What is the DSO industry talking about?


After listening to many of the panel discussions at the Women in DSO conference, I love that everyone felt that their organization is better with women! We certainly agree!

Some of the panel topics consistently shared: 

  • Growth & benchmarking – against yourself 
  • Not having enough “good” information to make decisions 
  • Looking forward & what technology to choose
  • People & loyalty & culture 
  • How to help the people in practice drive revenue.

As one presenter pointed out, there are a lot of industry statistics that you can benchmark your practice against, but what about benchmarking against yourself? I love this. Practice ZEBRA® provides our dental offices with the ability to do both! Not only that, but it enables you to benchmark each KPI directly against industry average – and against the top 10% of practices!

Here are a couple of metrics from ZEBRA for you to check out:

Average annual production: $1,615,000

Top 10% annual production: $4,572,000

Average calls answered live: 73%

Average new patient value: $1,715

Top 10% new patient value: $4,171

YTD, our clients, on average, continue to post revenue that’s higher than pre-COVID and more than 25% ahead of industry average. That’s an industry stat. Benchmark yourself. How were your February revenues? Were they higher or lower than February 2020? That’s actionable.

I wasn’t sure about the discussion around not having enough good information to make decisions, but I assume some of the practices being acquired don’t have a good accounting setup, and that can be a real challenge. I guess because we work with the top dentists and DSOs in the industry, we don’t run into that issue very often. We are in a great place where there is so much good data available, but sometimes there can be too many metrics. Who needs 100 different KPIs? It only distracts from the ones that really matter. Honestly, this is one of the reasons we’ve kept Practice ZEBRA so zeroed in on marketing. The metrics that matter all relate to production and where that number is trending – and what impacts it: new patients/marketing, scheduling/call conversion, retention, and case acceptance.

You can have good information for good decision-making with a clear view of “key” metrics. The ones that will move the needle. The predictive analytics module in Practice ZEBRA can show a practice how just a few tweaks can impact production. The following graph is a screen capture of an actual client with a high-value/low-volume practice. If they improved the call answer rate by 10% (this metric is too low at its current 61%), they could add five more new patients per month – and impact revenue positively by over $400,000! Just a few simple metrics, and you have a potential strategic focus.



Consider this tidbit: Regardless of your team’s conversion rate on new-patient calls, if they just answer more calls live, they will schedule more new patients. That’s a key metric. Answer calls live. Don’t let them go to voice mail. 

That is good information you can use today to impact your 2023 production. Just answer the phone live more. Make it a priority. After scoring thousands upon thousands of new-patient calls, I guarantee this one tactic will help you add more new patients. 

Looking forward and determining what technology to use. I get it; it’s tough. We have a bevy of tech at Patient NEWS® and tons of dashboards, reports, and automation ourselves. They are all critical for looking at and operating the business efficiently and effectively. In 2023, it’s very likely that a dental practice needs to have multiple software each doing its own thing – you want the best of the best working for you. Practice ZEBRA is in that world of technology for dental offices, but we’re lucky that ZEBRA is truly different from all others in that it is MARKETING SOFTWARE. It focuses on the patient journey and supports marketing success throughout. It’s software for practice intelligence, intelligence for call conversion and more new patients, intelligence for marketing ROI, and efficiency and effectiveness for patient communications.

So why do solo practices and DSOs choose Practice ZEBRA? 

“It’s like having an x-ray of your practice.” – Dr. Michael Rodriguez 

“The practice intelligence and marketing automation software, Practice ZEBRA, is a game changer for dental offices.” – Dr. Chris Phelps 

“Practice ZEBRA is a second-to-none platform dentists can use to hone in on how to improve their business.” – David Raborn 

“I need to have a clear pulse on the performance of each affiliate – from scheduling and handling calls to case acceptance and production – with comparable and actionable KPIs across locations and at the enterprise level. Practice ZEBRA from Patient NEWS has given me exactly what I need to manage, train, coach, develop a varied and widespread team, as well as monitor and predict trends.” – Jeff Longfield

“My team loves the visibility into campaign results through Practice ZEBRA. Roll-up reports by practice and group make it easy to find opportunities and make good decisions.” – Dr. Alex Giannini

Intrigued? Why not try Practice ZEBRA today? Call my team and schedule a demo. One difference you’ll notice about us is that we are real people who really care about our clients, and we ANSWER THE PHONE! Lol. In a world of technology, chat, tickets, automation, and texting, this makes us pretty cool.

People, loyalty, & culture. Across the board, we’ve heard about the challenges associated with getting and keeping good staff, and it’s impacting hygiene and admin. I have to admit I did find it interesting that the very panel presenters talking about hiring and retention challenges – and what they needed to do in their culture to attract and keep employees – were sharing their own journey, and many had jumped around quite a bit from organization to organization. I’m very proud of our tenured and loyal team at Patient NEWS and their dedication to our company and our clients. The culture of an organization makes a huge difference in whom you attract – and keep – and that is really important to define in order to attract team members that like your vision, your style, whatever your “it” is.

We have always focused on culture at Patient NEWS. Culture is fully part of our core value statement, which was set well over 20 years ago. (Yup, that’s right, it’s our 30th anniversary this year!) We also use the book Traction by Gino Wickman to drive our executive meetings, and we consistently keep culture on our list as a top priority. Events, team meetings, recognition, wellness, social, communications, and information sharing – it’s important to involve everyone in your projects, goals, and challenges, and to celebrate accomplishments.

