Grow Your Practice by Focusing on Three Numbers

Kirk Behrendt


Data is more important now than ever. Without data, you’re simply having a conversation based on opinion, not fact. With a strong understanding of how metrics and data points influence practice growth, you will no longer make decisions based on gut feelings and learn exactly which levers to pull to reach your goals. Of course, there’s a lot of different data that you can generate about your practice. You could manipulate it in a variety of ways to help you fit a particular narrative. However, if you really want to track the data that will best help you grow your practice, these are 3 of the most powerful data levers to pull.

• Production per visit: The gross revenue you earn from each visit.

• Visits: The number of people visiting your office. For the purposes of this article, “visits” includes total visits to your office in a given period of time.

• Gross collections percentage: The total payments your practice received (before refunds) divided by gross production.

Once you determine these 3 numbers, you’ve unlocked the formula for growing your practice. These data points take the guessing out of reaching monthly goals, allowing the team to focus on the tasks necessary to improve the numbers more than the daunting overall monthly production number they have to hit. At ACT Dental, we find that the more we can make the tasks bite-sized, the quicker we can create the right habits for reaching long-term objectives. Data is imperative in this quest and a large focus of our work with our teams. Using data analytics, like Dentalintel (, we center our work in facts, not feelings, to create systems that grow with the practice year-over-year.

Benefits to Focusing on Numbers
The primary benefit of focusing on numbers is that you can grow your practice in a way that brings both a better practice and a better life. Along with a better life balance, improving profitability is a great byproduct of understanding these numbers. When your practice is more financially sustainable, you can feel secure in your practice management, allowing you to be a better doctor, leader, and person.

The second benefit of tracking this data is team engagement. We visit hundreds of teams each year and have heard how hard it is for them to consistently reach their monthly production/collection goals. They are 100% correct. When the team only focuses on the big production/collection numbers, the levers that allow those outcome numbers to improve are not being addressed. Smaller data points allow the team to have more opportunities to improve the day. Not only that, but as insurance continues to squeeze dentists’ overall production opportunities, knowing these numbers is a great way to lessen the dependency on insurance. Use this formula as a way to break free from the contractual limitations; play around with these data points, and see exactly how you can thrive without as much insurance influence in your office.

Using the Numbers to Improve Your Practice
Tracking these numbers is key to helping many of your other practice goals fall into place. Practice metrics on more than 7,000 offices nationwide have determined that once you know these numbers, you can greatly improve your practice’s performance. Generating and analyzing this data doesn’t require extra training in finance and economics. You can use many of the same principles you might remember applying duirng your days waiting tables. Let’s dive deeper into these 3 numbers and how you can start using them to improve your practice today.

1. Production per Visit
While many dentists track gross production, a more helpful number for understanding what you collect is production per visit (PPV). Essentially, it shows how much each visit to your office was worth in gross revenue. PPV is the ratio of the total amount you billed for a period of time divided by the number of visits during that same time. PPV gives doctors a much better understanding of their efficiency and how effective they are at getting patients to accept treatment. Every provider should not only be tracking this number, but also setting a PPV goal.

Say your practice saw 300 patient visits in the past month. The PPV was $300. That means you took in $90,000 that month in gross revenue. You then set a goal for your practice to increase PPV by 10%. Since your team and you are focused on increasing PPV and have boosted treatment acceptance, PPV rises to $330 the following month. You still saw 300 patients, but with the PPV boost, you’re now bringing in $99,000. That’s a $9,000 increase just from raising PPV by $30. You didn’t have to add a new patient to see a 10% increase in revenue. (That equals a practice growth of $108,000 in 12 months, folks!)

There are many ways to boost your PPV. For example, what are your periodontal protocols and standard operating procedures for your hygiene team? How many large restorative blocks are being treatment planned? How well are your team and you communicating the treatment needed to improve acceptance? Find the areas in your practice that have room to improve and set up a plan for incremental change. Be sure your entire team is well-versed in the talking points for why treatment will improve a patient’s health.

