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VIDEO - DUwHF #935 - Jim Ferrell
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AUDIO - DUwHF #935 - Jim Ferrell
Jim Ferrell sat down with Howard to share his 30+ year dental story, how he rocked the industry with DentalFax, (which he recently sold and rebranded as “The Dental Facts”), and his new passion for filming with drone equipped cameras.
Howard: It is just a huge honor to be sitting in my home, the Friday before Christmas with my buddy Jim Ferrell who I've known probably for three decades. Jim, thank you so much…
Jim: Oh, glad to be here.
Howard: …for driving here an hour all the way over my house. What I loved about Jim Ferrell, is he had the Dental Fax Weekly, for how many years? When did you start with that?
Jim: Twenty four.
Howard: Twenty four years! And if you're an MBA like me and you like to hear about what's going on with all the big dental companies and all that kind of stuff. I don't know where you got all that information. Every week, this is how old we are, every week I’d get a fax. You probably don't know what a fax machine is. How do we explain to the Millennials what a fax is?
Jim: It’s like an e-mail machine.
Howard: Yeah, and you what, when I enter people's contacts, I'm still entering the fax number. And about a year ago, I'm like “why am I entering a fax number?” I haven’t sent anybody a fax.
Jim: You will be surprised that people who started out with me in 1994, who got it by fax, I still had about fifteen that refused to go on e-mail. They still wanted it by fax.
Howard: It was just amazing, you must add the website. How many companies were you tracking on that?
Jim: Oh gosh.
Howard: How many websites did you visit every week to find all that information?
Jim: Well, I had about nine that I visited every day.
Howard: Nine that you visited every day?
Howard: The same nine?
Jim: Yep. And it was, you know…
Howard: And who were those nine? Do you remember?
Jim: Oh, you know I'd have to kill you if I told you that one.
Jim: There are wire services, there are news aggregators, kind of like the Drudge Report that have a lot of dental information on them. Dentistry IQ is one of them. After a few years, I got, probably a third of the information was sent to me directly from the companies.
Howard: So Dentistry IQ?
Jim: Yeah that was one of them that I would use.
Howard: What was the other one? What's the other dental website? DrBicuspid.
Jim: Yes. DrBicuspid
Howard: Was that one them you went to?
Jim: Yeah I’d looked at that one as well.
Howard: Which one did you look at more? DrBicuspid or Dentistry IQ?
Jim: I got more from the wire services.
Howard: Wire services.
Jim: Than I did those two.
Howard: Doctor Bicuspids actually out of Tucson.
Jim: Tucson, yeah.
Howard: I've been trying to get him on the show for two years.
Jim: Their parent company is in Maryland.
Howard: They own--
Howard: They own a veterinary. Their main deal was a veterinary clinic. And dentistry is kind of a side thing. So, I wanted to ask you before you start on your new deal. I graduated school in '87 March and then October was Black Monday and the market crashed. I rode the wave from '94 to 2000 where the four stocks were Microsoft, Dell, Cisco and Intel. Now we're at a bubble again and it's called the "FANG" - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft. What I really like about Microsoft is they have like seven different major income streams. Whereas Facebook and Google are still 95% of revenues are just ads. But I notice that a stock agency out of New York, Manhattan issued a warning on Patterson and Shine because they thought Amazon was getting into supplies and their stock tumbled like 5% on that news. Do you think Amazon's going to be a major player?
Jim: Well, yeah.
Howard: I mean, you know more on the industry better than anyone I know.
Jim: I think Amazon may sell materials. I think they're gonna have a hard time with equipment simply because its…
Howard: It needs installed and maintenance.
Jim: You've got to have it installed, you got to have maintenance situations set up. Having said that, Panoramic X-ray Corporation of Fort Wayne don't have any sales people. They sell the Panoramic x-rays by direct mail, believe it or not. And they have a rental program that once they get you in and then you pay per shot then eventually they make you a sweet deal to buy the machine.
Howard: Ryan, can you send me the text to that? It's Panoramic... what's it called?
Jim: Panoramic Corporation.
Howard: Is that in Dallas?
Jim: No, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Howard: Fort Wayne, a Hoosier.
Jim: Yeah, but…
Howard: A Hoosier.
Jim: Well, so am I.
Howard: Are you from Indiana?
Howard: And they just figured out what a Hoosier was.
Jim: Who's there?
Howard: No they actually did, it was on NPR. Did you hear about it?
Howard: So, back in the day when they were laying railroads, they were really efficient. They’d lay like five, ten miles a day. So they're going through towns, it wouldn't make any sense to introduce everybody. So if you work for Harry's railroad, you just say, “I'm one of Harry's boys”. There's this lady on NPR that was doing a stock analyst book of the history of the railroad industry, and sure enough, there was a railroad company owned by a man named Hoosier that laid a railroad clear across Indiana so all those workers, five to ten miles a day have said, "Who are you?" "I'm one of Hoosier's men".
Jim: So that's where the Hoosier came from.
Howard: That's the definitive deal. She was a PhD librarian history buff. I think the same reason Dentaltown was successful is because why Patterson and Shine will be successful. The fact that when I started Dentaltown there were like, twenty other websites and they were all selling supplies, and they all failed. With Dentaltown, the motto was “With dentaltown.com, no one has to practice solo again”. And the rep carries sixty thousand skews which is the same as a Kroger's grocery store, like Dylan's in Kansas or fries in Arizona. But my rep is more valuable to me in the fact that I'm not going to use an endo file based on what someone he's never going to get a root canal said. But she's smart enough to know "Oh well, your idol ended on its (inaudible 06:14) or Jason Helen ISA. He switched to this. Boom boom boom boom boom. So I think dentists are introverts, they're shy. And I think the reason they're not going to let go the rep is for equipment, maintenance, emergencies but just the social network.
