Jerry Jones Direct - The Business of Dentistry, Marketing & More!
Jerry Jones Direct - The Business of Dentistry, Marketing & More!
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Is Solo Practice Dead - Part II

3/30/2016 1:15:40 PM   |   Comments: 1   |   Views: 146

You guys all know these names:  Aspen, Heartland, Cool Smiles, Birner Management.  Birner Management has a couple hundred offices.  Comfort Dental, Dr. Rick Kushner, those of you that have been in dentistry for 20 years like I have remember Rick when he would go and do national lectures promoting his lean and mean system.

Rick’s a very smart guy.  He’s got an incredible organization, largest dental franchise probably in the world, I guess, very successful.  So these are the guys you’re competing against right now and those are names, if you don’t know them, you should get to know them and do some research on to see what they’re doing to be so prominent in dentistry and competing against you.  You’ve always got to know what your competition’s doing.  So here’s how to ethically spy on big dentistry.  I use this strategy myself.  I went out and bought one share of every stock that I wanted to know what that company was doing.  So Patterson, Schein, all the supply companies, because in their annual reports that they produce, that they’re required to produce in order to be a public company, they have to give their forward-looking sort of a future cast, if you will, of what their business is going to do, how it’s going to grow, markets they’re going to tap into, strategies they may use.  So there’s a lot of really interesting information in their annual report.  So I’d encourage you, if you don’t have any dental stock in any dental companies, go buy some.  Sirona is a good one.  You learn a lot just from reading those annual reports about what they’re thinking as far as, well, here’s a prime example.  What if Henry Schein all of a sudden said, “Hey, I think we’re going to buy Heartland Dental.”  It could happen, right?  Who knows?

That would cause a really interesting dynamic shift in dentistry.  So much so that if you are a Schein customer, how excited are you going to be about being a Schein customer if there’s Heartland offices in your town?  All these weird things, you need to be kind of thinking about if you’re going to be in dentistry for another 10, 15, or 20 years.  You need to be looking at what the industry as a whole is doing and one way to do that is just by ethically spying on what the big companies are doing.  It’d be very interesting and insightful for you when you read some of those.  So versus the chains, you’re either solo, one doctor office, no other providers.  You have a single location with perhaps two providers or you’re a multilocation multidoctor office.  So maybe you have two or three locations.  Right now I’m making the assumption that everyone in here fits in one of these categories.  Anybody outside of that category?  Nope, okay.  So we covered everybody.  So this is where you are at and so we’re going to talk a little bit now about vulnerabilities, strengths that you have, and strengths and vulnerabilities that chains have.  As we go through these next few slides, what I want you to do is think about, okay, if I’m a solo doc and I have one location, how can I turn my weaknesses into strengths and how can I take and exploit the weaknesses of chain offices and use those as my strengths and then my weaknesses, how do I cure them?  What do I do to fix them?  So I’m going to wrap this up later on with a four part plan that you guys can think about tonight and sort of cogitate and consider and then tomorrow I’m going to give you some specific strategies on how to take that four step plan and run with it.

So let’s talk about chain weaknesses.  The public perception is one that I’m sure most of you are well aware of.  Most chain offices, they suffer from the simple fact that a lot of their patients are unhappy when they leave.  I don’t have them in this particular presentation.  Tomorrow, I have screen shots, that’s feedback as of two days ago from local chain offices in my community versus what our office has which I would call our office sort of a small group with the three doctors that are there.  It’s a little different because the doctors aren’t super high visibility in the office, so it’s a little bit of a hybrid between a typical chain practice and a solo practice but patient relationships, typically not real strong.  How many front office people do we have in here?  Just raise your hand.  So we’ve got quite a few.  Those that raised your hand, does your practice get new patients from chain offices?  Just about everybody does.  If you’re not, you maybe ought to wonder why.

They’re a source of new patient for you, so be happy that they’re not so hot at a lot of the things they do.  They do some things really well but their patient relationship area is not an area they’re really strong in.  That’s a major weakness.  So if you look at the antithesis of that just in your own practice, so you’re more likely stronger on the relationship side because when somebody walks through the door, it’s like Cheers.  Everybody knows who walks in the door, right?  You’re trained to look at that schedule.  Mary’s coming in at 8:00.  So when Mary walks in, don’t call her Mary, call her Sheila because that’s her nickname.  So Mary Sheila walks in and now you guys are saying Sheila.  They walk into the chain office, it’s “Hey Mary.”  “I don’t like Mary.  I go by Sheila.”  So it’s that different, that one little thing can mean a big difference in that relationship starting off right or wrong.  Relationships are not a strong point for bigger companies and there’s a whole lot of reasons why but they’re just not.  Consumer reviews, good or bad, like I said, most of them are going to be bad.  On occasion, there’s a good positive review that’s posted but for the most part, they struggle with patient satisfaction in those reviews and they go online and they’re public and so when somebody gets their insurance and they’re required to go to a particular provider and it’s a chain, moms are doing research. 

My wife makes, I would say, 90% to 100% of her decisions on what she’s going to buy, where she’s going to buy it, or where we’re going to vacation, what hotel we’re going to stay at, based on those reviews.  So they’re super powerful.  You can’t ignore them and chains, I think, often times are either ignoring them or there’s just no focus by management on those particular things to take care of them, to address them.  So I think that’s a major weakness.  Staff turnover, this is always a good one.  It happens in solo offices too, small groups, but staff turnover is a big problem and a lot of dental assistants, hygienists, a lot of the support staff go to chains, they’re attracted to the chains by what?  Money.  What else?  Benefits, right?  Money and benefits.  So they think the grass is greener simply because I’m going to get a dollar more an hour and they’re going to give me medical insurance.  Here’s what they don’t know until they get there.  The dollar more an hour, they’re going to be working 45 hours a week now or 39, whereas before they were working 35.  So they’re working more and they’re making a dollar more an hour and they’re getting medical insurance.  The medical insurance, it turns out, is really crappy.  It’s almost not even worth having.  So what happens?  A lot of times, these gals or guys leave and end up going back to the solo practice saying, “Hey, can I get my job back?”  Smart doctors are going, “Sorry, already filled the spot” but that happens a lot. 

It’s happened to me probably four times in the past five or six years, where somebody leaves and goes to **** Dental or **** Dental for another dollar or two an hour and benefits and then come back like, “Eh, I don’t want to work there.  I don’t like that place.  I don’t like the way they treat patients.  I don’t like where their focus is at.”  So I think that’s another big advantage that you have over the chains, is you have the ability to retain staff.  It’s a relationship.  It’s not purely an exchange of hours for dollars and benefits.  It’s a relationship.  That’s important.  Onsite leadership, chains have a tough time having a doctor that is a leader in the practice.  It’s a challenge for them because the doctors aren’t typically, sometimes they are, they’re not typically vested.  They don’t have a vested interest or ownership in the business.  So they’re less interested, less inclined to say, “Hey, Saturday, there’s a health fair.  Let’s get three people, set up a booth, and go there and be a part of it” or “Hey, the Boys and Girls Club is having this benefit.  Let’s be a part of that benefit.  Let’s donate something.  Let’s go there and support them.”  Chains struggle with that just because there’s not that vested interest that their team has.  Small offices, completely opposite.  Quality, I don’t know what quality means.  I don’t know what quality dentistry is.  I have no idea because if I saw a bad crown, I wouldn’t know it.  If I saw a good crown, I’d say it looks like a good crown but maybe it’s a bad crown, I just don’t know.  Quality is subjective to me.  Quality is subjective to your patients. 

Tune in next week for more. . .
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