Howard: It's just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Dr. Shahin Safarian. In three words Dr. Safarian is hard-working persistent and a lifelong learner. He lived in the San Diego area for nearly thirty years where he started three dental practices from scratch. Since graduating from Tufts School of Dental Medicine in Boston in 2001 he started taking many continuing education courses receiving training and cosmetic dentistry, TMJ and orthodontic treatments. Running his own practice has taught him a great deal about customer service and marketing and his inspiring success prompted him to start seven-figure dental practice in order to assist other dental practitioners and achieving their own business dreams. Dr. Safarian believes a success is not something you can just have in a blink of an eye it requires hard work, consistency, self belief, self discipline, accountability, determination and the reason I had him come on the show today is because he's out there and what I think is the toughest market in America in California has six dental schools. What's their next best idea to build six more, how are you surviving in California and what advice would you give to some of those kids coming out of those six dental schools you say I want to stay in California but does California really need another dentist?
Shahin: Well they should leave California so we have a better chance so that's the first advice I would give them. How you doing Howard?
Howard: I'm doing good, so that would really so you're saying demographics matter and you would recommend not practicing and not setting, if you know those private dental schools in California or a hundred thousand year so some kid walks out of dental school a twenty five you know 25 years old with 400 grand and she says I want to practice in Hollywood what would you tell her?
Shahin: You know first of all if you're a new grad you shouldn't open up your own practice you need to get out there...
Howard: Should or should not?
Shahin: Should not, not you should get out there and practice a little bit build up your speed get comfortable with the real world of dealing with people. I really think you know if you come out immediately out of school it's a mistake to open up a private practice and or you know even consider going into partnership. I think there's a lot that you need to learn before you're ready for something like that.
Howard: Well tell us what would what did you learn along your journey of success to start your website www.SafarianMBA.com thats Safarian then MBA and I have my MBA from ASU. What would tell us about your journey and how that ended up with starting your seven-figure dental practice dental company website.
Shahin: Yeah you know in second year of dental school we all put our lab coats on and we went around for the day calling each other doctor doctor doctor and we were pretty happy that we're finally going to become doctors and by fourth year you know we're thinking about you know the lavish lifestyle that we're gonna live once we get our DMD degrees and this was 2001 when I graduated and by 2008 I'm two million dollars in debt and had credit scores in the low 400s. So that lavish dream that I had in my fourth year of dental school really just fell apart once I got into the real world and I think this is one of the challenges for a lot of the new grads is the lack of preparation that we have. So then you know obviously 2007/8 were hard years and I started to realize that if I continue to think like a dentist and with the internet and social media picking up a lot of steam in the late you know two thousand eight nine ten it's gonna be a losing proposition and it's going to be a really a tough environment to try to survive especially being in California you know it's it's not easy. So second second office I opened in 2011 during this entire time as I mentioned to you earlier I'm LVI trained so I have got my fellowship in 2009, so I was very active on the forum talking to a lot of doctors and one thing became really evident from and that was simply the fact that you know we we are incorporated when we graduate and we get our our degrees and our incorporation meaning that you have to be a CEO a CFO COO and these are all things that we have no training in and so to answer your question when we you know when I moved into 2011 and started to now realize that I have to think that like an entrepreneur and I know a lot of dentists will think negative of that thought but the reality is is most of dentistry as a profession is dealing with people dealing with leadership skills, dealing with management skills, dealing with financial skills and it really has very little to do with actually cutting teeth. So by 2015-16 I started having really great success and I created a blueprint program and I took that blueprint program to where it's kind of grown into today which is www.Safarianmba.com and it's really just talking about us having the ability to get business training which I believe is the key to success as a dentist.
Howard: So you graduated in 2001 from Tufts when did you say you started your first office?
Shahin: I started my first practice I was a partnership practice in 2003 which I shouldn't have got involved in I bought my first practice in 2005 private practice 2005 which I should not have bought and then you know I'd made some real estate mistakes in two thousand five and six and by 2008 is when the harsh reality of all my lack of discipline in my decision-making process hit me and hit me hard and yeah so my ultimate dream and my ultimate goal in this in this model of giving back to the profession is to really try to get in the minds of the new graduates and believe it or not there are so many seasoned dentists that are making so many basic mistakes. You know I mentioned to you that I'm traveling now in lecturing and it's amazing how archaic some of our if not the majority of the websites are today and we just need to catch up to the times. As you know that you know you've done this obviously for many years and you've seen how things have evolved the phone right now and the internet right now is where you need to be and many of these doctors still have websites that are five years old that aren't maintained that are broken and that are outdated and they have the common complaints of I can't get any patients and yet they're paying themselves 150 two hundred thousand dollars a year on their w-2s and they're complaining I can't get any patients, you need to reinvest that money back into your business but then you say that and that's where they get stuck because they don't understand what that means.
Howard: Well I couldn't agree more phone, internet but I want to go back to the beginning your journey though so you graduated Tufts in 2001 and then you were associate for a couple of years in 2003 you became a partner with another guy and that didn't work out?
Shahin: Yeah I mean it's not necessarily that it didn't work out it's just there was the natural evolution for me to want to have my own private practice and have full autonomy.
Howard: In your in your years I mean you've been doing this two decades I mean do you really I mean half of all marriages fail and they involve a spouse sex and children. Do you think dental partnerships are more likely to work or not how does a marriage to another dentist without sex and children and holidays, what do you think has a better success chance of marriage or a partnership?
Shahin: Yeah it's very difficult because you know you have two A type personalities many times that are clashing right and at some point you have to have the ability to be a little bit be a little bit more understanding and many times that becomes really challenging. Our profession is tough as you know it's very physical it's very demanding on the on the mind and sometimes when your temperament is not properly stabilized right and you have to make some difficult decisions with your partners that's when things can go south and it really takes you know 10 seconds or 30 seconds of you saying something that can throw everything apart just like marriages right.
