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Return on Investment

Return_on_InvestmentThe ACP Private Practice Committee is pleased to introduce a new series of articles for members in practice -- written by prosthodontists, for prosthodontists.

These articles are intended to share tips and wisdom that members have picked up from their experience in practice -- with useful ideas for prosthodontists new in practice and those who are further into their careers.

Contributed by: Dr. Robert M. Bentz

I come to you today with over 24 years of experience and a willingness to share some words of wisdom about gross income and net profits. This concept, which you will live by, will be directly affected by what you buy in your office and how it generates income. This important concept is called “Return on Investment” or ROI. Memorize this, because it can help manage many of the stresses in your professional world.

A career as a prosthodontist has been very fulfilling for me because my goals are to improve the quality life for both my patients as well as myself. It is easy to forget. In order to help those around you, you must be content with yourself. Earn a good living, enjoy what you do, but don’t make poor decisions on your purchases. In short, don’t be oversold. When I first entered the workforce, I was raring to start “fixing teeth”. 

I was a little nervous (a lot nervous) about not being in my dental school surroundings. I was also nervous about making all my own decisions with my own patients. There was no one to call and no time to overthink my next step. I still remember trying to find supplies and rooting in the storage closet for what I may need for my next procedure. To my surprise, I found much more then cotton rolls and gauze. I found boxes of brand new instruments, a brand new electrosurge, a bobcat portable scaler, cases of anesthesia outdated, and the list goes on. I left that room thinking, why? I soon found out from talking with my employer’s wife as she explained how “Tom” could never pass up a good deal and he loved technology (1991 era). She went on to say that after every dental convention, cases of new things would just appear. The far majority would end up in the storage room. I knew it was not helping the overall business plan. Since there was no business plan in place, it was never addressed. Please don’t do this. I came from a family of conservative bankers that taught me to save my money. I also hired an accountant that would look over my large purchases when I needed that “end of the year tax deduction”.

When I attend any dental convention, I also have a game plan on what exactly I would like to evaluate and possibly purchase. I never buy more then I need and I always think about how this item or product will improve my workflow or bottom line. Having one of the top five professions in the country, there seems to be a bullseye on our heads. Every salesman knows we love to buy things and we really love new technology. We can also qualify for just about any type of financing available. This all spells trouble in the world of digital dentistry, where the costly equipment necessary to do our jobs is non-returnable.

When first starting out, don’t try things that are too new to you. Look for your strengths and streamline them. Find a mentor and heed his warnings. Go slow and steady and try to turn a profit because if you don’t make money in your job then all you have is a hobby with a lot of debt. When it comes to making small purchases, try to pass that off to a supply person in your office. When it comes to making large equipment purchases, I would present this to a group of your staffers during an office meeting. If they are not on board and agree to its usefulness, I assure you, it will never make you money.

Please don’t forget the important concept, “Return on Investment”, and purchase only what you feel you need to work productively. As far as myself, I have a beautiful 3D printer sitting in my lab that I hope one day will produce a useful model. Even I can dream!  

Good luck and you have a great future ahead!


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