Jim: You take a look that all of the dentalsupply.coms as you mentioned, they pour tons and tons of money into that concept. You're the one who told me a long time ago, dentists are not going to spend half an hour to save two cents on a pair of gloves.
Howard: Right. Late labor's their cost. Their number one cost is used to be indemnity insurance where I just submit my crowns a thousand and they pay half. Now they submit me the fee and the PPO adjustment from when I got school is down about 42%. So the number one cost is adjusted production. I bill a thousand to this crown but they'll only going to give me six hundred. Number two cost is labor, 28%. Next is lab, 10%. By the time you get down the supplies, who gives a shit?
Jim: I mean it's less than 6% of the total revenue of the practice.
Jim: I've just looked in the other day, I bought everything for my wife for Christmas on Amazon. I didn't leave the house.
Howard: Would you use Amazon Echo? Or what's it called, Alexa?
Jim: I have an Echo and I have a bigger one in my kitchen.
Howard: What's Amazon? It's called Echo?
Jim: Well, Echo was the small one.
Howard: And then?
Jim: What's the other one? I forget what the big one...
Jim: Yes, Alexa. And yet now they're down to twenty-nine bucks for the small one and eighty-nine for the large one. The last half price of what it used to be.
Howard: You know I won't get Alexa? Remember back in 1984 that book (inaudible 08:09) where they're saying that government have all these cameras spying on you. Facebook, Apple and Amazon and Google, I mean, not Apple. Facebook, Amazon and Google's have spied on more people than any CIA, FBI, KGB. It just so many weird things I've seen. Everyone knows they just turn the microphone off. So if I had that in my house, would they have the microphone on all the time? Because sometimes I've had some creepy stuff. I'll be in the front room with the boys and we'd be watching a movie. Then I'll go sit out on the patio and I'll open up YouTube and the first damn thing is a movie we're watching in there. Then a friend of mine told me the creepiest thing in the world. You know he did this as an experiment. He left on his phone with no apps open and he sat in front of his TV and turned on the Spanish station and then went into dentistry all day. Came home at five o'clock that night and he start having all these Spanish ads on Facebook, in YouTube. Have you heard about this stuff?
Jim: No but I have thought... well I know that...
Howard: I mean this is a conspiracy. There is a dentist.
Jim: Well there's a similar time I took about...
Howard: And you know dentists aren't crazy.
Jim: Not all of them.
Howard: What percent of dentists are crazy?
Jim: Man, you're not going to get me to bite on that one.
Howard: Well, first of all, all humans are crazy. They're wild animals that were close but what do you think? Do you think Patterson and Shine? What do you think would happen to them? What percent of businesses do you think will leave?
Jim: I think they're going to continue to... they're not too many large dealers left besides those two. Benko is the biggest one besides those three.
Howard: Benko in Burkhart?
Jim: Burkhart. But every dealer said we're not going to sell, we're going to stay private and they get bought out. When it comes time for the next generation, they want cash. They don't want to run the business.
Howard: Burkhart. I've been trying to get her on the show. She's fourth generation. She's the great, great granddaughter of the founder. Talk about an American story. It's a hundred-year-old company. The Fortune 500 gets all the credit, they only employ 13% of Americans. It's all the small family business. Like when I was growing up in Kansas, every one of my friends that went into the wheat farming, soy bean, corn, cattle, dairy, they all inherited the farm that had been in the family for centuries. It's hard to graduate in high school in Kansas and go service and deadened by a thousand acre wheat farm and start buying combine. It's all family business just like a dentist. When I go into a dental school and I say raise your hand if someone in your family is already a dentist. Up between a quarter and a third of all hands go up.
Howard: So business around the world is still 80% family business.
Jim: You take a look even in Kansas, guess he's been there for...
Howard: Out of Omaha or Kansas City?
Jim: Kansas City.
Howard: Kansas City?
Jim: They've been around since Burk was young and they've got both houses. They've got the dental side and they got the medical side.
Howard: So you've been studying the macroeconomics of dentistry for three decades.
Jim: Close to that.
Howard: What do you think of the macroeconomics of dentistry? They did $109,000,000,000 last year in the United States. What do you think of the overall health of the dental industry?
Jim: I think it's certainly more healthy than the medical industry is. The primary reason is that the medical side is dictated to you, the patient, by whatever plan you have. With dentistry, we don't expect my dental plan to cover everything. So if I've got to have a root canal, when I didn't have insurance, it costs me twelve hundred bucks. And I told the guy, the endodontist, I said "If you'd come to my house last night, I'd give you twenty-four hundred bucks." 'Cause it hurts so bad. But the rest of it is, with dentistry, it's still a very one-on-one business and I think that my experience being a dentist really miss that sometimes. When I go in to just have a routine cleaning, I think the dentist is missing an opportunity if he doesn't stick his head in that operatory during that forty-five minutes ago, "Hi Jim! How are you?" Just to continue to submit that bond between. I went to one practice where I saw a dentist once and I didn't see him again for a year so I switched dentists. So I think because of that one-on-one relationship, and you're going to go there at least twice a year if you really are going to take care of your teeth. My insurance is going to pay part of it and the rest of it is going to be private pay. I think that dentists who take assignment like you said, $1000 crown you're only getting six hundred bucks for. I'm not sure they have to do that.
Howard: Well you know when a dentist is selling invisible all comes down to the human relationship and trust. There's two types of dentists - the ones that are after every dental procedure, they go back in their private office and shut the door. Whereas when you watch a basketball game, the coach is walking up and down the side court, the NFL, every damn head coach is on the goal line. They know who's all sides before you do. The other person, a dentist like me is in between patients, I always walk out on the waiting room. Why would I be back in the deal, I'm going other "Jim! How are you doing?" It's just pressing the flesh, running for mayor.
