[Infographic] 5 Tips for New Dentists

[Infographic] 5 Tips for New Dentists



  1. Leadership and Communication
    • Being successful in dentistry requires more than developing your technical skills. Your ability to become a great leader and communicate with your team effectively will directly determine how successful you will be. When you do that, exceptional patient experiences, beautiful dentistry with great patients, and exponential profitability come easier.
  1. Fully Accept that Dentistry is a Business
    • Just like any business you have to have a really strong vision for how you want it to influence the people that employs and serves. A great business is built on finding the right people to execute your vision, developing systems to support those people and watching key numbers to ensure that it grows and making adjustments when it doesn’t.  Quickly find a mentor or a dental consultant and save yourself years of frustration.
  1. Find Out What You Are Good at and Limit Yourself to Those Activities
    • This is a fundamental flaw on the journey for most dentists looking for a fulfilling career. Enjoying your career requires that you love the procedures you consistently do. Become increasingly aware of the things you LOVE DOING and get good at building relationships with people who do the things that you DON’T LOVE.  Refer the procedures you DON’T LOVE out to a specialist or find someone to do them in your practice. When you do what you love most of the day, it’s not called work, it’s called utilizing your gifts.
  1. Embrace continuous learning and join a study club right away
    • Some of the very best learning in all of dentistry happens in your own city on Fridays. Find the best dentists in your area and surround yourself with them. Ask great questions of them and be a committed learner to what the best practices” in dentistry are. Keep in mind that you are the average of the five people you hang around with most.” So be sure to pick really successful friends.
  1. Take care of yourself like an athlete
    • Dentistry is a sport. It requires that your body functions optimally every day. Your ability to make an income is greatly dependent on how healthy you stay. If you’re a new dentist, you can expect to practice for at least three or four more decades. How you feel on a daily basis will influence what team members and patients see. Dentistry is physically & emotionally, stressful on the body and this stress has to have compensation.  Make sure you give your body exercise and sleep compensation to this stress of everyday dentistry.  You will be glad you did.
While dental school provides a good base and skill set for starting out your dental career, furthering your education and understanding of the business world will allow you to reach and exceed the goals you set into place. Dentistry is consistently ranked one of the top professions in the United States. But in order for you to fully enjoy it the top profession, you have to have the best thinking and disciplines.  Using a dental practice consultant such as those at ACT Dental who are committed to improving your thinking and disciplines so that you have a  better practice and a better life. Check out ACTdental.com to find the perfect solution for you for a long healthy and profitable career that you love.

Oct 18, 2017 No Comments
What’s a paper plate worth?

What’s a paper plate worth?

Better Life

Looking for a simple way to inspire your team? See how this simple paper plate can transform how your team feels about themselves and each other. Learn how you can improve morale and add insight you didn’t have previously about the people around you. Take a peek at what we learned about this exercise at a recent ACT Dental event that transformed an entire room of several hundred strangers.

Oct 11, 2017 No Comments
It’s Over for Dentists…

It’s Over for Dentists…

Better Life

If you didn’t happen to see this recent development in dental technology, I wanted to go ahead and share it with all of you. Many people who watched this video are predicting the end for dentists and the ultimate commoditization of this great profession. Check it out:

When I was in Switzerland speaking to an amazing Study Club many years ago, a wonderful dentist by the name of Dr. Carlo Marinello shared an interesting concept with me – that dentists would eventually stop delivering treatment and some kind of machine would take over. In short, dentists would stop doing procedures altogether. He believed a robotic disruption like this would lead to more accurate and efficient dentistry. And in the longer term there would come a day in which digital technology takes over most of the treatment planning and delivery process as well.

I was horrified when he shared this thought with me. But in the same breath, he shared something else just as profound, “The world will always need a skilled dentist to supervise and care for people as a professional. The world will also need great leaders who know how to make a dental practice profitable as technology disrupts it.”

Spot on.

It’s hard not to notice the technological advancements in dentistry. Some of the greatest thought leaders and agents of change, like Dr. Christian Coachman of the DSD movement, are absolutely mind-blowing. Now we have the ability to virtually treatment plan an entire case and predict what the finished result will look like before we even begin. Many of us thought this would never be possible in our lifetime. With this technology, the predictability of great restorative dentistry is skyrocketing. On top of that, it’s also very cool to watch. How could anyone argue?

