Today’s successful practice has a chief operations officer: Do you?

successful business team

Running a dental practice isn’t hard, the challenge is running a successful one

By Roxanne Moulden Founder and Executive Director, DOMACAN

In today’s world, dentists have to be savvy businesspeople as well as excellent clinicians. Organizing a successful dental practice has become more time consuming and definitely more complex as each year passes.

The list seems endless: ever-changing human resource issues, complex government/ provincial/dental regulations, the need to train new team members, promoting the practice in a highly competitive marketplace, meeting patient needs and expectations, mastering new technology all while keeping the schedule full. This is just a sampling of what a 21st century office manager (or, as the position is now called, practice administrator) deals with on a weekly basis.

Why the name change from office manager to practice administrator? It’s because most people do not like to be managed, which is something we learned a long time ago. The question is: Should you have an office manager or hire a chief operations officer? By definition, a COO is responsible for the corporation’s operations. This individual looks after issues related to marketing, sales, production and personnel. More hands-on than the CEO, the COO looks after day-to-day activities while providing feedback to the CEO (the dentist/owner). Doesn’t this sound like what every modern dental office needs today?

“I just want to do dentistry”

I hear over and over again from dentists across the country: ““I just want to do dentistry and let someone else handle the rest” Easier said than done!

A dentist in the 21st century office is working harder than ever before trying to balance office hours and family life. He or she is often working evening hours and Saturdays, bringing charts home to treatment plan and staying on call 24/7 for emergencies to provide exceptional care to patients and remain competitive.

A COO may be just what your office needs to relieve you of the many tasks that could be delegated to someone else. Most effective practice administrators or COOs are not born that way. You may have a very skilled team member with many years of experience, but that person most likely doesn’t possess the necessary leadership skills and abilities to be your COO.

What makes a good COO? Let’s examine the qualities of a good COO.

[section title=”An effective COO must:”]
  • Possess an attitude of gratitude
  • Have a high dental IQ and be emotionally intelligent
  • Demonstrate strong communication skills
  • Excel at motivating and leading others
  • Lead by example so others will follow
  • Take initiative and think “outside of the box.”
  • Think quickly and solve problems
  • Understand all software reports
  • Be the most positive person you know
  • Be the liaison between the office and accountant, bank, sales reps, marketing companies, etc.
  • Share your practice vision


In a nutshell: Your COO must be everything you are not! If you already have this person on your team, remember to thank them daily.

If you need someone like this to join your team, where do you start to look? Whether you promote someone from within your office or hire someone from outside, the key to success is in the training of this individual.

Did you know there is a new organization to help you train and continually guide your future COO? This organization is the Dental Office Managers and Administrators of Canada (DOMACAN), which was created to bridge the gap between the clinical and business sides of dentistry.

DOMACAN is the official Canadian education and networking association created for all dental professionals: office managers, administrators, treatment coordinators, patient coordinators, hygienists, assistants, spouses and dentists. The organization’s goal is to be the trusted daily, weekly and monthly news and information resource with tools, tips and inspiration for dental practice success and profitability. Each year DOMACAN strives to bring the best and most relevant speakers to our annual conference and provide members with networking opportunities year-round through forums, articles, webinars and Ask-the-Expert resources.

For entire dental team DOMACAN has something for everyone on the dental team. I invite you to become a member today by visiting For a limited time you will be able to enjoy a complimentary membership courtesy of Henry Schein.

If you want to take your practice to the next level, you first need to understand that you need to take your team to the next level. To take s first step, join DOMACAN and start training the right person to be your COO to maximize the potential in your team and your office today.

About the author ROXANNE MOULDEN is the founder and executive director of DOMACAN, the Dental Office Managers and Administrators of Canada. She can be contacted at