Keys to Selling a Dental Practice for the Maximum Price

Dental practice valuation is a highly complex blend of art and science. Ultimately, though, any practice is worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it. If you want to maximize the selling price, there are a few things you can do to make your practice more attractive to potential buyers.

Accounts Receivable

The majority of dentists are happy with an accounts receivable cycle as long as 45 days. Still, if yours is significantly lower, it can prove that your practice has a healthy cash flow. Upgrading your revenue management technology and procedures can help.

Location

While the real estate idea of “location, location, location” does not fully apply when selling a dental practice, there is no denying that location matters to prospective buyers. In particular, buyers are interested in the demographics and population trends of the area, as those affect the patient base. For example, a buyer interested in complex restorations would likely prefer an affluent area with an older demographic, while someone who specializes in pediatric dentistry will want to be in a neighborhood with lots of young families.

You don’t need to move your practice in order to sell it, but you will get the best price by focusing on buyers whose primary interests match the demographics of the area. Of course, if your practice attracts patients who are willing to travel a long way for your services, that can be a selling point on its own.

Practice Philosophy

Everyone has a different philosophy and approach to treatment, and you certainly don’t need to change yours. However, if you are looking for the maximum selling price, you should be sure to discuss these topics early on with each potential buyer. Every buyer is hoping for a strong, existing patient base, as well as to focus on the areas of dentistry that most interest him or her. It might be that a buyer can see a new direction for your practice in the form of additional services or new technology, but if your approaches are wildly different, some of your existing patients might leave after the sale. Buyers are aware of this risk, and will likely not offer top dollar for practices that do not naturally mesh with their ideas.

Intangible Assets

Dental practices generally have a wide variety of tangible assets, such as equipment and furniture, but intangible assets can add tremendous value to the practice. Brand equity and intellectual property are typically the most important. Brand equity includes, but is not limited to, such factors as reputation, perception of service, and loyalty from both patients and employees. Protecting the brand can be a very important element in the sales process, and a top brand can bring a significantly higher price.

Intellectual property includes anything that you developed that is unique to your practice, such as codified policies and procedures, treatment methodologies, and ways of managing the business side of your practice. The more successful your practice is, the more your unique intellectual property is likely to be worth at the time of sale.

Technology Considerations

It would seem obvious that sophisticated dental technology automatically raises the selling price of a dental practice, but this is rarely the case. At the time of sale, technology is really only worth the demonstrated financial impact that it has on the practice. In other words, you may get a premium for a piece of technology that demonstrably improved processes and, in turn, revenue. But simply running out right before the sale to buy new software will not get you much return on your investment.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there is a plethora of dental technology on the market, and most dentists like to equip their offices with the technologies they like best. Second, used equipment has a very low cash value. Finally, the buyer may be entirely unfamiliar with that shiny new program you installed, and unimpressed with your claims of what the salesperson told you it could do. Being able to point to results is key.

Ultimately, the best way to obtain the maximum price for your dental practice is to start long before you are ready to sell. Build the best practice you can, constantly refine and improve your processes, and create a strong brand. When you are ready to sell, focus on buyers who are looking for what you have to sell, and whose philosophies mesh well with your own.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

A Simple Dental Practice Appraisal Formula

Whether you are buying or selling a dental practice, the method used to appraise the practice can make an enormous difference in the success of the transaction. An accurate appraisal is vital for many reasons, including but not limited to:

Decreasing selling time

Boosting both buyer and seller confidence

Reducing the risks of practice failure during the transition

Better financing options

Simple Dental Practice Appraisal Formulas

There is no single best way to appraise a dental practice. It is both an art and a science, and is best performed by an expert. Still, it is important to understand the common appraisal formulas that are used.

Income-Based Valuation

Income-based valuation is the best way to appraise most dental practices. It is simple and easy to follow, and works particularly well for practices that have strong, growing patient bases and a history of revenue growth. There are two income-based valuation methods.

