Two Big Mistakes Dental Office Owners Are Making That Are Costing Them Dearly

Two Big Mistakes Dental Office Owners Are Making That Are Costing Them Dearly

I’ve been reminded this week a few times that there is a distinct difference in duties that a Dentist has in the operation of Owning and running and maintaining a Dental Office as a successful thriving business.

It’s important to make sure that the duties of those doing certain tasks within the business are clearly defined and correctly remunerated, because often, there can be a number of grey areas where services are performed that may be outside of the regular job description and responsibility of the person involved.

And working for free or low fee is a situation that should never be happening.

But sadly, it is.

I’d like to revisit the topic of division of practice income with the purpose of making sure that all in the Dental Practice are remunerated fairly for their efforts and toil in maintaining the Office as a viable business entity.

First and foremost in this premise is that all who perform dentistry should do so on the same basis.

They should be paid for the performance of the dentistry.


And that can be a remuneration via salary, or via a percentage commission.

These are the two ways of recompension for effort.

Hygienists and Therapists, and Dentists should all be compensated for the delivery of dental services in this manner.

Now we know that hygienists and associate dentists are always accounted for in this manner. However, what I often see is that the Dental Practice Owner, for one reason or another, does not account for his services as a Dental Service provider in this same way.

I often see that the Dental Practice Owner does NOT separate and take out his commission for the performing of the dentistry out an upfront manner, as he does for his associate dentists.

And so the owner’s reward for the straight out delivery of Dental Services by his own hands becomes “thrown into the mix” with the operating costs, and subsequent profits and losses of the business.

In private Dental Practice.

In a similar manner, the duties of the business owning dentist are rarely remunerated fairly, as they too get lumped into the mix of “owning and running” the business.

And that’s really not treating yourself fairly at all.

If you as a business owning Doc are performing administrative duties without a clear recompension for those actions, then you are selling yourself very very short.

Because low and behold, if you weren’t there to perform those actions, like payroll, HR, marketing, advertising, accounting, and bill paying to name just a few, then the Dental Office, or business would need to employ and pay someone else to come in and perform those duties.

So if they would pay someone of lesser intimate knowledge of your business to do this, then why not pay yourself and reward yourself for these duties on top of the reward you take, [i.e. your commission] for performing treatment on patients.

This is where a lot of dentists who are practice owners, or often Practice Principals in Corporate Dentistry, unknowingly sell themselves short.

They give away their intellectual property and experience and administrative services for pennies in the dollar if any at all, while assistant and associate dentists get paid the same percentage commissions. And those associate dentists enjoy the luxury of hanging up their handpieces at the end of the day and going home without a care in he world.

So Dental Office Owning Dentists, if you are doing non-clinical duties, make sure that you reward yourself fairly for the performance of those duties.

Otherwise what’s the point?

Dividing up the Dental Office Collections

As a rough rule of thumb, here’s how the Takings, or Collections of the Dental Office should be divided.

  • 40% dentist commissions
  • 20% for salaries of workers, inclusive of benefits
  • 20% for overhead in running the office
  • 20% for owners of the business, inclusive of:
    o  Dividends to shareholders and investors
    o  Capital expenditure, like new equipment
    o  Marketing [which is a capital expense really]

When a business owning Dentist looks at the division of “where the money goes” in this manner they can see with distinct clarity the areas where they are overspending and also underspending.

When times are good, there are opportunities to ramp up the capital expenses and also pay investors higher dividends.

When times are more difficult, these would be times where capital expenses may need to be deferred and expected dividends paid would be smaller.

Dentists who are business owners often fail to look at their Dental Business as a business.

That’s a big mistake.

And that’s probably why at age sixty five, 95% of dentists are not in a position to walk away from their offices and support themselves comfortably, if they so desired.

Ninety five percent will not have reached Independence Day.

And that truly is, a sad statistic….



The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

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How Your Mindset Determines Your Environment, and Your Future, In the Dental Office

How Your Mindset Determines Your Environment, and Your Future, In the Dental Office

Remember the old days in school when the teacher appoints the dumbest, least popular kid to be the class captain?

And because he’s got the badge, he thinks he’s all of a sudden been bestowed with magical powers and talents he’s never had before?


