Start Up Tips: Dental Practice Edition

How do we build a break room that’s comfortable, but not obnoxiously large?

Truthfully, this is an area of opportunity to save money on construction costs. With careful planning you can maximize resources and still make sure it is a comfortable place for the team to take a breather during the course of a busy and often stressful clinical day.

However, even in a small space, there are simple upgrades we can make to show our teams we care about providing them with a great work experience (hint hint- it doesn’t require fancy sinks, faucets or cabinetry). Providing snacks (like Addison Killeen, DDS has talked about) or going a little further and buying a massage chair for the break room (like our buddy, Dr. Taher Dhoon did) can actually make a difference.

During any build out or renovation/expansion there is always a slow steady creep of additional expenses we didn’t plan for. I see too many dentists take the amount the bank approved them for and mistaken this for their budget.

When decision fatigue sets in during a construction project there are a couple common & costly narratives we might tell ourselves including:

“It’s fine. I just have to get to opening day and I’ll figure out paying off the debt later.”

This is common in the dentist that is busy working as an associate trying to do a startup at the same time. They start to get overwhelmed with all the questions from the equipment rep, architect, contractor. They start making concessions to small addons that they “don’t have time to think about”. $1,900 here, $6,000 extra there, $900 somewhere else and before you know it they’ve conceded to tens of thousands of dollars.

That quote above quickly becomes:

“I should have taken some time to do a little more research and save a few more bucks along the way, I knew better, but I was too busy to pay attention”

As our buddy, Dr. Mark Costes says, “Watch out for that dental tax my friends – IT ALL ADDS UP.”

Don’t let yourself become the doctor that is too busy to watch the costs.  Make sure you create time, space, and energy for yourself to attack all these things.

If you want to see how I set up my space, watch one of my recent videos here:


In Summary 

As always, these resources and more are available inside the Dental Success Network. To get a Free 45 Day Trial to see videos like the one above, and more resources from other business or clinical coaches, join us today inside the private network that can save you $1,600 a month in supply savings. 

Dental Office: 1% Gains

Achieving Great Things

So I’m a fan of cycling, and I ride my bike at least a few times a week. So far this year, I’ve ridden a few thousand miles and completed a few gravel races, one being a 200 mile-16 hour race in hills of Kansas, a 300-mile (28 hour) race in Nebraska, and a 100 mile 1-day mountain bike trek along the White Rim Trail.

In cycling, one of the biggest names in the last 20 years is a guy named Sir Dave Brailsford. He was hired by England in 2003 to be their new performance coach.


According to the book Atomic Habits:

“Brailsford had been hired to put British Cycling on a new trajectory. What made him different from previous coaches was his relentless commitment to a strategy that he referred to as “the aggregation of marginal gains,” which was the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. Brailsford said, “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

He didn’t just stop at riding a bike. He prioritized sleep and hotel rooms that were always set up the same way so that riders didn’t have to stress about their clothes and sleeping arrangements. He held classes on handwashing- so to stop the spread of germs and keep the riders overall healthier. Less sickness, as his thinking went, equaled more wins. And the wins started coming.

“Just five years after Brailsford took over, the British Cycling team dominated the road and track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they won an astounding 60 percent of the gold medals available. Four years later, when the Olympic Games came to London, the Brits raised the bar as they set nine Olympic records and seven world records.

That same year, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. The next year, his teammate Chris Froome won the race, and he would go on to win again in 2015, 2016, and 2017, giving the British team five Tour de France victories in six years.”


In Summary

So, where can we find 1% gains in our dental offices? Whether that’s 1% savings in dental supplies, or 1% gain in efficiency, when we put it all together, we can achieve great things.

If you’re looking for help in achieving your 1% gains, a great place to start is the Dental Success University series that Dr. Mark Costes created. This series is included with all DSN memberships and available with the 45-day free trial as well.

