Dental CPAs are worth the higher fees in private practice

By Shurna Decou

Dentistry is a marathon, not a sprint

For dentists fresh out of dental school, the sudden reality of combining clinical skills, patient management, and financial pressure can be overwhelming. So the first thing Dr. Bill Simon tells new dentists is “dentistry is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Mentoring new dentists and students comes naturally to Dr. Simon, who has been a dentist for over 30 years.

And with two locations in different neighborhoods of Chicago, City Smiles and Sonrisa Urbana, Dr. Simon’s patients reflect the diverse fabric of the city. Consequently, Dr. Simon has a deep understanding of what it takes to build a dental practice in very different communities, and the challenges that new dentists face when thinking about going into their own practice.

So for associates transitioning to practice ownership, here are a few of Dr. Simon’s go-to strategies to get the business side of the practice on the right track.

Dr. Simon performing a dentistry procedure

Hire experts in the dental industry

In the early days of owning a private practice, Dr. Simon used a good friend’s accounting services for his business. His friend didn’t specialize in the dental industry, but Dr. Simon rationalized that his friend was a CPA and his prices were significantly lower.

Having a friend who didn’t specialize in dental industry do the accounting turned into an expensive choice. He spent more money for accounting services in the long run than he saved.

Today, Dr. Simon advises new dental practice owners to find an accountant who is certified in in the dental industry.

“Dentists will see the retainer fee, and they will say ‘Oh, that’s so expensive,’” Dr. Simon says. “I can tell you, that a good dental accountant is going to pay for themselves and put more income in your pocket.” Dr. Simon recommends using the same approach for hiring other high level professional services, such as legal, marketing, IT and office design.

For example, in renovating the office space, an architect who knows the dental industry will also know the pitfalls to avoid.

“The more complicated the professional service, the more you need someone who understands the dental industry,” Dr. Simon says.

Rely on references over online reviews

When evaluating professional services for your dental practice, take a cautious approach when it comes to online reviews, Dr. Simon explains.

Online reviews can be manipulated. And some online websites are peppered with positive reviews that were paid to be posted, while other negative reviews from real clients were deleted.

A tried and true approach for finding experts is asking other dentists for referrals. This is where the state and local dental societies can be an invaluable resource, as dentists can talk frankly about their experiences and capabilities of specific specialists in person. This approach is more likely to get quality referrals rather than online reviews from dentists about complicated business services.

Nobody knows your practice like you

“After practicing and running a practice for 10 to 20 years, nobody will know your practice like you do,” Dr. Simon says.

Because dental offices are not cookie cutter operations, dental practices can be vastly different from office-to-office.

So carefully consider the implications before implementing big changes from consulting proposals and trust your gut. While those consulting services maybe excellent, they still may not be the best choice for your business, Dr. Simon says.

*Hyperlinks to third-party websites are offered for informational purposes only. Unum in no way controls, guarantees, endorses, sponsors or promotes these websites or their content.

About Unum Group

Unum Group provides a broad portfolio of financial protection benefits and services through the workplace, and is the leading provider of disability income protection worldwide. Through its Unum US, Unum UK, Unum Poland, and Colonial Life businesses, the company provides disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental and vision benefits that protect millions of working people and their families. Unum also provides leave and absence management services that streamline the leave experience for employers and employees and stop-loss coverage to help self-insured employers protect against medical costs. Unum reported revenues of $13.2 billion in 2020 and paid $7.6 billion in benefits.


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