Capitalized earnings: This valuation looks at the practice’s net income for the prior year or the average of the past few years. The net income is divided by a cap rate of 25 to 31 percent to determine the fair market value.

Discounted cash flows: For this method, the next 10 years of net income are projected, and then converted to a net present value. The projections are based on a reasonable growth in costs, and then discounted by the assumed cost of capital plus a premium of 23 to 31 percent.

Market-Based Valuation

This valuation method assesses the market data of similar dental practice sales in your region. It is based on historical collections data multiplied by 60 to 80 percent. Although market-based valuation is appropriate in some scenarios, it is often considered less reliable than income-based valuation.

Net Asset Valuation

Net asset valuation considers both tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets are physical property such as real estate and equipment, while intangible assets include practice goodwill. Since an estimated 80 to 85 percent of the value of a dental practice is intangible, it can be difficult to accurately appraise practices in this way. However, this method is useful for practices with either significant tangible assets or financial difficulties.

Appraising a dental practice is not easy. You can use a simple appraisal formula to get a rough idea of what your practice is worth, but only a professional can fully determine the best valuation method and take into account all the little details that can dramatically affect the final appraisal.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Why Continuing Education is Critical to Your Success in Dentistry

Every state requires dentists to comply with mandatory continuing education requirements. In addition, there are a wide range of optional continuing education courses available to dentists across the nation. If you are a practicing dentist, though, you might wonder why. After all, you are using your clinical skills every day, so you certainly aren’t rusty. Yet even beyond the need to comply with regulations, continuing education is vital for all dentists. Here’s a look at why continuing education is critical to your success in dentistry.

Emergency Care

Maintaining current CPR certification is mandatory in most states. Many also require continuing education credits in topics such as infection control, blood borne pathogens, and HIV/AIDS. Some require dentists to have regular training in ethics, professional responsibility, and recognizing the signs of abuse.

All of these are topics that the average dentist does not frequently confront. You probably have sterilization and infection control procedures in place that work well for your day to day operations. You likely face few situations that require you to perform CPR or make complex ethical decisions. Yet when you suddenly find yourself in an unusual scenario, you need to have sharp, recently practiced skills that you can rely on.

Innovative Technology

Technology continues to develop at lightning speed, and there is no way that the average busy dentist could keep up with all of the new possibilities. Continuing education courses that focus on technology sum up your new options and present them in a way that is fast and easy to digest. You will receive enough information that you can then easily research any new tools that catch your eye.

New Clinical Skills

The field of dentistry is also transforming rapidly, partly due to innovations in technology. Dentists today have more options than ever before for treating different dental diseases. Continuing education courses give you an overview of new techniques and methodologies, some of which could revolutionize the care you are able to provide.

Changing Business Landscape

“Disruption” is the new buzzword in business, as companies attempt to turn old ways of doing business on their ear. As new disruptors enter the marketplace, service providers such as dentists must stay on their toes. Agility, streamlining, and the ability to pivot as needed are key skills that any business owner must learn. Attending continuing education classes focused on the business side of your practice ensures that you stay aware of the changing landscape and are prepared to take on new disruptions as they occur.

Continuing education requirements can feel like just one more thing on your never-ending to do list. Yet these classes are the best insurance your dental practice can have against the ramifications of a rapidly changing field. When looking for continuing education courses, try to select a range of topics that address emergency care, technology, clinical skills, and business knowledge. Your success will be worth the hassle.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

The Importance of Proper Goal Setting in Your Dental Practice

If you run a dental practice, you are probably at least loosely aware of the importance of goal setting. If not, here is some food for thought. A recent 10-year study of Harvard MBAs found only 3% had written goals with a plan of action for achieving them. Another 13% had goals in mind, but never shared them with others or wrote them down. A stunning 84% had no specific goals at all. At the end of the 10 years, the 13% with unwritten goals made twice as much money as those with no goals. And the 3% who had written goals earned 10 times as much as the rest of the group combined!

