How to Find Direction for Your Dental Practice and Leave Insurance Behind

March 6, 2019 by AACD Executive Office

By Cappy Sinclair, DDS

When I started my first practice, I knew that I wanted to do good looking dentistry for my patients. But after practicing for two years, I was already feeling unfulfilled at work. I decided to look for some direction, which meant first looking inward. There were three critical things my practice was missing: a purpose, a mission, and a vision. What I now know is that these three things create the foundation of differentiation for you and your business, and identifying your purpose, mission and vision can lead to not only a more satisfying career but also a more profitable business.

Purpose, aka why you do what you do.

Purpose is the why you do what you. It’s what gets you up every day to do the dentistry and run the business. Is it to make people more confident about their smiles? to mentor younger dentists? to provide patients with a healthier lifestyle? to make money? All of these are purposes. My purpose is to create an environment and experience to empower individuals to reach their desired potential. Obviously, that purpose statement has been fine-tuned, but the gist of it is that I still want to help people, but more specifically I want to help people that are looking to help themselves. That isn’t just restricted to patients but also applies to the members of my team. The next step is to figure out where that purpose will take you, which leads to vision. 

Vision, aka where you want you and your business to be in the future. 

Vision is the where you want yourself and/or your business to be in the future. Your vision may or may not have a specific time frame, but I prefer a timeframe since it holds me accountable and provides me with a deadline.
My practice vision is “In two years, be a multi-location dental organization that provides comprehensive patient care in the tidewater area.” The vision process is helpful to you as a business owner because it establishes a goal to accomplish. You can then work backward from the vision to help create checklists and tasks that will help you accomplish items, and in my experience, your team will hold you accountable for your decisions that may or may not get you there.  

Mission, aka who are your patients and what do you do for them.

The final foundational business piece is the hardest one to come up with, or at least it was for me. When you define your mission, you must define who your patients/buyers are. Before I had a mission, my patients were all people. It is very hard to run a marketing campaign for a new business that targets and appeals to all people. One way to narrow down your mission is to consider the services or solutions you provide for your patients. Another way to think about this is to ask yourself, what’s your favorite type of dentistry to perform? Chances are if you’re reading this and are an AACD member, you’re excited about performing cosmetic dentistry. Our mission is “to create an experience for you, our patients, that provides a path to your goals for your smile and wellness through comprehensive, personalized care.” My mission has narrowed my focus from helping a very generic “all people” to more specifically helping patients who have goals for themselves that revolve around esthetics and total wellness. How I serve them is by providing them with customized solutions.

"Even if you have been practicing for years without a purpose, vision and mission, it’s not too late to formulate them."

Differentiate your practice and leave insurance behind.

If you haven’t thought about your purpose, vision, and mission before, it may take you days or even weeks to identify them. But, by taking the time to set the foundation for you and your business, you will differentiate yourself from the competition and have a higher perceived value in the eyes of your prospective patients. Even if you have been practicing for years without a purpose, vision and mission, it’s not too late to formulate them, and it’s even great timing to do so now if you are looking to include or increase the cosmetic emphasis of your practice.

Coastal Cosmetic Dentistry


As I mentioned earlier, my vision is to be a multi-location dental organization. I currently have two practices in Virginia Beach, Virginia: one is a practice I started from scratch with minimal insurance participation about six years ago and the other is a practice I purchased that was heavily saturated with insurance participation. When I took ownership of the business, the office participated with as many as 22 insurance plans. Over time, I’ve been able to reduce the number of insurance plans to four by staying true to my purpose, vision and mission and implementing a more business minded approach.

To learn more about how the methods and processes Dr. Sinclair has implemented to transform his practices, increase case acceptance and improve the health of his patients, view the course, “Building Value Through Patient Experience,” available now in the AACD Virtual Campus.

Members can earn 1 CE credit for viewing the course and completing the self-instruction exam.

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