What a group dental practice taught me

My career in dentistry started as an office manager in a great dental office. Although I didn’t even know what a prophy was that first morning, I had a great organization that was ready to teach me how to make a dental office go from just good to AMAZING!

Now don’t jump to any conculsions until you hear what I have to say, but my first job in dentistry was with a group dental practice, or a DSO. (I will ignore the eye roll and loud gasp you just made)!

FIRST – not all group practices are created equal, yes, some are probably pretty horrible. I won’t disagree that maybe patient care isn’t that great, and some are probably referred to the “fast food” of dental. However, if a DSO sets up their practices the right way, they can create mission driven, patient centered, dynamic teams, that are totally, 100% unified in being the BEST in dentistry.

I worked for a great organization. One with strong leadership, that was built on a solid mission. Teams were encouraged, lead by example to succeed. There were clear cut systems to ensure that everything ran smooth. We watched revenue, stuck to budgets, and made informed advertising decsions. The offices I led ran smooth, with low A/R, full schedules, defined experiences and systems that could honestly have had the office running while we all took naps.

Honeslty, I thought ALL dental offices ran like this.

Let’s just say that the first time I consulted with a private practice I was SHOCKED by what I saw, the sheer amount in patient balances that was sitting 90 days passed due made my head nearly explode. Not mention the lack of defined roles, office manager who knew exactly nothing and a dentist that was struggling to understand that he was no longer “just a dentist”, and labor laws that needed to be enforced (we got it all figured out).

It was the audits of multiple other private practices, that I really became thankful that I started my dnetal career under the guidance of a group practice. With nearly 13 offices at the time I worked for them, we were able to try new processes and determine what worked and didn’t work fairly quickly. It takes a lot to grow from a single office to dozens, all while keeping all those practices focused, getting amazing patient reviews and building teams that were invested in the company.

And quite frankly, the more private offices I got to be part of, the more my heart broke for the lack of leadership I found, the poor morale in teams, the systems that were written down but never followed, that dentists were “watching” teeth, more than providing treatment, that patients were being allowerd to dictate their care and well, does the list need to go on?

This is what a DSO taught me about running a PROFITABLE, TEAM CENTERED, SYSTEM BASED dental office. By following their lead as to what a GREAT office looks like!

1. Leadership is your number one focus. If you are struggling to get your team on board, look at your leadership style.

2. Your team is a priority – take care of them and they will take care of you.

3. Systems for ALL repeatable actions will allow things to run like clockwork!

4. Do not be afraid to talk about needed treatment. If you “watch” teeth, you can watch your business walk out the door.

5. Watch the numbers! Have great analytic software and know what is coning in and what is going out (and what is outstanding)!

6. Advertise ALL the time!

7. Create a GREAT patient experience!

8. Watch the legal side of business. There are laws you have to follow, legal advice when hiring, firing and more is very important.

I could go on and on, but I think you might get it. Many of the headaches from private dental offices can be easily solved. When I go to consult with offices now, it comes naturally for me to see what the positive impact could be, by implementing the things I learned from a DSO, into a private practice.

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