The one question dentists need to ask about DSOs

Dr. Marc Cooper

Dr. Cooper's professional career includes private periodontist, academician, researcher, teacher, practice management consultant, corporate consultant, trainer, seminar director, board director, author, entrepreneur and inventor.Dr. Cooper has studied with masters in many disciplines, participated in formal business educational programs, and worked as an independent contractor with top-flight consulting companies. In 2011, Dr. Cooper was selected as a coach for the prestigious TED Fellows Program.The Mastery Company has been in existence since 1984. Dr. Cooper's client experience in dentistry includes solo private practice, small partnered practices, managed group practices and retail corporate enterprises. Dr. Cooper has worked with numbers of health care entities such as insurance companies, clearing houses, bio-technical companies and disease management companies, as well as the senior executives and boards of large hospitals and hospital systems and a number of their related physician groups. In addition, Dr. Cooper has worked with Silicon Valley start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. He has worked with dental clients in the U.S., U.K. Canada, Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Israel.Dr. Cooper is author of eight successful books; Mastering the Business of Practice, Partnerships in Dental Practice, Running on Empty, SOURCE, Valuocity, Valuocity II, Valuocity III, and The Elder. His electronic newsletter reaches thousands of subscribers in 31 countries. Dr. Cooper also co-developed a suite of online dental practice management assessment tools.Dr. Cooper can be contacted

Having conversations about the future can prove beneficial.

The right question for dentists to ask about DSOs is, “What is the possibility for myself in this future?" given that DSOs will dominate the future. Questions about what works about DSOs, what doesn’t work, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad are frequent and genuine questions-but they don’t change anything. These conversations don’t produce results. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

These questions-and the answers they get depending on who they ask-won’t alter the future. These conversations have no power. They just make something or someone wrong, or someone or something right. These conversations are filled with blame, fault, judgment, opinions, assessment, anger and despair. These conversations have no responsibility at their core. They are more gossip than committed speaking.

What will change something is action-period. What generates action is a request. A request is a transaction. A request is asking another for a commitment. A request is negotiable. A request is a conversation for and about the future. A request generates action, committed action, which drives outcomes.

More from the author: Why dentists are reluctant to change their minds

But in my experience, dentists would rather be right than happy. They’d rather complain, opine, explain, assess and judge rather than do something about it.  The only thing that will change the future is committed speaking leading to committed action, which few if any dentists are doing. Dentists simply are not making requests in collaboration with DSOs, or those advisers who help emerging DSOs in their development or existing DSOs in their leadership, management, culture, communication and infrastructure performance.

I am a bit tired of hearing all the complaints about DSOs, from both inside and outside DSOs. What I don’t hear are well negotiated requests made to the appropriate people to change the future. 

DSOs are not going away. They are growing between 13 percent and 15 percent per year. They are well financed. They are well led and well managed. They have powerful infrastructures and very accountable people. Young dentists don’t want to own a practice. Older dentists are tired of managing and owning. In less than a decade, 50 precent of the dentists will be women. DSOs will flourish in this ecology.

Complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any better. The only thing complaining does is convince people that you are not in control, that you are a victim. Those who complain the most accomplish the least. If you have time to complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.

If the future is DSOs, and it is inevitable that it is the future, it is best to get on this train because it is leaving the station. The DSO tracks are laid for dominating the industry. They’ve got the money, the people, the processes, the infrastructures, the metrics. In essence, they have the wind at their backs and the sun on their face.