Home Practice ManagementStart-UpCoaching The Top 17 Regrets of Older Dentists

The Top 17 Regrets of Older Dentists

by Jay Geier

I wish I’d known sooner.

We’ve all been there, and it’s not a fun place to be. Your “aha moment” is a few years too late and all you have to show for it is a lesson and a big pile of regret. That’s why we recently interviewed a group of 55+ year-old dentists about their biggest lessons and regrets in private practice ownership. We asked them what they wished they had known when they were 40 – and what they would have chosen to do differently, knowing what they know now.

I hope you will use this list as a tool to help you avoid regret and make the best decisions for your personal and professional success!

I wish I had….

1) …understood the importance of new patients.

So many dentists seek to solve their collections, revenue and production issues without recognizing how new patient growth positively affects all of those numbers. New patients are the “gateway to the buffet,” according to one of my clients, Dr. Jason Sala. They are the solution to so many of your practice’s problems.

2) …included my spouse in my practice plans and goals.

Including your spouse can bring the two of you closer together and provide you with a loyal ally in your practice. And when you make decisions that will affect the livelihood of your family, I can assure you that your spouse will want to be part of the discussion.

3) …fired people sooner when they weren’t a good “fit” with the overall practice vision and goals.

If a team member is not open to being trained or learning new things, or is hindering the results of your practice, it is probably time to let that person go. They are holding back the entire team, and preventing your practice from reaching its full success potential.

4) …delegated “busy work” off of me and onto my team.

Your team is much more capable than you realize. You need to give them more responsibilities so that you can focus on doing things that promote practice growth. By delegating to your team, you get to spend more time on the things that matter most to you, like your family and clinical care.

5) …blocked out time on the calendar to plan for future growth.

It is your responsibility to be the visionary of the practice. If you aren’t intentional about setting aside time to create a vision and plan for growth, then it simply isn’t going to happen. Don’t let another year go by without making this a top priority!

6) …been more of an investor in the practice.

You need to understand the difference between an expense and an investment. Once you start making smart investments in your practice, you will start seeing exciting returns! Sometimes, dentists rationalize their fear of investing with the excuse, “I can’t afford that.” The truth is, you can’t afford NOT to invest in your practice.

7) …found an associate doctor sooner.

Hiring and training an associate doctor to do what you do is a NOBRAINER! It literally allows you to take your production 2X. The same thing goes for hiring and training two, three, or four associates.

8) …invested in team trainings.

Team trainings are the easiest way to instantly increase your new patients, production, and collections. Your team is your most valuable asset, and your greatest opportunity for growth. And one training every three years is not going to cut it… You should be consistently training your team every quarter to produce maximum results.

9) …been more intentional about having a “patientcentric practice” rather than an office-centric office.

Make sure everything at your practice is patient-centric – from your office hours to the in-office experience. Are you putting the patient’s convenience first every time? Are your patients treated like royalty from the moment they walk in the door? Do your hours resemble those of a retailer?

10) …set up hygiene as a “business within a business.”

Your hygiene department should be a self-sufficient, highly productive machine. Your hygiene team needs to be trained to truly own their department and their results. Dentists who have acted on this realization have seen their hygiene production skyrocket.

11) …understood how to properly reward my team so they were results-driven and excited about reaching their goals.

Understanding how to properly motivate people is an essential leadership skill. Chances are, your team is capable of a lot more than you realize – you just have to figure out how to get them excited! Incentives are an excellent way to get the whole team on board with your goals and your vision for practice growth. Remember: it’s not an expense… It’s a high-return investment.

12) …been better at tracking the data and looking at our numbers and our progress.

Especially when we’re running at full speed, numbers tend to sneak up on us. Become more intentional about tracking data and staying on course for your weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals. The more you pay attention to your numbers, the better equipped you are to reach your goals.

13) …set bigger, more ambitious goals – not wimpy ones.

Your goals should make you nervous and get you out of your comfort zone. If your goals feel “safe”—you need to trash those, and set some new ones! Exciting goals have an incredible motivating power on the entire practice.

14) …listened to advice about adding more operatories.

I get it; when you’re young, nothing seems scarier than taking a risk like increasing your space. However, many older dentists will tell you that there is a huge return potential in increasing your capacity earlier in your career. Are you bold enough to do what you need to do?


Many dentists have a false sense of security because of the number in their bank account. You should always be focused on your net worth – or, value of assets minus debts owed. If you owe a sizable chunk of money, you need to actively work on paying this down. You are accumulating interest that could be money invested into the practice.

16) …attended more events.

Events are a great engagement tool and a swift kick in the butt. It’s helpful to get together with other like-minded professionals and learn more about how to grow your practice—and areas of your practice that might need fixing!

17) …realized that running a business is harder than you think.

Contrary to what you might believe…. You don’t have to do this alone! Seek out experts and mentors who can provide you with a “bird’s eye view” of your practice goals and vision and give you the tools to teach you what you didn’t learn in dental school.

Fear of the unknown and fear of failure prevent us from doing what’s best for us and they are riddled throughout this list of regrets. We are afraid to take risks, so we settle for mediocre—and we end up missing out on our God-given potential.

Don’t go another year with your head in the sand. Take advantage of the wisdom of doctors who were in your shoes 10 – 20 years ago and start making intentional changes in your practice today.

After 20 years of working with doctors of all ages and in every size practice and town, we know that your practice management challenges are not unique. Bypass regret and indecision by going straight to www.meetme.so/DiscoveryCall to schedule a customized practice growth consult and learn how you can jumpstart a profitable future in your office.

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