroll, human resources, and more. While some independent practices struggle to have enough staff to manage these tasks, a DSO provides a buffer and the necessary support so that you can focus on helping clients. If you prefer more structure in a work environment, a DSO might be a great choice for you. Since many of the administrative and operations tasks are taken care of, you are more likely to have more reasonable hours and a better work-life balance. This might be particularly interesting to you if you have family or other commitments outside of work. Another advantage to joining a DSO is the higher salaries – made possible because of the structure and established organizational business model – and growth potential. In many ways, a DSO is also a good choice for new dentists who may be unsure which path to take but want valuable experience.

CONS

Despite the obvious benefits of joining a DSO, there are also disadvantages as well. The first is especially relevant if you plan on opening your own practice or joining a smaller one. DSO’s offer more structure and operational resources, but when it comes to your independence with staffing and other aspects, there is often not as much freedom. You also might find yourself bogged down with organizational red tape that you would not have to deal with otherwise. Schedules and hours for dentists in DSO’s are typically not as flexible as they could be if you worked in a smaller practice or managed one yourself. If you crave independence both in your work life as well as your schedule, a DSO might not be the best option – at least for now. However, since no DSO is the same, it’s important to look into several to get an idea of the environment and expectations. Some dentists also find that for all of the operational and technological advances that a DSO offers, patient care can get put on the back burner. For many dental professionals, this is a deal-breaker

STILL UNSURE?

Whether you are a new dentist or a seasoned professional, DSO’s offer compelling benefits, despite some real drawbacks. Want to discuss some of your thoughts or concerns with someone who knows the industry? Email Dr. Coughlin today to learn about his keynote informational session “Dental Service Organizations: Are they right for you?”.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Dentist?

Are you considering becoming a dentist but want to know more about what it takes? How much school is involved? Do you need more than a four-year degree? These are very important questions to ask when considering a career in dentistry. Whether you are just starting out or have completed several courses already, this article will provide a basic overview of what it takes to become a dentist in 2021.

KNOW YOUR WHY

Before starting any endeavor, it’s wise to consider the “why” behind your wanting to do something. This is especially the case with dentistry because it is a rewarding career as well as a demanding one. Consider what draws you to the dental field. Are you interested in how dentistry works? The desire to help people improve their oral health? Maybe you come from a family of dental practitioners and you feel this is expected of you. Whatever the reason, by addressing these questions, you can be prepared for the hours of training ahead with purpose, which can make all of the difference in the long run.

UNDERSTAND THE COST

If you want to pursue a career in dentistry, it’s important to understand the cost. Dental school is a financial and time investment, although, for many aspiring dentists, the benefits outweigh the cost. It is helpful to consider how you plan on paying for school beforehand, for example, and to keep in mind the amount of time that will be required of you. While you most likely are aware of this, understanding the financial, emotional, and mental investment ahead of time often means you are more prepared to tackle setbacks along the way.

EDUCATION AND TESTING

In terms of actual timing, it takes most aspiring dentists about four to eight years of school before joining a practice or starting their own. Most dental schools require several prerequisites, including college biology, physics, and chemistry, before applying for a spot. After you have completed these prerequisites, the next step is to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The majority of candidates take the DAT about a year before they plan on enrolling in a dental school program. After the admissions test itself, you complete the application, which can also include interviews, personal recommendations, and academic evaluations from your GPA and DAT results. Once you are accepted to dental school, the majority of programs take about four years to complete. However, if you are interested in a more specialized field like dental surgery, for example, expect several years of schooling following the initial four years. Each state has specific licensure requirements as well. Review the Massachusetts requirements for dental licensure here.

While the path to becoming a dentist takes time, money, and energy, it is a highly rewarding and fulfilling career. To learn more about the steps to becoming a dentist, your career options, and everything in between, contact Dr. Coughlin at kcoughlin@ascentdentalcare.com.

How to Train Your Team Well

Your team plays an integral role in how well your dental practice runs. This might seem obvious, but if your team knows what’s expected of them and how to perform their tasks well, the more organized your practice is. An organized practice keeps everything flowing optimally for both your team and patients.

