EP 001 Succeeding in Dentistry

Welcome to episode 001 of The Dental Marketing Podcast. This week we talked with Dr. Jignesh Patel about his journey to success in the field of business dentistry.

Dr. Jignesh Patel is the owner of the Dental Center of Jacksonville. Dr. Patel began his career at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale and has since settled in Jacksonville with his wife. Throughout his career, he has extended his skills to provide exceptional dentistry, refusing to settle for anything less.

Dr. Patel’s philosophy of practicing dentistry is putting the patient first. Too often in the healthcare community, patients are not recognized as people and are simply treated for the problems that arise in the scope of the practice. Dr. Patel believes it is vital to value the patient’s feelings, background, interests, and challenges so treatment can be tailored individually with care and compassion.

Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:

Dr. Patel’s Thoughts on Dentistry being Recession Proof

Dr. Patel wouldn’t say dentistry is recession-proof. He continued by saying that patients make every decision in their life depending on their financial status. Whether they want to purchase a car or a house, it all must be factored in with what is urgent.

In dentistry, it is about what could wait and what needs to be done. Can the patient postpone it for six months or eight months? Ultimately, anything that is delayed treatment can become worse, like a small cavity becoming a big cavity.

He also mentioned recession does affect the industry. Nobody walks into the dental office and says, “Hey, I’m just here to know what I want to do”. They want to get their mouth fixed. Just like anything in our body, we don’t want it to go bad. Ultimately, finances are a huge deciding factor, and retention does put a big hamper on what they want to do.

About Corporate Dentistry

When it comes to corporate dentistry, Dr. Patel said it has absolutely outgrown and tripled in numbers. He could basically speak for his corporation, which was a very small corporation at that time. In his fourth year with the corporation, they went from five offices to 15 to 20 offices in town. That just tells us the percentage was almost threefold, and that was six years ago. Nowadays it’s even worse. It’s more.

He goes on to say corporations are unfortunately taking over a significant amount in the private sector of dentistry, and there is a significant amount of new influx of dentists moving to Jacksonville or any big metro city. There is a significant need for dentists, and there is a shortage in rural areas. It’s just unfortunate the industry is not having those offices open in those particular areas where there’s a huge need.

Other Topics We Covered on the Show:

  • The cosmetic side of dentistry and recession.
  • Dr. Patel’s journey to owning a dental center.
  • What is the thing  Dr. Patel might change in the last six years of experience in running this practice?
  • What is responsible for getting Dr. Patel this far in the field of dentistry?
  • Dr. Patel’s thoughts on a fee-for-service model versus accepting insurance in the practice.

How To Stay Connected with Dr. Jignesh Patel

Want to stay connected with Dr. Jignesh? Please check out his social profiles below.

With that… let’s go and listen to the full episode…


[00:00:00] Narrator: Welcome to the Dental Marketing Podcast, a podcast that helps dentists win in the online world of modern day marketing. Each week, we cover the most cutting edge marketing tactics and strategies that are working right now across our client base to drive leads, phone calls, and more new patients for dentists.

[00:00:21] Now here’s your host and founder of Kickstart Dental Marketing, Chris Pistorius.

[00:00:29] Chris Pistorius: Hi everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Dental Marketing Podcast. I am your host, Chris Pastorius, and today I’m absolutely thrilled to be with the owner of the Dental Center of Jacksonville. I’d like to introduce Dr. Jignesh Patel. Sorry for butchering the name I’ve tried to practice. Thanks so much for being on the show today.

[00:00:51] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Pleasure is mine. Thank you.

[00:00:53] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. So we were just talking about Jacksonville this time of year, and you said, you’re kind of right in the middle of the rainy season, huh?

[00:01:00] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Every day. Every single day. Rains and rains and rains.

[00:01:04] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. So as a dental practice owner, is that good for business or bad for business?

[00:01:09] Dr. Jignesh Patel: It doesn’t really matter. Unfortunate dentistry, people have pain, rain or sunshine, nothing stops them from coming.

[00:01:17] Chris Pistorius: Yep. That’s right. That’s right. And, you know, kind of along, I’m gonna jump right into it here, but, you know, along those lines, you know, we’re talking, what look on the news and it’s all doom and gloom with the economy and all this stuff.

[00:01:29] Do you believe that dentistry is recession proof or what’s your thoughts on that?

