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

Listen to the audio-only version:

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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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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, is our website. My personal email is Dudley, D-U-D- L-E-Y-S, as in Sierra, B as in bravo, at 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.

Case Acceptance: Tips That You Can Start Using Today!

Case Acceptance: Tips That You Can Start Using Today!

Chris Pistorius talks with Sean Field, the Senior Consultant at Patrick Consulting Group, about the challenges dentists face on improving their case acceptance rates.

View Full Transcript

Chris Pistorius (00:04):

Hey, everybody. It’s Chris Pistorius with you today again, with The Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. Unfortunately, I’m having some technical issues, so you won’t get to see my pretty face live, but we’ve got an awesome guest today. Mr. Sean Field is with us live. You can see him. Sean is with the Patrick Consulting Group, and he is one of their senior dental consultants, and he works a different angle than some of our past podcasts, in the sense that he helps people, or he helps dentists with their acceptance rates. So when somebody comes in, how you can actually schedule more of the procedures that you’re you’re offering. But Sean, thanks so much for being on. Please tell us a little bit about what you do and more of those details.

Sean Field (00:52):

Sure, yeah. Thanks, Chris, for having me on, I appreciate it. Again, like you mentioned, I’m with Patrick Consulting Group, we are essentially treatment coordination trainers, and what our specialty is, is we help increase the case acceptance rates in a practice, in a dental practice. We work with any sales organization, but our specialty is in dental, and really just kind of getting the entire team on the same page, and realizing what role they play in the case acceptance. Again, our specialty is case acceptance rates, so what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to acquire more of the comprehensive dentistry from the patient, and really what our goal is, is if we’re working with a practice and they were looking at case acceptance rates and they’re lower, we want to try and increase those. So simply put, if you’ve got three patients that are coming in all with the same treatment, occlusal cavity and number three, and only one out of those three are accepting treatment, our goal is really to get you closer to that three out of three, but then more of an entire comprehensive treatment plan as well.

Chris Pistorius (02:01):

Awesome. So tell me a little bit about what you see. What are some of the biggest reasons why those acceptance rates might be one out of three, instead of three out of three?

Sean Field (02:12):

Yeah. I mean, really, a lot of times the breakdowns happen with… Typically, there’s two different closes. So what we refer to as a clinical close, and then a financial close. So that’s a big step too as well. Sometimes the team is just using very clinical terms, and we’ve just got to really put things in language that the patient will understand, because if they don’t understand the need for the treatment, when we start talking about costs, they’re never going to understand why there’s a cost involved, especially why there’s a high cost with dentistry as well.

Sean Field (02:46):

So, the other thing too, is that we’ve got to make sure that everybody’s on the same page. So is the hygienist doing a fantastic job, making sure that they’re controlling the nucleus of the retention of the patient? Is the dental assistant, when asked the question, “Do I really need this root canal?” They’re really prepared for that, and reinforcing the need for the treatment rather than going, “I don’t know.” And especially with the front desk too, when we pass off the patient, whether you want to call that a power pass or a power play, whatever you want to call that, that’s really important that we’re not just kind of letting them walk up there.

Sean Field (03:20):

The patient and one person, I always say that everybody in the practice, it’s kind of like they’re people on stage, they’re in a play, everybody plays their role. So if one person drops the ball, that’s going to hurt the perception of what the patient thinks about us in the practice, and they’re less likely to choose the treatment. And really, the thing is that whatever’s good for the patient, is good for the production, so why feel bad about the collection?

Sean Field (03:47):

And to answer your question specifically, a lot of times, people are either watching things too much, or they’re underdiagnosing, and they’re kind of assuming the objection before it’s even said in their head, and they’re breaking things down, and where that really hurts things is that every time the patient’s coming in, they’re having to spend money, rather than what we do as a company, is we try to acquire that entire treatment upfront, get the patient to pay up front for it, and then just work off the credit as they go, so then it kind of flips the switch on everything. The cliche, “Well, okay, I’ll have you pay for half of your crown now, half of the crown when you come back in,” but they’re always wondering, “Well, how do I get the patient to come back in, so I can seat that crown and get the other half, and then bill the insurance?”

Sean Field (04:30):

With us, what we’re trying to do is get everything paid up front so that the patient’s knocking at your door going, “Hey, where’s my crown? I need to get in here. I paid for that.” And again, it’s just really switching the mentality of, “Well, the patient’s not going to want to pay for this,” or “The patient’s not going to want to do all this.” Really, the cold, hard fact is that the patient has this treatment, and if we don’t do anything about it, we’re really not doing them any favors, and it’s just going to get worse. So we want to do as best as we can to explain things in general enough terms that the patient can understand, so they’re therefore more likely to understand why there’s a cost involved with it, and every person in the office, the dentist, the hygienist, the front desk, the dental assistant, anybody that tends to your problem, all plays a part in that.

Chris Pistorius (05:13):

Awesome. That’s a really cool concept of it kind of does flip the switch on how a majority of dental practices work now. I love the idea of let’s get the money upfront, let’s get the treatment done upfront, and then it makes things easier on the back end. I have to ask, and I’m sure other people listening to this are going to wonder, what do patients think of that? Are they typically okay with it, or is it kind of in the method of how you deliver that information to them?

Sean Field (05:45):

I mean, it’s absolutely in the method of how we deliver it to the patient, and a lot of times, it’s funny because when I start working with a provider, they’ll have preconditions in their mind of what the patient’s going to think, and they’re going to kind of judge that. And really, what they start to notice is that the more that we’re kind of telling them exactly what’s going on in their mouth, rather than trying to think, “Ooh, they don’t want to pay for that,” that they’re really actually very motivated to get treatment done, and they’re going up to the front desk going, “Okay, I know I need this treatment done,” that they’ve done a very good clinical close and understanding why they need the treatment, so then it makes it a lot easier to do the financial close in the practice.

Sean Field (06:28):

And really, patients kind of appreciate it. It comes down to the belief of the practice, and really, what we’ve noticed is that the patients actually appreciate it. And at a minimum, the goal isn’t to push them into anything that they don’t want to do. They have to get this treatment done, otherwise, it’s going to get worse. It’s just really just letting them know, essentially planting the seeds, so even if they do tell you no, and if they say no to this crown now, and then they come back six months later in pain because they need a root canal, it’s going to be a much easier discussion, simply because you’ve planted that seed.

Sean Field (06:59):

And the trick is always to put the ball back into the patient’s court, and let them decide. We’re not pushing them into anything that they don’t want to do, we’re not diagnosing treatment that isn’t there. We’re simply just educating them on what’s going on in their mouth, why they need to get that done, what’s going to happen if they don’t get that done, and then at the end, really just making it through a lot of times, through third-party financial companies, not only financially affordable, but mentally affordable for them as well.

Chris Pistorius (07:28):

I see. So it’s kind of like the old adage in the sales process of, “Sell the value of what you do, and then talk about the price,” right? So show the patient, “Look, this is the situation you’re in. This is just going to get worse, or this, or this, or this is going to happen,” and then everything just falls naturally into, “Okay, well, what does it cost?” Would you agree with that?

Sean Field (07:52):

Yeah, 100%. 100%.

Chris Pistorius (07:56):

Okay. Awesome. So tell me how your process works when you work with a dental practice. How long does this process take? Is this something that they’re with you for weeks, months, years? I mean, how do you incorporate this type of training into a practice?

Sean Field (08:14):

Sure. So we do work nationwide throughout the country. Typically, nowadays, because of all the technology, it’s easier to either do it, depending on the preference of the practice, but we can work over a Zoom call, we can do over phone call. Really, traditionally, what we’ve noticed is that we charge on a per call basis. So if we’re going to do an hour call, we try and make it relatively affordable, so we can kind of deliver this to the mass general provider public. Usually it’s about $99 a call, or a Zoom call that lasts about an hour, and then the provider decides how long or how often they want to do these calls. So there’s no contract. They can do one call, they can do 30 calls. It’s totally up to them.

Sean Field (09:02):

And to answer your question specifically, how long does it take? It really just kind of depends on the team and the provider, and where they have essentially breakdowns in the communication. It just depends on the provider. So usually what we do is that we kind of get a general understanding of what they’re looking for, what they want to do. Again, we specialize in treatment case acceptance, so we know that that’s probably why they’re calling us.

Sean Field (09:25):

And then a lot of it, it really has to do with a lot of role-playing, kind of scripting, letting them know what they should be saying to the patient, letting them look at as a whole, what cycle that the patient goes through in the office. Like we were talking a little bit before we started the video, we have a thing called the Dental Communication Model, so it’s basically the 26 step process from when the patient, even before the patient picks up the phone and gives you a ring, all the way through their entire visit, all the way back down to getting them through the visit, and then back again for their recall or the treatment that they need.

Sean Field (10:00):

So again, it really just kind of depends. Sometimes it’s easier I can get… We usually start with a training that we call The Five Steps of Treatment Coordination: The Psychology Behind Why the Patients Say Yes or No to Treatment. And if we do that, we usually start with that, that is 499, if we do that with the entire team, it doesn’t matter how many people are there. And then that is a general basis of setting the foundation of those five steps to treatment coordination, and really, the psychology behind when a patient says yes or no. Really, the first couple of things is we want to see where the base is at, where the foundation is at, what is their case acceptance rate, where are they having issues with?