Yet simply setting goals is not enough. That 3% also had a plan to achieve their goals. To develop and execute a plan of action, though, it is important to set SMART goals. Here’s what that means:

Specific: General goals, like “grow my practice” are a terrific way to start the goal setting process, but are not enough on their own. The goal must be specific in both scope and area. To set specific goals, consider the five Ws—who, what, where, which, and why.

Measurable: A goal must be able to be measured or quantified in some way. Try asking “how” questions—how many, how much, how will I know when I’ve achieved the goal?

Achievable: To be achievable, a goal must be within your control and must be realistic given your available resources. For this step, ask the practical questions—can I afford the cost in both time and money, do I have the necessary manpower, are there alternative ways to reach this goal that I haven’t yet considered?

Relevant: A relevant goal is both personally important to you and in alignment with your other relevant goals. Ask questions such as: does this feel right, is it the appropriate time, will it take too many resources away from other goals, does this flow well with other efforts I am making?

Time-based: Deadlines are essential to keeping you moving forward, but they must be realistic. Each goal needs a final deadline for completion, broken down into smaller components. A popular way to go about this is to work backwards. First, what is my final deadline? Then, to reach that deadline, what needs to be done by six months from now, six weeks from now, one week from now, and today?

Some experts expand SMART goals into SMARTER goals, acknowledging the importance of Evaluation and Review. The key takeaway from that is that you must acknowledge the reality that life gets in the way. If you don’t make your six-week deadline on a particular goal, don’t give up! Evaluate the situation to learn why you didn’t make it and review your timeline to make necessary shifts.

Likewise, a goal that seemed critical six months ago may no longer seem relevant. Evaluate the goal to see if you should table it, and review your overall goals to determine whether it is a necessary component or something you can simply let go.

Your goal list, like your business plan, should be a living document that adapts and evolves as needed. Having a written list of goals with deadlines is vital for success, but at no time should you become a slave to an outdated goal sheet. Take the time to sit down and set SMART goals, and then revisit them at least biannually to ensure that you are making adequate progress and to refresh your list as appropriate.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Understanding costs are key to growing your dental practice

As the man behind Dentaltown Dr. Howard Farran is easily one of the most recognized names in our industry.  He’s a dentist, an MBA, and an international lecturer. More importantly he understands what’s important to our profession, not only clinically, but business wise.

You can be the best clinician in the world, but if your business skills aren’t developed then you will always struggle.

Farran’s business acumen is something that was baked into him from a very early age.

I had an extremely lucky childhood. My dad was dirt poor and when I was ten years old, he saved up his money and bought a SONIC Drive-In franchise,” he says.

“He went from making like $11,000 a year to $60,000 his first year, then he opened up another SONIC every year for nine years. We went from dirt poor to living in the wealthiest area of Wichita, Kansas in United States.”

“The church we attended also had the founders of Pizza Hut, Dan and Beverly Carney, and the Shah family that started Godfather’s. So when I was a little kid and went fishing, I would sit next to my dad who had nine restaurants, Roger Carpenter who had 100, Jim Williams had 1,000, Roger Carpenter had 2,800 and there was a lot of takeaways from growing up with these guys.”

“By the time any of them had five employees, one of them was a fulltime bookkeeper. All they did was master their costs.”

Farran takes these lessons from legendary American business people and applies them to the dental industry.

“I hired a bookkeeper when I started out,” he says. “She’s now the president of my company and makes $200,000 a year. It’s all about cost.”

“Most dentists don’t know their costs. They have practice management information systems like Dentrix and Eaglesoft, but they don’t even have accounting software!”

“So dentists go through the day managing people, time and money. All their costs are incurred in time, but they bill in units. The only thing that matters is what does that room cost for an hour and how much production do you do in that hour.”

Farran thinks of dentistry like an airline.

“Southwest Airlines takes 100 percent of all their cost and reduces it to one airline seat flying through the sky for a mile. If that chair takes off in Boston and flies to my house in Phoenix  – even if no one is sitting in it – it still has costs. That plane is not being flown by the tooth fairy, it’s not being pulled by magic fairy dust, it has costs. Too many dentists don’t even know what an operatory costs!”

