Dental School Discussions: Voices of Dentistry Special Edition

Episode 059

Voices of Dentistry Special Edition: This week I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with 3 guys from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. They were kind enough to take time out of their day to get me up to speed on how much dental school has changed since I attended. Listen in to this special 59th edition of Business of Dentistry. Enjoy!

Voices of Dentistry 2017


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Today’s episode of the Business of Dentistry podcast is coming to you on location at the Voices of Dentistry conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I recorded this in the podcast lounge at the conference and I’m joined by three attendees: John, Cole and Matthew. All three are in their fourth year of dental school at the University of Kentucky.

I brought these guys on to talk about what dental school is like now (versus when I attended), what their future plans are and the podcast they’re going to be releasing.

My first question to them was how they were introduced to podcasts, how they started listening.

John goes first and says he started listening to podcasts when he got into dental school; he likes the business aspect of the dental shows and he listens primarily for the business side of things. He calls podcasts “free CE”.

Cole was introduced to podcasts by John and he listens for both business and clinical, although more for business.

And finally Matt has been doing a lot of research on his own for the past three years, outside of his schoolwork. In his searching he has found future success is dependent on knowledge of the business side of dentistry and that’s what drew him to podcasts. He believes you have to tie both realms together – the clinical and the business – to really be successful on your own terms as a dentist.

Matt also share they have kept logs of what they’ve been learning on the various shows they listen to and he knows they will be referring to those logs once they’re in practice after graduation.

It was fascinating to hear their answers because they are all so far ahead of where I was when I was in their shoes! It’s excellent they are getting this understanding so early, before they’re even working in the field.

I asked Cole to elaborate about the clinical information he’s listening to on podcasts. He explained he’s hearing how to get patients to accept treatment, how to set up your practice to save time, and how to be as efficient, and effective as possible in your practice. He is also learning to communicate properly with patients while building and running a practice.

Cole goes on to say he merges that information with the business aspect to get the best of both worlds so he can fully utilize it all once he’s out of dental school.

Speaking of graduating from dental school, I asked each of them what their plans are next. John will be working in Cookville, TN. I told him I’m familiar with that town because it is about 30 min down the road from my office.

In Cookville, John will be working for a doctor there who is getting ready to transition out of his practice. It’s at least a two-man practice so John and Matthew will be there together. The plan is for them to buy it after a year and run it together.

It seems inevitable that they would run a practice together after John explains that he Matthew grew up together. They have been friends since they were infants – there’s a picture of John’s mom holding him as a baby and Matthew’s grandmom holding him as a baby at their local church! They were 18 months old in that picture and have been friends as long as they can remember.

Cole’s future post-dental school plan is to do a residency program in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s an AEGD program and he will be there for a year. He sees himself back in the Kentucky/Tennessee area after, although he doesn’t have a specific spot picked out yet.

Also on today’s show we talk about the differences from my days in dental school to theirs, how early they start seeing patients as students, the bonds we form with our dental school classmates and what their new podcast is about. You’ll hear the details on all of that and so much more on the 59th episode of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “You’ll meet the best friends of your life in dental school.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
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Staff Turnover And Onboarding New Hires

Episode 058

Staff turnover is inevitable and can be distracting to your staff. It can also bring extra stress to you as a business owner. This week, on episode 58 of the Business of Dentistry, we discuss our current staff turnover and my ideas about an on boarding process for new hires.

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Recently my office manager, Paul, told me that he was resigning because he had been presented with a great opportunity. While I was excited for him, I was sad for myself. He’s been on our staff for five years and we’ve become friends in that time. We have lunch together every week and talk about business, politics, history, everything under the sun!

But when he shared with me his new opportunity, I understood why he was saying yes to it. His background is in executive roles within hospital administrations. In fact, he set up a hospital in Shanghai, China; he still visits there once or twice a year and has a network there too.

Last year he visited for a few weeks, and during that time he ran into his friends who live there. One of those friends is a doctor Paul has previously worked with. That doctor has been trying to recruit Paul to  be the CEO of the hospital the doctor works for. On his visit, the doctor gave Paul a tour and made him an offer on the spot for the CEO role. Paul turned him down and said I have to talk to my family back home; when Paul got back he was given an even better offer, one he could not turn down.

