How to Earn £125k/year as an Associate Dentist

I’m constantly amazed at how little some associates gross in fees per day in some of the practices we work with. This week, I met an associate, 5 years out of a UK Dental School, who struggled to gross £400/day. Really… what are they doing all day?

NASDAL report that the average associate pay before tax is circa £75k/annum. Full time (or 4.5 days/week in dental-land) that represents a daily gross of circa £900/day or £15,500 in fees per month.

£900/day or £120/hour. With surgery costs (in Breathe Practices) averaging circa £550/day before lab and materials, a gross of £900 doesn’t work (for anyone!).

So, lets spin this around. If I was a young dental associate, ambitious, focussed, aspiring to: a nice house and a nice car, living well, holidaying well, recreation’ing well, I would want to earn in excess of £100k a year. After all, a big slice of this is going to go in taxes and even a six figure salary soon looks like £5k or £6k/month after the chancellor has had his cut.

So, I would do the maths:

  • If you gross £1000/day 4.5 days/week 46 weeks per year, that’s £207k /year gross. On a 45% deal with 10% of gross in lab fees, you will earn £84k/annum.
  • If you gross £1300/day 4.5 days/week 46 weeks per year, that’s £269k /year gross. On a 45% deal with 10% of gross in lab fees, you will earn £109k/annum.

And then I would ask myself, what has to happen for me to gross £1300/day?

So, after spending 15 years helping associates do just this, I offer you the the answers below in these 20 behaviours that high(er) grossing associates have adopted:

  1. Arrive early at your practice, run to time and leave late. If your last patient cancels, still stay until the practice closes. You never know who will walk through the door two minutes before the end of the day…
  2. Look and behave like the professional that you are. Dress like a professional, communicate like a professional, lead your support team like a professional. No gossip, no complaining, no lack of respect. Always turn up for daily huddles and practice meetings and contribute to them.
  3. Keep a day book in real time. On paper, with a pen, after every patient, write down what you did and the value of what you did (production not collection) and sub-total the day book after every patient. This is your dash board and tells you in real-time what sort of day you are having. This tactic alone could increase your gross by more than 20%.
  4. Limit check ups in your diary to 9/day for private dentists and 18/day for NHS dentists.
  5. Try and avoid single unit dentistry.
  6. Try and avoid offering big composite restorations, offer lab-made or Cerec-style restorations instead.
  7. Don’t discount your treatment plans and if you must, by no-more than 7.5%.
  8. Use a great lab (and be willing to pay their fees) so you don’t waste time and mess around trying to fit stuff.
  9. Don’t charge the patients for everything, give a little away.
  10. Have one session a week in the diary that only you can book. Offer these appointments to patients who want high value work booked-in quickly.
  11. Have at least one high value skill such as: Implants, Adult Ortho, Endo etc.
  12. Leave your phone (and social media) alone between patients.
  13. Create a system for writing up patient notes that fulfils all the GDC criteria but which doesn’t eat time during your clinical day.
  14. If you have a no show, don’t waste time hanging around reception or the staff room, get on the phone and contact patients who have unfinished treatment plans and book them appointments.
  15. Actively ask patients for word of mouth referrals.
  16. Get the support team behind you. Spoil them and be generous. Don’t forget they earn £11/hour, while you are earning £60 – £100/hour net.
  17. Negotiate a 50% contract if you gross more than £1500/day and a 55% contract if you gross more than £3000/day.
  18. Don’t work in lots of practices. Find one you like and work 4.5 days in it.
  19. If your practice web site is poor (or more than 3 years old) get some personal branding and have you own web-site using your name as the URL.
  20. Mitigate your personal tax if at all possible. Get a pro-active accountant and become a limited company

These behaviours are not about selling dentistry or behaving out of integrity or unethically. They are simply about working smarter and being well rewarded for doing so!

If an associate dentist were to adopt all of these behaviours (why pick and choose?) they would easily gross £1500/day 4.5 days/week 46 weeks per year, that’s £310k /year gross. On a 45% deal with 10% of gross in lab fees, they will earn £126k/annum. In 2003, my average daily gross was £1900… Dental Practice hasn’t changed that much!

With All Good Wishes,

If you would like some help with earning more money as a dentist, contact me for a chat:
m. 07770 430576

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