Monday, July 3, 2017

HCSI Interview with Stephen Parker of The Profitable Dentist Episode: 24

This episode of Doctor Entrepreneur featured an interview with Stephen Parker, Editor-in Chief of The Profitable Dentist Magazine, President of Excellence In Dentistry, Founder of Dentiva Consulting, and Founder of WhiteRock Dental. Lance King at Healthcare Compliance Solutions is proud to bring this podcast to you. (

Stephen Parker, Personal Life
Stephen Parker is married with 5 teenagers. He likes to sail with his wife.  He's been a serial entrepreneur and the advice he gives to aspiring entrepreneurs is to start with the end in mind. Steve has always had a passion for business. He started in the restaurant equipment business and watched that industry aggregate and scale. He then grew a telecommunications business and sold it. Twelve years ago he talked to friend about doing something different because he was getting out of the teleconference industry. His friend, a dentist said, “Your next thing should be a dental lab. We pay a lot of  money to them and we hate them all.” Steve took his friend's advice and started aggregating dental labs. He found most owners were great lab technicians but terrible businessmen. And in working with dentists, he saw the same trend among them as well. He decided to go into dental business management consulting.

The Profitable Dentist
Through his consulting work, Steve met Dr. Oakes, founder of The Profitable Dentist magazine. Dr. Oakes had Steve take a look at The Profitable Dentist and see if he could do something for them and he is now the Editor-in-Chief. The Profitable Dentist was started by Dr. Oakes, who realized upon graduating from dental school that he was never taught about actually running a dental practice. He decided to travel around to dentists in his area to speak with them. They talked about best practices, opportunities, and struggles. They decided to start a dental newsletter to reach other dentists. They put an ad in a dental industry magazine, looking for subscribers.
Interest in the newsletter grew so large that they started a magazine.  When the magazine first started, they received a letter from the ADA saying “how dare you put profitable and dentist in same sentence?” Dr. Oakes response was that “Patients are happy to go to profitable dentist.” Traditionally, dentists have been reluctant to talk about the business side of things, but over the last 5 years things are changing dramatically. Steve says people must realize that for dental school graduates, 90 percent are going to be independent business people, and they will have zero training in business. This is where The Profitable Dentist Magazine ( can help. The magazine covers topics such as hiring, firing, payroll, marketing, and other aspects of practice management, as well as providing clinical resources. The Profitable Dentist also holds a yearly seminar, featuring speakers and training in various areas, including business practices and clinical information. Sleep apnea and implants are the two most-requested clinical topics and retirement planning and marketing are the top two requested business management topics. The magazine looks for the best speakers who are on the edge of this evolving industry.

Recommendations to Sole Practice Dentists
His biggest piece of advice is to decide when you want to get out and plan with that end in mind. Ninety-six percent of dentists are unprepared to retire at age 65. Planning to find an associate to sell to doesn't work anymore. Dentists must start building systems and processes to get them ready to retire.  Steve's consulting firm, Dentiva Consulting suggests that dentists look at joining/creating a dental group to aggregate business processes and increase profit margins. He says that we're in the Wild West stage of dental aggregation. The dental industry was originally where most dentists were sole practitioners or a few joined huge dental corporations. Now most doctors choose to incorporate, just in smaller groups than some people imagine. Since the industry only has room for a few “elephants,” most groups are 5-17 dentists and people are happy at that size. The dental practices can aggregate business functions; marketing, supplies, and billing, but dentists can still have control over the clinical aspects of the practice. The DSO model is flexible and allows doctors to create a version that works for them. (Lance interviewed Jeromy Dixson, of Smiles Dental, who also talked about DSO's in this interview.)

Steve says you will mess up every day just remember to not lose the message along the way. His biggest failure was his understanding (or misunderstanding) of how dentists ran their practices. He saw so many practices failing, with no apparent reason. He found that 9 times out of 10, the practice had borrowed too much money and needed restructuring. After the necessary changes were made as suggested by the consulting firm, the practices would get right back into debt, sometimes within the first month after the changes were made. Steve kept thinking that knowledge would be enough to change. He has found that sometimes behaviors are so entrenched you can't fix it through consulting. Now his company takes over those business processes for dentists. He likes that his company is able to evolve as the industry demands.

Personal Habit of Success
Steve says, “Know your numbers. Find metrics.” He believes that anything that's watched and measured will improve. He gets the end-of-day metrics on whatever he wants to improve. He says to let your team know what you're watching. In the role as leader, know what you're working on and make sure to look at it and measure it every day.

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The Profitable Dentist Magazine

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