Office Visit: Dr. Devin Giron by Kyle Patton, associate editor

Office Visit: Dr. Devin Giron 

by Kyle Patton
photography by Mary Moon


Dentists spend most of their working hours inside their own practices, so they usually don’t get many opportunities to see what it’s like inside another doctor’s office. Dentaltown’s recurring Office Visit profile offers a chance for Townies to meet their peers, hear their stories and get a sense of how they practice.

This Townie can trace his family back 13 generations—and each one called New Mexico home. For Dr. Devin Giron and his Santa Fe practice, the state is not just a long-tenured home but also a proving ground for doing highly profitable dentistry in the Southwest. Within five years of buying a practice, Giron has increased production exponentially and tripled the number of operatories while seeing fewer patients and enjoying more time off.

Our exclusive Q&A peers inside his fee-for-service practice that pushes the production envelope while still allowing the entire team to find ways to work less— without sacrificing revenue or patient comfort. Giron also lays out how he approached a total rebrand, the remarkable change a consultation brought, why completed treatment comes with a glass of champagne and more.

Office Highlights
NAME:
Dr. Devin Giron

GRADUATED FROM:
University of Missouri-Kansas City

PRACTICE:
Vida Dental Studio,
Santa Fe, New Mexico,

PRACTICE SIZE:
3,500 square feet; 9 operatories

TEAM SIZE:
14

How did you find your way into dentistry?

My sister! She happened to be passing by my dorm room and suggested that I go to the University of New Mexico Pre-Dental Society meeting—they would be serving free food, of course. Dr. Marvin Strohschein, the head and mentor of the group, inspired me. He truly cared about all his students in the group and did everything he could to ensure we all made our way into a dental school home. Dr. Strohschein saw something greater in all of us and the group flourished because of the strong roots he laid down. If it weren’t for his influence, I don’t think my sister, my wife or I would have chosen dentistry as a profession.


Let’s get some perspective on how far you and your office have come before we jump to the present. Tell us about taking over the practice and what those first few years were like. 

I purchased a practice in 2017 from a doctor who was doing around $600,000 in collections out of three operatories. I had already been a dentist for seven years … what could go wrong? How hard could practice ownership be?

The first four of five months were horrible—patients were leaving, and it seemed like every patient was saying “no.” I lost two staff members and my bank account was running low—I didn’t know if I could make payroll. For the first time, I hated dentistry and wanted out. I was depressed and knew I needed help. I had read about Productive Dentist Academy (PDA) on Dentaltown for years, and one of the doctors using PDA’s services had left his cellphone number on a Dentaltown forum, so I called it from a gas station. He picked up and the rest is history.


You’ve managed to raise your annual collections by 650%! How?

Yes, we took a practice doing $600,000 a year and over five years grew it to more than $4.5 million a year.

We dropped Delta Dental and went completely fee-for-service, and increased the number of operatories from three to nine. We also went from working four days a week to the entire staff working three days a week (but still getting paid for four). We followed and implemented what PDA has set up for thousands of doctors across the United States, and everything fell into place.

PDA asked me what I wanted out of life—not just out of dentistry—and my answer was to spend more time away from work, with my family, and to be as productive as possible while at work. PDA’s laser-like focus on production per hour became a lightbulb moment for me and the staff. My team members realized that if I saw fewer patients a day, their life was way easier. More than 90% of crowns are done one at a time in the United States; I wanted to do the opposite of that, and my production per hour has gone from $300 an hour to more than $3,000 an hour. PDA’s principles work.

Ask your patients questions about their health. Find out what their goals are. Asking a patient, “What kind of dental care do you want?” opens doors—they might be taken aback by this because they didn’t know there are different kinds of care. If you ask enough questions, you will get clarity on what they want and you can deliver accordingly. It’s always easier to treat friends than strangers—get to know your patients!


A part of your success had to do with a total rebranding. Walk us through your thoughts leading up to the rebranding, what it took and the overall payoff.

Most dentists put their names on the door and think nothing of it. I did the same thing—which presented a problem when I hired my partner, Dr. Galen Detrik. Answering the phone is tough when you have to read all of those names! We tossed around some names and settled on Vida, which means “life” in Spanish.

