No BS Tactics to Grow Your Dental Practice with Dr. Heidi Smith

Come and listen to The No BS Dental Marketing Podcast, as Chris gets into the nitty-gritty of dental marketing with Dr. Heidi Smith from Heart of the City Dental, sets the record straight on dental marketing myths and drops some serious wisdom on how to make your dental practice thrive. Tune in now!

Dr. Heidi Smith is a successful dentist and a partner at Heart of the City Dental. She completed her undergraduate studies and dental school at the University of Minnesota in 2003. Dr. Smith has been working at the same practice since she graduated and bought into the practice in 2007.

 In 2010, she became a full partner with her colleague. Her experience has taught her that dentistry is a great job that offers a lot of flexibility as most professionals don’t work five days a week. However, she also emphasizes that it’s crucial to be driven and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the field since it has changed significantly in the past 20 years.

Dr. Smith believes that continuous learning and education are essential to succeed in this industry. She regrets not starting her experience at Spear Education earlier in her career, which has been a valuable resource for her. Currently, staffing is her biggest challenge, and she is trying to get creative with ads, spread the love, and keep her team happy. When hiring administrative staff, Dr. Smith looks for experience in dentistry, but also focuses on finding the right culture fit and personality.

According to Dr. Smith, the biggest myth about dentistry is that it’s painful and uncomfortable. With adequate anesthesia and advances in technology, this has become much less of an issue. Dr. Smith believes that the most important trait someone should have to work in this industry is kindness and understanding with a gentle disposition, which is essential for building relationships with patients and providing quality care.

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • Dr. Smith reveals one of the most underrated tools that every dentist should have in their toolkit. 
  • She also shared a pet peeve that grinds her gears in the dental industry. Can you guess what it is?
  • And last but not least, get ready for a surprise as Dr. Smith reveals what she would be if she wasn’t a dentist.

AND MORE TOPICS COVERED IN THE FULL INTERVIEW!!! You can check that out and subscribe at

If you want to know more about Dr, Heidi Smith, you may reach out to her at:


[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.

Hi everyone. Welcome to the No BS Dental Marketing podcast. I am your host, Chris Pistorius, and on this show we talk about straight to the point, no BS, tactics, tricks, and strategies to help you grow your practice. There’s no fluff here. It’s just great content and information that you can start using today to increase your bottom line or help increase your bottom line.

So if you’re a dental practice owner, you’re a manager, a front desk professional or really whatever, be sure to click the subscribe button below so that you can keep up with all the [00:01:00] latest tips and tricks. Now, today we have a very special guest. We have Dr. Heidi Smith from Heart of the City Dental.

How do I want to say this? In very warm and humid Minnesota. Right now, right now, it’s April 5th is when we’re shooting this, and I’m guessing it’s a little chilly. Is that right, Dr. Smith?

It is. It’s actually like 30 some degrees and really windy. Yep. Lots of snow. Third snow is winter ever?

When does it start getting warm there?

I’m just curious.

Well, we do have a 70 in the forecast for next week.

No kidding.

We didn’t hit 50 in March at all, and that was the first time in like 20 some years. So, it’s coming though. It’s coming.

Yeah. It’ll get there. Right. Okay. Well cool. Well, thanks so much for taking the time. I appreciate it.

And maybe we could just start off by you introducing yourself and just telling us a little bit about your practice and how long you’ve been doing it and all that fun stuff.

Yeah, so I’m Heidi Smith. My practice is in Burnsville, Minnesota, and I grew up in the suburb next door, Apple Valley, Minnesota.

So I [00:02:00] did not fly far from home. I went to the University of Minnesota for undergrad and dental school as well. Graduated in 2003 and I’ve been at the same practice ever since. So my partner and I met in a water ski show, actually. We were both in a water ski show and she was in dental school when we met, and I was kind of, I was gonna be a pilot and then I decided I wasn’t gonna be a pilot.

So I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and her dad owned the practice. She was in dental school. So she’s like, well, come check this out and see what you think. And, yeah, the rest is history. So, I started here when I graduated. I bought in in 2007 and then we bought him out in 2010 and he retired in 2012.

So it’s just she and Dr. Tanya and I now.

Awesome. That’s a really cool story. So do you actually have a pilot’s license or did you ever get one..

I don’t, so my dad’s a pilot, and his suggestion was not to get a degree in aviation, cuz if you end up not being [00:03:00] able to fly, you have nothing to fall back on.

So I just, I got my degree and was gonna go to flight school in Florida after I graduated from college, but I changed my mind before that.

Wow. That’s really cool. That’s a good story. I think that’s probably good advice too. I’ve never really thought of it that way. If you go to, you know, aviation school, you better be an aviator. Right?

Right, right. I know.

Yeah. No kidding. All right, well, cool. Well, let’s get into it. I mean, a lot of my audience here, you know, they’re dentists, they’re, you know, front desk professionals, whatever, and they tune into this to, you know, just gain from other people’s experience in dental.