Howard: Yes and I've said this a thousand times I mean I'm you young kids in dental school you don't realize you're gonna you put four years undergrad four years of dental school your $400,000 into this debt and then you just go marry someone without a prenuptial agreement and when I say that you think oh you know that's not romantic to a prenuptial agreement well if you become a partner you better have a lawyer write up a contract and you better have a very clearly defined exit strategy because I can name you a hundred dentist on dentaltown that's a divorcing their dentist partner was more brutal than their divorce and you know I mean it just is what it is either either just live together if you can't ask her to sign a prenuptial then just live together and you know when you have the kid now you need a 25 year plan.
Shahin: Well you said something very important the exit strategy is very important and that's something that needs to be defined during the partnership discussion and many times we get so emotionally excited and you know greed gets in the way and we start getting a little bit blind right and you forget that things can go south and you need to prepare for that but I do believe one area that can have value if you're in a partnership is that you have a partnership that potentially is a little bit more distant meaning that you don't work side by side on a daily basis so if you have two offices or three offices and you're all scattered that might make it a little bit easier in order to make a partnership work. I certainly haven't tried that but that's the only thought that I have is we're kind of discussing that, that potentially could be easier where you're not seeing each other every day and you're you know having your of one or two hour meetings on a weekly basis but still you know there's nothing more powerful than you know having your own thing and building your own thing but with that said you can certainly build a solid team and that's you know obviously that's a different discussion to but I mean our partnerships are not easy man.
Howard: Are you a sole owner or do you have partners now?
Shahin: I am solo owner I have three practices at this time, I am restructuring a few things as we speak but and that's because I've got into this lecture circuit a little bit here the past year.
Howard: Are you married?
Shahin: I am married, I've been divorced I got divorced in 2006 which was another you know big part of my 2000 early 2000 or earlier part of my career but I am happily married I have two little kids a two-year-old and a four-year-old just turned 50 last well I'm gonna be 51 in May so having a blast being a dad man.
Howard: Well it even gets better this weekend I was so lucky because grandpa Howie finally had enough trust to have my grandkids for the night with me. It's funny cuz I tell them look I made four kids and they're all alive why are you nervous about that and they keep telling me all these things well if Jasper does this do that and he does it it's like look I'm 56 I know how to babysit a kid. So again your first advice was when you get out of school you just need to learn to get your hands feet up you need to learn how to do fillings crowns cleanings exams you take a lot of CE you need to get some skills then when you finally bought an office in 2005 four years out of school what what lessons did you learn there and could share with the kids?
Shahin: The biggest thing I can tell you is you know don't get overly excited about the bank's giving you half a million dollars in loan, you really want to make sure that you understand not to that you don't need a lavish practice 250 $300,000 max if you're starting from scratch is where you need to start your practice talking to a doctor right now she's over $600,000 in her scratch practice she's 10 years out but still that's a big number. So the biggest advice I can give you which was a mistake I made in 2005 my first private practice I bought it for $450,000 and I genuinely believed today if I was to do it over again I would open it for 300,000. So you know that's the best lesson I can give you as much as you have money to spend these are all loans these are all interest rates these are all money that you're gonna have to pay back. The other advice I would give you is you know if you have the skill set to produce you don't need five operatories and four associates and 20 team members you don't need that kind of I mean look again like I said I've been out and I've talked to doctors for the last four years pretty heavily, there is a strategy these doctors I mean they want to do two two and a half million dollars in net eight percent and that's a strategy that's a business strategy that they have established for themselves and I think that's just chaos. You know the doctor who's doing six hundred thousand the meeting 30 percent is a much smarter business owner but you know he's working out of a small team and the two and a half million has got 25 team members. So you don't need to go big you need to learn how to produce which really gets into the mindset of management, leadership, creating a buying environment, knowing how to convert, getting quality patients in your practice so you know that the recipe is wide and you know it's it's a big discussion but if you know how to produce look I did a million dollars out of three chairs, one assistant, one hygienist one front office okay and that was 2016 part of the year that I work that I'd mentioned that I did really well out of one office. So and that's three chairs now my third office which I opened in 2017 has a thousand square feet up three operatories and I'm happy because rent is very inexpensive. So you don't need 2,500 square feet and you don't need a seven hundred thousand or six hundred thousand dollar loan on top of your five hundred thousand dollar loan that puts a lot of strain on your marriage by the way too so.
Howard: Yeah I mean marriage is dissolved over a third a third a third money sex and substance abuse and with all three those subjects is just communication but yeah when you when you are arguing about money it's tough but when you talk about learn how to produce three chairs I was lecturing when the local dental schools this kid came up to me and I said what's your goal when you get out of school and he says I want to have four offices I thought what a bizarre goal four. So yeah you don't want one mortgage you want four mortgages four electric bills four tax and I and then he said I said well where do you get that number you guys well I think each office could do a million and then and then if I had four offices I'd be doing four million I said dude I know I can name you several offices in small nobody nothing towns that do four million dollars in one office, so where do you but how does a kid learn how to produce?
Shahin: Well you have to take CE credits but to be honest a lot of that has to do and I know this sounds kind of cliche-ish but you know we hear when we get out into the real world we hear about building relationships creating trust and value and that's one of the challenges and that's why I strongly believe that professionals today need a mentor they need a coach. This is where we lack we we are science majors we are scholastically very advanced but potentially a lot of these doctors and new grads that are graduating they've never really had to solidify any relationship with people that are exchanging money with them and that's the challenge. So first and foremost I think it's your ability to connect with people is very important because you can be clinically very sound but if you keep getting people that say no to you, you're not gonna get the production that you want. So that's first and foremost but along the way I mean even two thousand seven eight nine when I was struggling I borrowed money to take courses of LVI and you know that's not cheap there. So you got to have that self confidence that you need to continue to press on and learn and have that ability to produce. I mean if you can do eight unit cosmetic cases in two hours prep two hours delivery you don't you know that will put you in a very good position financially rather quickly and you need to have the skill set to be able to do that as well.
Howard: Yeah well you know borrowing money is the easy part paying it back is the hard part and people are so honored that someone's gonna give them other people's money and it's like well why do they want to give you other people's money because they're depositing it you know they're taking they're paying the depositor five percent they're loaning it to you for ten percent they're making the spread and dentist have an incredibly low default rate of less than a point four percent when they buy a practice. So yeah you come out of school...
