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Chris Pistorius (00:05):
Hi, everybody. This is Chris Pistorius with KickStart Dental Marketing. Today, I’ve got a special guest, a great client of ours, Julie Rentz. She is the business administrator for two practices that they own, Stonegate Dental in Parker and Deer Run Dentistry. We’re going to talk to Julie today about just some overall things that have made her and her husband, Dr. Rentz, successful, and the recent addition Deer Run Dentistry to their family. They just bought that not too long ago.
Chris Pistorius (00:40):
Julie, thank you so much for coming on and being a part of the show today.
Julie Rentz (00:45):
Yeah, but thank you for having me.
Chris Pistorius (00:46):
Of course. Why don’t you just start off by telling us a little bit about your practices, how long you guys have been in dentistry and things like that?
Julie Rentz (00:58):
Yeah. Our practice, we’ve been in dentistry, we bought our practice back in 2013. My husband’s been practicing since 2011. Got a couple of years under our belt before, under his belt, before we went into that ownership market, but we’re a general practice in Parker … We have a general practice in Parker. We just purchased a second general practice in Greenwood Village, and it’s been a wild ride.
Julie Rentz (01:34):
We started with three employees when we purchased the practice, it was really part-time. I don’t know, maybe 600 active patients when we bought it, and now we’re at, at Stonegate, we’re at 11 employees and we’re at roughly about 2,600 active patients. It’s grown a lot.
Chris Pistorius (02:00):
Julie Rentz (02:01):
Dr. Rentz is what’s referred to as a super GP. He does a lot of his own work here in our office. I think when we originally started, he did a lot of his own procedures out of necessity. You know, dental school is not cheap. We had to look for ways, we didn’t have a big patient count, we had to look for ways to really keep what we could in-house.
Julie Rentz (02:26):
But I think keeping things in house out of necessity has transformed into this intentional business model for us. I think it’s worked really well, and we’re able to do a lot of our patients’ care just here without having to send them out all of the time. We do sometimes, but …
Chris Pistorius (02:51):
Yeah. Well, that’s great. In both practices, do you offer some services in one practice versus the other, or is it pretty much the same services in both practices?
Julie Rentz (03:06):
Yeah, we try to keep it uniform, same services in both practices. When we were looking for an associate for this new practice, that was one of the areas that was important in our selecting a candidate, was we wanted somebody who could step into that super GP role, because I think when you’re in a saturated area, there’s a lot of other doctors, a lot of competition and you’re dealing with insurance and insurance reimbursements. It’s almost a necessity.
Chris Pistorius (03:41):
Julie Rentz (03:42):
And I think patients really prefer not to have to travel to other offices. there’s always cases where you have to send them out to specialists, but it eliminates a lot of hassle for the patients.
Chris Pistorius (03:59):
Yeah, absolutely, and we find that too. As you know, when we do your marketing, most of the times, unless you’re a specialist, most of the times in a densely populated area, most of your patients are going to come from a five mile radius, depending on the market. It’s out of convenience, and it’s out of convenience from their home or from their work. Yeah, I think you’re spot on there.
Chris Pistorius (04:25):
Talk to me about when you grew enough, and you decided to go ahead and purchase a second practice. Did you come up with maybe writing out, “All right, this is how we run Stonegate. This is our standard operating procedures. Let’s duplicate what we’re doing here, and then bring that over to Deer Run, and just set it up how we have the current one set up.” Does that make sense of that? Is that kind of how you approached it?
Julie Rentz (04:53):
Yeah. Ultimately, yes. Once we got into the practice and you start to get a feel for the patient demographic, and how things had been done, you start looking at ways to either modify some of those procedures to be individualized for that practice, or sometimes I say, “No, that’s not how it should be done at all,” and we just scrap it and put our procedure in place.
Julie Rentz (05:23):
But yeah, I think especially in private dental practices, I know there’s a lot of really great private offices, very successful, but so common the administrative side that the standard operating procedures … I think clinically, they all get special training for that, and so those are all to some degree pretty standard protocols, right?