With his departure on the horizon, I started to think about staff turnover and the onboarding process. I’ve been thinking about what we do in my practice and where we can improve, both topics I wanted to share with you on today’s show.

When a staff member leaves, we don’t have an onboarding process as of now. When Paul gave me his resignation, I decided to let the staff know what was going on and that we would be filling his role. Ideally we would find his replacement before he leaves so we could have a transition period so the new person would work with Paul and get familiar with the role.

I wanted to bring up these topics to share what I do, but also to find out what you do when a staff member leaves. How do you handle it? And how do you onboard your incoming employees?

I don’t currently have an onboarding process, we do it on the fly. With Paul’s departure I’m really focused on changing that and getting a system in place.

If you do have a way you train your new employees, how do you do it? Do you have an office policy manual? Do you have certain ways you train them on your management software? Do you train them on answering the phones, the mission/philosophy/culture of your office?

I now see that I have a really big hole in this part of my practice and I need to fix it. A streamlined training process is something that needs to be done for everyone: front desk, scheduler, insurance billing clerk, office manager, etc.

Even though I don’t have a process in place, I’ve been thinking the new process would start with a basic introduction to all of the staff. Next I would sit down with the employee one on one and explain what my philosophy is and what my expectations are. I think it’s important we do ourselves this as practice owners, and not delegate this part of the training to anyone else.

I would also go over their job description with them as well. Then I would be sure they are trained on our management software, this we delegate to our software company as they have the resources and expertise to do this online.

On today’s show, I also explain why I see these transitions as opportunities to dive into what needs to be improved, as well as what it was like to be thrown to the proverbial wolves as a training experience, and why I won’t do that to my staff! You can hear all of that plus questions to ask your staff while setting up your onboarding process on episode 58 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “I see transitions as opportunities.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
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Associateship Troubles And Hostage Negotiation

Episode 057

In an associateship and having trouble? You are not alone. This week we start off by discussing some of the troubles a young dentist is having in his associateship. We also reveal a resource that will help you bargain like an FBI hostage negotiator. Not that the two topics are related…just saying! Listen in for that and more on episode 57 of the Business of Dentistry.

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Even though I don’t have an associate and haven’t had that type of relationship before, many dentists do. So when I recently had a conversation with a dentist who is part of an associateship, and he shared several troubling scenarios he was experiencing, I wanted to share those with you on today’s show.

One of the first difficulties he is encountering is the fact that he had agreed to a low salary because of the incentive productive bonuses he had been promised. He thought he’d do well his beyond base salary because of his productivity; he was promised that the practice was very busy and he’d have no trouble gaining new patients, making production and hitting those bonus numbers. So he took the low base salary with the intention of achieving those numbers and making up the difference in bonuses, something I completely understand.

However he’s not doing anything, he’s sitting on his hands and not being as productive as he was told he could be. There aren’t many new patients coming in and the few emergencies that pop up are immediately taken by the senior dentist.

When the associate does get to see an emergency, they have all wanted to continue on as his patients. When they call back they want to see him because they like his communication skills, his chairside manner, and his rapport – which has resulted in the senior doc taking on even more of the emergencies because he is upset that these patients are requesting the associate.

Another challenge this associate is having is the senior doc shifting patients over from the associate’s schedule to the senior doc’s schedule because the senior doc is slower. To boot, there has been no communication about the shift and the associate doesn’t know this is happening ahead of time.

To complicate matters further, the senior doc told the associate that he wanted to expand the practice to doing implants. It wasn’t something the senior doc did himself but the associate wanted to. The associate has had some experience with implants in school, and he was eager to expand his skills and techniques in that area.

So the associate was allowed to do this but was never compensated for it, the associate paid for it himself. He later discovered the senior doc had signed up for the same course and now wanted to do implants too. The associate and the senior doc did the continuum on implants and the senior doc is now generating implant business. However the senior doc is blocking off the associate’s schedule to help the senior doc do the implants, and not allowing the associate to do the procedures on his own.

When he told me all of this, I asked this associate if he signed a non-compete and he said he did. Because there are all sorts of clauses  and differing laws from state to state regarding non-competes, I suggested he seek a lawyer’s help with the matter. I hope he does and he and his senior doc can work things out so all sides benefit from their arrangement.

