Supporting the Business Side of Dentistry

By Jim Philhower, Director–North America Dental Sales Leadership & Development Henry Schein, Inc.

In addition, being able to address technical service issues and knowing what the costs and availability of rental/loaner equipment were also important. I attended branch sales meetings, as well as state and national conventions to stay informed.

Taking the doctor and hygiene order were both a priority, along with helping to control both inventory and the cost of dental supplies. Interestingly, and unfortunately, in those 27 years (and maybe the past 50) not much of that mindset has changed. Sure, back then new technology was considered fiber-optic handpieces, today it is digital radiography, CAD/CAM technology, and Cone Beam X-rays, but much of the “dental representative routine” is still the traditional dental “detail” representative.

More emphasis is probably put on professional selling skills than in years past. Today, many companies are either hiring reps who have had sales training and sales experience, or conduct their own internal sales training. Many manufactures also provide quality sales training. Sales representatives are taught to slow down and ask questions; keep your probing open and uncover the doctor’s “needs.” “Ah, yes,” the doctor’s “needs.” Although this approach is much more professional than the “old feature dump and can I have the order routine,” the inherent problem is the supply rep is almost always trying to uncover a doctor’s need that can be fulfilled by purchasing a product that he/she just happens to sell!

“Doctor, you are not busy enough—buy CAD/CAM or intraoral equipment. Doctor, you are too busy— buy a new operatory or build a new building. You want to do more cosmetic dentistry? I have just the new composite and bonding material for you,” etc… etc… . I am not suggesting that in some cases these are not proper solutions–in fact, many times they are. The issue is that it still requires the doctor to purchase something to solve the need. In other words, our competition’s philosophy is, Dr. buys something and you could grow. At Henry Schein, our philosophy is, “Doctor, let us help you grow, then buy.” In 27 years of working with dentists at many levels in our industry, I have never met or spoken to a dentist who went to sleep at night or drove to the office in the morning worrying about where to purchase dental supplies or equipment!

Here are the concerns that dentists listed in a recent survey when asked, “Doctor what is the greatest challenge your practice faces this year?”

  1. Increasing profitability/production
  2. Reducing overhead
  3. Creating/maintaining “Team Harmony”
  4. Attracting new patients
  5. Dealing with insurance
  6. Decreasing accounts receivables

Where is buying dental supplies and equipment on this list of concerns?

Henry Schein is the only dental supply company that teaches their team the “Business side of Dentistry” with the specific purpose of helping our doctors achieve their practice goals. Since 2000, “Career Development” training has been a key focus for Henry Schein. Career Development presently consists of a continuum of 4 levels of courses. Currently, more than 400 Team Schein Members attend Career Development courses at our training center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin annually. Upon completion of Career Development, our teams have been taught proven techniques to increase profitability and productivity without the doctor or the team working any harder.

All dental supply companies say they can save the doctor money on dental supplies. However, if you could save 10 or even 20%, that would result in only 0.5 to 1% overhead reduction on just the 1 line item of dental supplies. What if you could reduce your OVERALL office overhead by 5-10%? What effect would that reduction have on your bottom line?

If you are interested in increasing profitability, lowering office overhead, attracting new patients, increasing patient referrals, or creating/improving team harmony, please ask your Henry Schein Dental Sales Consultant to take you to lunch and share the proven techniques that have helped many dentists see improvement in these areas. Your Henry Schein Dental Team stands ready to help you face your greatest challenges and reach your practice goals for 2009. For more information, call the toll-free number or log onto the Web site listed below.

For more information about our Practice Discovery Services or a complimentary consultation, call 1-800-372-4346 (select prompt 6) or go to