The Pillars of a Dental Practice

Dentistry is a very tricky business.

I’ve discovered that what we as dentists take for granted may not necessarily be the norm in other more structured businesses. We tend to focus almost completely on delivering the best treatment we can to our patients. This is completely understandable because this is the way we have been trained in dental school. That crown must look great and last forever…

And it’s not a bad thing.

The problem is that it doesn’t always make good business sense.

What I mean by this is that we can focus completely on making and being the best clinical dentist in the world – but does that translate to running a perfect practice? Is that always the best overall outcome for our clients?

Are they getting the best value for money?

Are they getting a bedside manner that makes them feel comfortable and at ease during treatment?

How is our communication skills and do our clients trust us?

Are they telling their friends and family about the practice?

Are their appointments, quotations and payments dealt with swiftly, efficiently and timeously?

There is so much more to running a dental practice than just the treatment side. How many dentists don’t you know who do the best work out but have the most terrible bedside manners?

All the administration is not very efficient?

You can see that there are many facets to running dental practice. And very few of these are taught in dental school. In fact none of these are taught in dental school (except maybe for everything to do with the mouth!).

Business gurus and MBA’s often talk of a business having three main pillars –

1. Administration

2. Marketing

3. Product

They call these the universal pillars of any business – and say that the principles apply to any and every business.

When I first came across this concept my first reaction was – yeah right this won’t apply to dentistry because we have a very specialised field and great business principles don’t apply…

But I was attracted by the simplicity of it all – the fact that you can structure your business in a way that is manageable, efficient, and ultimately profitable.

I decided to delve into this concept and found that it is definitely true for the field of dentistry and if used properly and continuously can radically improve the health of your dental business.

I sat down one day and decided to map out my business under those three headings. This was an eye-opener because I discovered that we fit perfectly well into those three pillars –

Our administration is basically the nitty gritty running of the office – dealing with appointments taking payments, ordering materials, staff issues, etc.

The marketing side of things is something we do consciously or without knowing sometimes. This could be External like advertising your website on Google or Internal like getting your existing patients to refer their friends and family to you. But it could be as simple as the smile you have on your face when a patient walks through the door!

The product is of course the service we provide – the mechanics of dentistry whether it be a crown, porcelain veneers or implants.

I took some time to map out each specific area within my dental practice and see how it fits in to each of these pillars – right down to the basics of what we do every single day. This gave me absolute clarity and it felt as if I had pieced the jigsaw puzzle together and all the pieces fit perfectly into place. I now constantly refer back to my “Business Map” as I call it to check that I’m on track and to make sure that each pillar is working adequately and efficiently.

If you would like a free copy of my ”Business Map for an Efficient Dental Practice” click here.

The thing to remember about this structure is that they each need specific attention. You cannot focus completely on one side and ignore the other – they work in unison and have to be monitored and tweeked regularly if they are to have any effect.

Separating these aspects of your practice into these three headings (pillars) gives you clarity, focus, and simplicity. Once you have these three things you can work on incrementally improving each one so that the whole business runs more efficiently and profitably. It also allows you to be focused on your specific task – on what you are good at – and to delegate to someone else what they are good at. In that way everyone works to their strengths.

This creates a dental office which runs like a well oiled machine –




Now isn’t that what we all dream of as dentists trying to run our practices in the best way possible?

Let’s enjoy dentistry again – let’s be excited about coming to work in the morning and remember why we chose this crazy path in the first place.


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