Five Principles of Success for Top Performing Dental Practices

Roger P. Levin, DDS


Over the last 30 years, Levin Group has conducted an ongoing study of practices that perform within the top 10% in production and collections. Our focus with every client is increasing production, so we wanted to determine if the principles that lead these practices to success were unique to them or if they could be adopted by other practices.

Fortunately, our findings clearly indicate that most top performing practices aren’t that different from most practices. What sets them apart are certain principles that have been followed continuously and improved upon over time.

Of course, top practices have great doctors and staff who provide excellent dentistry. However, we also found this to be the case in practices that had lower production and collections. This means that superstar performance isn’t the only factor leading practices into top 10% performance. Consider the following principles in helping to propel your practice into the top 10%.

Principle 1: Take Your Time

Most top performing practices didn’t get there overnight. In fact, it took them years to continue the gradual pathway to becoming a top 10% practice. Although it’s always great to hear a story about a practice that is an overnight success, most top performers followed a steady gradual path of annual growth and making key decisions that allowed them to move into the top 10%.

Principle 2: Create a Culture that Builds Team Longevity

At top 10% practices, many staff members tend to stay for long periods of time, which contributes to a higher level of staff stability and performance. It’s important to note that we didn’t find that these team members were more highly trained, skilled, or licensed. What they do possess is a strong degree of commitment and loyalty to the practice, as well as a mutual respect between themselves and the doctor.

Principle 3: Carefully Analyze Decisions

Top performing practices have a decision-making process that usually includes a level of analysis prior to committing to large decisions. For example, a top 10% practice would be more likely to analyze the effects of entering or exiting participation with an insurance plan prior to making the decision. It would also carefully analyze large purchases, practice investments, and additions of staff and associates.

Once the practice commits to a decision, though, it moves quickly. Top practices don’t spend months or years continuing to analyze or debate whether they should move forward. And while they do occasionally make mistakes, this decision-making process provides many more wins than losses.

Principle 4: Know Practice Statistics

Top performing practices tend to know important numbers like production, collections, and overhead, as well as overhead as a percentage of revenue, general expense patterns, and labor costs. They use these figures to manage the team and determine whether there has been any weakening in specific areas. When they do notice a weakness, they use measurements to determine the extent of the overall situation and set goals to help improve in that area.

Principle 5: Set Goals

Each year, top practices have specific goals they want to achieve that are clearly defined and reviewed with their team to determine the level of progress. By setting goals with the team, they create a high level of commitment, and the team is often as dedicated to achieving the goals as the doctor. This also creates team bonding and an understanding of what the practice wants to accomplish concerning improvement and achievement over the next 12 months.

How Big Is the Difference?

So how big is the difference between top 10% performing practices and most others? If measured by production, top performing practices are on a significantly higher level than the average revenue practice. And there’s no big secret to their success. Top practices simply do specific things better than most other practices.

Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email

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