At a time when most dentists' practice busyness is flat and take-home earnings are down, it seems odd to contemplate owning more than one office. If you're struggling to keep one ship afloat, managing an entire fleet sounds crazy.
Counterintuitively, multiple office ownership seems to be on the rise. No, I'm not talking about DSOs and other large group practices, which have certainly seen an increase in market share.1 I mean dentists who grow their businesses and their bottom lines by purchasing a handful of local practices. They may choose to keep these facilities or they may absorb them into their existing infrastructure, but either way this represents an interesting departure from the traditional way of practicing dentistry.
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In this issue, Philip Cooper, DMD, MBA, agrees that multiple office ownership is a sound strategy, but he cautions us not to proceed without careful consideration. Maintaining or absorbing another practice can be disastrous if you don't address key logistical questions at the outset. Eric Nuss, MBA, continues a discussion he began last month and shows us how to leverage our newfound power as owner of a growing enterprise.
There is little doubt that deciding to take on an additional practice is daunting, both logistically and financially. But the current climate does seem perfect for picking up practices. Consider the sleepy office around the block-a dentist nearing retirement who only has about 300 remaining active patients and outdated equipment. What if you were to make that dentist an offer rather than let the practice go to someone else or just shutter its doors? I would argue that there are a lot of practices that fit that description, thanks to the dental technology boom and other economic factors of the last 20 years.
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The current busyness and earnings trends for dentistry are worrisome. As dentists search for unconventional ways to reverse these trends, we'll continue to bring you reports of their successes and failures. Owning multiple practices can create more wealth or more headaches; let's make it the former.
Chris Salierno, DDS
1. Wall T, Guay A. Very large dental practices seeing significant growth in market share. Health Policy Institute Research Brief. American Dental Association. 2015.