Dental Practice: Partnership Tracks Deconstructed

Partnership Qualifications

Partnership. One of the biggest decisions you’ll be confronted with as a business owner is whether to bring on a partner and how to properly select and structure the partnership once a decision has been made.

If you are an owning doc, are you wanting to bring on your associate as a partner because you fear that they might go somewhere else?

If you are an associate doc, are you looking for partnership because you feel as though your clinical contribution is worth 50% ownership?

In this clip from Dental Success Summit 2021, Blackbelt coach Alastair Macdonald and I discuss the difference between qualifying for partnership in a practice and being qualified to partner, for both parties of a dental practice partnership.

Take the time to watch this quick clip. It’ll change the way you view partnerships forever!




In Summary

If you are looking for real time feedback and direct support on partnerships check out the 45-Day Free Trial of Dental Success Network and get answers from our faculty who have been through it!

Hiring The Next Generation

Understanding Younger Generations

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were discussing ‘Millenials’ and ‘Gen Z’. My friend is much older, and we were trying to discover why there’s always a disconnect. Ok, boomer, let’s dig in deeper on that subject.

We all think we just “don’t understand” these “kids”. (I feel that a lot actually even though I’m a Millennial.) My friend (Gen X) reminded me that it happens with every generation. He’s managed, coached, and mentored many in the younger Gen X and Millenial group and he remembers his early bosses saying the same about his generation.

As leaders, it’s important that we need to get into the weeds to understand how to keep these employees engaged and attract the best talent. So, I wanted to research how to best coach up the next generation.

Let’s start with the generational ‘Cutoffs’ below:




What Younger Generations Are Looking For In the Workplace

Next, I researched a bit more into what these generations look for in an employer. I found that Gallup and other sources have generally settled on a few keys that younger generations look for in ‘work’.

These differ quite a bit from older generations, but since we’re all hiring mostly Millenial and Gen Z, let’s look at those:


In Summary

If you’re looking for more help on how to grow your leadership skills, and thereby your leadership team in general, check out the ‘High Performance Dentist Academy’ room inside of Dental Success Network. It’s a very active room that gives many strategies and tactics about leadership and ways to become a better leader.

Not a DSN member? Get 45 days free HERE.

The Hiring Shortage: UGH-Another Team Member Just Quit…

How do you reduce employee turnover?

So a few weeks ago this happened just down the street from my wife’s family, and it just so happened to grab national attention.



It came to be understood that management was not listening to the concerns of the General Manager at the restaurant level. The kitchen air conditioning was broken and the kitchen was getting above 90 degrees- causing heat exhaustion for workers. This problem seems avoidable, but for whatever reason the regional management company didn’t address it timely and so the entire staff quit and got a raise by going to another establishment.


Does this happen in dental?

I would usually say no, but in this job market….I can see it happening.

The job shortage is real….unemployment generally in my area is supposedly at 2%…which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is below what is considered ‘healthy’ for the economy. The BLS usually states that 4-5% unemployment is ‘full employment’ and is healthy for the economy. This level allows the free movement of employees around the workforce.

In dental, the offices that Dr. Costes and I talk with are seeing almost zero unemployment in dentistry. How do we attack this problem?

1. Focus on Core Values – Usually the ‘touchy-feely’ stuff doesn’t work super well, but sometimes some appreciation, some leadership, and having a great workplace is invaluable. Having some small perks (usually not more money) is enough to keep employees happy and motivated.

2. Hire from outside dentistry and train up – This is actually the reason that we created the Front Office Academy courses called ‘Rookie to Rockstar-Dentistry 101’ and some of the next courses. It takes a total newbie to dentistry and teaches them up to be an assistant or front desk. Selfishly we wanted to use it ourselves, but it’s been very well received by hundreds of dentists so far. If you want to check it out- Front Office Academy!


In Summary

Try these two strategies to help reduce turnover and attract the best talent in this crazy market.

Dental Success Network was built by Dr. Mark Costes with the goal of helping dentists run a profitable business, become better clinicians and build a community where like-minded dental practice owners can collaborate and become leaders in the dental industry.

