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You deserve to make a profit, and your employees deserve a secure, competitive pay scale. I often wonder if your staff thinks that you make millions a year while they, the staff, have to beg for pennies. Most staff would be surprised at how little the average dentist takes home after the overhead is paid. Every member of your staff is clueless as to what we as their employer pay them to work for us. It’s as if each employee thinks that the only thing we pay is what is written on that pay stub or check they get. This couldn’t be further from the truth and it’s about time to help them understand the reality of what they are truly paid.

The “Total Pay Statement” is something we have used for decades to help our team understand the reality of overhead and employment. You have finished your policy manual, created comprehensive job descriptions, and established consequences for their continued employment. We now need to help them see what is involved in hiring another staff member as well as what they are really paid. We construct this for each staff member near the end of the year. I know that this will take a little time so I want to address this now and give you a form which should make this much easier to execute. Keep in mind that we want them to understand the cost of employment and how that figures into the office overhead. In a way we are educating them and ourselves in the “business of Dentistry”.

If you will remember these benchmarks, your ideal overhead number for everything spent on an employee should be in the 25% range and you should produce about $20,000-$25,000 per employee per month. This form is an effort for you and your staff to see what that 25% is really made up of. Sharing your Profit and Loss numbers in the form of a percentage helps the staff understand where we spend the money that comes in. The categories and the ideal overhead percentage include:
1. Compensation: 24-25%
2. Facility: 7-9%
3. Lab: 8-10%
4. Marketing: 3%
5. Office Supplies: 2%
6. Dental Supplies: 6%
The intent here is to always keep our eyes on the benchmark and the goal.

One of the ways to see if you are in the ballpark for pay levels is to go to (one of the largest head hunters in the nation) and once you are on the landing page, look at the very bottom of the page and there will be a light grey “salaries” typed there. Just click it and type in the position as well as the zip code and bam, you have the average salary for that position in your zip code. In addition, it will also list actual people they have placed and their pay in your zip code by income levels. It is an easy task to figure out the approximate hourly wage and benefit package.

Next just click here to download the form and then fill out one for each employee in your practice. I would do this no later than the second week in December and estimate the final pay for the year including any holiday benefits left in the year. Pass this out in a staff meeting when you are explaining and discussing your current overhead and your plans and goals for 2016. This is how you Summit.

Mike Abernathy, DDS
[email protected]
972-523-4660 cell

PS – Just got a call and an email from two doctors who read an article we sent out to our BEST for Dentistry members about compliance and the danger of not being and staying totally trained and up-to-date for OSHA, HIPPA, and all State and Federal dental compliance. One had had a run in with OSHA a couple of years ago that almost bankrupted him while the other was dealing with a State Board complaint from a crazy patient that ultimately was dismissed. But in the process of collecting information about the complaint, the State Board found multiple cases of compliance violations that they prosecuted. It wasn’t pretty. If you are not a BEST member, go to and join today. Start reaping the benefits of membership with no cost to you. Currently, you can get all of your compliance training online in the comfort of your office at a 50% discount.

PSS – I love hearing about how much you have saved and appreciate BEST for Dentistry. It stands for Building Everyone’s Success Together. This is your group. We have become the largest group in Dentistry preserving the independent practice of Dentistry. Thanks and good luck.