They Don’t Teach Dental Business in Dental School – Why Not? They Should!!

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I’ve often wondered why they don’t teach dental business in Dental School.

I wonder whether it’s just brushed over on purpose.

You see the majority of dentists operate in private practice. A cottage industry. But they graduate with little or no formal business training at all.

So, let’s take a look at the dynamics of running a dental office. In simple terms.

First and foremost, the dentist needs to be a clinician. He needs to be able to fix teeth, and help the public with their dental issues. For this or for these services, he is to charge a fee.

And from that fee, or those fees collected, he is expected to sustain a business.

The fee charged, or moreover, the total fees gathered in the dental office, are meant to do three things.

  1. Sustain the business. Pay the bills. Keep the business solvent.
  2. Pay the dentist. Pay him a wage, salary or a contract fee for performing his surgery.
  3. Return a dividend to the business owner for the money invested in the dental office.

[We have discussed the breakdown of these parts in previous blogs ]

Keeping the business solvent is a far greater equation or process than just running the business at a profit.

The business is a conglomerate of numerous intricate parts, and as a business owner, all of a sudden, the principal dentist is thrust into a maze of confusion and parameters that maybe they never ever expected….

Let me explain. You see, in Dental School, nobody ever really explained *ALL* the components and what they mean, and the interrelations they have.


  1. Stock control. Ordering stuff you need. Never running out but not being overstocked. And not buying stuff you don’t need. Dental stock, as well as stationery and non-dental. And not being overcharged or taken advantage of when buying stock ….but *that* never happens….
  2. Plant and equipment. Purchase, service, replacement as needed.
  3. Rent and utilities. How much should you pay? Ground floor exposure or upstairs?
  4. Advertising. All the different forms of advertising, and getting a competitive advantage commensurate with your skills and expertise.
  5. Marketing strategies, both external and internal. Being perceived by the public, as well as by your peers, as being different, in a better way.
  6. Human resources. Staff. Team. On the balance sheet wages appear as a cost. But wages, staff, team, are an asset, not a cost.

Let’s look briefly at staff, or team.

  • How many do you need?
  • How much do you pay?
  • How much do you invest in educating and training?

A well run, well-trained team is a huge asset to any business.

But how do you manage the components of the team?

When there’s more than one team member then there’s nearly always favouritism, or leanings…that’s just the way things are.

How do you manage staff or team expectations? How do you encourage progress, but at the same time, not run up too high an overhead on staff?

Do you pay bonuses? Do you give annual raises? Or do you give performance based raises?

How do you manage a larger crew where “cliques” occur and gossip and chat diminish respect?

What about social media and mobile devices, or accessing email and internet during office hours?

Is it a Gen-X or Gen-Y thing that they just expect to have access during office hours?

Do you go for a large office or a small office? How do you choose which type of dental office suits you best? Do you just gravitate to the dental practice you deserve? Without a plan?

What if the practice you end up with is not the dental office you started out wanting.

Stephen Covey said “Begin with the End in Mind”.
I believe this is admiral, but can be difficult. I think you need to build your office so it is a low stress environment for you. That you can manage it well and you can enjoy your time in business.

You don’t want to end up being chained to your business. Constantly running it, thinking about it 24/7. Though that’s what often ends up happening.

They say being in your business is a full time commitment. Make sure your business returns and rewards you so you have time to smell the coffee.

If not, then you’re doing it wrong….

So maybe, you need some outside help….


“How to Consistently Exceed Your Customers’ Expectations” and “How to Prevent Your Dental Office Being Caught In A Race To The Bottom” are just two of the many straight forward chapters that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report. Email me at

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