Dr. Zachary Allmand graduated from Indiana University Dental School in 2005. Post-graduation, he served our country in the United States Air Force for 5 years, deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After fulfilling his service to our country, he purchased a dental practice, where he quickly learned that there was much more to running a successful practice than merely being a good clinician. His business focus turned to overhead reduction in an attempt to control costs without sacrificing clinical excellence. Dr. Allmand quickly learned that there were many aspects of the business where doctors were being taken advantage of, one of the most evident being Credit Card Processing. As he researched the true cost of merchant services, he realized that it could be done better with more transparency, security, and fair treatment for all offices no matter their volume.
VIDEO - DUwHF #1191 - Zak Allmand
AUDIO - DUwHF #1191 - Zak Allmand
Dr. Allmand formed Apex Payment Solutions as a means to educate and assist his colleagues, helping them to control their costs and giving them the reassurance that they were getting a fair pricing while bringing secure technology that reduces the risk of credit card processing for health care offices. His goal is to remove these stresses so health care professionals can return their focus to what is truly important; caring for their patients.
Howard: It's just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Zack Allmand DDS, he graduated from Indiana University dental school in 2005 post graduation he served our country in the United States Air Force for five years deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom after fulfilling his service to our country he purchased a dental practice where he quickly learned that there was much more to running a successful practice than merely being a good clinician. His business focus turned to overhead reduction to control costs without sacrificing clinical excellence he quickly learned that there were many aspects of the business where doctors were being taken advantage of one of the most evident being credit card processing as he researched the true cost of merchant services he realized that it could be done better with more transparency security and fair treatment for all offices no matter their volume. Dr. Allmand formed Apex Payment solutions to educate and assist his colleagues helping them to control their costs and giving them the research that they were getting a fair pricing while bringing secure technology where that reduces the risk of credit card processing for health care goals. His goals is to remove these stresses so healthcare professionals can return their focus to what is truly important caring for their patients. First of all I want to say thank you so much for serving our country for five years.
Zak: You're very welcome, Howard it was an honor and thank you for having me on the podcast.
Howard: My gosh they say what only 1% of Americans serve
Zak: Yeah that's pretty accurate I believe it is.
Howard: One person so one percent serve and 99 percent benefit from your service so thank you so much for that. So I got to tell you how do you go from the air force to Apex Payment Solutions is that one of the takeaways you took away from the air force?
Zak: No not at all it's actually tripping through business after the air force's what led to this but it was it's been a long road learning things definitely with easy opportunity along the way I really really appreciated my time in the Air Force I learned some great clinical dentistry from some excellent clinicians I had some great mentors as well as through dental school but one of the things that that my military service didn't or didn't prepare me for was to run a business because you know when we're in the military we get the privilege of practicing and and what we called the ivory tower if we saw the work that needed to be done we did it for the patient and we had a captive audience and so it was a really great environment to learn and to just grow clinically but it really didn't prepare me at all for the business aspects of Dentistry and so I kind of trial and error lots of errors learn my way through that and kind of saw an opportunity to not only benefit my practice but also help my colleagues kind of learn something that they might not be exposed to.
Howard: I called you to be on the show you didn't call me and you had so many postings on dentaltown one was a thread called switch merchant services feel like an idiot, why how many dentists do you think have there's two hundred eleven thousand Americans with license dentists 150,000 are general dentists 32 hours a week or more thirty thousand specialists 32 hours a week or more. What percent of them actually do you think understand their credit card merchant fees what's going on in their office how many do you think I mean this guy obviously he switched to you and he feels like an idiot I mean you actually made him feel bad by letting by letting him realize shame on you Zak you made one of my homies feel horrible because he had no idea he was getting ripped off how many dentists what percent of the dentists you think are getting ripped off?
Zak: I would say that approximately 10% of dentists out there truly have a grasp on this aspect of the business side of things, the percentage of people getting ripped off I would I would say is very small but the people the percentage of individuals that could have a better control over this cost is very high I would say it's close to probably 80% of dental practices out there are leaving money on the table with their merchant services.
Howard: Now you talked about being in the Air Force for five years you gotta remember you know old guys like me read books so the people listening to podcasts a quarter of them are still in dental school and the rest are all under 30 which by the way you look like you're about 25 how old are you?
Zak: I turned 40 in January Howard.
Howard: How come you still look like you're 29?
Zak: I would love to say its clean living but it's you know my kids keep me young my family keeps me young try to stay very active and just good genetics I got to thank mom out there.
Howard: So well thank you mom so first of all I'm afraid that everybody in dental school has never even thought about credit card merchant now they all go without their Visa card and use it but let's start basic what is credit card merchant what does that even mean and when you say only 10% of dentists understand it probably only 1% of dental students so start from the elementary what is credit card merchant services?
Zak: So you have your major credit cards Visa Mastercard Discover American Express for the most part and so everybody has one of those every business accepts those. Merchant services is the business of facilitating and securing the transaction so if you go into let's just say you go into your coffee shop your Starbucks and you order a latte the credit card machine that you swipe your card on or tap your card or tap your phone that's not provided by the actual credit card company that's provided by a third-party company that is a go-between between the merchants which is Starbucks in this case and the credit card companies which are Visa MasterCard Discover now the major credit card companies don't actually sell their rate they go to other companies there's the biggest one out there is first data and they provide over 40 percent of the global transactions and what they are is kind of a clearinghouse for all the credit card companies because the merchant services company provides the next day funding of the cards basically gets you your money faster than the credit card company could and so they provide the security of that transaction and the verification of the funds on the card verifying that it is an active real card and then that way you get your next day funding from the merchant services company and then we kind of put ourselves on the line on the day-to-day operations and then the credit card companies provide the funding on a monthly basis so we're in the business of giving you a secure transaction facilitating a quick transaction and getting your funds more quickly than the credit card companies would even if they ever even good.
Howard: Are you working with so how do you do it you work with First Data did you pick a bank like chase or Wells Fargo or how did you do this?
Zak: So we actually operate on the same level as the major banks like Bank of America Fifth Third PNC all of those companies and us are independent sales organizations of first data. So first day to kind of farms out there their merchant services to get the word out and to get new clients so we provide the same level of service same level of security as the major banks do but we have the flexibility to do it more efficiently and at a better rate because we have you know we're not the giant corporations that kind of get bogged down with the procedures that they have and that kind of set the set sale standards they have we kind of can operate in a more flexible manner in the space of Dentistry is what I've chosen to do so because it's a very low-risk atmosphere or low-risk environment most of the time people that are that are having these procedures done and they're just swiping their credit cards it's easy to verify that they were there that they were the ones receiving the treatment so it's easy to offer a lower rate than for say...
