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I want to Hire an Associate

I want to Hire an Associate

“I want to hire an associate, but I’m not sure if I’m busy enough. Do I base this decision on how long my patients have to wait for an appointment, total number of patients, or some other metric?”

A dentist should only hire an associate if he has more work than he wishes to perform or if he can pay the associate enough money to make it worth the associate’s time and effort. Unless you are in an underserved area, it is foolhardy to assume that if you hire an associate additional patients will magically appear to keep the associate busy.

If you are in an area where there are more patients than you can treat during your desired workweek, you first need to estimate how much dentistry is available for the associate.   Most associates will not accept commission-only employment if they will be waiting for your occasional “extra” patient to walk through the door.  Associate compensation usually ranges from 28% to 32% of collections or a minimum guaranteed compensation per year of approximately $100,000  (whichever is higher).

An average associate (if booked efficiently with a full schedule) can produce $150,000 to $200,000 per year for each day of the week he works.  You must either have this extra work or be willing to give up one day of work and $60,000 of income ($200,000 collections x 30% compensation of associate =$60,000) for each day per week you hire the associate.   A good rule of thumb is $200K in extra or excess adjusted production per year equals one day of work per week for an associate. 

Another rule of thumb for hiring an associate is your active patient count.  If you define an active patient as a patient who has been examined and treated in the last 18 months, then a very efficient dentist usually needs an associate after attaining 2000 to 2500 active patients.

All of the above metrics depend on the demographics of your practice, the type of practice you have (fee for service or discount plans) and the ability of your patients to pay for their dental care.

Written by: Preston Lovelace, JD., MS.

Lovelace and Associates