But even beyond the physical location, a bookkeeper will be able to show where to find efficiencies in the practice. “The receptionist might book an hour for two fillings.  She doesn’t even know what it is, then she books some lady to come in for a cleaning for an hour, she’s getting $55 for the cleaning and the hygienist is getting $40 and these dentists don’t even know they’re in quicksand. You have to hire a bookkeeper at every position you have.”

According to Farran, it’s this lack of financial literacy that makes it so hard for new dentists and even established dentists to maximize their earning potential.

“The average dentist is signed up for about 12 to 15 different PPO plans,” he says.  “They have no idea what they are getting paid for any procedure, no idea what the room costs. But the receptionist is scheduling the only cost as time.”

When a dentist finally understands the overhead costs, can they truly see how to make their practice more profitable.

Farran puts it very succinctly when he says “If your room costs $200 an hour and you put in $145 MOD, you just sent a $50 bill through the shredder.”

Understanding costs is the key to making any business successful. Wishful thinking and hopeful guesses are a recipe for financial disaster.

3 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dental Business Coach

Even Olympic athletes have coaches, so why wouldn’t you want one to help take your dental business to the next level? A dental business coach can help you map out future goals, solidify your branding and marketing, provide a new perspective, challenge you to reach new heights, and hold you accountable for moving forward. Yet not all business coaches are the same. To make the most of your investment, you need a coach who is experienced and reliable, and who truly gets your vision. Here are 3 questions to ask before hiring a dental business coach.

    What Does Business Coaching Mean to Them?

Different business coaches have different philosophies and approaches to the job. A good business coach should focus half on you as the owner: helping you become the best entrepreneur you can be, and half on your business: analyzing its strengths and weaknesses and helping you build a clear action plan for success.

A good business coach should also be able to articulate his or her values and techniques. While it is not reasonable to expect an entire plan to be presented before you sign a contract, you should be able to get a good idea of how the coach will approach the project.

    What Is Their Experience?

Not all business coaches are experienced in dentistry, and not all experienced dentists make good business coaches. You need someone who is equally skilled in three areas: dentistry, entrepreneurship, and coaching. The coach does not necessarily need to be a dentist, but he or she should have a strong background in running or coaching a dental practice. Your coach also needs to be able to show a track record of measurable business growth, as well as the ability to teach.

    Is Hands-on Help Available?

While the goal of business coaching is to teach you what you need to know to grow and build your business, learning is a process. In the meantime, a good dental business coach should be available to review documents, advise you in decision-making, and help you get out of the weeds. If the coach is more of a consultant with a hands-off approach, you might not get the most value from the relationship. Of course, you will need to remain actively involved every step of the way. If you want someone to take over certain duties, you should hire a business manager, not a coach.

A dental business coach can be a valuable asset in developing and growing your practice. However, not all coaches are the same. Take the time to interview a few coaches and choose the one that best fits with your vision.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

5 Reasons to Hire a Dental Business Coach in 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, it is a smart idea to perform a quick annual review both personally and professionally. What goals did you have for the year? Did you meet them? What were your biggest successes and challenges? What one thing did you mean to do this year that you never quite got around to?

It is equally important to look to the future, to set new goals and make new plans for the coming year. When it comes to running your dental business, one of the best ways to do this is to sit down with a business coach. After all, even Olympic athletes have coaches. No matter how successful your dental practice was this year, you can have an even better 2018 if you consult with a business coach. Here are 5 reasons to hire a dental business coach in 2018.

    Business Mapping

You might have a fully detailed business plan, complete with 5-year projections and a collection of short-term, mid-range, and long-term goals. Or you might be running your business on the fly, adapting and changing as you go along. Either way, the new year is a wonderful time to revisit your plans and make sure they are as strong as they can be.

A dental business coach can help you refine everything from your mission and vision statements to your corporate culture and values. Branding, marketing opportunities, and future expansion are just a few of the many topics that your business coach can help you map out.

