Thinking of Joining a DSO? Advice from 16 Dental Service Organization Experts
Navigating the landscape of modern dentistry can be both exhilarating and daunting. As dentists throughout the US explore how to reach their practice goals, the allure of joining a Dental Service Organization (DSO) has grown significantly.
DSOs promise an integration of resources, shared administrative duties, and often, a broader patient base. But, like any significant professional decision, joining a DSO comes with its set of advantages and challenges.
If you’re standing at this crossroads, wondering whether a DSO is the right move for you, you’re not alone. To provide a clearer perspective, we’ve tapped into the expertise of 16 seasoned DSO professionals. These experts bring to the table insights from their years in the field, offering invaluable advice to any dentist considering this pivotal practice decision.
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1. Group Dentistry Now
“Do your research. There are so many options for dental practice owners now when it comes to partnering with a dental group. I recommend talking to an M&A broker. Someone that works with these DSOs and DPOs on a regular basis. This will be one of the biggest decisions in your life and right now there are a lot of great options.”
2. Group Dentistry Now
“There is a popular industry expression, ‘When you’ve seen one DSO, you’ve seen one DSO.’ Since DSOs come in all shapes and sizes: emerging, mid-market, and large; all offering different cultures, debt repayment options, and support philosophies, it is important to understand how you align with their culture, philosophy, and value system. With thousands of dental support organizations to choose from, opportunities abound for new dental graduates. Do your research. Once you have it narrowed down, interview them to see which one is the best fit for you. Most importantly, remember that you are in the driver’s seat.”
Co-founder & COO
3. KM Coaching
“Join forces with like-minded organizations, letting go of your old self to welcome a fresh perspective. Stay true to your values, but stay open to change. Embrace it to grow as a leader, improve your practice, and nurture your team.”
DSO Consultant & Dental Coach
4. Luminate Dental Implant Center
“As you consider a DSO, focus on the people who will become your new partners. One common factor in any new business (and even though your practice may have been around for many years, becoming part of a DSO is definitely a new venture) is that the journey will be unpredictable and full of challenges and surprises. So while a DSO may try hard to sell you on a particular vision, some change is inevitable. Trusting your new colleagues to share your values, understanding their backgrounds and experiences, and familiarizing yourself with their motivations and criteria for success are critical to your decision.”
Luminate Dental Implant Center
5. PepperPointe Partnerships
“It is imperative for each doctor owner — no matter the stage in their career — to understand and evaluate all available options as they relate to the future of their practice. Now, more than ever, the dental industry is experiencing unprecedented changes.
In the past ten years, private equity companies have spent billions of dollars in the acquisition and control of dental practices through investment in dental service organizations (DSOs), making it clear that consolidation in dentistry is inevitable. The high turnover rate among practitioners within DSOs, alongside the commoditization of the young practitioner, is resulting in the biggest disruption to not only the solo practitioner but their patients and communities. For the doctors at PepperPointe, they chose to create an alternative DSO model that they own and control at every level of the business — where they can receive unparalleled synergy, opportunity for growth, and an unmatched collaborative network of dental practitioners. They didn’t want to become an employee of the practice they’ve worked hard to build, they didn’t need a cash advance, they wanted to maintain control, they wanted to work with a team who was investing in their success, and they wanted to grow and compete in this changing Marketplace.
We encourage practitioners to not assume that the only option is to sell or stay where they are. Instead of the dental industry following in the direction medicine and pharmacy have, we believe there is an alternative path that truly preserves doctor ownership and ensures continuity of care for patients: self-consolidation. This solution connects like-minded doctor owners who can see the endless possibilities created when they come together. Together, there’s a significant opportunity to make an impact and leverage that scale to benefit doctors and their practices. Doctors can control the manner in which consolidation occurs. It just takes courage.”