Sean Field (10:40):

And then after we figure that out, then what we’re doing is we’re making sure that we’re doing a lot of role-playing. So, “Okay, well, present this crown to me. Present this perio to me. Present this cavity to me,” and really, the goal is to get them so flawless with their presentation, that they’re very prepared when they sit down with a patient. Because again, I’m not a clinical provider, I’m a salesperson, but I’m really just getting them to understand why we need to do certain things to be able to get the patient to say yes, and what kind of things that we could be doing that could be hurting our chances of getting that yes. And if we’re getting more nos, there’s something going on. There’s a breakdown in the communication, whether it’s at the front desk, or whether it’s the hygienist, or whether it’s the doctor themselves. And really, what we’ve noticed is that essentially, the more we really just kind of role-play, the more prepared they are when they’re actually in the chair, and the more likely that they’ll get the yes out of a patient.

Chris Pistorius (11:36):

That’s awesome. That’s a very unique way to look at this. And I know that in our business with our clients, I know that we have some folks, some clients that could get better at this, and I think you could make a huge impact the bottom line. So let’s talk about results a little bit. After you work with somebody, what kind of results do they typically see, once they start incorporating your training?

Sean Field (12:05):

Case acceptance, I mean, when it comes down to it, so not every single person in the entire world is going to say yes to you on that day. If you’re 65, 70% case acceptance rates, you’re doing fantastic. But usually, to answer your question specifically, if they’re in like the 40% case acceptance rates, we’re getting them closer to that 65 to 70% closing rate. And again, so you may not want every single person in your office, you may not want them, it may not be a fantastic fit.

Sean Field (12:34):

So to answer your question specifically, it’s case acceptance, and that’s really how the company got started, was that I have a long background in dental, and what I really noticed was that the providers were fantastic clinical doctors, and they would do fantastic treatment, but they just couldn’t get the cases sold, because it’s a much different situation if I say, “Okay, well, you’ve got [inaudible 00:13:00], a carie on number two, that’ll be $300,” compared to, “Okay, well, Sean, you’ve got a cavity on this tooth, and essentially, it’s like rust to a car, and the longer that we let that sit, the more unnecessary damage is going to happen to that tooth. And really, why we don’t want to do that, is because we don’t have to cause that damage. We can take care of it right now, and really on top of it, it’s going to cost you a lot more money if we just let this sit. Now, it’s totally up to you, Sean, what you want to do, but if you were my brother, that’s what I’d suggest. That’s what I do if I was you.”

Sean Field (13:36):

And again, just kind of putting the ball back in their court and stop talking, let the patient make their decision. Lng-winded answer to your question is we notice that the case acceptance naturally rises because they are focusing, they’re understanding what the patient in front of them is going through on their end, and the more they understand why they need that treatment and what’s going to happen if they don’t do that treatment, the easier that financial close is. And again, going from what do we usually see? The breakdown.

Sean Field (14:05):

So if the doctor’s doing a fantastic clinical close, and then the patient’s coming up to the front, and Nancy at the front desk is saying, “Okay, well, that’s $200. This is $300, this is $500,” the patient is just literally checking out like, “Oh, thanks.” That treatment plan’s going to go in the back seat when they get in the car and out of sight, out of mind. So really, the case acceptance is just naturally going up because we’re getting everybody on the same page, and everybody is, for lack of better words, closing that treatment, which again, is the best thing for the patient, because it’s just going to get worse if they don’t do it.

Chris Pistorius (14:38):

Yeah. That’s great. And I mean, if you could just increase the acceptance rate by 10 or 15%, just think of the impact financially that could have at a dental practice. Do you ever run across this? And sometimes we do on the marketing side of things when we’re trying to incorporate the team and to helping with marketing, is sometimes there’s always, and it’s not just dental, it’s any business, somebody’s been there maybe 10, 15, even 20 years, and you’re trying to really get them to do something a little different or new, like in your training too, and sometimes they’ll give some resistance, right? Because they’re kind of set in their ways and they don’t want to really have to change anything. First of all, have you seen that with your training, and what are some ways that you can overcome that?

Sean Field (15:26):

Sure. Yeah. I mean, we absolutely see that, and like you said, I mean, usually it’s somebody that has been there a really long time. So maybe an office manager that’s been there 15, 20 years and is in the paradigm of, “Well, this is always how I’ve done it, what’s wrong with that?” And I think to kind of overcome that, there’s two different ways to approach it in a consulting genre. I can either push them and fear them into it and say, “Okay, well, this is what’s going on, and you either have to do it or you don’t,” or I can really kind of first, Stephen Covey’s first seek to understand, and then be understood. If I’m listening to Nancy and what her concerns are, and why is that holding you back? And then finding essentially, just like we’re doing with the patient, finding out what her motivation is, and why she feels that’s a good fit, then I can adjust and pivot, and show her why I feel that this would be a good fit for them.

Sean Field (16:18):

And again, the greatest thing about dentistry is that, like we talked about at the beginning, if one of those three people come in and they have an occlusal cavity or carie, however you want to put it, it’s not going to get worse, and we didn’t put it there. Our job as providers, that’s the whole reason that the dentist went to school is to take the best care of the patient as possible. And really, I don’t think that there’s any office manager Nancy out there that would disagree that if we can get this treatment done and not just… Usually people think, “Okay, well, Sean, you’re all about the money. You’re all about the money.” I’m not. The money just naturally comes, if I can take good care of the patient, and the patient, we’re not doing the patient any favor if they continue this treatment, because it’s just going to get worse, and really, what they’re really concerned about is that it’s going to get more painful and it’s going to cost more money, the two things they don’t want.

Sean Field (17:14):

So we have a saying that says, “Positively influence the positives, and negatively influence the negatives,” and to answer your question, if I can get Nancy, if she’s resistant to me, the office manager, because she’s been doing it for 20 years, if I can get her to understand, “Hey, really, it’s not about the money, it’s just what’s best for the patient. What’s good for the patient, is good for the patient. So why feel bad about the collection?” And everybody’s kind of always heard, if you’re going to go into a grocery store, there’s no grocery store in the world that would let you put a cart full of stuff in your cart, roll past and say, “Hey, I’ll pay you when I can.” You’re not to do that. That’s just not how business works. And I think that sometimes people just feel bad, “Okay. We’ll just bill them. We’ll take care of it later,” and then they end up with a huge AR nightmare, simply just because they’re not believing in the value of their treatment.

Sean Field (18:03):

So forgive me for the long-winded answers to your questions, but if I can understand where Nancy’s coming from, from the foundation, I’m more likely to get her to buy into it, and really, because she’s a star player, or whoever the manager is, they’re a star player in that role, in the dental office, and in the case acceptance rates, then naturally then it’s going to be a more copacetic, synergetic environment where everybody is winning together, and that’s really what the thing is. We’re looking for a triple win situation. We’re looking for number one, the patient, number two, the practice, and number three, as a consulting firm, I realize that you guys are walking billboards for me, so the more that I increase your case acceptance rates in a very copacetic way, changing the paradigm or the mind shifts of the people in the practice, then everybody wins.

Chris Pistorius (18:58):

Yeah, no, that’s cool. It’s obvious that you’ve put a lot of thought into this, and that it’s important to you and you’re passionate about it, and I think that’s important when you consider any sort of a consultant for anything, really. But talk to me about quality assurance. Let’s say you come in, you do training. Is it kind of up to the provider to make sure that his staff is doing kind of what they’ve been taught from you, or is there any way that you can kind of quality assure that?

Sean Field (19:29):

I think working one-on-one is a different mindset. So typically, what happens is the doctor will fly, not with us, but they’ll fly the entire team out to a conference. Everybody gets totally pumped up about, “Oh my God, that’s awesome. I’m going to put this into practice. I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this,” and then Monday morning comes, and things get busy and the phone starts ringing, and everything goes out the door, and they go right back to their traditional way of how they’re doing things. And by working with them consistently, then we’re really reinforcing why we’re doing this, and naturally, through the progression, they’re more likely to continue why we’re doing this.

Sean Field (20:12):

And a lot of times too, one of the easiest ways to get any team member or any staff member, nine out of 10, there’s always going to be one person that doesn’t, but nine out of 10 people are going to be motivated monetarily. So, and that’s one of the things that we talk about too, is one of the easiest ways to keep them on track is that if we offer them some kind of bonus system, where if we work together as a team, and we’re slowly increasing, let’s say 10% per year, and we’re hitting those goals month, after month, after month, naturally, the team’s going to be very motivated for that monetary part of it. Because a lot of times what happens is that the team member will say, especially if there’s not a bonus system in place, they’ll say, “Well, Dr. Sean’s going to make all the money. He’s driving the Mercedes. What’s in it for me if I don’t do that?”

Sean Field (20:57):

So the easiest way to keep them on track is to add a bonus system, attach a monetary reward to it if they do this, so everybody wins again. And then again, consistency. That’s one of the reasons that when we first started, we had an agreement. So we usually had about a year agreement, and we noticed that it wasn’t as copacetic, it didn’t flow as well as if we just had like, “Look, here’s your call. You can stop at anytime you want, so there’s absolutely no pressure to move forward. If you’re done, you think you’re fantastic, that’s fine. And then if you feel like maybe you’re slipping and you want to come back, that’s fine as well.” But if we’re constantly working with the team member, understanding them, what’s in it for them, then the more likely they are to, again, focus back on what’s good for the patient.