Shahin: People love lending us money
Howard: Yeah and so people spend their whole life just working to pay interest on the use of other people's money and it's just amazing how many dentists I meet that are 50, 60, 70 years old and they're still paying interest on other people's money instead of earning interest on their own money so it's an incredible disease. I mean look at the average American as soon as they make their last car payment what do they do they go train it in and then get a new five-year loan it's like you finally had a car that was paid for and you still had to go back and use other people's money so that's a that tuff. So you meant you mentioned LVI I'm sure bill Dickerson would love it if you expanded on on that he was on the show why do you like why did you like lvi enough to go borrow money for that?
Shahin: Well you know and this is a personal thing that I did in 2004 I learned about airway and Jim Gray I was listening into one of his lectures at LVI and it literally just gave me goosebumps about how it connected so well with me. So the education I got at LVI and bill I tell him this all the time he's a mentor of mine and I know there's these occlusion camps and you know the politics involved which I could care less about, LVI created an environment for me to you know get really high-level training and the difficulty that we have with dentistry is a lot of dentists don't want to spend the $3500 and invest in themselves but with that said I took a lot of courses of LVI from 2004 to 2010. I still take some courses I'm certainly not as active as I used to be going out there but with that said I think any new grad has to realize that dental school is not enough for you as far as getting the proper training to do high quality dentistry.
Howard: I gotta give a shout out to Bill because when you go I got out in 87 and that was pretty much the launch of the cosmetic revolution where everybody one day you know we had gold crowns silver fillings and these porcelain infused metal and it was really just a handful of people at lunch said number one was billion-dollar company Ivoclar privately held man the CEO of Ivoclar Robert Ganley he really helped Bill Dickerson. Bill Dickerson was the just an amazing leader in that revolution and then you had Bill Dorfman and by the way Bill Dorfman and Bill Dickerson both went to a University of California San Francisco. Bill Dorfman hit the Airways with the the TV show so you had the TVs doing all these smile makeovers and Bill Dorfman's was just a legend with the consumers, Dickerson with a lot of help from the technology of Ivoclar launched the whole deal and I credit those three that was probably the triangle of people Ganley, Dickerson and Dorfman that just my god that was a big ride for ten years everybody just wanted to take out those ugly silver fillings the last 38 years in our antibacterial and replace and would cheap inert plastic that the streptococcus mutans can eat under all day long with no fear of some toxic metal ion killing them and their offspring.
Shahin: Yeah you know they I don't know Dorfman as well I've met him a couple of times but certainly you know the recommendation really is find a mentor coming out on the clinical side and LVI certainly provided that for me because you know you have a lot of questions what the truth is this, the truth is you know dental school you learn how to work on teeth but you're not a doctor of the oral cavity and I think LVI helps you get a much better vision of the oral cavity as a system as opposed to just working on teeth.
Howard: So when you got out of school you were having problems did you ever how many times do you think you should have stayed with soccer I mean you played soccer in college you play professional soccer for the San Diego Sockers did you ever sit there and think why am ia dentist I should be in the World Cup?
Shahin: You know what's so funny I was making about 2500 to 3,000 dollars this is pre MLS and I had no debt and I graduate dental school with the doctor degree and I'm $400,000 in debt and I'm like wait a minute where did I go wrong here right. Look the lifestyle of living as a soccer player obviously in the early 90s was not the most glamorous but to be honest I would have done it for nothing I just loved it, it was a blast it was a great time but I also realized that there was an end to it and I had to go on and I was fortunate to make some wise decisions which were very difficult at the time because you know when you're playing pro sports you got to pay your dues for two three years and I had already done that so I was ready to go into my prime and then I left so I was supposed to play pro sports for fifteen years and now here I am as a dentist.
Howard: You know I am I love the world cup but I you know how I got turned on to the World Cup being born in Kansas where you know just football basketball and wrestling was when I was lecturing and around the world and during World Cup season I got to watch one game in France which makes American the most excited sports fans and Americans aren't even close to a bar in France watching a soccer game and then I was lecturing in Africa in a country that had a team in the World Cup and I was at the hotel bar watching this African team and oh my gosh
Shahin: That will get you addicted.
Howard: I mean oh my I've been addicted to it ever since but do you think I think soccer will ever be as big in the United States that it is in the entire rest of every country on Earth?
Shahin: Well I tell you what they just celebrated David Beckham's retirement with the LA Galaxy yesterday and they give them a statue outside of the stadium. It's come a long ways since I played there's a lot more money in it today there are actual millionaires playing pro sports pro soccer here in the US which didn't exist in the early 90s. So and there's multiple multi millionaires that are playing pro sport pro soccer here in the US so yeah I mean I don't know if they'll ever be you know the English Premier League or the Bundesliga or any of those types of leagues but certainly will tell you it's much better than the Mexican League that is just south of us. I'd much today much more enjoy watching them I'll s over the Mexican League and there's certainly some other leagues in the Europe European ranks that I'd watch MLS over because they have a lot of the European players here you got Slaton here now with LA, you got Rooney and in DC now playing so there's certainly some of the European players there at it off the out of their prime but hey you know what they're coming out and they're they're enjoying their MLS careers. I think Beckham was one that brought that on.
Howard: This talking soccer actually is dental because the only reason soccer is a number-one sport around the world is for the same reason Southwest Airlines is the number one carrier in America with 27 percent of the sea miles because they're the lowest cost for soccer I just need a ball in a field as opposed to if you want to roll out ice hockey around the world and these people had to build million-dollar ice rinks so it's not gonna happen the only problem with soccer is that the concussion thing is the same because they use their head and I don't think you're ever gonna tell be able to tell the world okay we got to change the rule in soccer you can no longer use your head use your hands and stuff. I mean it's funny how you know the concussion problem in the NFL is huge and soccer is I watched a deal on it on HBO Sports that and they are the same problem these these guys that were using their head for ten years are paying huge consequence but back to lower cost you're in California you know there's basically only two business models and dentistry it's either high volume low fees, Medicaid, Medicare, PPOs or it's low volume high fee soccer's a number-one sport because it's the lowest cost sport and hockey and and downhill racing on skiing is the least popular sport because they're so darn expensive. So would you tell this dentist to go loafie soccer Southwest Airlines high-volume PPO or would you switch them to high-volume I mean low volume high fee?