Howard: Palm reading
Zak: An online store so there are palm reading sure but so yeah we operate on the same level we are an independent sales organization of first data and we basically buy our rate from them and then provide it to two dentists.
Howard: So you completely focused just on dentistry.
Zak: That's the space that I'm most comfortable and I'm it's easy to relate to my colleagues in the space to talk to them about our platform and how it's beneficial in a dental office we do like to focus we are focused on health care offices just because that's our mission statement to help health care providers provide yeah we just eliminate this hurdle from from their lives right we take the stress away from them so that way they can focus their energies on continuing education or other aspects of the practice I just really feel a calling to kind of help my colleagues just reduce that stress by providing a fair rate so they don't have to think about it on a daily or monthly basis.
Howard: So when you talk about credit cards there's Visa MasterCard American Express Discover card if you go to a bar and you have a Samsung and Discover card you're never gonna date the rest of your life you have to have an iPhone and an American Express gold or you're not even gonna get it on the dance floor but one thing I've noticed it seems like the United States is mostly Visa yet when you go to all the other continents it's mostly MasterCard is that what you have noticed?
Zak: It is it's you know it's really it's close to 5050 in the dental practices really from what we've seen American Express definitely has a lower market share because they have a higher fee for their cards so a lot you know there's a lot of dental offices that don't even accept American Express because their merchant services provider it's batched out as a different batch and it's confusing and they don't have next day funding so they just elect not to take it but what we have found is that the larger ticket transactions are usually run on an American Express so it's because the individuals with the discretionary income to do elective dental work want to put it on a higher rewards card or have access to a Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express or you know probably you have the Centurion card and you could just put it down there and do a $40,000 full mouth reconstruction.
Howard: Sure dude I got divorce so III hit even get a car I had to walk to work I'm thinking about maybe saving up for a mule or a goat but you know on American Express it reminds me of Facebook I mean these dentists have all these Facebook pages for their dental office and they don't have a LinkedIn page like dude everyone at LinkedIn has a job and has insurance and as an engineer or I mean they're all high-end. I mean when I get a patient from LinkedIn they just want to know well you're the doctor what would you do if this was on you or your mom and well you get someone from Facebook they're like you know what's the cheapest thing we can do or pull the one that's hurt I mean I mean LinkedIn is a whole nother level and it's the same what you just said with American Express I mean someone who has an American Express card is not gonna pull their tooth and get a flipper the person with the American Express card is gonna basically just like whenever I talked to my doctors I said my only question is well what would you do if I if you were me and so yeah focusing on Facebook / LinkedIn just shows that you do not get social media but you know were you saying that Visa and MasterCard we're 5050 in the United States?
Zak: In a dental setting it's I would say maybe 65 35 60 40 but the difference is not that drastic.
Howard: Wow because because you can literally go to Brazil and places like that where I mean every billboard every everybody's using MasterCard and I see the same thing in Cambodia Malaysia I mean just seems like it's only MasterCard in the developing world and you don't get into Visa and American Express until you get into about the 20 most developed countries and so Discover card that's still a thing I'm surprised that's still a thing?
Zak: It's a very small percentage but it is still a thing.
Howard: and when Sears goes bankrupt Sears is they just don't know it yet they're on life support when Sears goes under we'll discover card go under or do you think they'll sell that asset off somewhere?
Zak: I think they'll sell that asset off they're still they're still in a market for it but it is small it's smaller we do we don't deal that much with Discover Card but you know the rewards levels are pretty good and and the cost of the card is not that high and either so it's more comparable to the visa and the mastercard.
Howard: So they always say you know on gecko you know 15 minutes can save you 15% of your insurance so now they're listening to you right now so the next 15 minutes so I'm tell them how they can save 15% on their merchant fees, what is what is a good acceptable merchant fee what are you seeing in the marketplace what could you do better for them?
Zak: So let's start with what are we seeing in the marketplace the average rates in the marketplace are somewhere between two point three and three point two okay and that's what when we're talking that we're talking what's called effective rate and that's really all you need to be concerned with at the end of the day as a business owner for $10,000 of treatment per month what am I paying a merchant services fees or credit card fees because the truth of the matter is there's a lot of different layers to it because you're paying your visa Network fee or MasterCard Network fee your kilobyte you know there's all these different fees that that the major card companies charge in trickle down to the merchant really the only thing that we can control as a merchant services company is the basis point or the rate that we charge to facilitate the services. So rates like I said are anywhere from 2.3 to 3.0 and that depends somewhat it will fluctuate based off of what type of card you accept most that month like if you have a full mouth reconstruction that somebody throws $40,000 down on an American Express that interchange rate is going to be higher and the interchange rate is what the credit card company itself charges you so that's a controlled expense we can't do anything about that but what our goal should be for healthcare offices really should be an effective rate of around two to 2.2 percent again that fluctuates slightly based off of whether you're taking a lot of debit cards or high expense cards but there's no reason that the a dental office should be paying any higher than that. The reason most offices are paying higher than that is because statements are confusing some merchant services companies will take that confusion and use it to their benefit to throw in hidden fees to increase rates without notifying the client in just when you look at the statements most offices get to about the second page and then they just say oh I don't even know what I'm looking at here let's just we'll just pay the bill is automatically debited from my account it's done it's just the cost of doing business and to a certain extent that's true but there's always ways to save money and that's kind of one of my passions in dentistry but also within this within this spaces is education you know showing people showing offices how to read their statements what can you look look at what are what are expenses that you can control or negotiate and where can we save you money and the whole reason I or the whole way that I started this or the whole way this came about like your original question when I went to purchase my practice I purchased that with a partner and we had a great relationship with our bank lender is a really good guy gave us a great rate on the practice loan and when we were closing he's like okay you guys are going to need merchant services okay that makes sense he's like I'll just use the he's my guy he's great he'll give you a great rate because you're you're you got your loan through our bank and so we went to him and he gave us a quote and I literally was on a dentaltown post looking at merchant services as somebody had recommended another company sounds like ah you know it never hurts to get a competing quote in the two quotes were like miles apart like this is crazy how can this be so I got a third quote and it was somewhere in between the other two but every time when I went to get a quote the sales rep would say well you know let me see your most recent statements and then we'll do a cost savings comparison it's like okay I've kind of figured this game out because and then I went took back quote to somebody else and then they beat the other guy by just a little bit took that one to somebody else maybe to buy just