You will find them answering clinical, practice management, and life-related questions every single day in our Workplace community. Our esteemed faculty will also, on occasion, host dental continuing education courses pertaining to their particular domain expertise, so you will have the opportunity to learn clinical and dental practice management skills at a great discount. If you’re looking for more actionable information like this, check out the 45 Day Free Trial of Dental Success Network!

The 6 Steps of Effective Leadership

Mastering Leadership

“A person’s success in life can be measured by the number of difficult conversations he or she is willing to have” -Tim Farris

This is one of my favorite quotes and one that we live by in the Dental Success Mastermind Group. Mastering difficult conversations is vital for becoming a great leader, but it isn’t the only key.

In this 20 min. video from the Dental Success Summit 2021 I share not only the six steps of effective leadership, but how to master and execute each of them.



In Summary

Our High Performance Dentist Academy room inside of DSN has more information, strategies, and exercises on becoming a better leader. If you aren’t a member check out the 45 Day Free Trial of Dental Success Network.


Where’s your mind at?

Thinking Fast and Slow

One of the most interesting people you will ever read about is an Israeli Psychologist named Daniel Khaneman.  He’s interesting because although he’s a psychologist, he was commissioned into the Israeli Army, where he was quickly assigned the task of helping decide where candidates would be best served.  He helped to figure out who would make the best pilots, soldiers, and so forth.  In doing so, he started noticing patterns. More on that in a moment…

Later in life, Khaneman would develop a great relationship with a man named Amos Tversky.  Tversky was also an Isreali psychologist, but he was commissioned to be a Paratrooper and Commander of a unit.  Through all the conflicts between Israel and Palestine, Tversky made a name for himself as a brash leader and learned that humans often make severe errors in judgement. Tversky and Khaneman became fast friends.  

Through their combined experiences in psychology, war, and human decision making, they became friends and collaborators who ultimately worked together on many projects throughout their lifetime, even while they were separated at different Ivy League Universities.  Unfortunately, Amos’ life was cut short at 59 due to cancer, but not before Khaneman and Tversky wrote many papers and jointly became one of the most famous and well-respected pairs of scientists in the late 20th Century.  

A few years ago, Khaneman won the  ‘Nobel Prize in Economics‘.  (Tversky would have also been named, but Nobel prizes are only awarded to living members of society.)

A few years ago, I picked up a book concerning all their work called, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’.  It is based primarily around their work on the two ‘systems’ of the brain: one that makes fast decisions and one that works in a slower, more methodical, manner.  Check the book out here.  

If you’re as interested as I am in science, check out their book in the link above.  However, if you want to read a story of their lives, the Isreali Wars, their academic pathways, and their friendship, check out ‘The Undoing Project’ by Michael Lewis here.


How does this apply to dentistry? 

 Well….we often make mistakes in our own thinking.  Sometimes we attribute things to wrong inputs, and thereby give ourselves more credit than we should.  Sometimes we see patterns where none exist.  The truth is, we are all flawed human beings who use the reptilian ‘fast system’ constantly, when we should strive to use the ‘slow’ system.  

In this video I discuss how we need to understand both sides (fast and slow) of the brain and use them appropriately in dentistry to have a growth mindset.



In Summary

Dental Success Network was built by Dr. Mark Costes with the goal of helping dentists run a profitable business, become better clinicians and build a community where like-minded dental practice owners can collaborate and become leaders in the dental industry.

Check out the 45 Day Free Trial of Dental Success Network!

What Makes a Blackbelt Dental Practice?

Sophisticated Businesses 

You may have heard me use the terms “Blackbelt Coach” and “Blackbelt Practice” on The Dentalpreneur or if you have purchased one of our operations manuals. But, what does that term actually mean?

I’m not referring to practices producing five, ten or even a million dollars. Our Blackbelt level practices are those that can maximize systemization, leadership, culture, and minimize overhead. Sophisticated business owners running sophisticated businesses.

