Solving the practice management consultant/mentor dilemma: What is your story going to be?

Oct. 29, 2010

By Jonathan A. Bregman, DDS, FAGD

My story

1977: I was a new practitioner, right out of a dental residency, and the owner of a newly purchased local dental practice. I had heard the name of a dental consulting firm and knew enough to know that there was much that I did not know. I hired the firm for an immediate onsite consultation. They had a system for everything. They put my practice into their system, and then disappeared.

The good news: I learned what I did not want in a dental consultant.
The bad news: I almost ruined/lost my entire practice.

1980: I was now three years into practice and moved into a modern facility. I heard a dental practice management consultant present great information on communication and systems that work in growing a highly successful dental practice. I liked what I heard. The first phone meeting was for information collection. The second phone meeting was a report of findings, and discovery of what I wanted to accomplish and my vision for my practice. Then, the consultant came for an onsite visit and customized the approach to enhance my practice. Six months later, my practice doubled. This was followed by 25 years of ongoing successful and customized work with the same consultant and with constant growth.

You might rightfully be thinking, that was a long time ago. Does this scenario apply today? The answer is a resounding YES!

What is your story?

Many dentists have had great, good, and not-so-good practice management consulting experiences. Where do you fall in the range of great to not-so-good? Have you sought out the help of an experienced professional to help grow your dental practice? If not, why not?

Recently, I sat down and developed a list, as a dentist, of the top ten reasons why a fellow professional would NOT seek the help of a dental practice management consultant/coach, and the top ten reasons why a dentist would benefit from seeking that professional help.

Take a look at these two lists and determine which statements apply to you:

Top ten reasons most commonly given for not using a dental consultant or coach
1. I am doing just fine on my own.
2. My practice is unique. Outsiders could not understand it.
3. I am too busy managing my practice.
4. Unless you’ll guarantee 100 new patients per month, I don’t need you.
5. I’ve got a mortgage to pay, kids to educate, and a boat I’d rather buy than pay a consultant.
6. I know what is wrong with my practice and how to fix it.
7. My practice is nobody’s business but my own.
8. Dental consultants are overpriced and offer little value.
9. I don’t need my team forced to change things that are currently working.
10. I will lose valuable chair time.

Top ten benefits of partnering with a dental consultant or coach
1. You can work remotely at the best/most convenient times for you and arranged with your consultant/coach.
2. It does not require a huge upfront investment. A contract for services can be by the hour vs. a long-term contract.
3. You can feel safe and let down your guard, thus opening yourself up for true growth and change.
4. Confidentiality of information shared is ensured.
5. You gain an understanding of all of the factors that ensure practice success beyond just more new patients for all types of practices.
6. Third-party verification will help break down current thought barriers against change or ramping up production.
7. You will experience enhanced success for your practice due to customized assessment and approach to meeting the challenges of your practice.
8. Consulting/coaching services bring the highest return on investment you can make with your financial resources.
9. The stress of doing it all alone is eliminated.
10. You will experience a great feeling of accomplishment as challenges are met and successfully overcome.

So, what are you thinking now?

This exercise, when taken seriously, will challenge you to think about:
1. Identifying your personal barriers to consulting/mentoring and what it might take to overcome these barriers.
2. Considering the value of professional consulting/mentoring assistance and how it will maximize your ability to meet your specific needs.
3. Effectively investing in your most valuable asset, your dental practice, beyond the hard assets of your facility.

The rest of the story … mine
The practice of dentistry can be very isolating. Many of us, me included, have practiced in a “bubble” of our own making. What brought me out of the “bubble” was a consultant/mentor with whom I could partner. Suddenly, it was not all on my shoulders.
• I was not the only one to get to the right answers or to even ask the right questions.
• I could speak honestly about my concerns and successes without judgment.
• I was not the only one to quietly figure it all out by myself.

Consulting/mentoring kept my practice thriving, my attitude positive, and provided clear goals for me and my team.

The rest of the story … yours?

Will you decide to move beyond your barriers and “bubble” and have your practice thrive, your attitude be positive, and your goals made clear?

Will you work to find the consultant/mentor who will personally help you with the customized and thoughtful approach that will help YOU meet YOUR goals through clear communication and managed expectations?

“It’s your practice … your future … your choice.”

Jonathan A. Bregman, DDS, FAGD, is a clinician, speaker, author, and trainer who led successful dental practices for more than 30 years. While dedicated to improving the dentist, team, and patient experience, he has a passion for educating dental professionals about early oral cancer detection and laser-assisted dentistry. In addition, he has great success with his dentist-to-dentist clinical coaching. You may contact Dr. Bregman by e-mail at [email protected] or visit Also, be sure to check out his blog at