“So how do I set up a good dental practice?”
When I meet colleagues or new dentists, it’s the first real question that gets put to me, after the hellos and “that’s-a-nice-shirt-you’re-wearing” chit chat.
It’s a great question. But sometimes the answer I give isn’t exactly what they expect.
The answer, or at least my version of it, is that setting up a good dental practice is exactly like setting up a good business.
My colleague Steve Parker is responsible for that observation and he’s absolutely correct.
So how do you set up a good business that just happens to be a dental practice?
It comes down to focusing on five areas:
- Money (finance)
- Metrics (measurement for the business and systems)
Whether you be setting up a sole practitioner office or one in a DSO or MSO, the principles are the same. A DSO will provide the measurement systems and some of the team building tools. But in the end it’s up to you to provide inspired and inspiring leadership.
But here’s the rub. Most dental school graduates emerge from the hallowed halls of their academe wielding a dental drill like a champion but with a limited business acumen that borders on financial illiteracy.
It may explain why some find the allure of DSOs and MSOs enticing. Much of the marketing and business growth is left to the corporate head offices.
But let’s go back to those factors again, one by one…
Leadership: It’s about the buck stopping with you. It’s about standing behind your team members so they know you have their back. Remember, how you behave sets the tone and atmosphere of your entire practice.
Team Building: Your team can build you up if you build them up. Get them to understand that training is a lifelong pursuit. If one of them learns something in any given day, ask them to share it with the others. Encourage sharing of lessons learned and how they were learned them. In essence, you are their coach, showing them how to do the work, push them when needed and cheer them when they do a superb job.
Money (finance): This one is important if only to ensure a smooth flow of finances to keep the doors open.
Metrics (measurement for the business and systems): This is about where you steer your Good Ship Dental and why you’re doing it. If you decide to focus on getting new children patients, then that is where you’ll point your metrics and determine your success.
Is it really that easy? Well yes and no. Within each of the four areas noted above there are multiple areas for discussion and exploration.
But those four factors are the foundation of setting up a good Dental / Business practice.
If you want more direction on setting up a new dental practice, please give me a call.
New dentists don’t often think of themselves as business people. But that’s exactly what they are. Whether you are starting your own practice, buying into a practice or joining an established team as an employee, your decisions are all primarily business decisions.
And the choices you make at the beginning of your career are some of the most important you’ll ever have to make.
When you leave dental school you are ready for patient care. But what about career care? What business prep have you received? I can tell you that when I left school it was very little and that hasn’t changed much.
I was out on the street with a DDS and not much else.
Thirty-four years later, I have 14 dental offices, 23 dental associates and over 150 employees.
I learned a few things over those years. Today I coach young dentists, so they don’t have to figure out the toughest part of the job – the business part.
I still practice dentistry day after day. Oral surgery, implant surgery, TMJ, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, fixed and removable prosthesis: I do it all. I can do this because I learned how to implement processes and procedures that make the business part work efficiently.
I talk to new dentists all the time and I get the same questions over and over again.
“Do I open my own practice?”
“Should I take over a practice from another dentist or join a corporate practice?”
“What should I consider before signing a contract?”
“How can I research a practice and learn more about it’s potential for growth?”
These are all great questions and I wish a simple FAQ would do the trick. But every dentist’s situation is different. While some are more entrepreneurial, others might prefer to clock in and clock out in time to hit the golf course a couple of times a week.
Defining your goals and then mapping out a career plan to reach them is something I enjoy doing.
If you’re interested in this specialized career guidance, take a look at my dental coaching program and I will help you match your plan to your goals.
Last month I had a great spring break at Destin 2017. No, there wasn’t a lot of swimming, or reading by the beach. It was a different kind of break: one where I was connecting with fellow dentists and sharing best practices to make our businesses more profitable.
At these types of events the one-on-ones are great. But I was fortunate enough to have been invited as a speaker – thereby allowing me to share my practical experiences with more people dentists than I could ever have reached simply walking the halls.
With 34 years in the industry building up 14 dental practices, I played to my strengths and talked about building profitable dental operations.
Specifically I spoke about the reality that cutting corners often costs a practice more than one might think. Instead I am an advocate for investing in the processes and procedures that really drive business growth.
It comes down to what I call the SPECIAL approach:
S scheduling tips that make a big difference to profitability by increasing efficiency
P production improvements to provide better care and service to patients
E employee or team member management that make everyone want to deliver better results and perform at higher levels.
