Management + Leadership

Defining your path to practice ownership

Dr. Mark Costes has a wealth of experience in leadership and practice management, having owned more than 15 dental practices and employed hundreds of people throughout his career. He now has a group of seven practices and a consulting company in the Dental Success Institute. What qualifies him to be a coach? “Having made all the mistakes in the book,” he says. He urges dental students to learn from his experiences, immerse themselves in all of the free self-education resources out there and get out of their comfort zone.

Contour: You mentioned that you’ve made a lot of mistakes throughout your career. What were some of those mistakes, and how have you corrected them?

Dr. Mark Costes: It took me three years to get into dental school. When I graduated, I felt behind on my career trajectory. For the first year, I was an associate at what I refer to as my financial residency. I would practice dentistry during the day and learn everything I could about the business at night. I would stay late and bother the office manager about scheduling, billing, insurance verification, confirmation calls — you name it. After a year of that, I felt ready to jump into ownership, and I did.

Within seven years, I had six practices. The practices were doing great, but I was at the end of my rope. I was working 80-hour weeks, I was a ‘boss-hole’ at work, my absence from my three sons was taking a toll on my family, and I was heading down the path toward a divorce. The people that I loved the most — the people I was doing all of this for — were the ones who were suffering the most. The problem was that my practices lacked systems and a well-defined organizational chart. Without a leadership team in place, everyone across all six practices had direct access to me, and I was running myself ragged. After this realization, I sold four of my six practices and recalibrated.

Read the rest of this article in the January issue of Contour.

~Grady Gores, Creighton ’22

Grady Gores

Grady Gores is currently a first-year student at Creighton.

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