Shahin: Yeah you know so with PPO is you know it's contracted fees I think we're we missed the mark is in our treatment planning what you need to really understand is what you believe is the best in dentistry if you still have silver fillings in your mouth then how can you provide the best dentistry to your patients if you believe that your class two or class three composite fillings out that are better than indirect restorations then how are you going to promote indirect restorations in your treatment planning. So a lot of that has to do with the belief system that you have on what you think is the best in the patient's mouth the challenge with that also is Howard is that you know it's easy to just do the PPO two or three surface fillings because you don't really have to build a relationship with the patient it's easy it's low end you know cost out of the patients pocket and you become a twenty five hundred dollar producing doctor just doing fillings all day so it's in that's where the secret sauce is is that ability for you to connect with your patient and your ability to treatment plan. I mean if you're able to do that you can there's a market no matter whether you're in California or anywhere in the country I strongly believe that there's a market for for this type of dentistry where you're doing quadrant dentistry but it's a higher-end producing quadrant that is free field and you're seeing less patients.
Howard: and everybody that I see successful like yourself the one thing they all had in common wasn't whether they place implants or didn't wasn't the only thing they had in common is they constantly took a lot of continuing education I go back 31 years in Phoenix and all and the reason I joined the AGD is because I knew from CE that all those people have had their FAGD and MAGD they were all crushing it. I mean I observed that straight out of school and set my sights on to get that and it was always the same people at all the courses I mean here's Phoenix for the town of you know four million people Metro thirty-six hundred dentists in the Metro but it was always the same hundred dentists at all these courses and they all found one thing. I go you know my dad owned restaurants and the successor restaurant it's got to have that one thing you're only gonna crave this one thing is that the guacamole dip is that the chips is that whatever and all those dentists they all got that one thing and they got it because they took a hundred hours of CE every year ten years twelve hours thirty years they just never stopped doing it.
Shahin: Yeah you know that's very important there's no doubt that C is is key but here's the challenges I look at these practices and I go into the financial numbers of these practices these practices in many occasions are very inefficient in how they manage their bottom line. So yes CE does help you will have the ability to produce but there's a lot of money leaking out on the back end because you're not managing things properly you need to understand your financial numbers. So yes as much as CE is important as much as doing quadrant dentistry high in quadrant dentistry and converting cases is important you also have to understand that you need to put the same amount of energy and time in managing your office and this is where we lack our skill set and this is why I said right at the beginning is that you know we are supposed to be CFOs and COOs of our practices and our businesses but we fail and we're we were short in making sure that our overhead is paid attention. You know some of these doctors their payroll is thirty five forty percent and they don't even know it they're making daily business decisions not understanding their financial numbers and they're just getting themselves in a worse situation with that said their escaper is always just to produce on the front end but how much can you produce on the front end if you're 85 percent on your receivables on your collections to production for example and you're running a 30, 35 percent payroll you've gotta understand your financials. So as much time that you're putting into your CE and getting clinically trained you need to take management courses leadership courses marketing courses. You need to know how to run an operation I think that's where corporate America has really come in very nicely and got a big chunk of the market is because they understand that they need to you know they can this is where it becomes attractive for the doctor right, the doctors like I'm done with this management let me just give it to somebody else to deal with it right but why you give away so much to do that.
Howard: So I was saying that the thing I saw in common with them all is they took a hundred hours to see a year you're saying it needs to be in business too and I see the same thing you and I both got our MBA talked about your MBA journey.
Shahin: Yeah you know so to be honest I got my MBA with the soccer scholarship in college so I just wanted to play soccer and it gave I had a one I had one year of eligibility remaining so I said alright well screw it I want to stay in school and play soccer so I went and got my MBA. So that's that was my thought process I'm getting my MBA but you know what even when you get your MBA degree certainly you have more of a business mindset but there's a practicality to everything you know how do I have an MBA and still be so greedy and want to buy real estate without with putting 5% down you know there's still emotions and greed and the real world attached to that and just because yeah I'm an MBA doesn't necessarily mean you're gonna have financial success because there's so many other parts to it but through the school of hard knocks right you learn that you need to have business discipline and a lot of that has to do with understanding of financials.
Howard: Yeah and I think that's the reason DSOs are so successful because it is so hard just to learn how to do the dentistry that these dentists state they don't do the CEO part or the CFO part or this COO part and those are you know those terms you know a CEO the chief executive officer they don't know their numbers you're saying you you see people with 35% labor don't even know it, what I see is even worse these will be a dinner with four drunk dentists and they're saying oh my labor is 20% you just ask one questions that include FICA matching is that include you know health care you know what does that number include and they just it's deer-in-the-headlights they don't even know and then if you go in there and do find those numbers and your buddy's office you find out it wasn't 20 percent it was 29 percent or 30 percent and it's just it's crazy. So what does your program do to teach them how to be a CEO a COO a CFO?
Shahin: Yeah you know what Howard the biggest thing is and I think this has to be customized to every individual because we all have a value system that's different our temperament is different our belief system and what we feel is will make us internally happy is different. There's some doctors that will be internally happy with their careers doing $90,000 a year and there are some doctors that are doing 90,000 and want to do $400,000 a year and so the first thing is is I want to get to know the doctor I want to get to know them at a level where I understand their self awareness, meaning I want to know what they want out of their career and to be honest many times they don't they've never been challenged with that question of what will make me internally happy. So that's the first thing is to understand what they want and then we dig into the business we dig into you know their personal life you know why do you have 5,000 square feet home where you don't see 1,500 square feet of it why do you have a 3,000 square foot practice where you don't use two of operatories so we talk about efficiency and downsizing is a possibility and then obviously we look at the financial numbers and boy I tell you what every financial number that I've looked at had a doctor doing four and a half million dollars of business, he nets four hundred thousand so four hundred thousand is a great number but that's ten percent of four and a half million right he had seven hundred dollars in his bank account at New Year's Eve so what's going on with these decision-making these are seasoned dentists these are not new graduates. So I go in there and I say look let's buckle down and it takes time these are not quick resolutions these are not quick decisions a lot of times these doctors where they hire these consultants they get disappointed at the end because at the end of the day we don't hold them accountable for the changes and that's where I really go in and I said look first and foremost you got to be accountable for this otherwise it's gonna be a failure in six months to twelve months so just keep your money right so it's really going into the heart of the doctor and really making them realize that they got to stop thinking like dentists.