Julie Rentz (05:47):
But administratively, somebody has to put those in place. Somebody has to work to put those together and train everybody. I guess I’m always surprised at how many offices don’t take the time to do that, because I feel like that in and of itself is … It makes bringing on employees that much easier, it makes knowing how to handle situations kind of a step-by-step guide.
Julie Rentz (06:18):
Yeah, those are really, I think, vital to the operation of the office, and then being able to just change the logo and take it to the next office has been a huge advantage.
Chris Pistorius (06:34):
Yeah. There’s a book out there, I don’t know if you guys have read it, but it’s called The E-Myth Revisited, and it’s [crosstalk 00:06:41]-
Julie Rentz (06:41):
Yeah, I have.
Chris Pistorius (06:41):
Yeah, it talks a lot about, not just about dentistry, but it talks about how to scale a business, and it talks about you got to really have a map of standard operating procedures, and instead of working in the business, you should be working on it at a high level. It talks a lot about processes and procedures.
Chris Pistorius (07:02):
I think if you’re looking at growing a dental practice and buying one or even more practices, I think what you did is exactly right. You’ve got to have those standard operating procedures. We know what works, we know what doesn’t from our years of experience, and then we’re going to, I don’t want to say cookie cutter, that’s probably the wrong word, but it’s that mind frame of I think it will just help you expand the business quicker, and get up and running as fast as possible.
Julie Rentz (07:29):
Chris Pistorius (07:30):
Well, awesome. Talk to me about, obviously with marketing, what do you think is your unique selling proposition at your practices? This is like, obviously we all know that there’s a lot of competition in dentistry.
Julie Rentz (07:46):
Chris Pistorius (07:49):
Yeah, why should people go and visit your practices versus maybe somebody else’s?
Julie Rentz (07:56):
Well, I think ultimately it’s that comprehensive model. I think that what sets us apart, and the feedback we get from patients so often is that they build a relationship with Dr. Rentz, they trust him, and so they want him to do their work. They don’t want to have to go to a specialist. Sometimes patients will be saying, “No, can you just try? Can you just try?” Instead of sending them, and puts him in a difficult spot, but I think that that model …
Julie Rentz (08:35):
And to be honest, I didn’t realize that it was a model until we started interviewing other dentists, and realizing other dentists don’t do all of this stuff. They either don’t like it, or they just don’t feel confident, they don’t get the continuing education in it.
Julie Rentz (08:58):
I guess I didn’t really realize that this was fairly unique for us, but I think that’s ultimately what sets us apart. That the patient can come in and get their endo, they can get their oral surgery, they can get their hybrid, they can get whatever process they’re doing here.
Chris Pistorius (09:19):
Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Again, I don’t want to bad words again, but kind of a one-stop shop, but people are looking for convenience, and trying to get most of their needs from one place.
Julie Rentz (09:32):
Chris Pistorius (09:33):
That totally makes sense.
Julie Rentz (09:33):
Well, and I think another piece to that is maybe instead of one-stop shop, Dr. Rentz ends up quarterbacking, maybe is a better word, that care, right?
Chris Pistorius (09:46):
Julie Rentz (09:46):
If that patient has to go see a specialist, we’re not just sending them. He is involved and he is … Which I think is common, right? I think doctors do tend to be aware of where their patients are going and when, but it’s a little different when he’s actively involved in that case.
Chris Pistorius (10:07):
Right, and going back to … Because I know that we’ve got … Several clients right now are actually looking to potentially expand and buy another practice, and go through what you’ve just gone through. I guess overall, what are some major tips or advice that you would give somebody that’s looking to maybe add on to their practice? What are some of the big things that you went through?
Julie Rentz (10:40):
Well, I think we had … In some ways it was a huge disadvantage and in some ways it was an advantage. We bought our practice literally on the day we all had to close down for COVID. We closed the practice on March 18th, and March 19th was when they all said everyone shut down.
Julie Rentz (11:02):
Of course that was not ideal at all, buying a new private practice and then having zero income for the next … I think it ended up being about a month and a half, two months, but at the same time, it also gave me a lot of opportunity to really dive into their office systems, seeing their billing, and how they were scheduling things, and how they had things set up in the system.
