[00:00:00] 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.
Now here’s your host and founder of Kickstart Dental Marketing, Chris Pistorius.
Hey everybody. This is Chris Pistorius again with the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. Today we have got a super awesome guest. We have Mr. Brandon Rogers from the Verber Dental Group. Out in Pennsylvania. He is the chief financial officer there, and I thought it’d be a great way to, we’ve interviewed several D S O presidents and CEOs, but never a C F O.
So Brandon, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much [00:01:00] for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.
Absolutely. So, I just said that we typically will interview, you know, CEOs, marketing guys, but never a financial guy. And maybe, maybe possibly you’re the most important part of that whole core, righth?
Well, I’d saw you at important.
It’s like the members of the body, I mean, everybody’s got a different function, but you know, specifically around watching Covid happen, and certainly people, you know, got a little bit tighter and a little bit scared. I think we saw finance jump out and people with a decent macroeconomic understanding of the world were able to capitalize and I feel very fortunate that we were in that group.
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, off air, we were talking a little bit about the landscape of now we’re, you know, coming outta covid, hopefully, knock on wood, and, you know, people’s behaviors and how we’re starting to see some rebounding. How does that, why don’t you, first of all, I guess, let me back up. Tell me a little bit about Verber, and what your goals are and just a little bit about the organization.
Sure. So [00:02:00] Verber dental group’s been around for a while. You know, we’ve been, we started as a single, you know, prop as most dentists typically do. But then, you know, we’ve got a great visionary, C E O, Dr. Michael Verber. You know, he’s brilliant. He’s got a great visionary mind and that really kind of set us all in motion.
So I’m the newest of the executives and partners of the 13 partners we have, and over 150 employees. But, you know, they got moving. They started to grow and said, Hey, you know, in 10 years, wouldn’t it be great to have five locations, and, you know, and that happened, you know, within I think three.
So growth is one thing, but you know, what makes Verber such an amazing, you know, brand, and product really is the way that we connect with our community. So we do a lot of community outreach. We’re very big on giving back. We talk about the holistic approach to dentistry and how that impacts, you know, the people so people understand when they come in.
It’s not, there’s a concierge service model that we provide, but we don’t over diagnose. We don’t under diagnose. We give [00:03:00] you what we know is important for you to know. And then we talk about it. You know, it’s a very conversational interaction. And I think that just goes to speak to our wonderful staff of clinicians and everyone from our tcs, our, you know, our front desk to the admin team.
Everybody works to make this work well, and again, it’s, we’re in a space now where we feel like we just want to continue to increase our influence and be able to do that for more.
Yeah, I think, those are awesome points. And you know, we talked a little bit also about how DSOs, you know, typically kind of have this negative tone to them when you talk about ’em in the industry, you know?
And, you know, I’ve spoken with several leaders in the industry, and could you talk a little bit about that, about why maybe there’s a little bit of that negative attitude towards DSOs in the industry, and how you guys are trying to change that.
Sure. So, you know, by definition a DSO is a dental support organization.
You know, the concept is about shared services. And I’ve worked in different environments where they do have that sort of like a hub and spoke [00:04:00] FedEx model. The difference though is that in most DSOs, they centralize what they think is the core and then, they take the opportunity for the producers, the dentists, and they create the spokes, and then they have all these, you know, accesses.
What makes us different? I would first remove the DSO acronym, and put a DHS acronym. So that allows us to talk about what a dental health system is. And dental health system for Verber Dental Group is more about having the holistic approach, much like what the Mayo Clinic might do. So we have all of the specialties right now.
With the exception of orthodontics so that when we have someone internal that has a big case and there’s, you know, everything from decay to a crown to a root canal and veneers and everything, you know, surgery, we have them, you know end-to-end covered because it’s important for us to understand that they’re not a product.
We’re not referring out this isn’t a dollar sign to us. This is a person looking for holistic care and we want to be able to provide that so that the [00:05:00] DSO gets a little bit of a bad wrap. And some people use the definition by proxy of growth and numbers when in reality what we are creating is anything but that we’re creating something of a closed system so that we can protect the product more sufficiently.
