True Dental Success Institute

Archive for August 2013

Dentist, Entrepreneur or Babysitter?

Last week, I was honored to host a meeting at the W Hotel in San Diego with a group of some of the most driven, focused and successful practicing dentists that I’ve ever met.

For two days, my Elite Practice Mastermind group strategized how they could further streamline their practices to provide better care, create more freedom, time off, and of course, become more profitable.

Their practices range anywhere from a small three operatory start-up producing under one million dollars, to a fifteen plus operatory seasoned office with several million dollars in revenue. Their level of experience varies from the first year of practice ownership to one year from transition and retirement from dentistry.

But while their backgrounds seem to differ greatly, they all have one thing in common… they have all taken the time to look at the big picture and plan strategically rather than just tactically. Or as Michael Gerber, the author of the book the bestselling book, E-Myth Revisited would say, “They take the time to work on their business, not just in their business.”

The format of our group meetings begins with each doctor sharing the strategies that are working best in their offices followed by a discussion of their sticking points- the challenges and frustrations that they face on a daily basis.

The group then collectively focuses on their challenges and together we design a plan of action with a deadline. The group holds that doctor accountable for taking steps to implement the plan. Being supported and held accountable by a group of your peers that you respect is an unbelievably powerful and effective method for accomplishing goals and benchmarks as well as persevering during difficult times.

One of the biggest elements of our program involves implementing systems and protocols that have the power to exponentially improve the practices of our members.

But systems such as referral generation, patient reactivation, patient retention, overhead and cash flow control, and new patient acquisition are only effective if the support team embraces and follows through with the strategic plan.

So the question of the weekend that came up over and over again was, “How do I get my staff on board with all of these changes?!”

My answer to this question is simple: you must hold them accountable.

The follow up question is as predictable as the previous question, “How do I hold my team accountable without turning into a full time babysitter?”

Here’s the quick and dirty solution.  (Note: without this structure in place, you’re destined to have a mediocre practice filled with chaos and frustration.)

The Team Accountability Agreement

This agreement converts your passive “job description” into an agreement signed by the doctor and team member. Here are the steps to making this work:

  1. Whether or not you already have one for each position in your office, ask each team member to create their own job description. In order to accomplish this, simply have the team member write down what they do throughout the day. This exercise alone can be enlightening for the owner and the team member.
  2. Schedule an individual meeting with each team member to review their self-created job description. Openly discuss positional responsibilities that need to be added to the document and duties that need to be removed from the list.
  3. Once this list of responsibilities has been customized and agreed upon by the owner and the team member, the document is signed by the owner and the team member. It should be clear to both parties that the agreement is a contract that will be used as a tool to assess the effectiveness of the team member at his or her position. A defined list of consequences for not adhering to the agreement should be included in the signed document.
  4. In order for this system to be effective, the Team Accountability Agreement must be enforced by the team member’s direct supervisor and failure to consistently perform the agreed upon duties must be dealt with immediately.
  5. The owner of the practice must regularly meet with the department supervisors to ensure that the accountability agreements are being followed and enforced.

Some of you may be thinking that you don’t want a bunch of robots walking around mindlessly checking tasks off a list, and that’s a valid concern. But my clients and I have actually seen the opposite to be true. We’ve found that team members actually embrace the accountability systems because they know exactly what is expected of them and they feel validated that the doctor will actually know all of the hard work that they accomplish throughout the day.

Of course, you don’t want to run your practice like a police officer- only operating based on negative reinforcement. There also needs to be a built in mechanism that rewards the team members who consistently meet and exceed their accountability agreements.

Running your practice through a series of defined efficient systems will increase the effectiveness of your team and turn your practice into a world-class organization!


All the best,

Mark Costes, DDS
Founder Dental Success Institute
Founder Horizon Schools of Dental Assisting
Author Pillars of Dental Success

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about joining our Elite Practice Mastermind group, or to find out about our practice building products, events and coaching programs, you can call my assistant Ashlee at (888) 293-7436 or email her at

Are you intimidated by implant placement?

If you can do a crown prep, a single rooted root canal or a routine extraction, you can successfully place a dental implant. Seriously!

For years I was resistant to placing conventional dental implants because I had a fairly high failure rate with mini-implants in the past.

As you may have noticed, marketing for dental implants in local markets and by national chains like Clear Choice has dramatically increased consumer awareness about the procedure.

More and more of the patients at my practices were asking about dental implants to replace missing teeth and to retain unstable dentures and I was referring them all to the local periodontist for consults and placement. I’d restore them but I started to feel like I was missing a big opportunity by not placing the more straightforward cases.

So I finally broke down and attended my friend Dr. Brady Frank’s two-day implant training course in Ashland, OR.

Wow, what an eye-opener! Brady’s revolutionary approach to clinical placement and case selection completely removed all of the anxiety that I had associated with placing dental implants.

