20 Jan23 B Cedblog Primary

A complete dental office overhaul: How to carpe diem when the unexpected happens

Jan. 15, 2020
Dr. Stacey Gividen explains how a leaky roof led to a complete overhaul of her dental practice. Through her story, she shares advice about how to seize the opportunity to address big changes when a not-so-good surprise presents itself.

It all started with a leak in the roof of my building that went drip, drip, drip for who knows how long. All of a sudden, the drywall didn’t look so dry, and I knew, without an ounce of convincing (and a sigh), that a huge undertaking was about to commence that subsequently and unknowingly set the stage for a complete overhaul of my dental practice—clinically and structurally.

Ironically, prior to this surprise, my staff and I had put together a wish list of things we all wanted to work toward in an effort to promote change. We each had our own wants and needs to make our respective jobs easier—from updated computers, double computer screens, a new phone system, new website and logo, autoclave, flooring, light cures, scanner, additional technology purchases, updated décor, and miscellaneous odds and ends. My initial reaction: it was going to be an expensive and definitely long-term goal.

You may be wondering what a leaky roof has to do with all of this. Well, as luck would have it, the insurance company didn’t want to pay for the mold removal and remodeling in the affected area of my office. I needed a loan, but I needed numbers.

I consider myself a patient person, but after six months (yes, six …), my office manager and I reached our limits with the restoration company. After a billion phone calls and emails, we still didn’t have the estimate for the needed repairs from that darn leaky roof. No estimate = no loan = no bueno. So, I told my office manager to fire the company. Zero emotion involved. Within a week, a new company was on board, and we had numbers.

Additionally, my staff was frustrated with our dental supplier and their technician. Issues with orders and simple equipment fixes had made clinical life, at times, extremely frustrating. After one particular instance and a 10-minute diatribe from my staff, I told my office manager to fire the supplier and their bandwagon of “help.” Zero emotions involved. A new rep and technician were here within three days, and they accomplished more in an hour than my previous supplier had done in a year. And wouldn’t you know it, there were some pretty sweet deals on x-ray sensors at that time too. Me to the rep: “Get me an estimate.”

With this unexpected momentum, I decided to jump in with both feet and make it all happen. Since we were changing one tire, why not change all four? Me to the flooring company: “Get me an estimate.”

What’s more, during all of this, my IT go-to specialist told me I needed to switch out all of my computers within the year due to software upgrades. If he says I need upgrades soon, I need upgrades. (I’ve written an article on my experiences and relationship with my IT specialist. You can read it here: “Backing up patient data: Can you pass the test?”) And, while we’re at it, why not acquire new and additional computer screens, phones, printers, etc., throughout the office? Me to my IT guru: “Get me an estimate.”

My website is old. Really, really old. I’m embarrassed I’ve let it go on automatic pilot as long as I have. Personal changes as well as all of the above necessitated an overhaul in this arena too. Me to the website designer: “Get me an estimate.”

Numbers don’t scare me, but I’m pragmatic in my approach to finances. Getting a loan to cover changes that make it easier for my staff and me to address our patients in a more effective and efficient manner is arguably legitimate. I wasn’t looking to take out a loan initially, but when the opportunity presented itself, I realized I had to “carpe diem” it. All in all, the amount and interest rate of the loan were more than reasonable, and the additional tax breaks made it an easy decision. Me to the loan officer: “Where do I sign?”

Since that leaky roof, this past year has seen my office go through a complete overhaul: new roof, flooring, updated décor, paint, computers, x-ray sensors, several new and improved materials in the clinical setting, phones, printers, logo and website (still under construction), and—most importantly—a feeling that my staff and patients belong to something kick a** because their input and concerns were taken into consideration and executed. Excitingly enough, 2019 was my most productive year to date, and I have no plans to stop the momentum.

If you were to ask your staff today what they need or want to better your practice, what would they say? Remember, they see your practice from a different perspective, and their answers will likely surprise you. If your carpet is kinda gross and outdated, then make the change. If you know your computers could be functioning better, make the change. If your supplier is not playing to make your game a winning one, then fire them. Do your research, but don’t be intimidated. Filter through and eliminate emotions that are potentially hindering to your decision-making process.

So, what am I saying with all of this? Pray for a leaky roof. That’s all it takes, my friends!

This year look for more fun blogs on my ups and downs as a practice owner and my never-ending adventures in the clinical setting. Email me with your stories and if you’re willing, we could share them as well.

Cheers to the change!


Stacey L. Gividen, DDS

Editorial Director, Breakthrough Clinical

Last month: Dental controversy, challenges, and change: 2019 in a nutshell” 

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Breakthrough Clinical, a clinical specialties newsletter from Dental Economics and DentistryIQ. Read more articles at this link.

Stacey L. Gividen, DDS, a graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry, is in private practice in Hamilton, Montana. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Montana in the Anatomy and Physiology Department. Dr. Gividen is the editorial director of Endeavor Business Media’s clinical dental specialties e-newsletter, Breakthrough Clinical,and a contributing author for DentistryIQPerio-Implant Advisory, and Dental Economics. She also serves on the Dental Economics editorial advisory board. You may contact her at [email protected].