“Most dentists would probably agree that while we leave dental school with the clinical skills we need to practice our craft, we aren’t always taught what it takes to be a successful practice leader or small business owner,” said Dr. Ashley Boling. “That was certainly my experience in the early part of my career.”
Dr. Ashley Boling began her dental career as an associate in a family friend’s private practice, and bought in as a partner after one year. However, after months of examining profit and loss (P&L) statements and truly understanding the costs associated with running a business, she was stressed and unhappy. The traditional model wasn’t right for her, and she decided to dissolve her partnership.
She was offered a lead dentist position at an Aspen Dental-branded practice in Hixson, Tennessee. She learned quickly that one of the major benefits of partnering with Aspen Dental Management, Inc. (ADMI), the dental support organization (DSO) that handles all of the nonclinical business services for the practice, was that she could focus her time and talents on patient care instead of administrative tasks.
Within a few months, she was able to use her newfound chair side time to turn a profit by increasing the number of new patients seen and ensuring those new patients received the care they needed without being discouraged by fear or price.
“I saw an average of nine new patients a day, while in my previous private practice we were averaging only 40 new patients per month and the patient base was a majority of recall patients,” recalled Dr. Boling.
She purchased the Hixson practice in January 2014, and has subsequently added two more locations. “It wasn’t until then did I realize that not only did ADMI allow me to spend more time focusing on my patients, but also save a ton of money on the backend by utilizing its size and network to negotiate better deals on my behalf.”
By partnering with a DSO, Dr. Boling has been able to build and develop a team fully focused on productive patient care and reduce an incredible amount of overhead by lowering the costs of running a practice. According to an American Dental Association survey done in 2012, the average annual expense of running a private practice for a general practitioner is $375,020. That figure excludes owner salaries and is about 60 percent higher than in 2000 and three times the cost in 1990.
For a dentist, economies of scale can make a significant difference in not only the financial success of your practice but also on your wellbeing. It reduces stress, enables a better work/life balance, and creates more opportunities for other dentists who want to own and run a practice.
For Dr. Boling, this has been essential in her overall happiness with partnering with a DSO, especially since she came from a private practice setting where the finances were unstable.
Due to her financial success with Aspen Dental, she recently brought one of her lead dentists on board as a partner in the Hixson practice—with plans to bring more dentists on board in the future.