Dr. Greg White
CEO and President
6. Premier Care Dental Management
“As the Chief Operating Officer at Premier Care Dental Management, Dental365, my best advice for dental practice owners considering joining a DSO is to thoroughly research the DSO’s track record and reputation in the dental industry. Look for a DSO that aligns with your practice’s values, mission, and long-term goals to ensure a harmonious partnership. Additionally, carefully review the terms of the agreement, including the available resources and training opportunities offered by the DSO, to maximize the potential for professional growth and success in your dental practice. Finally, engage in open communication with other dental practice owners who have partnered with the DSO to gain valuable insights into the overall experience and collaborative support provided.”
7. SGA Dental Partners
“Two pieces of advice. First, you have to understand that all DSOs are a little different, so do NOT put all DSOs in one box. The old saying goes, “If you met one DSO, then you have met one DSO”.
Second, start with self-awareness, and ask yourself, personally and professionally what you want your life and your dental business to look like moving forward in the future. If you come to the conclusion that a partnership is the best way to get YOU where YOU want to be, then and only then should you explore the option of joining a DSO. The key to any partnership, whether business or personal, is to find alignment. And that’s why self-awareness is so important because if you don’t know what you are looking for, then you can’t align with the correct DSO partner.”
SGA Dental Partners
8. Smart Arches
“Us doctors are getting squeezed from both ends. Insurance is reimbursing less and less, and operating costs are going up. DSOs are formed to combat this problem to allow the practitioner to focus on what we went to years of school for, dentistry.”
Dr. Simon Oh
9. Smile Partners USA
“A partnership with Smile Partners USA could be a transformative step for your practice. By aligning with us, you open doors to enhanced operational efficiency, expanded resources to like-minded peers, and a stronger focus on patient care. Your legacy and commitment to dentistry will thrive, backed by a dedicated team, while you enjoy a reduced administrative workload.”
Sr Director of Business Development
10. T Management
“Due diligence is a two-way process, the seller should put as much due diligence into the buyer as the buyer is putting into the seller. Also, structure is more important than multiples.”
11. The Smilist Management Inc.
“When joining a DSO, it’s important to align with an organization that fits within your own culture, and business philosophy. Look at their mission statement and see if the company delivers on what they actually stand for. Ask tough questions to both the organization and yourself. Will the organization satisfy you on an economical level but maybe, more importantly, a position where you feel you are part of a team that cares about a business many of you have spent a lifetime building.”
Partner and Director of Orthodontics
12. The Smilist Management Inc.
“Find a group practice that allows you full clinical freedom to treat and service patients as you always have done. Giving doctors and staff clinical freedom is a key component of the partnership. Prioritizing the cultural and philosophical alignment between the company and your individual practice is key.”
Director of Business Development
13. Tusk Partners
“Review all of the options available in the market. If you’ve seen one DSO, you’ve seen one DSO. Each is unique in its own way and provides varying levels of support, oversight, equity investment, and contractual obligation. When selling your life’s work you owe it to yourself to see all of the options available to ensure you find the right “fit” for your future goals. It will make the next 4-5 years of partnership a lot more enjoyable!”
Director, Mergers and Acquisitions
14. Venture Practices
“Before joining a DSO make sure you fully understand what is required of you after the sale. If you are going to be working in the practice as an associate there is a misconception that ‘everything besides the clinical’ will be taken care of. Many practice owners look forward to the payday but don’t realize they will have as much responsibility as before and work for someone who may value efficiency over effectiveness. There are a lot of great DSOs but make sure you find one you’re comfortable working for and has a reputation of doing what they say.”
Fractional Communications Director for Recruiting and Employer Branding
15. Venture Practices
“My best advice for dental practice owners considering joining a DSO would be to thoroughly research and don’t settle until you find the right fit. Ensure that the DSO’s goals align with your own practice’s vision and patient care standards.”
Dental Business Coach Specializing in Marketing and Recruiting
“Make sure the group you join shares your values and priorities. Finding the right partner can give practice owners all the advantages of group practice (including cash at closing), without sacrificing your practice’s soul.”
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