Transform your Practice with Actionable Tips from Dr. Samuelson

On this NO BS Dental Marketing Podcast episode, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Bart Samuelson! This innovative dentist owns and operates Black Hills Area Dental in South Dakota, where his bold decision-making has generated impressive production figures and patient satisfaction ratings. Tune in as he reveals how taking actionable steps can improve a dental practice!

Dr. Samuelson is an excellent example of how far hard work, dedication, and sound advice can take you in life. After entering the dental field as a dental hygienist and graduating from dental school, he took out a million-dollar loan to purchase his practice and buildings. 

He admits that initially, he was very fortunate to have found an experienced mentor who could point him in the right direction when setting up his own practice.

Dr. Samuelson recommends doing extensive research into similar practices 3-5 years prior to getting an idea of what potential finance figures could look like before taking the leap. 

His most extensive advice for anyone wanting to build up their dental practice is always to treat patients with care; take the time to do things properly, and patients will recognize it, leading them to start coming back for more! 

When hiring staff, he suggests getting to know them by inviting them out for lunch with existing team members so that any new additions can be evaluated on their personalities too.

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • Dr. Samuelson shared the most challenging part of transitioning into the practice owner role.
  • He also mentioned that he follows a 90-day trial period when hiring new staff.
  • The biggest thing that excites him about dentistry in the next five years is the technology and being able to do something with less discomfort for patients.
  •  Dr. Samuelson emphasizes the importance of hard work and dedication to succeed.
  • Lastly, Dr. Samuelson’s long-term goal is to find an associate to buy the practice within ten years of retirement.

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

If you want to know more about Dr. Bart Samuelson, you may reach out to him 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.

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. Just great information, information that you can start using today to help increase your bottom line.

So if you’re a dental practice owner, a manager, a front desk professional, or really whatever, be sure to click the subscribe button on this page so that you can keep up with all the latest tips and tricks. [00:01:00] So today we’ve got a great guest. We’ve got Dr. Bart Samuelson. He is the owner of Black Hills Area Dental, out in Black Hills, South Dakota.

Bart, thanks so much for being a part of the show.

Yeah, thanks for having me.

How’s the weather?

It’s snowing. Snowing.

Is it? Yeah. It’s snowing here in Denver too, so hopefully we’re sending it your way.

Yeah, for sure. We can use that.

Yeah. So you know, a lot of people that’s gonna watch this podcast is gonna be very interested to understand and really the reason why they watch this, I think it’s not just because of me.

Of course, but they wanna learn kind of the latest tips strategies on things that are working in dentistry and how people run their practices and run them successfully. So why don’t you give us a little background, you know, how long have you been in practice, how long have you owned your own practice and how did you get started?

Well, I took over this practice in 2006. Purchased it from a lady who was running it. And you know, I kind of got dentistry. I was a dental hygienist for seven years before I went on to dental school. That’s [00:02:00] kinda what pushed me into the dental, into going onto dental school.

And had a really great mentor here in Rapid City. And he was really awesome and, you know, kind of showing me the way in dentistry. And I really liked what I saw with him. So I took this over in 2000, like I said, 2006, and went along ever since. And that’s kind of what got me interested in dentistry is the hygiene part of it and the healthcare.

Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t know that. Tell me more, you probably the first one that I’ve talked to that really was a hygienist first. How did you get into to be a hygienist and then what was that trigger that made you want to say, all right, don’t put the hygiene stuff. I want to be a dentist.

You know, I just the healthcare field I was debating.

I was kind of going back and forth with being, going into the nursing field or whatever and you know, or going to med school and I just didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So I talked to a lot of different people and around different areas. And then, you know, I got accepted into dental hygiene, said, okay, this is great.

I like the hours a little bit better than some of the other professions that I looked at. And that’s just how it took off for [00:03:00] me. And really enjoyed it, really enjoyed the schooling that I went through for dental hygiene. And then, you know, I just, I always knew even when I started hygiene that I wanted to be a dentist.

I just, that was just something I wanted, I knew I wanted to do it and I’m like, I wonder if this is gonna help. And yeah, it was great. So that’s kind of the stepping stone I had to getting into dental school and so, I did that. So, yeah, it’s been really good.

