Facebook Ads for Dentists: A Guide to Getting More Leads and Patients

Facebook Ads for Dentists: A Guide to Getting More Leads and Patients

Finding creative ways to get people’s attention online is a challenging yet necessary goal for a dental office owner. However, advertising on Facebook makes it easier to learn who your target customer groups are online. Facebook can also improve your conversion rate by turning ad viewers into paying patients.

There were about 2.85 billion active monthly Facebook users as of the first quarter of 2021. With so many users online, small businesses have plenty of opportunities to promote brand awareness through this social media platform.

Understanding how to leverage Facebook ads and the various ad formats will help you put your business in front of those who are more inclined to purchase your products and services. Consult the brief guide below to create business Facebook ads and boost your advertising efforts.

Why Dental Practice Owners Need Facebook Advertising

Facebook ads can be an incredible addition to any promotional strategy if you understand how to use them. They provide business owners with the ability to target people based on interests and keywords. Instead of broadcasting ads to everyone, the target advertisements will go to a specific audience.

Another reason why Facebook ads work for dentists is their low cost. Some paid advertisements can be costly, but Facebook keeps its rates relatively low. As a result, business owners can experiment with targeted ads to discover what works and what doesn’t without incurring high expenses.

How To Create a Facebook Lead Advertisement

The best Facebook ads are lead ads. Not only do they encourage potential patients to take some form of action, such as scheduling an appointment, but the ads also request information from people about themselves. 

With the information patients provide, your company will have valuable insights about the type of people who are part of your targeted audience and most likely to convert into dental leads. Learn how to make a Facebook lead ad below.

1: Create a Facebook Business Page

The first step is to create an attractive Facebook business page for your dental office. After filling the page with relevant information about your business, select the “Promote” button at the top of the page.

The next screen will have options for possible goals, such as boosting a post or getting more calls. Select “Get More Leads.”

2: Make a Contact Form

By selecting “Get More Leads,” your next screen will be a contact form. Facebook automatically generates forms with fields for “form name,” but you can customize the text to add a headline and form description.

The customized text provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to remind users of the benefits they gain by completing the form.

After you complete those fields, you can select the type of customer information you want to collect, like their phone number, email address, and additional contact information. You can also add questions for potential patients to answer or ask if they have an idea they would like to share.

3: Format the Promotion

Once the forms are to your liking, you will need to format the lead ad’s appearance to determine how it will look on people’s news feed. During this stage, you’ll add a promotion description, headline, and image or video. You can also choose a call-to-action by clicking on the “Button label” and picking an option from the drop-down menu.

Choose your words and images carefully for this step. You only have seconds to wow people with your ad and get them to click on it. You want to persuade the audience to engage with your business, so be sure to offer a special discount or coupon for providing their information.

4: Determine Your Ad’s Target Audience

When the lead promotion is perfect, you can tell Facebook who you want it to target. The platform will have existing audiences, but you can create new groups if you like.

5: Select Final Touches

When everything is in place, you will select your budget and determine how many days you want the promotion to run. The site will spread your total budget amount across the course of the promotion.

Tips for Improving Facebook Marketing Efforts

Develop a Content Strategy

Developing lead promotions on Facebook for your dental practice is relatively simple, but their success relies on the quality of your content. Content marketing is a way to use quality content to drive conversion rates online. Most small business owners are not proficient in creating top-tier content, but no one must be an expert to implement a basic marketing strategy.

Examples of content include a blog post, social media post, video, report, podcast, etc. They provide valuable information about a topic and contain details about the brand via FAQ pages, webinars, About Us pages, and testimonials.

When a person reads or views a post and learns about the brand, they will see a call-to-action message. The better the content, the more inclined they are to contact the business or make a purchase.

One effective way to maximize content marketing is to create multiple Facebook campaigns with varying goals and audiences. Having a content calendar with specific days to promote specific ads will ensure that your Facebook page has a steady flow of ads and content. 

Learn Who the Appropriate Audience Is

If a post or promotion receives a respectable amount of likes and comments but struggles with conversions, the lead ad probably doesn’t target the right audience. In the end, it’s ad revenue that indicates a successful conversion.

Consider further testing for your Facebook ad copy and its visuals to ensure that it speaks directly to the groups you want to reach. For instance, your promotion may focus more on a specific income that excludes people who would purchase your services. Gain inspiration for your targeted advertisements by gaining insight from your ideal customer’s demographics, interests, relationships, past events, and behaviors.

Use Facebook Marketing to Improve Your Leads

A Facebook promotion is an excellent business tool to increase conversions from your business’s social media page. Despite the ease with which users can create and post advertisements, it takes time to master the best practices for Facebook ads.

Our team are experts in helping dentists gain online visibility and increase patient conversations. We are happy to help you achieve your business goals, so please reach out to our team today using our contact us page.

 

 

 

Online Reviews For Dental Practices – Do They Matter?

Online Reviews For Dental Practices – Do They Matter?

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Chris Pistorius, author of “The UItimate Guide To Internet Marketing For Dentists” talks about the impact of online reviews on dental practices. He also discusses the best way to get reviews, how to handle negative reviews, where you should put those reviews, and some tips on using reviews as social media boosters.

View Full Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the dental marketing podcast. I’m your host Chris Pistorius. And today we are going to talk a little bit about online reviews and how they factor into dentistry and are they important, do they matter? Does anybody actually pay attention to those? And how do we know? It’s a question that we get here at kickstart dental marketing a lot from clients or potential new clients about their reviews and what’s the best way to get good reviews or do they matter at all?

So I thought I would address that here in the next few minutes and maybe answer some of those questions for some of you out there that are enquiring. So Here’s the thing with online reviews. You know we’ve been, our agency has been around serving the dental community for over 12 years now. And so we know a little bit about reviews in terms of how they are actually working with dental practices. And every study that I’ve seen shows that as many as 90% of potential new patients actually look at online reviews before they decide if they’re actually going to pick up the phone and call or fill out a form on your website or click the text chat button or even schedule an online appointment right then.

So I sometimes refer to online reviews as the silent killer because you don’t know how many people are actually looking at the reviews and then deciding to maybe not call you because of that right? There’s a lot of things in digital marketing that we can track. That particular aspect of digital marketing is almost impossible to track. So, you know, I think it’s important to really build a good online reputation, you know, by getting feedback from your patients. I think it’s essential not just in dentistry, but in today’s business culture.

So how do you get, you know, customers or patients, I should say to leave feedback and even more important, how do you, how do you get them to leave a positive review for you? You know, the coveted five-star review, if you will, so now you might be tempted to buy into the thought that good patient reviews and reputation management, we call it in the business are kind of out of your control. It is what it is, just let it happen organically. Right, well, not so much.

I’ve never been a fan of what I call ostrich marketing, which is kind of putting your head in the sand and just hoping that good things will happen. Right. I think we’re past that now and that strategy definitely does not work. And I think that holds true for online reviews as well. I mean, when your practice actually utilizes a structured review system, a way to send out reviews on a consistent basis, there’s no doubt that you can drive more new patients and potential new patients to the website itself and to ultimately schedule an appointment now as a practice owner, you know, where do you begin with encouraging those high-quality reviews.

How do you motivate the patient to leave a google review or a Yelp review or on HealthGrades, How do you even get them to do a video review for you? Would that be cool? So that’s what I want to talk about here is how do we do that and you know, what’s the best way to do it? And I’ll tell you how we do it as well and you know, what works well for us. Somebody is in the industry, I will tell you though, before we get into that, I know that there’s a ton of platforms out there that, you know, they do reputation marketing or they do reputation management, you know, Den tricks has it built into their system, there’s, you know, tons of evil soft, you know, everybody has the ability to do to try to get reviews from your patients.

But what I found and what we found here at kickstart is that it’s not the technology or the platform of actually sending out requests for reviews, it’s what you say, it’s the content, it’s how you, how you theme it, it’s how it’s when you send it, what’s the best time to actually send for that review and also what can we do in the office and not just rely on technology to drive those reviews. So, when I talk about online, our views here, I’m not really talking about technology, there are tons of different ways to do that.

We haven’t technology that does that as well. It’s more about the content, the personalized touch of getting those reviews. So let’s get let’s get to it. So what our reviews, what is feedback, how does it help you as a dental practice owner? Well, patient feedback as we talked about in my opinion is 11 of the lifeblood of the dental practice. I mean to start what you need to know is is that there’s dental reviews online, whether you have anything to do with about have anything to do with it or not.

And they’re largely determined by the patient’s overall experience with your practice, right? So the more knowledgeable and thorough that your staff is in delivering great service and a great experience for that patient means the greater likelihood patients are gonna feel compelled to rate that dentist. Now. Unfortunately what we see is that you know, a lot of reviews come from P. 22 things. One there even there just over the moon happy from what you did what you’ve done for them. But secondly, they’re really pissed off and they’re more compelled to leave a review when they’re pissed off than when they’re happy and that sucks as a business owner.

I’m a business owner too I get it. So it’s the patients who have a positive experience with your practice are the ones more compelled to offer good feedback. The thing is that when you can get them to leave you a good review, they automatically turn into kind of a practice advocate for you because they feel loyalty because hey, I put my brand on this practice now, I’m going to defend it right. That makes them more likely to refer friends or family members.

So when you have patients actually leaving you a positive review, you’ve turned them into almost a patient ambassador and they’re more likely to actually refer you out. So there are some, definitely some byproducts of going out and getting good reviews. But on the other side of that reviews are also a great opportunity to help correct mistakes and, and further, kind of refine your services and how you do things because think about it, you know, reviews. If you get a negative review and everybody does right, it’s going to happen.

You shouldn’t get defensive about that right off the bat anyway. You need to learn more about it, see what happened. First of all make sure it’s the right person because we see a lot of people here at kickstart that might leave a bad review for one of our clients, but it actually wasn’t our client, you know, that is similar name to somebody else. So first of all, make sure it was your patient okay. And if, if it’s not your patient, you know, do everything you can, to, to reach out to them and say, hey, I think you have the wrong, the wrong practice.

Could you take a look and you know, if not please call us and we want to, we want to try to work that out. But um, you know, so it’s, if it is a legit review and it is a negative review then learn from it, see what, see what the problem is offered to reach out. You know, give a phone number right in the review because think about when you respond to reviews like that, you’re not just responding to the person that left a negative review.

Your also responding to the people who potentially see those responses, right? So if they see a negative review, They’re automatically gonna be attracted to see what that was all about the -1 and how you responded. So respond to it say, hey, we’re gonna do everything that we can to try to try to earn your business back. We apologize for any mistakes. Please call me directly at this number. Um and let’s talk about it and try to make it good for you. And sometimes when you do that and they actually do communicate back with you, you can actually get them to review or remove that review.