Dentistry has changed more in the last 5 years than it has in the last 50 years. You are probably wondering if that pace will continue, and ultimately, how it will affect your future as a dentist. If you listen to the wrong people, many will tell you the road ahead doesn’t look good. But I want you to keep in mind…

The End Has Always Been Near for Dentists

If you’ve been in this great profession as long as I have (which is more than 20 years), you have heard top influencers in dentistry consistently predict that the future for dentists is bleak and quite possibly…OVER.

This was before my time, but some of you might also remember the invention of fluoride. Fluoridation started as a research project in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. Later, the program expanded to New York state and then spread rapidly through the rest of the 1960’s. In the years that followed, many predicted dentists would soon be rendered useless. The research showed that fluoride significantly reduced cavities thus limiting the occurrence of dental disease. Of course, deductive reasoning would help us understand that the global need for dentists would just slowly evaporate. However, at the same time, sugar consumption in the United States went up by 700%, and so in the end, the dental profession remained entirely relevant.

Even Some of the Leaders of Dentistry Predicted it Was Over

I remember going to seminars more than 20 years ago and some of the greatest minds in dentistry (who are still out speaking today) were predicting that PPOs would completely disappear along with fee-for-service. That never happened. I wonder why?

Dentistry is Number One… Again!

In the middle of all these predictions, the dental profession has consistently risen to the top as one of the best careers in the United States. And I’m not just talking about the best careers in healthcare, but relative to any possible job you could hold the United States. It has been consistently ranked in the top 10 for the past several years and in 2017, the NUMBER ONE job you could have in the United States was General Dentist. Being an Orthodontist ranked #5 and being an Oral Surgeon ranked #9. Think about those statistics, three of the TOP 10 jobs you can hold in United States today are in dentistry. Sounds like a profession that’s thriving to me.

If you examine the data even further you’ll find some amazing and even shocking details. Dentistry has a .1% unemployment rate, which means if you’re a dentist, and you can’t find a job, you have major issues. The need for professionals to examine our teeth, fill and – gulp – refill our cavities isn’t fading. And because more people want cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening to attain that pearly smile, the demand for dentists is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of 18 percent between 2014 and 2024, with 23,300 new openings. A comfortable salary, low unemployment rate, and appealing work-life balance means dentistry will remain at the top of the best jobs list for years to come.

Dentists are Also Extremely Stable Business Owners

Dentists outside the 5 year window of new ownership have widely established themselves as very stable business operators in the United States. Established dentists have a 0.5% failure rate on their dental lending notes – unheard of in any sector. The latest published numbers also indicate NEW DENTISTS have a lending note failure rate of just 2.1% during their first five years of ownership, whether purchasing an existing practice or starting from scratch. When compared with other business start-ups that experience a failure TEN TIMES greater than dentists, this is even more astounding. On top of all that, dentistry is now ranked the fifth most profitable industry in the United States. As the data is clearly shows, dentistry is a fulfilling, thriving, stable, and profitable business no matter what changes come our way.

Fear Sells

This wonderful profession that we all enjoy so much is constantly barraged with a thread that taints its future. That thread is fear. What you have to understand is, FEAR SELLS. Fear motivates people. Fear gets people to take action when they might not want to.

There’s no greater evidence of this than when people hypothesize about the influence of DSOs and mid-level providers in the industry and how they will impact the future of private care dentistry. Private care dentists will always be busy. Even some of the top minds in the DSO world agree there will always be a market for the private care dentist. Dr. Rick Workman, the CEO of Heartland Dental (arguably the top person in the space) said in a recent Dentaltown article, “It is my belief that half of all dentists will be affiliated with a DSO-supported practice – the companies often mislabeled as “corporate” dentistry. If that belief does come true, I do not think the cause will be dental support organizations (DSOs) “taking over” private practices to gain control over the dental industry. My belief is that DSOs simply recognize the current face(s) of dentistry and are responding to the realities of the marketplace. I think DSOs are a valuable model for modern times.”