Sean Field (21:45):

And that’s really the only reason that we turn on the generators in the morning, the only reason that we turn on the lights in the morning, the only reason that we’re spending all this money on this PPE with everything that’s going on, is because it’s the patient. Without the patient, we just don’t have anything. So really, that’s the main goal, but we’re all human, when it comes down to it, so we just have to figure out what the motivation is, just like when we’re trying to figure out what’s the treatment. What’s the motivation that you want these 12 veneers? What’s the motivation that you want this ortho? And really understanding that, and being able to bring that back up, so it’s going to be the same thing with the team members. But again, long-winded answer to your question, what we’ve noticed is that the more we work over, and over, and over with them, the more excited they get about the process, the better they get about the process, the more rewarding it is for everybody involved.

Chris Pistorius (22:32):

Yep, that totally makes sense, and I know that after hearing this, I’m definitely going to recommend you to our clients.

Sean Field (22:42):

Well, thank you.

Chris Pistorius (22:43):

As I know that our job is to get new patients in the door for them, right?

Sean Field (22:47):


Chris Pistorius (22:48):

But if they can close more of those patients and get more treatments as a result of that, then that just makes everybody more successful. So certainly win-win-win for everybody. So, Sean, I appreciate you being with us today, but first, before we take off here, could you tell everybody what’s the best way to get a hold of you? How does the process start? Do you do some sort of consultation first, or how does that work?

Sean Field (23:12):

So typically, we offer a free hour of consulting, just to kind of figure out what is your main want, your main needs in the practice, and give you a chance to kind of get to know us, and then give us a chance to get to know you guys, because we may not be a fit for everybody, everybody may not be a good fit for us. So we want to make sure that we initially build that rapport, and break that initial ground. From there, to get a hold of us, you can get ahold of us either through our website, There’s a link on there where you can schedule your free hour of consulting. Also, you can reach us via email at You can call us at (331) 225-3635. Again, (331) 225-3635. If we can’t get back to you, we can’t answer the phone right away, you can just leave a message, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Sean Field (24:05):

But yeah, the whole process, again, it’s very easy and it’s very straightforward, and nowadays with technology, we can work with somebody in Texas. We’re in the Chicagoland area, very easily and do the same thing, it’s just being able to have them on the phone. So really, a lot of people want to know, “Okay, well, Sean, what’s Patrick Consulting Group’s agenda, and how do you approach that, and how do you do that?” I don’t have a certain thing to say, “Okay, well, this is exactly the procedures we go through,” because everybody is different. It could be the hygienist that needs work, it could be the front desk that needs work, it could be the assistant that needs work, it could be the doctor that needs work.

Sean Field (24:40):

So during that first hour of consulting, that free one hour of dental consulting, we talk about it, we talk about why we think we’d be a good fit for you guys, you talk about us, let us know what you want, and then from there, then we would schedule those calls. And again, the calls are very easy, we try and make them very affordable. They’re $99 a call, and you can either choose to do Zoom, or you could do an over the phone call. Some doctors prefer to actually just do it over the phone, simply just because it’s listening back and forth and really kind of working on that treatment coordination skills that everybody has.

Sean Field (25:15):

And really, I think that the thing is that most of the clinicians think, “Well, I’m a dentist. I went to school to be a clinical provider,” and the hard, cold truth is that you’re a salesperson, whether you like it or not. And one of my best things that anybody ever told me was that you could be the best dentist in the entire world, you could be using the best composite material, you could be using the best labs, you could be using everything, but if you can’t sell the treatment, you’re not going to do anything. So that’s really where we come in, is that’s our profession is the sales profession, and just getting the team to really kind of understand that.

Chris Pistorius (25:55):

Yep. I love it. Sean, thanks so much. I’d like to maybe check back in with you in a few months, see how things are going, and see if anything’s changed with your business, if that’s okay.

Sean Field (26:05):

Yeah, that’d be great. I appreciate you having me on today.

Chris Pistorius (26:08):

Awesome. Everyone, thanks so much. I know you got a lot of great information out of this, and if you’re looking to increase the bottom line and get some more acceptance rates, then I think Sean’s got a great, great offer here at Patrick Consulting Group. So thanks again for all of your time and watching this episode, and be sure to tune in next week for our next great guest. Thanks again.

Sean Field (26:30):

Thanks, Chris. Thanks.


How You Can Make Virtual Dentistry Profitable For Your Practice

How You Can Make Virtual Dentistry Profitable For Your Practice

Chris talks with the Co-founder and CEO of SmileSnap, Greg Pellegrom. Listen in as they discuss how dental practices are using SmileSnap’s technology to increase new patient numbers and profit.

View Full Transcript

Chris Pistorius (00:04):

Hi, everybody. This is Chris Pistorius with another episode of the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing podcast. We are here today with Greg Pellegrom. He is the CEO, and I’m sorry, co-founder and CEO of SmileSnap. Guys, this is a cool technology that I’m going to let Greg talk about, but I personally looked at it. My agency is going to get involved with this because this is the future, I believe, of dentistry. And there’s a lot of exciting stuff here if you’re looking to really grow your practice. So Greg, thanks so much for taking the time to be on the show today.

Greg Pellegrom (00:41):

Absolutely, Chris. Thanks for the opportunity to be here. I’m excited to talk a little bit about what we do here at SmileSnap.

Chris Pistorius (00:48):

Yeah. In doing research for finding people to come on the podcast, I was surprised that I hadn’t ran into you guys before, because this is technology, I think, that you’ve come out with that is exciting and is exactly the kind of stuff that we try to keep our clients on the cutting edge of. So why don’t you tell us about SmileSnap? What is it? What does it do? How did you get started with it? Just a little background, too.

Greg Pellegrom (01:15):

Yeah. Happy to. I’ll tell you a little bit about myself and then the company because I think it’s important to know who’s behind the platform. I started as an orthodontic sales rep with 3M Unitek back in 2003. So I really cut my teeth, getting to know the industry, and I immediately fell in love with orthodontics and what it provides for patients in creating that self-confidence. And I did that for about 15 years with a few different companies and got to the point where I really wanted to try my hand at some entrepreneurship. And I felt like I had the right idea and product market fit because what I was hearing from a lot of my customers, we weren’t talking products much anymore. We were talking more about changes in the industry. In particular, challenges around new patient acquisition.

Greg Pellegrom (02:06):

Orthodontists were benefactors of the GP referral system that has existed for decades. And that was changing, where they were either doing the treatment in house themselves or maybe bringing in an orthodontist to do that. And so they knew that they had to look at other ways and they didn’t quite really understand the world of digital marketing. A lot of them were having their in-office team member, because she’s on Facebook all the time, do that. We were seeing changes in the industry around Invisalign and opening retail stores. Obviously, the direct to consumer market by Smile Direct Club was a major wake up call to them. And a lot of corporate or DSOs were popping up.

Greg Pellegrom (02:57):

And so they weren’t quite sure where to turn. And so the idea really came to me of, there’s a lot of people who want to know more about orthodontics, meaning am I a candidate? What does it cost? How long does it take? And the traditional way was for you to call the office, schedule a consult, take time off of work, or pull your kid out of school. Go in just to find out some of this basic information. And that’s a major hurdle for a lot of people who are busy today.

Greg Pellegrom (03:30):

So really, the simple way to boil down my idea or concept was, why aren’t we using these things, the most powerful tool on the planet to just begin that engagement, that sort of a pre-consultation. Send me some pictures, answer some questions, and we’ll let you know some basic information around treatment. And then if it makes sense and it’s something you want to take to the next step, then we can jump into either a live video consultation or come on into the office and give that person a choice of which one works for them.

Greg Pellegrom (04:10):

And so we built SmileSnap. We’d launched it in April of 2019. So we’re just over two years out there. It was myself, my partner, who’s built the platform, the other co-founder, Jamison Stafford. And we had one full-time employee for about 11 months. And so from April of 19 to March of 20, we were doing everything we could really get our name, our brand, our concept out there. And it was well received, but a lot of the response was, “This is great. We’re going to do this someday.”

Greg Pellegrom (04:46):

And then when COVID hit, obviously, that was the precipice for virtual consultations and virtual visits. And we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And we grew substantially over three months. We were very blessed and fortunate. The team grew, the platform grew, the awareness grew. And most importantly, we started to learn that people will use this platform. If you have this on your website and it’s built and designed as a widget, it’s fully customizable to the practice. It can work in general dentist’s office, pedo, perio, ortho, oral surgery. There’s all kinds of applications to use our platform.

Greg Pellegrom (05:35):

But we learned that people will use this. And we see patients flowing through our system, 24/7, 365. It doesn’t matter. Chris, we just had July 4th, a couple of days ago, and we had a couple of hundred patients come through the platform on July 4th. Why? Because this is where and when and how you meet today’s consumers.

Chris Pistorius (06:03):

Because they can, that’s why.

Greg Pellegrom (06:07):

The word I use over and over and over, because I apply it to my own life. It’s convenience. It’s convenience. Make it simple, let them inquire on their time. So maybe it’s after they put the kids to bed, or on the weekend, or on holiday. But it really expands access to your practice without expanding the physical footprint, adding more hours or days or columns or a treatment coordinator. So it’s a way to scale your practice, even geographically. We’ve had customers tell us because of SmileSnap, I have a greater geographic reach where people will find my website because I offer a virtual consult and I give them meaningful information. They drive past all kinds of competitors to come to me. So there’s a lot of advantages to offering this.