    Perspective

Balancing chairside time with patients against all of your business duties can become a grind, and it is easy to get lost in the day to day. A dental business coach brings a fresh perspective, and takes a zoomed-out macro look at your practice. This may be just what you need to step outside the daily challenges and remember why you opened your practice in the first place.

    Challenge

It is easy to do what you have always done, and making changes can be intimidating. A good dental business coach will challenge you to set lofty goals, and map a plan to meet them. You can do more than you ever thought possible, but many people need someone to challenge them to be their best.

    Confidence

Your dental business coach believes in you even when your faith in yourself waivers. He or she intimately knows the challenges and opportunities involved in running a dental practice, and can help you learn what to expect if you make certain changes or pursue different goals. This can give you the confidence to face the future and build your practice in a whole new way.

    Accountability

Getting excited about possibilities is easy, but making the long-term commitment to making them a reality is far more difficult. Your dental business coach will hold you accountable, checking in regularly to see how you are progressing. Like a workout buddy, your dental business coach can be the catalyst for keeping your commitments and continuing to build toward your goals.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

How often are dentists the victims of embezzlement?

More than two thirds of dentists are destined to become victims of embezzlement at some point in their career. According to David Harris, the founder of Prosperident, the world’s largest dental embezzlement firm that number might even be low!

“Those numbers are probably understated a little bit simply because some embezzlement goes on and is never detected and other embezzlement happens and nobody reports it,” says Harris.

“So my own number, which is of course unprovable, is that there’s probably an 80 percent chance that you’ll get hit at some point in your career.”

David’s vast investigative experience in this field has helped Prosperident grow to more than a dozen specialized investigators consulting on hundreds of embezzlement matters annually.

When we think about embezzlement the assumption is that it always involves some sort of cash. But according to Harris this type of theft can manifest itself in all sorts of ways.

“Typically we see staff stealing from their doctors. In most cases it’s money. But it could also be something like someone ordering hand pieces and they order an extra one to sell on eBay.”

Embezzlement is something that can happen to anyone. In fact it’s happened to me. Three times! Each time was not only emotionally disturbing, it also rattled my confidence.

Over his 25 years in the business Harris has seen just how this can happen – even to people who think they have the proper safeguards in place.

“You can’t underestimate the embezzler or assume that your superior education will give you some kind of upper hand in this battle,” he says.

“The second thing is there is absolutely nothing you can do that will prevent embezzlement. If I work for you and I get the idea that I am somehow more entitled to the money that your practice makes than you are, I’m going to get away with it – at least for a while.”

If somebody steals from you once and gets caught, I view that as a success not a failure. Somebody who gets away with it for three years and gets $275,000, that’s a failure.”

So what can a dentist to make sure that thefts are caught quickly?

“One of the pieces of advice that I give doctors is that the only reports they look at the end of each day and at the end of each month be ones that they printed themselves. Otherwise you can’t be confident that the reports are 100% accurate.”

If you are concerned at all about your practice after reading this and you would like to contact David Harris directly or you would like to have his company help you minimize your risk exposure to embezzlement he can be reached at david@dentalembezzlement.com.

Why should dentists join the ADA

Dentistry is a business. And you need to treat it as such if you want to maximize the return on all your hard work and skills development.

A big part of being successful in business is the support you get from being a part of an association.

Recently I spoke to Dr. David Preble of the American Dental Association about how the ADA helps dentists at every stage of their career journey.

Currently the ADA counts about 63 percent of working dentists in it’s membership, representing more than 161,000 men and women from across the country.

That may seem like a lot. But with boomers retiring and selling their practices and millenials making up almost 50 percent of dentists the challenge is to find a real value proposition that speaks to dentists wherever they are in their career.

The ADA provides a broad range of services from legislative and regulatory advocacy, practice-based advocacy with third-party payers and governmental agencies, continuing education, peer review, scientific research, the development of dentistry policies and standards, as well as, practice management tools and resources.