Another topic I share with you on today’s show is about how I’m cutting my overhead. This is my year of doing so and on this episode I explain how I’ve cut down a few points by going through my credit cards line by line – and why I suggest you do the same.

Also on this show, as promised, I tell you about a negotiating resource I discovered recently and have found useful. Tune in to hear about all of that and more on episode 57 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “There are two sides to every story.”

Episode Resources

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini
Never Split The Difference, by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
Voices of Dentistry

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Revisiting Success And Failure At The New Year

Episode 056

Happy New Year! Today’s show is a special holiday edition centered around the success and failures of the outgoing year. On episode 56 of the Business of Dentistry, I share my top 5 successes and failures and ask some questions on where you are with your practice going into the new year.

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Recently I’ve been reflecting on my successes and failures that have happened in my practice in the last year and I wanted to share the top five of each with you on today’s show. I’m highlighting each of these successes and failures to help motivate you to look at your business and assess it in  the same way.

It’s important to ask yourself what your biggest successes and your biggest failures were in the past year. Take time to think about what you will do differently for 2017, if anything, and to write down a plan that you share with your staff.

When I took the time to do all of that – to think about my biggest wins and my biggest misses – here are the top five things I came up with.

1. More profitable.
Overall my practice had a 3% increase in profit. We spent less money, lowered our overhead and expenses, and the team worked less hours (including me). And we did all of this without decreasing staff compensation. We worked harder, not smarter!

Do you know if you were profitable last year? Do you know how much more or less you made in 2016 than previous years? It’s important to track those numbers and find out so you know if your business is growing, or not.

2. Improved online reputation.
We’ve talked about Google reviews in previous shows. If you listened to those shows you know that in April of this year I set a goal of having 100 Google reviews by December 31st.

We not only met that goal but we exceeded it! By December 31st we had 125 Google reviews.

Do you know what people are saying about you online? do you have a way to get your patients’ feedback, do you have a system to get reviews? do you do any of this? it’s something to think about for 2017

3. I took 5 weeks of vacation.
I used to take no personal vacation, aside from my naval reserve training, so this was a big success for me! I am glad I took 5 weeks off this year. A lot of it was a day here and there for kids’ school activities but we also took a week to go to the beach as a family and have a proper vacation together.

What about you – did you take any vacations? Do you have any scheduled for 2017? What are you aiming to do with your vacation time this year?

4. I was timely in completing paperwork.
Rather than procrastinate like I have in the past, I completed dictations, charts, patient records, and the like in a timely fashion. In 2016, I procrastinated less and made it easier for my staff  to do what they needed to do. I didn’t have to bring it home either!

All of this type of paperwork and administrative work can be extra stressful if you don’t complete it in a timely manner, so I made a point to do it promptly this year. As a result, it was easier for my staff too. My focus was to complete records before the end of every work day and I did so by creating a color-coded system on my schedule and designated one area of my office for paperwork that needed my attention.

Do you have a system to take care of paperwork? Do you keep up with the administrative work you need to do or do you procrastinate like I did in the past? If not, maybe now is the time to do so.

5. I was better at delegating.
In 2016 I was much better at delegating and letting my team handle things, especially things like supplies and paperwork. I let them handle all of the supply details, my only tasks were to make sure we were staying close to our monthly budget and to make sure we had what we needed for day to day surgery cases.

Another area I delegated more was patient documentation. I was better at doing this in 2016 because I delegated a lot of it to my staff! I just reviewed the documentation, edited it and signed it. If something was missing I held the staff accountable and told them what needed to be done with the documentation, rather than doing it myself like I would’ve in the past.

And I delegated issues to my team leaders: my office manager, my clinical team lead and my administrative team lead. I would talk to them about any staff issues and then let them come up with a solution and fix it.

Also on episode 56, I discuss my top five failures in 2016 including my procrastination on staff evaluations, my delayed responses to my top referring doctors and getting too caught up in sales pitches! Tune in to hear the rest and then let me know what were your biggest successes and failures in 2016.

Tweetable: “What were your biggest successes and your biggest failures?”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
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