Chris Pistorius (07:02):

Yeah. I’ve got so many questions here, Greg. But first of all, you just hit something that’s interesting, because in our business, we do marketing for dental practices. So we’re always looking for … We talk to our clients a lot about USPs, unique selling propositions. So why should somebody choose your orthodontic practice or your general practice or whatever it may be over the maybe 50 others that are within 10 square miles or whatever? And this type of technology, I think, could definitely be part of that. [crosstalk 00:07:34]

Greg Pellegrom (07:33):

A hundred percent, Chris. There’s nothing more frustrating than if I’m looking for something online and I get to a website and I can’t get the meaningful information that I need to know to move through that buying process. I go to another website. And if I don’t find it there, I go to another website until I find the one that is giving me the information that I’m looking for.

Greg Pellegrom (07:55):

Now, what is that in dentistry? Traditionally, it was almost taboo to even market or advertise your dental or specialty practice. Well, those days have come and gone, all right. We got to get past that. Everybody needs to have a marketing budget and they should be working with an agency like yours that understands how to properly do this for a dental practice. But if they get to a website where they can do a virtual consultation and know that, “Hey, we have people that will respond to patients within hours or minutes.”

Greg Pellegrom (08:37):

We always say give them a heads up and say, “We’ll respond within 48 hours or two business days,” whatever that might be, because you want to set their expectations. Speed is also very important with these folks. You can’t go four or five days because they now mentally have moved on, but we’ve made this so simple where you can respond. You don’t have to be sitting in front of your computer. We’ve got a mobile app for both Apple and Android. So you can respond anytime, anywhere to these patients. And the most powerful way to do it is we have an asynchronous video capability built right into the platform. So all you need to do after you reviewed their photos and answers to your questions is simply hit record in about 30 to 40 seconds, tell them the things they want to hear.

Greg Pellegrom (09:28):

You want to let them know, I understand what your concerns are. Here’s what my recommendation is. We’ve got flexible payment options to fit your budget. The next step would be, whatever that is. My office manager, treatment coordinator or scheduling coordinator will reach out to you tomorrow. And we can either then do a live video chat like this, or come on in.

Greg Pellegrom (09:58):

But the beauty and the thing that people appreciate the most, that practices appreciate the most about SmileSnap, This will filter out those price shoppers, those tire kickers, the looky-loos, whatever you want to call them, so that when they do jump into this video chat or their next step is to come in for live consult, they’re very much committed because you’ve given a meaningful information around some fees, how invasive the process is. If there’s someone that’s scared of the dentist, you’ve eased their fears. So they’re highly convertible type patients.

Chris Pistorius (10:35):

Yeah. And something that I’ve found is that the younger we get as terms of potential patients, everybody’s wired a little differently. Millennials don’t necessarily want to pick up the phone and call and do a traditional phone call to set up an appointment. And what I’ve found in dentistry is that people, not just in dentistry, but anywhere, want things now. Right this second. And they’re used to being able to get that with their phones. They want food, they order it and it’s there within a few minutes.

Chris Pistorius (11:07):

Dentistry, traditionally, hasn’t been like that. And to me, it seems like this as a platform to allow people to get almost some immediate type feedback. So what I want to get into first though, is let’s talk about the platform itself. So let’s say, how does this work if I’m a dental practice owner, this widget goes on to my website? What happens? Do they have to sign up first? Do I have to gather insurance information first? What’s the first step. Second step, third step. How does this work, I guess?

Greg Pellegrom (11:38):

So the one thing I always like to point out at first is, before you go live with SmileSnap, you definitely want to have a full strategy around your new patient acquisition with this. How are we going to use this? And that starts with marketing, which is where you come in, Chris. Okay. And they’ll work hand-in-hand with you on how are we going to promote and market and advertise to our demographic that we’re offering virtual consults? And a great place to start is to let every single existing patient know you’re now offering this. So have that marketing strategy work with you to design that. This is great for social media ads, email campaigns, there’s lots of ways whether it’s new patients or existing ones. So you get more people in the door, butts in seats, and getting new services.

Greg Pellegrom (12:34):

Secondly, is that they don’t have to do everything all at once. So what we like to say is, start off by choosing one or two or maybe three services that you really want to focus in on. And you can expand later. So pick some cosmetic services. Implants, veneers, whitening, Invisalign. Those are great for this because when the user gets to the website and they go to do the virtual consultation, the widget’s going to be coming clearly branded to the practice. So it lives in your environment. We don’t take them to another website or landing page. It’s completely branded to the practice. So we want their logo on there, we want a picture of the doctor, because this is not AI driven. This is not a bot. We want the colors of the practice. So the look and feel is there. And then you can create questions. And depending on what questions you ask, it’ll take them down a different path.

Greg Pellegrom (13:39):

The other thing that we just recently launched is you have the ability to select what photos those you want to capture. In the past, we always did the five intra oral photos that you usually see. Upper, lower occlusal, right and left side. But you don’t always need all five. Or some people want more than that. So now you can create which photos do we want to capture. And right through our widget, and we’ve got the easiest way to capture good quality photos. They take these pictures. If they don’t look good, they can simply hit try again until they get it right. So it’s a real intuitive process we take them through to get good photos.

Greg Pellegrom (14:23):

Once they’re done, a series of texts alerts will go out to the patient, to the practice, along with emails, and you can set up those alerts however you want to which team members get them. But basically, now the ball is in the core of the practice. That person can go back to their life, whatever it is. They’re probably not going to keep searching dental websites. They found the one they’re interested in, because they’re motivated if they’re willing to go through this process.

Greg Pellegrom (14:56):

And really from there, someone in the practice needs to follow up. And this is where somebody in the practice needs to own this process, be held accountable. Yeah, you might respond in the evening or on a weekend, but you know what, again, we’ve built that mobile app. And if you just take three minutes, you don’t have to be in the office to record that video and send it. That person is so impressed. They’re like, “Man, Dr. Pistorius, I think the guy’s golfing.” Okay. “He took time out of his golf round to tell me these things. He’s pretty cool. I like this guy.” It humanizes that.

Chris Pistorius (15:39):

[crosstalk 00:15:39] their information, this app allows them to almost immediately just do a quick video after you’ve looked at some things and respond to them pretty quickly, huh?

Greg Pellegrom (15:52):

Absolutely. It’s all about speed and ease with the platform. Again, we try to make it convenient for both sides. We don’t want this to be disruptive to the practice and their daily flow. But depending on how many requests you’re getting in a day. And look, there’s some people that might get one, maybe two a day, and we have some that really push this, and they give this option to all new patients and they might get four or five, six in a day, because they have the confidence that they know they’re going to deliver a high touch quality experience, even though it’s digital, that they feel confident that they’re able to convert these consumers into patients.

Chris Pistorius (16:40):

That’s awesome. Wow. Okay. So tell me about who uses this? Do you have any demographics on what age range, or have you gotten in any of that yet in terms of what type of patients are really using this technology?

Greg Pellegrom (16:58):

Yeah, absolutely have that. Let me take a step back and talk about what our customer base looks like. And the majority, probably 90% of users on our platform today are orthodontists. And that’s not because this is built for orthodontists, it’s because that’s where my network, my background resided for so many years. So from a sales and marketing perspective for our company, that was our initial focus. It works, like I mentioned before, for GPs, and pedo, and so on and so forth. And we’re trying to get our name and our brand out there, which is why I’m grateful for this opportunity today.

Greg Pellegrom (17:45):

So it can be used in all these different areas. Who do we see using it? It is a lot of young adult all the way on up to 50, 60, 70 year old people who are interested in orthodontic treatment, is primarily what we see. And a lot of that is Invisalign.

Greg Pellegrom (18:13):

But it’s so easy and people are getting more and more comfortable all the time using platforms like ours. Doing things digital. The average person in the US today taps, types or swipes their phone 2,600 times a day.

Chris Pistorius (18:30):


Greg Pellegrom (18:31):

Yeah. Look it up. And I can only imagine that number continues to grow as we go forward. What we see, Chris, is people inquiring 24/7, 365. It doesn’t matter. I was really curious to see on Christmas this past year, if anybody was going to submit requests, and we had three people. It wasn’t a ton, but we had three. We had a lot during the Super Bowl game, and we just celebrated 4th of July here a couple of days ago and we had a couple of hundred come to the platform.

Greg Pellegrom (19:05):

So, people will use this if you give them access to your practice. And it’s a great way to scale and expand. You and I were talking before this started, traditionally, how do you expand a practice? Well, do I bring in an associate? Do I add a satellite location? Do we open up more hours, work another day, work evenings, weekends? These are things that are either expensive or nobody wants to do. If you put a widget that offers virtual consultations not just for new patients, but also for your existing patients. It’s great for them. You can also use it for virtual visits. Not every patient needs to be seen in the office every single time. And if you offer that convenience, people will brag about you like you [inaudible 00:20:08].

Chris Pistorius (20:08):

Yeah. I could see this working well on a marketing side of things, when we do Google ad campaigns, Facebook ad campaigns. I mean, we could put language in there, like submit your photos today, or speak with somebody now or language like that. And that goes a long way, especially to people that are … Google ads, we find these are people that have their credit card in hand, they’re ready to buy. They’re just trying to figure out who it is to buy from. So language like that really appeals to those people that do have their credit cards in hand and are ready to buy. So I could see this working well on a lot of different aspects.