a little bit and so fortunately for me I have a friend that I friendship that I developed a relationship with in the Air Force and he got out of commercial banking and started his own merchant services company and so I had that resource he was in the commercial space looking at restaurants bars service industry and I went to him and I said hey I know you don't do dental offices you're focusing on the restaurant space but can you just help me decipher this understand this let me know if I'm getting a good rate and you know he looked at me he's like dude you're you're getting screwed he's like this you know this fees unnecessary this fees on this air this rates high he's like I'll tell you what let's let's run my merchant services through your office to see if there's any reason why we can't do this in the dental space and so we did that for about a year and realize that lo and behold credit card processing is credit card processing it doesn't matter who you are there's different areas of risk where we can minimize things but what we decided to do is we try decided to use the platform that he had already created the relationship with first data that he had and then tailor it to a dental office because I had the expertise in the dental field and in kind of the mindset of a dentist to take a look at payments from the dental perspective and we did some research and kind of partnered with another company that provides an online platform that that basically eases the way the dental offices can get payments you know I said I wanted my website to be able to take online payments boom this platform does it I wanted to be able to run automated monthly payment plans in my office with no fees boom we can do it we have an online platform where I can actually go in and reconcile my end of day reports paper I have the ultimate control over who can run refunds I can give different authorizations and basically just have this platform that operates beautifully within the Dental space and allows me to the freedom treatment plan more freely and to we remove hurdles from patients when accepting payments they say oh I don't I don't want to pay it all upfront okay we can do a six month payment plan in office no fees boom great oh I don't have my credit card right now well you can go home and you can pay online at 10 p.m. tonight if you want to boom good. So it's all about reducing hurdles increasing the number of ways that we can accept payments so that we have to chase after those payments less.
Howard: So does the practice management system and a lot of these kids are working as an associate somewhere they want to have their own office does do you think any of the practice management systems work better with your with your software?
Zak: So currently no because we are a standalone processing company we don't have direct integration with any of the major practice management systems and there's a couple reasons why that it's a closed system they only accept they only have partnerships with a limited number of limited number of companies but the main reason is my whole mission with this company is to keep our costs low so we can provide savings to our clients if we have the direct integration piece in most cases not all cases but in most cases we would have to pay them a fee or pay them a percentage of each of the transaction which would increase our costs which would increase the costs that we would have the offset or pass on to the dental offices and really with the functionality and the tools that we have with the online platform our system is easier to use and it takes two seconds more for to post the payment in them in the patient ledger but with our like we have a lot of offices that that is that was an initial concern do you have direct integration with Open Dental do you have direct integration with either soft we don't but what we have is direct communication what the credit card companies what that means is that our transactions process more quickly and the time the saved with the processing of the transaction your front office staff can already be inputting the payment into the ledger and at the end of the day the process takes less time and we provided a much lower rate it's a win for the office.
Howard: Well you know I got out of school probably almost I guess I got a school when you were eight years old and back in the day the it was very hard to embezzle I mean you you were writing paper checks you had a peg board system is a very physical deal I only caught one time a check that was missing never never came in and I get my checks back and so finally called my bank and they said well what number is it and they said you know that cleared and I so I didn't write a check and they I went over to Chase Bank and that this was back in 87 or 88 and she showed me a picture you know they had a black of my picture of my dental assistant cashing a check for twelve hundred bucks I brought the I brought the picture back he showed it to her and she just burst out bawling and ran out the door and that was the end of it I just let it go but now with the digital world I'm hearing a lot of people are embezzling with their credit card no that's the dentist has no idea I mean there's so many digital ways embezzle so what are your thoughts about what you're doing and the dental office at first of all how do you embezzle I want to I want to learn how to embezzle for myself so what what well are you seeing little embezzlement in dental offices?
Zak: Absolutely absolutely and at the risk of providing more information to dental office staff than they need about how to embezzle I'll share our story with you we had a new client last year 2018 that after about three months of processing with us the owner gave me a call and he said hey I haven't I think there's something wrong with your system because when I search for refunds I get the same refund the same day of the month to the same credit card and I don't know where it's coming from and so we were able to through the online platform track those numbers call the credit card company see who the card is and what we found out was that it was his front office staff that was running a refund to her debit card once a month when she would come in to run their payment plans this and this was before switching to us and so I said hey well here's the numbers and I don't hear from him for about a week and then he calls me back he says this has been going on for three years never would have caught it unless we had switched to you and it's because we have the online platform where the doctor has the ultimate control over one you can assign usernames to who can run transactions two you have the credit card numbers the amounts and like all the information is at your fingertips and he said he had gone back to his previous merchant services provider and had them it took him a week to get all of his monthly statements have them printed and faxed to him and he had to go through each line and look for each refund but he was able to trace it back for three years with us it took five seconds because you can sort all the data by transaction type you can look at chargebacks you can look at refunds I mean it's just so much more security for the owner or the office manager to allow for oversight of what's going on in the practice. The other nice thing about our platform is you can link multiple locations so we have a lot of multi practice groups where they all have either an accountant that's running all the books or a finance person they can actually with one login access all locations and monitor the transactions in real time so I can see exactly what's going on the limits 50 offices with one login but you can actually see the transactions you can run your end of day reports without being on location without printing off more paper it just allows for a more a more advanced more modern dental office paperless it just allows us to be more clean and organized we can download all your transactions directly into QuickBooks for your accountant I mean it's a simplifythis we can make it.
Howard: Yeah the QuickBooks thing it makes me sad I mean uh quicken which owns QuickBooks QuickBooks Pro I mean I mean that that's for an individual and these dentists are running their business from it I mean we're on peachtree which i think is now is owned by sage Microsoft bought great planes so Microsoft GP but it's just frightening how dentists are running their dental offices on a personal quicken or QuickBooks Pro you know I guess it's a pro if you have no idea what accounting means and when I talked to the dental office consultants they say when they go into a dental office fifty percent of them of the time half the time they catch embezzling and you have very low overhead I can't believe how low is your dental office overhead?