Yeah, so I think that’s an interesting analogy when you mentioned the Mayo Clinic and it just kind of get me. So if you had, if somebody has a complex case, we’ll say in one location. You guys have the ability to bring the entire team together, specialists and whoever, and talk about a particular case to help that patient.
Am I on the right tract here?
You’re a hundred percent spot on. Yeah. I mean, the connectivity of the managing partners, the other associates, the doctors, I mean, we’re extremely communicative. And I think as everyone scales, right, as you grow, you wanna keep the communication strong. But for sure having a big workup, you know, with a lot of different moving parts requires collaboration, requires good conversation and friction.
You know, we’re not afraid to [00:06:00] disagree with one another. We’re not afraid to push one way or the other. And that, to be honest, is what makes a familial organization like ours so successful and poised for such good growth because we’re not afraid to fight a little bit to make sure that we’re doing what’s best for the patient.
That’s awesome. And I think that, you know, you hit it right on the head. People think DSOs, they think companies that come in and take over a community, offer $19, cleaning an x-ray and churn and burn, right? And this is the really, the first time that I’ve heard somebody explain it is it doesn’t have to be that way.
It can be a holistic. Very personalized care, and oh, by the way, you’re not just getting one doctor or two doctors. You’re getting a team of specialists all around the area that can help at any given time that they’re needed, you know? I think, that’s really cool. So tell me a little bit, as a CFO, obviously the financial guy, you’ve gotta, you know, make sure that that’s, you’re growing responsibly, I think is probably the best way to put that.
What are you seeing now that we’re coming outta Covid? Are you seeing [00:07:00] a rebound? Are you seeing your organization starting to rebound a little bit?
Absolutely. You know, not just a rebound. I mean, I think you see that from a, I mean, fiscally, I can see that happen. What happened with Covid was an interesting, it’s gonna be talked about for years.
You know, and I’m in economics Interest. You know, I wouldn’t say aficionado, no one’s that good, but I love them. And so I think studying macro micro trends in any industry, but specific to dental, you know, it was an opportunity for us to look at something like this pandemic and try to figure out, all right, what are our.
You know, lessons learned and there is a remarkable rebound, but people are rebounding for different reasons. Before it was a mentality of we need to do this to maintain, we’ve changed the narrative here a good bit. It’s not about maintenance, it’s about prevention. It’s about understanding the whole, we recognize that a lot of covid patients could be, there was preventative opportunities from the source of the mouth.
So we had dentists being able to get in there and do some preventative measures, or identify some [00:08:00] opportunities. So the rebound is coming in. What I think is illustrating more of what dentistry is as a whole unit. It’s not just microcosm of health. It is truly the gateway to the whole body, you know, through the mouth.
And we do a lot with it. I mean, we’ve got doctors here that are advancing sleep studies, you know, as it relates to, you know, your oral care. And it’s pretty remarkable. So I would say, you know, we took this time to stop, pause. Spend a year making sure that financially we were solvent and we were positioned to grow.
But more than that, I think we reevaluated what’s important to our organization and how we get there.
Yeah, that’s, it’s good to hear. And that’s why I really was excited about you having you on the show is, you know, the financial side of things, you know, because I think, you know, when dentists come outta school, they know a lot about dentistry, but sometimes we find that they don’t always know everything about business.
You know, certainly marketing, you know, from my perspective and you know, how to run a business and how to understand the economics of a business, you [00:09:00] know? And I think it’s important, you know, you know, not every dentist is gonna be able to bring in a C F O, certainly. But it’s great to get a perspective on where the market is now, kind of post covid and where you think it’s headed.
And so I want to get into that. What do you think the next 12 months to 24 months looks like in dentistry?
Sure. No, it’s so we’re, it’s an interesting juxtaposition right now. Covid being one part of that variable. But the other part of it’s just happenstance on timing. You know, you’ve got a whole generation of single providers that are just aging out.