C collections improvements that will show you how to reach 98%
I internal controls to help you manage your practice
A associates and accounts receivables as a tool for growth
L liabilities and asset management to protect yourself and your business
The talk went over very well, given that in the days afterward, I was fielding questions about the SPECIAL factors from many in attendance.
If you weren’t able to make it to the conference – or even if you did – I pulled together a resource page with the slide deck of my presentation, and related materials.
If you want to talk to me about how to make your practice SPECIAL, please send me note and we can schedule a private coaching/consulting session that will help you make your dental practice more profitable going forward.
If a patient wants or needs a prosthesis solution, there are a few good options available.
Although many would prefer a non removable denture solution, sometimes medical history, time and / or clinical conditions and of course expense can work against that option.
When patients consider a denture solution, it is usually with limited information as to the hows and whys of such a procedure.
For example most consider a denture solution to be a one-time mattter which is not true. A removable prosthesis must be relined periodically, which can mean they will have to live without it while this is being done.
Prior to treatment planning, you need a complete review of dental records and the patient’s medical history to date.
The design of your removable prosthesis will start with which type of material should be used, such as acrylic resin, vulcanite, polystyrene, metal, or flexible material. The guide planes and the height of contour of abutment teeth are other important factors.
Whether it is a full or partial denture, the goal is to reduce or eliminate lateral forces and attempt to transmit forces parallel to the long axis of teeth. When designing your prosthesis, consider the necessary support, retention, stability, and esthetic requirements.
When creating treatment plans for full dentures, please make sure you review with your patients the fact that they will need denture adhesive for a more secure fit. The advantage here is if they do not need it, you look good. If they do, they will not be surprised.
I recommend informing patients that ideally, they would benefit from two to six implants on the upper or lower arch or both arches for the best and most secure fit. Mention that the placement of implants reduces the need for relines and in many cases reduces the bone loss caused by resorption due to disuse atrophy.
This is an important concept for your patients to understand: in the time without dental implants, they will have more and more bone loss causing their dentures to fit poorly, causing many problems as well as discomfort.
A word of caution regarding patients who come to you and only want a reline: once you do a reline on a patient who has had dentures for a long time, you will be irreversibly changing his or her denture, which can cause problems.
I strongly recommend that you consider a new prosthesis first so you never touch his or her original denture. I find that patients who have had dentures for a long time develop a feel for them, much like an old pair of blue jeans.
To learn more about helping customers transition to prosthetics and more customer-focussed approaches to dental care, please contact me.
Dental implants have grown in use over the years and for good reason. In an ideal scenario, an implant can replace a problem tooth quite well.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal procedure for all patients. There are many mitigating factors to consider before recommending an implant.
First, check the condition of the teeth next to the implant area. If they’re good, then I would recommend proceeding. If not, I would think a conventional crown and bridge treatment would be better.
Here are some common questions and answers that arise during treatment planning:
- How long will the implant last?
- Typically ten years or longer.
- Does implant surgery hurt?
- In most cases, implant surgery is less painful than having a tooth removed.
- How long does implant surgery take?
- Most of the time, placement of a single implant will take less than fifty minutes.
- Do dental implants fail?
- Yes, about 10 percent fail on the lower arch and 20 percent on the upper arch.
Many factors increase the failure rate, but the most common are smoking, diabetes that is not under control, and poor patient home care.
A dental implant cannot get a cavity but it can develop periodontal disease. Other failure factors include poor quality and quantity of bone and putting the implant into function too soon.
Can you place the dental implant immediately after you extract a tooth? Yes, but you have to be able to remove the tooth with as little trauma as possible to provide the implant with the best bone available.
If the dental extraction is completed with little to no damage to the surrounding bone, than in many cases, the implant can be placed immediately.
When discussing the cost of a dental implant with your patient, make certain they understand that at least three different fees may apply.
- The first fee is the surgical placement of the implant.
- The second is for the implant abutment.
- The third covers the placement of the implant crown.
Your patient should be aware of the total cost before treatment.
An implant is a good way to handle a problem tooth in the right circumstances. But a truly successful implant experience includes involving your patient in the entire process, from rates of success to the cost.
This is just one of the best practices I talk about when coaching other dentists. If you want to talk to me about coaching your practice, please contact me.
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