Zak: How low is my little office overhead we hover between 37 and 42 percent.
HOward: Okay well the average is sixty five percent overhead and the easiest dollar earned is a dollar and expenses say the second easiest dollar earned is a dollar in taxes delayed and the hardest damn dollar you'll ever earn is doing another MOD composite in fact last week I had to walk in a room and it was for MOD composites on two three four and five as I dude I'm I'm I'm old that that's just work I mean there's there's no shortcuts there so I would rather I mean I mean so what why do you think um why do you think you have basically half the overhead of the average general dentist's office which is 65 percent?
Zak: I wish that I could take all the credit but I can't first off I have a great partner in my dental practice that we share a lot of the business responsibilities in the practice having another partner in the practice allows us a little bit more time to kind of dive into expenses and you know opposites attract right my partner is very he's the great voice of reason and it's amazing because I have these hey let's do this let's do this well let's look at our expenses can we can we afford it we and we you know we have a great method of we don't pay for anything we can't write a check for but what we do through our processes is we're constantly reinvestigating and reopening our expenses taking a look at you know lab expenses you know we added a CEREC okay we're using the right blocks what are we using for impression material constantly renegotiating rates on things we don't like to sign contracts because contracts just open you up to added expenses it's a never-ending battle but it's it's one of the things like when we bought our practice it was it was a great practice great patience well-run just a great practice but it was dated and we knew that we wanted to bring it up to speed but we did it in chunks we took small bites we digitized we had it yeah it was a paper chart office we added computers the first year we added big screens in the operatories to present treatment and then the next year we did a renovation office renovation and then the year after that we invested in a CEREC and then you know it's just kind of this and then this and then this but but a lot of times what I feel a lot of new practice owners and a lot of startups run into is they feel they have the excitement and they want them they want the newest the nicest the best equipment and they tend to get taken advantage of through sales people that are just not necessarily pushy but make it seem yeah you need this yeah you need that brand new cone beam yes you need a CEREC well does it really make sense you know at that point time we're doing 50 to 60 units of fix a month so I think a CEREC makes sense if we were doing five to six units a month absolutely doesn't make sense. So it's just kind of taking that comments approach but it's really nice to have somebody to bounce ideas off of so that way you see it from a different angle as well.
Howard: Wow that that is amazing what what do you what do you what do you what is the average dentist paying on merchant fees and then what are they after they sign up for them I mean like like Geico always says you know you say about 15% and I believed him because it was told to me by a green frog but what are you seeing
Zak: Well first of all I think I need a mascot to say this if you can help me come up with a good mascot that'd be great but like I said the average I would say the average dental office is paying between two point four and two point six percent you know if we average everybody together and for 2018 95 percent of our clients we're processing between one point eight to two point one percent effective rate so that means all in with all fees and everything.
Howard: So when they called you there averaging two point four to two point six and then aft and then when they get with you I'd turned into what rate?
Zak: As a good dentist I always like to under promise and over deliver so let's say two point one percent.
Howard: So okay so she's in dental school and she's saying what's really the difference between two point one in three point two I mean what make that more realtor what does that actually mean I mean in a dental office?
Zak: Sure, let's do a quick calculation and I like to do this for our dental offices so let's say that you're doing let's say the average is twenty five thousand dollars a month in credit cards I think that's a good average for an established practice okay. So if we're looking at twenty five thousand dollars a month and let's say they're on the at three percent for vaps month they're paying 750 dollars in versus services fees multiply that by twelve months and you're looking at nine thousand dollars.
Zak: With us for twenty five thousand dollars let's say that they're out our higher end of two point one percent you're looking at five hundred twenty-five dollars multiply that by 12 months you're looking at 6300 dollars so you're looking at a savings of nearly three thousand dollars on a year when people look at that when you look at that on a monthly basis it's like oh that's only like 150 dollars a month that's not that much but if I say okay well I'm gonna hand you a check at the end of the year for three thousand dollars just to switch to me that's all you need to do and I'm gonna send you give you a check for $3,000 there you go like that pays for your staff Christmas bonuses oh you know you ever sat over five years that's 15 grand you could buy new piece of equipment do sterilizer and it's just but that's the whole that's the whole rub with with overhead the small percentage changes really add up over time. What I was he'll office is it's not about raising the ceiling you can only produce so much just like you said with your back to back to back to back MOD's like you're gonna kill yourself you can only do so much dentistry before you hit your ceiling the only way to give you more Headroom is to lower the floor you got to lower that floor as much as possible and that's it that's a constant battle it is that's the business ownership that we didn't learn in dental school you know dental school was great to teach clinical skills and an ethical way of practicing dentistry but I for one don't believe that it's dental schools responsibility to make you a good business owner that's on you that's what separates successful businesses from poorly run businesses and if you run your business successfully if you run the business side of Dentistry successfully it frees you up to do the dentistry that you want to do to take the courses that you want to take and to become an excellent dentist I mean that's the beauty of it if you can just run it efficiently it frees you up to become a better dentist.
Howard: You know I've always seen it in dentists and their personal lives and their business life and like a lot of people you know the is it's not what you're and it's what you burn they just have massive spending problems and you know which employees they come in because they're always coming in stressed out and they want to raise they're always talking about more money more money more money because it's never dawned on them that they live beyond their means and when you go into a dental office and everybody's in the sales mind like sales market advertise let's do a flyer let's redo the way everybody's in a sales their overheads high their stress is high and the best marriages are when you got to people who are savers who live below their means and then they retire 55 and you know they're all set and and I love dentists in fact my four boys say the greatest thing about dentistry does they think all the dad's friends that are dentists they just said they're just so cool they've always said since they were 10 years old damn dentists are really cool I say no they got eight years of college they're readers they don't really read fiction they read history and business they're just smart people but the downside of the dentist set when you choose a profession to help people live healthier lives and do surgery all day along with your hands they're not really good negotiators and they don't ever you know the dental support the Patterson rep will come in and bring him doughnuts and say oh my god Zak you look so good today we uh and and they just it's not in their nature to haggle and you see it also on vacations if you're gonna cruise with a bunch of dentists and they never hackle for a price I mean they'll be in some underdeveloped world the first price they'll pay and they'll tip I mean it's just really not the culture to haggle it is in several countries haggling is most of the fun of shopping I mean it's like they don't even want this they just want to argue with you for ten minutes and get it for half of what you started so how do you how do you take this loving caring shy introvert physicist engineer dentists and teach them to start haggling and start questioning how much he's paying for impression material from the Patterson rap or the merchant fees are how do you how do you change that mindset?
