Mastering the business of dentistry

March 1, 2013
Dentists enjoy the art and science of clinical dentistry, but not so much the art and science of the business of dentistry.

by Michael Kesner, DDS

Dentists enjoy the art and science of clinical dentistry, but not so much the art and science of the business of dentistry. As dentists, we work hard to perfect our clinical abilities. We love going to clinical courses. No matter whether it is implants, orthodontics, oral surgery, laser dentistry, cosmetics, or CAD/CAM, we enjoy learning new ways to treat patients.

But what about learning the business of dentistry? For most dentists, this is not nearly as exciting as learning a new clinical procedure. Dentists will usually go to a course on the business of dentistry because they think they need to, not because they really want to.

To most dentists, the business of dentistry is a necessary evil they must suffer through. I often hear dentists say that they love clinical dentistry, but they hate the business part of dentistry. Therefore, when revenue is down, many dentists try to correct the problem clinically.

In other words, they try buying a new piece of equipment or learning a new clinical procedure, thinking this will fix the revenue shortfall. Adding a new piece of equipment or clinical procedure can increase revenue, but typically this approach is not going to fix low production and collections problems. This is because the real problems are business related.

What needs to change is our case presentation, staff incentives, scheduling, efficiency, marketing, systems, and more. The financial success of a practice will always hinge on the ability to run a "for profit" business.

Clinical excellence is required for success. You cannot do bad dentistry and expect to be successful in the long run. But there are lots of clinically excellent dentists who are not financially successful. They do beautiful dentistry but do not have enough new patients. Of the new patients they do see, very few actually follow through and do the recommended dentistry.

I see this situation in practices more often than not. Is this what you're experiencing in your practice? Most dentists blame the economy. The economy certainly is a factor, but the main problem lies in the business strategies.

Here is an example of what I mean. I find that most dentists have a new patient case conversion rate of only 20% to 30%. This means that seven to eight of 10 new patients each month are walking out the door without receiving the recommended dental treatment.

What if you and your staff changed the way you present dental treatment to patients in a way that increased your conversion rate from 60% to 70%? This would double your revenue on the same number of new patients. Treatment acceptance is one of the key elements of the business of dentistry that must be mastered in order to do more of the dentistry you enjoy.

What if you were able to learn how to master the business of dentistry as you have learned to master clinical dentistry? What if you had profits each month to buy that 3-D pano, to take that course on implants, to pay down your debt, to take a nicer vacation, or to retire on your terms?

A dramatic change in the business of dentistry is required to increase your success. It's not possible to keep running the business aspect of your practice as usual while expecting a change in your success. This approach simply will not work.

My success came as a result of making a total transformation in the way I ran my business. After 19 years of frustration about my lack of financial success, I finally learned to master the business of dentistry. This resulted in a thriving practice.

Make the decision to master the business of dentistry, build the practice of your dreams, and transform your success!

Dr. Mike Kesner's practice ranks on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America. He is author of the book "Multi-Million Dollar Dental Practice" and CEO of Quantum Leap Success in Dentistry. They teach more production, higher profits, and less stress. Contact him at [email protected].

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