Jim: See? You are fairly unique in that that I have never... We've lived in this is the fourteenth house that we're in, that we've owned.
Howard: Fourteenth house?
Jim: So we've moved all over the United States.
Howard: Is that mostly running from the law?
Jim: Well the last ten were, yeah. But as a result of that, I've gone to more barbers and more dentists than you can shake a stick at and run eight different states. I have never had a dentist come out into the waiting room to introduce himself to the patient.
Howard: Doing your ten thousandth filling is not fun, exciting. You know you said, "Oh my God, I'm going to get a real filling" like you were in dental school. I remember the first time I was drilling on a live tooth then actually hit dentin, I was so freaked out excited, I actually wouldn't got the instructor to ask him if that was really dentin and he's looking at me like "Yeah that's dentin, weirdo."
Jim: Which is why the patient is climbing up the wall.
Howard: But I think the only exciting part of dentistry is that the patients. Going out there and talking to people that been with you for thirty years, that's the most fun. But I want to go back to macroeconomics because you have the most, I don't know anybody study dental macroeconomics more than you for a longer. But when I get out of school, Orthodontic centers of America, by (inaudible 15:32) side of New Orleans, he made all the way to New York Stock Exchange billion-dollar valuation or a dozen on NASDAQ. They all imploded, they all disappear for ten years, now they're all back. But when Heartland's out there celebrating their eight hundredth office and Steven Thorne Pacific dental services is celebrating their five hundredth office, none of these guys could go public.
Jim: You're right. We have this whole raft companies, practice management companies that went public and then went bust. What I've seen in the last ten years is that instead of going public, I think there's only one or two left that are publicly traded. One in Denver and one in Massachusetts.
Howard: Birner out of Denver.
Howard: Birner and what's the one? Can you send me Birner Dental Management? See if that is still trading on NASDAQ or is it a penny stock.
Jim: I think it's still on NASDAQ. What's happening though besides these two that are publicly traded in the past ten years, there have been an influx of private equity firms that are supporting these practices. Practice management groups and in essence are waiting until they can help get the value up and then they bail out and someone else comes in.
Howard: But it seems to me it's a flip between the guys who will do like five million under then after four or five years, they flip it to the guys who do like five to twenty, and then those guys flip it to the twenty to a hundred. They just seem to be flipping into bigger VCs. They don't seem to be...
Jim: Everybody gets the nut that they went in after, the growth that they're looking for. And then they cash out and, you're right, and the bigger fish come in.
Howard: Do you think the biggest boys on the block, your Aspen's, your Heartland, your Pacific. Do you think any of them could go to Goldman Sachs and do an IPO?
Jim: I think based on the history of that segment of the market, it would be damn difficult. I mean because the first thing I'm going to do if I've been around for a while is the list of ten companies that were privately traded. They have this same business model that you guys are using, like internet. Internet was at one time.
Howard: They burned twenty million in cash. I was so proud. We did Dentaltown in the break room. We literally had the programmers in the break room, we did a lot of cash flow. And I was competing against twenty companies, some of who got $20,000,000 in VC money and we made it. I was very proud of that. We were talking about mean and lean.
Jim: I work for DentalXChange.
Howard: Yeah that was a big one.
Jim: That was a big one. They blew through somewhere between $20,000,000 and $30,000,000 in eighteen months.
Howard: You back then, this was back in the internet hay days. It was like 1998, you go to the ADA convention or CDA and DentalXChange had the biggest (inaudible 18:37), all these big signs. And here we were, having a little two-wheel pulley going by but we couldn't even afford a booth. We're just giving out our business card at the booth.
Howard: But you're still here and they're not.
Jim: You had VCs that came in that didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground in terms of dentistry. And if someone, Richard Lee who founded DentalXChange, someone came to him and offered him five million bucks for the company. But will you take it? The answer, which he’s very smart guy, I don't know how much he got out of it but I know he got a lot of money. And he hired me to come in simply because he wanted the name Dental Facts associated with the company. It was apparent to me when I first walked in that this place is not going to last very long. They had a forty-person sales force and didn't have anything to sell. It was insane. Anyway, I want to go back to your question about Amazon. I was amazed it was two years ago at the New York meeting that they had a booth for something I'd ever seen them at a dental show. I thought, “Oh my God. As successful as they have been in the supermarket, it's going to wipe out the dental market.” But the more I look at it, the more I thought about it. That's kind of the same model that we had with all the other companies ten to fifteen years ago they were trying to sell supplies online. And not everyone were successful.
Howard: Right. And I think none of them were successful because they wanted that relationship. Same thing with buying dental implants. Your had implants derived all these companies said we're going to save much money buying online but everybody I know that place is at least one implant for a week, their rap is a key component of their team. I don't know anybody that places one implant a week that is the best buddies with their rap.
Jim: Yeah. Information is key. And who's got more information about the clinical implications of their implant and the history other than that salesman.
Howard: And the networking, like out here, there's a bar. What's the name of that bar, Ryan, on the railroad?
Howard. Sandbar. It's over on a railroad in a Chandler and you cross over there's this Sandbar. It's like Thursday nights, this rub holds court. And what's cool about that is you're a shy, introvert, geek dentist but whenever you meet him up for drinks on a Thursday night, you're going to be sitting with other periodontist, oral surgeons, dentists that have sunk a thousand. And it's that networking deal. A lot of times it's like they don't know the answer but they're like, "You know what, Howard? Why don't you go to Jim Ferrell's office? He's going to do a big implant case on Thursday. Why don't I pick you up, we'll drive over there and we'll watch Jim because you're asking me about this and that and he's the master." So it's kind of that networking, running for mayor relationship bill.