Zak: I don't know if I'm the best person to ask because I've never been that introvert I've always haggling is a sport to me.
Howard: That's why you have 39% overhead
Zak: and it's I think it's more more of a confidence issue and this is purely my kind of observances it's because a lot of people do get into, there's two types of dentists I feel there are those that that have the mindset of I'm getting in this purely to help people and in there they're kind of the kind hearted individuals that they just they want to help and then there's the other in that and that is great and then there's the another subset that look at dentistry as a means to an end and they see you know I want this type of lifestyle I want to earn this amount of money and be able to retire at this age and that's great too. What I find is that the best dentist that I've encountered the people that I like to surround myself with are mixture of both you know that have that kind serving heart but also have the kind of killer instinct when it comes to business I don't know that it is something that can be taught but it can be it's something that can be learned exactly with what you're doing I mean you know. I love podcasts because it it just allows our world to get that much smaller because you can hear about other people's experiences and you can glean little pearls of wisdom from from this podcast or from this podcast like I was listening to which one was that yeah I think it might have been the one you're most recently we've got a Jonathan cook yeah what it was with it the multiple practice multiple practice mentality in how he you know learned from his first partnership in the thought of like bringing multiple practices in under one roof I'm sitting here thinking why the hell haven't I thought of this like why am I not why that why am I not trying to do this you know and you just kind of it allows you to see other people's successes and learn from them and try to incorporate those in that into your life and you know and that's like one of the most fun things about this for me is just interacting with the young dentists or the new business owner is I'm not that far removed from I'm about six years six years removed from from new ownership and the first six months were a lot of sleepless nights a little bit too much bourbon and just you know just this a lot of stress and to be able to like relate to these dentists and be like hey it's gonna be okay have you looked at this who are you using for this because I've I can pass on the knowledge that I've learned and it might not be the right knowledge for everyone's circumstance but it at least gives them somebody to sound off on or a sounding board and gives them something else to look at so that maybe they're not going with the first person they look at kind of thing and it allows them to protect it and it's just I've always felt that that you know dental school graduates competition a little bit I don't like that mentality I like to I think that there's plenty of dentistry to go around and we can all be successful and and just live fulfilling lives in our profession if we just cooperate with each other and don't have that have that competitive nature with each other but so you know I'm just I'm just trying to have fun with this it's a really enjoyable process and I really enjoy helping people but you know it's funny I'll share another story there was there was an individual last year that I had a conversation with where I kind of showed her what our pricing structure looked like compared to our current one and and she was really getting hammered we could save her over a thousand dollars a month and she literally stopped the conversation in and just said I'm sorry but I just can't hear this right now and she said I just can't deal with this I can't believe that this is happening I have to let you go and I never heard from her again in it it's it's almost like you know she didn't want she wanted to see but she just wanted to be told that she was getting a good deal and then when I when I kind of pulled the wool back off her eyes it's not something she wanted to face that that no she wasn't really getting the best deal that she could you know so you're going to have those but but the more people we exposed to this and say hey this is this is what a fair pricing structure is the more competitive it's going to make the entire market the more honest that's going to keep other companies or people are just going to start leaving them and and at the end of the day if we can provide a better product and take that stress off your hands and you can do better dentistry it's just it's a win-win for everybody and it's a win for the patients.
Howard: but you know you're talking about how much money you can save them per month and over 12 months how much this year they have no idea how much your being embezzled from. I mean if they don't have that and I'll tell you what it really hurts I mean I have seen dentists cry in my house because the lady doing it was the godmother of their child she was at the baptism she's been there for 15 years and some of these people when they find out it's been going on for years it's two or three hundred thousand dollars and the emotional pain believe it or not is worse than the financial pain I mean they just feel so betrayed you know. So the online report I gosh I mean III just they just don't realize how many digital ways like how many digital ways can you think of to embezzle from an office if you were working in a dental office how many ways could you steal my money?
Zak: At Least five
Howard: and I bet the dentist doesnt check any of those and another thing I've been helping dentists one of the things I believe is you know you can't make like you can't make me an NBA player I mean I'm too old you know I'm 56 I'm too short I don't think there's any five-foot-seven Irishpeople in the NBA but I always tell dentists you look in your family like you got a sister-in-law who's a bookkeeper at an accounting firm you got you got you know why can't you find someone that you trust to come in and help you do these things that you just don't like to do I mean some people naturally like you called it a killer instinct have that but if you don't and in order to have stay-at-home spouses and you know they say divorce there's three it's a third a third a third it's money sex and substance abuse I think a lot of spouses are on the spending because they're not involved in their spouses owning the dental office they hear things like well how much is it how much you charge for a crown and the doctors say a thousand but they don't know that the they did it through insurance and then they only got 650 they don't understand there's two-thirds overhead and they think their spouse makes a lot more money and then the dentist is embarrassed he doesn't want a spouse to know how little he makes which is completely wrong because now she's spending more because she thinks you have more but there's just but I mean if you don't have the insight to look over something like accounting and embezzling look around your family somebody could help you because again it's happening in half the dental offices.
Zak: You know you say that though but a lot of times the embezzlements coming from those closest to you know you bring up the the spouse like I am extremely fortunate to have a spouse who's also a dentist and she is very supportive she's the only reason that I can practice dentistry and operate apex payment solutions she's just you know the rock that we have in the house and she gets it a very savvy business minded individual but a lot of times those spouses exactly like who you're saying I actually remember I saw you speak at a Paragon meeting in Columbus Ohio in 2012 and you were talking about that the spouse that's the office manager that's projects goes home and eats bonbons and you probably didn't even notice this but a woman stood up like she was gonna fight you and her husband grabbed her shoulder and sat her back down and it's like you gotta understand like you didn't mean that you were just you know making an anecdotal joke and you you have to have the the self-awareness to be able to to let that roll off your shoulders right but the same thing comes into play when it comes into bookkeeping because let's say you hire that that cousin who oh you know kids she's a great girl she just graduated giving our first job she looks at all this money coming into the dental practice it says well why does he deserve all of this I can keep a little bit of that it won't matter in the end. You know at the end of the day I'm a firm believer that it arrests firmly on our shoulders we want it done right yes we have to set up procedural procedures and standards to allow things to operate in the OP in the office but the end at the end of the day the buck stops here that's why I like our online platform because at the end of the day I can I can log in from home it's all cloud-based I can log in from my office I just go back and I look what's going on in that day to day transactions so that way I know that all my T's are crossed and my I's are dotted and I can go to sleep knowing that it hasn't happened on the credit card end now you know you have to keep track of things like in your books where are your write-offs going things like that but it's eliminating one piece of the puzzle so you can focus on other things.