Think about this. It’s 2017 and Dr. Workman doesn’t expect his prediction to reach its fulfillment until 2037. What should the rest of us do? Quit? Or better yet, do you love being in the 50th percentile? The answer is NO. And if you are reading this my guess is that you’re not subscribing to the bottom or the middle. Your efforts are focused on being in the top 10% of your profession.

Heck, we expect our kids to aim higher than being just average don’t we? Why should we expect any less from ourselves.

Dentistry (or any Quality Business for that Matter) is about People and Experience

The bottom line is dentistry will always be about PEOPLE. It will always be a business that serves people. While no one person can predict exactly how technology will influence the future of dentistry, one thing is for sure, building a business requires that you create value for other humans. Building a thriving dental practice that asks patients to reach into their pockets and invest their discretionary income on dentistry requires an exceptional focus people skills and customer experience.

No matter what technology holds for the future, dentists will be busy and profitable for as long as you can imagine. There will ALWAYS be a need for a great dentist. As a matter of fact, this need will only INCREASE. One of the biggest challenges this world has is the aging population. By the year 2050, for the first time in history, seniors older than 60 will outnumber children younger than 15. My prediction is that they will all have to eat. And when they can’t, they will have to find a dentist. Rest assured, your office will continue to be very busy.

Dentists will continue to thrive and make positive influences on people’s lives no matter what technology introduces to this great profession. Keep in mind that any business, even yours, is about finding and growing great people and giving them an amazing experience before we better serve them with technology.

So the next time you see a huge disruption in dentistry and hear someone say it’s over for dentists just say to yourself – “No, it’s not…GAME ON!”

You’ll be happy you did.

Feeling overwhelmed and not so optimistic about your future as a dentist? That’s a huge problem. Your thinking has to be clear about your business and how it impacts everyone it serves. If you’re struggling with this, we can already imagine things are not well in your practice. You have the opportunity to change this. Feel free to give us a call, we are always here to help. Nothing gives the ACT Dental Team greater satisfaction than seeing an amazing dentist realize their potential, improve their practice and have a better life. Remember you only get one shot at this life. If you do it right…it’s all you need. Click here to schedule a completely confidential consultation.

Oct 4, 2017 No Comments
3 Questions Every Dentist Should Ask Before Hiring a Dental Consultant

3 Questions Every Dentist Should Ask Before Hiring a Dental Consultant


Many dentists stress greatly over the idea of hiring a dental consultant to help them improve the conditions and culture in their practices. And they should. It is a very big decision.

Think about it, you are going to bring in a stranger (from the outside) to help you improve the business that you, your team members, and their dependents rely on. They are going to advise you and your team on how to do what you do every day – and make it better over time. They are going to be with you for many months, sometimes even years. It’s a big investment of time, mental energy, and financial resources. The key is to make an informed decision from the beginning.

Making a bad investment could spell disaster, or you might have to spend years trying to re-wire that experience in your office. Worse yet, bringing in the wrong advisor could send you into a negative spiral whenever you hear the word “consultant” – a reminder of the investment and how it didn’t pay off. This could also lead to putting yourself in an infinite holding pattern of “figuring it out on your own.”

The best performers know that you can never figure it out on your own. As human beings we are designed to only reach our potential with the help of others. It is impossible to be a successful hermit. They don’t exist.

Investing in the right consultant can change the game for you forever. Better yet, a one or two-year investment into the right consultant can produce year over year results that could compound ROI well into the millions and, more importantly, give you more time for the things that matter most – like your family.

Some of the very best in this business scream about the importance of finding the right consultant. Like Dr. Howard Farran who says “If you’re burned out, there’s a good reason you’re burned out, and nine times out of 10, it’s because of something you’re doing (or not doing). If you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s time to hire a coach, and if you’re not taking care of your business, it’s time to hire a consultant.”

But how do you pick the right one?

If you are just starting out in practice, you have probably been to a few seminars or you’ve heard about a few really good consultants. And it’s true there are lots of really good ones out there. We have learned so much from a great number of them. As a matter of fact, in 20 years of passionately working to serve this profession we love so much, I would go as far to say there are VERY FEW BAD CONSULTANTS. Its honestly hard to find them if you hang around long enough. I truly believe there are only BAD FITS.

