As an orthodontist, running a successful orthodontic practice requires much more than just excellent patient care skills. To truly thrive, you need savvy business acumen – something not always emphasized in residency programs.

Hire Operational Leadership Before Adding Associates

Many orthodontists hit a plateau around $1-2 million in production and think adding an associate is the solution for growth. However, the smarter move is often hiring an experienced practice administrator or COO first.

At this level, you need operational leadership to handle metrics, marketing, staffing, finances, and other business functions so you can stay focused on patient care. Trying to manage every aspect yourself leads to burnout. A skilled operations manager/COO will streamline and grow the business more effectively than simply adding to your clinical capacity.

Thoroughly Vet and Mentor New Associates

If you do decide to take on an associate, properly vetting and mentoring them is crucial. Young doctors rarely have experience with case presentation, chairside manner, and other essential skills beyond just clinical knowledge.

Have the associate work alongside you for an extended period, observing your processes and protocols. This transfer of knowledge protects your practice culture and brand. It also builds patient confidence in the new doctor.

Promote Your Associate Extensively

As the practice owner, you need to act as “coach, mentor, and promoter” for your associate. Don’t assume referrals or patients will automatically embrace them.

Actively introduce them to your referral network through events and lunches. Feature them prominently on your website, signage, and marketing materials. This lending of your goodwill and credibility oils the transition.

Maintain a Clinical Role

Even with operational support and associate doctors, the best advice for orthodontists is to keep treating patients yourself. Remain the face of the practice and maintain those critical clinical skills. Inspire and lead by example on the clinical side.

Have a COO handle operations, associates work under your mentorship, but don’t abandon the clinician role that drew you to orthodontics and allows you to produce the practice’s highest revenues.

Let Go of the Ego

Finally, scaling up successfully requires letting go of your ego. As a skilled orthodontist, it’s easy to think you can “do it all” and be equally great at operations, marketing, managing associates, etc.

The truth is there are professionals who specialize in those areas and can elevate your business far beyond what you could do while also covering your clinical responsibilities. Ego checking allows you to capitalize on those experts for a thriving, market-leading orthodontic practice.

If you’re looking to take the next step in your orthodontic career or practice transition, Bentson Copple & Associates offers comprehensive advisory services tailored to your unique goals. With a team of highly experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds within the orthodontic community, they provide invaluable industry expertise honed through involvement in thousands of transactions nationwide. Whether you’re a recent graduate seeking an associateship, an established practitioner considering a partner, or nearing retirement, Bentson Copple & Associates can guide you through critical decisions like locating career opportunities, practice valuations, recruitment, and sales/acquisitions. Their client-focused approach ensures you receive personalized counsel on realizing your specific ownership objectives. Explore their full suite of services by visiting them at or by calling (800)-621-4664.