Hire a Consultant Who Has Walked in Your Shoes

  • by Duke Aldridge, DDS, MBA, MAGD, DICOI, MICOI, FMISCH
  • Mar 26, 2018, 08:00 AM
There is an old saying: “You know what you know, but you don’t know what you don’t know.” Dentists like you and I are no different. Dental consultants, who have both clinical and business experience, are able to help us know what we don’t know. 

The new era of dentistry is continuing to churn out low-cost dental practices, and corporate dentistry is seizing the handsome profits that have been realized by dentists for many years. The result is more competition for seemingly fewer and fewer patients and a host of competitors in the dental space. While dentistry still is considered one of the finest careers in the United States, dentist are not adequately trained in the business of dentistry. Instead, most dentists learn how to run a business through on-the-job (OTJ) training. There is nothing more financially dangerous than to fail to realize that OTJ training can lead to disastrous consequences. For example, according to my firm, Aldridge & Associates, LLC, the average dentist loses between $500,000 and $1.5 million over a 20- to 30-year career due to inadequate business training alone. This does not include the losses associated with the time commitment of becoming a master clinician or businessman through thousands of hours of continuing education. Can you imagine American Airlines hiring a new pilot to fly a Boeing 787 Dreamliner without comprehensive knowledge of every aspect of the job? It wouldn’t make sense to operate this way.  

It isn’t the dentist’s fault that dental school programs don’t have adequate time to implement a comprehensive business curriculum. Considering that the average dental school debt for a graduating dentist in 2017 was $287,331, it is not surprising that the vast majority of new graduates would prefer to work for a dental service organization than to attempt a startup or purchase an existing practice. Can you imagine a dental school loan payment of $1,542 for 30 years, or $3,048 for 10 years ($287,331 at 5 percent interest)? What about typical living expenses such as a home, automobile and utilities? As an aside, if you decide to purchase a dental practice, you should have an analytics expert evaluate the seller’s data before signing your life away — someone who knows how to uncover every hidden detail and protect you. 

Each of us could use a mentor whom we can trust — someone who has walked in our shoes and who understands the daily challenges of running a business while spending 95 percent of the time chairside as the primary revenue producer. If we don’t produce, there is no sale, and if there is no sale, there is no income. 

Every business — including dentistry — can benefit from a third-party onlooker. Someone who is unbiased and is removed from your business, but has an educated perspective. A professional consultant who has walked in your shoes and can provide solutions to your biggest challenges. A professional dental consultant who has the accolades and can easily provide you with a 10-to-1 return on your investment. There is no other investment (stock market, home sale, bonds, etc.) that can provide you with this type of return.
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