But what about new hires? How can you bring them up to speed while including them in the routine? In this post, we’ll look at four tips to train new staff well to get and keep them motivated and encouraged.

TIP #1: PAIR UP

Do ou have a seasoned member on your team? Pair your new hire with them for a few days! This is especially helpful since they will be working in the same systems, but works best if you have a larger team. Have your new hire spend time shadowing one of the more experienced staff members so they can have a better understanding of what to expect daily. Another benefit to pairing a new hire up with someone is that it helps establish rapport and connections from the beginning instead of waiting several weeks or months.

TIP #2: ALL SYSTEMS GO

With the rise of technology comes several different systems. In turn, these systems require proper access and login credentials. Depending on the job title, some positions rely more heavily on these systems than others. However, making sure a new hire has access to the necessary systems is a practical and time-saving tip to follow. Consider dedicating a new hire’s first day to helping them get set up and logged in to all systems. A small step like this can help a new hire feel prepared and included.

TIP #3: COMMUNICATE REGULARLY

Communication is especially important when it comes to onboarding a new member onto your team. For the first few weeks, be intentional about meeting with your new hire to see how they are adjusting. Even if you can’t do it every day, try and check in at least once a week as your new employee gets settled in. You are learning the ropes of working with each other, so use this time to get to know them and share about yourself and the team.

TIP #4: TAKE IT SLOW

Finally, remember to give your new hire a chance to learn without giving them too much responsibility at first. There is a learning curve to any new work environment, even if someone has spent decades in the industry elsewhere. Give your new employee the chance to ask questions and encourage more experienced team members to come alongside them as they do.

For more practical tips on how to manage the hiring and training process in your dental practice, pick up Dr. Coughlin’s book Just Enough to Be Great in Your Dental Profession: Processes and Procedures for Success.

Thinking of Selling Your Practice? Here’s How to Prepare

Are you thinking of selling your dental practice? It’s a big step. There are lots of things to consider before, during, and even after selling your practice. That’s another post for another day. So, what are the key things to keep in mind as you prepare to sell your practice? Let’s take a look.

PATIENT EXPERIENCE

Like many other business models, a successful dental practice hinges on the reputation and opinion of your clientele. Because of that, any changes to your practice, including one as big as a sale, should be disclosed to your patients. The more transparency you can offer them will not only solidify your reputation but also provide the incoming practice a boost in revenue as well. Keeping your patients in the loop is a simple way to prepare for selling your practice without them feeling like you’re pulling the rug out from under them.

INCORPORATE YOUR TEAM

Similarly, your team plays a vital role in keeping your practice running. Make it a point to keep your employees informed and educated about the potential sale, and especially during the crucial parts of the transition. Communication regarding any changes in roles or job reductions is imperative. Do you have a plan for your employees to stay on in the current location, or move with you? Can you incorporate meetings with the new management to foster trust and rapport? The more honest and transparent you can be during the process, the more successful the transition will be.

LOCATION IMPROVEMENTS

Does your dental equipment need an upgrade? Could your walls use a fresh coat of paint? Now is the time to focus on physical improvements within the practice location. It’s important to take stock of potential areas of improvement even if you’re not looking to sell, but if you want to attract buyers, don’t skip this step.

ADMINISTRATIVE TRANSITION

As tedious as it is, an integral part of getting all of your ducks in a row when you sell a business has to do with administrative organization. Make sure to keep any vendors or other business relationships in the loop to avoid unwanted pauses in service or programs. Since dental practices rely on secured systems to manage and hold sensitive patient information, a successful administrative transition is crucial. Communicate with your electric, heat, and internet providers and work with the buyer to see if they might want to transfer the services. All of these factors help make the process of selling your practice less stressful and more seamless overall.

GOT QUESTIONS?

For more questions or concerns about how to move forward with selling your dental practice, contact Dr. Coughlin today. He helps dental practitioners sell their practices with a high return on investment – he can help you too.