So that’s what feed, that’s what the review systems are all about. That’s some ways that you could potentially respond any negative reviews. So there’s tons of websites out there that allow you to allow people to leave reviews about your practice. But I will tell you today that the top two that I would worry about would be google and facebook now google is increasing and increasing and increasing engagement with the reviews that I believe is the number one platform because people already using their platform, they’re already going to google first to do a search for Dennis near me um cosmetic dentist, dear me best dentist in whatever city.

Right, So that’s where they’re going to automatically see your first reviews. Okay, number one platform, number two is facebook and unfortunately facebook I think made a mistake a year or so ago when they changed how they did reviews, they change their star ratings. So now it’s like recommended versus a certain amount of stars, right? But people are still paying attention to facebook and guess what facebook’s about, the second best biggest used platform on the internet behind google. Right. And then there’s yelp. Okay, that’s where I would probably put number three, let me go on record as saying, I do not like yelp.

And I know there’s a lot of people probably agreeing me with this, I don’t like their business practices. I don’t like their advertising campaigns and how they set those up. Um we’ve tested multiple paid advertising accounts on yelp and we had very few that had gave any type of return on investment. Okay there review system is very strict. You could have 20 patients go and leave you a good honest review on yelp and maybe two or three or five of them would stick stick meaning they didn’t get filtered out.

They have such an aggressive algorithm to try to remove um fake reviews that it’s it’s turned up too high and even the good reviews get filtered out and they don’t ever show up. So you you do all this work to get people to review you and your patients do all the work to actually leave the review and then they might go back and it’s not the reviews are not even there. Right so to me yeah yelp people do look at it but in my in my opinion they look more at yelp for restaurants and entertainment than they do for actual dental practices.

So if it were my practice I would focus on google and facebook and then if you want to go to like a HealthGrades, you know that could be a good third option as well. The mistake that I think you can make with reviews is giving them too many options. So if you send them a review request you say, hey leave us a review google yahoo yelp. HealthGrades dog HealthGrades dog pile dot com. You know you give them like 10 different choices and that just causes confusion and they’re not gonna they’re not gonna engage because I’ll do it later. Right?

Whereas if you give them one or two options. I’ve already got a google account or yeah, I’ve already got a facebook account. So it’ll be really easy. Right? So those are the top top review review sites that I think that I would recommend using. So all right, we figured out where to we want to get those reviews now. How do we encourage positive reviews? So, I mean the average dental patient is pretty darn busy, right? You know, the old saying is with dentistry is people typically don’t like to go to the dentist because of time fear or money, Right?

Or maybe all three of those things. But you know, time is certainly a big part of it. So they’re limited with time. So not only do they not even want to go to the dentist, but they don’t like how long it takes to go to the dentist and now you’re asking them to take another what, 10 minutes or something to leave a review about the dentist. Right? So most patients who had a good experience are are happy at the thought of leaving a review. Um But not all of them will do it just from an email or a text message that’s sent to them sometimes not even it doesn’t even matter how good they’re written.

So the first piece of advice that I want to give you in terms of getting more positive reviews is first of all ask, you know, this should not be you should not wait for technology to ask for you, right? Um I know dentists as a as a kind of a stereotype or a little bit more introverts. You know, not everyone certainly. But you know, and asking a patient for a review might seem like you’re I’m crazy for asking you to do that. But it goes a long way because you as a dentist has have a personal relationship with that with that patient.

They are looking up to you in terms of their health. Um just you being a doctor. Um they really hinge on almost every word that you say. So a lot of our clients, we have actually talked to them before they leave the bay and they’ll say, look, you know, once you’re done, you’ll probably get an email or a text from us asking you about your experience here today. If you don’t mind, it would mean a lot for me if you would give us some good feedback. That’s it, that’s it.

You’ve set it up now. They’re expecting that that that email or text message and somebody of authority has asked them to help them out, help you out. And that is going to go a long way to get more reviews. Okay? So if you feel like you can do that and you don’t have to do it for every patient. But you know, just just try it out and I promise you that that that will work a lot. So another way to cultivate good reviews is to find recurring keywords of online customer reviews or patient reviews about the practice and incorporate those into the content of your website.

Um It’s kind of high level, it’s something that we do here so that when a when a patient is searching for a dental practice in your market, your practice is actually more likely to show up on google. So um it’s just a way to potentially potentially drive some more of that activity. So you some feedback as well. I mean you used the feedback that you get from online reviews to improve the practice. Um it’s a proven way to create better brand, you know and if you want to tell me that dentists don’t shouldn’t be doing brand marketing than you know you’re crazy because they should be more than anybody more than coca cola should or Pepsi or any of the huge brands because a local brand, if you can actually brand a local brand, it’s way more powerful because people resignation with local much more than they do national brands.

So uses feedback to resolve issues and identify what patients love so that you can fix what is wrong and deliver more of what they love. I mean think about it as a dental practice, you’re not selling dental products and services you’re selling solutions to problems, right? So somebody’s in pain, Somebody wants their smile to look prettier, you know that’s what you’re in business for. So also engagement, you know, engage with your patients about their experiences by responding to the to the reviews. Okay. So I see a lot of time, we talked a little bit about, you know, not responding to responding to negative reviews and how to do that, but you should be responding also to positive reviews. Okay.

I mean, it helps that a couple of different things, people are going to see that you’re taking the time to respond. It just takes a few seconds per seconds per a few seconds per review. So it’s not like it’s a big time suck and you could have somebody in the front desk easily do it now. Don’t use the same thanks bob for the great review every time, mix it up a little bit, you know, make sure it’s unique. Um you know, thank them for the business. Um, you know, just engage with them in any way.

It just shows to them it’s worth their time to leave you that that review. And then it also shows people that don’t know you yet, but they’re looking at your reviews that you are actually engaged and you appreciate what they’ve done now, I’ll tell you also that you should highlight positive reviews on your website, everybody does it right. I do it myself. Um, but just know that when you put positive reviews on your website, they are never going to be as trusted as much as actual text reviews on independent websites Because what fool would put negative reviews on their own website. Right.

It kind of makes sense. So you know you can feature some reviews on your homepage. I like to put pictures next to the reviews that just spruces them up a little bit. So if you’ve got some graphic design experience or somebody in the office that can do things like that then you certainly should try. Um I like to pretty those reviews up, put an image next to it and some creative tax and use those as social media posts as well. Those seem to go a long way and there’s tools like canvas C. A. N. V. A. That you can use um to spruce up.

So open those reviews. Um You can also send people directly to customer surveys. That’s a possibility instead of a review. We’ve tested that and yeah you get the surveys back and that’s cool. But then what do you do with the survey? It’s not like other people can see those. Right. So we typically stay away from the customer surveys and we do more of the um send them directly to the review site so that they can leave that review directly online. Okay so we talked a little bit about negative reviews.

I want to kind of cover that a little bit as well because um this just came up with a potential new client of ours. They really had um it was a worker actually that they had to let go and they went on several different review sites and just bashed him and put negative stuff all over the place. So um you know, the point here is no matter what or no how no matter how great your practices somehow somewhere there’s probably going to be some negative feedback coming around as well.

That’s not the end of the world. I mean if you look us up kick start doing marketing, you’re gonna find a bad review on google. And that’s from that same exact experience we were hiring for I believe as a web developer or something. And um when we decided to hire somebody and the person that was in the running didn’t get the job and took it out on us by actually putting a negative review on google for us. So you know, it’s just gonna happen. So you know, I would like I talked about it, I think that I would engage um positively to negative reviews if that makes sense.

I mean the first thing start, you start by responding right away. It shows the person you’re paying attention um any response is better than no response. Um a fast response is best, right, apologize for. Well, first of all make sure it’s actually your patient if you can write if you think that they’ve gotten your name wrong and they’re looking for another practice and you know, certainly respond that way. Um apologize for the experience if it is a real real review, even though you may not be apologetic in the in the situation, you’re validating their feelings, you’re making them feel hurt, right?

And the people that are looking at these reviews are seeing that as well, like I said, offer a resolution, tell them how you can correct the situation, Whether it’s to have them come in for free or whatever it may be, do whatever you can to resolve that. Because number one you could get them back in resolve the relationship. You don’t lose a patient and you can also probably get them to take that bad review down, right? Ask them to give you another chance. I know it sounds desperate and not everybody will be comfortable without, but it shows that you care about their experience and ultimately every patient experience that happens in your practice.

Um and lastly use that negative feedback to correct. And I mean, look for, you know, if you get two or three bad reviews over a year, is that the consistently the same thing is at the front desk, is it they were hung up on is that they were put on hold too long. You know, if there’s something consistent there, then we need to probably change something in the practice business wise. Right? So anyway, I’m gonna I’m gonna stop here. I mean, I could go on this for probably an hour or so, but um you know, I think it’s just to answer the question I originally gave up online reviews for dental practices.

Absolutely do matter. I’ve got studies to show it. I’ve got actual real marketing results to show it. You do need to pay attention to it. You do need to make it a priority in your practice. Um Remember it’s not the technology it’s not den trick sending them out for you. It’s not you know demand for sending them out for you whatever it may be. It’s how you put those together and what you say and how you ask and when you send them is the real connection here and that’s how you’ll drive more good reviews.

Um So anyway of course my company kickstart dental marketing shameless plug. We one of our specialties is this and helping with um online reviews. Getting more of them putting systems in place and writing the content just the way I just talked about so if you do need some help with that, feel free to reach out. Best ways just go to the website kickstart dental dot com and click on the free strategy session button. I do all of those myself. So you could talk you’d be talking with me directly and we can talk about how you do reviews now or any other marketing and maybe put you on track to make everything better.

So anyway thanks so much for tuning in for another episode and hopefully you’ve got a lot out of it and um we’ll be back next week with another great topic so yeah.

How to Get Online Reviews for Your Dental Practice (and Why They Matter)

How to Get Online Reviews for Your Dental Practice (and Why They Matter)

Did you know that over 90% of people check online reviews before they buy anything? Cultivating an online reputation by posting, which is essential to success in today’s business culture, seems like a tricky thing. How do you get customers to leave feedback? Even more important, how do you get them to leave a positive review? How do you get a coveted five-star review?

You might be tempted to buy into the thought that good customer reviews and reputation management are out of your control. Not so! When your business utilizes a structured review system, you can drive more new patients and potential customers to your website.

As a business owner, where do you begin with encouraging high-quality reviews? How do you motivate the average customer to leave a google review or better, a personal recommendation?  See below to learn how personal recommendations and positive feedback impact your online presence and how feedback will lead to more engagement and ultimately more sales.

What Is Feedback and How Does It Help?

Customer feedback is the lifeblood of your dental practice. To start, what you need to know here is that dental reviews online are largely determined by a customer’s overall experience. The more knowledgeable and thorough the dental practice’s staff is in delivering service, the greater the likelihood customers will feel compelled to rate that dentist online.

