Dental Associates vs. Hygienists: Who’s More Profitable?

Examine the Bottom Line When Considering a Hygienist and/or Associate
Editorial by Jim Du Molin

Have you ever wondered what your real profit is on your hygienists or dental associates? Have you ever wondered whether a hygienist can be more profitable to you than an associate? If you have an extra operatory available, would it be more profitable to hire a dental associate or another hygienist?

In last week’s column, I explained how you can earn a profit of $493 per day from a hygienist who produces $962. How much would an associate have to produce to yield the same profit? Here again, the Comparative Value Analysis is helpful.

Comparative Value of One Day’s Production

Provider: — Hygienists — Associate
Mary Tim Goal Equiv.
(Commission) (Salary) (Per op)
Production $700 $700 $962 $1,176
Collections (96%) 672 672 924 1,129
Less…variable costs (9%) – 63 – 63 – 87 – 106
…commission (41%) – 288 n/a – 482
…salary n/a – 288 – 313 n/a
…employer taxes (10%) – 29 – 29 – 31 – 48
Profit $292 $292 $493 $493

Let’s assume that you would pay the dental associate 41% of his or her production. (In reality, we normally recommend that the associate be paid a percentage of his collections. However, we will keep things simple here.)

Further assume that the associate would pay his or her own lab fees and assistant, and that you would not have to add any front desk staff to handle the associate’s patients and scheduling.

Your net profit rate on the associate would be as follows:

Net Profit Rate on Associate

Collections 96%
Less: variable costs – 9%
Less: commission – 41%
Less: payroll taxes – 10%
Profit 36%

The associate would have to produce $1,176 per operatory used to give you the same profit as a hygienist. If the dental associate used two operatories, he or she would have to produce $2,352 per day to be as profitable as hygiene would be in those same operatories.

In our experience, it is easier to bring hygiene production up to $960 per day than it is to find a dental associate capable of consistently producing $1,176 in each operatory, or $2,352 in two operatories. Also, the associate must have a sufficient flow of patients to make this production level possible.

When structuring both hygiene and associate compensation, we advise that you compare what the hygienist or associate is earning on the relationship, compared to what the senior dentist is earning. The relative compensation levels should reflect a fair distribution based on the parties’ investments of time, energy, and financial risk.

For help in increasing hygiene production, a key element to increasing doctor profitability, contact J.P. Consultants or Advance Hygiene Concepts.

Dentists: Would a Former Associate Steal Your Dental Patients? (video)

Dentists: Would a Former Associate Steal Your Dental Patients? (video)Dentists, do you think an ex-employee or associate would steal your dental patient lists?

In a survey conducted by the research firm Ponemon Institute, 59% of ex-employees admitted to stealing company data when leaving their prior employment.

Dental patients are a dentist’s most valuable resource, but competition can be so tough that some dentists have seen exiting dental employees steal their patient lists.

One dentist complained, “Every GP associate I’ve had has tried to steal patients. It’s like inviting someone into your home, then finding your silverware is missing after they leave.”

Another dentist said, “I’ve had employees try; the patients usually complain to me personally about the situation. Loyalty is rewarded.”

The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if they have ever had problems with ‘patient stealing‘ by associate dentists or employees leaving their dental practice.

To hear how dentists responded, Click on Play —

What has been your experience with dental pateint stealing at your dental practice?

Only One in Four Dentists Wants To Be a Dental Associate

Dentists Agree: It’s Better To Be Your Own Boss

Dental Survey ResultsThree-quarters of dentists in our most recent poll said they would rather be their own boss than work for someone else. But with freedom comes responsibility, and some associate dentists prefer focusing more on practicing dentistry and less on practice management.

Specialists were unanimous: being your own boss is better. Not a single dental specialist responding to this survey said they would prefer to be an associate. On the other hand, 28% of general dentists think associateship is an excellent plan.

What do dentists think?

  • “I didn’t go to dental school for four years to be somebody’s employee!” (Oregon dentist)
  • “I would rather have the headaches of an owner than to be subject to the whims of an employer.” (California dentist)
  • “Initially it is good to get some experience as an associate.” (Arizona dentist)
  • “At some point, I want to change my role and be an employee without the worries of the business.” (Tennessee dentist)

Read the complete dental associate dilemma survey results, or post your thoughts about being your own boss

The Dental Associate of Your Dreams

Paging Dr. Right!

Work is nearly complete on Dr. Jim Sparaga’s new dental facility. His team is looking forward to moving in to their spacious new headquarters. But the doctor also knows that the new facility will require expanding his team…

Building Machias Dental
The new facility is nearly complete!
[click to enlarge]

Finding an associate is a common retirement strategy for dentists, and Dr. Sparaga was no exception. He was hoping to find an enthusiastic young associate who could help him recoup some of the construction expenses. And if he grooms his successor along the way, so much the better.

Dr. Sparaga and his wife wrote up an ad top attract the right sort of associate to their practice in rural Maine. They knew it wouldn’t be fore everybody, but they crossed their fingers. (See below for the text of their ad.)

They also had two “head-hunters” out there beating the bushes for an associate. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well as they’d hoped. “All we got were dozens of inquiries from green-card seeking dentists in places like Bangalore and Sumatra,” sighed Dr. Sparaga.

Then the doctor got a call from a dental student who had happened across their ad on the internet. When Dr. Sparaga learned he went to Pitt, his heart swelled a little bit, because that’s his alma mater too.

Had the Sparagas found their new associate? His resume was in order, he seemed enthusiastic about Maine, and they got on well over the phone. So the Pitt student brought his wife and young children to Maine for a visit. They kayake and attended the local blueberry festival. The whole family loved the downeast lifestyle.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with him and his family,” enthused Dr. Sparaga. “Luck or Karma? Maybe it’s the new facility?”

Here’s the original ad for a dental associate:

ASSOCIATE OPPORTUNITY

Soar with eagles n the rugged coast of Maine with a dynamic team in a state-of-the-art facility. Instead of fighting traffic, take part in our adventure: providing complete dentistry to our neighbors in our rural coastal town. An unusual practice opportunity, practicing big-city dentistry in an historic village. Machias is the Shiretown, with the county court system, University of Maine, hospital, and airport (with a new one coming).

Help take our patients to the next level with excellent communication skills, while advancing your career with Implants, Cerec, Lasers, Invisalign, anti-infective perio management, conscious sedation, and on-site lab.

Take the leap and join us in our new office, currently under construction, overlooking the Machias River Falls.

Want to catch up on this story? Here’s what the Sparagas have been doing…

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