Howard: I usually feel a doctor's wife says name Muffy now that makes the hair on their neck stand up even firmer and faster when I refer to is Muffy. I want to switch gears completely because of another issue I'm I always sit here trying to guess what the questions are asking and I know in dental school they're thinking will forget about embezzlement there's they're there they're afraid of hackers I mean hackers are getting into the biggest banks and corporations in the world when they you know so talk about a hacking and and a lot of that's even a HIPAA violation. I mean can you imagine getting hacked and then your friendly government says oh by the way you got a hack and that's a HIPAA violation so here's another fee on top of that so talk about HIPAA and hacking.
Zak: So when it comes strictly to credit card processing HIPAA doesn't get involved so but where it gets tricky or gets the water gets muddy is if you're storing credit card data on your servers or in your practice management software. So the way that hacking can occur in a credit card Mercer Services Avenue let's say is anywhere that your payment portal is whether it's in office through the physical terminal hardwired to the internet through your payment portal on your website or through your practice management system if you are storing credit card data. That's one of the areas that we have addressed with the platform so everything we have is cloud-based and encrypted it's also insured for up to $100,000 per incident but all the payment plans that you create for your office are all stored as an encrypted token on our server. When a patient goes to your website to pay through the pay now tab they're redirected to a hosted payment page that's hosted on our server so you have no risk or liability in the online transaction you have no risk or liability for storing credit card data on your practice management system in your server. We offer the highest security portals out there we use the clover system of in office payment terminals and you know we have PCI compliance which is a whole nother bag of worms that a lot of people don't understand what's this PCI compliance to you what what does that do why are you charging me in this fee and what they don't realize is that it's actually a government mandated program to help protect you the merchant from us the merchant services provider because you have scans run once a month that test your firewall test for any openings for hackers to get in and all that is is done with our platform to try and protect you the dentist from these threats right so it's a real threat it is a real concern using you see practices all the time who with ransomware that aren't doing their daily backups and to think about that then also think about oh I was storing mrs. Jones credit card on there that they now have mrs. Jones credit card information and oh no they just had a $10,000 plane ticket bought on her card and Oh crud I'm liable for that because it was on my system so you know it's a lot of things people don't even think about that the security of our platform helps to eliminate so you don't have to think about.
Howard: What percent of dentists do you think are storing credit card information and their practice around your software?
Zak: I would say 50 percent are either storing it in their software or on a rolodex on their front I kid you not I've seen it yeah
Howard: and what do you think of a dentist storing on credit card information and their Dentrix Soft dent and open dental what do you what do you think of that?
Zak: I mean you're just opening yourself up for risk and liability why would you do that like it especially if you need to have a merchant services company that takes that risk for you like that's the whole that's one of the whole reasons why we even exists is we take the risk and liability of the transaction.
Howard: So I always tell dentists you know shoot me an email Howard@dentaltown.com and if you if you want certain topics or questions or leave a comments in the youtube by the way our youtube channel just past 10,000 but I've been asked this question several times but I'm gonna throw it at you because only you could be close enough to it so you're talking about encrypting credit card data some dentists are asking about there's this new there's this new dental coin it's a Bitcoin for the dental industry and sometimes they have legitimate questions they say well wouldn't the blockchain method be better than encryption and so then my thoughts to you is what do you think about blockchain Bitcoin and dentacoin and they're specifically asking a lot about dentacoin and I know that's not fair to throw out you but I don't know what other guests I could have to ask him a blockchain question, I bet you've thought about it.
Zak: I'll preface this with you know there's been a lot of discussion especially because in the credit card world you're looking at transactions and currency and Bitcoin and blockchain they're a new form of currency my expertise does not lie in this. My concern with using something like denta coin is you're you're a little bit I might be miss speaking but based off of my knowledge of Bitcoin let's just say dental coin is valued at $1,000 one day you you accept that for your payment over your crown and then the next day it takes in six hundred tanks down to six hundred day well then you just did it basically did a PPO fee for your crown and so there's not the stability of the blockchain in my opinion but again I'm no expert in this so sorry for not being able to answer that specifically.
Howard: So if someone what what how involved do they got again if they just want to know compare apex payment solutions if they go to Apexpaymentsolutions.com what do they have to do for you to analyze because they probably don't even know they probably don't even know what they're paying versus you they how could they see what it looks like on this terminal to see if their best friend Susie up at the front desk is a refunding I mean my gosh I hear all the time you know that someone will pay on their credit card and they'll take the credit card and they'll send the payment right to their own personal credit card and then they go into then they go into the product energy of software and just write it off and they did and once you do it and don't get caught and then sort of once a month and it's once a week I mean I routinely will hear dentists that when they finally found out about the whole thing it's a quarter million dollars four hundred thousand dollars and again it's not even the money like it should be they're just emotionally traumatized, so how do I would they get a how do they contact you and find out what's going on?
Zak: So the best way to contact us is either directly through the website or you can reach out to me directly Zak@Apexpaymentsolutions.com I'm a big fan of transparency what I like to do is I will lead with kind of our rates and our fees kind of our pricing structure because there's multiple ways the different merchant services companies will price their merchant services so what I do is I lead with our pricing and then I say then we run a cost comparison savings where we plug in that pricing structure and compared to what you currently have that way you already know what I'm charging as my rate and you just want to see what it looks like into your practice and then we you know we can do online online tutorials of the online platform showing you the different features because as you know it's is really robust my favorite feature of the online platform is the automated monthly payment plan management software because it's literally you set up the payment plan your front office has to do nothing with it for the rest of the course of it, it runs automatically it verifies the card automatically every month it's completely customizable you get notification that a payment was made the patient gets an email notification that a payment was made it runs seamlessly. In our office we have almost completely eliminated Care Credit and third-party financing because we use this and we're a heavy Invisalign practice cosmetic cases but when we present our treatment plans we're presenting them with payment plans that are in-house with a 25% down payment and then we spread the court spread the payments over the course of the Invisalign treatment with the automated monthly payment plan management software like I'm also eliminating the need to bring in your office manager on a Friday when you guys aren't working so she can run those monthly payments or call track down Mrs. Smith to see if she can run a payment for her card because that runs automatically so I don't you're not paying the man-hours anymore so there's additional savings on top of that that people don't even think about when it comes to overhead you have to look at it from all different angles.