Howard: Now your dad was a physician are you do you think what you observe now in California was it better for you to become a dentist do you wish you would have became a physician like your father how do you go back historically with that decision?
Shahin: Well you know I I came to the US as an immigrant in 1978 as I mentioned I'm 50 now and my dad was in his forties he's 85 now still alive and very healthy knock on wood. So he came in with a different mindset he came in basically as a foreign doctor learning how to you know acclimate to the American society, so it's difficult to use him as an example because I think the American doctor has a little different viewpoint that how and what my father experienced being an immigrant himself but to answer your question there's a private sector in any profession I strongly and truly believe that look at plastic surgeons look at dermatologists and I strongly believe that there's a private sector that wants high quality dentistry. So I don't believe that the capitation HMO world is for everybody and it depends on what kind of dentists you want to be if you want to be hands-off and just get a check every two weeks then maybe that's the route you want to go but you know I strongly believe at least in our profession today that you're going to be challenged many times with the passion of why you got involved with dentistry and that's the autonomy many times and owning your own business but you know corporate America has come in and you know as you know and you've interviewed a lot of the leaders in corporate dentistry I saw that you were you interviewed the CEO of Heartland and they had over 900 offices. So there's a reason why they're having tremendous success and to be honest that's the difficulty right now is a lot of these new grads are graduating with heavy loans and it almost is the only answer to be honest.
Howard: Back to your seven figure dental practice blueprint you're what you're saying is there's no cookie cutter approach for the incoming dentist calls they all have different I love them you said self-awareness that's something the biggest advice I can give you on self-awareness is I can't believe it took me half a century but you know you have that little intuition that bird on your shoulder that says don't say that or don't I always thought I was so smart I was always arguing with the birdie on my shoulder it took me half a century always do that birdies in your own brain your own brains telling you don't do this don't do that so the level of self-awareness is so important.
Shahin: You know what Howard let me expand on that a little bit the best way you can have self-awareness is be honest with yourself, the number one thing that you need to do is to be honest with yourself. Hold yourself accountable with the thoughts that you have in your mind hold yourself accountable for what comes out of your mouth okay very very important and if you're able to accomplish that that's the first step and change right and that's the most difficult part is because it's always easy just to do what we've been doing all along and these are things that we don't have training in. I mean does your bio degree help you with that does your DMD degree help you with that and to your point we go through a lot of our career chasing money right and we never get into what really internally triggers us to be happy and that's why a lot of dentist I believe that our seasoned have lost passion and they're just kind of going through the motion and that's that's that's tough so.
Howard: What do you think do you think burnout is a normal amount in dentistry compared to nursing policemen firemen etc are do you think dentists have more of it?
Shahin: Let me tell you Howard I just I've done over a hundred and twenty videos on Facebook so I have a lot of content out and I just did a video on burnout yesterday okay and let me explain to you my thought process there if you have found your purpose and if you are passion driven in what you do there is no burnout period, there is no burnout. The challenges is we struggle through our day we struggle through our careers because we don't know what internally will make us happy, many of us are chasing things that are not what we want and that's the biggest challenges that you know hey you know what maybe you're $2,000,000 practice becomes a million-dollar practice but internally we're much more happier because you're enjoying the process and that is where the value is. So burnout I don't think there's burnout I work about 70, 80 hours a week I work Saturdays and Sundays I don't believe in burnout I'll burn out when I'm 85 but I don't want to be 85 years old and have regrets.
Howard: So you said something else been getting very profound that you know right now you you need to be really focused on the Internet and the phones go back and explain that and what do you think dentists are you talk about the websites. I always I'm one of those when you send me an email at Howard@dentaltown.com you know if you said your name is Safarianmba.com I would go to mba.com I would I would take your first name and the at off and go back and I checked their website I cannot believe how pathetic the websites are or a dentist will send me a link or an email and his name is John Smith so I just take John Smith dropping in Google see where this guy lives and find out yeah this is the guy he lives in Iowa and his is Google isn't even attached to his office website and then I put in the guy's full name and the city and state he lives in drop that in Google and then it only takes me to his Facebook page and his Facebook page doesn't even have I mean it's just...
Shahin: Let me tell you Howard...
Howard: I'm shocked everyone shocked five times a day send me an email Howard@dentaltown.com and I'll reply back to you and abuse you on your website just kidding but what is your what are your thoughts on on there you know internet?
