From Chaos to Control — The Dental Operating System

Built by dental professionals, for the dental industry, The Dental Operating System is a set of frameworks that unites the disparate systems and processes inside your business; setting the foundation for transformation.

By Josey Sewell, RDH, DEO, Partner

As your company grows from a practice to a business to an organization, things start to become more and more complex. 

Things that used to work are no longer effective. 

The success you’ve achieved thus far has been through hustle and sheer force of will, and the goal line seems to keep getting further away. 

Your team is unable to produce consistent results and morale is low. 

You worry about retaining your most talented people. 

You are starting to feel burned out and no longer have enough time to grow like you want to. 

In short, you’re stuck.

Most entrepreneurs are great at building the plane while they are flying it. They’re problem solvers and quick to make the necessary adjustments while still in the air. In comparison, most employees more than likely do not possess those same skills, so in order to replicate the successful result the entrepreneur was able to deliver, and do it faster, better, and more efficiently, they need an exact framework with processes and systems to follow. That framework is the power an operating system provides. 

What is an operating system?

An operating system is a comprehensive approach to running a business. It is a set of interconnected and structured processes that provide a clear roadmap to achieve your business goals. It allows your entire organization to execute in the most efficient way possible, and creates a consistent, common language that drives clarity and alignment. 

Businesses with operating systems tend to grow faster and healthier than businesses without one, so having any type of operating system will eventually guide you towards growth. However, having the right operating system will result in mass acceleration and growth.

With the right operating system, your vision will become clearer to both you and the leaders in your organization, and connecting your high-level objectives to the day-to-day operations will become a lot easier.

Choosing the right operating system

There are plenty of well respected operating systems out there such as EOS or Scaling Up. They are all great…but share one problem…none of them were built for a dental company. Fortunately, that’s where organizations like the DEO come in. Through training and education, we have created the first-ever operating system specific to the dental industry.

Built just for you in this critical time in dentistry, The Dental Operating System is the culmination of our best work, and our gift to the industry. It will make your life less stressful, your impact more meaningful, and your business more successful.

Built for Dental Leaders — The Dental Operating System

Building a business is hard work. From the moment you decide what industry you want to work in to developing the first seedlings of a business idea, it’s a long, hard journey for everyone. Business leaders require a certain amount of fearlessness to stake out a claim for their business idea.

It might even be harder for dentists because dental schools cannot provide the level of business education and acumen required to successfully own and operate your own dental practice. There’s a huge divide between the operational and the clinical, and it can be challenging to manage all of that on your own.

We believe dental companies are best served by implementing a dental specific operating system because they face unique challenges that generic operating systems and coaches cannot adequately address. 

For example, when building an org chart, how do you account for Associate dentists who may have a local leader they are accountable to (office manager) but need a clear clinical leader for the dentist to dentist relationship? 

When determining your scoreboard, a generic coach will not have the experience to ensure you are tracking the right numbers, or have any idea what appropriate goals and benchmarks should be. 

As your company grows and your team expands, a general business coach will lack the industry knowledge to help you determine if revenue cycle management belongs in operations or finance. 

A general operating system will encourage the use of systems, but the dental operating system will ensure you have mission critical systems created AND have a framework and an example for you to work from. 

Any operating system will absolutely help get you and your team organized, provide a set of rules to live by and give you power to grow; however, you will come to a point when the coach and the operating system can no longer serve you because they lack industry knowledge and processes. It will still feel like you have to “reinvent the wheel” if you use a generic operating system. 

The Dental Operating System (DOS) is the operating system capable of growing with you from one location to hundreds and exponentially magnifies your team and your vision. It is the system we wish we had when we were building a dental group. 

Let’s dive into some of the key components of the Dental Operating System.


A clear and compelling vision is the driving force that shapes purpose, direction and long-term goals. Each operating system defines vision a little bit differently. We believe the components of a company vision include:

Who you are as determined by your core values. These values should be the behaviors you hire, fire, review, reward and recognize around. 

Why you exist. Your mission statement gives you and your team purpose. 

Where you are headed. We refer to this as your long-term destination, it has gone by several other names in the history of business like a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) or even a Wildly Important Goals or long-term target. This represents a goal we can track to in the distant future (5-15 years out) and something to continually reverse engineer and work against. The purpose of your organization is much more than a certain revenue goal or number of locations, however, we find it helpful to put some initial numbers to work against in determining appropriate resources, team, strategy, funding mechanisms etc. 