So of the people you went to hygiene school with, how many of those people actually turned out to be dentists?

Well, that’s a great question. I don’t know the answer.

You’re not sure? Yeah.

I just don’t know. I don’t know if you know if it’s very few, or cuz it’s a big commitment, you know, you’re out and you’re a hygienist and you know, you’re making good money and then just to say, okay, I’m gonna quit and I’m gonna go back to school and take on all this debt and load.

And so it was just kind of a big, it was a scary deal, and so yeah, to answer the question, I don’t know how many actually a hygienist that turned out to be a dentist.

Yeah, it’d be interesting, maybe we should do a study on that. I bet the number’s pretty low though, because you’re right. You know, you got a pretty good job as a hygienist.

Why, you know, a lot of people maybe not have that drive like you did [00:04:00] to take the next step and you know, it’s a scary proposition, right? You just did. You know, you spent some money to be a hygiene major, and then you go and, you know, spend more money to be a dentist. So that’d be interesting. So, you start, you’re a dentist, I assume you’re an associate first.

Is that right?

No, actually that’s a big thing too for me is I, so I got done with school and I ended up going and taking a huge loan out for, cause I bought two buildings and to practice right outta school. Had all my student loan debt right outta school as well. And so I yeah, it was scary.

I think it was a million dollars of loan I took out, plus I had all my student loan debt on top of that. And it was just like, okay, I’m gonna buy this practice. And that’s how I started. And it was a, It was kind of trial by fire. You know, you just, you got all this money you’re spending every month and it was a scary process.

It was scary. It was heck, I mean, you know? And thank goodness, it just, I was able to, you know, learn the business kind of, you know, as I went along, I had a really, the lady who I bought the office from was really great to [00:05:00] work with. You know, she didn’t really wasn’t great business person, but so I just took the business and ran with it, and really grew it.

And so it’s been, that’s kind of how I, that’s kind of how I kind of got into it. But it was, yeah, it was a scary, it was scary after bat. It was like, oh boy, and I make this payment. Am I gonna, is this gonna work? And yeah, it’s a scary time, but here I’m today.

Hey, risk is sometimes worth a reward, right?

So, that’s incredible. What’s one thing that you know, I know you’re pretty young when you got into all this and you know, you jumped right into it. What’s one thing that didn’t turn out quite like you expected when you started your own practice?

You know, I think, initially when I started it was trying to get everybody on board, you know, the people that she had working for her.

We had this new person that took over the business and it’s like, who’s this guy? And, you know, trying to get everybody on board and working with me and that was the hardest thing is managing the staff. And that’s still, to this day, still the hardest thing is managing the people that work for me.[00:06:00]

Yeah. You know, that comes up a lot in these and you know, I don’t know if it’s just now or I think it’s been kind of this way for a while, but it seems like it’s hard to find good quality people that you want to work in your practice. Are you from the school of, you would rather hire people that have some dental experience or are you from the school of, you know what, let’s hire based on personality and fit.

And we can teach the dentistry stuff, especially for like front desk staff, things like that.

Yeah, for front desk and stuff. It’s the personality for sure. Obviously you can’t just do that with any putty coming off the street for hygiene position. But yeah, it’s a personality. You gotta have the right personality that’s gonna fit with everybody.

And that’s the hardest thing sometimes and is thinking you got the right person and then no, you just don’t. But that’s the challenge I think is getting that right personality, that meshes well with everybody else.

Yeah. Same thing in my business, it’s, you know, it’s, I’ve been trying to figure it out.

It’s probably one of the worst things I enjoy about my [00:07:00] job probably is I don’t really like the hiring, firing process stuff. And you know, it seems like, and maybe you’ve had this too, I think you just mentioned it actually, where, you know, you interview somebody, it goes great, you interview ’em again, maybe you do all the references.

They start, they seem like a great, and you’re a month into it and you’re like, oh man, this was not a good fit at all.

Do you have some sort of, I mean, what’s your advice to Dentist right now, or front office managers that are in charge of hiring? Do you have some tip or secret that you could share on how you give yourself a little bit better odd any way of finding the right fit?