2. Number of Visits
Every practice, no matter how large or small, should be looking at the number of visits it had each month. Many dental offices that want to increase their number of visits focus on attracting new patients. However, you don’t just want new patients, you want more patients—ideally more quality patients. Getting a new patient in the door has little effect if the patient doesn’t accept treatment and lowers your PPV. Visits grow as your ability to keep patients returning improves.

By committing to a reappointment policy, as a team, this one lever will increase total visits and improve both short-term and long-term visit percentages. Now your practice is generating $108,900 for that month. By making incremental changes to PPV and the number of visits, you brought in an additional $18,900 and saw a 21% improvement.

Essentially, you’re in need of a higher rate of patient turnover so that you can increase the number of visits. In a restaurant, servers know having more tables will bring more opportunities to increase check average and, more importantly, get more tips. A server who is mindful of helping customers efficiently and bussing his or her own tables is going to have more “visits” throughout the night. However, this doesn’t mean that the business needs to be open longer hours just to have more tables. Staying open later does not equal more visits. Instead, any business, whether a restaurant or a dentist’s office, needs to be more strategic about what is being done during business hours to ensure customers and patients receive efficient, quality service.

3. Gross Collections Percentage
Now, let’s turn our attention to how much of your gross revenue you are retaining. This is where the insurance dynamics in your office really show their influence. Gross collections percentage is the ratio of what the practice invoiced, sold, or produced after write-offs and discounts. Even if your top-line production increases, the effects of your insurance write-offs, the ability of your team to collect outstanding accounts, and your day of service payments are what create the challenges with this data point.

Here is an example of how this collection percentage affects your bottom line: Let’s say your gross collections percentage is 80% and your Gross Production is $100,000. In this example, you have write-offs or high accounts receivable that are reducing your total gross collections by 20%. You are collecting $80,000 of the total $100,000 you worked so hard to produce. By understanding how this lever is reducing your collections, you can pinpoint exactly what decisions are needed to improve the collections percentage. The higher the gross collection percentage, the more successful you will be at reducing the gap between your production and collections.

Bonus Number? Overhead Percentage!
Now that you know the 3 numbers in the formula that will help you grow your practice, you’re increasing PPV, the number of visits, and your collections percentage. It is time to examine the costs of running your business. Cash is to business what oxygen is to humans. As dentistry costs rise, practice owners are well aware of the crucial role overhead costs play. If you only focus on revenue, you will see improvement, but in order to understand the full picture of practice growth and health, you must also make sure you have a handle on the expenses of the office.

You’ll need to calculate your practice’s overhead percentage to determine how much of what you collect is going right back out to managing your practice. If your overhead is more than 65%, you are not generating enough profit to pay yourself what you deserve, and I bet you’re pretty stressed out about bills and the future. Increasing PPV, visits, and gross collections will help, but you need to be aware of what the expenses are in your office so you can make informed decisions about your spending.

In my opinion, and by our direct observations in coaching, too many dentists get hung up on these large, monolithic goals that seem undoable. They are focused on one production number goal that they have to make each month and have a hard time breaking it down patient-by-patient and case-by-case. Increasing these numbers should not be a burden that is placed solely on the doctor’s shoulders. Growth is a team effort! In fact, you’ve likely experienced this kind of team effort before. Make fun, office-wide goals that create buy-in for team members and spread the responsibility across the organization so that everyone is working toward a shared goal together. Growing your practice doesn’t need to be complicated. You can pull these numbers from your dental software today to see where your practice is and then set a goal to improve these numbers a little bit each month. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your practice will grow by focusing on just 3 data points.

Mr. Behrendt speaks and consults with dentists all over the world on how to create a better practice and a better life. He has invested more than 23 years of his professional life optimizing the best systems and practices within the dental industry. Mr. Behrendt, owner and CEO of ACT Dental, is listed as a leader in dental consulting in Dentistry Today. In 2017, he and his team created dentistry’s very first Facebook Live/podcast video show, The Best Practices Show. Today, it is one of the most widely viewed dental education resources in the world, with more than 38,000 followers on Facebook and 115,000-plus downloads on iTunes. He can be reached at

Disclosure: Mr. Behrendt is the owner and CEO of ACT Dental.

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