Check out the video below to see exactly what it takes to become a Blackbelt practice.




In Summary

 If you are looking for support or systems on getting your practice to the Blackbelt level be sure to take advantage of 45 days free inside of Dental Success Network.

Keep It Simple: Dental Practice Strategies

Weekly Growth Meetings

Recently we had our weekly growth meeting, and we had to address some scheduling issues. It got a little heated to say the least.

Doctor time was not lining up, too many patients packed in….and the front desk wants to kill the assistants, and the assistants put out a hit on the front desk. (Not literally, we’re not in California, but close.)



So…we reviewed the rules of scheduling, doctor time, block outs, etc.

However, it hit me, and so I sort of wrapped up the meeting with this quote that I heard from Pastor Craig Groschel on his leadership podcast:

“Growth leads to complexity, complexity kills growth.”

So, rather than make all these complex rules about emergency appointments, specific times, specific blockouts per doctor I decided to share this with my team:

“YOU KNOW THE CORE VALUES of the practice and the first one is Provide a Fantastic Guest Experience. That is it. Schedule according to the 1. Rules of Scheduling, and 2. Follow the Core Values. If the patient experience suffers, then it’s a no-go.”

I told them that I’m not going to legislate every situation, everyday. “I want you guys to use your best judgement, and follow the values. Let’s keep this simple.”


In Summary

For the past few weeks, things have been better and patient experience has still been good. So far everyone seems to understand and I think it helps to keep things simple.

As you work through this week, just remember that mantra from Craig Groschel.

Not a DSN member? Get 45 days free HERE.

Purchasing a Dental Practice: Hilarious Acquisitions Story

All You Can Do is Laugh 

This is a story of buying a practice that you just can’t make up.  If you need something to laugh about today, this is it.  

Why is this so hilarious? Between Dr. Mark Costes and myself, we’ve bought and started over 25 dental practices. It was through each of these acquisitions that we learned countless lessons and started writing a book that is coming out in a few weeks: The Dental Acquisitions Manual.

While researching our new book we had the pleasure of hearing this hilarious tale from a DSN Member:

“I had just purchased my practice and building and was leaving my previous practice to meet my new team. I had a feeling of joy and excitement that comes from accomplishing a goal that I had envisioned since the day I started dental school. There was a light snowfall which gave a white blanket of brightness to the winter dreariness. I knew that this was going to be the beginning of a new chapter, a journey filled with ups and downs and new opportunities for growth.

I had not even stepped foot in the practice as the new owner yet when I got a call from the seller. He calmly informed me that the sewage pump in the basement of my new building was broken and it had happened in the hour since we had signed all the closing documents. Raw sewage was now backing up into the basement and as the new owner of the building, it was my responsibility to take care of it.

Literal shit was filling up my new practice.  Excrement.  Poop.

The joys of business and building ownership started pretty much right away for me!”

Pretty funny, and slightly reminiscent of Cousin Eddy of National Lampoon’s when he says, ‘Shitters full!’



It was stories like this, that are completely avoidable, and even if they aren’t avoidable, you can make sure you have a plan in place to deal with them.  

Our ‘Dental Acquisitions Manual’ is now available for preorder at Dental Success Network.  

If you are already a DSN member, you can pick up the Acquisitions Manual for $199, and the entire DSN Bundle for $399 (Operations, Startup Manual, and Acquisitions Manual) **Be sure you are logged in to your DSN account.

Non-DSN Members can Pre-Order the Acquisitions Manual for $249 (Free gift of the 4 Futures Journal as a Pre-Order gift) and the entire DSN Bundle for $499.


In Summary

We may be biased, but this manual is the most valuable book we have written to date.  We are super proud of it, and we think this will help in so many ways for many of you (us included) that are looking for an acquisition in the near future. 

If you’ve found value in any of the resources we’ve shared in the past, we know you’ll love this one.  In addition, check out the 45-Day Free Trial of Dental Success Network.

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