That’s another great question. No, really. I mean, you just, you know, you just go through the process with each person and you, I kind of try and dig in a little bit into their, you know, into their personality and stuff like that, and just ask questions about them as a person.

You know, and it’s checking their references again. It’s just really tough because, you know, people are gonna give most people a decent reference, even though. So it’s really, I don’t have any, there’s no secrets, I don’t think in hiring people. I think it’s just a matter of you [00:08:00] know, I think one of the things though is having the other people in your office meet them and, you know, sometimes I’ll even have them go to lunch together and say, what do you think after this would be, does this have a good personality?

I think they’ll fit really well with the office, and that’s something I’ve done in the past too, that, you know, seems to help somewhat to get to know ’em a little bit better. I mean, you get in an hour, how long do you get to know somebody really?

Yeah, I have, I was talking with the dentist a month or two ago, and he actually will, maybe you’ve tried this, but they’ll actually do a trial period first, and this is for hygienist, this is for an associate dentist.

This is for everything that he has, and they’ll actually do like a 30 day trial and it’s agreed upon before they start that look, if everything goes well, great, and if not, we’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna find somebody else. Have you ever tried that or heard of anybody else trying that?

I do have a 90 day policy in my, every time I hire somebody, it’s a 90 day trial period.

So I kind of do, I try to do the 90 day, I mean, I guess. Is 30 days enough [00:09:00] maybe. But I do a 90 day trial period. And if they don’t.

Probably not. Yeah.

I think 90 is ideal.

At least 60, right? I mean.

Oh, yeah. And at the end of the 90 days, we just kind of sit down and say, okay, well, you know, and I’m always really one to say, how are things going?

You know, while that 90 days is going on, how are you doing? Or you know. Work really hard to try and get people to make, to actually get that person to fit, you know what I mean? And to work out real well. And you know, it’s, like I said, that’s kind of how we try and do things and, and it seems to work okay.

Again, you know, it’s just, it’s just kind of a, it’s just kind of a trial and error thing and you just never know what you, you just never a hundred percent know.

Yeah. You can’t be and you’re from a little bit of a smaller area too. I mean, black Hills isn’t tiny, but I mean, so you’ve got a little bit smaller of a pool to choose from.

Exactly. It’s really hard. You know, especially in dentistry, getting a hygienist or, you know, right now I’m looking for an associate too, and that’s a challenge as well. And so, you know, and nowadays now with days with nobody really wanting to work [00:10:00] and stuff, it’s really, it’s really tough.

Yeah. For me, it’s, you know, a lot of professionals now since Covid in my field, marketing it, you know, it’s all about working remote now, right? And that brings on an whole other set of challenges of obviously, you know, dental, you can’t really do that, but you know, of just making sure people are doing what they’re supposed to, you know, just that is can drive you crazy sometimes.

Absolutely. Yep.

You know, so it’s, you know, it’s not one thing, it’s another. But you mentioned you had a pretty good mentor when you kind of got involved in this. Was that the previous owner of this practice or somebody else?

That was somebody else, not the previous owner of his practice. That was one of the ones that I worked for as a dental hygienist here in Rapid City.

Before I started. And he’s just kinda, he had a really good practice and he just he just really, he just really rubbed. We rub, we worked well together and I was able to see how he did things and, you know, he was just a really, really good mentor.

Yeah. So even though you weren’t an associate first, I guess really thinking of it as a, you know, at the hygiene level, you know, you [00:11:00] kind of got your, you kind of got a lot of good experience and if you were paying attention, especially with that mentor on how to kind of get this thing done.

So you had a little bit of an advantage there, right?

I think I did. Yeah. I yeah, I think that was huge for me. I think that helped a ton.

Yeah. You know, what excites you mostly about dentistry in the next five years?

I think the technology I think the technology is probably the biggest thing for me.

Technology’s awesome. The technology’s coming to the forefront. You know, we’re getting to be able to do things less, with less discomfort for patients. So, I think that’s probably the biggest thing. Yeah. The biggest thing for me.

It seems like, you know, we’re, it seems like every year that I’m doing marketing for dental practices is that gp’s typically are trying to do more and more stuff in-house versus referring out, you know, 20 years ago, Root canal.

