How Rock Dental Brands plans to flourish despite economic headwinds

Rock Dental Brands Building
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Originally Posted on Becker’s Dental + DSO Review.

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. 

  • Job Title: Westrock Orthodontics

    "The decision to affiliate with Rock Dental Brands was easy. They are a dental practice management group that is founded by dentists and focuses on putting patients first. This affiliation has not only relieved harrowing administrative tasks, but also allowed me to keep my professional autonomy and set my own schedule. All of this, plus Rock Dental Brands’ proven track record, I am able to trust them to do the right thing for my practice and my patients."

  • Job Title: Owner Founder | Chief Dental Officer

    "How can I say as an individual provider, when I get out of school and open my practice, that I am providing better care than a group of doctors who have support with difficult cases and other specialists available for consultations? I don’t think anyone would disagree if I have a heart issue I want to go somewhere where there are multiple specialists that will take good care of me. I got into this because I feel that our organization can provide great quality and do it cost effectively. We are serious about quality. If we weren’t I wouldn’t be a part of it."

  • Job Title: Owner | Pediatric Dentist

    "Rock Dental Brands prides themselves on taking care of their patients before profits. I was in a place in my life where I wanted to be with a group who was owned by dentists, practiced dentistry, and knew what it is like to own a business and to provide excellent patient care. Rock Dental has wonderful values that align with my own core values. I love that about them."

  • Job Title: Owner Founder | Orthodontist

    "I love to see patients - that's why I became an orthodontist. What I don't love is bills, past due accounts, managing employee 401(k)'s, bonuses, marketing, and of course countless other issues that unexpectedly arise each day. Rock Dental Brands has taken many things off my hands leaving me free to concentrate on what I love: treating patients. The partnership between Rock Dental and our team "on the ground" has been wonderful. Rock Dental is an extension of our team that benefits our practice and our patients in way that I was unable to provide myself."

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