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DSO Growth and Improved Patient Support: TrueLark AI and SGA Dental Partners

Business Name:

SGA Dental Partners




1500+ employees


120 locations, 55 on TrueLark

Business Name:

SGA Dental Partners



1500+ employees


120 locations, 55 on TrueLark

SGA Dental Partners & TrueLark AI customer story

SGA Dental Partners’ journey with TrueLark AI demonstrates that prioritizing patient communication is not just an ethical imperative but also a smart business decision. Effective patient communication is a strategic advantage for DSOs seeking to thrive in a competitive landscape.


Conversation handle rate


Annual increase in EBITDA (est.)


Conversations per month per location

Effective patient communication processes play a pivotal role in the growth and delivery of high-quality patient care within a Dental Support Organization (DSO). By ensuring clear and timely communication with patients, a DSO can build trust and loyalty, attracting more patients and expanding its network of practices. Efficient appointment scheduling and management reduce missed appointments, optimizing practice schedules and revenue.

Moreover, seamless communication allows for swift responses to patient inquiries and concerns, fostering a positive experience. This not only aids in patient retention but also generates favorable word-of-mouth referrals, further fueling the DSO’s growth.

In this customer story, we explain how adopting the TrueLark AI communications solution improved patient support, operational efficiency and EBITDA for SGA Dental Partners.

Introduction to SGA Dental Partners

In 2022, Dr. Lake Gardner, Dr. Zack Bentley, and Dr. Jay Williams combined operations to form SGA Dental Partners, which is a Thurston Group portfolio company. Their mission: to elevate dentistry while empowering their partner dentists and practices. With a shared ethos rooted in their core values of Family, Integrity, Respect, and Empower Improvement (F.I.R.E.), SGA Dental Partners set out to redefine the dental care landscape across the Southeast.

To prepare this study, we spoke with three members of the SGA team: Myles McAllister, COO; Randy Walsh, IT Project Manager, and Nathan McClure, Vice President of Operations. At the time of this writing, SGA had 120 practices in its network.

The Problem: Missed calls

With a rapidly expanding network across seven states, SGA faced a growing challenge of missed calls which translated to missed opportunities.

The Solution: TrueLark AI

As mentioned, Mr. McAllister and his team wanted to solve a common problem: missed phone calls and lost leads. Initially, he envisioned a simple tool that texted patients after missed calls. But with TrueLark, he discovered a powerful AI solution that could automatically schedule appointments from those missed calls! This game-changer eliminated the need for patients to wait for a call back, streamlining the booking process and reducing lost leads.

In addition to TrueLark’s Virtual Receptionist that solves 100% of missed calls, TrueLark offered even more:

  • Web Chat: Engages website visitors in real-time, further reducing call volume, and guides them towards booking an appointment.
  • Online Booking: For patients who prefer it, a user-friendly online booking system provides another convenient way to schedule appointments 24/7.
  • Lead Engage: If a patient doesn’t book in the initial conversation, TrueLark follows up with a helpful SMS, keeping the conversation going, offering another chance to book and ensuring no lead gets left behind.

Comprehensive communications management

The TrueLark solution’s breadth of function is ideal for a growing DSO that embraces innovation:

  • Handles communication across multiple channels: Phone calls, website chat, and text messages give patients the flexibility to choose how they connect.
  • Works across multiple locations: The system seamlessly manages communications for all SGA’s dental practices, providing centralized control and efficient operations.
  • Automates tasks and saves time: By handling routine tasks like missed call follow-up, answering FAQs, patient financing education and appointment scheduling, TrueLark frees up staff to focus on providing exceptional patient care.

Effective patient communication and improved EBITDA

For DSOs like SGA Dental Partners, the impact of good patient communication goes beyond happy smiles and positive reviews. It translates directly into financial success, boosting a crucial metric: EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization).

SGA’s experience with TrueLark is a powerful testament to this connection. In the first four months, Mr. McAllister estimated that TrueLark had delivered an EBITDA increase of $90,000 to $102,000. And the upward trend shows no signs of stopping. With 46 locations on TrueLark as of this writing, SGA projects a continued annual EBITDA boost of $500,000 once TrueLark is fully integrated across their network.

Here’s how effective patient communication through TrueLark AI translates to financial gains:

No more missed calls from patients

TrueLark’s 24/7 Virtual Receptionist ensures every call gets answered, even after hours. The true power of TrueLark’s 24/7 availability hit home for Mr. McAllister early on in the first year of the partnership. On July 4th, even with all practices closed, patients seamlessly booked appointments through the AI platform. This showcases the unmatched convenience and accessibility TrueLark brings to the patient experience. Mr. McAllister said, “We call it our project goalkeeper or ‘no patient left behind.’”

Around-the-clock booking

“We always like to see when folks book appointments, especially when it’s across a holiday weekend,” shared Randy Walsh, SGA IT Project Manager. “You might see patients booking appointments that may not have otherwise been booked, because the office is closed. So those are obvious benefits to our practice.”

More appointments and new patients

Mr. McAllister estimated that SGA gained around 900 new patients in the first four months of using TrueLark in the network. (For reference, SGA estimates their annual patient value at $900 and lifetime value at $2740.) Note that this was a ramp-up period with 5-8 practices going live each week. 