Customers who have a positive experience with your dental practice will be more compelled to offer feedback and five-star reviews. They will feel more loyalty towards your dental practice and are more likely to refer friends or family members. Reviews also give you an opportunity to correct mistakes and further refine your dental service strategy.

What are the top review sites for dental practices?

The top dental review sites are of course Google and Yelp. These dental reviews include how satisfied patients were with your dental service, how much waiting time there was, the cleanliness of the office, etc. You should also consider Facebook for reviews as well.

Google: Google reviews happen on the Google My Business platform. Once you set up your Google My Business, customers can leave reviews and read other reviews. When a potential customer does a local search for your business type, you will show up in the Google Map results. Showing up in the coveted map pack ensures your website will get more clicks than your competitors. Google is undoubtedly the most important review platform for dental offices.

Facebook: Facebook is the social site that appeals to the broadest range of ages. The first way to encourage Facebook reviews is to make sure your business is easy to find on Facebook. When customers have to hunt and search for your business, they are more likely to quit than persevere.

Yelp: With the click of a button, a customer can relate an experience on just about anything with Yelp. These reviews give customers more confidence in their purchases and reduce some of the doubt. Statistics show that positive Yelp reviews result in a 15-20% increase in the likelihood that a new customer will engage with a  business. Thus, favorable business reviews on Yelp are essential to driving small business growth. Displaying the Yelp badge lets customers know that you have a presence there.

Interacting in a high-quality way with your customers drives more positive responses from satisfied customers. Positive local business reviews bring more business your way.

Ways to Encourage Positive Reviews

The average dental patient is a busy professional with limited time so they will likely not choose to spend additional hours writing reviews for your dental practice. That said, most customers who have had a good experience are more than happy to offer up their feedback online. Here are some tips that can help encourage good reviews.

Ask: Boosting positive company reviews may seem complex, but it is really as simple as asking for them. You can do this with review requests through email, an online review site, or a marketing company. The point is to encourage more reviews without artificially inflated reviews.

Keywords: Another way to cultivate favorable reviews is to find the recurring keywords of online customer reviews about your business and incorporate those into your content creation, product descriptions, and brand wording. When a customer is searching for your services, your dental office is more likely to show up.

Use feedback: Using feedback from online reviews to improve your business is a proven way to create a better brand. Use feedback to resolve issues and identify what customers love so that you can fix what is wrong and deliver more of what they love. Consumers trust online reviews, so use the feedback to position your business for positive customer reviews.

Engage: Engaging with your customers about their experiences by replying to their ratings of your business makes them feel heard. When customers leave positive online reviews, thank them for their business, solicit valuable feedback on what could be better, highlight a change that happens because of their feedback – any interaction shows them that you care. Never overlook when customers leave positive reviews.

Highlight: Highlight positive reviews and patient feedback right on your website. Many dental practices have started featuring reviews on their homepage, and they are proven to boost customer confidence and influence conversion rates. There are many tools to help you display reviews on your site too.

Online review sites: You might feel hesitant to use online review sites, but they are a boon to local businesses. Review websites will manage your digital reputation by ensuring that you don’t have too few reviews. They will also solicit further reviews. Using a review site is especially helpful for new businesses.

Customer surveys: The use of a survey gives you an accurate, statistical measurement of customer experiences.

How Do You Handle Negative Reviews?

In the process of soliciting feedback, you will inevitably get poor reviews. A single negative review can diminish over twenty positive responses, so you can’t just ignore them. Here is what to do with those less than stellar evaluations.

Engage in a positive way with the reviewer.

  • Start by responding right away since this shows the person that you are paying attention. While any response is better than no response, a fast response is best.
  • Apologize for the experience. You are validating their feelings and making them feel heard.
  • Offer a resolution. Tell them how you will correct the situation, whether it is to replace a good or offer a free service, offer some sort of redress for what is lacking.
  • Ask them to give you another chance. This effort shows that you care about their experience and, ultimately, every customer experience.
  • Use the feedback to correct. Using feedback to correct an issue is a good policy, especially when you see a trend.

Recognize that you can’t stop negative reviews, but you can minimize them by using the information to improve your business process. Remember that an online review is a connection to your customer that you need in this digital world.

An online review weighs heavily on how people perceive your business. They are the way you will earn new customers and keep those loyal customers. You are losing valuable business when you don’t have a plan to boost your digital presence and then execute the plan.

Prioritizing feedback and online business reviews is a proven way to drive customers to your website, where those visits can convert to purchases. There are strong connections for business reviews and search engine results, so what are you waiting for? Start working on incorporating online feedback today!

 

An Honest Conversation With Dr. Howard Farran Of Dentaltown About The Future Of Dentistry

An Honest Conversation With Dr. Howard Farran Of Dentaltown About The Future Of Dentistry

Listen to the audio-only version:

Watch the podcast here:

Chris talks with Dr. Howard Farran, the founder of the incredibly popular online dental community, Dentaltown. Chris & Howard have an open and honest conversation about all things dental.

View Full Transcript

 

Chris Pistorius (00:04):

Hi, everybody. This is Chris Pistorius here again with the Dental Marketing podcast. Today we’ve got a super special guest. I’m a little star struck because I’ve been listening to and reading his stuff for years. I’m so glad to have him on the show today. This is Dr. Howard Farran. He does a lot of stuff and we’ll get into that in a second, but he’s actually the creator, founder, owner of Dentaltown, which I know a lot of you use as a major resource to help run your dental practices. So Howard, thanks so much for taking the time to be on today.

Howard Farran (00:41):

Hi, it’s an honor. We should start a mutual admiration club because I’ve been a big fan of yours for a decade too.

Chris Pistorius (00:47):

Awesome. Well, thank you. I’m going to get right to it. As you know, you’ve got tons of experience. You’ve forgotten more things about dentistry than I’ll ever know. So what I’m after here and to pick your brain is how to help my clients, how to help potential clients, how to help dentistry in general, which I know that you’re a big part of as well. But why don’t you tell me a little bit about how you created Dentaltown first and how that idea started, and just a little background there.

Howard Farran (01:16):

Oh man, you got to go back to… I got out of school in ’87 and then it was about 1994, I saw Amazon go public and I couldn’t figure out what all the hoopla was, but I kept an eye on it. Didn’t buy a share of it, and I just kept watching, watching, watching through ’94, ’95, ’96, ’97. And then about ’98, I finally realized, “Oh my God, this really is going to be huge.” I never had an original idea. My next door neighbor was a dentist. I went to work with Kenny Anderson and my dad, and my dad owned a Sonic Drive-in making cheeseburgers, and Kenny was a dentist. And I thought the x-ray machine was a helluva lot cooler than a grill.

Howard Farran (02:00):

But I was on the ESPN website and they started this message board thing. And we were talking about football and I’m like, “Gosh, darn, I wish I could be doing this with dentists and talking about root canals and fillings and marketing.” So I hired Ken Scott and then we started Dentaltown and we’ll be the first who would beat Facebook by five years. And that first mover advantage, the [inaudible 00:02:26] versus Harvard, only because it’s first. Coke was launched 11 years and for Pepsi, they’re still number one. And that first mover advantage, it’s kind of like a hall of fame website.

Howard Farran (02:37):

Then we also have Orthotown too. The orthodontist were the only specialists who wanted their own site. All of the other specialists and all of the orthodontists are on Dentaltown, but they just wanted a private community of just orthodontists. But it’s really been cool to watch social media. We had a first generation, the first 20 years and the first is always the worst and everybody’s learning how that’s going on and everything, but it did change the world.

Howard Farran (03:05):

Facebook, which owns Instagram and then Alphabet, which owns Google and YouTube, they sucked out about 80% of all the advertising dollars in America and that killed billboards, it killed radio, it’s killing TV. And that’s why these dentists got to get sophisticated because they’re competing now against DSOs. And DSOs have enough skill where they can sit there and say, “Well, let’s just get the one billboard on the corner of the two highways.” And radio, for $100 you can get an hour commercial. ClearJoy, that implant company has been served five times and now Bob Fontana of Aspen owns it because my gosh, they can do 30 minute infomercials on implants in a day. So now we’ve got this individual dentist.

Howard Farran (04:04):

And the first guys I noticed that were really, really smart about advertising was the orthodontists for a couple of exact reasons. Number one, they knew each of their new patients was worth basically 6,500 bucks and they knew where their overhead was. So if they went on Shark Tank, and if you were on Shark Tank, then obviously, the smartest man on Shark Tank is the bald guy. It’s always the bald guy. Have you noticed that?

Chris Pistorius (04:28):

I have.

Howard Farran (04:29):

And who picks your dental office, and Mr. Wonderful, first thing he says is, “Well, what’s your cost of new customer acquisition?” No dentist knows, but orthodontists, that’s an easy figure. What is the average customer value? Dentists are like, “God, I don’t know.” Orthodontists like, “It is actually 6,500.” [crosstalk 00:04:51].

Howard Farran (04:51):

So on my journey, when I got out of school in ’87, you got to remember the Yellow Pages just became Regal after a Supreme court decision where two lawyers in Phoenix said, “Well, that violates my free speech not to advertise.” It happened in Arizona first, but even by the time I got out, it was a very underused taboo thing, and the first guys that jumped out on it were the orthodontist, and it was an orthodontist who was the first guy I ever met that 3% of collections went straight to advertising. Now, I could name you 100 orthodontists where that is eight to 10% because they say, “Well, I get $6,500 for Invisalign, and here’s my marketing costs and here’s my overhead.” It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Howard Farran (05:39):

So the orthodontists, they get their money back in tow years. General dentists, that takes about five years, and since they have a whole distribution of just a cleaning, just a filling, all the way to a big old case, they’ve always not understood their marketing. But what’s going to really bring it to their attention is when they’re no longer competing against a single dentist across the street, but now they got some DSO that’s got 1,000 locations and they’re extremely sophisticated. So dentists, if they want to play in the big leagues with the professional players, we’re probably going to have to outsource some marketing to someone like you.

Chris Pistorius (06:23):

Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head, several nails on the head actually in that we talk with clients a lot about that, about they’re struggling with competition and it’s not just local competition. It’s a lot of pressure from DSOs. And a lot of our strategies are around how to compete with that and there are ways to compete with that without breaking the bank also. So you just have to get a little creative, grassroots about it and you can still compete and relieve some of that competition for sure.

Chris Pistorius (06:57):

Let me ask you this. What do you see as right now, other than the competitive struggles with DSOs, but what else is really threatening local dentistry right now, would you say?

Howard Farran (07:11):

Well, I think all dentists would say it’s a very competitive environment. I would say that the reason the 20 richest countries all want socialized medicine by the government is because the same government is the one that blocks out all their competition. If you’re a dentist in India, you can’t move to Phoenix, Arizona and start doing dentistry. I’m on the Mexican border, and every time a Mexican dentist comes up here and goes to Guadalupe, which is 100% Mexican and native Indians, and starts practicing dentistry on the poor, the government arrests them, puts them in jail or deports them, or whatever.

