Pursuing DSO Opportunities: How to Know What’s Right for You

If you’re planning the next phase of your career or considering transitioning your practice to a Dental Service Organization, you’re not alone—and for good reasons. Whether they’re in solo or small group practices, increasing numbers of dentists have been gravitating toward DSOs to ready themselves, their practice, their patients, and their staff for the future. Helping dentists and DSOs in their quest to find the perfect match is the DSO Connection Dental Transitions Group, a team dedicated to facilitating meaningful introductions between dentists ready to transition and the organizations ready to acquire, affiliate, manage, and/or partner with established dental practices.

At a time when it might seem difficult to meet changing patient, professional, and outside demands and influences, DSOs are worth a look if you’d like to start—or continue—transitioning into the next phase of your career and/or evolving your practice to keep pace with ever more interesting times. In fact, for more than 10 years, DSOs have continued to not only survive during uncertain economic times—but also thrive. The reason? DSOs enable dentists to focus less on the business administration of the dental office and concentrate more on clinical patient care. Simultaneously, they empower dentists and their team members with systematic approaches to treatment planning and execution—as well as inventory control and patient/specialist communication—that otherwise might not be possible.

But just how real is the growing attractiveness of DSOs? For starters, throughout the United States, the top five DSOs stretch across more than 3,700 locations, and they’re always exploring different geographic areas where successful practices have already been established. Dental Transitions Group alone has made more than 4,300 introductions among dentists and prospective DSO partners in more than 40 states.

Contributing to their appeal is the supportive autonomy DSOs provide dentists; meaning, dentists practice dentistry, and the DSO manages the day-to-day business operations, such as ordering and negotiating supply costs, billing and insurance processing, and technology improvements. Another reason transitioning to a DSO is appealing is the difficulty many practice owners have encountered in finding, recruiting, and onboarding younger dentists and staff. In fact, dentists have been advised to allow a minimum of two years to integrate a new dentist into the practice to ensure they’ll ultimately prosper as a future practice owner. Although practice productivity is likely to increase after acclimating an associate dentist, profits typically drop off during their first year.

Of course, dentists should do some personal introspection before deciding that transitioning or selling into a DSO is the right move for them. Asking themselves specific questions about how they envision moving forward can help them achieve the most gratifying outcome.

For example, dentists should consider their answers to the following questions:

  1. Are they looking to move toward their retirement and establish an exit plan?
  2. Are they interested in developing a partnership for practice growth?
  3. Do they want to expand into a leadership role beyond their single practice?
  4. What clinical, leadership, or other skills do they need or want to develop—if any—at this point in their career?
  5. Is new technology or dental innovation something that’s important to them?
  6. Is collaboration with colleagues and specialists on practice expansion and efficiencies appealing, or is focusing on routine and complex cases more gratifying?
  7. Is maintaining a leadership role now and/or until retirement important?
  8. Do they still have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to consider supervising a second or third dental office?

Then, once they’ve pinpointed what’s essential as they progress toward exiting and/or growing in their profession, finding the DSO that’s the right fit for them and their team is the next step. Therefore, asking the following types of questions to and about the prospective DSOs you’re considering selling and/or transitioning your practice can set the foundation for a beneficial relationship.

  1. What types of technology will be incorporated and maintained in the practice?
  2. Will ongoing continuing education and training be provided?
  3. What will the expectations be for the dentist’s/practice owner’s roles as leader and clinician?
  4. How is information sharing and practice management handled?
  5. How are treatment and material decisions made, and by whom?

It’s important for dentists to understand that knowing what they’re looking for from prospective DSOs takes time and consideration to ensure an ideal outcome. Fortunately, the DSO Connection Dental Transitions Group maintains relationships with many DSOs, so you’ll be matched—free of charge and commission free—with potential buyers and partners that best meet your criteria and requirements so you can move forward with confidence.

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