I’m now totally confident in selecting the most predictable cases and referring out the ones that are beyond my comfort level.

I’m still shocked at how quickly an implant can actually be placed and how easily we are able to fit these cases into our busy schedule. And case acceptance has been incredibly high because we are able to charge less than the local specialists and the patient’s are thrilled that we can actually do the procedure in our office, where they already trust us and feel comfortable.

In our interview, Dr. Frank covers the following topics:

  • The no-drill implant procedure
  • How to utilize shorter implants to avoid expensive time consuming and invasive grafting procedures
  • The 5-minute implant abutment and crown procedure

Dr. Frank has graciously agreed to extend  a $700 discount for all members of this community for training at any of his three training facilities. In order to take advantage of this discount, simply call Dr. Frank’s assistant Kelli at (541)864-0312 or email her at Be sure to mention that you were referred by me in order to receive your discount.

You can also visit for more information and upcoming course schedules.

Right now is the best time to get the training you need to capitalize on one of the biggest shifts that dentistry has seen in a generation.

All the Best,

Mark Costes, DDS
Founder, Dental Success Institute
Founder, Horizon Schools of Dental Assisting
Author, Pillars of Dental Success

The Perfect Dental Practice

There really is no such thing as a “perfect” dental practce.

But in this quick five minute video, I take you through an exercise that is an important foundational step to helping you to get your dental practice as close to perfect as possible.

Make sure you have a pen and a piece of paper ready before you start the video

All the Best,

Mark Costes, DDS
Founder, Dental Success Institute
Founder, Horizon Schools of Dental Assisting
Author, Pillars of Dental Success

Best Month in 25 Years!

My absolute favorite thing about helping dentists to improve their lives and practices is when I get success stories.

Today, one of my private coaching clients and Elite Practice Mastermind members, Dr. Aaron Nicholas from Burtonsville, MD shot me a text letting me know that he had just gotten his highest monthly new patient total of his 25 year dental career and was on track for his best year yet.

He thanked me and attributed our company’s coaching, systems, and processes for his remarkable and unexpected practice growth.

Just before he left for an extended European Vacation he was nice enough to send this kind note to share his experience:

I first met Mark Costes a couple of months before his Success Summit. He was with a group of dentists at an implant seminar and was trying, like the rest of us, to improve his skills in placing implants and in the systems associated with making that a routine procedure.

After talking with him a bit, I realized that this guy was a chair-side dentist who had figured out how to build dental practices. He had built six and had a reliable system for doing this.

After attending the Success Summit, I was even more convinced that I wanted to try his system. He had written it all down in what is almost a cookbook system—the “Dental Practice Accelerator.” Best of all, it included a lot of things that I was already doing but had never systematized in order so that I could see maximum benefit from them—things like giving a really great new-patient experience, thanking referrals with a note and a gift, sending cards to acknowledge big events in patients’ lives, donating both time and money to worthwhile community organizations, and reactivating patients who hadn’t been back to our office for a while. But because of the way the systems are set up, each of these activities builds on the others, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It all seemed so simple and made such sense. I’ve been in practice twenty-five years—why didn’t I think of this?

As I was sitting in the seminar, knowing that I wanted to do this, my next thought was, “How am I going to implement this and hold myself accountable?” I’ve been to plenty of seminars and have only used a fraction of the information presented because I just lost steam in trying to get things implemented. Enter—the Elite Practice Mastermind Group. Mark was putting together a group of dentists to work together on this and other things to help grow their practices.  I signed up and went back to Arizona the next month to attend the first meeting. It was great! There were ten participants and everyone had a really great attitude about helping each other work through practice issues so that all of us could get past our blockages and grow. Not everyone practiced in the same area of the country, had the same type of practice, or even wanted the same type of practice growth. But together, we seemed to have the answers to each other’s practice problems. I guess that’s the beauty of a mastermind group.

My experience with Mark, his organization, the Success Summit, and the Elite Practice Mastermind Group has been very positive. It is one of the best things I’ve done for my practice/business. It has been just the right situation at just the right time. I’d recommend any of his books, systems, or seminars without hesitation. He’s taken the guesswork out of practice growth and has made it into a turn-key system—just implement and go!

Aaron Nicholas, DDS
        Burtonsville, MD

If you feel stuck and frustrated about the current performance of your dental practice; if you feel like no matter how hard you try, you’re not getting any further ahead; if you feel like you’re putting in far too many hours for the paycheck you’re taking home; if you regret ever becoming a dentist… then we need to talk.

It’s time to stop wishing for things to improve and start doing something about it. I’m here to help but you have to take that first step. If you’d like to set up a personal call with me to talk how we can start turning your practice and life around, call my assistant Ashlee at (928)910-3599 or email her at

All the Best,

Mark Costes, DDS
Founder, Dental Success Institute
Author, Pillars of Dental Success