All the colors we use in the practice and its marketing have been vetted to fit our demographic, and the marketing is done cohesively. We work with PDA’s marketing team, who make sure all of it is seamless. Patients who have backgrounds in marketing often ask, “Man, who does your marketing? They do such a great job.”

If you look at the “Our Patients’ Smiles” page on our website, you will notice how different it is from most other dental websites. Patients typically don’t want to see just gross before-and-after slides. (Dentists do!) Our webpage shows several patients’ stories, which gets potential patients to say “yes.”


What were your keys to expansion?

First, find a builder and architect who have done dental offices before. They need to give you a timeline of the project and stick to it. Their expertise in building dental-specific buildings is paramount, because setbacks can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in unscheduled production. I went with the most expensive dental builder and he delivered.

No matter which stage of your career you’re in, hire a coach or consultant. Dentaltown founder Dr. Howard Farran says they’re the best ROI in dentistry, and he’s right. As dentists, we think we’re the smartest people in the room, but that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes down to business. You need someone to hold you accountable and set goals that are important to you. Hire someone who allows you to practice the way you want to practice, and everything else will fall into place.


Show-and-tell time: Which pieces of technology in our office are you most proud of?

Our 3Shape Trios scanner, Cerec Primescan intraoral scanner and Primemill made dentistry fun. The patients are amazed that we can take images of their teeth so quickly, move the digital models around and give them a tour of their mouths. The Acteon CBCT is a great tool for when it comes to planning implants and diagnosing infections you can’t see on 2D images. We also have a Zeiss OPMI Pico microscope that helps us in tough restorative situations or when we want that extra level of detail on crown margins.

We also have a photo studio in our office, which allows us to get amazing before-and-after photos. (Check out our website to see how well these are done.) Dr. Detrik is an expert photographer, so his photos tell a patient’s story. He built an entire continuum on patient photography second to none and it pays off when you can show a patient how your cases turn out.


Technology is important, but what is the engine that drives your practice?

You find out what you’re made of when you hit rock bottom. For me, the biggest step I took was hiring a consultant even when I was unsure if I could make payroll. It was a defining moment because I could have just folded, but instead I invested in myself and my team. I had to get clarity into what my vision was for the future and at the time, it was putting a little money in the bank account.

I continued to invest in my staff, knowing I would be rewarded exponentially if I just kept going. My team believed in me, and I could feel the flywheel starting to turn. I couldn’t be surrounded by a better group of professionals who put me first instead of themselves. They are the reason for our success inside and outside of the office, and I’d be lost without them.

I remember a doctor telling me, “Devin, your team is there to help you, not hurt you.” I think sometimes we feel like we’re on an island alone, but we are surrounded by people who truly love and care for us. I also believe most dentists don’t value what they do—they lost the passion that got them into this amazing field and wouldn’t recommend it to their children. When you truly value what you do for patients, they will say yes to your treatment. You have to get through a lot of “nos” from patients to get to the “heck, yes.”

Don’t ever sell yourself short, because you have the ability to change lives! Money will always be there if you keep integrity with yourself.


Which new or emerging technologies do you have your eye on?

We are really interested in smile design and expediting the process. Programs out there can take one’s smile, mock it up and print a model you can use to have a trial smile. Currently, it takes us six weeks to get a smile design back, and sometimes patients lose interest as a result.


Top Products
3SHAPE TRIOS SCANNER
Being able to scan a patient and manipulate their teeth right in front of them makes patient education fun.

ACTEON X-MIND PRIME PANORAMIC 3D CBCT
Using this unit for implants and diagnostics is a no-brainer. Patients love to see themselves.

CEREC PRIMESCAN INTRAORAL DENTAL SCANNER
Sometimes patients want things done then and there, and this gets patients to say yes.

PRODUCTIVE DENTIST ACADEMY
By far the best ROI. They took a practice doing $600,000 to close to $5 million in five years. They did this with me dropping from four to three working days per week. They are the industry standard for excellence.

ZEISS OPMI PICO DENTAL SURGICAL MICROSCOPE
You can’t treat what you can’t see. Pulling this out for difficult restorative cases makes things much easier. Unparalleled magnification and lighting make dentistry easier.
Some docs might not understand the “total health” approach you take as a dentist. What difference has it made? What are some practical steps in this area?