Shahin: It comes down to we're trained to work in our practice and we're not trying to work on our practice okay and I think eighty ninety percent of what we do on a daily basis and a weekly monthly basis to run a business is our energy and time that we need to put on working on our practice and on our business right and so that's the challenge. The challenge number one is is if you're more productive throughout your day where you have the capability to produce thirty thousand dollars in four hours I know there's doctors doing that right instead of twenty five hundred dollars a day that will give you more energy and time to work on your business once you start working on your business you have to understand that you gotta take the training needed to understand today's world. One of the most difficult things that we don't have the skill set to do see we're not very creative people let's face it cutting a crown is not creative right placing a dental implant is not creative doing a root canal there's no creativity to it, it's very redundant work and it's repetitive. So you have to be creative owning a business that means you have to have the dynamics to pivot when the times have changed and in the last five to ten years that times have changed but yet we're still doing the same things which is just working in our practice. So learn how to produce will give you the leverage and the power of time to work on your business, once you have the ability to work on your business then you need to take the proper courses so you can hold the systems accountable in your place of business. See when we talk about ok it's Friday I'm gonna go work on my business and you don't even know what that means working on your business means you're gonna go look at a CT scan or you're gonna go treatment plan as a Surgical scan that's not working on your business ok so that's first and foremost is we don't know what we need to do to work on our business and that's what seven-figure dental practice does and that's what I do is I come in and I challenge you on the things you need to set in your place of business ie one of them being a website right that's working as one of the pillars to solidifying systems in your place of business. We don't know how to create a buying environment we come in with you know crappy attitudes all the time our shoulders are drooped our words that come out of our mouth are all negative energy right. So what happens to your office manager it's your hygienist into your RDA that the patient is seeing on a daily weekly basis as they come in to your place of business. This is working on your business positive energy positive attitude passion driven why do you have to come to your place of work with eggshells walking on eggshells why because you've created an environment where you haven't led properly, you've hired incorrectly and you've for whatever reason to put yourself in a position where you're nervous about losing your office manager your hygienist because they're the superstars in your practice. So talking about the website and the internet look the phone today is where the game is ok so what you need to do and with the phone there's two areas that I spend a lot of time and energy on we just Facebook and Instagram Facebook ads and Instagram stories not Facebook Ads Facebook boosts to get attention. There's other ways that you could market to get the phone to ring but you need to have attention in your place of business you tell me print magazine okay I don't care what print magazine you're gonna and you know I can't screen share with you but I got thirty five thousand people that I reached in my community for five hundred dollars last month in February on Facebook thirty five thousand for five hundred dollars okay that's on Facebook you got to get attention Facebook is branding don't try to create, see look there's some things that are net there's there's good profit and bad profit right having a $29 exam x-ray cleaning I'll give you you know bleaching for life on your Facebook ad that's bad profit that's not good profit. So you have to understand the distinction between good and bad profit and then you have that patient that's in there in your office for 29 or 39 or $49 it gets everything then they want a copy of their exam or x-rays and you say it's $25 right that's poor management why how is $25 gonna benefit you then you get a new patient that's transferring from another office and you as the business owner are saying I need the x-rays in order to be able to do this, that's not customer service just come in and do the x-rays don't charge the patient why do you have to wait a week to 10 days to get the x-rays from another office so what is your game to get the $50 production on the x-rays or is your game to get the $3,000 for quadrant dentistry.
Howard: So you you're trying to say and Facebook you reached 35,000 for 500 is that what you said?
Shahin: That's right so what you do in this...
Howard: and then you started to say something about print magazine you stopped...
Shahin: Yeah so that's more of a traditional mindset right TV, radio, print, mailers, this is not gonna give you the reach that Facebook will give you today. Instagram has over 400 people 400 million people that are on Instagram and that's growing tremendously. Facebook is about 2 billion people there are people in your community that are searching and looking for dentists it's a great Avenue. So here's what I do I go on video okay and then I boost the videos, I take that video I upload it on YouTube this is all January February 2019 stuff I still even haven't started the Instagram stories but this is what's happening for me right now then what I do it's just vlogging v, vlogging as in v as in victor vlogging not blogging right because what that does is it creates organic traffic for your website. Organic traffic means that somebody's coming on your website and is spending time on your website people today want to look at you on video okay now what's the first thing that 98% of dentists are gonna think right now as I say that I'm never going on video right I'm never going on video and that's a mistake in today's world you got to go on video that's the game you need to play anything or...
Howard: Why do you think they don't want to be on video is it because there not...
Shahin: Yeah they're shy they're introverted they have nothing to say they they're you know they're embarrassed you know they don't want to open up I mean we're all kind of introverted people right we're anal where the margins got to be perfect right and that's not the real world people want to connect with you so today you got to get on video it's one of the things I talk about on the marketing side right and I think that's tremendous value. Now with that said if you don't want to go on video what you can do is you can create videos for your patients now don't tell me you don't want to go on video for your monthly newsletters, that's to your own patients that you've seen in your own practice go on video instead of just putting the traditional newsletters with bunch of content go on video for five minutes ten minutes a month talk about what you're doing talk about what your direction is talk about what works for you as far as you know CE credits or hobbies or what you did with your family bring in your kids into your newsletters what's wrong with that right. So that's one of the big pushes in 2019 now in two three years maybe five years Facebook and Instagram might not be the game but today it's very cheap attention and as a business owner you need to pay attention to that.
Howard: Okay I'm just for the older guys on the show every about once a month someone as old as me will email me Howard@dentaltown.com usually they're emailing me from me either a diabetic clinic or an ED clinic and they're watching but what was what is the difference between Facebook and Instagram in your mind for a dental office? I mean what would Orthodox is Instagram younger so an orthodontist would want to do their I know you do ortho or is who cares where the kid is the moms paying for it we would you rather be on Facebook just tell me how what's Instagram?
Shahin: Yeah so Instagram is definitely a little bit more of a younger crowd but Facebook and Instagram are connected so you can do a Facebook boost and have it on Instagram okay and again this is very new stuff that I'm doing as well but here's the trick a lot of doctors that are doing it and there's a little bit more of the younger crowds right they're trying to do it themselves don't do that don't try to save a little bit of that money upfront hire the experts build that relationship with the experts because at the end of the day what I want you to do is I want you to do high-end production in with quadrant dentistry in your practice and some of these services need to be allocated but to answer your question the biggest difference is for for the older crowd Facebook okay has a much better traction as far as the community is concerned, Instagram is for a little bit of a younger crowd.
Howard: Now on your website SafarianMBA you have you show a dental marketing service for $297 a month talk about that. So you're saying telling the dentist takes EE on dentistry and outsource your social media marketing on Facebook and Instagram to you for $297 a month.