They’re ready to retire. And Covid maybe was an accelerant, but it was inevitable nonetheless. And then you’ve got, you know, people that are just remarkably interested. This is why you see DSO as such a recurring theme because they want to gobble up and make sure they’re given these sole props.
This, you know, great premium. What we’re trying to do is a little bit different. You know, we see that the market’s consolidating. But we understand that the consumer’s still looking for quality of care and they’re still looking for trust. I mean, that’s a big thing when you’re [00:10:00] handling anything that has to do with your body, but specifically what you know, the form and what can be seen.
So we see the opportunity as consolidation not slowly, but I think strategically. And consolidation in a way that allows other people to recognize that we’re not looking to grow for profit over patient. In fact, it’s always patient first. Profit is always a secondary variable. It’s always secondary.
If you’re doing the former first, the latter, it handles itself. So the market at the end of the day is moving to a place where, If we can marry those two things well, we’ll actually have providers preferring to sell to us because you preserve their brand, which is what we do. It’s a big thing here at Verber.
You know, we’ve got all of our locations have their own brand, they have their own unique style. And look even in when you walk into one and every doctor their own, and we encourage them to stay that way. We don’t want them to be different. We want them, I mean, we don’t want them to stay the same, we want them to be different.
We as an admin, and me and my role, [00:11:00] my job is to support that. My job is to make sure that they have the tools fiscally, the tools operationally to do their job well and to maintain that brand identity. And I think that’s what is going to allow us to flourish.
Yeah, I think that’s a great strategy.
Are you looking to grow your practice but are a little unclear on what the best way is? Let us help you out. We have over 13 years of experience in helping practices just like yours, increase new patient growth. Just go to KickStartDental.com and sign up for a free strategy session where we will give you some great insights on how to take your practice to the next level.
I’m gonna put you on the spot a little bit here. And I know this isn’t your deal, but it sort of is. So you’re the CFO of a large DSO. Talk to me about if you had an individual practice, right, and you’ve been in business for a few years, what are some tips that you can give somebody that’s looking at their financials?
What [00:12:00] should they be looking at? What kind of strategies would you suggest to a smaller netwrok.
Sure. Yeah. So it’s all about the balance sheet really. There’s a couple, you know, the balance sheet’s. A funny thing, people get scared when you talk about financial statements. They think about income statements and you know, it’s all about debt coverage ratios debt to equity ratios.
Those things matter. But really you can simplify it. It doesn’t have to be that difficult, you know, it’s much like the way that you were raised, and this is kind of how I approach finance in general, you know, what is your income? You know, understanding taxation and those kinds of things. What’s your income and what are your expenses?
How do you deploy the excess when there is excess? And how do you create a safety net? You know? So for those that are single prop that may not have the acumen that they would wanna pay for, otherwise, I would say, you know, look at the way that you’re growing, or look at the way that you’re maintaining what you have.
Treat it the same way you do your personal budget, your grocery list, you know, prices go up and your personal rate of income doesn’t move in tandem with that. So what do you do? Well, you make [00:13:00] concessions here, you do best. I do a lot of personal negotiations with a lot of the vendors to make sure that they’re keeping up with what we’re keeping up.
So negotiation’s important and it’s not about beating up people for price. It’s about making sure that everybody’s winning. Going back to that concept I was talking about earlier, you know, Nash equilibrium is a very real thing and you can create it when you’re talking honestly and openly. So for those that are wanting to get a better sense of their finances, take a look at the relationships you have.
Keep ’em honest, make sure they’re keeping you honest. And then make sure that when you are deploying capital, that you’re doing it in a way that’s from a fiduciary perspective enabling the whole and not just yourself. You know, when you take care of the people that are taking care of you’re hygienists and assistants and your front desk, make sure that they’re taking that because they work harder, they work better, you grow.
It’s a nice cycle.
Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s great advice. If you’re a dentist that’s looking to age out or retire, you know, maybe they’re looking at a couple of different DSO [00:14:00] options, what should a dentist have in place and ready to go so that they can make a sound financial decision about selling their practice?
Sure. It’s a great one. So I’d say always have, you know, your collections ready to go. So, you know, the last three years is a good, you know, 2020 was this big black hole that nobody really understands. But you can study trends and understand where things are going, and then you make adjustments to your point about the rebound in 21 post Covid, what that rebound looks like, and then you apply a certain multiplier or a premium to help understand where the trend dipped in 20 20.
However I would say if they come to the table with their collections, their patient base, more importantly than that, their loss ratio on retention from their patient base, those are very good indicators. You know, for me, I’m looking for guys and girls, you know, females and males in this industry that are they have high retention, they’ve got a solid patient base long term because we don’t want to come in and take over, wanna come in and empower, keep doing your job well.
If you want an associate, we can provide an associate, but [00:15:00] those people are there because you’re there. So you know, if they’re looking to sell, we’re always also saying, you know, we’re willing to pay a premium if you stay on for 12 or 24 months. Because that way it’s the best win for everyone.
We learn your patience. They kind of adjust to you and to us, and then they understand that this isn’t a transaction, this is a transition much like the baton in a Olympic race, you know, we’re not done our piece, it’s still required that all the other legs are keeping up their end, and that’s very much part of it.
So, it’s a relational dance. When we talk about acquisition, or purchasing, because it’s on both sides. They’ve gotta be transparent, they’ve gotta be okay to talk to the numbers and then they’ve gotta understand, you know, that for all of us, the money means nothing. You’re buying when you talk about the products, you’re buying the goodwill and you’re buying the brand equity of the organization.
Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Let me ask you a little bit about your organization. You have eight locations now, is that right?
All in Pennsylvania?
All in Pennsylvania.
[00:16:00] So tell us, what are your growth plans for the next year or two? Where do you plan on being?
So, you know, it’s there’s opportunities all over.
You know, we wanna keep the footprint I think within a certain radial mileage, you know, that’s a partner conversation we’re still discussing. But I don’t think anything’s off the table as far as geography. I think what makes, what kind of drives those decisions? Expansion is gonna happen.
Growth is gonna happen is where we can have product control, right? QA, QC. We want to be able to shore quality and we want to be able to control the quality. We are only as good as the you know, the hole is only as good as some of its parts. And we gotta make sure all those parts are moving in tandem synchronously, and they’re also moving in a way that allows refinement, and some friction. I mentioned that earlier.
You’ve gotta be okay being able to look at a different way. And so for us, our growth is also internal. What are we doing differently? What could we be changing? And at the end of the day you know, what needs to be done, where everybody’s got a different playbook in all those locations.[00:17:00]
Who’s got the best play on this one? You know, and we take our cues from them.
Yeah. That’s awesome. It’s exciting to start talking about growth again, isn’t it?
It’s what I’ll tell you, you know, this world we can do a lot for the consumer in the post covid world, not just about the dentistry, it’s also helping them work through some of the anxiety about, you know, what just happened.
You know, a lot of people are still reeling, not unlike what happened in the crash of 2008, you know, what happened in 2001. You know, you can keep going down, but everything has a one common denominator, and that’s that people, you know, they get scared and they have three responses. They flight, they freeze or they fight.
And Verber dental group they we’re fighters, you know, we push through because we don’t know another way and we want to continue to stay you know, loyal to our organization and our people.
Wow. Well, Brandon, I gotta thank you for being on that you have given myself and I’m sure everybody that’s gonna watch this a very fresh perspective [00:18:00] on the whole DSO landscape and how you are doing things a little bit differently.
So thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
I appreciate your time, Chris, and thanks for having me on.
Great. And thanks to everybody for listening to this. Make sure you tune in next week for another great guest. Thanks again.
Thanks for joining us this week on the Dental Marketing Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, www.KickStartDental.com/podcast, where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Spotify, or via RSS so you’ll never miss a show. 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.
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