Howard Farran (07:50):

So it’s hard to say that healthcare is competitive because when I was a little kid, they couldn’t import cars from Germany and Japan. And General Motors had half market share, they were very expensive and the cars never worked. When I was a little kid, if I walked down the sidewalk on a Saturday, every third or fourth garage was a dad, his son and two uncles trying to fix this piece of crap Chevy and get it running.

Howard Farran (08:17):

So it’s crazy to say that healthcare is competitive because they block all foreign competition from entering with their immigration policy. But within the realm of United States, competing against DSOs, competing against insurance, I’d say what threatens them the most right now is the onslaught of inflation. I turned 59 this month. I hear no one talking about it unless they’re my age. I graduated high school in ’80, and in ’81, interest rates were 20 and a half percent. Unemployment and inflation was double-digit.

Howard Farran (08:56):

And so inflation is just completely back. When this pandemic, the stock market dropped about $850 billion, not quite a trillion. And the Trump buying response was $5 trillion. So you’re looking at a global economy where three out of every $4 in circulation today were printed in the last year. And people compare this to the percent of debt to GDP as in World War II, but you got to remember those bonds were paid by real money from Americans taking their money out from underneath their bed and buying a war bond, which you pay them a nickel a year.

Howard Farran (09:39):

So the deal is, I went to Creighton in 1980. Warren buffet is from Omaha, so was his partner, Charlie Munger and Warren came over and spoke to our business class. And I remember a business 101, someone jokingly said, “Creighton was known for their medical school, dental school and law school.” Someone jokingly asked him, “Which one would you go to?” And he told me to answer and I didn’t listen, he said, “Well, I would never go into healthcare because it’s very capital intensive and someone else sets your fee.” He goes, “I want to go into a business with low capital intensive.” Like if Geico insurance doubled their business, they just need to double the number of cubicles where people are dialing for dollars and typing on a keyboard.

Howard Farran (10:21):

But you double a hospital, you got all this stuff. I’ve seen dental office routinely that by the time you do the land and the building and the Taj Mahal, they’re looking at one and a half to $3 million. So I would say if you’re locked into an insurance company and they say, “You get $1 per filling,” and your costs are going up five, 10, 15, 20%, is the insurance company going to rapidly adjust the fees to keep you up with inflation? Or are you just going to start making less and less money?

Howard Farran (10:54):

So I think the inflation on a fixed third party fee is terrible. And that’s why Invisalign… If we ignore the dentistry, for decades, selling stuff to dentists, about 40% of the market is US and Canada, 40% Europe and 20% is the rest of the world. And when you look at their numbers, it’s a 200 year old profession that started with G.V. Black in Paris, France. So it just really just grows and contracts with inflation.

Howard Farran (11:26):

The only thing that’s growing double digit is orthodontics, clear liners and implants. And the reason they’re so lucrative is because a third party is not setting your fee. They tried to set fees, like remember when the insurance companies said that you couldn’t charge you more than X dollars for bleaching and it went all the way to SpringBoard in Tennessee, I think it was. You don’t even cover bleaching. How could you set our fee?

Howard Farran (11:52):

So the dentists haven’t been fighting for equality in the eyes of the consumer. I expect that will go to a different legal dimension. But that’s up to the ADA and government and things like that. But I would say that when a dentist gets out of school and says, “I don’t know what I want to do,” you got to pick one, you either got a lot of bin guts and get into implants, or are you going to get into the soft and Invisalign?

Howard Farran (12:21):

I can usually tell by looking at their x-ray, because if you’re like me, when you do a root canal and you want to get all the way to the bottom and puff a sealer out the apex, you’re an able barbarian and you just love blood. And all of your assistants, when they see a big puss thing pop, all those assistants go to, “Ooh, yeah.” If that stuff just grosses you out, you go into bleaching, bonding, veneers, clear liners, whatever. But I’m telling you that the number one goal of the species is to survive long enough to reproduce that offspring. And the way the animal kingdom is, unlike the fungi and algae, we just don’t divide into two, we split our DNA into two pairs and we got to go mix gametes with someone.

Howard Farran (13:08):

And going out there, I think this pandemic has been a huge boom for dentistry, it’s already proven, because if you’re a man like me, think about it. I brush my teeth and floss in the shower. I don’t stand around looking in mirrors all day.

Chris Pistorius (13:25):

Me too. I do the same thing. I thought I was the only one that did that.

Howard Farran (13:30):

I grew up with five sisters, man. They’d spend an hour in the bathroom before they’d go to grammar school. So now there’s all these men on Zoom and they’re looking at their face and they’re looking at their teeth and they’re like, “Oh my God.” And male makeup, which isn’t really even a thing, it’s already up 400% since the pandemic started. When I went into Walgreens, I went to the makeup counter booth area and talked to that lady. I read there, I said, “Is this true?” She goes, “People you would never expect. ‘I want to cover up this thing or this, that.’ And they’re asking me…”

Howard Farran (14:08):

So now that the pandemic’s got everyone looking in the mirror that used to never look in the mirror, like a bunch of old ugly men, they’re ripe for Invisalign. I think the ultimate close if they say, “How do you like your Zoom conference look? Are you liking what you see in the mirror?” And I used to call old dentists…

Howard Farran (14:30):

I remember when I got out of school, the big cosmetic guru was Jim Pryde, and he was sitting there in the lecture. And another one was Walter Hailey. I made this remark twice and got the same response from them. He’s up there pontificating at the Arizona Dental Association saying, “How could you not sell cosmetic dentistry? They all want to do it.” I raised my hand. I said, “Well, why don’t you do it? You’ve got some of the darkest, brownest, gnarliest, ugliest teeth I’ve ever seen and you’re a dentist speaking to dentist.” He lost it. I mean, he almost couldn’t continue. And everybody I was with were just laughing their ass off.

Howard Farran (15:11):

And then Walter Hailey, when I talked to Walter Hailey, I was with actually great cosmetic guru. I was with David Hornbrook, and Bill Dickerson, the two cosmetic legends who had started LVI, and they told him, “It’s true, Walter, and we’ll do it for free. You’ll get $15,000 veneer case, look [inaudible 00:15:34] free.” And he’s like, “Ah, I don’t care.” He’s some good old boy from Texas. Couldn’t even give a crap, and his business was lecturing to sell cosmetic dentistry to dentists and he wouldn’t even do it.

Howard Farran (15:44):

So I think the Zoom is going to make people see the truth that, wow. I remember I lost the… I was able to keep in shape the best when I used to do Bikram yoga, because you’d go into a room in a bathing suit, and they had mirrors all over the wall, and that’s the only time you ever get to stare at yourself in a bathing suit. And I’d look at that mirror and think, “God dang, you’re fat. You need to stop eating crap.” And that whole 90 minute yoga deal was this really reminder that, “Dude, you don’t know what you look like naked.” And so I think this is going to be a big… it is already a big boom for cosmetic dentistry.

Howard Farran (16:28):

And by the way, implants, the same thing. Every study I’d seen on implants, dentists always say… I’ll give you a true story of my first major implant case. Her name was Catherine. It was back in ’87, ’88, ’89. I never had asked her about implants or anything. And she told me she wanted them. And I said, “Well, Catherine, you always told me that you had no problems eating, chewing, that you can even eat an apple and all this stuff.” I said, “So what changed your mind?” She goes, “Well, you know what,” she goes, “at my age, my girlfriends just keep dying and they keep dying while they’re asleep. And I can’t wear my dentures when I’m sleeping and I’m afraid of dying in my sleep and having them find me without my teeth.” And I thought, “Yeah, dang man.”

Chris Pistorius (17:22):

Wow.

Howard Farran (17:22):

So even they, when you look at implant cases, if you really get to the crux of it and you really ask them, they’re not doing it because they can’t eat a cheeseburger, they’re doing it because there’s a missing space there and they’ve got mold and mixed gametes and it’s a complicated meeting, ritual meets like a peacock. All the animal kingdom meeting rituals are insanely complex and having your teeth not being negative and just being neutral is a good thing. If we can make them whiter, brighter and sexier and make the peacock feathers all come out, it works better.

Chris Pistorius (18:04):

Wow. Well, I tell you what, you could unpack a whole webinar just in what you just said. That’s awesome information, and it’s going to help a lot of people watching this. But I did have a question. If you had to do it all over again, the dentistry side of this, what would you change, what would you do differently?

Howard Farran (18:24):

Yeah, that’s a great question. What would I do differently? I definitely would’ve done it because you got to go back. A lot of people, they look at… All of our heroes are failed men. They think they’re a genius and they found out that some great man had a great flaw. They never said he walked on water, but you got to go back to, I was one in 62. There wasn’t any of this technology. There wasn’t computers and this and that. When I first saw my neighbor, Ken Anderson take an x-ray through the tooth, and then you got to go in a dark room with the hottest dental assistant in the world and develop this x-ray. And then I go worry my dad make a cheeseburger and onion rings.

Howard Farran (19:06):

The technology blew me away. And the other thing that blew me away, it was just like physics in the fact that… Well, look at Stephen Hawkins. He lived his whole life and he died before they even knew what a black hole is and what’s on the other side. Is it a white hole? And I realized that dentistry was bigger than any dentist that ever lived and that you could be a dentist and study your whole life and still go to the grave with unknown unknowns that you would never even have known. And it’s part of the human body.

Howard Farran (19:40):

Health is wealth. If you lose your life, you have nothing. The health, the wealth. It was so easy for me to find a real purpose and passion when we were trying to learn, discover, and help someone else stay alive on an earth where 98 and a half percent of all the species before us are extinct and they’re going extinct every year. And the chance that we will go extinct is absolutely positive. We’re not going to go through the black hole. When this whole Milky Way goes through the black hole, I doubt my teeth are going to make it, but I just had a lot of purpose, a lot of passion.

Howard Farran (20:22):

I got accepted to med school too at Creighton, and I didn’t want to do that just because dentists forget of all of the politics that goes on in hospitals. And now it’s something like seven out of every 10 physicians is an employee for a hospital, it’s about 50%, or a big corporate DSO for about another 20%. Only 30% of physicians own their own building. And the thing I liked about what Kenny Anderson did is he owned his own land and building. He was a dictator. If he didn’t want you to work there, you didn’t go. If he didn’t want to treat you as a patient, you can’t go. Just a simple life in a small kingdom where you’re the king and you’ve got a half dozen helpers and you have your own people coming in. Gosh, I love it and I can’t really think anything I would’ve done different.

