The following is for entertainment purposes only. Non of this should be taken as financial or business advice:

Let us look at the world of business for a second, because this is what a dental practice is…a business.

  • Name me a business that you can buy for less than it makes in one year?
  • Name me a business that can only be done by people who have 5 years training?
  • Name me a business you can still set up in any city in the country?
  • Name me a business model where people come to you with their problems?

This is the beauty of dental practice. And as such, if a dental practice is run well, then after the first three years (which is the period that most practices take to build up a head of steam), the principle should be taking home at least £100,000 before tax. If you are making less than this, then you may well be doing something wrong. And according to a recent government statement, the average dentist earns £60K. Is that how much you are worth for your qualifications? Is that how much you are worth for working in a profession with one of the highest suicide rates? I don’t think so. So what do we do?

10 steps to increase your income


Get good at what you do.

How can you justify charging more than the simple NHS fee, if all you do is the same treatment? You need to get some postgraduate qualifications. You need to become an expert at what you do, so that you can stand proud when a peer examines your work. When you know you are excellent, and know that your work will last, you can then honestly charge your patients more. Your work will pass the test of time, and you will reduce the number of patients coming back with problems.

Cut your unnecessary outgoings.

There are things you spend money on that you really don’t need. You probably have a cupboard full of useless junk that you have bought over the years. Don’t buy it unless you are going to use it. Cut deals with your suppliers; shop around for the cheapest utility providers. Insulate the loft of your practice and fit energy efficient bulbs. Do whatever you can to cut needless waste. And remember to check the use by dates on the materials in your stock cupboard. Make sure not to let things go to waste. Oh, and make sure you never, ever, never buy things on finance. Big ticket items often come with substantial discounts if you pay everything up front. This does not apply to buying a practice or a house of course…….although you never know unless you ask.

Look at your associate.

(assuming you are a principle). Is your associate bringing revenue into your practice, or is s/he costing you money? If it’s the latter, they have to go. Work out the running costs of each surgery. If your associate is making you less than that on average, then they have to go or change. Or do you just want expensive holiday cover?

Cut the number of days you work.

If you are working 6 days, you have no life. You shouldn’t be living to do dentistry. If you are smart, you will work at reducing your time to four days, with 6-8 weeks holiday. You will be fresher, healthier, and less stressed. At the very least, your income may stay the same. Most people see that it goes up, because you will have the time to organise your practice more effectively.

Set your hourly rate.

Sit down with your accounts and figure out how much you need to make an hour to get your desired income. Remember only to count the days that you actually work, and calculate in the cost of postgraduate courses which should be paid from your gross. Then add your pension. Then add 10 days of sickness (you never know). If you don’t know your hourly rate, how can you organise your appointment book and set correct private fees.

Select your patients.

There are patients who cancel appointments at late notice. There are patients who simply don’t turn up. Further, there are those that turn up for a crown prep and proudly state they now want an extraction. All this affects the efficiency of your business. You need to organise systems for dealing with these events when they occur so that you are not financially disadvantaged. You also need to remove from your practice the people that routinely do this. Get rid of the ones that waste time in your appointment book. Free up time for the ones that respect you and respect your time.

Get rid of the destructive staff members.

Some practices will have grumpy, rude, destructive members of staff (often referred to as the Dragon). For your practice to be a success you have to remove these from the equation. But obviously you cannot just sack them, not unless you want to end up in a tribunal. You have to nice them out. You have to be so nice that they find it absolutely intolerable for them to work there. They are miserable for a reason. Try it and see how long they last. Get good advice from competent people on the matter. Chris Barrow can help with matters like this. Of course, sometimes the grumpy staff member is you. In which case you need to work on yourself.

Learn how to sell ethically.

You might be the best dentist in the world clinically. But you need to remember something. Patients don’t want dentistry, they want what dentistry brings. They don’t want a root filling; they want a tooth that doesn’t hurt. They don’t want bleaching, they want whiter teeth. If you cannot express your services in a way that reflects what people WANT, you will be telling them what they need. People don’t buy needs unless they have to. Get yourself on a proper selling course. Remember, this is not so that you can sell loads of swanky dentistry. This is so that you can best serve your patients WANTS. The truly ethical dentist often finds himself talking patients out of unnecessary treatment. Don’t turn yourself into a used car salesman. You are better than that.

Dental Menus.

How the heck are people meant to know about the services you offer unless you tell them. Give them a sheet of paper with tick boxes related to various items of treatment that they “tick if interested”. You will be amazed at how much ethical business you can pick up from doing this.

Develop multiple streams of passive income.

There are other ways to make money than just dentistry you know. What do you really enjoy doing? I am sure your “hobby” can make you money somehow. The best way is passive income that occurs when you aren’t even about. Your aim is to replace your earned income from dentistry with passive income from other sources. This way you can work because you truly want to, not because you have to.