[00:01:36] Dr. Jignesh Patel: I wouldn’t say recession proof. Obviously, patients, financially, every decision they make in their life, whether they wanna purchase a car, whether they purchase a house, it all has to be factored in with what is urgent, what could wait in dentistry, what is needed right away to be done, or can patient postpone it for six months or eight months, ultimately, anything that postpone that could have been done Now would be the delayed treatment, and then ultimately a small cavity becomes a big cavity.

[00:02:09] So recession does affect the industry. Of course. Of course. Absolutely. Nobody walks into the dental office and say that, hey, I’m just here to just know what I want to do. They wanna get their mouth fixed.

[00:02:21] Just like anything in our body, we don’t want it to go bad. But ultimately financially makes a big decision and the retention does put a big hamper on what they want to do.

[00:02:32] Chris Pistorius: Yeah, I would think that, you know and we experienced this a little bit with the Covid stuff, although it was a little different.

[00:02:38] But, you know, people will put off more of the elective type stuff we found, you know, like the higher end cosmetic, where it’s not really even a health related matter. They just kind of wanna look better. They kind of tend to put that off a little bit. Would you agree to that?

[00:02:51] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Yes. More than anything, I think the cosmetic side, it’s absolutely going to have, absolutely gonna wait.

[00:02:57] For majority, I would say good 95% of the people. And that’s basically what I would say it’s considered during the recession. That is a good chunk. Like if they wanna do whitening or if they had to do veneers or anything to close the space. Even orthodontics, you know, if they wanna do braces to, you know, not just for looks wise, but even just to make their bite functional better, but if it’s not hurting them, they will necessarily just rather wait for another year or so until this little fear of recession is over.

[00:03:30] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s the thing with these, you know, the media, I think, always tries to blow things outta proportion because, of course they wanna sell advertising and you know, people viewing their programs as what drives the advertising dollars.

[00:03:44] So, you know, I’ve almost gotten to the point where I don’t really watch the news at all, you know, But, yeah. I mean there’s, you know, you can’t, you know, me owning my business, I’m not sure that you can make decisions based off of what might happen. You know, you’ve just gotta go and deal with things as they come, you know, So, well, you know, how long now have you owned the Dental Center of Jacksonville?

[00:04:07] I bought this practice in 2016 of July. So it’s about six years and roughly few months on this practice.

[00:04:14]And what were you an associate before that or what did you do before that?

[00:04:18] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Yeah, I was, so I graduated in 2012 and then I was an associate at a corporation called Greenberg Dental for four years.

[00:04:26] Until I finally said that I wanted to have my own practice. I can truly deliver the quality of the care that I wanted to do on my own, not go by what the rules and regulations corporations have nowadays.

[00:04:40] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. So for some dentists out there right now watching this that are kind of in that boat you were in where they’re kind of thinking about jumping ship because they want to do their own thing.

[00:04:51] Was that a scary process for you? I mean, was there a lot of thought that went into it, or did you just kind of go for it?

[00:04:57] Dr. Jignesh Patel: When you realized that you wanted to become a dentist to deliver a certain quality and you just can’t. And you gave effort every year after year, year after year, learning your skills and building your knowledge and having so many mentors over the years to help you guide to become a perfectionist.

[00:05:17] But you still can’t deliver that level of quality in a corporation because you have to meet the numbers, they have a certain, just, you know, unfortunately they have their own goals that they have to meet. It doesn’t matter. At that point, I basically realized it doesn’t matter if that’s who I went, you know, to become a dentist and I cannot deliver what I want to do.

[00:05:38] It was easy decision. It was scary, of course, more than anything. Scary because you’re starting all fresh. You just worked four years to become where you are, and now you have to start the slate clean. It was definitely one of the most scariest moment for sure. In the career, of course.

[00:05:57] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. That I remember when I started, I did a similar thing. I mean, I had a nice cushy job 14 years ago, almost now. And at the time, two little kids, right. And my wife is like, this better work or it’s not gonna be good . So it’s a definitely a big jump for sure. And you know, what we’re seeing on the marketing side of things is that dentistry’s more competitive now, I think, than it’s ever been.

[00:06:21] Would you agree with that? Just with the amount of new dentist making that jump and then corporate dentistry also starting to invade a lot of local areas. What do you think on that?

[00:06:30] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Corporate dentistry has absolutely outgrown, I would say triple in numbers, in my opinion. Basically I can speak from my corporation.

[00:06:38] It was a very small corporation. However, by the time. When my four years, they went from five office to closer 15, 20 office in town. That just tells you the number of percentage was almost threefold, three times, and that is six years ago. Nowadays it’s even worse. It’s more,

[00:07:00] Corporations are unfortunately taking over significant amount in the private sector of dentistry, there’s a significant amount of new influx of dentist moving to Jacksonville or any big metro cities. But there is a significant need for dentist, there’s a shortage in the rural areas. It’s just unfortunately we are not having those offices open in those particular areas where there’s huge need unfortunately.