Chris Pistorius (21:18):

Yeah. Well, that’s awesome. That’s great. One struggle that we see with some of our clients is especially the ones that they’ve been an associate for a little while maybe, and now they want to start their own. And the question we get sometimes is based on your experience, is it better to buy an existing practice with a a base of patients, or do you start off scratch? What do you think?

Howard Farran (21:45):

Well, that’s another great question you have. I can tell you’ve been in this a long time, but I just want to tell you about when these DSOs popped up, the first round was way back in the days in the eighties, when Orthodontic Centers of America went public and there was a dozen on NASDAQ. And what was their business model? Their business model was if you go sell a house in Phoenix, so that’s three bedroom, two bath, you’ll get a offer today. If it’s four bedroom, three car garage, it’s totally liquid. But if you’re an NFL player and you custom built a 19 bedroom house with a seven car garage, most of your professional players, their number one mistake was the house they bought because it’s illiquid. They can’t sell it.

Howard Farran (22:30):

Orthodontic Centers of America, that founder, Gasper Lazzara knew that if your orthodontic practice did a million dollars a year, you could sell in an hour. But if you built up to three or 4 million, it was a illiquid. So he was buying all the illiquid ones and that’s what Heartland was doing. So when I look back at every single general dentist that had a dental office doing three to $5 million a year, they all had the same strategy and that was this, which to answer your question, they graduated school and went to a small town that had 10 dentists. And every five years, this guy would retire. In most towns, there’s the old guy who would just sell to some new young guy with a lot of energy, and the competition stayed vicious. And these guys would say, “Well, I’m going to buy out the old man’s practice and I’m going to have him rule all this practice, and then I’m going to tell him, ‘Well, you say you’re going to retire, but if you want to stay a day or two a week,'” and they always do.

Howard Farran (23:23):

And so what they did is when they graduated school, they were the 10th dentist in their town. Five years later, there was only nine and then eight and then seven. And now they’re 65 and there’s only four dental offices in the town. But one office has five dentists and they’re doing $5 million a year. And you know what, that was the exact same strategy that Thomas Watson Jr. did of IBM. And the reason he became big is he inherited that from his dad. He drank his way through college and swears he didn’t learn a damn thing and doesn’t even know why got the degree.

Howard Farran (24:01):

But he only notice one thing. They grew up in this small town and they were three hardware stores in this little small town. And he’d go to one lie and belong, and he’d got another one lie and belong. So he’d go to this other one. One and they had two employees and he got there faster. And one day he realized there’s three locations, but there’s just four salesmen. And each salesman has a quarter of the market. So it’s not based on locations, it’s based on salesmen and nobody knows what they’re supposed to buy to fix this, what nuts to bolts they got now. And he goes, “No one knows software.”

Howard Farran (24:38):

So when he took over IBM he told his head scientist, “Look, I’m going to stay out of your way. I don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t even care. Just go to your thing. I’m going to focus on sales.” And he started with IBM sales div. And everyone six weeks, he got 20 new salesmen, and they got him a three-piece suit and a briefcase and went through the whole sales pitch. And he once said, “If 70% of all the computer salesmen in the world worked for IBM, we will have 70% of the market,” and it came true. And they asked him. They said, “Well, why didn’t you go for 80, 90 or 100?” He goes, “Well, then I knew the government would have to step in and they would grate me up. So I just thought that was about the most I can get away with.” And it’s just absolutely true.

Howard Farran (25:19):

So we only know this about a practice. Why would you go in and start a new supply when you can buy out an existing supply? In fact, let me tell you this. There’s 168 hours in a week and the average dental office is open 32 hours a week, which is 19% a week. So if you had a uber dental op where a patient said, “I want to make an appointment,” and all these other dentists uber had dental offices they can rent… 80% of the dental operatory capacity is never being used. So it’s just insane to go build another dental office when every dental office in America is not being used four out of every five hours a day.

Howard Farran (26:11):

As far as competition with the DSOs, every major DSO guy is already on the record saying, “I’m not going to the rural,” because they tried that and by the time the kids get out of dental school, they’re at the prime time to attract a mate to mix gametes, and they have better odds in the city of Phoenix than they do two hours out in the middle of nowhere in Eloy, Arizona.

Howard Farran (26:35):

So by the time they’re well put in the rule, on any given day, 10% of the officers didn’t even have a doc in the box. So you know there’s no DSOs rural. And so that’s a haven. So I would say go to the rural. And by the time you’re two hours away from where a Southwest Airlines plane takes off, they drop insurance. You’re one of only three guys in a town of 3000 and they sell you a ticket. And you could only sell if [inaudible 00:27:09]. Well, how much is a root canal? $1000. How much crown? $1000. How much partial? $1000. How much denture? $1000. Everything’s rounded off to $1000, and they all have about 40% overhead because in a small town, labor, a 15 hour dollar a job or Walmart’s considered a bank and you have to pay a hygienist $50 an hour in San Francisco.

Howard Farran (27:30):

So I would say get two hours away from the airport, go rural, buy out an old guy instead of building more capacity. And if you’re a helluva programmer, you ought to make a Uber dental lab so that patients can meet these young dentists out of school in any office they want you. They could be working for a DSO who won’t let them do that, but on their day off, they could be meeting a dentist… Like my dental office when it’s closed. It’s closed every day at 7:00 PM. It’s closed Saturday and Sunday. So I know that was a long-winded answer to a very short question.

Chris Pistorius (28:03):

No, that was awesome. That was great. We’re going to wrap up here in a minute, but to any of those that are out there, I can’t imagine there’s many that don’t know about Dentaltown. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what people get out of Dentaltown, how it works and why somebody should pay attention to Dentaltown.

Howard Farran (28:21):

First of all, all your scientific institutions like NASA, the jet propulsion laboratory, I’ve been to many of them, they only use the message board format. And social media that people are used to is called LIFO, last in, first out. And it’s just almost entertainment. But on a message board format, all 6 million posts made on Dentaltown are still there. They’re archived, they’re searchable. When we look at all the studies on Facebook and Twitter, it’s scientifically factual that everybody bulkinizes. So if I’m pro dental insurance, and you get on there and say, “Don’t take it,” they’ll just unfriend you. So everybody’s in this hardened position.

Howard Farran (29:06):

But when you go to Dentaltown, you can’t unfriend someone, you can’t delete someone. So a lot of people are very in a bubble, and they believe something like say that implants cause gum disease, you got to do ceramic and on their Facebook page they’re a guru. No, on Dentaltown, people just start popping holes in their bubble, and they either are on the scientists and want these observations to grow with, or they’re emotional and they run from it. So I just think it’s a treasure.

Howard Farran (29:41):

And the thing is on Facebook, I know who you are, but on Dentaltown, I know who you are registered, but you don’t want to call yourself Smiley Tooth… There has to be a place for a stupid question, like a specialist. An endodontist can’t get on Facebook and say, “Here’s a case of mine that failed. Does anybody know what went wrong?” All these competitors would be sending that to everybody. But he could on Dentaltown. So I want a place where, no, you’re not going to go and put yourself in some bubble. And you’re still a doctor. And you have to be aware that there’s people that think other thoughts. And so I think it’s a beautiful thing.

Howard Farran (30:22):

As far as the business on Dentaltown, I have my 30 day dental MBA. It’s free on Dentaltown. It’s also on YouTube. It’s also on iTunes. And my gosh, when I went to MBA school, I took my laptop, took notes just towards my dental practice. And then I came out, I ran it out the notes, it was 30 hours long. I call it Dr. Farran’s 30 day dental MBA. It still gets 1000 downloads a month just on iTunes. The views on YouTube are insane, but that’s what’s neat about the internet and Dentaltown. All the information you need to do a root canal or run a business is zero cost. You just need your time.

Howard Farran (31:06):

When I was a little kid, all that information was hidden in expensive universities that only rich kids went to, and you couldn’t do that in a poor town or a poor country. And now it’s all there on the internet at zero cost. So if you really want to work like no dentist has for a decade, you can still live like no dentist has for three decades.

Howard Farran (31:29):

So if you just want to get out there and work your butt off and hustle and do what everybody knows what to do, it’s all spelled out on my 30 day dental MBA. It’s all on Dentaltown. The opportunity is sitting right there, but it’s not going to be delivered to you. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to do it the faster way, which is get out of dental school and work your ass off for a decade.

Howard Farran (31:54):

But here’s my last piece of advice regarding you and me. Number one, this isn’t a paid endorsement. He didn’t give me any money. But if he ever does come out and visit his grandma in Phoenix, you got to invite me. One beer, that’s all. That’s all I was asking.

Howard Farran (32:10):

But the deal is, dude, stay humble, stay in your real house. You think you’re an expert in everything and you’re not. And my gosh, you think you know everything about marketing, but you probably don’t. And I’m telling you that the DSOs, I’ve met their marketing agents and it’s a department. It’s five, six, seven, eight people, and they are not kidding around. So then for you to sit down as a dentist say, “Yeah, anybody can be an excellent marketer and understand Google and Facebook and all,” no, no, no. You need someone that specializes, all they do… You know an orthodontist can do Invisalign better than you. And you know that there’s a marketing guy that can do marketing better than you.

Howard Farran (32:55):

So stay humble, stay in your real house. I’m still always meeting dentists that run into a disaster with little things like their lease. There’s a dentist in Phoenix and on his lease, it was a triple net lease and three doors down, it flooded the whole room. Long story short, he was the only tenant in a 10,000 square foot building who had the money to pay for it. The yoga studio, everybody else just walked out on their lease and said, “Call it a bankruptcy.” So you need a lawyer before you sign a real estate lease. You might meet a guy who’s spent a decade in dental marketing before you start your ad campaign.

Chris Pistorius (33:37):

Yeah. I think that’s great advice.

Howard Farran (33:41):

Stay humble in your real house.

Chris Pistorius (33:44):

I really appreciate this. And if you don’t mind, I know you’re a busy guy, but maybe in a few months we can hook back up and tackle a couple more subjects if that’s cool with you.

Howard Farran (33:52):

Any time you want, man. It’d be a blast. I can talk about dentistry until the cows come home. I just love it.

Chris Pistorius (33:58):

That’s great, man. Well, Howard, thanks again. And thanks to everybody out there watching today. I know you got some great information out of this. Be sure to join us next week for another great episode of the Dental Marketing podcast.

How To Pick The Right Patients For Your Dental Office

How To Pick The Right Patients For Your Dental Office

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Chris talks with Steven Feit, a practicing dentist for the past 30 years, on how to pick the right patients for your practice.

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Chris Pistorius (00:04):

Hi everybody. This is Chris Pistorius again with the Dental Marketing podcast. I’m with a great guest today, he’s got tons of experience in dentistry and does a lot of cool stuff. And today Steven Feit, Dr. Steven Feit, is with us today. And we’re going to really get into his 30 plus years of experience and how he’s transformed his practice from very early on in his career to more recently. So Dr. Feit, thanks so much for being a part of the show today.