Speed or pace of growth provides clarity to the team and allows for appropriate prioritization. A group that grows by one or two locations per year is very different from a group that adds 15-20 locations per year. 

Your authentic power and “secret sauce” can be found at the center point of what the company is uniquely good at, what you love to do and your economic engine. Once these ideas are clarified they serve as a filtering mechanism for decision making, innovation and focus. 


Vision without strategy is just a dream. The Dental Operating System is about action, accountability and moving the business closer to the vision one quarter at a time. The Strategic planning within DOS starts by clarifying key decisions, things like: 

  • Acquisition or de novo
  • Associates or partners
  • General, specialty, or a mix of both
  • Geographic footprint
  • Insurance participation
  • Exit strategies (legacy organization or build to sell)
  • If going to market- Private Equity or DSO

While a company can always adapt, pivot or even change course, these decisions made early on and shared with the leadership team keep a team focused and aligned on critical decisions before they find themselves down the road with an organization they never intended to build. In addition to clarifying these strategic decisions, our team helps companies build out a one year plan and quarterly plans. These plans include revenue goals, profit goals, key success indicators, and a handful of critical goals and projects that are mission critical to moving the business forward. The process of creating these plans is about careful facilitation and constructive meetings led by our trained Implementers. While other operating systems utilize similar annual and quarterly planning processes, we have education and tools to teach leaders how to effectively scope and manage projects. This has been the missing piece in many other operating systems that we have included in the DOS. Project management and change management are necessary to growth. 

Meetings and Data

The company vision and strategic plan provide direction and clarity, however, execution comes from effective weekly meetings and the appropriate use of data. Most people hate meetings, for good reasons. We teach our teams a simple, powerful way to have weekly meetings that drive communication, accountability and results. Imagine a world where meetings start on time and end on time without exception. Imagine an agenda that is easy to follow and focuses on critical metrics, projects, and critical tasks. Imagine a leadership team that views their weekly meeting as “game time” and come prepared, own their seat at the table and everyone is driving to the same goal. We have seen this meeting change companies and the leaders who participate in very positive ways. In addition to executive leadership meetings, we teach companies how to determine a meeting cadence for their entire organization – where else can you learn what type of meetings dentists or hygienists or office managers should participate in and how to help them understand necessary metrics? 


Your vision won’t work unless your people do. Gallup research shows that the greatest economic disparity is the inability to unleash human potential. The heart of the Dental Operating System can be found in the education, tools and resources for team culture. Our tools include things like job ads, job descriptions, onboarding plans, an entire system for performance improvement and personal development. 

The companies that are winning in the war for talent are the ones who have an environment where employees feel safe and have structured processes to connect in meaningful ways with their people, measure their performance and coach them. 

As dental professionals and clinicians ourselves, we understand the need to provide clinicians the opportunity to grow and be mentored. We have a tool called Career Development Pathways for each position inside a dental team that can be customized to the company model and utilized to help people grow in a structured way that puts the team member in the driver seat of their career. 

Dental Systems

Nobody in the industry is free from economic uncertainties, rising costs, and wage inflation; in times like these companies do not have the luxury of learning by trial and error. Leveraging critical dental systems built and utilized by successful practices and groups across the country is a faster, safer way to drive revenue, decrease costs and improve efficiencies. Traditional consultants offer systems that are often too narrow in focus and cannot transcend different models, specialties, and sizes. Our approach to systems is to identify, document, train, measure, and refine. One of our most utilized systems is Patient Experience where we teach practices to create a customer journey, outline critical milestones like attract, convert, diagnose, treat, maintain with clear definitions, ideal outcomes and scoreboards to measure success in each milestone and clear processes to deliver the ideal outcomes. This allows for a “surgical” approach to revenue generation rather than focusing on general items or obsessing over the number of new patients while ignoring diagnostic percentage and case acceptance. Another popular system is our easy to follow process to build your clinical standards of care to align your team and ensure clinical quality. This can be an overwhelming task for most practices, we’ve made it simple and straightforward. 

Though these components are just the beginning, we believe that this system has the potential to positively impact this industry in ways we cannot begin to currently comprehend.

We cannot wait to see you become the best version of you, and to see your organization thriving!