Shortage of Dentists – Over the past 20 years there has been a 32% drop in students entering Dental Schools in the US. At the same time the demand for dental services has increased dramatically.

Common Methods Don’t Work – Many practices around the country have been looking for Associate(s) to join their practices for years. Conventional methods of locating new Associates simply don’t work anymore. How many times have you seen the same ad in the ADA Journal? How many responses did you get when you put an ad in your local newspaper?

Cost – Paying for a Professional Recruiter is not cheap. But, when you consider the alternatives you will find that it is money well spent. Some recruiters charge upfront fees to do a search, however there are firms like ETS Dental that do contingency searches and you only pay a fee if you hire someone that they present.

Cost of NOT using a Recruiter – Take a moment and consider what it really costs you to find an Associate using conventional methods.

Cost of your time – As a practicing Dentist, your time is probably worth somewhere between $150 and $350 an hour. At an average of $225 an hour, it would cost $18,000 if you personally invested 80 hours in a search. Considering your chances of success, most find this is neither time nor money well spent.

Lost Opportunity Cost – Most successful practices are booked up for at least three or four months. Think how much new patient/referral revenue is lost every day from not being able to readily accommodate new patients. What would it mean to you to bring on an Associate six months sooner? (Example: $1000 Net collections per Associate per day – Less $350-$400 for Associate Pay = $625 x 104 days (4 days a week for 26 weeks) = $65,000.

Cost of Not Being Open Five or Six Days a Week – What would it mean to your practice if you could stay open one or two additional days a week? One would expect your net collections to increase from 10% to 40%. Most of this money would go directly to your bottom line since your fixed cost would remain relatively stable. (Example: Your Current Weekly Net Collections x (10% to 40%) = $???,???.

Cost of Your Vacation Time – What would it mean to your practice if you could keep it open when you take a vacation. One Dentist told us it costs him at least $30,000 for him to take a one-week vacation. How much does it cost you? ??,???.

Cost of Not Having a Choice – If you found just one Associate Candidate but you didn’t think there was a real fit, would you hire the Associate anyway? What if you settled for the only Associate candidate you’ve seen in months or even years? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a choice among multiple candidates when you make a decision that is this important to your business? What would it cost you if you hired the wrong Associate? $???,???.

Cost of Selling a Practice – Many Dentists are interested in selling or getting ready to sell their practices. The going rate to engage a Practice Management Firm to sell your practice is 10% of the practice value. This means that it would cost you $70,000 to sell your practice if it were valued at $700,000. Even if you find your own buyer, you still have to pay the Practice Brokerage according to most exclusive contracts. Wouldn’t it be better if you paid a recruiter to find the Associate of your choice then pay your own Lawyer and Accountant $5,000 to $15,000to sell the practice to your Associate?

There are many advantages to working with a dental recruiter during this very important process. Research the firm that you are considering working with. Ask your colleagues, who have recently hired Associates, who they worked with and ask if they would work with them again. Most importantly, make sure that you understand how the recruiting process works. Communication is key to finding your next great Associate!

Written by Marcia Patterson, Dental Recruiter for the Northeast at ETS Dental. You can reach Marcia at (540) 491-9118 or Check us out at

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