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What If Dentists Stopped Setting Goals for Production?


Most dentists — especially if they operate as part of a dental group or a DSO — face specific production goals. Per the ADA, the average dentist produces roughly $3,000 in treatment per day, with high performers checking in at closer to $5,000.

Seems reasonable that practices should encourage their dentists to aim for at least the average, right?

We’ll be honest: We thought so too. But then we spoke with Dr. Jan Jaffer, the CEO of TREC Dental. 

He’s built a dental group with almost 20 locations and done it all without setting production goals for any of his doctors. In fact, Dr. Jan’s business doesn’t use budgets or targets of any kind.

Needless to say, this approach floors us a little. But we also think it offers enormous value to the broader dental community.

Production targets put pressure on dentists to do more treatment

We asked Dr. Jan to explain why he doesn’t want to establish even loose production goals for his team. 

“So if you tell me that I need to produce $5,000 a day, where do I come up with that?” he said. “Do I diagnose six more fillings that don’t need to be done so I can hit my target?”

To be clear, this isn’t an accusation. “I don’t think any dentist does that on purpose,” he told us. “But when you start having targets in place, people have to start thinking about production.”

We get it. It’s human nature, after all. If our livelihoods depend on us being able to swing a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

Now, some would call that a necessary evil — or just a simple necessity. After all, people need dental care, and if dentists occasionally jump the gun on a filling or two, isn’t that worth it in order to keep practices in business?

The public interest is hardly served by dentists shutting down because they aren’t producing enough to keep their doors open. 

But what if practices don’t actually have to decide between their financial needs and those of their patients?

Freeing dentists from production targets actually boost profits

Dr. Jan told us that production targets versus financial instability are a false choice.

“When you put production first — and here’s the funny thing, we’ve seen it over and over again — you don’t necessarily produce more,” he said.

“But when you think about the patient first and you think ‘what’s the best that we could possibly do,’ then the patient believes that you’re just there to take care of them. And all of a sudden, they trust you more.”

Makes sense to us. Long-term success in dentistry is all about patient relationships. The more your patients trust you, the more they’ll keep coming back — and not just for a handful of appointments, but for a decade or more. 

They’ll bring their loved ones and refer their friends, too. And those referrals are worth their weight in gold. 

(Seriously — as dental marketers who spend all day generating non-referral patients, let us be the first to admit that referral patients are more reliable, easy to deal with, and likely to stick around.)

The proof is in the pudding. TREC Dental is profitable, carries no debt, and hasn’t taken a dime from private equity despite growing from a single location to 18 over the past two decades.

Dr. Jan’s philosophy boils down to this: Do the right thing, and people will want to work with you.

“If your ultimate goal is to make patients happy and staff happy, guess what happens? You just become more productive and more profitable.”

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