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31 Jul 2022 | Australasian Dental Practice

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Achieving business leverage in dentistry

By Dr Michael Sernik

Anyone who relies on a fixed wage, exchanging their time for money has zero leverage. When they stop working, the income stops!


Conversely, if someone’s income is not related to their personal efforts, then they have leverage.

Having lots of employees is what we normally think of when we consider gaining business leverage. But it’s much more than that.

Leverage tips for dentists

Use technology that saves you clinical time. Lasers? Scanners? Milling machines?. Use technology that increases clinical accuracy and efficiency. Microscope? CBCT? Use technology that improves diagnostics. Bite analysers. Electronic shade guides.

Don’t do anything that a team member can do

Clinicians should leverage the use of hygienists/therapists/employee dentists, dental assistants and team members. Any dentist who does their own hygiene work is wilfully lowering their hourly rate. This is anti-leverage.

Train your team to do more patient communications. It’s possible for a clinical coordinator to take radiographs and full mouth photos. They can have a detailed discussion about what is visible. They then can guide the patient to “discover” their own problems.

Scale up your practice

The bigger your patient base, the more opportunities you’ll have for leverage. It’s much easier to achieve leverage in a large practice.

You want to achieve 2 key outcomes:

  1. You want more patients choosing optimum treatment. Note: this needs to be achieved without applying any sales pressure and it needs to be rejection proof (If you know how to do that, you’re an advanced communicator);
  2. You want more patients to refer friends and family. Ideally you’re using your communications skills to grow; not spending dollars. Free growth is 100% leveraged growth!

Metrics to measure leverage

Your re-appointment rate should be over 90%. This will explode your patient base and this allows for even more leverage.

Track the clinician/owner’s hourly rate. If you want to spend more personal clinical hours because you love it... fine. But if you reach a point where you have a practice that doesn’t require your time and the practice is profitable, then you’re leveraged. The higher the income, the more leverage you have.

The ultimate leverage metric is Take Home Profit/Time spent on the practice.

To achieve 100% leverage is the holy grail of business success because it gives you solid reliable income and lifestyle choices. Normally, we don’t think of dentistry as an ideal leverage business model... but it really is if you put your mind to it. It clearly requires smart communications skills and systems.

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