A. I think that the economy and the market and the flooding of probably corporately-owned offices has changed a lot of dynamics in dentistry. But you know what? I’m 33 years in the practice and I don’t really want a whole pile of stress and complicated things in my life so it feels really good right now.
Q. Tell me what you think your best marketing idea was.
A. You know I have to say that we go out of our way to get to know our patients, really get to know them. And I always get my staff, and I’m very good about it too, to find something that’s going on in my patient’s life, current. Like where are you going on vacation, what are you doing, what’ve you guys been doing for fun. And when I find that commonality, I’ve traveled enough and I’ve done enough or my staff has done enough, I can often find restaurants to recommend or things to do somewhere or suggestions and I get my staff to really help me locate those on the Internet or forward those ideas or print those ideas out. So by the time the patient leaves for just a one hour visit, I may have contributed two or three other things to things they’re currently doing within their life. Just relating to them and just building on that, building on that. So we do that a lot. And then my hygienists are really good about getting referrals from other people. We have created some really nice business cards that allow the patient that is currently in the chair to gift to other friends of theirs. And so those patients become – the referrals are typically likeminded patients. I’m not attracting people with billboards or radio ads. I want the patients that I really love, that are already members of my practice that I know. I want them to bring their best friends in, people that I know are going to be people that they enjoy being around, that they like, that they trust. So those referrals I think are much stronger.
Four years ago when my wife started doing some of this, her own business, she hired a success coach and I didn’t know much about this person. I went to hear him lecture. The first time I heard him lecture I was just fascinated by his ability to communicate about why people do the things that they do. What creates their decisions? What addictions they have. What processes do they use verbally to avoid things? And so I have been to his lectures multiple, multiple times. I have followed him pretty extensively. And so we’ve done some weekend breakthrough programs with him. Honestly, when I followed him and started doing a lot of this, it really taught me how to read people better, how to understand why they’re avoiding what they’re avoiding or why they do what they do. A lot of times just listening to some of their verbiage I could pick up on things. And then we think a little bit about the personality traits. Let’s say the DiSC personalities where you’re a D or you’re a D and an I or you’re whatever. I’ve really tried to hone my own personality down to the point where I’m kind of right in the center. So I can kind of personally deal with just about any personality without getting agitated.
And I think that’s allowed me to communicate. I’ve just become a much better communicator. I feel like I’m more confident in the office. I don’t second guess things. I don’t treat everybody. I’m at a point right now in my career where I don’t have to treat everybody. I think it’s a great gift to be able to let someone go and say hey, look, I’m not the right person for you. And I learned a lot of that from Larry Rosenthal in New York. I mean Larry has a lot of crazy people. He is crazy and a lot of people can’t – they just don’t mesh. So it’s okay. It’s okay. I don’t have to solve every problem in the world.
Q. Do you think the economy is coming back to the point where aesthetic dentistry, particularly digital aesthetic dentistry is going to become a very strong top again?
A. I was so fortunate to come through dentistry in an era where cosmetics took off. I mean just went to the top, as you well know. And we had great corporate sponsors and we had just this amazing energy and I was fortunate enough to be single and able to travel and really go nationally and internationally and study, and it just paid off.
I think that the digital world is surely going to change a lot of things and I think the economics for dental laboratories is certainly pushing, driving a lot of that, the marketplace. I still think that there is a big demand for us to be, for our patients, to be conservative and not to do too much dentistry. Not to harm, not to over prep. We don’t have to do that anymore. A good dentist, a really talented dentist can do only what’s needed and intermingle it between natural teeth and make it totally disappear. And I think that’s the challenge that has to be taught to other younger dentists that are up and coming. You don’t have to do 10 teeth, you don’t have to do 20 teeth. It can be much more unique. And also the fact that orthodontics has come so far. We can get things corrected first and have ever more minimal preparation and more minimal teeth to do. So with that in mind, then it creates a more affordable situation for the middle class and the average person that may not be able to afford 10 teeth.
But I honestly am finding myself not – how do I say this – not wanting to do the really complex, comprehensive cases that I would’ve done 10 or 15 years ago. I feel like I’m better at organizing my team of specialists to be able to tackle things in a different way than maybe I would’ve done back then. I remember Dr. Becker told me one time when I said to him, you know, this person didn’t want to do orthodontics so I restored them with veneers and crowns. And he gave me a really hard time about the fact that I didn’t really drive the patient to do orthodontics. I really thought about it for a long time and I now, currently, if I really think somebody can be better suited to be treated orthodontically and then restored with a minimal amount of dentistry, that’s the way it’s going to go. And if they don’t want to do that, they can go down the street because somebody else down my street will take their money and cut their teeth. And so because of that, because of that process of I don’t want to create complex problems, I don’t want to do harm to the patient, I want to do the most minimal amount of dentistry that I can possibly do to make them stable, I think things have really changed in how I approach dentistry.
