Lawyer advises growth focus for small-group formation

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As a member of the dental services organization (DSO) group for the Dykema law firm in Dallas, Zachary Hoard, JD, advises entrepreneurial dentists every day on the benefits, and roadblocks, to practice expansion and DSO formation.

Zachary Hoard, JD, is a member of the dental services organization group of the Dykema law firm in Dallas.Zachary Hoard, JD, is a member of the dental services organization group of the Dykema law firm in Dallas.

Hoard talked with about growing a practice and what questions dentists often ask him about forming a small-group practice. The interviewed was conducted before the now-concluded fifth annual Definitive Conference for Dental Service Organizations in Dallas.

The term practice growth means different things in different situations, Hoard noted.

"Practice growth can mean several different things," he said. "It does mean expanding the number of offices, but it also means expanding your patient base."

One aspect that dentists don't initially consider is what they call organic growth, according to Hoard.

"This means being as efficient as possible with your existing patients and existing staff," he said.

Dynamic practice

Hoard said he is often asked by younger dentists to help them define the characteristics of a successful practice.

"This question of the characteristics of a successful and dynamic practice is one we think about often here," he said. "We ask dentists what they want their practice to become."

Hoard considers one of his roles as helping potential dentist-owners examine if setting up a group practice or DSO is something they are interested in.

"I help them consider not only if they should [set up a DSO] but how to grow it," he said.

Hoard was asked if his clients and potential clients realized they might not be doing as much direct patient care if they expand ownership to multiple practices.

"While I've had clients who understand they are going to see fewer patients and be more involved in running the management side of things, on the other side I have clients who own a few practices and want to focus on seeing patients," he said.

These doctors can also benefit from the DSO model, Hoard noted, as it allows them to partner with someone who has management and business expertise.

1st steps

Hoard hoped attendees of the conference panel discussion, and his clients, came away with a sense of what they needed to do if they were pursuing setting up a small-group practice.

"I would hope they would have a better feel for some of the first steps they can take to start growing their practice," he said. "This goes hand in hand with a better feel for some common steps and red flags for practice growth.

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