Chris Pistorius (20:44):

So, Greg, tell me, obviously, you’re to get a lot of interest from our viewers here. What’s the best way to check you guys out and what’s the signup process look like? And does it take a lot of work for them to get your product on the website? Or how does all that work?

Greg Pellegrom (21:04):

So the best way is to go to our website, which is There’s a couple of ways that you can look at the product. You can request a recorded version of a demo, which you can then watch on your own time. Or the other way, which I think is more effective, is to schedule a demo with one of our account executives. Because then you can ask questions on the fly, you can have your whole team there and walk through a personalized demo of the platform.

Greg Pellegrom (21:38):

Once you see it, it’s really easy to sign up. Click the button, fill out the form. That gives you access to the platform. And at this point, you can go in there and you can check it out and play with it and do some things before we even collect payment. So, we really want you to get in there and make sure that this is something for you.

Greg Pellegrom (22:00):

Once you’re ready to go, all they need to do is enter their credit card. That’ll give them access to the code that they need to give you. And then you guys put it on their website. It’s really, it’s just a snippet of code that gets put into the header. And the widget is live.

Greg Pellegrom (22:21):

We are big on education and training, not just in the beginning, but ongoing. So this is very important, and I don’t want to overlook this part. This is new to most practices, and we want to hold your hand until you’re ready to fly. So we have a three-step process. Step one is what we call our foundational onboarding. This is where we’re going to work with you to get your widget ready to go. Meaning, we’re going to set it up, we’re going to get all your verbiage in there for the emails, for the text messages, how to use the patient portal, which really helps me everything that we do, HIPAA compliant. And then you go live.

Greg Pellegrom (23:11):

Once you go live, we have two success sessions, and this is really where we want to take you through that, what are best practices for workflow in the practice? How do we implement this? Tell us, how do we do this? And then we let you go for a couple of weeks and experience it. And then we do an additional success session with you, because there will be questions.

Greg Pellegrom (23:37):

And then after that, as part of your monthly or annual subscription to SmileSnap, additional training sessions are included. So we don’t nickel and dime you if you need additional training, new team members, whatever that might be. That’s really important.

Chris Pistorius (23:53):

Yeah. It sounds like a pretty simple, straightforward process. I can’t tell you how many softwares I’ve signed up for and just didn’t use because I didn’t fully understand it and I didn’t really want to take the time to fully understand it. And so I think that handhold process of making sure it’s set up correctly, making sure that they understand what’s going on will certainly help, and we’re not just buying stuff that we wind up getting charged for six months and don’t ever use it.

Greg Pellegrom (24:23):

Right, right. Yeah. We’re here. You got to take advantage and we’re going to push you and remind you to do that. So take advantage, for sure.

Chris Pistorius (24:32):

Well, Greg, thanks so much for being on today. I want to follow up with you in a few months, if that’s okay and just see what direction this is going and talk about your success. Because I think this is exciting stuff that is here to stay. This isn’t just a COVID special where people’s minds have changed now. And we talked off air about there’s so many companies now that since COVID, they aren’t going back to real offices. They’re getting rid of their office leases. And because COVID has permanently changed the way they think, and I think that we’re seeing the same for teledentistry type stuff where people now realize that they can go to the dentist using a camera sometimes. And dentists are realizing, “Hey, this is a valid option.” And I don’t see that changing just because of that convenience feature.

Chris Pistorius (25:21):

But I want to thank you so much for being on. All of the information about how to reach out to you guys and get signed up for a demo, get signed up initially, will be in this information. Thanks again so much for taking the time today.

Greg Pellegrom (25:36):

Absolutely, Chris. Glad to do it. And again, appreciate you having me on.

Chris Pistorius (25:40):

Absolutely. Thanks, Greg. And thank you all for another viewing of our latest episode of the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing podcast. Be sure to check out our next episode, coming in about a week. Thanks, and we’ll talk to you soon.


How To Manage & Grow A Multi-Location Dental Practice Effectively

How To Manage & Grow A Multi-Location Dental Practice Effectively

Chris Pistorius speaks with Candice Hansen, the office administrator at St.Paul Pediatric Dentistry, about what has made them successful. They also unpack some great strategies on how to manage & grow a multi-location dental practice effectively.

View Full Transcript

Chris Pistorius (00:00):

Hello, everybody. This is Chris Pistorius again for another edition of The Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. We have an excellent guest with us today. We have Candice Hansen. Candice is the practice administrator with St. Paul Pediatric Dentistry, obviously in the St. Paul, Minneapolis area of our country. She is really is the grit and the hard work behind three practices that is under the St. Paul Pediatric Dentistry name. Candice, thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today.

Candice Hansen (00:41):

Yes, of course, Chris. Thanks for having me.

Chris Pistorius (00:43):

Great. Well, why don’t we start off? Tell us a little bit about St. Paul Pediatric Dentistry. What are you guys all about and what makes you guys unique?

Candice Hansen (00:54):

Yeah, well, I think you might’ve mentioned it, but we are a multi-location multi-doctor practice. We have three locations, three dentists that practice. We’re open full-time. What we are all about, we are pediatric specialists and we really strive to provide the highest quality of care and also deliver a pretty fun experience, as fun as dental can be for kiddos.

Chris Pistorius (01:29):

Yeah. Well, that’s awesome. You’ve been with the practice for four years now, is that right?

Candice Hansen (01:35):

Yep, a little over four years.

Chris Pistorius (01:37):

Okay. Tell us a little bit about what you specifically do. What do you do for the practice itself? Everything, right?

Candice Hansen (01:45):

Yeah. I think you might give me too much credit. I work with a really great group of doctors, which makes my job fairly easy in that sense, but a big part of my role is the growth of the business, so I oversee the business, just making sure our expenses and our overhead fall in line with our production and collections.

Candice Hansen (02:18):

Then probably, and I think if there’s other practice managers and/or dentists listening to this, they can relate to that right now, the biggest thing, the biggest part of my job is staffing and making sure that we have the right team, we have a team that’s elevated and also growth-focused because at St. Paul Pediatric Dentistry we started with one very small location that on paper did not look like it was going to be thriving, did not look like it was probably a good investment, and we found a formula that worked and we’ve taken that and duplicated it now three times, so yeah.

Candice Hansen (03:08):

Overall, a big part of that has been the team. Growing the business, a big part of it has been growing the team correctly and timing that right, so yeah, I would say overall, I wear many hats depending on the day, but the biggest part of my job is taking care of my team, building my team, and building the business.

Chris Pistorius (03:32):

Yeah. There’s a lot there to unpack for sure and I’m sure some people that are listening to this are nodding their head like, “Yes,” but then their question is, “How did you get to where you are now?” so let’s unpack first the first thing where you had talked about one location maybe not doing great and then you figured it out and then you duplicated that. I guess the question that everybody’s probably asking themselves is: How did you figure it out? How did you find that way to move forward?

Candice Hansen (04:04):

Well, I don’t know that we have figured it out exactly just yet, as we always think we’re a work in progress, but a lot of it goes to the owner of our practice, Dr. Julie Hammond. She’s always forward-thinking and it took a lot of time and effort and there were times as a doctor, she was answering the phone herself. But as far as figuring out the formula for what worked, it just really was trial and error. It started first with the team and then it went into our schedule, scheduling accurately, productively. When I came on board, I brought with some past experience that I think, I hope, helped to scale the business as far as insurance companies and negotiating our fee schedules and timing, evaluating what’s worth employee’s time and what isn’t, outsourcing services. There are just multiple things that have went into this practice. Yeah, sorry, I’m not even sure exactly where to start.

Chris Pistorius (05:31):

Right. There’s a lot there, right? Yeah, I think the point here is that there’s no magic button that you just figure it out, right? It’s trial and error and what works for some may not work for others. I mean, would you agree with that?

Candice Hansen (05:45):

Yes, most definitely.

Chris Pistorius (05:46):

Yeah, yeah. You had some dental experience before you came into this. Has your experience always been pediatric, or no?

Candice Hansen (05:54):

It has not, no.

Chris Pistorius (05:56):

Okay, okay. When you came in, you took this job four years ago or so, what did you start to figure out? What are some of the biggest differences? Obviously, I mean, you see kids and not adults, but other than that, from a business standpoint, what are some of the nuances that you found with pediatric that maybe didn’t exist with general dentistry?

Candice Hansen (06:16):

Yeah. Well, I actually have been in a specialty my whole career. I was in oral surgery as a specialty prior to this, yeah, so 10 years in total with oral surgery, or about 10 years.

Chris Pistorius (06:31):


Candice Hansen (06:32):

But when I came into this office, and very open-minded, I would say that is the one thing when you’re transitioning or going into any new business, you can see it from a different lens because the people working in the day-to-day, they’ve got their normal routines, right? I came into it really open-minded. I knew I was working for a doctor that our values aligned and I took the first few months to really just watch and observe what and learn what was working.

Candice Hansen (07:09):

Then after that, I started to give some feedback as far as things I saw and the first one was the insurance companies that we were in network with and saying, “I see that we’re charging out for this and we’re packing these schedules full, but do you know that you’re getting paid 30% of your fee on that? What if we cut out this insurance company so that you had more room to see?” I’m going to reference, say, Delta Dental that pays us 70% of our fees versus… Those were the first things, yeah, that I really started looking at. It was that, then looking at the hygienist schedule, and saying, “She’s always consistently getting done with these appointments 15 minutes early. If you add that up in the day, we could fit an additional four appointments in today, so why don’t we change her standard appointment lengths to 30 minutes?” I do a lot of time auditing. Yeah.

