Adapt fast or fall behind: How Sage Dental is staying ahead

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sage Dental has started off 2024 with a pair of acquisitions, building on last year's expansion success, when they surpassed 100 total practices.

The DSO's chief marketing officer, Jonathan Kaufman, recently connected with Becker's to share what Sage Dental is prioritizing to continue its strength expansion path.

Question: What are your DSO's top priorities in 2024?

Jonathan Kaufman: Sage's core priority in 2024 is organic portfolio growth. This entails making the most of our current operatory areas to expand our capacity for patient care. In order to achieve this, a core part of our strategy revolves around keeping pace with evolving technology. As AI rapidly impacts the way dental care is performed, we will continue to embrace new, innovative technologies to drive organizational growth and provide patients and their families with personalized, high-quality care designed to fit their needs.

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

JK: Sage currently has a significant presence in both Florida and Georgia. However, we plan to leverage our well-established position in the market to deepen our presence even further and expand into new areas. A key part of our expansion strategy will include moving into contiguous markets where we believe our care model will be the most advantageous for patients. Our team has also built a robust, multi-tier campaign designed to generate brand awareness for both patients and providers in these newer markets, which we will focus on heavily in 2024.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing DSOs today?

JK: The main challenge DSOs currently face is recruiting and retaining top talent in a manner that goes beyond just offering financial incentives. To attract and retain the right talent, DSOs need to develop and maintain a positive culture that encourages career development and reflects an organizational wide commitment to exceptional patient care. Without a positive work environment and this shared passion for ultimately improving health outcomes, your organization runs the risk of jeopardizing patient care.

Q: Many DSO execs are expecting slower growth amid a challenging economy. What are your thoughts on this? How do you think economic challenges will impact growth in the overall DSO industry?

JK: The macroeconomy is at an inflection point and has been for around a year. Despite this, however, consumer actions do not seem to reflect an urgency to save or adapt. For example, we had one of the strongest retail purchasing years of the last decade, and airline travel around Thanksgiving was tremendous. The dental industry has seen contraction in the overall share of private practices since the pandemic, and this trend is expected to continue into 2024. From a patient perspective, however, I believe that with Sage's comprehensive service offerings and patient care track record, we aren't going to experience much contraction in overall practice performance and patient demand.

Finding available and affordable financing to continue the pace of portfolio growth is also going to be a key challenge, especially for smaller DSOs. The days of simply expanding portfolios through acquisition, without any core brand or technological integration, are long gone. As technologies continue to emerge rapidly, the inability to deploy them swiftly or adapt operations will delay organizational growth.

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

JK: The application of AI technology in dentistry remains one of the most discussed trends within the industry for a reason. The variety of vendors and their respective service offerings are evolving so rapidly that if you aren't poised to quickly adopt the technology within your practice, you'll more than likely find your practice falling behind.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment of 2023?

JK: Sage Dental reached 120 dental practices in 2023, doubling our total portfolio in the last three years. This is a tremendous achievement for the entire Sage team as it truly reflects our strong commitment and ability to provide high-quality, consistent patient care throughout our entire network.

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