Shahin: Well in essence yes and no what I'm really trying to do is I'm trying to create a dental community okay and the community that we're trying to create has multiple channels attached to it for example we're currently working on a consumer program for cosmetic dentistry I've worked I've connected with a lab out of Vegas called Las Vegas Esthetics Dental Lab and what we're working on which is a website that's launching in April is that we're going to go after the consumer and we've put videos and pictures together and it's a really exciting time for us. As a member of that program we're going to help you to get cosmetic training for yourself and your team for free and it also puts you as a provider on this website what we're going to consumers coming on looking for a cosmetic dentist whether it's a single tooth veneer on number eight or nine or you want a smile design or a full mouth rehab and we go through the process of trying to help you get the proper training to do that. That's one area where the $297 becomes valuable they will get access to me for about an hour a month for the $297. We also if you look at the website if you go down at the bottom we have a list of partners that we partnered with over the last year and we're growing our partnerships with Clear Correct, with a few other companies as well with straumann for example that's coming in and you know I've been hired as I mentioned to you earlier as I'm speaking nationally I've been hired by the straumann group to travel and lecture on practice management with doctors to doctors whether you're an associate whether you're corporate or whether you are a business owner the ultimate goal of the $297 Howard is to give you a return that's 5, 8, 10, 15 to 1 on the $297 and all these different programs that we're creating talking about reduction of overhead we have accountants that are part of the program that come in at a very reasonable rate help you get financial control. So that's the ultimate goal of with the membership site is to build a community where we can help you get proper business training proper mentorship and proper coaching in order to run your businesses better.
Howard: So who's the owner of the Las Vegas Esthetics Dental Laboratory in Las Vegas who owns that?
Shahin: Ray Foster they actually sponsored LVI for 12 years from about 98 to 2009-2010 Ray Foster James dodge and Yin Garcia are three owners of that business and once the website goes live the URL is theperfectsmilclub.com and we're actively working on building that it's like I said it's going to go live in about a month it's a month and a half.
Shahin:theperfectsmileclub.com it's still not live we're working on developing the website but the members basically become providers as a provider you go on this national directory where what we're gonna do is create marketing programs for the consumer to come on and and basically look for doctors that are well trained. Look the reality is this 50% and this is one of the things that doctors have to give credit 50 to 60 percent of the cosmetic cases that are done properly in patients mouth is based on the labs training right the lab has to make you look good it's the veneers the line angles the symmetry that all of those things that play a huge role in your patients being happy with the end result. So you have to be working with a very highly skilled lab in Las Vegas Esthetics and and me and myself and my practice have been working together now for over a year roughly now maybe about a year.
Howard: So Ray Foster who were the other two partners?
Shahin: James dodge and Yin Garcia
Howard: James Garcia or Jim?
Shahin: Yin it's Y I N Garcia it's kind of spilled a little bit different.
Howard: Spell it
Howard: Yin Garcia so Ray Foster, James Dodge and Yin Garcia.
Howard: Well send them on the show that that'd be kind of fun to have we can do the Brady Bunch thing all three of them could be on and then I'll be the fourth and then whenever one's talked about what look out left look to the right...
Shahin: What we could do is once the website goes live if you're open to it in two three months let's all get on again and talk about it.
Howard: Yeah absolutely a lab is everything. I want to say one thing that I've learned from 31 years the like say you want to get in implants that the guy who wants to buy the implants for $99 from some dental implant company or there's about 400 around the world those aren't the I don't see those guys crushing and everybody I see crushing in and implants has a rep everybody I see crushing it in business got their MBA or learned their numbers you know so having a instrument on we win Marco on the show he's a president CEO straumann there the largest implant company in the world it's an incredible company but again having a human relation with your implant company or your dental laboratory is everything. I remember when I would have my dental lab there was I was using a guy and he was an old German man and my gosh I called him up and I said hey you know is it my work really good I went to University of Missouri and there was this big pause and he said would you be interested in down here and I went down there and he took me under his wing and he showed me all the preps and told me which dentists are crushing it and which ones don't even care and he really motivated me because he said just the fact that you care I already happened at ten percent I remember I went to a removable partials lab nogales it's when I think it's the largest removal of partials lab I've ever seen they do a thousand removal parcels a day in Nogales they're shipped to Nogales Arizona then they drive in a car across her lab ninety five percent of all the prescriptions coming in for a lower partial just said lower partial they didn't they didn't ask for any design you know so just the fact that you care but yeah I want the lab man to be on there because I think especially the young kids need a relationship with a lab person because they don't know what they don't know and then if you're older have you been doing at ten twenty thirty years you take a hundred hours of CE a year then you have to you have this relationship because you're doing really complex stuff I can't believe we went over an hour and that's our brand but I want to end with this they're coming out of school and you say they need to get their feet wet they need to do you know if you're learning football you need to learn how to do a block a tackle a catch a pass you need to learn how to do fillings crowns whatever but when they're taking CE continue education, are some things better for return on investment than others like would you say you learn how to place implants learn not do it ortho, Invisalign, sleep apnea, molar, endo. I mean they got all these instance you got Ross Nash should she go sign up for Ross Nash should she do Spear Quois you know what you know she sees twenty different things she wants to do them all the time and money says she can do one at a time what would you tell her to go first?
Shahin: Well it depends I mean if you're into surgery then obviously I would say go into dental implants if you if you want to stay outside of the mouth and not get patients numb and not cut teeth then I would say sleep apnea and orthodontics and if you want to you know really get excited about some artistic dentistry and do your best in changing people's lives and changing people's smiles then I would say cosmetic dentistry and this again is that self-awareness discussion. A lot of times we get ourselves stuck into situations where you know I've met doctors that have taken ortho courses for ten years haven't placed a bracket yet in a patient's mouth and their practice. I've had doctors that have been getting all this you know dental implant training and have bought all the hand pieces and the CBCTs and they haven't placed an implant in somebody's mouth yet. So you got a you got a really before you you know get into all this you got to really just sit down and understand yourself and what will work for you now the difficult part is is how do you really know if you haven't done it yet right but you have to have that understanding of what's gonna work best for you but you know certainly I love doing cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics those are the things that I'm currently focused on at this time so obviously I'll have a biased and answering to say 'get involved with orthodontics and cosmetics.