Does that situation ever work?

Of course not!

All it ever does is alienate the rest of the class, and demoralize the poor class captain…

It’s a lose-lose situation.

This week I’ve had the occasion of seeing the same situation played out in the business world. [I was going to say “experience” or “pleasure” instead of “occasion”. Believe you me, it’s been no pleasure, nor experience for that matter either….]

It’s sad.

And it’s not going too well there.

And the reason is simple.

The principles of service, the principles of Great Service, are being overlooked.

And discarded.

It’s interesting, because that same sort of thing can go on in a Dental Office.

And it’s usually the Dentist, who because of his accession to his position as owner becomes a ruler. And now, as a result of that accession, he often loses touch with the fact that he’s really meant to be acting as a service provider, rather than simply a physician and healer.

And that’s where he loses touch….

Also this week I’ve had the pleasure of living in an oasis. I’ve lived in a wonderful community of givers and sharers.

I’ve spent the last three days in Tampa Florida at an annual conference for Dental Industry Speakers and Consultants.

And the love, and the generosity there, has been palpable.

It’s a contrast, a distinct contrast to what I experienced at the beginning of the week.

And I know which world I’d rather be a part of…

So can a Dental Practice, or Dental Office, operate under the principles of giving?

Well the simple answer to this, is yes it can.

A Dental Office can always operate from the Principle of Giving.

When you operate from the Principle of Giving, rather than taking, the world changes.

It’s an amazing thing.

And I guess the Principle of Giving comes to you most easily, as a Dentist, when there are zero or minimal financial pressures.

And that’s hard.

Because we all seem to be operating from a position of lean.

Mortgages, leases, and other financial commitments, coupled with setting our fees to be “not too high” seems to make us operate our businesses on tight margins.

And when the margins are tight, it’s very hard to gift away dentistry.

I’ve been in that situation. I know it’s tough.

And I’ve also been in a position of no financial commitments. Where there was no debt, and fees were set higher at a more comfortable level.

And even post GFC, it was such a pleasure to be able to gift away treatment when I wished to.

It was a nice place to be.

And I know which world I’d rather be in.

The Dental Office floats along…and the atmosphere of *Giving* envelopes your practice.

And the feeling is…..relaxing.

It’s one of nonchalance.

And don’t your patients feel it? You better believe it they do!

There’s a warmth.

There’s a friendliness.

That’s palpable.

It really does make a difference.

It’s said that in the animal kingdom, that animals can sense fear in their prey.

[Which when you think about it, in isolation, is not really a nice concept at all.]

And in humans, I believe we, like animals, can sense desperation, amongst each other.

It can be difficult, very difficult, as a Dentist with an Office, to eliminate that projection of wanting.

Because it’s so hard to start an office, and build an office, without having to finance ourselves into big debt.

All I can say is, that when the floodgates open, when the giving starts, it’s like gently floating down a slow moving stream on a rubber lilo…. it’s magical.

The aura of generosity that floats through the office purveys itself not only to the customers, but also onto the team and through them to the customers as well.

Now I’m not talking here about becoming a serial discounter.

[Oh I despise that word!]

But my thought is that selectively offering concessions and gifts is very empowering.

Serial discounting of fees sets a whole different persona to a dental office.

Because the reduction is applied every visit, it says to the patients, “my fees are too high, so I’m cutting some off”, every time they come.

On the other hand, selectively gifting a treatment, for no fee, creates a Wow factor that is totally unexpected by the recipient patient.

Better still, when errors occur, when lab work needs to be sent back, when fillings pop out unexpectedly, it’s so nice to have a “water off a duck’s back” frame of mind to gifting.

Rather than a frustration, have a relaxation.

Because your clients will feel your aura.

And that’s *PRICELESS! *

Getting back to the animal kingdom reference earlier, there are some things that set humans apart.

And as a man of the cloth friend of mine once told me, one of those differences is *values*.

As I finish this article, I’m staying with a friend and his wife for a few days in Cleveland Ohio.

It’s nice to have some relax time, away, between conferences and seminars.

This morning, as I wrote, my friend slipped me a deck of business card sized cards, each card with a quotable quote upon it.

