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The Secret Life of the Dental Office Manager

Posted September 24, 2019

The DentalPost Team

A career as a dental office manager can be incredibly rewarding. There’s so much job satisfaction in knowing you’re a key player in your practice, with a direct impact on how smoothly things run. However, it’s also one of the most demanding jobs in dentistry and few people understand what it takes to do the job – all while making it look fairly effortless!

Dental Office Manager Survey

Earlier this year, Futuredontics surveyed 356 dental office managers to gain an insider’s view of the job. The survey uncovered an unfiltered look at the career goals, as well as the personal and business challenges modern dental office managers face.

“The role of office manager becomes more demanding every year. I’ve seen how critical they are to the success of a practice, and I’m amazed at how energetic and resourceful these women and men are,” said Fred Joyal, founder of Futuredontics, the parent company of 1-800-DENTIST.

We’ve pulled the highlights to show you just what the “secret life” of a dental office manager actually looks like.

Who are dental office managers?
  • An overwhelming majority (97%) of office managers are women.
  • Nearly one-third of working office managers are 55 years or older, and less than 10% are under the age of 35.
  • Six out of 10 office managers would prefer to stay at their current practice until the end of their career.
The “Secret” Takeaway: 

When the current generation of managers retires, the industry will likely face a serious shortage of talent. So with low turnover and unequal gender distribution, it might become increasingly difficult to recruit experienced managers.

How stressful are their jobs?
  • Most office managers say they have a “good-to-amazing” work/life balance.
  • The majority of managers (56%) work 30 to 40 hours a week.
  • The biggest culture concern is office drama, and the number one career concern is burnout. 
The “Secret” Takeaway: 

There’s a lot to love about being a dental office manager if you can find the right practice and culture fit.

What makes a great manager?
  • A bachelor’s degree isn’t always necessary—only 25% of managers have one.
  • The top three qualities identified as imperative for success as a manager? Communication, organization, and experience.
  • 34% of respondents are members of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM).
The “Secret” Takeaway: 

With the right skills, connections, and opportunities, a career as a dental office manager is very achievable.

What are the best (and worst) parts of their jobs?
  • Managers rated patient interaction as the best part of their jobs; the second closest part (albeit distant) was keeping the schedule full.
  • One-third of all respondents say they “love their job.”
  • Managers employed by DSOs (dental service organizations) considered themselves happier than those working at private practices.
  • Additionally, most managers dislike practice marketing and dormant patient reactivation; it’s considered one of their least enjoyable responsibilities and lowest on business priorities.
The “Secret” Takeaway: 

Managers prefer working with people directly. So if you’re a practice owner, make sure marketing and remarketing efforts aren’t left on the shoulders of your dental office manager alone so they can focus on the day-to-day of your business.

How should you market your practice?
  • Online reviews are the most important marketing activity according to managers.
  • Practice websites are considered one of the most efficient ways to acquire new patients.
  • Most managers (90%) believe word-of-mouth referrals are still the top source of new patients.
The “Secret” Takeaway: 

While digital is important to the marketing efforts of your practice, managers know that nothing compares to a great review by a friend.

Dental office managers are the “secret sauce” of your business.

Therefore a well-run practice means there’s a dental office manager working hard behind the scenes; from staff training to patient acquisition, DOMs do a lot to ensure practice success. And while a “typical” dental office manager might seem to fit into a “type,” it’s not nearly as cut-and-dry when you dive into the data. 

Ultimately, treating your dental office manager with respect and giving them the tools to do their job is always the best way to unlock your dental office manager’s full potential.

To learn more, download your free copy of Futuredontics’ full report, “The Secret Life of the Dental Office Manager.”


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