And, you know, obviously you’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve bought it, you bought into the practice, I think you said in 2007, right? Yeah. So you’ve been not only a dentist, but you’ve been running a business and there’s, you know, definitely two different things there, wouldn’t you agree?

Yes, absolutely.

So, and people that are listening to this show know that I always kind of go on my rant about, it’s great that you’re a great dentist, but if you don’t know how to run a business, like do [00:04:00] hiring and HR and marketing and all the other stuff you have to do for a business. It might not go as well as you hoped it would.

So maybe we can start off there. What have you done over the years to learn the business side and what tips or tricks would you give people that are, you know, thinking of making that move and starting their own?

I guess I would definitely have some mentors. I mean, my partner’s dad was a wonderful mentor for us.

And we’ve used a lot of consultants along the way, and I know, you know, people have different feelings on that, but we’ve kind of used different ones through different seasons of our practice. So, you know, we’ve used some for growth. We used some, a different one when we were transitioning, you know, through the retirement and him leaving, and now we’re hoping to be dropping insurance hopefully soon.

So we’re, you know, kind of working with specific people around that. But I, you need to have a really strong team around you. A great CPA, a good marketing company. It’s all about the team.

Yeah, totally agree. What’s, I’m kind of going into rapid fire here, but what’s [00:05:00] one piece of advice you’d give somebody thinking about becoming a dentist in general?

In general.

So they’re kind of in school, they’re trying to, you know, they’re good at science, chemistry, that’s kind of their major that they want to go into. And they’re thinking dentistry, what do I, what a veterinarian, what do I wanna be?

Yeah, well, it is a great job. I mean, It’s rare for dentists or dental professionals.

I mean, most of our team, nobody works five days a week generally. So it’s a pretty good gig that way. It’s pretty much an eight to five job if you want it to be. I mean, you can be open nights and weekends, but we’re not. So that I think, you know, as a, you know, a mom and a wife and all of those things it’s been a great career for me to have some balance in my life, but you have to be really driven. I mean, it’s changed a lot, even since I graduated 20 years ago. It’s a different world out there now.

Yeah. And, speaking of that, if you hit the reset button, let’s say, and you had to do it all over again,[00:06:00] was there anything you would do Differently?

I would’ve done some more CE right away outta school. Like, you get outta school and you’re so done with school. You just wanna practice. I wish I would’ve done a GPR or some, you know, type of like one year residency. That’s one of my, that’s probably my only regret after school.

And beyond that, I started at Spear Education probably in 2008, 2009 ish. But I would’ve started that earlier too, cuz you get outta school with just enough knowledge to do some dentistry, but there’s so much more that you don’t know as far as treatment planning and, you know, occlusion and so many things.

So, it’s expensive. The CE is expensive and you know, when you got outta school you have all these loansand but it’s super, super important. I would’ve started that a little earlier.

Yeah, no, that’s good feedback for sure.

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 [00:07:00] experience in helping practices just like yours, increase new patient growth. Just go to 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.

What do you think right now is the biggest challenge you’re facing in your practice?


Really. Okay.

Which I think is, you know, across the board in a lot of different professions. Yeah, it’s, I mean, it’s hard to find people, it’s hard to keep people, I don’t know, people, the workforce isn’t like it used to be.

Yeah. So what are what are you doing to tackle that issue? How are you solving it for it?

Well, we’ve tried to get creative with our ads when we are hiring. And we we’re trying to just keep our team really happy trying to, you know, spread the love and know that they’re appreciated and I mean, we can’t do any of this without them. So trying to keep everybody here and everybody happy.

Yeah, [00:08:00] no, that totally makes sense. I wanted to ask you, I asked most of my dental guests you know, obviously hygienists and associates, things like that, you can’t do this with, but when you’re hiring, like front desk staff, for instance, right? Admin type staff. Do you prefer that they have experience in dentistry or are you really hiring on, you know, just culture fit and personality first?

That is the age old question. We have tried both. And I know people who have had great success in, you know, finding a barista at Starbucks that has excellent, you know, customer service skills and all that and have made them integrate front office team members. We haven’t been able to do that.

So, we do have, in our ad that we require experience, I mean, there’s a lot to learn in dentistry, so, to find the right person who’s really driven to learn all of that and has the customer service. And I mean, that’s a total package, but hard to find.

Yeah. So in your opinion, what do you think is the most important [00:09:00] personality trait someone would need to, to work in this


I think we have to be really, really kind and understanding and gentle. The whole dental community or profession has this persona of being scary and it hurts, and, you know so people stay away for those reasons. And then just, you know, picking up the phone to make the phone call gives people anxiety walking in the door, you know, so many things.

So just have to be warm and welcoming and meet people where they’re at.

Yeah, I think that’s an interesting question, and I was just about right to ask what do you think is a common myth about dentistry? So, let’s just, yeah. What do you think is the biggest myth in dentistry?