I did not count the number of cards.

There may have been twenty-five. There may have been forty.

But I read each and every one, and as I did, I placed the one’s that hit home to me into one pile, and the ones that went by, in another pile.

Here are the two that I’ll share with you today:

“All great changes begin in conversation.” – Juanita Brown

“Great discoveries invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.” – Alexander Graham Bell

The resounding theme of my conference last week was collaboration and help…for each other.

It’s amazing, when we live in harmony, how providence moves….

So, what can you begin to do in your Dental Office this week to be collaborative?

Will that collaboration result in an aura of generosity?

What will be the benefits?

And will they be ongoing, and everlasting?

I know, from this past week, that love and generosity will prevail.

Which path will you choose?


The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

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The Two Theories On Setting Up A Dental Office And How To Make The Right Choice

The Two Theories On Setting Up A Dental Office And How To Make The Right Choice

The World is your oyster….

Where’s the best place to set up a Dental Office?

If you were going to start a new Dental Office, would you start in a town where there was a scarcity of Dentists, or would you start in a town where there was an abundance of Dentists?

This poses a very interesting question, and like the colours of the clouds, there are probably more than fifty shades of answers.

So what’s the answer?

Well I guess the answer depends upon the type of dentist you are, the type of person you are, the type of dental office you want, and the type of dental office you are willing to allow the market to create for you….

Amongst a whole pile of other questions.

Begin with the end in mind.

Know what type of Dental Office you want to have in five years time.

And in ten years time.

And in twenty years time.

Because allowing outside forces to dictate the direction of your business will more often than not result in a business that you are not one hundred percent happy to be in.

I still keep hearing of dentists who don’t like their location, their clients, their practice arrangements [PPOs etc.], and don’t know exactly how to turn things around…

And it is indeed difficult to undo somethings that have been just done wrong from the beginning. Often without thought…

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever told in dentistry was to run your business from day one in the way you want it to always run.

When I purchased my Parramatta one chair one dentist one nurse practice from Dr John Martin in 1987, these were his prophetic words.

And great words they were.

And so I did.

From day one I always had one day off per week from the duties of drilling teeth.

But I worked dang hard the other four days of the week.

Which was great, because the days I worked were very very productive.

I learned that just because I wasn’t there at the Dental Office on Wednesdays didn’t mean that my patients couldn’t wait one more day to see me if needed.

And same thing happened when for personal reasons I chose to discontinue Saturday work. Nearly all the Saturday patients switched to weekday appointments.

If you’ve got a good product, people will beat a path to your door.

It’s so true.

In any business.

I marvel when I walk past overcrowded cafés where people line up for eons just to sit outside on noisy dirty streets on plastic stools next to busy traffic, and even dogs, while sipping coffee out of paper cups with infant sippers on them?

So the product must be not only good, but also great!

And it’s the same with a Dental Office.

If you can offer great dentistry with Consistently Above Average Service then clients, customers, and patients will beat a path to your door.

But they’ll need to find out where you are first of all.

So location and marketing are key.


Great location and exposure are key factors in getting your dental business noticed.

But exposure, and location won’t keep the people coming to you and through your door if your dentistry doesn’t stack up and your service is average or ordinary.

If your location and exposure are less than ideal then good marketing will also attract new business.

And again, no amount of marketing will keep the public coming if your service is lacking and your dentistry is not up to scratch.

And don’t I know it. My Dental Office was three floors up with next to no street front exposure except for a setback light box.

And yet, with good dentistry and a passion for delivering World Class Service I was able to turn a $140,000.00 per year Office into an Office doing over $3,000,000.00 in just over twenty years.

That’s a twenty plus fold increase in revenue in just over twenty years!

So what would you do?

I guess if you’re a little less sure, then you’d think that setting up in a place where there are little or no dentists might be for you?

Like a new subdivision?

Well that might be good, but there’s bound to be a demand on your hours.

Because you’re the only dentist around…

Or the first….

They’ll want your time at all times, Saturdays, late nights, even some Sundays.

And of course being first doesn’t mean you’ll be the only.

There’ll be a second. And a third. And maybe more…

And you can’t stop that.