Steven Feit (00:34):

Thanks for having me on Chris. Really appreciate it. Big fan, happy to chat with you.

Chris Pistorius (00:40):

Awesome. Well, let’s get right to it. I mean, we talked a little bit off air about a little bit of your background and whatnot, and I was kind of floored by how you transitioned over the years and let’s get right into that. What do you do? How do you do it and how have things changed for you over the years in dentistry?

Steven Feit (00:57):

Well, Chris, as we talked, I came out of my residency at the Goldman school up in Boston, I was an associate in New Jersey and as is typical was a bit abused, where they were taking monies and so forth, that most people have had that experience. So I packed up, went to Florida to set up my own practice, and started from scratch. That was 1991. And you know, of course the mode was just take anybody. And we became very, very busy, but we became busy treating a lot of people that were not nice, not reasonable, not respectful, didn’t refer, didn’t repeat, didn’t pay. And I got to the point where I was actually miserable being so-called successful, depending on your definition.

Steven Feit (01:41):

And I latched on with Patty Lund, who was a dentist down in Australia, and I adopted a lot of his front desk lists. We call them care nurses, even though they’re assistants, but they’re not nurses in a medical sense. But our care nurse greets the patient when they come in the office, escorts them to the treatment room, helps me render the treatment, let’s say we’re doing a crown or whatever. And then they know the next step. They don’t have to bring the patient to the front desk. And everyone in the waiting room overhears what’s the conversation. The patient pays in the room. If there’s a discrepancy, which usually never happens, because everything’s done in writing. It’s all in private, no one overhears it and everything is sorted out. And then they’re rescheduled for the next visit and they leave. They can go to the restroom or just leave. It makes a very tight relationship with the care nurse because then when they return that same care nurse is going to be with them to insert the crown with me.

Steven Feit (02:43):

And then that same care nurse will be with them if they need another procedure down the road. So then they get to know each other quite well. And it’s very simple and easy and natural for the care nurse to say, “Listen, we don’t ask everyone, we ask our special patients and you’re one of them. We really enjoy having you and your company. We would love it. If you would refer some friends, because we believe birds of a feather and that kind of thing.” And if the patient says, yes, we find it’s almost like a verbal contract, and they do, they will refer and it works very nicely. So it creates a higher level of care, a higher level of meaning for the day for the care nurse, a higher level of fulfillment. Most people leave a position, not because of money because they feel under appreciated.

Steven Feit (03:36):

And when you’re appreciated by the very person you’re serving, and then I show my people tons of love. Like I put them on such a pedestal. Throughout the procedure if I asked for an instrument, you’ll hear me say, thank you, please, please, can I have this? And I say, thank you. And what happens is the patient is overhearing that whole dialogue. And the patient sees the respect that I’m giving to my person, who is a very special person in my life, that’s why they’re there. And what happens is they in turn at the end, they’ll turn to the care nurse and say, thank you, thank you. And I’ll say, wow, that came out great. It shortened the treatment time. All because of Sarah. Sarah did an awesome job today.

Steven Feit (04:24):

And so most doctors, they feel like to elevate themselves, maybe they have to push other people down. It’s the exact opposite, because guess who hired them? Guess who picked them? It’s a reflection of me. They say, the fish stinks from the head down. Right? Well maybe it smells good from the head down also. So it’s really a nice way to envelop yourself with people all day, all day long.

Chris Pistorius (04:52):

Yeah. That’s an interesting concept. Kind of the no front desk thing. I’m probably making it too simplistic, but when the phone rings and stuff, you still have these care nurses are the ones that answer phones or how does that work?

Steven Feit (05:05):

Yeah, that’s a great point I forgot about. So our patients, being in south Florida we’re in the demographics of, they’re like as eighties, nineties, hundreds. And so their medical issues is of concern and you always want… I have phones, telephones, in every single room. I have computers in every single room, like most offices today of course do. We’re totally chartless, we’re without paper charts. And so they can take a step and answer the phone.

Steven Feit (05:38):

So I have two care nurses. So when I’m with one treating someone, genuinely, the other one is available and can grab the phone, and there’s a computer right next to every phone, and there’s the front desk. In the old days, I practice, can we had a paper schedule, we’d have to move the in a treatment room and get the schedule done and all that. It was a little more complex, but today it’s really quite easy. And with COVID, by the way, everything’s done in the room, it’s for their safety, it actually is a perfect mode of operating, you know?

Chris Pistorius (06:14):

Yeah. I was going to bring that up. That’s that’s a pretty good concept for times like we’re going through right now. Talk to me though, early on you said you took on just about anybody that would pay you, and it was great money-wise, you’re very successful. But something clicked and you just, at the end of the day, you just weren’t happy. How do you transition out of that? How many patients… If you already brought this up, I apologize. But how many patients did you kind of let go to get to your happy spot, if you will?

Steven Feit (06:42):

Yeah. So what we realized is we were actually miserable and we were busy. As Michael Gerber says in the E-Myth, “You’re doing it, doing it, doing it,” and you’re on a treadmill or the hamster wheel, and you’re like, when is this ever going to end? And so, I got to the point where like, I restore old cars. I’m like, I’d rather go to Jiffy Lube and change oil than come here. You know, that’s a pretty dark place. So, one of my friends said, well, if someone’s not going to come back to the office, why does it have to be me? Why not the patient? And whoever gives thought to let go of a patient, because we’re so used to, and inculcated in our training, like you need more patients, get new patients, need more and more.

Steven Feit (07:24):

So what ended up happening was Patty Lund, we copied one of his systems and we rated the patients as A, B, C, or D. And what we would do is say, Hey… We’d have paper charts in those days. And we’d say, okay, here’s Mrs. Smith. Who knows her? I was the care nurse for her. How is she? Oh, she’s amazing. I love her. She’s super nice. Okay. She’s an A, we’re going to keep her. So we put her in a good pile. And then the next one is, oh, this person is always late. Never brings a credit card, never pays. Never on time, all that. Okay. That’s a D. So the D’s have to go. The C’s, some of the C’s… And I was like 26, 27 years old when I was doing this. And these are 70 year old people. And I’d say, listen, Mrs. Smith, you just don’t bring happiness when you come to the office. We love you, but we would love you more if you would go somewhere else.

Chris Pistorius (08:20):

You told the patient this?

Steven Feit (08:22):

Yeah. And I said, look, I just want to be brutally honest, don’t shoot the messenger. But we just feel that you would be better served, you don’t seem happy here anyway. And some of them would say, geez, I’m really super nervous when I go to the dentist and I’m just not myself. And I didn’t realize I’m doing that kind of behavior. Would it be okay if I could make myself better and work on it? And so if they’re a C, now we can bring them to a B. Absolutely, we’ll keep you Mrs. Smith, we appreciate the honesty and we’ll both be better together. And then if it’s a B patient or an A patient, we don’t have to have that conversation. The D’s, the D’s would go. Some of them would grab their there… I would copy their x-rays back in those days, it wasn’t digital, and we would have it all prepared. And they would use some profane language.

Steven Feit (09:14):

And there’s an old saying, just because someone tells you to go to hell, doesn’t mean you got to go, right. So, the other saying is, through the front door of our office, everyone makes us happy, some on the way in and others on the way out. So let them go. And you know, what happens? You pick the weeds, the flowers grow, that you’re spending your time with really super nice people. They refer super nice people and you’ve eliminated all the people. It’s the Pareto Principle, if you will. Like 80% of your time is spent with 20% of the problems, or whatever.

Steven Feit (09:56):

And it’s gone. Like, we don’t have that. Now. I get a lot of referrals from up north, the Northern dentists. And sometimes I can’t get an A patient in. They’re a D patient. And I’ll call the office up north, and I’ll say to whoever answered the phone, I’m going to say your name, tell me the first thing that comes to mind. And I’ll say the patient’s name and it’s telltale. There’ll be silence, or, oh, sorry, sorry, you have that person there. So now I know of what’s what I’m dealing with, but.

Chris Pistorius (10:31):

Wow. You just gave me a great title for a book is, Pull the Weeds and Let the Flowers Grow. I love that. That’s great. Awesome. So how long ago was it that you started this process?

Steven Feit (10:42):

Well, I would say it took Patty Lund… I’m personally good friends with him, so he’s now in New Zealand, he’s retired. But Patty told me it took him a better part of 10 years to develop what I just described in a few minutes. It took me two years to implement, because I had all his books and I was diligent to push through. And there’s a lot of pushback from the team.

Steven Feit (11:11):

We created a consulting company a few years back. One of the right-hand people with Patty, his name is Fletcher, he’s a great guy. He’s also in Australia. And another fellow Mike. And it kind of fizzled out, because we all got busy doing other things. But we took practices to do this in six months, many of them in four months. And they were rocking. And not only does it create… You create this energy, people start saying yes. A lot of my friends took the consulting side, and they’re like, Steve, I don’t know, there’s like magic in the air. Like everyone’s coming in with money in their hand. They’re like, yes, yes, yes. And I see it’s the energy. They want to be a part of it. They want to be around it. It’s indescribable, but it’s palpable. It’s interesting.

Chris Pistorius (12:01):

Right. That’s awesome. That’s a great story. That’s one of the first times I’ve really heard the concept of this kind of like no front desk, and it makes sense to me. And I think it’s certainly something that can flourish right now, and where we are, and just a different way to really look at dentistry. It doesn’t have to be the way it’s been for the last hundred years. There are new concepts out there, and there are things… You don’t want to do things just because they’re new. But I think there’re things out there like what you just talked about that are proven to work, and it’s kind of gets a fresh look on dentistry and how you approach it. So that’s awesome.

Chris Pistorius (12:37):

So tell me, I saw in your bio too, that you’re a… Let me get the exact… a dental expert witness. And I found that fascinating, because I’ve never spoken to one of those either. Can you tell me about that?

Steven Feit (12:49):

Yeah, so it sort of happened by accident. One of my friends who’s an endodontist was asked to review a case as an expert, and it was all prosthetically driven. So as a prosthodontist, he asked me if I would get involved, and I spoke to the attorney, I didn’t know anything of what I had to do. And the attorney kind of coached me through that first case. And then I found that I was quite good at it. And then I got another case, another case, and I’ve probably done a hundred, maybe a hundred legal cases. I’ve done some cases that are like slip and falls, some that were assault and battery. And we had to determine a lifetime value of a restoring the area that was damaged in the assault and battery. And then I’m also involved in patent litigation between companies with a dental relationship.

