Your Response to Corporate Dentistry


Almost every client I talk to prides themselves on their quality of care, friendliness, individual service and so on. But, if I ask them to really list all of the things that they are doing that make them truly exceptional, they are often at a loss.

The private pharmacy practice has been all but wiped out; however, there is a big difference between who hands you your pills and who puts their hands in your mouth!

So in order to keep up with the Mega Practices, take a frank look at yours. Better yet, go visit one of those places. Is your practice décor as fresh and shiny as theirs is? Do you have updated exterior signage (where possible)? Does your staff wear the same colored scrubs; in other words, do they look like they are a professional team? Do you personally thank those that have sent you a referral? Does the staff always point out and reinforce the value of the exceptional dentistry you deliver? In other words, always, every patient that gets a crown, filling or whatever is told something to the effect of, “Dr. Murphy does excellent work. It will look good and last for years if you take good care of it. There are lots of things that go into the quality of a restoration to have it look good, last long and feel right.”

Do you have finely-tuned Recall, Treatment Presentation, Treatment Follow-Up, and Financial Arrangements systems? Is there good flow (information and patients from front to back and back to front). Is your website personalized and up to date? Are you actively earning and facilitating Google Reviews? (Simply put, Google Reviews are some of the best SEO you can get and no ethical SEO guy can get them for you – you and your team have to get patients to do these). Are you keeping up with your Continuing Ed? How about your team? Are you expanding the services in your office such as implants, ortho, perio and endo?

If one of my three sons became a dentist, for one thing, I would be very proud. If they asked me for advice, the first thing I would tell them wouldn’t be “Hire a management consultant.” It would be, “Take 3 times the Continuing Ed you are supposed to.” Substantial Continuing Education Participation is the #1 factor that I’ve seen that enhances private practitioners’ success.


The next time you buy equipment such as Cone Beam Imaging, a CAD/CAM machine or another unit, before you write that check, say to the rep, “I am paying the same price you would charge your big corporate clients, right?” See if they give more than lip service to supporting private independent practices (still the great bulk of their business). They should give you just as good a deal as everyone else. Insist on it!*

And, when you sign up for a PPO, ask, “Are you paying others more for the same services? And, if a patient goes on your website, do you give preferential treatment to providers in the big groups when patients search for providers?”

A particularly troubling thing I’ve heard is that some insurance companies have ownership in some of the larger groups. It’s pretty convenient to give their own guys a better deal. It seems unethical and uncompetitive to me that they can collectively bargain and you can’t. Ironically, the reason that it is antitrust for dentists to collectively bargain is presumably to have fairness in the marketplace but those regulations are a lot more “fair” to the big conglomerates. Something should be done about it.

* If anyone from Patterson, Schein, etc. can tell me otherwise (that these groups don’t get price breaks) I will print a retraction.

There is a place for the big group practices. For one thing, they are an excellent training ground for associates! And the people who will eventually buy your practice. (And, hopefully continue it as a private independent practice).