Q. Are you still lecturing?
A. I’m not. I lectured one time this year– I mean I’m an editorial board and I do stuff with the AACD, but I’m not sitting down grinding out lectures and all that stuff. I really don’t want to get on the plane now, I kind of just want to be home with my kids.
Q. I see your kids on Facebook quite a bit. You have a good looking family.
A. Thank you so much. Thanks. Yeah, Jennifer’s on there multiple times a day so it’s pretty interesting. She started a business four years ago and she’s killing it. So it’s taken a lot of stress off of me. I can sit back and relax, to be honest with you.
Q. What’s she doing?
A. She’s doing a multilevel networking company called Isagenix. It’s all nutritional products, all natural. Vitamins, shakes, bars, cleanse, all kinds of stuff. She went to more of a business type meeting for the company and something hit her square between the eyes and she said I can do this. So she came back and said to me I’m going to do this and I’m going to retire you early and of course I was like yeah, right, right. This last month she hit number 9 in the company worldwide. She is just cranking it out.
Q. What interests at this point keep you occupied outside of your practice?
A. You know, I have really become the Mr. Mom in the family. When Jennifer started doing this business, she really got into it. She goes to bed about 3 in the morning and she gets up about 6 in the morning during the school year. And so I’m pretty much doing all the studying, the cooking, I’ve really tried to learn how to cook in the last couple years and I really, really love that. I like all kinds of fish and I love grilling things. So I could be out there in kind of the dead of winter still grilling or rain, etc. Just being out there is so nice. I love watching the cooking channel. I mean I love just learning about that. I’d love to do a culinary school kind of thing down the road even if it’s just like a boot camp. There are some great boot camps out there that are a week long. So ask me in a year or two and then hopefully it may be a little bit further down in the culinary world.
Q. Do you see yourself owning a restaurant sometime?
A. I don’t see myself owning a restaurant but I do see myself taking some classes, maybe studying a little bit more and buying more gear for my kitchen. I could definitely see that. I got a new grill last weekend and wow, what a treat that was. I’ve used it every day since I got it so it’s been nice. It’s fun. I just really do enjoy it. It was driven out of the fact that my wife got so busy with her stuff that nobody was getting food. I still do all the shopping now, the grocery store, I do all the cooking. I really gave up the last four years to allow her to fulfill her dream and it’s paid off. I mean she’s passionate about it and it’s really made her an extremely happy person to be able to give so much back to others.
Q. What would you say is your favorite toy?
A. You know, I have to say my boat is probably my favorite toy. We live on a lake that’s about 560 miles of shoreline so my back yard is a very big yard. I walk across the street and get on my boat and it just really is peaceful, restful, and it’s in the water pretty much from April till the end of September, 1st of October, so we have a pretty big boat season. I can fish off of it, I can take my kids, I can be out there at night when the full moon’s out. It’s really, really a lot of fun.
Q. What kind of boat is it?
A. I have a 30’7” Chaparrel, it’s a bow rider but it’s got twin engines, twin 300’s and it scoots pretty quick.
Q. What’s something that would surprise people if they knew it about you?
A. I think the fact that I didn’t get married till 44 and was single a long time and now I don’t think I act it or really look like it, that I’m almost 58 years old and have a 12 and a 9 year old. I think that’s one thing that stuns people a lot of times. They think I’m still in my 40s or so. I think number two that my dad was a dentist, I grew up in dentistry, I’ve always wanted to be a dentist since I was 11th grade probably and never changed path from that. So that was a pretty important part of my life. Those are two pretty main things I think. You know five years ago, a little over five years ago I had prostate cancer so that was a real wake up for me. It just made me really think about okay, how important is all of the crazy extracurricular activities that I do. What’s more important. And I watch my kids, how quickly they’re growing up. My son’s 12, he’ll be in 7th grade, literally in six years he’s out of the house. So I followed a lot of other people in my career who didn’t spend enough time with their kids when they were growing up and didn’t I think respect their marriage enough and I’m consciously and wholeheartedly just don’t want to be that person. My kids keep me young.