How Affinity Dental Management’s Regional Managers Network and Support Their Offices

Heather Durand on the type of leadership skills necessary to be a regional manager and build teams that will elevate the patient experience.

DSOPro: Tell us about your career and how you got involved in dentistry.

Dentistry just fell into my lap. I took a position as a dental practice receptionist while pursuing another career, and, astonishingly, was very intrigued by all the coding, clinical, and administrative elements within the business of dentistry.

New call-to-action

I put a lot of personal time and effort into memorizing all the codes, understanding the procedures, and learning the about insurance and treatment planning/financial obligations, the administrative tasks, and how to speak to patients about their recommended treatment. I bonded with a lot of patients, asked providers questions when I didn’t understand something, built relationships and trust, and was always willing to be a team player. Most importantly, I put in the work. For example: before marketing on social media platforms was a “thing,” I would spend my lunch hour walking around parking lots with a copy of the schedule in my hand and schedule new patients by offering dental promotions that would keep my providers busy. Other days, I’d pick a letter in the white pages and call all the names that were listed in my town! Some days I failed and other days I was successful. It taught me perseverance and grit. I carry this work ethic with me to this day.

My hard work and efforts were recognized, and I was promoted to other positions with various titles, additional responsibilities, and growth potential/exposure. Currently I am a Regional Manager for Affinity Dental Management.

SPONSORED: Embrace Digital Technology & Unlock The Power Of Collections

DSOPro: What does your position as Regional Manager entail?

It entails taking the vision and Initiatives for the company and working collaboratively with various departments and colleagues to map out action items, timelines, and goals. Usually, we are simultaneously implementing new processes and procedures into our offices.

It is very hands on in all aspects. It requires spending a substantial amount of time talking with our providers, working with practice managers, and checking in with our many team members. I am often in the trenches with our teams, observing their interactions with patients and each other. This is the best way to identify weakness or for opportunities to become apparent that will allow me to implement a better system or find a better line of communication to improve the operation.

As a Regional Manager, I am the lead operator in the office, working with providers, department leaders, directors, and executives to facilitate all the ideas and systems from the department leaders and bring them to life in office.

DSOPro: How much growth have you seen in your territory?

We’re continuously seeing growth and we’ve expanded quite a bit within our current practices. In addition, we have brought various specialties into many of our general practices to accommodate patients’ needs and allow for growth and expansion within our existing footprint.

DSOPro: How many practices and staff members are under your umbrella?

I currently oversee all our General Dentistry practices in Connecticut and co-manage the Massachusetts and Vermont General Dentistry offices, which is a total of 75-85 employees.

DSOPro: How does that compare to the other regions within your organization?

It is very similar. We try and drive standard processes and procedures throughout the company. This includes having similar size regions both in locations and revenue. However, due to many factors, individual locations may be operated differently from others. For example, we have two types of practices in our general dentistry line of service—relationship-based dentistry and service-based dentistry. Both are great but it is important to understand the demographics, flow, and culture in each office and stay unique to that to create an experience relatable to patients’ expectations and the company culture while maintaining productivity.

Watch Their Journey


Boost AR Collections & Lower Costs by Going Digital

Say goodbye to phone calls & paper statements & hello to secure digital statements including Apple Pay®, PayPal®, Venmo®, all major credit cards & payment plans. With FeatherPay, enjoy significant savings, no-risk & no long-term contract.

Schedule a Demo Today


DSOPro: What kind of networking goes on among the regional managers, and how are you supported?

I feel very supported, especially in this company. In my experience as a Regional Manager with Affinity in general, communication is such an important factor, and we excel in that area in our company. We communicate daily using Outlook and Google platforms, we also have an administrative connection call once a week, which brings all our department heads and directors as well as other regionals together with our CEO, CFO, and COO. We brainstorm and have round table discussions on what’s going on in our regions and in the company.

In addition, regionals hold our own weekly W.A.R. meeting—weekly action review—with our office managers where we basically do the same to ensure there is communication and leadership up and down the chain of command. We review our goals for the month and talk about where we are month-to-date, any challenges we’re experiencing, any celebrations we may have in an office, things that need approval, etc. We also get together quarterly as a corporate team to talk about initiatives and things to look forward to that we plan to roll out. It’s a lot of team building and discussing various topics that are vital to the success and growth of the company.

I also connect with my direct boss, who is the COO, Ariel (Ari) Wiener, weekly to review my region in detail. This includes documentation that is updated to hold everyone accountable. We make sure to discuss everything happening within my region and act timely.

I think our company communication is very strong. It’s really helped us accomplish our goals and develop plans for the future. It gives us the ability to align our way of thinking so that when we’re making moves, we’re doing it as a unified group, as a team. It’s been a very pleasant experience.

As a regional manager, I am also able to attend dental conferences with various people to represent Affinity as well as meet with the vendors/partners we work with, and network to build new relationships with people and learn about new technology and resources that may be helpful to our success.

DSOPro: Tell us about some of the challenges you’ve experienced as a regional manager.

Obviously, we went through COVID, which was extremely difficult, and coming back from that, with all the challenges we faced. Probably one of our current biggest challenges is recruitment and staffing issues. I think that is the national issue right now in our profession. Having the ability to think outside the box has been a way to keep establishing positivity and ensure that we’re staying true to our goals for the offices and the company.

Another challenge is finding qualified dentists who have the experience to take over for senior providers who are retiring while maintaining the same culture and level of treatment our teams and patients have come to expect. We spend an extensive amount of time finding the right candidate to match the practice and embody our culture.

Read more

Your Trusted Partner in Digital Transformation

National Dentex Labs (NDX) is a leading provider of dental prosthetics and products, using the most advanced restorative techniques and technologies.

