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Dr. Sulman Ahmed on Why Putting People First is The Key to Success in Dentistry

By Planet DDS
May 2, 2024

In this episode of The Dental Economist Show, host Mike Huffaker is joined by Dr. Sulman Ahmed, the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of DECA Dental. 

Join them as they explore: 

  • Patient-centered approaches
  • The value of calculated risks
  • Key principles behind the success of Dr. Sulman’s dental business
  • Why making sacrifices is intrinsic to pursuing success
  • The need for standardization and quality assurance in dentistry
  • And more!

Dr. Sulman Ahmed is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of DECA Dental Group, a clinician-founded and clinician-led dental service organization. DECA Dental Group is one of the industry’s fastest-growing and well-respected organizations, having been named in Inc. Magazine’s ‘Top 5000 fastest growing companies in the nation’ several years in a row. Sulman is also on the Board of Advisors for Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and the President of ADSO, The Association of Dental Support Organisations. He has just authored his first book, Make them Smile: Why Customer Satisfaction is the Key to Rapid and Sustainable Growth.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. 

Embracing Fear – Sulman says that things like risk and fear are part and parcel of stepping outside your comfort zone. There’s no way to progress in anything without experiencing a little danger. Indeed, Sulman says that life can become stagnant and boring if you don’t take chances. Citing his own experiences of opening two locations “right out of the gate” rather than one, he says that moment “you don’t really know if this is healthy or bad” is when you’re about to do something “really, really great”. In short, fear is a natural part of growth, and it’s the only way to progress in both life and business.

Work/Life Balance – When pursuing greatness, Sulman says that your work/life balance may need to be disrupted in favor of attaining goals. He compares this attitude to that of being a great athlete—a professional athlete’s work/life balance is most likely terrible, but this imbalance means that they can devote longer periods of time to pursuing success. Sulman stresses that nobody ever did anything great without making big sacrifices. It will all be worth it in the end. 

Two Sides of People-Centric Care – The key to DECA Dental’s success is putting people at the forefront of what they do. Initially, the focus was—naturally—on patient care. This led to DECA Dental opening on the weekend; after all, people don’t exclusively get toothaches on weekdays! Focusing on patient care also meant Sulman made innovations like opening branches in retail locations. As time went on, he realized the significance of taking care of the people around him at DECA, so ensured there was a support team that took care of doctors, hygienists, and receptionists in the same way that they take care of patients. 

Business Training and Growth – Sulman says that one way DECA Dental has been able to maintain continuous growth is by investing in training for its staff. He says that they have a path to leadership in every single position, “whether you’re a dental assistant or front office office manager”. He enjoys seeing people promoted from within the company because that means they already know the culture. Sulman also emphasizes the value one-on-one mentorship, saying this helps with both advancement within the company and to address any personal issues they might be facing.