Jim: I think that's where the companies that are direct. No one can afford to have a complete sales force. There's a reason why all the pharmaceutical companies have two hundred and three hundred reps. You got to have that many to cover it, granted they're not as many dentists as there are doctors. But still, your going to have to have fifty or sixty reps to really cover the U.S. with your dental profit.
Howard: Half the country lives in a hundred and fifteen cities, hundred and fifteen metros. See, damn there have to have a hundred and fifteen.
Jim: When you get out west, (inaudible 22:30) Montana, you may have one rep for both of those. I don't think that they're going to make a dent in the dental market.
Howard: What the dentists don’t understand is if they want to focus on money, its signing these flies. The bottom line is when they used to get a thousand for a pound, they take an hour and a half. And then you go within a medical dental building and some dentists are doing their crowns in a half an hour, some of the forty-five, some are an hour, some an hour and a half. If you're accepting a 40% reduction of fee, you got to go 40% faster and they're not doing that. Then on labor. There's so many extra bodies in so many dental office. You go to this office and it's 20 to 25% labor and then you go across the hall and they're 28 to 32. So what, he thinks he's going to fix all that by buying impregum online through Amazon?
Howard: Go faster. Go easier. Watch the labor. Look at your lab bill.
Jim: But I'm going to tell you what, very interesting. Most dentists have no idea what their supplies cost because they're not the one who orders.
Jim: We were looking at what other companies, I was at was looking at needles and one of the things we wanted to find out was do dentists really they understand what their costs are for needles? And the answer was no. Somebody else takes care of that. That’s what makes Amazon-- you expect low prices, low service from Amazon so the dentist is not going to push that.
Howard: The perfect segue for you today is the reason the dentist has time to order their supplies is because they're not busy. You started a new company Dental Drone Services and I think it's incredibly cool because I talk about the funnel. I've podcasted so many experts on marketing so like that and the funnel is basically a hundred people have to land on your website for five to call and it's only 5% call rate. But if you add like a video of your office, if you add a little chat box on the side, if you add an online scheduling template with open dental. Each one of those is worth about 5%. So one guy gets a hundred people land on his website and five will call, and another guy added the little chat box so he's got a another five, she's up to ten and put up a video of himself talking about fear. If you go to my website todaysdental.com I'm talking about half the market which is I'm afraid and then the other half of the market's I'm afraid of the cost. Don, my office manager, is talking about that. And then when they call, three people have to call before your receptionist can convert one to come in the office and then three people have to come in with a cavity for you to get one and to do the filling. I'm not talking bleaching bonding veneers. So if you look at that funnel, a hundred people have landed on your website for five to call. Fix that! You fix that, very cool. And then three people have to call your receptionist who you hired because since dentists lived in the library for eight years, he hired a librarian who has no personality, no closing skills, no training, didn't go to school. So three people left to call before her to convert one. It's called the Scheduling Institute. And I'm so embarrassed on my buddy Tom (inaudible 25:55) and told me for he's a dentist (inaudible 25:57) for me and we went to Creighton together. He had to tell me for six years, "Dude, you're leaving so much on the table." After six years of him telling me that, at least twice a year I finally did. I said "Oh my God. I'm just a cash cow training the front office, recording the phone calls and listening to when that Scheduling Institute rep came in and showed me the tape calls. Because you just think, Dawn's been with me twenty years. She's perfect. How could she not be perfect? And then you're listening, "Oh my God!" and I'm training that. So tell me why you got in to the Dental Drone Services and what are you doing for this ninety-second edited aerial video for a dental office website for $2.99, twenty in office high-resolution photos for $199, and an automated slideshow of these photos for $99. How did you end up in that?
Jim: But I sold my business on August 2nd. I was retired until September 2nd and after a month I said, "Oh my God, I got to do something else."
Howard: Were you just bored? Or you just wanted more money?
Jim: It's not about the money. I'm not going to do it for free obviously but this is going to be a fun thing to do, just like Dental Facts was a fun thing to do. And if it's fun, it's not work.
Howard: We got a drone, me and Zach, it's so damn fun. And I made friends with that because of our backyard. You could see the drone take off and fly around and I was told Zach next time we see that let's jump in the car. So he jumped in the car I thought he was really far away, turned out he only got three blocks away and he's a lawyer and he just loves playing with it too.
Jim: It's very interesting, two days ago I landed mine upside down on my roof which is not protocol but that's part of the learning process. Now I looked at it and I looked at the technology of drones and aerial photography and I got to tell you, the cameras now are just wonderful. And I thought what do I know most about? Work-wise, it's dentistry. I've been doing that for thirty years. I also understand that most dental websites are--
Howard: Lame! Jim, I can't tell you how many dentists e-mail me and they don't even have a website. This is 2017 and it's like 20%, and it's not age-related. It's actually more geography-related like rural, small-town guys and Iowan, Montana you mentioned. Why the hell do you need a website if you're in a town of five thousand? They don't even have one.
Jim: And you're the only dentist in town.
Howard: But you would still think their patient might want to look up the number, might want to call you.
Jim: Here's what was interesting and I do a little bit of research before I get into things. According to dental economics, and this is a study that was published in 2016. 97% of people look at a dentist’s website before they call the office.
Jim: If you've had a boring website, let's face it. If you're a Millennial or not an old fart like us, you expect to see some high-tech stuff on a website. I really believe that even a ninety-second aerial video, because no one's looked at a dental office that way before, and it's like your office. I would do a shot of the front of the office and pull back. I would make sure that I got that little merry-go-round in front on it just to show that we are kid-centric as well as adults. I'd take a look at your parking lot show how many parking spaces there are and then I would pull up really high and show how close you are to the freeway.
