The biggest mistakes dentists make: Hiring an associate at the wrong time

August 16, 2016
Dr. Roger P. Levin
Dr. Roger P. Levin

Dr. Roger P. Levin is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm. Founded in 1985, Levin Group has worked with over 30,000 dental practices. Dr. Levin is one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry and is a leading authority on dental practice success and sustainable growth. Through extensive research and cutting-edge innovation, Dr. Levin is a recognized expert on propelling practices into the top 10 percent. He has authored 65 books and over 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Time magazine and is the creator of the Levin Group Tip of the Day, which has over 30,000 subscribers. To contact Dr. Levin, visit or email

When associateships fail, it can be devastating to the practice. Hiring the right associate requires a thorough, step-by-step process to ensure the best results.

Editor's Note: Based on his extensive experience with dentists over the past 30 years, Dr. Roger P. Levin has authored a new book entitled The 31 Biggest Mistakes Dentists Make. His premise is simple. As he says in the introduction, “We can learn from our mistakes. But isn’t it better to learn from other people’s mistakes?”

The following is an excerpt from the book...

Hiring an Associate at the Wrong Time

This mistake can set dentists back both financially and emotionally. First, most doctors don’t properly analyze their practice to determine if an associate is necessary. Too many dentists go by their gut. They feel overwhelmed, look at their production, and believe that an associate will be the answer to their “busy-ness.” For many of these doctors, implementing new systems would enable their practices to operate more efficiently, with less stress and even higher production and profitability. An associate, on the other hand, can become a drain on time, energy and overhead.

Another big mistake: Relying on your accountant too much

Second, few dentists interview prospective associates properly. I have met dentists who had only met the candidate in person one time (maybe with some telephone follow-up) before they decided to bring this stranger into their practice. Hiring an associate is an enormous change for the practice. Just as a Fortune 500 CEO would carefully interview any contender for executive vice president, dentists must do the same thing.

Even when interviews go exceptionally well, mistakes in hiring occur frequently. Some people interview extremely well, which can mislead the dentist into thinking they are something they’re not. Also, associates often don’t know what they really want. For example, an unmarried associate may fall in love with someone in a different state and end up moving there. This scenario happens routinely and can result in even more chaos for the doctor.

Another big mistake: Living above your means

Third, at times associates need leadership even more than other staff members. The owner-dentist will have to play the role of mentor to the associate, having regular meetings to review the associate’s involvement in the practice.

When associateships fail, it can be devastating to the practice. Hiring the right associate requires a thorough, step-by-step process to ensure the best results.

Free Whitepaper: Tired of waiting for things to get better? Find out how a Practice Analysis can give you the answers you need to make the changes you want. Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper “How to Increase the Income from Your Practice” by clicking here.