Julie Rentz (11:31):
For me, I think I thought it was going to be as easy as taking my processes from this office and transferring it over to that other office, and that definitely was a huge advantage and helped a ton. But I think there’s also the employee side, for me, having to try and be in two places when both offices need me, that’s the challenge.
Julie Rentz (11:59):
I would say, make sure that you have an office manager in place before you buy that practice. If you buy the practice and it comes with one, great, but you need someone who can be you, basically-
Chris Pistorius (12:24):
Julie Rentz (12:24):
You need someone who can … Yes, and is keeping a very watchful eye over especially those first few weeks. They’re very crucial in transitioning the patients to a new provider. I had to do a lot of phone conversations with patients who just weren’t sure that they wanted to try the new doctor [inaudible 00:12:43]. I think having the availability to be present.
Chris Pistorius (12:52):
Yeah, yeah. That totally makes sense, and I think it is very, very important to have a very strong office manager in any practice, but especially when you’re expanding and adding practices. You’ve just got to make sure you’ve got somebody there that can take accountability, can take charge, can handle the smaller stuff, and then that’s really what puts you in multiple places at one time, right?
Julie Rentz (13:21):
Chris Pistorius (13:24):
I think that’s incredibly important.
Julie Rentz (13:26):
Yeah, and I think for me, that has been the number one struggle, is just personnel and having someone there. If I were to give somebody advice for going into this type of buying a second practice, it would be to have that person that you really know and trust, knows how you like it done, knows how to get things set up right, and get the ball rolling.
Chris Pistorius (13:53):
Yeah, and I think it’s a good segue into many, many practice owners and managers talk to us about staffing, and how it’s difficult to find people and quality people, and get them to stay. They want to avoid this cycle of hiring somebody, then they leave, and they got to rehire and start all over. I think when you expand the practices, you have to look at probably the existing staff that they have. Did you put them through an interview process, or how did that work, and what are some tips that you have on hiring and firing?
Julie Rentz (14:27):
Yeah. Yeah, so our situation was unique, because we were closing, we actually did not rehire their office. Some doctors may not know this, but when you buy a practice, those employees essentially become brand new employees on the day you buy the practice. Their employment is not an automatic through the purchase. It’s very common. It’s highly suggested that you keep the current staff, but for us, we knew we were going to be closed for a month and a half.
Julie Rentz (15:03):
I had done some due diligence on the practice and seen some of the way that things were being handled clinically. I went back and forth. Do I keep them and try to retrain them? I think that that’s difficult, or we’re going to be closed for the next two months. Do I just not rehire them and build my own team? Because now I’ve got the time, right? I don’t have any patients that I have to see.
Julie Rentz (15:32):
For us, that’s what we opted to do. We didn’t rehire their staff, and we built our own staff.
Chris Pistorius (15:42):
I see, okay.
Julie Rentz (15:43):
Yeah, yeah. I think finding the right employee varies by owner, right? What I find value in and what another owner finds value in could be different, but for me, the three things I first look for in a candidate is their personality. Then I look to see, are they trainable? And then I looked to see, do they want to grow? Because I feel like so often dental employees …
Julie Rentz (16:17):
Well, okay. First I think dental employees, because of their experience, tend to get cycled through offices, but aren’t necessarily good employees, but they get hired. They constantly get rehired because they have experience. I think that it’s almost like a set up to fail, if you just hire somebody because they have experience.
Julie Rentz (16:42):
I think one, personality you can’t train, so I think that has to be there. Two, when I say I need that person to be trainable, I need them to be trainable whether they’ve had 10 years of experience or whether they have no experience, because the reality is that every employee that you hire requires training, whether it’s to your specific processes or just determining …
Julie Rentz (17:07):
In interviews, every candidate is going to tell you they know how to read an EOB. Every candidate is going to tell you they know how to talk to patients about insurance, how to present a treatment plan. They’re going to tell you they know how to multitask.
Chris Pistorius (17:20):
Julie Rentz (17:20):
I’m exaggerating, but … In their minds, they really do think they know these things, but you get them on the job, and you realize they only know what they’ve been taught in the past or trained in the past. If that’s either incorrect or not your way, every employee you ever hire is going to require training. If that candidate seems like, “I know what I’m doing, and I’m not open to feedback or training,” it’s like a no-go for me from the start.
