Do you hate the business part?

Oct. 15, 2014
When I spoke at a practice management seminar a few weeks ago, I asked the dentists in the audience to raise their hands if they hated the business part of their practice. Almost every hand went up!

BY Michael Kesner, DDS

When I spoke at a practice management seminar a few weeks ago, I asked the dentists in the audience to raise their hands if they hated the business part of their practice. Almost every hand went up!

I find that most dentists see themselves as clinicians who consider building a business to be the unfortunate part of the job. They love providing dentistry for their patients, but they don't see themselves as dentists who leverage clinical skills with business skills to achieve success. When someone teaches you how to run the business part of your practice in a way that dramatically increases your income, business becomes fun and exciting.

I used to hate running the business part of my practice too. Since I didn't know how to build a profitable practice, I struggled financially for 19 years. Like so many dentists do, I burned out. I decided to sell my practice and work for the buyer as an associate.

Three years later, through a series of tragic events, the buyer was killed. I then bought my practice back with a determination to learn how to build a successful practice. In only five years, my practice's yearly production grew from $675,000 to $4 million. I find that most dentists have very little experience or education in building and running a successful dental practice, which keeps them from making the income they deserve.

Most dentists didn't go to dental school because they are interested in running a business. Most of us went to dental school because we like helping people and because we find the technical and mechanical aspects of dentistry to be exciting. Not to mention, when I was in dental school, most of my instructors were full-time teachers- not full-time dental practice owners. Therefore, I learned a lot about the clinical aspect of dentistry but nothing about the business aspect of dentistry.

After I bought my practice back in 2004, I made the decision to hire a consultant who was successful in dentistry. This was a big decision for me because I was about to spend thousands of dollars on consulting when my financial situation was already tight.

What helped me make the right decision was considering the return on investment (ROI) from hiring the consultant, as opposed to the monthly cost. Your business decisions should always be based on ROI and not on cost. All costs-for equipment, marketing, continuing education, consulting, etc.-should only be considered in comparison to the expected ROI. A high ROI will make the monthly payment irrelevant if you can find a way to afford the monthly payment. The cost is only expensive if the ROI is expected to be negative. That is, it's only expensive if you expect to lose money, but this won't happen if you hire the right consultant and make the recommended changes to your practice.

For example, I spent around $75,000 on a consultant over a 24-month period starting in 2004. Knowing what I spent and the ROI it yielded allowed me to build a four-million-dollar practice by 2009. Therefore, my gross ROI on consulting for the years 2004 to 2009 was 173:1! As my practice continues to grow each year, my ROI continues to increase.

You may have no desire to grow your practice to that size, but how much would it change your life to double your income in 24 months? How would that impact your lifestyle and your retirement savings? How about seeing patients only two or three days a week? How about more vacations, better vacations?

Refusing to hire a consultant because doing so seems like a risk is a mistake made by too many dentists. The real risk is doing nothing because it means that you aren't reaching your potential. The real risk is being at retirement age and staying chairside because you have to-not because you want to.

Taking this "risk" and hiring a good consultant will totally change your business and your life. It changed my life and will change yours too. Make the decision today to change your future and learn how to build a multimillion dollar practice. You can't do it by yourself. You will need help. If you could do it yourself, you would have done it already.

Mike Kesner, DDS, has a practice that ranks on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America. He is the author of the book Multi-Million Dollar Dental Practice and the 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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