Steven Feit (13:45):

So yeah, it’s quite interesting in the fact that like… I’ll give you, for example, the simple things like how every word means something. Opposing or adverse counsel will say to me, doctor, how much are you being paid for your testimony? And that’s a very basic question, right? Well, I don’t get paid for any testimony. I get paid for my time and expertise and knowledge base to review the facts of the case and determine, and answer questions based on that data. But my testimony is mine, mine alone, I don’t get paid for it, and no one buys me or my words. So these are traps. And so when I see these dentists get deposed, they get shredded because they’re not listening, they’re nervous, they don’t breathe, they’re not oxygenating well, they’re not thinking, they’re not prepared, the attorney didn’t prepare them, that kind of thing.

Steven Feit (14:44):

So there are really, really talented attorneys and not so. I’ll boil it all down, I know we have a time limit. It all comes down to relationship. I say to the dentist, why do you think you got sued? They’ll say, I don’t know. And I say, well, I spoke to the… Because I’m not allowed to talk to the dentist, and I only do defense. Like I only help the defense, I never help the plaintiff. So I can only debrief the two parties after the case is terminated. And so I’ll ask the patient, why’d you go after him? I don’t like that dentist. That dentist was mean to me. They never called me to see how I was doing. They never cared. They never showed daycare.

Steven Feit (15:30):

So I described for you our care nursing system. It’s interesting, the words, right? So it’s built in. Now of course, I do make my post-op calls. I find when I fall off from making post-op calls, I get more issues. Not problems, we could solve the issue. So if I make my post-op calls, people are more reasonable, they know you care. And so the second question I get in deposition is, doctor, how many times have you been sued? And the answer is none. And then they’ll… Invariably, the lawyer, the attorney, they’re doing like four or five other charts while they’re asking questions. So they’re billing like for four cases in the hour. And they’ll look up and they’ll say, never? I say, no, ma’am no, or no, sir, never. And it’s like, unheard of, you know? It’s bad.

Chris Pistorius (16:21):

Yeah. Well, that’s interesting. And it kind of gives you a little different flavor in your industry, and I’m sure it’s compelling work, it’s interesting stuff. What’s your favorite book? What would you suggest as a book for maybe a new dentist or coming out? What could help? Just do it on anything, not just being a dental expert witness.

Steven Feit (16:44):

I can give you a couple. I would say the most important book is The Richest Man in Babylon. That’s an amazing book, because that’s going to set your financial house, and set you free and put you on path on being responsible on how you handle your dollars, setting yourself up for your longterm future, and protecting your family and all that, financially speaking.

Steven Feit (17:08):

I love the On Purpose Person. That’s a very influential book in my life. We have four kids, how to stay on purpose with your, whatever your purpose might be. So if you want to spend more time with your kids, you might have to say no to other things and other people, and then the other people might not be happy with you. Well, just stay on purpose.

Steven Feit (17:34):

And then the E-Myth is a brilliant book. I actually met Michael Gerber who wrote it. It’s considered one of the top best 100 best business books ever written. And I mean, it goes on and on, Who Moved my Chair, First Things First, you know?

Chris Pistorius (17:50):

Yeah. I agree with E-Myth, I’ve heard that a few times and it’s great. And I first got into it, and it was like, okay, you’re going to build your business like McDonald’s. And I’m like, okay, I’m not reading any more of this. But then you keep reading and you’re like, oh, you know what he’s got some good points there, and it really applies for dentistry or anything else. That’s interesting. All right. So what about a new dentist? I mean, there’s more new dentists coming into the market now than ever. And in my business, competition is fierce in terms of new dentists, and dentists competing against each other. Would you advise a brand new dentist coming out of school, starting his or her own practice, to maybe go the direction you did right out of the gate in terms of kind of no front desk, and rate your patients, and only really work with the ones you consider somebody who would be nice to work with?

Steven Feit (18:41):

Well, yeah, I mean, to your point, I see it’s a massive challenge right out of dental school. So right out of dental school, I went up, did two years of advanced training in prosthodontics. And at the same time I worked in these capitation, low end clinics, where I’m using a barber chair as a dental chair and a shop vac, and doing MODBL on Malcolm’s back in those days, blowing out teeth, and it was out of control. And so you get your speed and all that kind of stuff, and you learn what you don’t want to do. And then I was an associate and I realized, okay, I didn’t really want to be in that environment. And under the thumb, because it’s like a marriage and you got to really make sure that you guys, or the people, or the parties get along.

Steven Feit (19:25):

So I took a bit of a road where I had two years residency then a year when I was an associate. And I essentially built my practice as an associate. Like he really didn’t give me many patients. So I had to go out and beat the pavement, take people to lunch, and get know them, and ask for referrals and that kind of thing. So it’s a long road, like to your point. So I don’t know that someone… None of my four kids are going into dentistry. But to advise a young dentist right out of dental school, I think he’d go work somewhere and get your speed and get comfortable just even conversing with patients, and you learn to be confrontationally tolerant, and talk, and explain, and set expectations, and verbal skills and on and on and on.

Steven Feit (20:19):

And don’t take on things that are over your head. That’s when you get sued, you know. And practice like you don’t need the money in the worst time when you do need the money. And when I started my practice, I knew, I said to myself, I’m going to make the worst mistakes when I could ill afford it. And you do, but you fight through. You never fail unless you quit. That idea. And then find your way, and then maybe a couple of years down the road, you could buy in and then buy out. And there’s a lot of different options.

Chris Pistorius (20:52):

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome stuff. Dr. Feit, I got to tell you. We could go on for hours with this, and if it’s all right, I’d love to check back in with you in a few months and maybe we can do another episode, because you’ve got a lot of stuff there that we can dive into.

Steven Feit (21:04):

I’d love to Chris. Thanks for the time. I appreciate you having me.

Chris Pistorius (21:08):

Absolutely. And thanks everybody for watching another episode of the Dental Marketing podcast. Be sure to tune in next week, we’ll have another great guest. And thanks again. See you soon.

 

Also, be sure to check out this dentist in Yuma as a reference to the type of marketing work that we can provide!

The Business Side Of Dentistry. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Business Side Of Dentistry. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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Chris Pistorius talks with Scott Dudley, the founder and CEO of Branin, about the importance of focusing on the business side of owning a dental practice.

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Chris Pistorius (00:04):

Hey, everybody. It’s Chris Pistorius here again with another episode of the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. Thanks for joining us. I am here with Dr. Scott Dudley. Dr. Dudley is the CEO of Branin, which is an organization, has a few different locations, dental practices here in the Colorado area. Dr. Dudley is also a practicing dentist, and he’s got an awesome story that I can’t wait to share with you guys. So, Dr. Dudley, thanks so much for being on the show today.

Scott Dudley (00:39):
Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Chris Pistorius (00:41):

Of course. So, let’s just start off. Off air, we talked about how you got your start, and it’s pretty compelling. Why don’t you talk to me, first of all, about your personal history in dentistry and how you got going?

Scott Dudley (00:56):
Yeah. I think I have, well, I don’t know if it’s very unique, but I went to dental school.

Chris Pistorius (01:05): That’s good.

Scott Dudley (01:10):

And somehow made it through there. But got through dental school. I did the Air Force AEGD program at Andrews Air Force Base, and spent a few years at Fort Bragg, what was then Pope Air Force Base, and came out of there and tried to find an associateship, and did in downtown Washington, DC. And I guess like the trajectory of a lot of dentists, ended up deciding to go out on my own about 18, 24 months after that, and built a practice from scratch in 2008, the last crisis. And spent a few years on that practice, and ultimately built a second practice. And then in 2016, was getting tired and a little burned out. And I wanted to get married, and I’d spent a lot of time on the business, and on the practices, and growing and developing them. We ended up with seven doctors between the two locations.

Scott Dudley (02:13):

So, I thought there might be a better way, and I was trying to figure out how to make that happen. So, I ended up selling to a Dental Care Alliance, which is one of the larger DSOs in the country. And that experience taught me a lot of things, and I’m very appreciative of that experience. Ultimately, went back to business school to University of Virginia at Darden. And then in 2019, my family and I decided to move to Colorado, and that was largely for personal reasons, but I knew I was about to restart my career. And I thought, “What better place than in Boulder, Colorado?” So, here I am.

Chris Pistorius (02:56):
Awesome. So, I mean, that’s pretty unique. I mean, you said, how old were you, 39 years old when you

sold your first practices? Scott Dudley (03:02):

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Yeah. I was 39 when I sold. I had started when I was, I had built that first practice. I think I was 31 when

the doors opened. So, I lived the life cycle of a dentist in a relatively short period of time.

Chris Pistorius (03:16):

Yeah. So, and that’s what I want to leverage here a little bit is we have a lot of people that are coming out of school, or getting ready to, maybe they’ve been an associate for a while, and they’re getting ready to take the plunge into starting their own practice, but we’ve got even more people there at the end of their careers. And it’s time, they want to sell, or maybe they’re going to, not at the end of their career and they just don’t want to have to run a business anymore.

Scott Dudley (03:40): Yeah.

Chris Pistorius (03:40):
Maybe you could tell us, what are a couple of things that you might’ve made mistakes on, or you would

do differently, first of all, about selling a dental practice?

Scott Dudley (03:52):

The market has changed and continues to change. And I think at the end of the day, ultimately, a dentist has to decide, do they want to be part of a DSO, and why, or do they ultimately want to sell to another dentist or a group of dentists? And I think that’s the first box that really needs to be checked, because it’s emotional, it’s legacy, but it’s, what does this picture look like after the transaction happens? Are you involved? Are you not involved? The financials are not, I know there’s a lot of, it seems like there’s a lot of ambiguity or vagueness around the financials, but it’s really not rocket science. Because if you’re selling to a dentist, a single dentist, the banks are going to loan 80%, 85% of collections, more, that’s about what your practice is going to be worth.

Scott Dudley (04:51):

If you’re selling to a DSO, they’re going to use multiples, and it’s going to scale with the size of your EBIT or your free cashflow. So, the numbers are really not, they’re the easiest part. I think the harder part is deciding, what do you want your legacy to be? Who do you want to take control of your staff and your patients? And I think for us as dentists, that should be first and foremost in the decision making process.

Chris Pistorius (05:20):

Yeah. No, I think that’s, everybody thinks about the money part of it. And very infrequently have I heard on this show specifically, when I talked to people about buying, selling dental practices, do I hear the word legacy. And how do you want to be remembered, and what do you really want to accomplish when you sell a practice? So, I mean, I think that’s pretty key. So, on the other end of this, man, let’s say that it’s time for you to buy a practice. Two biggest options I see is, do you just take a bunch of debt and start up from scratch, or do you go and try to find a good fit that’s an existing practice? What’s your recommendation for that?

Scott Dudley (06:00):
Yeah. That’s the million dollar question, no pun.

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[crosstalk 00:06:04] million dollar question.