Chris Pistorius (08:30):

Yeah, I see where you’re going. I mean, those things make a huge impact and I can see where bringing experience from even outside of that specialty can make a big difference. You brought up hiring before. I hear that a lot from dental practices that we work with or just people I interview on this podcast and they’re struggling right now. I mean, COVID obviously us all hard, and I believe pretty much every dental practice in the country shut down. Obviously, there were some layoffs that happened there. I know some practices that didn’t lay people off, but I guess from your perspective in hiring, in my opinion, that’s one of the most critical aspects of growing any type of business, no matter what you are, but what advice do you have, specifically in dentistry? How do you hire people and find them and keep them, I guess?

Candice Hansen (09:25):

Magic question, Chris.

Chris Pistorius (09:28):


Candice Hansen (09:30):

There’s so many things that play into this. If my team listens to this, I am going to have to just give them a little shout-out. I do really feel I have a really strong, solid team, but we pride ourselves in what we say, choosing wisely. We do really follow the theme that hire slow and let go fast if it’s not [inaudible 00:09:57]. We also look more for, honestly, personality traits. There are a lot of skills that we feel can be taught to the right person, so we have started hiring more to culture than we have to the actual position or job description.

Chris Pistorius (10:23):

Yeah. Yeah, I’m hearing more and more of that and I’m getting more of people are having more success with hiring, perhaps, people with no experience, right, and because they feel as though they can teach them the job, it might take them a little longer, but then they can craft them the way that they want because if they don’t have experience, you’re really teaching them the dental industry and how to do things. Would you recommend that as well, then?

Candice Hansen (10:51):

Yeah. Minnesota specifically for dental can be tough because they do require every assistant, and I know it varies from state to state, but that they have a license, they’ve graduated from an accredited college. You can hire unlicensed assistants, but then they’re very limited as to what they can do within your practice. But hiring with no experience, I actually, we do love that. We say that coming in very green allows us to teach you specifically to our practice and the best compliment I can get is when an employee has found a position where they feel like they’ve maybe outgrown us and need to look at a different opportunity and whomever that hires them says, “Oh, I’m so glad you were trained at St. Paul Pediatric Dentistry.”

Chris Pistorius (11:46):

That’s great, yeah.

Candice Hansen (11:48):

Yeah, and it-

Chris Pistorius (11:49):

That’s an interesting perspective. It’s not like some people where somebody leaves and goes to somebody else and you’re all kind of upset over it. If it’s a good opportunity, a growth opportunity, that’s kind of a compliment, huh?

Candice Hansen (12:01):

… Yeah. I think in dentistry sometimes that’s where we maybe need to have a mind shift is that some of these team members, there’s fear of plateauing or fear of, “Where do I go next from here?” so what we look for in our practice is really, and I think any business probably wants this, is you want employees, you want longevity. Being a very growth-focused practice, we instill that in our teammates from day one: Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your goals? What do you want from this position? Being very honest, we have a lot of open, upfront conversations from the get-go in saying that, “Okay, you’re a dental assistant, but you hope someday to be an office manager. Let’s see what kind of track we can put you on within this practice to grow your skillset. Then if in five years, that position isn’t available here, but you feel like you’re ready for it, if we can help you, even if it is moving on from us.”

Candice Hansen (13:15):

But I think where we have success with keeping our employees long-term is that we do instill that, again from the beginning, that if you are looking for growth or for your future, that we’re going to help to get you there, and we hope that it will be within St. Paul Pediatric Dentistry, but if it is not, that’s okay, too, because we see that we see that you have it.

Chris Pistorius (13:45):

Right. Yeah, you can tell. Yeah. That’s great. I mean, I was referencing a little bit also towards front desk people, that when we have clients bring them in, it seems like people have been in the business 15 or 20 years don’t work out as well as people that maybe don’t have that experience and can be molded a little bit more freely, if you will. I think that’s an interesting perspective. Do you guys do anything in terms of employee retention in terms of bonus structures or goals or anything like that?

Candice Hansen (14:28):

Yes. Yep. For employee retention, the first thing that we do is a lot of communication. To start, we’re very transparent and we do a 30-day check-in from hire, a 60-day check-in, and then a 90-day check-in to graduation, which means 90 days you’re fully ready to be independent. We remind them what assets they are to our practice and then we say, “Okay, the next time we’ll sit down again at your six-month checkup,” referencing the dental world there, so then we do a six-month checkup, and then we do an annual checkup or an annual, what is it called? Just an annual performance review. The transparent communication upfront is huge for them from what we’ve found because every employee, we do surveys and we ask for feedback, and the one thing they say, when you’re a practice of multi-locations, is “Communication.” Everybody wants to know what’s going on, everybody wants to know how they’re doing. As you grow your team, that can get really hard. We’ve gone from a team of three in 2000, gosh, ’13, to now we have 24 employees total, and they all want to hear how they’re performing.

Chris Pistorius (16:05):

Wow. Yeah.

Candice Hansen (16:05):

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in this industry is that a lot of people get comfortable and start to say, “Well, no word is good word.”

Chris Pistorius (16:13):


Candice Hansen (16:14):

In the year that we’re living, that is not how people perform. They want to hear, they want their accolades, they want to hear what they’re doing well, but they also want to hear what they could work on because they don’t want it to come up in one year and say, “Oh, if you would’ve told me that six months ago, I would have done it differently,” so that’s our first big thing is giving consistent feedback.

Candice Hansen (16:39):

The second thing we do as far as retention is we do offer for individual positions. We do different goals. Say for the scheduling managers or scheduling coordinators within our practice, we offer a production goal, right, so if you’re scheduled to this production goal, you get a bonus. It’s a daily bonus and it correlates to our clinical team, too. The way we structure those bonuses is we are always trying to incorporate fostering our team, so the bonuses are something that they do at the end of every day when they meet those goals and they actually pull a poker chip from a bag and whatever amount they draw, that’s their bonus for the day.

Chris Pistorius (17:27):

Oh, wow. It’s a daily thing, huh?

Candice Hansen (17:30):

It is. We’ve structured it daily. I’m going to be honest, they don’t hit it daily, but it’s something that the team is working to get towards.

Chris Pistorius (17:41):

Yeah, that’s cool, the daily thing. I didn’t even think of that. It keeps everybody engaged on a daily basis, huh?

Candice Hansen (17:48):

Yeah, and then at the end of the day, the great thing is when I say about fostering the team is then they get to celebrate together, right, because if they each draw a $100 chip, they each get a hundred bucks.

Chris Pistorius (18:00):

Wow. Nice, so there’s a lot of pressure on the person that’s drawing the chip.

Candice Hansen (18:06):

Well, actually, Chris, we let them all draw.

Chris Pistorius (18:08):

Oh, I got you. Okay. Gotcha.

Candice Hansen (18:10):

Yep, so they each draw their own chip, yep.

Chris Pistorius (18:12):

Gotcha. Nice. Well, that’s a great idea. I might have to steal that. That’s a cool way to do it, yeah. We’re going to wind things up here soon, but it seems to me with pediatric dentistry, you’ve got some extra pressures that maybe a few years ago you didn’t have in the sense that, and really, all the specialties, in that general dentistry really tries to encompass more than what they used to, right? We see them doing a lot more ortho procedures within their own office, like Invisalign, things like that. We also just see them turning to specialize in seeing kids, even though they’re not officially a pediatric dentistry. Do you see that as well, and do you think because of that, there’s education that needs to happen in a market as a pediatric dentist to inform parents that pediatric dentistry is specialized and there’s a reason that it’s there?

Candice Hansen (19:06):

Yeah. I think there’s a place for everybody, right?

Chris Pistorius (19:09):


Candice Hansen (19:12):

I think for pediatric specialists, yes. There’s definitely some education to be had around the specialties. We specialize in a specific industry for a reason. It’s all we do, it’s what we focus on, it’s what we know, and we do it well. But as far as the general dentists doing orthodontics and that kind of thing, there also is so much opportunity for dentists now. Sorry, I’m going to wait for this phone call.

Chris Pistorius (19:43):

No worries.

Candice Hansen (19:46):

Yeah. There’s a lot of opportunity for dentists right now as far as continuing education where they can expand their practice and I think really, as a specialist, it’s just finding a way to have relationships with your general dentist and other specialists in the area to set yourself apart because knowing that there are going to be those doctors that want to keep everything in house, and that’s understandable, but there is a time and a place for pediatrics and referring out those that we see children with special needs, we see children with behaviors, we see parents that just would prefer to have a specialist, so there’s education that needs to happen there.

Candice Hansen (20:37):

Then as a pediatric specialist, there is also education that needs to happen within our medical community as far as pediatricians and people in general understanding that really your child should go to their first dental appointment around 12 to 18 months of age. It used to be three years of age was the old saying, and now, it’s just educating people around that the sooner you get to the dentist, the less likely you are to have decay, kids aren’t going to get comfortable, and all of that.

Chris Pistorius (21:18):

Yeah. Yeah, totally makes sense. Totally agree with all of that. Pediatric is one of my favorite niches just because of the power of a lot of these pediatric dentists in terms of how they can really sculpt a young person’s oral health and make sure that they’re on track to be as healthy as they possibly can be, so it’s always fun working with pediatrics and crafting marketing campaigns specifically towards parents and things like that. Candice, I know you’re extremely busy with three practices, so I want to thank you so much for being a part of the show today.

