of a bonus plan for
your dental team
Michael Kesner, DDS
THERE ARE MANY TEAM BONUS PLANS IN DENTISTRY, and I have tried most
of them through the years. Many of these bonus plans have shortcomings that can
sometimes hurt instead of help the practice.
But the right bonus plan will turn your employees into team members.
Team members take on the responsibility of running their areas of the
practice, therefore lowering your stress. Employees see running the
practice as your responsibility, so they wait for you to tell them what to
do, which therefore increases your stress.
There are nine key components of any good bonus plan that must
be present in order for it to work properly.
• The bonus plan must be based on the profit of the practice.
Profit is the money that is left over after all the bills are paid. The
bonus plan must be calculated from an overhead base that is the
accurate cost to operate your practice. This base must increase over
time as the practice grows and the overhead increases along with
• Every team member must participate equally in the bonus.
Bonus plans that reward one team member or one position over
another lead to unwanted competition and hurt feelings. The objective of the bonus is to get your team members to work together as a
team, not as individuals.
• The bonus must be paid monthly.
If team members have to wait too long to receive their bonuses, then
the motivational impact becomes diluted. A bonus that is paid every
two or three months causes the team to wait too long, which dimin-
ishes the incentive. Many team members live from paycheck to
paycheck, so they want their bonuses now, not in two or three months.
• The bonus must be an amount that will make a significant
A $50 bonus is not going to generate much excitement, but a $500
or $1,000 bonus will. You might be thinking that there is no way you
can afford to pay that kind of bonus. What if your monthly practice
revenue increased by 50% to 100%? Then could you afford to pay that
kind of bonus? Sure, you could! This is what happens when you have
a motivated team working with you as opposed to employees working
• The bonus must be paid from collections, not production.
Production doesn’t pay the bills. Collections do. A bonus based on
production will cause patients to be scheduled with either no or
flimsy financial arrangements. You want the team fo-
cused on collecting the revenue as opposed to producing
• The bonus calculations must be available for everyone to see.
The team must be able to see how the bonus was calculated and what each team member received as a bonus.
It is only natural for them to doubt that they’re getting
their fair share if bonus calculations are kept secret. They
don’t need to see your detailed profit and loss statement,
but they do need to know the total overhead, the collections, and how the bonus was calculated.
• The bonus goal must be realistic.
Here’s an example: if you’re collecting $60K per month
and the bonus goal is $120K per month, your team will
probably think the goal is not possible. Team members
must believe they can achieve the goal by hearing your
plan for reaching this goal. Team members also need
to know what their individual bonuses will be when
this monthly goal is reached.
• The doctor must be the biggest cheerleader for
When the team makes bonus, you need to be excited
for them. Remember, the bonus does not cost you
money; it makes you money. There’s no way you would
be making the new and higher collection numbers if it
wasn’t for the bonus plan. Paying the bonus begrudg-
ingly, or worse, reneging on the deal, is the quickest way
to demotivate your team.
• There must be a probationary period for new team
members to participate in the bonus.
When new people are hired, they should have a two- to
three-month waiting period before they can participate
in the bonus. This gives the rest of the team time to get
a person up to speed and contributing to the profit of
A good bonus plan will lead to an empowered team
that will lower your stress and increase your income.
MICHAEL KESNER, DDS, has a practice
that ranks on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the
fastest growing companies in America. He is
the author of Multi-Million Dollar Dental
Practice and the CEO of Quantum Leap
Success in Dentistry, which teaches more
production, higher profits, and less stress.
Contact him at