Julie Rentz (17:56):
Then lastly, I think so often these dental jobs, not necessarily for clinical employees … I still think all of these things apply for clinical employees, but I want an employee who views this position as a career, not just a job. I think viewing the position as a career means that they’re constantly looking for ways to grow in that position. They’re constantly looking for what they don’t know, and how to get better, and how to move up.
Julie Rentz (18:30):
That only benefits my practice. If I’ve got somebody who has the drive to want to be good and do better, that’s my ideal employee. Those three things, and I feel like everything else is trainable.
Chris Pistorius (18:46):
Yeah. I think that’s a great plan, and that’s great advice. I think this whole COVID thing has maybe increased the talent pool a little bit. Maybe there’s more qualified people available.
Chris Pistorius (19:01):
But I’m hearing more and more about dental practices hiring, not necessarily with no experience, like you were addressing. Some practices like to hire people with no dental experience, because they feel as though then they can train somebody just the way to their customs and their procedures, and there isn’t this already-set-in-their-way type attitude. But I think that the thing is that you have to be coachable, and they have to be trainable, and they have to be willing to learn.
Julie Rentz (19:35):
Yeah, and on the employer side, the employer has to have systems set up to train that employee. A lot of times they just stick them in the front and train them as they go, but the reality is, especially in dental, and healthcare in general, there’s so much you have to know. From insurance, how to code, dental terminology, insurance, how different plans apply, billing, you have to know accounting. There’s just such a wide range of information that you have to know, that if an employer hires somebody without experience and doesn’t have a system in place to adequately train that employee, you’re going to get out of it what you put into it.
Chris Pistorius (20:19):
Yeah, I think that’s great, yeah. Okay. Well, I’m going to start wrapping up here, but I’m curious, you just brought on the additional practice. Where do you see your practices in the next five years? What are some of the goals that you want to accomplish?
Julie Rentz (20:35):
Yeah, the Deer Run office that we bought actually is in a very similar situation to where Stonegate was when we initially bought Stonegate. In a way, I think Dr. Rentz and I are hoping that we can replicate that success, which I think is every doctor who buys a second practice, I think that’s their goal, right? They want to replicate their success at their existing practice. In five years, I’m hoping that Deer Run will be seeing the same type of growth that we’ve been able to see here at at Stonegate.
Julie Rentz (21:13):
For Stonegate, we’re definitely going to have to be in a new building. We’ve taken off, our growth has taken off over the last several years, and we’ve just outgrown the space we’re in now. I think the next step for us is getting into a bigger building, so that we can continue that growth.
Chris Pistorius (21:36):
Julie Rentz (21:37):
Honestly, I think just continuing to improve our patient experience. I don’t see any changes necessarily to our model, or things like that. Just what we can offer to the patients and the experience we can offer to the patients.
Chris Pistorius (21:58):
Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s awesome. I know that Deer Run’s going to be as just a biggest success, because you have such a great internal organization. Dr. Rentz is awesome, I know his patients love him, and with you running the show behind the scenes, I think that’s just a recipe for success.
Julie Rentz (22:16):
Chris Pistorius (22:18):
I think what you talked about … And maybe once you move into the new building, that’ll be our next segment. You can teach everybody what the best practices for moving are.
Julie Rentz (22:28):
Yeah. Oh, I was just going to say, luckily, I’ve got a good group of other dental spouses behind me who have all been through this, and they give great advice and great checklists.
Chris Pistorius (22:42):
Yeah, yeah. Well, awesome. Well, Julie, I appreciate you taking the time. I know how busy you are, and I really appreciate you coming on. I know anybody that’s going to watch this will get a lot of value out of it just from your experiences. Thanks [inaudible 00:22:56] so much for being with us today.
Julie Rentz (22:58):
Yeah. Thanks for inviting me, I appreciate it.
Chris Pistorius (23:01):
Of course. That’s it. Thanks, everybody, and be sure to tune in to our next segment. Thank you.