Dylan Bates, CEO of SALT Dental Collective, recently spoke to Becker's Healthcare and his interview is featured in the Dental & DSO Review. In the article, Dylan talks about SALT's plans to reach nearly 100 locations this year. Dylan was also featured as one of "9 dental CEO moves halfway through 2023."
Here's a look at the interview:
Question: How would you describe Salt's growth in recent years?
Dylan Bates: From 2019 through the beginning of 2023, the group went from [its] initial four locations to more than 50 locations in five states. I enthusiastically stepped into the CEO role after serving on the board for the first four years of the platform and stepped in with excitement about the growth opportunities I saw that were readily available and we've really hit the ground running. We've been very active in the first part of 2023, significantly expanding our geographic footprint. We have closed four practice partnership transactions since Jan. 1. We have 11 more practice partnerships under a letter of intent and we are entering numerous new markets. We're now truly coast to coast. We expanded into Arizona, California and Idaho after starting originally in Washington and Oregon. We've been very busy to start off the year, so it's truly a transformational time.
Q: What is most exciting to you about Salt's growth strategy?
DB: I think our story is definitively resonating with potential partners. We're truly creating a beautiful doctor-led environment. I bring a clinician mindset to the CEO seat, while not a dentist [but] as a physical therapist. In my prior career, I built an industry-leading physical therapy platform, started with one location and when I exited that platform, we had more than 850 locations in 35 states. So I'm tapping into my experiences and lessons learned over a beautiful run in the physical therapy space and applying a number of things I know work and I have amazing doctor partners in the SALT family today.
Q: Do you see Salt expanding into other specialties soon?
DB: We're just now starting to look at oral surgery in a real way. To this point, we've been focused on pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. We've got a lot going on in those areas, so we're trying to keep very focused.
Q: Is there anything you have learned about the dental industry that you enjoy?
DB: I've been blessed with having an amazing initial platform of doctors who are high integrity, amazing people. They do great work in their communities and they're introducing us to their friends. They are wanting to be a part of something differentiated and truly special. We've got an amazing culture that's building upon itself and continuing to grow as we grow and evolve.
I've found dentists to be incredibly good people who want to do good work and take care of their patients. A number of these doctors and dentists are running their own practice. It can get lonely. They want to be a part of a family of other great doctors, and I think we're creating a beautiful platform to plug into the benefits of being a part of something bigger with some support, while also maintaining significant autonomy at the local level.
Q: Has the company had to overcome any challenges during its growth?
DB: We're not experiencing any challenges. All of our practices are performing incredibly well. I will tell you that we are adding significant executive leadership talent to ensure we stay ahead of the curve. We're always there to support practices that come onto our platform. And that's been a primary focus of mine as we've had a significant spurt of activity. We truly are going through a transformational growth surge right now.
We currently have approximately 60 practice locations and 25 partner brands. Our current pipeline that will be closing in the next 30 to 60 days will take us close to 100 locations and entering five new markets, and we will have north of 100 doctors on our platform. So it's truly exciting growth. I just have to be mindful of ensuring that I add executive and leadership talent as we continue to scale the business.
Q: What does Salt look for in a partner practice?
DB: We look for growing practices and doctors who are looking for a supportive partner but want to continue to grow locally. We want folks who are wanting to lock arms with us to add a service, add an associate doctor and continue to be thoughtful and creative in growing their local brand and their local market with more horsepower behind them. First and foremost, we look forward to working with people who have a desire to be a part of something differentiated and special. We have some very engaging doctor committees [and] advisory boards we're rolling out, and we want doctors who have a zest to be involved and share what makes their local practice unique with other doctors and practices within our network and platform. When they win, we all win together, and it's a very attractive environment to be a part of.
Q: What about Salt's business strategy and culture sets the company apart from others?
DB: We're very much a bottom-up organization. Doctor autonomy is respected. We know areas where doctors continue to raise their hand and want and need support, and we provide next-level quality of support with a white glove approach [and] true servant leadership from the home support team. We show up and we ask how we can help, and we continue to see groups truly appreciate the level of support they receive from us, and they feel very good about being a part of a team that's winning and building momentum. We're maybe the fastest-growing specialty DSO at this point in time, and that's because our message is truly landing with the right doctors.