I’ve been a member since 1983. Over the years I’ve had both agreements and disagreements on policy. However in the end the mission statement is to represent the dental profession and dentists and I think it generally does a great job.

With increasing competition, financial risks and educational debt having a greater impact on individuals than ever before it’s good to have an group to advocate on our behalf.

For new dentists the ADA is a tremendous source of information and knowledge to help guide those new graduates through some of the trials and tribulations of either starting a practice, joining a practice, and other areas related to getting a career started on the right foot.

“A new dentist can really benefit from the services like our Career Center,” says Dr. Preble, “which we are building to be even better and better. That really helps dentists make more informed and better decisions about where they want to practice, and how they want to practice.”

“We also provide networking opportunities through local and state dental societies, which are an integral part of the ADA, along with practice development resources, and even licensure guidance and loan refinancing options.”

It’s not just new dentists. For dentists who have been practicing for between 8 to 20 years and are dealing with the practice management issues, where perhaps their practice isn’t growing and doing as well as they’d hoped for a variety of reasons the ADA has an enormous amount of information to help.

Again Dr. Preble says “for those dentists in that mid-career part, they can have ADA tools and resources to answer these third-party payer and other business related questions, along with access to online scientific resources, etc.”

Finally, the last group are those individuals more in the twilight of their career. Are they in a position to retire financially? Is their clinical practice in a position to pass on to another individual or group? Again, the ADA is there with knowledge, information and expertise.

“When dentists get into the later part of their career, “ says Preble, “The ADA has practice transition information, along with answers to financial questions and then lots of opportunities for mentoring new dentists”

If you are a new dentist a membership in the ADA is a critical to becoming part of the greater community of peers and will provide you with knowledge and networking that will help you throughout your whole career. If you’ve let your membership lapse then maybe it’s time to re-think and re-engage with this important organisation.

Additional resources

www.ada.org.

Center for Professional Success
www.success.ada.org.

Successful dental careers require more than clinical skills

If you’re just coming out of dental school it’s safe to say that you probably have the requisite clinical skills to do your job.

Unfortunately clinical skills are not the only thing you need to have a successful career.

Dentistry is a business. If you don’t treat it like a business, then you are setting a ceiling on your own financial security.
I learned very young one of the most important skills they don’t teach you in dental school is how to choose the proper career path.

Most new dentists graduate with a lot of debt. That means the dream of opening your own practice right away is out of reach for most of us early in our careers.

The reality is that you’ll probably be working as an associate for a few years while you get your own financial house in order.

Depending on where your see your career taking you, you may consider joining an independent practice or one that is connected to a Dental Service Organization or Managed Service Organization.

Deciding on which route you want to take boils down to one question – do you have the entrepreneurial drive to one day own your own practice, or are you content to be an employee?

There is no right answer. However it’s a decision that you will have to make early and it will determine the path of your career going forward.

Whatever path you choose it’s important that you not only burnish your clinical skills, but also pay attention to how the practice is run. In essence you have two jobs – improving your skills and learning the business.

I’ve been a “wet-finger” dentist for over 35 years. When I graduated it was a different environment for dentists. When I started I had the luxury of time to figure things out. I made mistakes and I learned hard lessons. Eventually I was able to put in place processes and procedures that not only worked – but were also easy to replicate.

Today, the commoditization of dentistry has accelerated the learning curve considerably. So if you don’t get everything going right from day one then you will struggle.

I started consulting with new dentists because, through my work at Tufts, I saw that dental schools are very good at clinical, and often ignore the business and career development part of dentistry.

I didn’t see enough emphasis on accounting, legal, sales, marketing and other aspects of the business that can make or break a career.

Getting these skills, along with putting in place the proper processes and procedures that make a practice efficient at every level is the best way to ensure sustained growth and position you to achieve the maximum return on your investment when you eventually go to sell.

If you are a new dentist, or simply struggling with the business part of your dental practice, then I encourage you to book some time with me to talk about your current situation. It’s up to you how you want your career to play out. Talking to someone who knows what they’re doing with a solid track record of success is the best place to start.