Why 1 DSO leader is following the housing market

Dallas-based Beacon Oral Specialists supports more than 30 practices and 90 locations across 11 states, making it one of the largest specialty MSOs in the U.S.

Mike Friguletto, the company's CEO, recently connected with Becker's to discuss Beacon's  plan of action for 2024, the trends he is following and a reflection of 2023 growth and accomplishments. 

Question: What are your company's top priorities for 2024?

Mike Friguletto: Our top priority is always about people and the way we think about our staff in our clinics and central business office. We want to continually improve the capability of our staff, the consistency of the work they do every day and ultimately make a better business. We want to support our surgeons to be the best they can be. If the team is more capable and consistent, we can deliver a better experience to the patients, the surgeons can operate their clinics more efficiently and at the end of the day it delivers better results for everyone.

Q: What are two to three key strategies in place to expand your footprint?

MF: We are a surgeon-led and surgeon-empowered organization, and our number one growth strategy is to tell more surgeon-led, independent practices throughout the U.S. about Beacon. At the end of the day, what that means to me is that we're trying to let surgeons unlock their own potential by creating an environment where they can collaborate and grow as peers in a safe place where they are aligned. To expand our footprint means that we need to get our message out to more surgeons about what Beacon is all about. We will look for specific communities that we would like to grow into, and we are opening new practice offices in select markets across the country.

Q: What are your biggest challenges?

MF: One of them is people. The vacancy rate and, frankly, finding people who are capable of doing the role can be a real distraction for the practices. We are a people organization, and it's all about people in the office delivering care, so you've got to have the right ones. 

I would also say that technological inadequacy is a big problem in our specialty. I know that all of the major vendors are making big investments to address those inadequacies, but it has been years of low investment. Those inadequacies really hinder our ability to have enterprise-level technologies that can support a practice group of our size, which is over 100 surgeons, and so that presents itself in a lot of different areas. It costs us money and time to fix inadequacies with other technologies and solutions or with just extra manpower. 

Q: How do you anticipate economic challenges impacting growth in the DSO space?

MF: High interest rates are a challenge just because they force you to be really precise in where you deploy capital because your tolerance for mistakes goes way down. You can't take as many bets in a high interest rate environment because if you make mistakes, they can come back to really hurt you financially. It is less of a challenge for us but certainly one that we're paying close attention to. It's important to understand that the environment just limits your ability to be creative or to try new things.

Q: What are the top trends you are following now?

MF: One of the things I look at is the housing market, and the reason I pay close attention to that is because it is a good indicator of what markets and communities are growing in population. There is optimism that a real estate developer will be able to sell those properties, which means that there are people with jobs who can afford to buy those houses. To me, that's a very good indicator of if the economy is coming back. If we're looking at expanding in that community, that is a good sign because others are investing in it as well. … I’m also watching new car sales, house sales and unemployment. Sales of durable goods, like cars, is a good way to know if the economy is coming back.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment of 2023?

MF: I'm at my proudest when I've got our surgeons together and they're collaborating with each other. We had several of those events occur in 2023, and we've got them planned for 2024. At one of those events we brought together all of our associate surgeons across the East Coast for a one-day seminar that was hosted by one of our surgeons. It was a learning and development day and it just embodied what Beacon is all about, which is empowering our surgeons to learn from each other. 

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