Howard: Humans are so visual. I mean, birds are all ears. They're sitting on top of the camera and they remember all the sounds but humans are all eyes. You go to a party you say, "My name is Jim Farrell." As I'm leaving two hours later, my ear didn't catch that but I know it was you. So I go then and say, “Jim, do you have a card?” Because my opposing thumb can hang onto a card but my ear can’t hang onto a sound. So when you go to a dental office and you back out to the four line ears, I can say, "Oh I see. He's a (inaudible 30:38) right by Safeway and Chase Bank right there." Boom. They only got to see it one time and they don't even have to think like, "I wonder how long it'll take me to drive there. I got to find it. I got to leave early."
Jim: Let's take a look here at where's the dearest dental office from today's dental (inaudible 30:54)?
Howard: The nearest dental office?
Jim: Yeah from yours.
Howard: There's eighty of them within five miles.
Jim: I knew there were a lot.
Howard: Yeah, there's one everywhere.
Jim: I'm new in town and I googled dentist in closed off our town here where, you know.
Howard: You know what the number one search is? “Dentist near me”
Howard: According to Google.
Jim: And they're going to get, what? Five, ten websites and I'm going to look at four or five of them and none of them is going to stand out. So they're not going to look for the one that's closest or I'm going to look at the one that has got a shot of a drone videography even if it's ninety seconds. That's going to blow them away compared to what they're going to look at the other four websites. The other thing that I'm looking at doing is, it works in the real estate market which is to have pictures inside a home. I mean, anytime you look at a home on the website now, a Realtor's website, you expect to see internal shots. What we normally have in a dental website is headshots of the people. No inside shots. You guys have a CEREC, right?
Jim: I sure as hell would have a picture of a CEREC. I bet you've got a pan as well, don't you?
Howard: Yeah, a CBCT. We got a $100,000 three-dimensional MRI and their CAT scanner.
Jim: Okay, I would have pictures of all that on my website and that's why I'm saying have an automated slideshow, as opposed to one-page film with images. And what would I highlight? Operatories and operatories and operatory, unless you got brand new equipment or state-of-the-art equipment. You want at least one shot of an operatory. You got an in-house lab, I'd want to picture of that to show people that “Hey, we don't have to send everything out. We do a lot of the stuff inside.” Why? Because it saves you time, patient. I mean, that's the whole rationale for the Xerox machine and it's been around twenty-five years and it's still selling like crazy. Why? More and more people want convenience. They'll pay for convenience. So my whole shtick here with this is to say to dentists, "Hey, you want to differentiate yourself? With this package of videos and photographs, if this gets you one new patient, let's just pay for it."
Howard: Right. I don't know.
Jim: One patient. What's the lifetime value of patient now in dentistry?
Howard: I would say it's the same as ortho, about sixty-five hundred. The orthodontistry captured in two years, the general dentist about five years, and then the patient is flipping. So sixty-five hundred over five years. And if I was you, I would target the most general dentist, about 10 or 15% don't even have a website. The next 75% are just lame, just concurrently. And to get a general dentist pay 3% on advertising, that's pretty successful to talk them into that.
Howard: Orthodontists routinely pays 6 / 7% because each start is sixty-five hundred bucks. And, my God, you got ten thousand orthodontists, I would be targeting orthodontists. Every orthodontist I know spend 60 to $75,000 a year on advertising.
Howard: They're so sophisticated because it's a higher deal. That's why all the plastic surgeons, because if I can get you in for a facelift, tummy tuck, boob job or whatever, you're talking sixty-eight grand.
Jim: So you're telling me my prices are too low?
Howard: Well, the average new patient for the whole country at three hundred and twenty-two million people is only a little under four hundred bucks. But in the orthodontists, it's sixty-five hundred on that first visit.
Jim: This whole package is less than $600.
Howard: Yeah. So it's 10% of one start.
Howard: So for 10% of one start, and then your e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I didn't you know there was a ".video". It was ".com", ".net".
Jim: Yip, they just came out with it and as soon as I saw it, I snapped that sucker up.
Jim: And then I picked the eight hundred number. It's one of those...
Howard: 888-257-5434. 888-257-5434, email@example.com, it's about six hundred bucks. Your average ortho starts at six thousand. It’s so crazy. They'll say, "Go study Doctor Richard Litz' ortho program" because it's five, six grand but your first ortho case is five, six grand. Or Brock rondo. Some things are just immediate return on investments and they just need to do it.
Jim: You know a lot of people think Google is a monopoly and a lot of people like Professor Scott Galloway are saying they should be broken up. But Google competes massively with Bing owned by Microsoft who was in the '94 to 2000 bubble. Into the same bubble down they got Yahoo. And I think that on website SEO, when you when you're listening to some guy at a Holiday Inn, and he's an expert on SEO, it's like, “Dude, if you're an expert, why don't you go tell Microsoft?” Because they got tens of thousand employees and they don't know what Google's algorithm is doing. But the guy at the Holiday Inn does. You know I mean? But that's why I think your website has to have two YouTube videos owned by Google. The damn e-mail should be a Gmail account. There's dentists in there, you go to their website and their website e-mail is "@yahoo.com". Nobody but Sergeant Brennan Larry Page knows what's in that algorithm. I'm pretty sure he doesn't like an e-mail "@yahoo.com" or AOL but, put a YouTube video in there, put a Gmail. And also you got to keep changing your website so Google, they know that if there is any dentist's office in Ahwatukee and you haven't changed anything on your website in five years, they call dark. But then you have your website, you just upgraded a YouTube video of the dentist instead of a stock photo, no website or a mugshot photo but it actually YouTube video of you talking for a minute. And then your financial quarter talking about cost for a minute, then say "Go to my website todaysdental.com" for example and then this is just damn high tech.
