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When should you start thinking about hiring an executive to run your dental support organization (DSO)? This is a question Fidler and Associates has expertise in answering.


Fidler and Associates is an executive search and advisory firm specializing in connecting DSOs with C-suite candidates. One of the first major challenges a growing DSO faces is deciding when will be the right time to hire one or more executives to manage and lead the multi-location organization they are growing into a scalable DSO. This decision is part of a process that begins with planning months out.


What goes into the decision of when to hire?

A few considerations factor into the timing of starting your C-suite team.

  • Is there a right financial time in your DSO growth? Can you afford to hire?
  • Are you no longer capable of keeping up with all the operations?
  • Do you need additional business expertise?
  • Do you get a gut feeling that you need executive leadership now? 


It may be a mix of these. You have to make sure you can afford the type of talent that you would like to come into the group to lead it. But, when people are being overworked, morale can go down, so it’s a balancing act of when is best.  


At what size do DSO’s usually start C-suite hiring?

Fidler and Associates typically sees the pressure to hire a C-suite executive when a third location is added on. All of a sudden, the group’s owner(s), who are usually entrepreneurial dentists with a clinical focus and limited business background feel pressure. They feel pressure to organize and start putting processes, policies, and procedures in place that will provide consistent results across locations, as they they scale up. They start to realize they can’t do it all and they need help, not only in replicating what they are doing now, but improving in it and leading business operations such as accounting, HR, marketing, strategic purchasing, and more.


How long does it take to recruit a dental executive?

Fidler and Associates recommends DSO owners forecast six months ahead of needing to hire. During that six months, clarify your vision and start putting out feelers and networking. Maybe employ an executive search firm six months ahead of the point when you can afford the executive and you project you will have a real need. Six months is usually enough time. 

Fidler and Associates walks its clients through their financials during the planning stage. DSO owners want to know the return on investment will be there. Fidler and Associates also walks them through different examples of compensation and the benefits of someone sharing the workload so the owner can regain work-life balance. At the end of the day, DSO owners want the increased production that the new executive can grow to outweigh the expense of hiring the executive.

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