Scott Dudley (06:05):

Yeah. And our group, specifically Branin, we’re wrestling with that. Because of the DSOs and private equity, prices have been pushed up. They’ve been pushed up. And so, the cost to buy a practice now, that’s in good working order, that’s ready to go, turnkey, if you will, without needing to put a bunch of equipment or technology into it, is pretty expensive. But you really shouldn’t probably be thinking about, what I talk to folks about, is you probably shouldn’t be thinking about ownership, unless you have the confidence in yourself that people want to see you as a dentist. And so, with that confidence, you should be able to leverage that confidence and to make a decision, if a build-out is going to cost you $600,000, well, and you can attract patients, then if you’re paying more than $600,00 or $700,000 for a business, A), do you know how to run it? B), are the people of that business going to stay there?

Scott Dudley (07:17):

C), do you have an appreciation for the value of that business? Meaning, are you overpaying for something that you could have the same cash flow if you just built it from scratch? I think those are difficult questions if you don’t have a background in finance or business to understand when you’re putting together the spreadsheets to figure it out. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to your confidence of building a team and building a patient base. You probably shouldn’t be entertaining ownership if you don’t have confidence in one or both of those.

Chris Pistorius (07:52):

Yeah. I’ve also seen, there’s this book out there, I can’t remember what it’s, E-Myth Revisited is the name of it. And they talk about one of the top reasons why, not just dental practices, but small businesses in general fail, and it’s because typically the person opening the business is really good at the technical work of the business, but they don’t really know how to run a business. So, they don’t know about accounting, and bookkeeping, and marketing, and how to just run the business. And I’ve talked to some people from dental schools, and they talk a lot about how good they are in teaching dentistry, but what’s interesting about you is you went back and went to business school. Did you find that coming out of dental school, that maybe there isn’t a lot of time spent on how to run a dental practice? Is it really just about dentistry, and that’s why you had to get back into the business side of it?

Scott Dudley (08:45):

Yeah. I think for me, personally, I mean, I wanted to understand how to scale private practice. I knew that DSOs are out there, and there’s certainly a place for them. It’s not coincidence that they’re doing very well, and M&A activity is on the rise, and consolidation is accelerating. But I also thought that there deserved to be a dentist-owned economy of scale option, where just a group of dentists got together and manage themselves, and led themselves, and made decisions for themselves. And so, our organization at Branin is designed to have the dentists front and center in the circle, and the way that we think of our organization. And everything stems from the leadership that that dentist provides, what we call our partners at each office location. But we get the same economies of scale that DSOs get. We have all the advantages that DSOs get.

Scott Dudley (09:52):

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We’re just not taking investor money. We’re not, our budgets are not being set by somebody other than ourselves. We make our own hiring decisions. And I think at the end of the day, most DSOs operate with a lot of associate dentists in the DSO. They’re on year contracts.

Chris Pistorius (10:13): Right.

Scott Dudley (10:13):

And if you think about, if you wanted to go to a doctor and you knew that they were on just a year contract, and they may or may not be there next year, our argument, our philosophy is, well, we think that that’s inferior to a doctor who’s committed to a location for multiple years because they’re an owner there. So, the fact that that ownership, yes, there’s equity there, and yes, there’s financial reasons, but ultimately, we think that we will have higher demands for our practices because our doctors aren’t changing over.

Scott Dudley (10:46):

They’re not changing over because they’re not on year contracts, because they’re owners. And so, to answer your question, I did, it was very valuable for me to go back to business school to understand how all of these things played in, and so that we weren’t an organization that just had year in, year out contracted dentists, that we were constantly recycling, and that our patients were constantly going through different providers constantly. So, business school was very helpful. Obviously, they joke that in dental school you don’t get any of that. And I think it’s only because of my experience that I realized there was a lot I didn’t know, even though I had done quite a bit. And so, I really appreciated borrowing from other industries in business school.

Chris Pistorius (11:34):

Yeah. Well, you’re one of the few, maybe the only I’ve interviewed that has gone the business route option too, and it looks like it’s certainly paying off for you. So, that’s really good. So, I want to talk a little bit more about your organization, Branin, and you hit some great key points on why you’re, it’s a DSO model, I guess, but it’s the not DSO model. And it’s got a unique perspective where you’re not taking private money, and you’ve got equity from the [inaudible 00:12:04] ownership partner, in terms of each location that you have. You currently have, you’re building out your third location now, is that right?

Scott Dudley (12:12):
We’re building out our third location. All in the Northern half of the front range here in Colorado. Yeah.

Chris Pistorius (12:18):

Okay. Gotcha. And so, really, you’re looking for partners that, you’re not just looking for anybody to partner up with. You have a specific goal in mind in terms of partners. Could you tell us a little bit about who that would be?

Scott Dudley (12:31):
Yeah. I like to think of it, I mean, I was an athlete my whole life and it’s like trying to build an all-star

team. And we’re looking for all-stars, not in the sense that they’re the greatest dentist on the planet.

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And to your earlier point, I’ve interviewed a lot of dentists for associate and other positions, and anybody can do dentistry. That’s what you’re taught to do. The hard part is getting the dentistry to come in the door.

Chris Pistorius (13:02): Right.

Scott Dudley (13:03):

And I think that’s what separates the mentality from a doctor who’s just, look, they just need bodies in the chair, so they can do dentistry, to the people who are really invested in people and really feel passionate about building relationships with their patients long-term, and creating a business, which ultimately means that you want people to advocate for you. Not just write a review, but actually say, “You’ve got to go to this dentist.” “Why?” “Well, they’re a good dentist, but they really care about me. They really went above and beyond. It was a completely different dental experience.”

Scott Dudley (13:40):

We like to think in our organization that it’s because of the ownership piece. You think about a mom and pop bakery. Think about that experience compared to you go to a big commercial bakery. How does it feel? It feels totally different. Or a coffee shop, that’s that person’s life, and you feel that when you walk in those small businesses. And we’re trying to recreate that on the dental side.

Chris Pistorius (14:06): Right.

Scott Dudley (14:07):
And a bunch of that is, how do we find great dentists, who are great people, and want to be partners of

something bigger than themselves?

Chris Pistorius (14:16): Right.

Scott Dudley (14:18):

Ultimately, our dental group, owned, led, operated by all the dentists in the group, is really looking for those all-stars that have that philosophy, that don’t want to ride the coattails of a corporation, a PE firm, somebody else marketing them for the lowest, cheapest Invisalign product out there. We want people that can build value for themselves, and are passionate about that. And that’s why we value the partnership model. Our partners are 50-50 owners with myself, and our group in general. And we’re trying to get more partners in, and so we’re offering what we’re calling a pathway to partnership, where we’re literally giving people equity up to 50% in the practices, if they will be basically an operator, and they’ll live by those principles and high standards that we collectively as dentists know are so important to our patients.

Chris Pistorius (15:19):
Wow. That’s cool. I haven’t heard that before. So, somebody could come in, if you find the right

personality and type of person you’re looking to work with-

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Absolutely.

Chris Pistorius (15:27):
Instead of going and getting a loan, and for ever how much money, they can, up to 50% of that, they can

own by just working.

Scott Dudley (15:35):

Yep. Yeah. I mean, they’re going to be, most people, I say this. You’re going to be probably an associate somewhere, if you’re a dentist. Well, if you want to be an owner, and you want to put in what I call the intangible work ethic that it requires, to not do the dentistry, but get the patients in to do the dentistry, which is really what businesses and ownership to me means, is the difference. And you’re willing to put that work in to grow a business, we’re excited to give people, and offer them up to 50% ownership in that practice. They don’t have to take a loan. They don’t have to do anything. They just have to do what they would normally do, and put the intangible work in.

Scott Dudley (16:14):

And it all stems back to our belief that partner dentists, and people who have ownership, or have equity ownership, are going to treat, look, the staff can feel comfortable that the doctors aren’t changing out. The patients can feel comfortable that doctors aren’t going to be changing out. The doctor’s the rock in our organization, and everything surrounds that. And to the extent that you have people constantly changing in and out, I think so goes your organization, your culture, and everything else.

Chris Pistorius (16:40):
Yeah. It’s hard to build that local-feel dental practice when you’ve got a new dentist in there every year.

Scott Dudley (16:46):

Yeah. And that’s how we’re trying to be trying to be different. And for people who have their own businesses, who may be thinking, “Well, geez, I’d like to be part of a dentist-owned, dentist-led organization,” we have a solution there too. Because what we’ll do is, generally we’ll come in and buy, effectively, 50% of the practice, and that dentist can stay on and be part of our group, and they get some liquidity out of it, but they also get now instead of their being by themselves on an island, they’ve got a whole group of dentists, of like-minded dentists, who are very passionate about great dentistry, and all of a sudden they become part of a fraternity, a sorority, if you will. And that’s really cool, in addition to the savings that you get from the same economies of scales that the DSOs are leveraging.

Chris Pistorius (17:37):
Yeah. In a situation like that, where you might take 50% of a practice, do you take over operations of the

practice, or is that still on the dentist, or is that all negotiable based on the deal?

Scott Dudley (17:48):

There’s just a few things that we try and streamline. And the reason we try and streamline it is to get the economies of scale that our partners want. So, some of it’s software, so we have them use Open Dental. Some of it’s primarily our vendors and who we’re using, so that we can get cost savings. But outside of that, the owner, the partner doctors can choose a la carte, all of the tips and tricks and best practices

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that we have. So, whether it’s how we advertise, or the medium that we have, or the revenue cycle management. Whatever it is that they need help with, that’s what we’re there to help for. And I personally do, we do a lot of shadowing. We do a lot of feedback. We have our own study club.

Scott Dudley (18:40):

We do a lot of mentorship. Quite frankly, we do a lot of leadership training, because we know that the growth of a practice is largely dependent on the quality and caliber of the leader, which if it’s the dentist, we need to spend a considerable amount of resources developing that person’s skills. And they may have ceilinged or gotten stressed out, because those skills weren’t as developed as they could be. And I say, what works for a dentist at a half million or a million dollar practice, completely different skill set at $2 million, $3 million, $5 million practices, multiple locations. And if you’re not keeping up with the leadership and the business acumen needed to scale the business part of it, you’re going to probably find yourself pretty stressed out. And so, those are all things that I personally enjoy becoming involved with and helping the partners out with.

Chris Pistorius (19:33):

Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, hey, Scott, thanks so much for taking the time today. Let me ask you this. If somebody is watching this and they think that maybe they might, could be a good fit for your organization, what’s the best way to reach out to you guys and start that process?

Scott Dudley (19:49):

Yeah. So, Branin Partners, B-R-A-N-I-N, partners.com is our website. My personal email is Dudley, D-U-D- L-E-Y-S, as in Sierra, B as in bravo, at gmail.com. And people can certainly reach out. Like I said, we’re not looking for just anybody. We’re looking for folks who want to be part of an all-star team, but specifically an all-star team that is dentist-centric and focused, and is the anti-DSO.

Chris Pistorius (20:21):
Right. Gotcha. It makes sense. Okay. All right. Well, Scott, thanks again for the time.