Despite many execs expecting economic challenges to slow DSO activity, Rock Dental Brands is remaining flexible and committed to its expansion goals.
Chief Growth Officer Jake Sligh recently spoke with Becker’s to discuss the Little Rock, Ark.-based DSO’s growth efforts, the trends he is following today and how the organization plans to adapt amid a challenging economic climate.
Editor’s note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.
Question: What are your DSO’s top priorities in 2024?
Jake Sligh: We remain steadfast in our commitment to expanding the practices we serve and championing innovation wherever possible throughout the Rock Dental Brands network. In 2024, we will continue to build a culture that wholeheartedly embraces industry-changing technology and recruits top-tier talent. We aim to help shape the future of healthcare through investment in exceptional doctors, advanced technology and our invaluable workforce.
Q: What are some key strategies in place to expand and grow your footprint?
JS: Rock Dental Brands has devised robust strategies aimed at expanding our footprint and bolstering our presence in our key markets. These include strategic acquisitions and partnerships within our current geographic footprint and also accessing new, strategic geographic regions. It is important that we continue to build out the density of our network to continue to build multispecialty networks of providers who can seamlessly take care of their patients’ needs. Furthermore, we will continue leaning on our internal data infrastructure to drive additional organic growth within our existing footprint.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing DSOs today?
JS: It continues to be a challenge to address workforce shortages. In response, we are investing in our people in more ways than one. That means a focus on culture and creating an environment where our people can thrive. It also means a comprehensive look at our pay and benefits to ensure they are competitive. In terms of additional challenges, DSOs are pressed to develop flexible and agile operational models to respond to market dynamics, and we also continue to see competition from mail-order dental services, although the recent closure of SmileDirectClub might indicate a shift there.
Q: Many DSO execs are expecting slower growth amid a challenging economy. What are your thoughts on this?
JS: While economic challenges may lead to expectations of slower growth within the DSO industry, Rock Dental Brands remains resilient and adaptable. We acknowledge the potential impact but are confident in our ability to navigate these challenges by optimizing operational efficiencies, streamlining processes and doubling down on our commitment to innovation. These strategic initiatives position us to mitigate adverse effects and continue our growth trajectory despite economic headwinds.
Q: What are the top trends you are following now?
JS: We are closely monitoring several industry trends that shape the future of dental care. These include the integration of telehealth solutions in dental services and personalized patient-centric care models driven by technology. Embracing these trends aligns with our commitment to innovation and enhancing patient outcomes. Industry expertise and innovation go hand-in-hand, so we partner with the best providers and then we look to them to vet new technologies and ensure that patient care is always front of mind.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment of 2023?
JS: In 2023, one of our proudest achievements was the successful expansion of our network into new territories. This year, we added new practices near St. Louis, Orlando and Memphis, and we strengthened our offerings in Arkansas. We now have more than 100 affiliate dental clinics in five states, marking a significant milestone for Rock Dental Brands. Our work has resulted in a thriving workforce of nearly 900 employees. This strategic growth allowed us to extend our reach and services to more communities, reaffirming our commitment to providing exceptional dental care while expanding our footprint in line with our mission to serve diverse populations with excellence.