I mean any ortho, I mean all that stuff was [00:12:00] pretty much shipped out now it’s like, you know, we try to, it seems like GP’S try to keep as much of that in-house and I even have some practices that are doing things like Botox and things like that. Do you think that will expand? Do you think that the industry will start trying to do more spa type stuff as well?

Well, no, we do Botox at our office too, so yeah, we, you know, Botox is a bigger thing. You know, I think that spa dentistry thing is kinda, you know, people have tapped into that, I think, somewhat. I guess I just don’t know how a big of a thing it is. People are tapping into the holistic dentistry.

And again, is it, you know, doing things that are metal free, that aren’t that big of a deal, you know, that aren’t an issue, can, will that work out well for you? But yeah, I think trying to do a lot of different things. The big thing for me is, if I try to do something and I feel like, man, I’m just not gonna do it as well as the specialist is gonna do it, then I’m gonna refer that.


I was doing braces before and I’ve been doing tissue grafts and all that kinda stuff. And you know, [00:13:00] the hard thing with being a dentist, a general dentist is the fact that if you can do it all and you can do it really well, awesome.

But it takes a lot of training and a lot of, you know, sometimes you may do something and it may take, you may not see that procedure for a whole month again. Because, man, do you feel confident doing that a month when you haven’t done it every day, all day, or whatever? So sometimes it’s a little challenging, you know what I mean?

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And I think that’s great advice. You know, don’t do things you’re not so comfortable with. Because you can always refer out, right? And I think, you know, I went through a lot of implant training. I sat through courses of gp’s going to get trained of doing dental implants.

And Dr. Engle, the one that was doing the training, was really adamant it about that. It’s like, you know what, don’t get in over your head if it’s a straightforward, simple procedure, that’s how you learn and go from there. But if there’s something you don’t feel comfortable with or there’s any amount of danger involved, you can always refer those out, you know, and I think that’s probably [00:14:00] great advice for a lot of the docs that are thinking about getting into stuff like that now as well.

Yep, yep.


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 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.

Maybe you could expand a little bit on, you know, in terms of keeping patients happy. I mean, it, it seems like, you know, how, what are your tips or tricks, I guess, or any magic bullets you have on getting, you know, patients not only to come to you, but getting them to accept treatment and getting ’em to come back, you know, after every six months or so?

What do you guys do internally to make that happen?

[00:15:00] Well, you know, we, it’s pre-app appointing, you know, we make sure we’re good at pre-app appointing our patients. You know, we do like what’s called a whitening for life kind of thing, where they can actually come in every six months. They get a, you know, they’ll get a tube of bleach that’s complimentary to them.

We just do a lot of, a lot of things that try, you know, we really take care of patients and treat them with just a lot of positive things and I just really think that’s a lot of times helps a ton. I think that’s the biggest thing is just taking really good care of people, going outta your way for people.

And I feel like our office really does that.

\Yeah, it’s so simple, but, so true. You know, I think sometimes dentists try to outthink themselves and it really just comes down to relationships at the end of the day, you know, and people buy from people and people buy from people they like, and that’s just the way it works.

And, you know, whatever tools you can use to get that done, I think is great advice. So it can be something very simple. You know, have good relationships with your patients. [00:16:00] Right.

You know, what would you say to somebody that’s getting ready to, you know, maybe they’re an associate or whatever now, what would you, and they’re thinking about starting their own practice. What’s one piece of advice you’d give them?

I guess I would give them, the piece of advice for somebody starting a practice is, you know, just make sure you do your due diligence. Make sure you’re, you look at the practice, when you’re gonna buy the practice. Make sure that you know, that if you can get the numbers like the last three to five years of the numbers of the practice, look into where you can grow the practice.

And I dunno, I mean, that’s, again, that was a hard thing for me. I just, you know, I didn’t really know any of that stuff. Nobody taught me that stuff. And then just if you treat, if you take really good care of people and you treat ’em well then the patients will start to come and it’s just about taking good care of people, and treat people.

And that’s the hard thing is, you know, sometimes in our business and sometimes in other businesses, you can get frustrated and you can, you know, things don’t go your way. And it’s easy to, sometimes I think it’s just kind [00:17:00] of easy to give up, you know, and you just have to have, you have to have a lot of.