Howard: If your website is really good but you haven't done anything for a year, it's worth six hundred bucks just to do something, do anything. That's why it's so important for you to have a blog. Just blog something once a month. Just fall down with a pencil in your hand. Do something. Just say flossing is great. But do something because Google wants to see a hot site and if you think that they're sleeping at the will when you got Microsoft, which just bought LinkedIn. I mean if Microsoft lost a billion dollars, would they even care?
Howard: Yeah. Microsoft could throw billions at Bing and not even care. So trust me, Google, once they maintain that 95% monopoly by when you search for a dentist near me, they're going to try to really push you to the best rockin’ hot dentist they can find.
Jim: One of the things I consider that I haven't decided yet is I was looking at Oral Health America, Give Kids a Smile, the ABA program and the Arizona Dental Foundation. Just flat-out taking whatever people buy and giving 10% of that to one of those let them designate which of those three dental charities.
Howard: Could you donate to my dental alimony fund?
Jim: I don't think I'm going to be able to do that.
Howard: Oh man. Gosh, darn!
Jim: I'm not going to make that much money.
Howard: You're going to pick Oral Health America over the Dentist Alimony Fund?
Jim: Yeah I think so. I don't know what dentist would respond to that any more than--
Howard: Well that's called Cause marketing.
Jim: I told you before, I'm not doing this for the money. I'm doing it to keep busy and I think it's going to be a benefit to the dentist so I wouldn't do it.
Howard: I think Cause marketing is far more a thing with Millennials and Baby boomers like me. I do know some really neat stories from being out there in the field and talking to dentists on Dentaltown where playing in San Francisco, a couple dentists have said they're off the grid. They're solar-powered so they put solar-powered office and they're a dental office with no carbon footprint, they're off the grid. These dentists are telling me they get Millennial freaks driving an hour in a petroleum-burning car to go to the dental office off the grid. That's Cause marketing but again I pointly ask myself, "Are these old guys like me or are they young Millennials?" No, they're young, hippie Millennials. You're talking about Cause marketing, there used to be a big community called the Eco-friendly Deal. And again, when I was lecturing and I grew up in Utah, I was asking them all about getting certified of being eco-friendly. Everything's biodegradable and recyclable and all this stuff like that. A lot of the guys tell me that they thought it was cool but they had a material impact on new patients because when people go that website and see that you were off the grid, you were solar-powered, that was a big deal. And I need to get on the ball and do that because my dental office, I had a solar company come out there and they looked at it. It's a four thousand square foot square in sunny Arizona and they said, "Dude, you haven't done anything under the roof. You should so when you walk out of the room and the lights turn off." So there he was telling me that you best spend your money under the roof.
Jim: Rather than on top.
Howard: He said you're not doing one thing smart underneath the ceiling. Fix that and then go to solar. We haven't really fixed that but SRP now has a deal where they have solar farms out there so you couldn't pay a little more to SRP where all your electricity would come from a solar house. So I could say solar-powered dental office, no carbon footprint whenever I need to do that.
Jim: The house that we bought in Verrado which is out in Buckeye, I have twelve solar panels on my roof. The bill with Meritage, that was a big deal four years ago that every house they sold had that. So I have got a hundred and twenty-five gallon hot water heater. I've never seen one that large before and it's all either by solar. Three of the panel's out of the twelve are dedicated to the hot water heater. It's hot!
Howard: Solar is so amazing because the price is coming down so right now, your dirty filthy feels like coal or actually the most expensive. They're like five, six cents on the unit. Nuclear, solar and wind used to always be three cents. Half the price of a natural gas but solar just fell at two, and a lot of people think within a year or two, it'll fall to one cent for whatever unit they're all comparing on. But right now everybody's going to get environmentally friendly not because it's the right thing to do or global warming, it's because it's the cheapest. There's not an investor on Wall Street that would go build a coal-fired plant.
Jim: No. Just politically, no one wants to build nuclear plants anymore especially you know what happen at Japan. I'm not sure what California just shut down the (inaudible 43:29).
Howard: And Johnny voted to close all theirs down. The thing with the nuclear is that, you know it's been totally safe in America always. That whole Japan thing is so irrational because they survived a ten on the earthquake. They just weren't planning on the tsunami, but what's funny is the amount leaking out there and everybody just has this huge hissy fit. Do they not realize that this country and Soviet Union exploded eighteen hundred atomic bombs above ground? That's like me taking a piss in the ocean versus all the blue whales pissing. These were above-ground explosions, thousands of them.
Jim: But nobody remembers that. Our memory in America is about two days. What's the news cycle? If you get, I think average eight hours out of a new cycle, that's a lot, and then we're on to the next thing. One of the questions I have since you're mister dentistry is what do you think, and I'm not interested in going to the whole world with us. I'm interested in there are enough dentists here in Arizona that all. I could be fat, dumb and happy for several years. What do you think is the best way to get this message out to them?
Howard: Considering I've been fat, dumb and happy for fifty-five years, Dentaltown has got a quarter of a million dentists on there.
Jim: Are you able to segment by--
Howard: So there's fifty forms - root canals, fillings, crowns - one of them's marketing. The number one thing you should do is we let people like dentists and then whatever, have one thread for commercial. So if you're out there and you're a lecturer, and you always went out there, you can have one thread, "I'm Tommy Murphy, here's my next course, whatever." You should start one thread and you should talk about why you do it. And every time you go do a video of a dental office, you should post on the dental marketing thread. The currency really in marketing, no one wants to hear is when I got a school just brute money. But you know like the big brands, when we were little ABC, CBS, NBC. If you were Procter & Gamble or Gillette and you could buy all those million-dollar spots, you could create Tide and Rice Crispies and all the brands. Now that's decimated with a thousand channels on cable, three hundred million websites. So the real currency now is time. When I get at school, if you just bought the full-page ad in the Yellow Pages, it was $1,000 a month but it always be thirty new pages. You just can't force-feed social media. It's about time. The currency's time, not money. It's just a matter of you, every time you do a new video, logging on with your time. Not giving me money to run an ad but just logging on going into marketing and saying, "Here's another video we did" and then trying to get that customer, that dentist, to go log on afterwards. Tell them it was a return on investment or not.
