The biggest mistakes dentists make: Not analyzing the practice as a business


Dr. Roger P. Levin highlights the importance of looking at the business aspects of your practice.

Based on his extensive experience with dentists over the past 30 years, Dr. Roger P. Levin has authored a 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.

Related article: The biggest mistakes dentists make: Never taking a vacation

Mistake #30: Not Analyzing the Practice as a Business

Dentists are trained in dentistry, not business management. We do not learn how to assess a practice’s vital signs by comparing them to industry standards or to projections of potential production. Instead, we’re taught to provide outstanding clinical care and think that’s all we’ll need to be successful in practice.

For well over 100 years, that was a valid impression. The law of supply and demand dictated success for most dental practices, even if they were not run in a businesslike manner. Now, in the challenging new dental economy, success is no longer guaranteed. Yet many dentists still ignore the importance of analyzing the state of their practice in business terms.

In the business world, there is a commonly used diagnostic tool referred to as a SWOT analysis … which looks at a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Related article: Swot Analysis: A critical step in strategic planning for every dental practice

For CEOs of major businesses, having an annual SWOT analysis is as natural and as critically important as seeing a physician for an annual checkup. If something is off-the corporate equivalent of high blood pressure or cholesterol-the need for treatment becomes clear.

In thousands of conversations with dentists throughout my career as the Founder and CEO of Levin Group, I have heard dentists explain that their practice is not doing well but they have no idea why. They can’t tell if there’s a problem with production, overhead or any of the other 25 critical practice targets. They don’t know the percentage of patients who are currently scheduled, how many inactive patients they have, their case acceptance rate, etc. ... all the data points that have a direct and fundamental bearing on the success of their practice.

Performing a periodic SWOT analysis solves this problem. By identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the analysis plays a central role in driving growth. For example, if the practice falls short of the targeted 98% of all patients scheduled at all times, it indicates that the practice should be doing more with the patients it already has… and that a downturn in production will occur if the practice does not come up with a corrective strategy.

Related article: Top 10 business tips for dental practices

Without analysis, you may have a misconception about the root cause of problems you see, resulting in wasting time and effort on “solutions” that don’t solve anything. Expert analysis should precede making any significant changes in your practice. For the best results, bring in an outside expert experienced in performing SWOT analyses for dental practices. This will assure objectivity, an understanding of what metrics truly matter the most and a report of findings that will serve as a blueprint for positive change.

The 31 Biggest Mistakes Dentists Make is available here for just $59.

Spend 30 minutes on the phone with a dental management expert … free. Levin Group’s new 30-Minute Practice Assessment gives you the opportunity to discuss any business challenge you’re facing, at no charge. To schedule your assessment, call 888-973-0000 or email


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