Costly Dental Practice Mistakes

They say you learn a lot by the mistakes you make. By this dictum, I must be the most knowledgeable man alive!

I’d like to know what the costliest mistake you’ve ever seen in a dental practice.

I’ve only been open a year but have made several mistakes to date. I would say one of the costliest was paying 6000 for Golden (Yellow) Pages advertising and 3000 a year for directory advertisements. The ROI was pitiful. I have now stopped both as I feel the website brings in a lot more.

I’ll share two terrible decisions that two different clients made:

1. Successful 2 doctor partnership for nearly 15 years, one partner wants to leave and specialize. That goes well, what didn’t go well is the next “shotgun” partnership. Remaining partner contacts schoolmateclose family friend to associate and discuss replacing partner that left. They agree on a deal and only after working together 9 months form their partnership. About 1.5 years later it goes down and really fast, schoolmateclose friend, while joining with great intentions, simply didn’t have the same practice stylephilosophy as existing partner, just too many disagreements clinically. After it was all said and done it probably cost each of them $30k+ in professional fees to undo, not to mention the money paid to get the deal done initially. Sad to say they are no longer close family friends either. There’s a reason an engagement period is prudent, you might find your future partner easy to get along with outside the practice, and you need to ensure you have similar clinicalpractice styles philosophies.

2. 3 owner practice attends a Cerec seminar and 2 get sold on it. So they spend the $100k+ on a Cerec knowing full well what they need to produce monthly to breakeven with it. Neither of the two partners really got serious about taking the Cerec courses and learning what can be done with the machine so there it sits. One being near 50 yrs old and the other being into their 60’s, both now acknowledge they simply can’t break years of habits in performing procedures as they’ve always done and using their favorite labs. Before investing in the latest and greatest technology based upon a sales meeting you better be fully committed in learning it and using.

This first appeared on Dentaltown.

Send your questions to Tim Lott, CPA, CVA at

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