A lot of dedication, and a lot of hard work. And that’s the thing nowadays that sometimes it’s hard to find is the hard work and dedication to bring yourself to the next level.

Yeah. Yeah. Without a doubt. You mentioned something interesting as well, you said you bought your own building, right? So you own the building that you’re in?

I do. I do own the building I’m in, and then I have another building right next to me that I rent out currently, but yeah.

Okay, gotcha. So that’s where I was going with this was, you know, would you recommend, I mean if you had, if somebody had the resources to do it, of buying the building that they’re in, even though it has, like, for instance, other multipurpose offices, you have kind of turned into a landlord too, I guess.

But why did you do that? Number one, and then would you recommend doing that, you know, if you had to do it all over again.

I like being able to purchase the buildings that were already existing. I think [00:18:00] building a practice can be super stressful. You know, looking back on it too, I feel that there’s a lot of people who, they don’t know how to equip it.

They don’t know the flow of it. And there’s also people out there that can help do that. You know, there’s people that can help you design your practice, and design it, but I was building new practice from the ground up. Man, it’s a, to me that was a little bit overwhelming and having, you know, having no patient flow, hanging up your shingle.

And like, hey, I’m hoping the people are gonna come in the door. You know, the nice thing is I had an existing patient flow, so that was very, very helpful. So that’s what I’d say is really.

Yeah, totally makes sense. You know, it’s just sometimes it comes down to dollars and cents and, you know, it’s, you know, every market’s a little bit different too.

Yeah. All right. Well, I’m gonna wrap up here. I’d love to, if possible, maybe in six months or so, I’d love to check back in with you and do an update and just kind of see what’s going on. But kind [00:19:00] of my parting question here would be, what’s in the future for you in the next five years? Are you thinking about expanding to other locations, growing what you have now?

What do you think?

Well, I don’t know. You know that the building that I have next door is rented out. My thought would be is if I can get an associate I’ve got room to put in a couple more operatories in this building and then utilize the other building for my staff and stuff like that.

And so that’s kind of my plan is, if I can get an associate in here, and just see how that goes. That’s the first step is getting somebody in here that can help me. And that’s a tough thing is finding the right fit, you know? The right person to come in and take care of people and get along with everybody. It’s a tough deal.

I was looking at, I was doing this with another doc, but we were looking at associates and what they make now, does it seem crazy to you what they’re, what associates are asking now, even for very little experience?

It’s ridiculous. You got somebody like me who took all the risk and you know, I’ve got all this super expensive equipment and consistent ish, consistent time and involvement [00:20:00] here, and these associates want all this money coming out.

They have no risk. They have no, they got allotted student loan debt. I get it way more than I had because student, the dental schools are so expensive now. However, It’s just, yeah, they have to put the, I think they have to put in the time and show that they can do what I’ve done. And then I think they’re worth more than, they’re worth more of it.

But man, they, a lot of these associates want, you know, they want 250,000 plus coming outta school. And it’s just like, how can I pay you that when I don’t have that flow coming in?

Yeah, I mean, production has to be really good. And you know, a lot of times what I was talking about with this gentleman was that, you know, not that they’re using you, but there’s a good chance that they’re just using you as a stepping stone to go on to build their own practice, maybe right down the street from you.

You know? So, it’s like temporary labor sometimes almost that you’re paying that too. So it’s a crazy market. You know, really, I guess an ideal situation and what he was kind of thinking, he’s getting, you know, he’s within 10 years or so of retirement, he was thinking of trying to find an associate to come in [00:21:00] that would eventually buy the practice, right?

So he’s got the person kind of already set up, but you know, it’s a lot of what ifs in there, but.

There’s always what ifs. Absolutely.

Yeah. Well, anyway Dr. Samuelson, thanks so much for taking the time. I know how busy you are. And I want, I, you know, very much thanks to everybody listening in today, you, if you like today’s episode.

Please hit that subscribe button. We release a new episode like this almost every week to help busy dental professionals just like you get the most outta their marketing strategy. So thanks again and we’ll see everybody on the next episode.

Thanks, Chris.

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 [00:22:00] practice, then you might want to schedule a free strategy session with us. Just go to 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.

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