Candice Hansen (22:01):

Oh, yes. Thanks for having me. I hope whoever’s listening, they took even just a little something from anything I said.

Chris Pistorius (22:09):

I know that they will, for sure. We always get feedback and I’ll be sure to share that with you once we get it. For Candice and myself, I want to thank everybody listening or watching this for tuning in. Make sure you check back next week for another great episode of The Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast.

Need a COO For Your Dental Practice? It May Be Easier & More Affordable Than You Think

Need a COO For Your Dental Practice? It May Be Easier & More Affordable Than You Think

In this episode, Chris speaks with Kevin Wheeler, president at Simplified COO, about how dental practices can benefit from having a Chief Operating Officer and just how easy & affordable it can be.

This is an episode you don’t want to miss!

View Full Transcript

Chris Pistorius (00:04):

Hi everybody. This is Chris Pistorius again with you with the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. Thanks for joining us today. And Kevin Wheeler, who is the President of Simplified. Oop, did I do that right? Simplified COO, did I get that right, Kevin?

Kevin Wheeler (00:20):

You did.

Chris Pistorius (00:21):

Gee, I just balked right there, but … So Kevin is the President of Simplified COO, and this is a really cool concept. And by the way, Kevin is our guest today.

Chris Pistorius (00:31):

And this is something we haven’t really talked about here on the podcast, is being able to bring in a COO when you don’t really need a COO, if that makes sense. So you bring somebody in that can help you out as a COO role, but you don’t have to have them full-time and you don’t have to pay them full-time money. But Kevin, you know way more about this than me. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you do and why you do it?

Kevin Wheeler (00:58):

Yeah, Chris. So I saw a need … I have many years background in large dental service organizations. And what I saw was a real need from the smaller that wanted to grow, whether it’s organic growth or whether it’s locations that they want to add. And that’s where my mindset is to help in any way I can. And so I was like, “Let me get involved with that.”

Kevin Wheeler (01:21):

Now, the cost is the prohibitive part of a lot of the smaller group practices. So I started a business as a fractional chief operating officer. And my goal was to be able to offer my services at really a fraction of the price of what a full fledged COO would be. And then my goal is to help in any way that I can, because there’s a lot that wraps into that. I do a lot of coaching, I do a lot of project work. Sometimes they just need a SOP manual created for their group. Sometimes they need everything.

Kevin Wheeler (01:59):

And so I have clients that range from three offices, two offices, to … Really the sweet spot seems to be the 10 to 20, is where people are trying to get to and what that dynamic difference is. And then my goal is to get them so financially secure that they can then find a chief operating officer that can be boots on the ground moving forward.

Chris Pistorius (02:23):

Wow, so you’re working your way out of a job, right?

Kevin Wheeler (02:26):

That’s true, that’s true. But onward and upward to the next opportunity.

Chris Pistorius (02:31):

Yeah, right.

Kevin Wheeler (02:31):

And so that’s how I want to create more of a footprint on helping many groups in dentistry, since it’s moving towards the group practice anyway. My goal is, we all do better in the dental field if we’re all doing well.

Chris Pistorius (02:46):


Kevin Wheeler (02:46):

There’s not really a competition. It’s more of an opportunity for patients to get good care wherever they go.

Chris Pistorius (02:54):

Right. So what made you think of this? You’ve been doing this for six or so years now, right?

Kevin Wheeler (03:00):

Yes, yes. Yeah. Again, having that background, working with a lot of different larger DSOs. I had a lot of success and it was really fun and I was honored to be able to work for them, but in the end I was just part of a larger wheel. And I just wanted to break off and be able to have a bigger impact than just making one region or one company successful. I wanted to make multiple providers successful.

Chris Pistorius (03:31):


Kevin Wheeler (03:31):

So that was really where my heart was in.

Chris Pistorius (03:34):

Yeah. Well, that’s awesome. I think it’s a great concept. How many practices do you typically work with at one time?

Kevin Wheeler (03:43):

Usually, depending on the size of the groups, I can do about six where I have the bandwidth to make sure that I give them the time.

Chris Pistorius (03:50):


Kevin Wheeler (03:50):

But I’m always working with groups on what can they financially afford, what do they need. And so sometimes I’ll move around where I’ll just have one group, and then other times four or five. And six seems to be about as far as I would want to go to, again depending on the size of those groups.

Chris Pistorius (04:10):


Kevin Wheeler (04:11):

Because I want them to get the attention they deserve.

Chris Pistorius (04:13):

Right, right, right. Now, do you work with individual practices at all too or is it mostly just groups?

Kevin Wheeler (04:18):

Yes. Yeah. Yes, I worked with individual, and a lot of those requests come with coaching on case acceptance.

Chris Pistorius (04:25):

Oh, I see.

Kevin Wheeler (04:25):

And so all in all, that’s a big passion of mine because that’s an immediate impact in revenue. So there’s a lot of systems that I can create, but really, when you see immediate impact on revenue then everyone gets excited. And they’re more open to listening to other ideas that you have.

Kevin Wheeler (04:48):

So I dive right into the case acceptance because it’s fun. It really starts on that patient experience journey, all the way to them saying yes to the dentistry that’s needed.

Chris Pistorius (04:57):

Right, right, right. So it’s almost like hiring a coach or a consultant, but packaged as a fractional COO, would that be a [crosstalk 00:05:07]?

Kevin Wheeler (05:07):

Yes. Yeah, yeah.

Chris Pistorius (05:08):


Kevin Wheeler (05:08):

I mean, there’s so many great consultants out there and business coaches, I try to view myself a little bit different because I’m going to get much more involved. I’m not just sharing good ideas and then following back up of how those ideas worked. I make a lot of visits, I’m on the road a lot.

Chris Pistorius (05:28):


Kevin Wheeler (05:28):

And so I get into the office and make sure that I can see the systems working as much as possible. And I’m there with them, holding their hand through the process of, again, whatever they need.

Chris Pistorius (05:42):

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:05:42].

Kevin Wheeler (05:42):

So it’s much more detailed than what consultants would get.

Chris Pistorius (05:46):

Right. I see. Gotcha. So what kind of tips or advice would you give somebody … We’re all coming out of this COVID fog, if you will. What do you see going on in the industry now? Do you see the industry as a whole rebounding, or some things that you’re telling the practices that you work with on how to come out of COVID?

Kevin Wheeler (06:06):

Yeah. So the one thing I noticed right away that with the slowdown initially in the pandemic, it gave an opportunity to go back to the basics. To go back to some systems that maybe were in place and just got lost. And we’re still at that point where this is a great opportunity to reset.

Kevin Wheeler (06:28):

A lot of people know what to do, they just don’t know how to implement it and how to follow through. And that’s where they need some help. And coming out of the pandemic, that’s a big focus of mine is, okay, let’s reset. Let’s get back to the basics. Let’s make sure the patients are having an amazing experience.

Kevin Wheeler (06:50):

And so one thing that I tell a lot of my clients is dentistry now where it stands is first a behavioral art, and second a clinical science. And the groups that understand that and embrace that are really successful. And the ones that aren’t, are having a little bit more of a struggle coming out of it.

Chris Pistorius (07:08):

Right. Yeah. That totally makes sense, for sure. So how long do you work with, when you’re doing this fractional COO services, what’s a typical length that you’re with them until you’ve have worked your way out of a job?

Kevin Wheeler (07:21):

For the ones that I am doing the full COO services, it seems to be about two years, maybe just a little bit under that, where they’re … Again, my goal is to get them there as quickly as they’d like.

Chris Pistorius (07:34):


Kevin Wheeler (07:35):

But normally I stay engaged because there’s a lot of things I can do as far as helping them find new practices. What I really thrive on is creating a relationship. So it never truly goes away. And I help them actually recruit and train [inaudible 00:07:55] if they want.

Kevin Wheeler (07:56):

So I want to make sure that they feel really good moving forward. And then I still get lots of phone calls on, “Let’s talk about some stuff that we had done before. And so, yeah, so it’s ongoing. But for the most part, it’s right in that just under two years.

Chris Pistorius (08:13):

Yeah, awesome. What do you like most about the dental industry?

Kevin Wheeler (08:18):

Oh, the relationship building. I mean, it’s a relationship business. Some people don’t like to talk about it as a sales job, but in the end it is. So you’re selling yourself, you’re building that trust. And so I actually like that, and I like how it trickles down then to the patient experience.

Kevin Wheeler (08:41):

So it’s from the moment you pick up that phone, the information that you get, that’s different from any other dental office. That’s what I always coach. We need nuggets on how we’re going to apply the value of the dentistry, not cost, to the patient. And the only way to do that is to find a way to connect with a patient.

Chris Pistorius (09:00):


Kevin Wheeler (09:01):

So it’s really the connection from the doctor, to the team, to the patient, that I really enjoy.

Chris Pistorius (09:06):

Yeah, absolutely. What do you least like about the dental industry? What would you like to change about it if you could?

Kevin Wheeler (09:16):

I’m a very optimistic person so I haven’t really given a lot of thought in that. Again, like I say, I don’t view that we’re in competition with each other, different offices. I guess what I would like the least are just those groups that still are in that clinical science minded. The degree on the wall and the white coat mean you should move forward with dentistry, because those days are just done, and so …

Chris Pistorius (09:46):


Kevin Wheeler (09:46):

But it also, those opportunities when I’m given, I’m able to show those people. So really what I dislike ends up being a great opportunity to help them get to the goals that they have.