Speaking of communication and engaging your people, we used to have a “tip” for our marketing clients – to review their marketing content with teams at their huddles. It was just horrible (and it happened a lot) when we would hear new patients call regarding a newsletter or special offer, and the person who answered the phone had no idea what they were calling about – and would blow the new-patient call! Yikes. We know it can be so busy in the practice with the day-to-day functions and that it’s hard to remember to share everything you’re implementing. But it’s important and needs to be on your list of to-dos. Our CEO, Wayne Lavery, always reminds us that it’s easy to get busy working in the business versus on the business. Make a point of setting the strategy and sharing your goals, your wins, your excitement, your vision, your marketing program content, and special offers with everyone on your team so they can support those goals, feel like they’re part of something special, talk you up in your community, and help convert and upsell more patients.

That leads me to how to help the people in the practice drive more revenue. Clearly, communication is a biggie, as is providing the tools and opportunities to drive revenue.

Great dental marketing is always consistent. It’s not last minute. It’s planned and organized. It’s branded. It’s tracked and reviewed. Driving a steady flow of new-patient opportunities is critical to driving practice revenue. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the impact of inconsistency too many times, and the outcomes are not good and can often immediately negatively impact new-patient flow.

There are important tools required to attract and convert more high-producing new patients. The practice needs a lot of positive reviews, and they’re easy to garner with great software like Review Booster from Practice ZEBRA. The practice needs good awareness in the community in targeted households (the right targeted households – use technology for that, too), direct mail (the only way to reach 100% of the practice market area), paid media, a great website, signage, and event participation. The team that answers the phone must be skilled in directing new-patient calls and overcoming objections with professional dental-industry training (phone power in Practice ZEBRA). Onboarding a new patient needs to be fast and convenient. There are so many items that they can’t all be listed!

Be sure to know the numbers in order to find and keep revenue. There is a big exodus from insurance participation happening currently, but your practice needs to know the value of each insurance provider before making the leap. It’s very interesting to look at your metrics by insurance. Just as a membership plan patient who pays $325 per year for that plan then averages 2x the value of a non-insured patient (industry average), different insurance plan patients will contribute more revenue than you might realize. And you can cut off your nose to spite your face by exiting the plan versus adjusting your fees internally – this is knowledge you want. We recently onboarded a new client who had decided to exit all insurance and go fee-for-service prior to talking to us about marketing – and revenue had started declining. When we took a look via Practice ZEBRA, we could see that while the average patient value of the entire practice was $1,800, and membership patients were coming in at $2,200, the value of a Dxxxa Dxxxxl patient was actually $4,600 and represented almost 40% of the patient base. You want these insights before making that insurance decision, so you can effectively strategize the best way to handle the challenges insurance participation creates.

Unaccepted treatment follow-up programs can be a gold mine. Why don’t patients accept treatment? It’s often because they simply can’t prioritize it at the moment due to inconvenient timing, they’re worried or scared of pain, or it’s a money thing. A follow-up plan that includes education, reminders of the benefits of treatment, and the importance of the treatment can subsequently get in front of that patient at just the right time, and then – boom! – treatment is a go! Use modules like unaccepted treatment in Practice ZEBRA, sort by highest value outstanding, and then access the email anytime templates to call blitz and educate. BTW: Perceived indifference is the number one reason patients lapse. If you consider this, it could be impacted by unaccepted treatment … it doesn’t take much sometimes for a patient to feel overlooked. But there are some tactics you can implement at the practice level to educate patients on a more regular basis, so they not only start considering treatment but also feel appreciated by the practice and dentist. Here’s a hint: A mailed patient newsletter is an amazing thing that really differentiates a practice.

At the end of the day, everyone at this meeting was expecting more consolidation (of course), but whether you’re a solo practice, small group, or DSO, the aspects listed above impact growth and success. There was a good amount of discussion about relationships, what vendors to choose, and how they fit different goals.

At Patient NEWS, we are different. We value the relationships we have with our clients, whether you’re using our marketing software, Practice ZEBRA, or our digital or direct mail marketing services. It’s a real relationship throughout our tenure together. One panel presenter talked about the consideration of how your partners will ultimately support your team at the practice. Especially as a DSO manager, you have to turn around and sell what you’re buying to the affiliate – and then the affiliate has to successfully implement. Will the company/partner you choose be just as good with your team as the sales team was for you? That’s what you get with Patient NEWS – full service. Dedicated account management. Real people who care. We make your job easier – for you and your team. We are rooting hard for our clients’ success. We know our 30 years of experience and expertise will alleviate the stress and hassle you have with reporting, marketing, results, team training, and managing multiple projects.

We make dental offices and DSOs stand out and grow! Scroll up and call today for a free consultation.

“The service, guidance, and, more importantly, the ROI we have received over the years from Patient NEWS is outstanding to say the least. We continue to see a substantial increase in our new-patient database with a customized mailer that reaches our targeted community. The extensive reporting capabilities, along with the support from Carrie, continue to supersede our expectations. Well worth your hard-earned marketing dollars!” – Dr. N. Kennedy



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