Let me explain….

If you meet a dental consultant that has worked in dentistry more than 10 years and has a robust client list and strong references, I can already tell you that they really know what they are doing. It’s the dental consultants that have been around for less than 10 years that make huge promises to so many dentists and then, a year later, they disappear. If you have been in practice for more than a decade you know that to be true. They come and go sometimes before we even really get to know their names, but the ones that stay have learned a methodology for predicting success, they know how to help develop leaders within the practice, not just find more new patients and increase production. They have learned from their clients as much as their clients have learned from them. They understand how to build a business, how to lead people, and how to build a reputation that matters. They aren’t in it just for the money, they are in it for the right reasons – and it shows when you work with them.

A Good Fit

When you hire a dental consultant and the effort fails, it usually comes down to a failure of fit. And yes we ourselves have even had some fit fails. They are not fun, but every time it happens, we learn from it. To make a mistake a few times is frustrating, but to repeat it is insanity. Every time a relationship fails, it usually comes back to one thing – it wasn’t a good fit – for US and for THEM.

Think about it. You could apply this to any relationship. Especially the doctor patient relationship. When complex restorative cases fail, it usually isn’t your skills or treatment planning that went wrong. What it comes down to (most of the time) is that you invested time and resources into the wrong person. Your core values didn’t match up with the patient. Those are always your least favorite patients.

If you practice dentistry long enough, you learn the most painful and consistent lesson. Working with the WRONG PATIENT never turns out RIGHT. Putting a burr to a tooth on a patient who is clearly the wrong patient for your office is NEVER a good idea. You will always pay a price. Maybe not in dollars, but maybe in stomach lining. And what’s worse is that, as you see the burr spinning and getting closer to the enamel, you are telling yourself, “I probably shouldn’t do this. I don’t even like this person.” And you’re probably right.

Finding the right match requires that it is truly a MATCH. Often times dentists don’t stop to really examine the relationship and ask the really critical questions before they get started. Better questions always provide better answers. They provide more insight and more mutual understanding. Here are 3 great questions for dentists to ask before considering help from the outside:


3 Critical Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Dental Consultant:

1. Do you really understand ME as a dentist and MY WHOLE STORY?

You story is truly yours. It’s the main reason you are going to do anything. It’s the WHY behind all of the WHOs, HOWs, WHATs, WHEREs and WHENs. Working with the right consultant requires they understand who you truly are and all of the variables within your business that make it tick. An expert who understands you can apply their acquired knowledge to your unique situation and recommend “best practices” in a way that coincides with your vision. Your team will also better support an outside expert who subscribes to the theory “seek first to understand before being understood.” Hiring the right fit as a dental consultant requires seeking the expert that best knows you.

2. Do our core values MATCH UP?

This is a very big one. After question number one has been satisfied, make sure that question number 2 truly matches up with who you are. There are many different experts on how to grow a dental practice. Again, all of them very good at what they do. Be sure that you are clear about what your core values are and how you want to experience yourself in dentistry. There are many experts that will teach you to expand your hours (into the evening and weekends) to drive revenue and patient numbers. They are very good at teaching this model. And I will say that it works brilliantly. The only challenge you have to be careful of is that you are serving A specific group of people based on 2 principles: you are convenient and less expensive than other dentists. Other Consultants teach a high quality work-life balance approach in which you choose the hours you want to work and build a business that works within those hours. Your team is trained at a world-class level and they help patients understand why they have to come into your practice during the hours you work. Again, neither is right or wrong you just have to pick the right one that fits with your core values. Take some time to truly define what success means on both sides. Make sure your definition of practice success matches with the expert you choose.

3. Do you and your team really LOOK FORWARD to working with them?

This is also another big one. Just because you like a particular expert doesn’t mean everyone will. Energy is a very big deal in your practice. The worst thing to do is to bring an outsider in that makes everyone roll their eyes when they think of them. Make sure that the person, the advice they bring, the energy they facilitate, the approach they use, and the calls you have with them all add up to an experience that you and your team look forward to. If you aren’t excited and your team is an excited about the road ahead you can kind of predict where it ends. Enough said on this one.