[00:07:30] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. You know, we’re up in the Denver area, our offices and we’re probably an hour or so from a city called Colorado Springs. And it’s one of the most competitive dental markets in the country because everybody wants to live there cuz it’s a beautiful place and everybody wants to live there and everybody wants to open a dental practice.

[00:07:52] And we get calls all the time from practices trying to figure out how to compete and, I think that just goes to your point of, you know, there’s select areas that’s very overpopulated. But there’s a clear message here to anybody thinking of opening an office. There is still a lot of opportunity out there, depending where you want or able to move to. Right?

[00:08:15] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Yeah. I think if I had to start now, probably I would not think about opening in a big metro cities. And you could be successful, most likely, you will be successful, if you have a good team and good ethics and more importantly, your skill wise, you know what you’re doing. However, it will be a slow foundation building process.

[00:08:39] Compared to if you take the same knowledge that you built and you had gone to somewhere little bit away from a big metro city. Roght, it’s a big difference. A big difference in terms of like excelling in your career slowly or quickly depending on where you live.

[00:08:56] Chris Pistorius: Right, Right. So you said, you know, you brought up a good point of it. I always like to ask people this, you know, if you had to do all over again, what would you do different? Well, one would be maybe not as such a big market. What’s another thing you might change in your last, you know, six years or so of experience in running this practice?

[00:09:14] Dr. Jignesh Patel: I think being a business owner, there’s a significant stress involved compared to working in a corporation where it’s just a job.

[00:09:24] If you really just look at as a job, just like anywhere, anybody who works for a big corporation, it’s just a job. You are eight to five. You come home, you go to work, and back to the same Monday through Friday routine. In far as changing. I wish everybody who starts new or had to start new, I would say you really have to find a work life balance because private dentistry, it’s way more stressful than anybody could imagine.

[00:09:55] Those patients, they’re yours for life. They’re not going anywhere until you retire, I used to always think when people say, you know, oh, I’ve been going to my dentist for 30, 35 years. And I know because now when I start going to my medical doctors, or if I ever have to go to my CPA or anything, you wanna stick to the same physician, same people for your own personal life.

[00:10:18] So you realize that they’re in the same board, they’re looking for somebody good, and once they find that they’re looking up to you. So you have to work a lot of hours sometimes. Finding the good work life balance is critical to be successful mentally and, not just from the personal life, but also so you can practice for a long time, not get burnt out because you will get burnt out in private dentistry very quickly. Compared to corporations, unfortunately.

[00:10:48] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. Well now that you’ve scared about 50% of our audience away from actually starting their own practice, no, just kidding.

[00:10:53] Dr. Jignesh Patel: I tell that to everyone. I tell that to everyone. It’s worth it as long as you find a good balance in life.

[00:10:59] Chris Pistorius: Yeah, no, you’re exactly right. I struggled with that with my business for a long time.

[00:11:04] Dr. Jignesh Patel: You spend countless hours, day and maybe night out until 11 o’clock. There are days I used to till 11 or 12 at night and I’m like, you don’t have time with your family, your kids, everyone doesn’t matter, you know?

[00:11:16] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. And you know, when I started this agency, all I really did was I created a job for myself. I didn’t really create a business, right? Because I was, you know, my job and my company was really my boss, and I was doing everything right. And it wasn’t until I really learned on how to delegate higher correctly than, you know, build an actual business where I could step out of some of the administrative stuff and HR stuff and things like that.

[00:11:46] That’s when you really, you know, you can open up some freedom for yourself. But I struggled with that for heck years before I really figured it out. So I think that’s great advice on that balance of the work and life and how to find that balance is key into. You know, I was more of a control freak where it was hard for me to let go of certain things, right?

[00:12:07] Dr. Jignesh Patel: More to be a hundred percent, not 99.9%. Not just to be successful, to be a better person, you know? That’s why we left a job to become on our own, but then we realized, everything’s on our shoulder. Everything’s on our shoulder. You’re right.

[00:12:20] Chris Pistorius: Yep. I just talked to a practice and it’s pretty good size practice. And I called, not real big, but I called the practice and the doctor answered the phone. I thought, well, you know, they must be really busy. And we started talking and he answers the phones.