3 Questions To Ask A Dental Consultant

If your dental practice is doing well, hiring a dental consultant might seem unnecessary at first. But if you want your practice to be successful year in and out year out, it’s important to have a strategy. A dental practice consultant can help you set and meet goals for you as a dentist but also for your practice as a whole. Instead of wasting time doing research and potentially making avoidable mistakes, a dental consultant can help streamline the process and take away some of the guesswork. Here are some questions to ask a dental consultant to ensure you both are on the same page.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

Different consultants have different goals. Some dental consultants work with clients looking to grow their practice and sell it. Others help struggling practices to continue on or build a business from the ground up. Your specific goals will determine the kind of dental consultant you want to work with and how they can help you. Certain methods and strategies might work better than others depending on your goals. Before working with a dental consultant, even a highly recommended one, make sure you share and understand your goals.

WHAT ARE YOUR METHODS?

Another important question to ask a potential dental consultant about is their preferred methods and strategies. The coronavirus pandemic has uprooted every industry, including consultants, so ask about the expectations and practicalities about working together. Will meetings primarily over Zoom or other tele-meeting platforms? Will they come to your practice or will you need to travel to their offices? How does the consultant plan to bill you? These questions can help clarify some potential issues ahead of time, especially if the communication is clear on both sides.

DO OUR VALUES MATCH UP?

Core values are vitally important to your practice. If you want to work with a dental consultant and your core values do not match up, that’s a problem. Values can include anything from the overall feel of your practice to thoughts on staff engagement, client and employee expectations, and so on. These components are a big part of how your practice runs and operates. In order to have a team and practice that runs efficiently and successfully, understanding and agreement of basic core values help unite people toward a common goal. The culture of your practice influences your success, so it’s imperative that any dental consultant you work with understands and appreciates the values that are important to you.

Looking for a dental consultant? Dr. Coughlin brings 30 years of experience managing 14 successful dental practices. Contact us today to see how he can help coach, grow or sell your business.

3 Business Resolutions for 2021

As we near the end of a long 2020, there’s no doubt that you are looking forward to a new year. Whether you own a dental practice or you want to implement strategies to boost your success in the coming year and beyond, planning for the goals you have in mind is helpful. Want to know some examples of no-fail “resolutions” you can make for 2021? Read on.

MAKE BIG PICTURE DECISIONS

One of the biggest struggles of any business entering a new year is navigating the balance between focusing on long term or short-term goals. Both are important, and they each have their place in determining the success of your practice. This exercise is beneficial for anyone in your practice, although certainly most useful for those in leadership positions. Consider the daily goals you have for your practice and see how they might fit into a long-term strategy. Evaluate the unique struggles your business might have and brainstorm how to approach them both on a daily basis and throughout 2021 (and beyond!)

DELEGATE

Have you ever found yourself wishing you could hand off some of the time-consuming work to a more efficient employee or team member? Lack of effective delegation is a common issue that most if not all businesses face. If your dental practice is small, for example, are all staff members working as efficiently as possible? Are you spending time doing tasks that someone else on your team might be faster or more skilled at? Have you spent time investing in your employees to figure out how to utilize their skill sets? All of these questions fall under the need for proper delegation. When duties are assigned to the best person for the job, the higher the overall productivity – and subsequently, profit – your business enjoys.

INVEST IN TECHNOLOGICAL TOOLS

While heavy reliance on technology might cause added stress for some people, there are benefits to taking advantage of resources that can ultimately help your productivity. As we enter 2021, do some research into programs that could make your job a little easier. For dental practices, some good examples are systems that manage payroll, HR benefits, appointment scheduling, billing and patient reminders. There are several options on the market, so make sure to take your time doing the research. The right software can give your dental practice the extra push in 2021 and beyond, both in productivity and increasing revenue.

CALL DR. COUGHLIN

Do you want expert advice on how to prepare your dental practice for success in 2021 (and beyond?) Want to avoid making mistakes before they happen and ensure your business resolutions actually happen? Contact Dr. Coughlin directly, or pick up one of his books to start the New Year on the right foot for you and your business.