Howard: Yeah that's another thing I agree with completely when I look at all my friends who are crushing it they all fell passionately in love with some one thing so I would say follow your passion I mean if all you want to be as a cosmetic dentist you know go see Ross Nash I mean he's doing it and I know what you're doing you're saying well it's easy for Ross because he's so handsome with that bald head and all but you know some people one of my friends I swear one of my friends here in Phoenix goes to an implant course probably every other week and he doesn't care if it's in Scottsdale, New York, Miami, Europe. I mean he's gone to Europe several times but the main reason was to see an implant guy so following in love with something is amazing but here's the biggest ROI you talk about him buying $100,000 CBCT's and don't use them and the guy that on heartland says you know they own a hundred CAD cams and 80% of them are Co racks when they bought offices but they don't blink on twenty one hundred and forty thousand dollars for a CAD cam but you're entrepreneur Consulting is fifteen hundred bucks a month which is 18,000 a year what's the chance that if they paid you 1,500 a month that they would not net $1,500 a month more in their office that month what do you think the odds are?
Howard: I know
Shahin: You know what let me tell you Howard this is why a lot of this is just giving back to be honest 18,000 is this very ridiculous number and if you look at some of the things that I've done for some of the doctors in the past couple years double you know we've doubled a business in a period of six to nine months you know one of the testimonials was they improve 35 percent on their business. If you're if you listen to one thing I tell you okay one and that's just improve your financial numbers that in itself is going to give you a 3 to 1 return easily on your place of business. So what the challenge is is we don't have the discipline to follow through on things we get excited and then come Tuesday Wednesday we go back to doing what we do and that's why I think having a coach and a mentor like myself is very beneficial because I'm gonna push you through to make sure you get it done, that's the difference.
Howard: and I want to say one other thing that you keep talking about the importance of having a coach or mentor yet you go on dentaltown and all the dental students that just graduated from dental kindergarten class are all saying well I'm going back to Parsons, Kansas and there's two there's two dentists advertising for an associate one will pay me 30 percent but I have to pay half the lab bill the other one will pay me 25 percent but I have to split the lab though which one would you recommend it's like okay first of all that that's like saying is he a Taurus or a Virgo or a Gemini. I mean what is the reason you want to work for this dentist are you going what mentorship is this is this lady going to offer you and I would be more concerned I would rather take an associate job for 20% of collection than 30% of collection if one was going to be my idol and role model and mentor and get this ship off the ground and and then I'll say another thing a lot of people go about when I'm in dental schools it seems like a quarter to a third have a blood relative in dentistry so they just think that's a knee-jerk reaction well I'm gonna go back home and work with my mom okay well okay so she was your mom is this gonna be is this a good ideas is she your mentor is that she have the practice you want to be oh no she's old school you know she doesn't do... I said well you know maybe you should go work an associate for someone else I mean you live with your mom for 18 years is your would you pick an associate just because she was your mom?
Shahin: Well no and many times that's not what you want you want to kind of branch out on your own but let me touch on this because if you're if you don't know how to produce what's 25 percent or 30 percent you still don't know how to produce right. So it's not about the 25 or 30 percent in the big picture that has no meaning right it's the process are you going to enjoy the process you're gonna enjoy the office or you are they gonna give you the ability for you to grow in your career right a lot of my associateships are the business owner not given all the high-end stuff to the associate right and they're doing all the high-end stuff so they get all the dirty stuff right all the fillings. So they don't have the capability to produce over two three thousand dollars a day because they're not given that potential or are you in an environment where you see your own patients you have the ability to do your own exams do you have the ability to convert your own cases right. So you really have to understand it's not the 25 or 30 percent walk into that place of business and talk to the owner. What opportunities do I have to learn and to grow in my career that's what you want more than anything else because who cares about 30% if you learn nothing in three years.
Howard: Yeah and your practice your deal is called seven-figure which means a seven-figure is anything over seven digits 1 million all the way to nine million nine hundred ninety nine thousand and so
Shahin: That's right
Howard: So basically for $1500 a month what do you think the odds are that you can coach them to a million dollar practice?
Shahin: It's the mindset what I want to do is I want to work on the mindset of the business owner and the dentist and look it's if you have a million-dollar practice and you're netting 5% so what if you have a three million dollar practice in you're netting 25-30 percent now that's a game-changer for you okay. So one step for us is to obviously get you to that million dollars right as a goal. So we talked about you know private coaching as far as just I get some doctors that send me their treatment plan their models their photos and we sit down for an hour to and break down the treatment plan my treatment plan compared to their treatment plan. I had a doctor who came to me and said look let me give you a quick example Howard had a doctor that came to me and said this patient went and got a treatment plan for $60,000 he doesn't want to spend $60,000 okay and I give him a treatment plan for a little over $40,000 with first molar occlusion what's wrong with first molar occlusion and he told me he's like hey I never even thought about that I always wanted to build a second molar occlusion and all those second molars were implants you with me.So now you put yourself in 24 teeth still can function very well and you're making it affordable for the patient to come to your practice and convert and everybody's happy. These are things that you know I think sometimes my eyes and having a different eye helps in that process but certainly at $1500 consulting I mean it's you know you keep you you're convincing me I should increase my fees Howard.
Howard: Well we got to wrap this up and all I'm gonna say is that you know and you don't blink at spent buying shiny things you don't blink at $140,000 CAD CAM and which just you know an oral scanner makes sense to me but the chair side milling doesn't a CBCT my gosh especially if you're in half of American big cities you can send someone to a CBC. When I go to my doctor and he needs an MRI or a cat scan or whatever he just sends me somewhere he didn't go out and buy a three million dollar MRI machine and then you tell the dentist well hey why don't you sign up for the seven-figure business plan and it's only $1,500 a month no no no I can't do that I mean that that's that's crazy. So again 31 years of watching this I'm always trying to give you some good advice and you know dental consultants the number one return on investment, shiny dental toys and tools they're they're just what they are they're the things I put in the bathtub with my grandkids they're just toys you know and the return on investment as so many of those toys is non-existent but getting your head on straight getting a vision getting a plan and I just want to tell you it's a huge honor the only reason this show is a massive success is because I'm able to get like guys like you to come on the show and it's an hour my homies and his name is doctor Shahin Safarian in San Diego California with the Irresistible Smiles his website is www.safarianmba.com with the seven-figure dental practice blueprint. Go out there and learn Shahin thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Shahin: Howard awesome thank you thank you so much I had a blast being on this show and spending some time with you, thank you.