Consultant numbs the pain of today’s dentists

REGION – The current state of affairs for the business of dentistry is so difficult these days, it's … well, jaw-dropping, says Dr. John Kempton, DDS.

"Most experts will agree that dentists are not real masters at managing the business of dentistry and could use far more outside management support than we admit as a profession," says Kempton. "The general public does not necessarily perceive this fact,"

To that end, Kempton recently left his northern Michigan practice to launch a dental consulting firm, The Extraordinary Practice. Its purpose: to help other dentists learn to run their practice like a successful business.

"Most struggle with overhead, especially young dentists," he says. "They are basically sent out with great clinical skills, but learn the business aspect by trial and error."

– 86 percent of the profession reports measurable stress.

– Half of dentists operate with an overhead of 62 percent or greater.

– 35 percent of dental practices are experiencing embezzlement at some level.

To help dentists avoid the inefficient and costly trial-and-error approach, The Extraordinary Practice strives to educate dentists in business strategies and approaches to which they otherwise wouldn't have had exposure.

"There is very little training today in dental school regarding leadership, business management, or executive level communication skill," says Kempton. "This company is the marriage of two personal passions: an enthusiasm for excellence in all aspects of a dental practice, and a passion to mentor or teach colleagues to achieve success."

His company offers hands-on training in communication, leadership, management and marketing. Client dentists can choose from a variety of services, including workshops, private consultations, presentations and supportive product line.

Kempton also offers workshops – among them "The Young Dentist and New Practice," "Executive Business Training Workshop for Dentists" and "Communication Skill Workshop for Dentists and Teams."

The skills taught in the workshops are supported with an ongoing product line. For example, "The Executive Business Training Manual for Dentists" (to be released September 2011) is an assessment and evaluation tool that includes formulas to determine best practices in break-even points, production goals and hygiene efficiency level.

Kempton also has incorporated a private consultation arm into his business, in which he studies a dental practice in order to evaluate its overhead, productivity, financial policy and management systems. This information is analyzed and recommendations made in the form of an action plan, supported by tools.

Along with interactive workshops and business assessments, Kempton offers destination workshops, as well. Based on the concept of "sharpening the saw" ­- pausing long enough to freshen the edge so that working becomes more productive – Kempton hopes to draw and invigorate client dentists by interspersing workshop efforts with activities like golf outings and Harley-Davidson rides.

One local client engaging the services of Dr. Kempton is D.H. Baker Dental Laboratory of Traverse City. For 32 years, Baker Dental Laboratory has interfaced with dental professionals throughout the United States.

"What Dr. Kempton brings to this course as an educator is a model for success. So many consultants are business professionals, but they have never treated a patient," says Angela Lyon, client specialist .

"In addition, he is well-aware of the economic crisis. When the general population is losing benefits, experiencing job loss, and deciding between a house payment, groceries for their families or a new crown, you can guess what the patient is choosing," she says.

"More often than not, patients are asking to patch dental concerns, watch decay or an old crown, and holding off on making major dental investments. It's the trickle-down effect that's impacting dental practices today," says Lyon.

As this story goes to press, Dr. Kempton is Grand Rapids-bound to officially launch The Extraordinary Practice at the annual Michigan Dental Association Show.

For the sake of his business – and dentists themselves – Kempton hopes his firm is well-received.

"The dentist who has committed great energy and resources to provide clinical expertise is often underachieving in the realm of business practice," he says. "Dentists deserve to enjoy the rewards of their potential." BN