[00:12:34] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Oh wow, that’s crazy. I answered the emergency calls after hours one, I don’t know about the daytime. I’ll be with a patient, but that’s incredible.

[00:12:43] Chris Pistorius: Right. And if they can’t answer it, it just goes to voicemail and I’m like, No, no, you’ve gotta figure out a way to hire somebody to free you up from that tap time. And he was doing all the follow ups, like on voicemails and stuff, and I mean, I was like, you’ve gotta get out of that so that you can concentrate on what you’re doing well, and he had that same problem I had is just giving up that control because, and I get it, he doesn’t feel like anybody else can actually talk to patients as well as he could. Right?

[00:13:16] Dr. Jignesh Patel: In some level I think it’s true because if it’s, obviously if anybody calls, they always have questions, every patient calls in the beginning, they always have questions, whether it’s an insurance question or, hey, I have this toothache, or this or this, what do I need? What can I do? Obviously, the dentist is the best person to answer, but unfortunately, he has to be mentally available eight to five as well.

[00:13:43] Chris Pistorius: That’s right. I always like to, hey doc, how much is an implant? I hear that all the time. Right. He doesn’t need to be answering those.

[00:13:51] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Yeah, we get that all the time, unfortunately.

[00:13:53] Chris Pistorius: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, cool. I think that’s great advice. So, you know, I like to ask established practices now, kind of veterans, you’re a veteran now cuz you’re been in business for six years.

[00:14:07] In my realm, you’re a veteran. You know, you’ve been successful. We talked about a couple of things that you would do differently, but what have you done right? What has gotten you to this point? Why have you been successful so far?

[00:14:20] Dr. Jignesh Patel: So I think our success. It has been. And I’ll tell you, I say my success is our success as a team. Our team has been super from day one. Most of the people have been in with me from the day they started their career. And they have sacrificed a lot. Those girls and the guys who work with me together, they’ve made a huge sacrifices themselves over the years to learn their skills.

[00:14:46] And I’m a pretty hard teacher, they just stuck around with me. So once they become part of our team, this is their home. When they leave their home, they’re not going to work. They come into another home. They have been the most important reason for our success. It’s the right people.

[00:15:08] And those people have been with me. Somebody like Dr. Barbela for example. I’ve known him for 23, 25 years of friendship. You know, when you have a best friend working with you, it doesn’t matter. there’s nothing professional. We don’t have to sugar coat things. We can openly discuss cases.

[00:15:25] And have anything we want to say, we speak our mind. And that’s the saying goes for all my team. They’re not like, I don’t have to sugarcoat if there’s something wrong or something went wrong. So we can make sure our patient get the best care. Not a 99% okay care. The best care. And that goes from the front office to the back and everyone.

[00:15:48] Chris Pistorius: Right, right. You know, I wrote that down. It’s like coming to another home. That’s pretty cool. I’ve never heard anybody say that, but that rings so true.

[00:15:58] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Yeah. I mean, I can tell you like I’m blessed with the people I work with, so I never ever have, oh my God, I have to go to work today.

[00:16:07] Call that day. I’m just not, I hardly, I think the only time I called off is if I truly, when the doctor says, hey, you have an injury, you have to stay home or anything, X, Y, Z, but I hardly, hardly ever, it’s never been a nuisance to work with these people. They are super, super bunch of people that I work over the years and we have only grown from. Two people in the beginning to almost close to a 15, 70 person team.

[00:16:33] Chris Pistorius: Wow. That’s great. Yeah, I mean it’s you know, a lot of my clients I’ve heard recently of it’s hard to keep staff. It’s hard, you know, they’re having problems with churn at the front desk and it feels like they’re always training somebody new and I think what you talk about when you can create kind of another home for them.

[00:16:53] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Consistency.

[00:16:54] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:16:56] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Makes l ife easy. Makes life very easy. Flexibility is the key. Look, myself as an owner, I can decide my schedule. Sure, I can say, I don’t wanna work this day. I want to work three days. I wanna work two days. I wanna work five days. It doesn’t matter.

[00:17:12] But the same rule has to be applicable for the girls or the guys in your team if they don’t get flexibility and you are the only one having flexibility soon enough you’re just a boss and they’re just employees.

[00:17:25] Chris Pistorius: Builds resentment. You know.

[00:17:26] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Build resentment or importantly, and I always tell all my colleagues who I want to open a new team or new office, I tell them it’s something I learned over the years.

[00:17:36] You can find skilled people or you can find quality people. Quality people with zero skills. You can train them, easy, you just have to be patient and they’ll be with people for life. You can train them the way you want to train them. Skilled people. Not always, skilled people, if you see someone’s resume, they have changed jobs after jobs, after jobs, after jobs.