Still struggling with a more specific way to select the right dental consultant to help you with your practice? Download this scorecard to use as your checklist before making a big decision for you and your team.

13 Point Scorecard for Dental Consulting

Use this scorecard to rate 13 key capabilities before hiring your next dental consultant – so your investment isn’t a total loss.

Sep 26, 2017 No Comments
Why Your Patients Should Never Come First

Why Your Patients Should Never Come First


Speakers and Consultants have said for years in lectures and workshops that “Patients Come First.” I get it. As health care providers, we want our patients to feel like they are very well taken care of, that they are important, and that we truly care about them as people. We start to believe that people feeling this way about our practices is crucial to survival.

It’s an alarming thought but totally not true.

The essence of a great dental practice is knowing the order of your energy and attention. You can’t put it everywhere. You will feel exhausted when you do. You have to put it in one primary place. That one place has to give you the return you have always dreamed. And no one place gives you a greater return than when you put your energy into the people that work within your business.

The problem with the PATIENTS COME FIRST thinking you hear all the time is that you never truly reach your potential in business. You will always hit a ceiling with this thinking. It is only when your thinking changes that those ceilings disappear. And let’s face it, when you think that PATIENTS COME FIRST, it implies that everything else comes second.

The hardest job we have as dental consultants is to influence the dentists we coach into better thinking. The quality of a leader’s thoughts influence everything around them. If the thinking is off, so is every other motion of the business. You see schedules that are a mess, unhappy patients, financial pressures, turnover, and very unhappy dentists that ultimately go home as very unhappy spouses and parents.

When we can get a dentist’s thinking about his or her practice to improve, everything transforms in a very short period of time. Things get better fast. Dentists will call us and say, “This is crazy! I just had my largest month ever, and if you can believe it, I worked fewer hours.” There is no better recipe for better results than to start with better thinking.

When your thinking is poor, no recipe, system or script brings a better result. You are stuck. Your practice is stuck. And your team is stuck. Quite possibly forever. And with that, everyone’s confidence slowly deteriorates.

The truth of great results is great thinking. And great thinking starts with the idea that PATIENTS SHOULD ALWAYS COME SECOND. When you put your TEAM FIRST and then your PATIENTS SECOND, your team members can make your patients’ feel first in a way that you can never make them feel first. As a dentist you could try to put the behavioral, technical, financial, and emotional needs of a patient first, but you will die trying. When you put your TEAM MEMBERS FIRST and you truly care for them in an authentic way it sends a viral, radiant message to everyone that comes in contact with your practice. When you as a dentist can authentically say “I love these people like my family” it transforms everything you do and everything your patients experience.

This same thinking has a dramatic effect on your family. When a parent puts their spouse first and their kids second, everyone knows the order of focus and attention, and the expression of love is multiplied by the entire family unit in greater ways than you could ever imagine.

Your Greatest Marketing Asset

Dentists around the world are looking for a competitive edge to differentiate their private practices against the larger DSOs and increasing competition with patients’ discretionary spending. Their thinking naturally goes to marketing, maybe social media, facebook ads, improving technology, and maybe lessening their fees or participating with more insurances to get patients approval to grow their practices. Try all those as you may, you will never find a bigger return than investing in your single greatest marketing asset — YOUR TEAM.

When I speak to dental audiences around the world I will ask this question:

“How important is it to have a great team?” They usually look at me with that bewildered look. They move their head to one side and raise their eyebrows and say, “What do you mean?” And then I ask them. “Let’s put some data to it. Give me a number. On a scale from 1 to 10 how important is it to have a great team in a great dental practice? (10 being critical and 1 being not that important). Is it a 7, is it a 6, or is it a 9?” I had one person at our most recent ACTivate workshop say, “IT’S A 12!”

They couldn’t be more accurate.

Conversely, I’ve never heard any dentist say, “I have an amazing practice and I really don’t need a great team. I go in every morning and turn on the computers myself, I answer my own phones, I do my own intake sheets, I do my own hygiene, I pour my own models, I do all my own financial arrangements, and oh by the way, I do my own dentistry too.”