I think, well, I think that, we’re mean and we hurt people.

Yeah. Right.

Every single day people walk in and say, I hate you. I not you, you know, personally, but I hate being here and all that. We don’t take it personally. I get it. Yeah. But I think, you know, there was a time when novocain wasn’t widely used [00:10:00] and you know, a lot of people did have some bad experiences and of course, bad experiences are the only ones we talk about.

So, there is a lot of dental anxiety out there for sure. And I, you know, I mean, yes, we do things that can hurt, but if you have adequate anesthesia and you know, so many things, it can become, we have lots of patients that fall asleep, which is the ultimate compliment. Right.

Oh geez. That’s awesome. Yeah. Yeah. I know in my own personal experience, I had a root canal not that long ago and you know, like root canals used to be like the, you know, People freaked out over him. Right. And honestly, I didn’t really feel the shot they gave me to numb me up was the most painful part of it.

It was just like a little pinch, you know? It was, I was like, he was done. And I was like, is that it?

That’s it? know a lot of people would be like, did you gimme the shot yet? And I’m like, yeah, I’m done. Like, oh, I didn’t feel it.

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

So that’s the goal.

Yeah. What do you think are some underrated tools that are really indispensable for you in dentistry?

Well, the [00:11:00] one thing that I think we use that every dentist has in their office, and we use it a little bit differently, is endo ice. So, it’s a dry ice in a can. And every dentist uses it for testing teeth to see if the nerves are alive and healthy. So like for your root canal, for instance. But the way that we use it is to test if we have good anesthesia.

So this is something that Dr. Bruce, who started the practice. Had taught both Tanya and I to do, and you just spray it on a little piece of cotton and put it on their tooth, and if they feel the cold, then you know you need more. So, It’s such an easy thing to do and something that, like I said, everyone has in their office, but you know, you can walk in and they’ll say, oh yeah, my whole face is numb.

I’m ready to go. And then you put the drill on the tooth and they’re like, ah. So that’s not a good surprise for anybody.

Absolutely. All right. Well, cool. What do you think is your biggest pet peeve in dentistry?

Well, I think the fact that people think that we’re [00:12:00] mean and aren’t gonna hurt them, right?

That’s one of the things another, I don’t know if this is considered a pet peeve, but people think that dental insurance is insurance. And it certainly isn’t. So that’s, that’s a big hurdle to overcome.

Yeah, I hear you. That’s one that we work on too. It’s that, you know, with dental insurance, most people don’t realize it’s only worth about, I say only, but it’s, you know, it’s worth about $1,500 a year depending on what insurance you have.

So, you know, in most people’s cases, not life changing money, but they have this perception that oh, well you don’t take my insurance, so, you know.

Yes. Right. My my insurance doesn’t cover it then I don’t need it. And your insurance is not looking out for your best interests. Let’s all be clear on that.

No joke there.

It’s cause your insurance doesn’t cover it doesn’t mean that, you know, it’s not something you should do. So yeah, that insurance is a pet peeve for sure.

Yeah. Okay, so we’re kind of wrapping up here. I really do appreciate your time, but what’s [00:13:00] one question you wish I’d asked you and how would you have answered it?

What do you wish I would’ve asked or you would’ve asked? Oh, what I would do if I wasn’t a dentist?

I thought you’d be a pilot. That’s why I didn’t ask.

Well, no, I was gonna be a pilot and then I changed my mind.

Alright. Ok. What would you be if you’re not a dentist?

If I’d go back and redo my whole life? No, in a different life.

I would be a travel blogger. I love to travel.

Oh, that’s right. I’ve been to all continents. Right.

Yeah. And I like to write too. So I think that would be the perfect job..

I’ve got a job for you. We’re always hiring writers here, so this dentistry thing doesn’t work out for you. Let me know.

There we go. Okay. You have to send me around the world though, and then I can write.

I want to negotiate that. Maybe. Well, Dr. Smith, thanks so much for taking the time. I know how busy you are. I’d love to be able, if possible, maybe follow up in a few months, see how things are going, and just get an update, if that’s cool.

Sounds good. We’d love to.

Well, thanks so much, and thanks to [00:14:00] everybody for listening in today. And again, if you like today’s episode, please do hit that subscribe button. We release a new episode like this almost every week to help busy dental professionals like you get the most out of your marketing strategy and other just business topics.

So thanks again and we’ll see you on the next episode.

Thanks for joining us this week on the Dental Marketing Podcast. Make sure to visit our website,, 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.

That would help us out too. If you are ready to grow your practice, then you might want to schedule a free strategy session with us. Just go to kickstart and click the free strategy session button and give us 15 minutes of your time to change your practice forever. Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode.

And thanks for [00:15:00] listening to The Dental Marketing Podcast by Kickstart Dental Marketing, where dentists go to win online.