Jim: What is interesting because I remember the sky network, which is a national organization of people who use drones commercially. So it is possible that if I went to Heartland and said, "Hey, here's a deal for eight hundred websites". I couldn't cover that personally geographically but this network has got people in every state. And once we had this template done, they can pick it up.
Howard: You could even find other townies on that website to do that.
Jim: Anyway, that's pretty much what I'm looking to doing right now and I'm not rushing into it. I'm doing everything very slowly, very methodically for six hundred bucks it's offering you.
Howard: When you're out there, I'd add more à la carte things. The United States, everybody who has research on marketing, like how he works. A new patient thinks they've actually funded research at UCLA, I mean big universities. And half this country is afraid of the dentist and a half this country is afraid of cost. So when you're going out there, you got a ninety-second edited aerial video for $2.99, twenty in office in high-resolution photo for $1.99, automated slideshow $0.99. I would add a one-minute interview with the dentist, upgrade his stock photo, it looks like you had a mugshot at a DUI to a minute video and say, "Doc, I want you talking about fear". Then who talks money in that office? Is that the office managers? (inaudible 48:23) a bank corner? Who is going to close the deal and then a minute or her and the dentist's video, are you afraid of the dentist? Come on, really? That's why I went to school. I grew up in a family, I'm not going to say what it was because it might get back to my mother but she was afraid of the dentist. And I find it personally, it's such a challenge to take someone who's completely afraid and relax them and settle them down. We got nitrous oxide, raise your hand we'll stop. I can even have an anesthesiologist come here and put you to sleep. If you're afraid of the dentist, I'm your guy. I want to see you. And then your office manager that Don goes on, "Are you afraid of the dental bill?' Come on! We can almost do it and here's the key on them. The three publicly-traded dental companies that I know of, two are in Australia - Pacific Smiles and 1300SMILES. The other ones H&Q or Q&M and they have bullseye that the key on cost is, we can fix you up from A to Z for $99 a week.
Jim: (inaudible 49:30)
Howard: That's three hundred ninety-six. There's a lot of people who are after their house payment, their car payment, didn't drop three hundred ninety-six on something. But when you say $99 a week, if you and your wife go to Mikayla's Mexican restaurant, how much does that cost? I mean, $99. They just drop $99 on mascara at the mall. You know what I mean?
Jim: And that's just the guys.
Howard: When these girls go on and get that the bleach thing, the hair tints and all that shit like that, they're dropping major coins. So add a video for ninety-nine bucks the doc talking for a minute on fear and then another ninety-nine bucks the lady talking because you're already in there shooting video. So interview them and if they got a long-term player staff, like say they got a hygienist that's been in there a decade, interview her.
Jim: That's a good idea.
Howard: That's the first person ever said one of my ideas is good. Thank you, Jim. We're talking about hygienists. These are the ten lies of dental hygienists: "I'll have you out of here in an hour", "This won't hurt a bit", "Flossing, it's easier with practice", "If it hurts, raise your hand and I'll stop", "The new flavor of fluoride tastes much better", "Some patients fall asleep in my chair", "I'm really gentle", "That wasn't too bad, was it?", "I know it must be hard to floss with tight teeth", and number ten, the biggest lie hygienists tell, "The dentist should be in shortly". I would have those two things. And by the way, what is it when a dentist's website doesn't have a picture of the dentist? How butt-ugly are you? Even you're a cyclops, one eye, you still got to disclose this. You don't want to come in shock. These websites, and I know my homies and what it was is if they're my age, they don't even remember the dental convention they were at. They were at a booth, they wrote some guy check for five grand, they built a website, they haven't even looked at a sense and that might have been ten, twenty years ago. So you got to get on Dentaltown and say, "Dude, if you haven't done anything to your website in five, ten years, you got to do something you know something." And I think adding a YouTube video owned by Google which is 95% of searches, a Gmail account, another YouTube video, get some YouTube videos in there. Anytime someone goes to the site and hits play, you get another view. I'm sure Google's tracking the views 'cause when you open up YouTube, what are all the videos they serve up? Things that have been viewed a million times.
Jim: It’s quite possible to take this same video and put it on YouTube. You have to be in a different format but that's no big deal. There's multiple ways that this information can be used just the way it is right now. I don't know if we're still on or not if you want to include this or not but what I would like to offer you, Howard, is right after the new year, we got family coming in from out of town.
Howard: I'm sorry to hear that.
Jim: No, these are okay.
Howard: There's a liquor store between here and the interstate when you go back home.
Jim: I'm stocked up already. I'd like to go ahead and do this.
Howard: Well, that's pretty cool because my son has a drone and I've asked him to do this from my office for almost a year, Zachary. But that would be really cool.
Jim: Here's the deal. I just ordered a new $2000 Canon camera that I'm going to use for the internal shots and that's coming this week so I got a play around with that. Sometime around January 7th, late, I got to have everything together. I like to come up to your office and spend of hour or so and do this.
Howard: I think that would be really cool. How close do you think is Amazon from delivering their packages with drones?
Jim: Four or five years.
Howard: It's that far out?