Chris Pistorius (09:56):

Yeah. Yeah. Are you seeing a churn at all in terms of what you talked about, the more traditional dentists that are … Maybe call them the baby boomer dentists, the guys that are retiring now, and then the new folks are coming in. Are you seeing a big churn going on between those two generations?

Kevin Wheeler (10:15):

Yeah, yeah.

Chris Pistorius (10:16):


Kevin Wheeler (10:16):

I mean, for the seasoned dentist, there’s more emphasis on what will my legacy be. And there’s so many opportunities now for exit strategies-

Chris Pistorius (10:27):


Kevin Wheeler (10:27):

… whereas before they didn’t really think about it until the end, and then they were like, “Gosh, what am I going to do?” Now there’s many groups that approach these dentists and say, “Hey, when are you going to retire? You know, we’re here for you.” A lot of the dentists received letters from group practices saying, “Hey, do you want to sell?” So that opportunity.

Kevin Wheeler (10:48):

And then from the new, there’s really an openness, an excitement, a buzz for the new graduates, that’s an all-time high because they know they have the opportunity for private. They know they have the group practice. It’s just created more opportunities, and so there’s a lot more buzz around their success.

Chris Pistorius (11:11):

Right. And do you ever see a situation where you go in and help a new person, whether they’re starting from scratch or they’re buying an existing practice, do you get into that business at all?

Kevin Wheeler (11:20):

Yes. Yeah, yeah.

Chris Pistorius (11:21):


Kevin Wheeler (11:21):

Quite a bit. So whether they’re looking for an acquisition or starting up a Denovo, that was actually in the larger DSO world, that part of my life. That was my biggest focus, was to help those doctors get ramped up quickly.

Chris Pistorius (11:37):


Kevin Wheeler (11:38):

And taking some of the older mindset of that, when you get your new practice, you work a couple of days a week. You do all the hygiene. You plan a strategy of month eight and you’re going to add specialty if you’re going to do that.

Kevin Wheeler (11:54):

And what I found is, if you put in the marketing efforts and you’re going to get patients on the books, let’s say 80 patients, are going to be on your books as you’re opening your office, you need to get going right out the gate and assuming that those patients are going to say yes to dentistry.

Chris Pistorius (12:11):


Kevin Wheeler (12:12):

So I do a lot of coaching on, “Let’s get started quicker. You can get out of cash burn in month three if you’re diligent about it.” It doesn’t take the old mind of month nine.

Chris Pistorius (12:24):


Kevin Wheeler (12:25):

And sometimes I’ve seen it as well as month two.

Chris Pistorius (12:29):


Kevin Wheeler (12:30):

So that’s a focus that I like to get involved with.

Chris Pistorius (12:35):

Gotcha. What would you say to somebody coming out of school or maybe they’ve been an associate for a year or two, they’re ready to do their own practice, start from scratch, or take over an existing practice?

Kevin Wheeler (12:44):

Ooh. Some of that has to deal with their finances, so we have to be realistic. And they’re going to have probably a lot of bills coming up, a lot of school fees and whatnot. So I would say, my advice would be not to jump right into their own practice right out the gate. Again, there’s so many opportunities to join groups or to join other doctors that will give a little bit of mentorship. And they can start planning immediately on what that looks like on their own exit to their own private office.

Kevin Wheeler (13:17):

But it’s a big hurdle, because you’ve got so much knowledge in your head as a new dentist. You’re not even thinking about what the patient experience is going to be like.

Chris Pistorius (13:28):


Kevin Wheeler (13:28):

You’re just thinking about, “How am I going to do this crown? How am I going to do this filling? How many patients will I see? What is the flow going to be?” So you really got to get some practice.

Kevin Wheeler (13:37):

And so I have talked to a lot of the new grads that are like, “My dad’s going to … My mom’s going to help me get an office rolling right away.” And I don’t want to bash their goals, but I’m like, “Okay, but just think about it, you don’t have to rush into this.”

Chris Pistorius (13:52):


Kevin Wheeler (13:53):

You can get a lot of experience by jumping in with a group.

Chris Pistorius (13:57):

Yeah, yeah. And not only that, but what I find is in, and I’ve said this several times on this podcast, but we find new dentists coming out of school. They know a lot about dentistry certainly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know a lot about business.

Kevin Wheeler (14:10):


Chris Pistorius (14:11):

And there’s a book out there called The E-Myth Revisited I think it is, where they talk about being good or being at the technical work of [inaudible 00:14:21] of something. Like being a skilled technical worker is great. But if you don’t know how to do the books, how to do sales, how to do marketing, anything else, you’re probably not going to have a successful business.

Kevin Wheeler (14:32):


Chris Pistorius (14:34):

I think you’re right. I think new people can learn not only and refine their skills, but also learn about business as well.

Kevin Wheeler (14:41):

Yeah. I mean, gosh, I wouldn’t want to take those two on right out the gate.

Chris Pistorius (14:44):


Kevin Wheeler (14:45):

My clinical aptitude and then my business acumen-

Chris Pistorius (14:48):

Right, right.

Kevin Wheeler (14:49):

… that’s a tall mountain to climb right out gate so soon.

Chris Pistorius (14:52):

Yeah, yeah, for sure.

Kevin Wheeler (14:53):

But those that really want to do it, they just need to reach out and look for help.

Chris Pistorius (14:57):


Kevin Wheeler (14:58):

Because there’s a lot of help out there, they don’t have to do it alone.

Chris Pistorius (15:01):


Kevin Wheeler (15:01):

They’ll have to work that into their finances, but there’s people out there such as myself that that’s there to support them.

Chris Pistorius (15:07):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, great. Now when you work with practices, new or existing, I’m sure you get into some of the marketing aspects of things too. What have you seen work great for dental practices in terms of marketing and bringing in new patients?

Kevin Wheeler (15:21):

Yeah. I mean, for me, the internal referral is huge.

Chris Pistorius (15:27):


Kevin Wheeler (15:27):

You’re going to have to spend money to get people on the books. Once they are, it’s going to be the buzz around the community.

Chris Pistorius (15:35):


Kevin Wheeler (15:35):

So I’m really big on keeping things in line. Marketing can get expensive, but it’s very necessary. So while you’re pouring in those dollars into that, make sure that everyone is a raving fan of you.

Chris Pistorius (15:48):


Kevin Wheeler (15:49):

That you’re thinking about, and I talk about this a lot with teams, why would somebody drive past three dental offices to get to yours? And if you’re not thinking about that every day and pretty much in front of every patient, then you’re missing an opportunity.

Chris Pistorius (16:05):

Right. Yeah.

Kevin Wheeler (16:06):

So there’s a lot of competition out there, and so we have to be thinking, how are we going to be different?

Chris Pistorius (16:12):


Kevin Wheeler (16:12):

So internal referrals, having a great experience. I love having new patient gifts, they come in. Making sure again, if you apply what they need done clinically to the value of what’s important to them, then you’re going to be good with the internal referrals. And then have your team get out there and do some business to business, shake hands, kiss babies, all that stuff.

Chris Pistorius (16:39):

Right, yeah.

Kevin Wheeler (16:39):

You need your community to know that you’re there.

Chris Pistorius (16:42):


Kevin Wheeler (16:42):

And I have a big passion. For many years, I’ve gotten involved with outreach. And so anytime I get into an office, I asked them to consider partnering with a homeless shelter or Toys for Tots. Or whatever they feel passionate about and bring that into the dental office, because that gives a unique experience to the patient.

Chris Pistorius (17:03):


Kevin Wheeler (17:04):

You can actually give back to the community and they see that you care about something other than dentistry as well.

Chris Pistorius (17:10):


Kevin Wheeler (17:10):

And that helps build a relationship. So that goes really wide as an overview, but that’s basically it.

Chris Pistorius (17:20):

Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks, Kevin. I really appreciate your time. This has been really good information. I know that our base is going to get a lot of great info out of this.

Chris Pistorius (17:31):

If somebody is watching this and they’re like, “Yes, I need some help like this,” what’s the best way to reach out to you and work with you?

Kevin Wheeler (17:38):

Yeah. So I have a website Simplified COO-

Chris Pistorius (17:41):


Kevin Wheeler (17:43):

… so they can definitely reach out to that. I’m on LinkedIn, they can look up for Kevin Wheeler specifically. And my email is

Chris Pistorius (17:56):

What’s the process when somebody reaches out to you, do you a free consultation or something like that?

Kevin Wheeler (18:01):


Chris Pistorius (18:01):

Just see where you are? Okay.

Kevin Wheeler (18:02):

Yeah, yeah. So free consultation. I’m not really big on the contracts because again, I build my business around relationships. And at any time, if they don’t see the value of the services, I’m not going to hold them to anything specifically.

Chris Pistorius (18:15):

Right, yeah. [crosstalk 00:18:17].

Kevin Wheeler (18:16):

I’m more about I’m here to serve, and I hope to be a good fit for them.

Chris Pistorius (18:21):

Awesome. Kevin, thanks again so much for taking the time. I know that this is going to be hugely valuable for a lot of people.

Kevin Wheeler (18:29):

Thank you, Chris. I appreciate you.

Chris Pistorius (18:30):

Great. And thanks everybody for tuning in for another episode of the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. Be sure to check back with us next week for another great guest.