Do good dentistry, invest in your dental CE and buy advanced technology so they will beat a path to your door RIGHT?
This will only put you further in debt—
UNLESS you do it at the right time for the right reasons. What do I mean by this? Timing is very important in deciding when to invest in dental CE and technology.
For Example: A start-up practice with a first-time owner or inexperienced clinician does not need a cone beam CT, laser and an in-house milling unit. A seasoned practice owner who has a profitable practice and is able to predict their ROI on the CE or technology based on the statistics and patient demographics of their office is a good candidate. These are two extreme examples but I believe you can extrapolate the point.
How do you know when to buy the technology?
AVOID emotional purchases. We often buy because we geek out on the technology and its capabilities or because our peers or mentors are doing it or because someone sold us the idea that if we don’t then we’re a crappy dentist. Invest logically, not emotionally. Base the introduction of technology on your current office capacity. Are you operating at 1% or 100% capacity? Base your decision on new patient volume, profit and production by procedure breakdown.
For example, if you are considering a scanner/miller for crowns, ask yourself how many crowns you deliver each month and how many do you need to do to hit your break-even point? This will give you some insight to the right timing, demand and potential ROI. In addition, look at call conversion and treatment conversion numbers in addition to your collections percentage.
Because investing expensive technology before you have the basics of business down is a mistake.
I would never discourage anyone from getting more education. The goal of more CE should be on the forefront of every practitioners’ mind. You want to begin taking courses early and for the rest of your career. Just take the right course at the right time for the right reason.
I love the quote by Frank Clark: “The more you learn, the more you earn.”
Although this holds true most of the time, the consistent execution of this knowledge is what earns you more money. You don’t want to come out guns blazing taking every CE course marketed to you, in every treatment modality out there. I did this and it felt great. I felt significant but my ROI was low and I wasn’t prepared to apply even a fraction of the knowledge I’d gained.
Look, if you have no budget limits, go crazy.
If you do, be methodical about your approach by getting good at the basics: restorative, preventative, basic oral surgery and endo.
Most thriving docs I have seen do 50-70% of their production from the basic “drill and fill” type procedures. The other 30-50% comes from more advanced procedures (practitioner level, not office level). If you are thinking I know a guy who has a practice limited to implants, cosmetics, or sleep, I get it. I know those guys as well, and it’s definitely possible, but it is the exception and requires much more work and upfront investment in education and technology to start.
Please don’t get caught up on exact percentages, as they may vary slightly. I am simply illustrating the point that the majority of patients want efficient, durable and relatively painless general dentistry and therefore there is something to be said about becoming proficient at this prior to investing thousands of dollars in more comprehensive and expensive programs
If you are reading this and are convinced you never want to do a root canal or an extraction, then begin taking CE in the areas in which you are interested. Perhaps you want to mainly or exclusively deliver high-value procedures such as ortho, implants or cosmetic dentistry. By all means, start learning early and get the ball rolling now.
For those of you who are uncertain where to start and simply want to increase your competence, confidence and efficiency in the delivery of general dental procedures, invest in educating yourself in the most common procedures performed and learn to do those well. As you begin to grow your offices or invest in CE, think about starting with a molar endo course and oral sedation OR oral/nitrous combo. This will allow you to grow and increase your bottom line without significant investment into a comprehensive ortho, implant or IV sedation program. There’s nothing wrong with these, I have done tons of CE in all these areas myself. But again, timing is important–as is ROI
I am an advocate for both technology and CE. Just remember to invest in CE and technology logically, not emotionally. There’s nothing cool about spending 100K on a comprehensive implant program if you don’t understand how to attract enough implant patients to get a decent ROI.
Here are Some Other Tips:
- Take courses or programs online and locally to start (this will save you thousands of dollars).
- Take your staff to the CE program. If you can’t afford to do so, put together a presentation on the topic to empower them with education. Their buy-in is important to your lead generation and case conversion.
- Calculate the number of procedures you will have to complete in order to recover your tuition costs
- Prior to attending the program, begin lining up patients in your practice so you can begin as soon as you return.
- Don’t buy all the fancy gadgets for delivery of the newly learned procedure. Instead, ask your reps if you can borrow and try the technology out for the first few cases. Typically, you don’t need the full-meal deal in order to do easy implant cases.
- Look for a local mentor or specialist who has excelled in an area you are interested in. Anyone with an abundant mindset will be happy to help.
- Join a master mind/study club.