Incremental Revenue – A Series – Part 8 – Associates



In this installment of the Incremental Revenue series, I will be highlighting an area that is often overlooked or misunderstood.  I am going to address the utilization of associates.  The effective use of associates relates to incremental revenue in several ways; however, most importantly, it addresses one of the ways a practice can deal with too many patients.  In the past, it was not uncommon to hear of dentists closing their practices to new patients because they had become too busy.  Closing a practice because you have become too busy is never a good idea.  I will show you how the incorporation of an associate into the practice can solve the problem of being too busy.


Many practices become so busy that they either put patients on a long waiting list, ignore them or close their practice.  The net result of any of these actions is that the practice ultimately loses out on revenue that it otherwise could have generated, i.e. incremental revenue. I am going to show you how the proper incorporation of associates into your practice can be a great source of incremental revenue.

Supporting Particulars

There are both practical and economic reasons for having associates. We are primarily concerned with economic reasons but let’s briefly address the practical reasons. The practical reasons which are significant just not the focus of our session include the following:

  1. associates make sure the practice is providing full coverage,
  2. taking time off and staying open
  3. as an owner, your path may be taking you in a direction other than the direction your practice would be taking you, associates help you fill the gap
  4. associates often become your best potential buyers, particularly if you are contemplating a mentorship program.

The economic reasons for incorporating an associate into the practice follow the incremental model; associates are profitable and can increase your practice’s value. Previously we talked about the incremental aspects of new patients. Assuming that you have “patients in waiting,” then an associate is like you having a whole bunch of new patients that you could service. All of the rest of the incremental revenue conditions hold, fixed costs stay the same, variable costs increase, as does the net profit, all in the same ratios that we have previously explored. If your practice is growing, this indicates that you are doing something right, something that is appealing to your patients. It is likely that at some point, you will not be able to keep up, and at that point, your option is to cool the practice down or to add more professional manpower. Think of a dental office as a manufacturing facility comprised of a physical plant, a workforce and raw materials. Such a facility will be able to produce products only to the capacity of its most constraining factor. A dental office has a facility, a workforce and patients. Any dental office can only provide as much service as its scarcest resource. Suppose your facility is not operating at maximum capacity and you have lots of patients, but you don’t have enough time to service your patients. In that case, you need more professional manpower, you need an associate.

Incorporating an associate into any practice requires some degree of knowledge about the different associate types. Not all practices will need the same kind of associate. The right associate for your practice will depend on your practice and your objectives. Generally speaking, at the extremes, there are two kinds of associates. There are “Worker Bees,” and there are “Entrepreneurs.” Worker Bees tend to produce marginal to OK amounts of production, usually have good but not great clinical skills and generally work to rule. Entrepreneurs are usually high-volume producers, have excellent and improving clinical skills show up early and leave late. Now, these are the two extremes, and most associates will fall somewhere in the middle. If you are just looking for volume and are not interested in an associate who wants to be an owner, then pick someone closer to the Worker Bee end of the scale. If, on the other hand, you want an associate who could at some point buy you out, then look for someone closer to the Entrepreneur end of the scale.

If you are in between needing a full-time associate and not one at all, here is a strategy that should work for you and will be part of a stand-alone blog.  Determine which procedures you like to do and which also provide you with the bulk of your revenue.  Remember, you usually generate 80% of your revenue from 20% of your procedures.  Consider focussing your efforts on your preferred 20% and giving the rest to your associate.  By focusing more or less exclusively on your favourite and most lucrative procedures, you should be able, with the addition of an associate, generate the same amount of revenue working about half the hours.  This is an incremental strategy which we will investigate further as part of a mentorship strategy designed to mentor associates into owners.


Adding the right associate to your practice under the right conditions will allow you to access otherwise out of reach incremental revenue.  If you are going to use this strategy it is important that you pick not only the right associates but also the right kind of associate.  This is definitely a process where the use of an expert would be very beneficial.  An associate producing even $40,000 of incremental revenue a month will increase your net profit by at least $12,000 per month which could result in an increase in the value of the practice by almost $790,000.


For information about coaching services specifically designed to help you capture all of your incremental dental revenue, please contact Linda Anderson at  Linda heads the dental coaching team at HD Dental Coaching.  If you would like more information about this or any other articles in the Incremental Revenue series, please contact Derek Hill at or If you would like to receive a posting notice for all future articles on this topic or any others, please fill out the “Subscribe” input box and click the submit button. For other articles by Derek Hill, you can visit the Hill Kindy Practice Sales website at