Jim: I think so because the FAA is trying to figure out what the hell to do with all of the people who own drones now. And so if I'm going to do this commercially, I have to take an exam that the AAA or the FAA demands that you take if you're going to operate a drone commercially. They call it the 107 exam. And if you have a drone that weighs less than fifty pounds and you're just doing it for fun, you don't have to register. You don't have to get a license at all. New rule is you do have to register and it costs five bucks, your drone, your name, with the FAA. That's okay. You do run into some problems, I'm very close to Luke or air force base.
Howard: That's right.
Jim: And I am about a mile from the circle that's drawn around Luke. So if I were a mile closer to Luke, I couldn't fly without getting approval from them.
Howard: There's some newspaper stories that people walk down their backyard with a twelve-gauge shotgun and shooting down a drone.
Jim: That's interesting because even though it's your property, you don't control the air right to it. The FAA does. So you want to take a shotgun and shoot my drone.
Howard: A lot of people don't own the water rights underneath their house.
Jim: You shoot my drone down, I'm going to take your ass to court and I'm going to win.
Howard: My son Zachary’s got a drone, but it is just so cool, man. Watching the videos, the first time we did it, I had no idea what four boys have left on the roof of the house and it's just really, really, really fun.
Jim: Any girls up there that haven't come down yet?
Howard: No, no girls, but I think that's even going to be a (inaudible 55:47). I thought it was very weird that we're sitting here looking at a camera and it's flying over the backyards down the street and you see people sitting in their backyard and all this stuff. That was one of the reasons I actually jumped in my car to find one because I didn't know how far away cause it was so small. Turned out he's only two blocks away but he's flying over the yard or something. Who is this and what are they doing? It was just some lawyer having a blast. And you know what he does with it? I'll close on this. This is one of my biggest fantasies. He has the same fantasy that I do. This lawyer, he likes to find, trap, follow the javelinas and the coyotes. So believe it or not, the only reason I still have a water fountain, almost everybody has a water fountain after four or five pumps until they just let it go or tear it out. But the reason I keep my fountain going is because I'm across from this huge South Mountain Park where there's no water. And at least once a month, like five or six in the morning when it's still dark, I look out the window over that door and there might be fifteen javelinas drinking out of that.
Howard: Or four or five coyotes. And my big fantasy was I always want to dart them, put him to sleep, and put like a GoPro, like a solar-powered GoPro and just--
Jim: See where they'd go?
Howard: Just one day in the life of Phoenix coyote or one day in the life of a javelina and that's what he likes too. He just likes finding the javelina herd or the coyote herd and he's already found where they bed down during the day. Animals are very habitual so they have their little rounds, their trails where they go and I think that's pretty cool - wildlife.
Jim: What's also interesting is according to FAA regulations, you can take these puppies as high as four hundred feet. That's the limit. And I gotta tell you, I've had mine up to two hundred feet and I can't see the damn thing.
Jim: It's getting smaller and smaller and I'm going to go out in the middle of the big field to take it up to four hundred feet where I've got a shot at seeing it. Cause the last time that went behind my house at two hundred feet and I can hear it but I couldn't see it.
Howard: Right across the street, that’s South Mountain Park it goes all the way from 48th Street to 51st Avenue.
Howard: Are you a big fan of South Mountain Park?
Howard: My favorite hike is if you go to 48th Street, how many mile is it? I think it's an eighteen-mile hike. It's an all-day hike. Just an amazing park. But I couldn't think of a better place then right here in Ahwatukee on that South Mountain Park. There's all kinds introduced to that Park. It's a monster park and if you climb up to the ridge, there's actually another big valley then another ridge. So that middle valley in between, I mean my God, you could launch SpaceX in that thing. Surprised Elon Musk hasn't bought it. It's just a huge, huge valley.
Jim: Wow, that's neat.
Howard: It's a largest city park in America.
Jim: Is it really?
Howard: Oh yeah and if you look at the size of South Mountain Park and you put Central Park from Manhattan in it, it looks like a little domino on this tee. It's a huge park.
Howard: It's a monster park so that's where I'd take it up.
Jim: I can do that. And what's interesting is, it's four hundred feet above whatever you're filming. So if there was a...
Howard: So four football fields? No. Right?
Howard: No, a football field is three hundred. A third?
Jim: Yeah. But let's say there's one of those big windmills like you see on the way to California. I can go four hundred feet above that. Now if I'm not filming an object, I can only go up four hundred feet, but if I'm going to take a look at your roof, I could go four hundred feet above your roof. If I'm just standing out in the middle of the street, I can only go up four hundred feet above street level.
Jim: But from what I've seen, that's plenty.
Howard: Yeah, but all these things are what I call unenforceable laws. How would anybody know how your job was off the ground?
Jim: Yeah. That's one of those things. I know a pilot, young guy, who’s a pilot at Luke and he does a lot of training and he said, "Keep it above four hundred feet. No one's going to know."
Howard: Well, hey man, that was a fast hour. I can't believe that we went over an hour. My God, you drove an hour to get here. It's the Saturday before Christmas. Christmas is Monday. No it's Friday right? Jim, thank you for thirty years of the Dental Fax Weekly which now you’ve sold that and that is called the Dental Facts.
Howard: thedentalfacts.com. And if you ever talk to those guys yet, have him come on the show. Tom Jacoby, he does the weekly Townie Newswire and you supplied him all that information. He had all these great stories and you fed him all that stuff. Thank you so much for being a friend for thirty years, for so much information, so much valuable insight. I hope you get on Dentaltown and go under marketing and start posting all your videos.
Jim: I plan on it.
Howard: and focus on the orthodontist 'cause it will spend $60,000-$70,000 a year; and you, homies, when was the last time you even looked at your own damn website. And when you go to your website, you got to do something, you got to change something, add something or Google thinks it's dark. But thanks again for all that you do for dentistry. Great to see you! It's been a pleasure.