The quality of your practice is in direct proportion of the quality of your thinking around your people. When dentists say “I can’t find great people” you can already tell where their challenges exist.

Running a great dental practice requires you to step back and take a look at how you think about your people. As a restorative dentist or specialist you can only go farther when you let go and allow others to grow. We always say “you have to let go to grow.” Which requires that you first care and believe in your people. Give them the opportunity to step into roles and greater leadership within your practice so that they can take some of those responsibilities away from you and let you focus only on what you do best.

Your goal is to figure out the one most important thing to put your energy into within the walls of your practice. You could argue with me about what that could be, but I will shorten your learning curve if you can buy into this:

There’s no greater asset than the people you have working with you.

Disagreements arise all the time about how difficult is to find great team members. Frankly, great team members only work for great leaders. This is your opportunity. Be the kind of practice that great team members would want to work for. Differentiate your practice from everybody else by making it the greatest place to work. Make engagement a super high priority.

Dentist come up to me and say I get this. But how do I do this?

Here are the 4 ways to predictably create a great team and keep them over a lifetime:

  1. Get super clear about your core values. This is the single most important exercise you will ever doing business. It’s the DNA in which you see your business and how you serve people. Your core values never change. They are reflection of who you are and who you want to be in what you believe in. When you get super clear about your core values you will find that you will be able to communicate that clearly to everybody within your organization and it will attract people that have the same core values. It will make your ability to communicate with your team effortless and exciting. Don’t make this any more difficult than it needs to be. Your least favorite employees don’t have the same core values. It’s that simple. When you find the right people that have the same core values they will start to attract great patients that have similar core values. Keep in mind your favorite patients believe the same things that you do. Your least favorite patients don’t believe the same things that you do. Core values is the best place to start.
  2. Constantly remind yourself and the people around you that your team comes first. Easy to say hard to do. But when that comes from the fabric of your soul people will feel it. It will keep you focused throughout the course of all the many activities that you have today and tomorrow. It’ll be one of the driving principles that stabilizes your practice for a long time. Pete Dawson always used to say ask any dentist what happens when they find the right people. They can always produce twice as much and half the time with a quart of the stress. The benefits are beyond anything you could imagine when you find the right people.
  3. Breathe energy into the reason WHY your practice does what it does every single day. Research shows that 51% of workers in the United States are currently looking to leave their jobs mostly due to the fact they are disengaged and not appreciated. The best team members have a very strong reason for WHY they stay in the practice they work for. Talk about what you care about all the time. Find opportunities to celebrate wins daily. Recognize great people and amazing efforts on a regular basis. When you get your thinking right in this respect all you have to do now is get out of the way. The bottom line is your people have to like who THEY ARE as a result of working in your business. This all comes back to your WHY. You can see evidence of this when a great team member says to a patient, “Mrs. Jones I could work anywhere…..but I CHOOSE to work here, because my dentist is amazing.” You can tell by the look in her eyes she’s 100% authentic when using those words. Now there’s no selling involved. People are attracted to this kind of confidence and it ultimately transforms a work environment.
  4. Create a regular schedule in which you grow your entire practice. Don’t make growing your team a spontaneous effort. Make it a goal to take one great course per quarter that forces your entire team to get better together. Take the time to invest in group learning. Be in one place if possible away from your practice. You can never do great maintenance to an airplane in the air. You always have to land it to work on it. Same thing applies to your practice. Make a bold statement to work ON YOUR PRACTICE and not just WORKING IN IT. The healthiest and most productive teams we coach make a commitment e to learn together and have fun doing it. And travel to a great course when you can. Doing that makes a bold statement. It screams that you are “invested in them and committed to creating a better us.”

Having a great team starts with having great thinking. Debunk the belief in your mind that patients come first because they really don’t. Do the same thing at home. Put the people that make this environment successful first, and then watch the magic happen around it. It’ll be one of the most important strategic moves of your lifetime.

Dentistry is the greatest profession ever. Your challenge is to create the greatest business that attracts the greatest team members, which ultimately attracts the best patients ever.

Then all you have to do is get out of the way!

See you soon,

Kirk Behrendt | ACT Dental CEO | kirk@actdental.com

Sep 4, 2017 6 Comments