So you better be darn good…

When I was looking around to buy in 1986 the agents selling equipment and Dental Practices would say to me how crazy it was [to them] that dentists would still keep coming and setting up Offices from scratch in both Chatswood or Bondi Junction [two of Sydney’s most dentally populated suburbs].

Nearly thirty years on it’s still the same story and the same two suburbs!!

Brand new Dental Offices are still being started in Chatswood and Bondi Junction!

All this tells you is that these are large populated areas and areas where there’s plenty of dental dollar spend.

And with that, it’s only logical that a good location, with good marketing and good dentistry and great service will do well.

The advantage of setting up shop in a heavily dentally populated area is that you don’t have to compete on price and on availability.

You don’t have to be the cheapest and you don’t have to be drilling teeth on Sunday nights.

But you do have to be competitive on your quality of your dentistry.

And you do have to provide exceptional consistent World Class Service.

Provided you can do those two things, that is, provide great dentistry and exceptional service, you’ll always be able to carve yourself a piece out of any local market.

A piece as big as you want to choose…



The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple easy to implement system that I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me:

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How Your Dental Office is Bleeding Money and Two Ways To Stop The Bleeding, NOW!!

How Your Dental Office is Bleeding Money and Two Ways To Stop The Bleeding, NOW!!

Dental Offices are Bleeding Money.

The trouble is in this day and age that dental offices are losing patients and customers at various points in their businesses and dentists have no idea where and why and how bad the damage is because they’re too busy just drilling teeth.

You see most dentists are caught up in the doing of dentistry and most offices are caught up in the systems of running the office that the true differentiator, the way that we make our customers feel special is being well and truly lost and left behind along the way.

Sure we’re nice here and there at various little points during their visits and appointments.

But if we don’t have a system, a truly watertight system for Wowing our patients and making them feel special, it just doesn’t matter any of the little things that we do here and there because a dropped ball is a dropped ball is a dropped ball.

Patients assume that all dentists do great dentistry.

And they assume that all dental offices know how to set up and tear down and file claims.

But what they really notice is how well they were looked after at their visit and how special they were made to feel.

My unique Ultimate Patient Experience programme helps d

Dental Offices build their own watertight leak proof Customer Service Systems that prevents patient leaks and retains and keeps far more satisfied clients.

And we all know that satisfied patients come more often, accept treatment more readily and spend more and refer more.

And that all goes towards improving the Dental Office’s bottom line.

And a healthy bottom line means a happier dentist.

And a happier Dentist means a happier place to work, and therefore means a happier team.

Because there’s more money to go around for the doc, for bonuses and raises, and even for more continuing education.

Retaining patients already in the practice is the easiest and simplest way of improving the turnover of Dental Office.

Because these are already acquired customers.

The marketing dollar to acquire these customers has already been spent.

They’re in the practice already.

And every time we lose one of these previously acquired customers it is then that the Dental Office has to spend again and dip into its own revenue and buy another replacement customer.

It’s the same on the front desk on the phone.

Every time a new patient enquiry rings your office, that’s a person, a living breathing person with a Dental issue that they need solving and they’ve already made the decision that they want your office to solve it.

That’s why they’ve called your office!!

They haven’t rung for a Pizza!


And yet a lot of Dental Offices view the phone as an interruption to their day.

When the ringing telephone should be viewed as an opportunity to help someone, to solve the dental problem of someone who has already made the decision that our Dental Office is the office they want to help them.

And that’s free money.

And failing to secure an appointment for that telephone enquiry means that the Dental Office now has to spend more money again over to acquire the next new customer.

And that bleeds money.

And its only then, only once the Dental Team realise that each lost opportunity is a drain on Dental Office resources and revenue, that an Office truly lifts to become Service Evangelists towards the movement, towards the purpose, towards the Cause, of Ultimate Service.

The Cause of creating a truly watertight Ultimate Patient Experience.

An Ultimate Patient Experience that Wows the Customer so much, that in their mind, this is the Only Dental Office that they will ever choose ever for all of their dental needs.

And its then and only then, when you create those thoughts in your patient’s minds that you truly realise that you have taken your Dental Office “out there”, to a whole new level.

You truly will have provided, an Ultimate Patient Experience.


The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

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