As you transition to digital dentistry, you can rely on us for efficient, accurate, and high-quality restorations!

Read more


DSOPro: Are you having any trouble getting supplies?

There are times we still face delays from manufactures getting supplies to our vendors, which at times causes setbacks, but our leadership team continues to work hard to make sure our relationships with our supply resource representatives are strong and we plan accordingly for foreseeable and unforeseeable events.

DSOPro: Tell us about the ongoing training you receive and offer to team members.

We have created a lot of committees and training manuals, thanks to our Leadership team. Those committees have a lot of resourceful people on them, from all different department backgrounds. Additionally, I do a lot of internal training with our office managers, as well as front desk and support staff. We have specific days and times set aside to review multiple subjects and also allow for one-on-one training and development.

Our and the Process & Procedures committee, which I am a part of, are also creating training modules, as well as conducting training and providing mentorship to our doctors and assessing the quality of patient care so we can maintain our standard of care. Our Chief Dental Officer is very hands-on.

We also have an annual symposium, which is an opportunity for leaders in multiple departments as well as the executive team to come together, obtain CE credits, and learn and network within the company. We offer CE courses, in-person technical and leadership training, and role-playing to identify how to handle situations. We also have keynote speakers and perform team-building exercises.

In addition, our corporate team has quarterly meetings, and our regions have quarterly meetings to bring our office managers together and spend quality time with them speaking about operations, challenges, and celebrations. Everyone puts a presentation together about their region, covering initiatives, challenges, and forecasting their personal goals.

So, we have opportunities to constantly connect as well as experience on-going training. If any of our team members reaches out looking for support, we have an all-hands-on-deck mentality. We really do support one another and attempt to address any struggles that people are facing.

DSOPro: What type of leadership skills are needed to be a regional manager?

First, you need to understand what patient care means and how to bring that into offices and carry yourself professionally to exhibit the level of service patients are expecting. We’re in a transition where a lot of patients are feeling the weight of the world and the inflation we’re dealing with, so interactions and communication with them is important.

If you want to have a regional position, you must have the ability to not only lead your teams but also work with your staff members and provide as much support as needed. I believe that you need to get into the trenches and understand what they are experiencing. It’s always helpful to be able to identify issues, think on the spot, deal with out-of-the-box scenarios, and to problem solve.

A short list of skills include problem solving, leadership, attention to detail, availability, and an interest in clinical and dental treatment. You also need to understand the insurance revenue cycle, and P&Ls.

You need to have very good communication and people skills. You are the face of the company and must develop ongoing relationships with team members and your vendors. I work very closely with our vendors and am the point person for communication between the offices and the corporate level.

This position also requires being able to speak to patients, handle patient complaints, and help with decision-making. You must be able to identify issues and find the best way to handle certain situations.


New call-to-action

Dental Express Trusts Dentrix Ascend with its Growth

San Diego based DSO Dental Express is using Dentrix Ascend to help meet growth goals. See how Dentrix Ascend has made scalability faster and easier for this growing DSO.

Watch Their Journey


DSOPro: What are some tips for staff looking for career advancement opportunities in a DSO?

Knowledge is power. To me, it’s very important that although I may not have an active role in every part of the office or the company, it’s critical to have an understanding of dentistry and treatment planning. Patient care is your number-one top priority; so, making sure your office leaders follow the same standard the company expects from all leaders is key. Understanding why we set treatment goals and collection goals, and making sure that AR stays strong is also important. You need to understand why we make certain decisions or feel comfortable asking for clarity or explanations.

Having a very good understanding of the above and going the extra mile to reach your goals is the best advice I can give. There are always instances when this is the first time you’ve been put in a certain scenario, so having the ability to handle a situation based on your experience of watching other people is huge. I think you can’t have a team if you’re not communicating with the team.

Honestly, the biggest thing for me is the personal effort I put into it, and the personal knowledge I’ve gained through CE courses and being on committees for organizations like the AADOM (American Association of Dental Office Management). I encourage people to take seminars, listen to podcasts, go to events, and really listen to the different forums. Putting in that time has given me the ability to expedite my growth within companies, and to be regarded as a leader. There is no black and white when it comes to this role. It’s a matter of making sure you are working on your personal growth, and the growth of the teams, locations, and the company.

DSOPro: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Be open to opportunities. Don’t limit yourself to what’s in front of you, put yourself in the driver’s seat. Write out your goals and the timeframe that you want to achieve those within. I also think communicating that you’re looking for growth within the company and asking for mentorship, even if the roles aren’t yet available, are a huge way to manifest yourself into bigger roles, because it shows that you’re invested in the company.


More from the Newsletter

About Heather Durand


Heather Durand has been working in the dental industry for about 15 years and is currently a Regional Manager for Affinity Dental Management. Heather is involved in development/standardization of processes and procedures, employee and patient engagement, facets of financial analysis and financial performance, and making patient care a top priority. She specializes in creative problem solving, communications, team building, and developing human resource skills to accomplish organizational objectives. She enjoys spending quality time with her husband and three young daughters playing board games, riding bikes, being outside, and watching movies. Her hobbies include playing golf, soccer, and being by the water.

Affinity Dental Management

Affinity Dental Management is a dentist-run dental organization that provides comprehensive practice management and administrative support services for practices across the northeast United States. We began as a single office practice in 1999. Since then, Affinity Dental Management has grown through affiliations and new practice openings, building a strategic network that offers general and specialty dental services. We are committed to and take great pride in offering quality patient care and physician and practice support. Whether you are a new dentist starting your first practice or a seasoned dental expert with years of experience, Affinity Dental Management can assist you in developing a business plan while providing ongoing support to keep you on the cutting edge of the industry.

New call-to-action


Similar posts