[00:18:00] It doesn’t matter how well you take care of them or they take care of you, there’s a good chance they might move on to another step, at some point. And then you have to relearn, refill that position. Many on all of our team is critical. If a patient were to have a good, good experience, a good time in the practice.

[00:18:21] Chris Pistorius: I’m a big believer in that we do that too. I mean, I’m like, we can teach anybody what we do. Cuz we’ve got our processes, our procedures are all documented, we can teach that. But what we can’t teach is somebody that’s willing to learn. A nice good person. A great attitude.

[00:18:40] You know, it’s hard to teach things like that. And, you know, so I’m with you. I’m like, I’m fine with hiring people that necessarily don’t have a hundred percent experience that we want. You know?

[00:18:52] Dr. Jignesh Patel: No, you’re right. Because most of my people in the past, and that was the problem with the corporation. They would have so many turnover employees, like, you just can’t, It’s not their fault. It is just how the system is set up, unfortunately.

[00:19:08] Chris Pistorius: It’s ran on a spreadsheet. Right. And so you try to get away with paying as less as you can to people to boost that profit and stock prices, you know?

[00:19:18] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Yeah. And people can’t pay the bills all the time. People want to get paid fairly for their work, and at the end of the day, it is why like I said, all these people that we work with, they really put the hard work in the beginning to be where they’re today. I can’t imagine a better team to be working with on a day to day life.

[00:19:42] Chris Pistorius:Right. Yeah. All right. Well we’re gonna wrap up in just a second, but I wanted to ask you about one more thing that we’ve noticed. You know, we work with a lot of dental practices throughout the country, and what we’ve noticed post covid, if you will, is more practices going to a fee for service model versus accepting insurances.What’s caused that, do you think, and how do you guys handle that personally?

[00:20:09] Dr. Jignesh Patel: There are times, yeah, well, number one, post Covid, everything has gone up. Everything has higher on the top. We understood that during the covid, the supplies demand, supplies costs were high. We get that.

[00:20:24] However, now those prices are set, the lab is no longer going back to the prices or general supplies, they’re not going down just because Covid is down, once those companies, the distributors who sell us the products, once they realize, well, these guys are buying at four times a price and they’re not complaining now, why would they go down?

[00:20:50] They’re not going to go down. Does that make sense? And insurance companies only going year after year after year. Insurance companies just paying less, less, less. Everything insurance company want to find a reason for just making the life so difficult for the patient and ultimately if we chose that, okay, hey, we want to do the right thing for the patients, but we got this middle, gigantic, middle men such as insurance, who’s the big roadblock for us.

[00:21:20] How do we overcome that? We can’t, either we take the insurance. Or we drop some of the insurance who are just playing extremely tough. And then eventually these practices do get tired of dealing with the insurance and they do go fee for service because they’re forced to if they wanna deliver the quality.

[00:21:42] Luckily for us, majority of the insurance, I would say there’s some issue we have in the past limited only because they can’t even pay the minimum for what we want to do, for what we paid our staff and team members. And how do you even work with those insurance if they want to just keep lowering the fees and not even go with inflation. Inflation that is a scary thing in industry. Unfortunately.

[00:22:12] Chris Pistorius: Yeah. Yeah, I hear you. Same. It’s kind of going around, I think. Well, Dr. Patel, I know you’re very busy and I appreciate you taking the time today. I’d love to, if it’s okay, follow up with you in a few months and just kind of see how things are going and, you know, maybe get a status check from you and, and let our listeners and our viewers know. Would that be okay?

[00:22:32] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Absolutely. Pleasure is mine. Thank you for having me on today. Thank you.

[00:22:35] Chris Pistorius: Thanks, Dr. Patel. Talk to you soon. Bye.

[00:22:38] Dr. Jignesh Patel: Thank you.

[00:22:38] Narrator: Thanks for joining us this week on the Dental Marketing Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, www.KicktartDental.com/podcast, where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Spotify, or via RSS so you’ll never miss a show.

[00:22:55] While you’re at it, if you found value in the show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes, or if you’d simply tell a friend about the show, that would help us out too. If you are ready to grow your practice, then you might want to schedule a free strategy with us, just go to KickstartDental.com and click the free strategy session button and give us 15 minutes of your time to change your practice forever.

[00:23:18] Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode. And thanks for listening to The Dental Marketing Podcast by Kickstart Dental Marketing, where dentists go to win online.