We know the mouth is the gateway to the body, and an unhealthy mouth means an unhealthy patient. Most of our patients recognize this, too, and want to get healthy, but it usually comes down to just two factors: time and money.

If you’re a busy patient, you want to get a lot done over one visit, instead of having to return for multiple visits. Remember, 90% of crowns are done one at a time. How many of us ask, “Mrs. Jones, I know you love seeing me, but would you like to get this done over two visits or 10 visits?” Most people choose two visits.

Then the objection comes down to money. No matter what we say, it’s always “too much”! Patients just need a way to spread out their payments. Our office offers five payment options; most dentists have only one, if that.

When you see fewer patients a day, your staff is happier and you are happier. You’re more productive in less time, and can leave early if you want.

Your patients are happier, too, because you spend time with them and get to know them. When you’re not running around like a maniac, you can manage the patient experience so much better, and they’ll refer all of their friends and family.

Also, take the time to celebrate total health. When patients finish their treatment, we have a nice bottle of champagne waiting for them at the front. Have fun with your patients!


What helps create an enhanced patient experience?

People want to be greeted by name when they enter. They also want to be seen on time. All of our patients get a welcome letter and phone call from the doctor before their appointment asking if there’s anything we can do to improve their experience with us. In the office, we offer aromatherapy, massagers, lip balm, parafin wax, neck wraps, face wipes and blankets. Any patients receiving anesthetic during a treatment get a postoperative checkup phone call that night.


Tell us about your work with New Mexico’s Indian pueblos and reservations.

I worked at Isleta Pueblo just outside Albuquerque for about five years. It showed me so much of dentistry is about trust—does the patient trust you? It taught me that relationships can take a while to form, but once you form them in the community, your patients will do anything for you.

This job also taught me to be efficient with my time and really lean on my auxiliary staff. The clinical reps I was able to accumulate while working for public health made me a better dentist. People are people, and if you can link and communicate well, it makes dentistry more enjoyable.


What’s your take on practice management and getting your team to believe in your vision?

Everything starts with measurables— you need to have hourly, weekly, monthly and yearly forecasts. We use Dental Intelligence for this and make sure to stay within the yearly forecast.

The team needs to track these goals, because you need to know when you’re behind. Your team loves discipline— the better you do, the better they do. Who wouldn’t sign up to see fewer patients a day and work three days a week and get paid for four days? Both Dr. Detrik and I make decisions based on how it affects the team—put your team first.

Share your wins with the team— recognize them for the excellent things they do, believe in them and reward them. Show them that you’re human and relatable. Our staff is our family, and we’re always trying to figure out how we can make their professional and personal lives better.


What’s a trend in the profession you love?

More and more dentists are saying no to insurance companies and going out of network.

Insurance companies are decreasing reimbursements, which forces dentists into seeing more patients but earning less. Something must give—and I’m sure insurance companies aren’t going to back down—so for those who are willing to invest in themselves and their teams, it’s time to take back our profession from the insurance companies.

I am unapologetically insurance-free, and my patients love me more because of this. Stop thinking about what your patients will think; it’s not their practice to run, and they sure aren’t sharing your debt. My partner, Dr. Detrik, always says, “If dying is inevitable, make living nonnegotiable.” Start running your practice on your own terms!


You are a 13th-generation resident of New Mexico, which in our book makes you a certified expert. What’s something that Santa Fe does better than anywhere else?

New Mexico is a mixture of Spanish and American Indian cultures learning how to work together. Part of our culture is just being outside and soaking up the beautiful sun. We have 310 days of sunshine in New Mexico, and I don’t take any for granted. Santa Fe has the third-largest art market in the United States, and many of my patients were drawn to the area because they either are artists themselves or enjoy visiting the galleries or the outdoor Santa Fe Opera.


Your wife and your sister are both dentists, too. What’s that like?

We all graduated from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Dentistry. My sister is a practicing dentist in Washington, D.C., and my wife has a practice in Albuquerque. When we’re all together for Thanksgiving or Christmas, there is a lot of “MOD this” and “crown that” talk flying across the table with the stuffing.


Give us a snapshot of your life outside of dentistry.

My wife and I have three beautiful children who are always testing our patience. Life can be hectic, because my wife and I have and work at separate private practices in separate towns, but we work on getting as much balance as possible. We both work three days a week— and we cannot wait to work two days a week!

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