Howard: So if they go to trying to be technical if they go to Apexpaymentsolutions.com what do they what do they click and what do they where do they go for?
Zak: There should be there should be an email address it's either support@Apexpaymentsolutions.com there should be it we are working on the webpage last week we're getting ready to roll out a new platform and it might not be there hold on one second.
Howard: I'm trying to see on I gotta see terminals gateways POS what does pos that's what my four boys always call me POS is that uh...
Zak: Point of Sales
Howard: I don't think that's what they mean I don't support o application setup is that where they would go application set up?
Howard: Okay under client support it says contact inquire and then for sales questions call our main office one eight hundred two seven zero seven one six four or but you get away your email on the on the deal so they can just send you an email you said Zak@Apexpaymentsolutions.com and what word what is your close rate when someone when someone calls you up for when my homies call you up what would brew said I'm do you actually convert?
Zak: If I get actual contact with them where I'm either doing a face-to-face or a voice you know a voice call we're at about 65% just because I can really make that connection and you know they see oh you are a dentist you understand the situation I'm in so we were pretty good close rate but that's our whole point like why we've priced it as aggressively as we have because my goal is once we capture a client we don't lose them we don't have any contracts we have no early termination fees we have no need to like have shady business practices to keep our clients we keep them with great customer service and low rates. Like that's one of the things I hate about dentistry or I hate about you know I mean is just contracts I've got contracts for my medical waste disposal I've got contracts for my website design it's like if you are really providing a great service at a great rate do you need a contract do you like it's force me to stay with you...
Howard: It's a huge red flag and they fall for it all the time it's the same thing with consultants like a dental consultant the best ones will say okay I'm a thousand dollars a month and I've told them all you can't be a dental consultant in dentistry for five ten twenty thirty years and not have the dentist get that money back and more and then other consultants come along say oh well you gotta sign a one-year contract just like it's like could you imagine going on a date with someone she said Oh to take me out of the day I'm gonna need a one-year contract I mean it's crazy but they do it all the time.
Zak: You know you know and one of the other the other things that we do like as value-added pieces is we provide all of our equipment at cost there's no ongoing leases there's no hidden fees we we lower the threshold than it takes for clients to transfer to us we make it as easy as possible and we try to do it as fairly as possible a lot of different companies will although they'll promise you a low rate but then they jack up your your lease on this $300 terminal that over the course of your contract costs you seven grand or something like that and it's just ridiculous why would you operate that way. You know it's really it at the end of the day my business is my name and I I'm out there I'm on the line with this I put it out there that's why I gave my personal email address anybody has any questions feel free to reach out directly to me clients have problems with me they've got my direct number if they're not getting the support they need they call me and then they get the support they need because I'm on somebody to get back to them.
Howard: That is amazing um you're still a general dentist um a successful general dentist what would advice would you give she graduated from school she's gonna graduate you know in a month um this is April May they're gonna dump out another class of dentist what advice would you give them? If you were given that the graduation speech where you know they all want to go drink beer and they're all praying that you keep it really really short what would be your succinct advice to them?
Zak: It would be too late at that point because I think everybody's already made their decision if I were to give a a speech to a third third-year dental student I would say 100 percent of time enrolling in AEGD you have to have a good clinical foundation to your dentistry before you can focus on anything else because you have to be confident in your skills before you can confidently present them to patients but then after that I mean it's getting CE is just becoming confident in who you are as a dentist getting confident in your clinical skills because we should never have to sell dentistry and a lot of people like you know like you said when you have a high overhead or if you're an associate in the DSO and you've got these production goals or you've got a mortgage payment you've got to make it's it becomes more about selling something and patients don't respond well to that. I got I've heard you say this multiple times live within your means or under your means for decade if you want to be successful for the rest of your life too often people come out of dental school thinking oh man the world is my oyster I'm just gonna go kill it and anymore that's that's not the case with high interest rates on loans early repayments you know we're competing with DSOs and these large corporate chains you've got to kind of hunker down pay down your debt live within your means and you have the freedom to open the practice you want with all the bells and whistles that you want but you can't come out of dental school thinking that you're just gonna go walk right into that it takes hard work and it takes time.
Howard: What I love about you and your message and all that is you know so many times you're listening to these dentists and they're in Beverly Hills or in Key Biscayne they're in downtown Manhattan and no offense but you're a Hoosier out in the middle of Indiana and that's why that's I mean I know everyone talk about religion sex politics violence and now sports I'm supposed to not talk about but but you know the reason Trump got elect is because no one likes to pay attention to that whole Middle America and I like to point to dentists like I I would rather a dentist in Salina Kansas or Tulsa Oklahoma listen to someone from Indianapolis than Beverly Hills like when these guys were talking about how many movie stars they have how many movie stars even live in your city?
Zak: Maybe one or two
Howard: Maybe one or two I mean I mean I love these cases where you're in middle America you're not in lifestyles of the rich and famous and you're crushing it and a lot of people think that you know to be successful you got to be where all the money is for instance when they come to Arizona where does every dentist want to open up their practice when they come to Arizona?
Howard: Scottsdale and then and then you go down south to Eloy they don't even have a dentist you go to Florence they need two more you go to Maricopa you could double the number of dentists there and they'd still get a hundred new patients a month and then and then when that lasts 2008 when Lehman's brother day hit and about 80 dental offices went bankrupt half of them were North Scottsdale trying to treat lifestyles of the rich and famous and the other four were graduates who just opened up their practice thinking that the traditional Direct Mail is just kind of crush it and they did they you know they opened up in the middle of a severe contraction but I love the fact that that you're doing this in by the way did you figure out they and they did find out what a Hoosier was did you hear that?