Beyond capturing 100% of missed calls, there are two additional TrueLark features that contribute to ROI:

  • SGA added a financing pre-authorization link in the TrueLark text thread. This has increased the number of patients who use financing options, which, in turn, has increased the case acceptance rate. Interestingly, most patients don’t use the link to access the form, but when they come into the office, they are already aware of financing options and this initiates the conversation. According to Mr. McClure, since adding the financing link, SGA has seen financing usage double. This has brought $5,000 additional revenue for each practice.
  • The SGA team started using TrueLark Lead Engage to follow up with patients who call the practice but don’t schedule an appointment. Lead Engage sends an SMS a couple days after the initial conversation. As with the Virtual Receptionist, the prospect can book an appointment directly in the text thread. This is a novel use case for Lead Engage, and both teams are excited about the possibilities. Lead Engage was designed to instantly follow-up with prospects who fill out an online form. When SGA brought up the problem of non-converting patients, the TrueLark team was eager to implement Lead Engage to recapture some of that revenue.

Increased efficiency

Prior to TrueLark, online booking felt clunky and ineffective (even with platforms like DentalIntel). But TrueLark’s automated appointment booking via text, online booking, and website chat swept that frustration away. Staff now have more time to focus on what matters most – building patient relationships and boosting revenue.

Improved patient experience and retention

Happy patients return. TrueLark enhances the patient experience through personalized communication, appointment confirmations, and convenient booking options. This can lead to higher satisfaction and improved retention rates, potentially boosting future revenue. 

Mr. McAllister and his team were pleased to confirm that TrueLark improves the patient experience across the SGA network, not just for patients in urban areas. For example, even in rural locations like Reidsville, Georgia, patients seamlessly booked appointments through TrueLark, showcasing its versatility across diverse patient demographics. 

Furthermore, patients with varying levels of tech savviness have engaged successfully with TrueLark’ conversational AI. Mr. McAllister noted that an 80-year-old patient easily grasped text booking, proving its user-friendly interface.

Increased capacity and scalability

TrueLark handles routine tasks like answering FAQs and scheduling appointments, freeing up staff to handle more complex tasks and support SGA’s rapid growth. This increased capacity translates to accelerated same store growth without a corresponding increase in labor costs.

Staff hours saved

TrueLark saves time for staff which allows them to prioritize live patient interactions in the office or on the phone. The employee experience improves along with the patient experience. Mr. McAllister believes freeing up administrative staff to better serve patients contributes to SGA’s impressive NPS score of 87. 

Mr. McClure explained, “The staff used to come into the office in the morning and check voicemails for callers who had left a message the previous evening. Now they come into the office and check TrueLark instead of the answering machine.” 

Because of TrueLark’s advanced AI, there are significantly fewer callbacks. Mr. McLure said that with the initial small sample size during the first four months of adoption, TrueLark had automated around 70% of conversations. Mr. McClure explained, “The positive is that every single one of those patients that TrueLark engaged is somebody that we would have never talked to anyway. Every one is a pick-up.”

Implementation of TrueLark at SGA Dental Partners

As of this writing, SGA Dental Partners had implemented TrueLark at 46 practices and had eight in the onboarding process. Both organizations work to ensure the platform is tested thoroughly before going live and that each front desk team understands how to use it. The SGA and TrueLark teams work closely during the rollout for each location.

The onboarding process includes customizing the platform, followed by initial training and ongoing weekly sessions in which administrative employees from SGA can talk with the TrueLark team.

The communications processes in the SGA network vary by practice. A notable difference is that some are supported by an overflow call service. The TrueLark and SGA onboarding teams customized TrueLark for various communications workflows to ensure dental practice efficiency across the network.

Mr. McClure said, “I think the onboarding process is going really well – mainly because TrueLark is very responsive and ensures that the backend tech hookup is working correctly before pushing the go button. It’s definitely one of the best processes I’ve had with a tech solution this year.”

Mr. McAllister added, “You want your support team to be responsive when you have an operational challenge, and I think TrueLark does a good job of that.”

TrueLark AI integrations for SGA Dental Partners

The SGA network relies on a diverse array of platforms, spanning from practice management systems like Dentrix, Open Dental, and Eaglesoft, to call tracking tools like Patient Prism and Peerlogic. Though DSO tech stacks are complex and integration is often challenging, Mr. McAllister said SGA had not had any problems integrating TrueLark with their existing software.


TrueLark’s impact on SGA is tangible and quantifiable. It’s a clear example of how investing in effective patient communication can yield significant financial returns for Dental Support Organizations like SGA Dental Partners. 

By prioritizing seamless patient communication, SGA achieved remarkable results in just four months:

  • Financial boost: SGA estimates a $500,000 annual EBITDA increase with full TrueLark integration across its network, thanks to factors like capturing missed calls, attracting new patients, and increasing financing usage.
  • Operational efficiency: Automated scheduling and reduced hold times free up staff for patient care, boosting revenue and staff morale. SGA saw a 70% conversation automation rate and reports staff saving precious time previously spent managing voicemails.
  • Enhanced patient experience: Personalized communication, convenient booking options, and improved accessibility (including 24/7 virtual receptionist) contribute to higher patient satisfaction and potentially increased retention.
  • Scalability and growth: TrueLark handles routine tasks, allowing SGA to scale more efficiently and accommodate its rapid expansion without overburdening staff.

The close collaboration between SGA and TrueLark, evident in the smooth onboarding process and responsive support, played a crucial role in this success. The ability to integrate with existing software like Dentrix and Open Dental further simplifies adoption across diverse practice workflows.

To learn more about what TrueLark can do for your DSO or dental practice, schedule a TrueLark demo today.