Howard: Yeah I don't want to tell you where I heard it from because then you'll know how boring I am it was on public radio but actually a lady was writing a book on railroad stocks and because the railroad was a big part of American history and they were so good at they lay down like five miles a day. Well when they're laying down five miles day and they're going through your town they're not gonna sit there and say oh I'm Zach Allmand oh I'm his friend you would just say who you work for you'd say oh I'm one of Hoosiers boys and sure enough a man named Hoosier laid railroad completely across Indiana and it would have been all the culture and custom to not introduce yourself as Zach Allmand but they introduced Elvis I'm one of Hoosiers boys.
Zak: and that makes sense we are the crossroads of America so there's a lot of railroads going in and out of town.
Howard: Well you were looking for a you said you need a mascot like Gekko you oughta have a yachtie make a Hoosier, Hoosier because I it's just I just keeping it real and since I am I since I don't know why I did mention a the Trump won the middle America no one pays attention to a lot of people are saying you're mayor of Indiana could be the next president do you know I got to go on the record it was Fred Joyal who was the first person to tell me that Obama was gonna be the next president and when he said that almost no one had even heard of him and of my friends so are you gonna go on the record or can you make a what is your prediction who'd you have a very famous mayor who's put his hat in the race?
Zak: I'm going to recuse myself from this because I don't want to offend any potential clients one direction or the other I will say we've got some pretty smart people in Indiana one of my big another Idol but I think Mitch Daniels doing great things that Purdue I don't know if you've seen this debate button on our tuition freeze for I believe five years after he took over and Purdue and he's just running that program efficiently and just keeping it you know keeping it real for the Midwest with all the with all the costs of education increasing he's just running it efficiently keeping their overhead low and in allowing allowing more Hoosiers to afford college so yeah I was a little disappointed that he didn't he never threw his hat into the ring.
Howard: Is Purdue downtown or are you close to Purdue?
Zak: No a Purdue about an hour north it's in Lafayette Indiana yeah it's about an hour north on sixty five and IU is about an hour and a half south of Indianapolis.
Howard: So it's what about halfway to Chicago from Indianapolis?
Zak: Yeah yeah
Howard: Well we did a hour I can't believe Zak you were so fun to talk to. Is there anything that you wish I would have asked and that I was too dumb to ask?
Zak: Nope you know but I do I'll leave with this I just wanna say yeah thank you because there's another thing I love coming to hear you talk but one of the things that you said has really kind of influenced how I'm going to raise my kids and it was a story about how your your boys whenever they wanted something you would make them read the book or the read the biography the autobiography of the founder and write a concise book report before they could buy it, it's just I mean it's just so smart so you've got to understand the product that you're buying before you go out and buy it and it's just it's a great practice so my kids are nine seven and two so the two year olds just started reading decision points so you know we'll give him a couple years but we'll get there.
Howard: You know I can't believe you mentioned because my boys Zack's my baby he just turned 24 on the day before Easter but it was amazing because they they wanted a Honda I said well well who is Honda I mean who whose is Honda, he says dad it's a motorcycle it's not a person I said really well who made it it just did aliens drop it on earth I'm pretty sure there's a man named Honda and when they were reading that sir I mean Mr. Honda was what a character I mean and and the one part of the stories that ever forget is he lived all my heroes lived at work like like Walt Disney lived above the fire department in Disneyland he lived there. My favorite my favorite banker Jamie Dimon who I've had lunch with three times because he lives in in the building and and to say in at the bank same thing his idol was I was a Steve I forgot his name the guy was Citigroup Steve something whyend or something like that he lived there too but I mean it is just amazing like Mr. Honda he lived at the place and one night he this is an embarrassing story for him but I guess he was sleeping in his birthday suit and whenever the line shut the bells are ringing in his in his studio and he ran down to the floor completely naked and re-engineered to find out what the hang-up was I mean these guys were obsessed and Yamaha was another one and one of the boys was a rat wobbled and we went to Yamaha and it blew his mind because every founder/ceo owned you know that one product and here is Mr. Yamaha he had to I mean Japan number one selling motorcycle is Yamaha what's the number one selling piano Yamaha, he had two completely different products and everybody told him you don't understand you just got to do one thing really really well you can't have two businesses and when everybody says well you can't have two businesses I'm like really Yamaha doesn't exist I'm pretty sure any concert you go to the keyboard is a Yamaha and then you and then you and so these autobiographies I mean my all my most famous heroes are they're all dead and they all wrote an autobiography and then when and then if you want to get them focused on a stock well don't buy them stock in in some company they can't relate to buy him a share of Disney if they want a Yamaha buy them a stock in Yamaha and they would look at these stocks and they were all things that they were very very interested in and then you buy them one share then they by law they have two mail in a quarterly report they got him a tenk report I cannot tell you probably 80% of the graduating dental school class could not tell you the difference between a statement of income a balance sheet and a statement of cash flow and if they were with and they were reading 10 KS from their favorite companies Disney Yamaha whatever they would they would have read all that. I remember one time my dad I wanted something and he gave me he gave me two of them he gave me the statement of income and the balance sheet and he told me until I took the numbers in there he said you can get to the statement of cash flow and you know call me when you want to say and and I couldn't figure it out so you know what he did to me he drove me to his accountant Carol's accounting service I'll never forget it he drove me to Carolyn said hey Carole will you help Howie he's having the hardest time with these balance sheets and all his stuff and she was this motherly lovely lady and I mean she taught me accounting when I was 10 only because my dad thought that was more important than just going out on the park and throwing baseballs you know what I mean. I mean he was trying to he would always said to me he says he says I would throw you baseball's in the park if I thought you could ever earn a living doing it but I'm pretty sure you're never gonna play for the Royals I remember him telling me that and but I hey thanks for all that you do thanks for all the posts you made on dentaltown I think as a leader I'm trying to be a leader in dentistry and you don't need a leader to tell them that you learn more about bone grafting and Invisalign I mean they just love that stuff so I'm trying to take their little nose who wants to learn about Invisalign and bone grafting and which implant is the best and pointed over here in these insanely foreign things like credit card payment solutions and they just they just naturally don't want to go there and thank you for coming on the show Zak and giving them some really good reasons of why they need to be better business people and I hope a lot of people email you Zach za k by the way my youngest son Zach I named after Zach Allmand and I don't know if I ever told you guys that but I spell it Zach or not I spelled it but Zak@ApexPaymentSolutions.com thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Zak: Howard it's been an honor thank you very much.