Dr. Howard Farran has been lecturing to international audiences on the business of dentistry. With his blunt, practical, and often times humorous insights into the industry’s most controversial subjects, he has been captivating audiences since 1990. He was then, and is still now, driven by a genuine passion for helping dentists provide faster, easier, lower cost dentistry of a higher quality to their patients.
Dr Farran is the owner and founder of the hit vlog series “Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran”, where he discusses these topics with some of the best Doctors, Dentists, and Dental Practitioners of today. Dr. Jonathan Cook was recently a guest on his show, and has allowed us to share with you their conversation.
Howard Farran: It’s just a huge honor for me today to be podcasting interviewing Dr. Jonathan Cook, DMD. He’s a cosmetic dentist who owns two successful practices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He graduated from Nova Southeastern University in 2008 with honors and won awards in prosthodontics, implantology, and was inducted as a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society. He is a fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and is completing hundreds of hours of CE from implantology, to Botox, to fillers, to occlusion. He’s been practicing dentistry for just over 11 years and has built his practices and reputations on integrity, passion, teamwork, and empathy.
Howard Farran: He has purchased seven practices in nine years since his first practice acquisition in 2010, learning a ton along the way. Most notably, has grown his business from 500,000 to five million in six years. He attributes his exponential growth to the implementation of strong systems, keeping things simple, building a healthy culture with a stellar team, folding in old practices into his existing locations, marketing, and never letting his foot off the gas. He is passionate about priming his team for success, keeping his mind, body, and soul in tip top shape, giving back to other through charity and coaching, and balancing work and life. Holy moly, I’m so excited to have you on the show because these graduates all believe “I don’t wanna own a practice. It’s too complicated.”
Howard Farran: And all the DSO’s come in there, and they offer free pizza at lunch. They all come in there and then they just scare them and scare them. That pharmacist thought they were going to have their own practice, now they all work at Walgreens and CVS. And you guys are all going to work for us, and DSO’s are taking over. So they go from miserable job to miserable job. And finally, the only reason they start their own practice, because they’re so sick of working for anyone else. And here, you have done it seven times in nine years.
Howard Farran: So kudos to you, Jonathan, and thanks for coming on the show and sharing your story.
Jonathan Cook: Thank you so much. It’s an honor.
Howard Farran: So you think the DSO’s are going to take over? In 20 years now, everybody will be a dental associate at McDentals?
Jonathan Cook: I do not think so, no. I mean, they have their place and they’re growing. That percentage is growing certainly more than the solo practitioner, that’s for sure.
Howard Farran: I know you might have a very interesting story to tell because you graduated at the worst time in the world, 2008, right before Lehmans Brothers meltdown. And everybody thinks it’s the end of the world, but I had the end of the world in 1980 when I graduated high school, interest rates 21%, inflation and unemployment double digit. And then I graduated May of ’87, October ’87, Black Monday, the market fell a quarter in a day. And then you had the Y2K bubble pop in March of 2000, Lehman’s day, another day.
Howard Farran: When everybody starts talking about all this paranoia, I’m like, “You know you’re going to live through this, right?” So what was it like graduating at an economic collapse?
Jonathan Cook: Yeah, that’s a good question. So 2008 was rough. And then it carried on until 2009, 2010, banks weren’t lending at all. If you’re a graduating dentist at that point and you didn’t have mommy and daddy money that was going to help you front the money for a purchase of a practice, you were going to have a really tough time getting financed. So that was a challenge, and then just finding a job. Let’s say you didn’t want to go out and just start from scratch, or buy a practice from somebody.
Jonathan Cook: Finding and associateship was really, really hard. I ended up at three different associateships throughout the week, so I had a Tuesday and a Thursday job, I had a Monday, Wednesday, Friday job, and then I had a Saturday job. And then I wanted to get the feelers out there. And it actually helped me a lot in regards to figuring out first what I don’t want. And then also seeing how different practices work and don’t work, and really getting a feel, and getting my speed up, too, of course. Man, for the first year or two to try to find a job at that time was really tough.
Howard Farran: So the filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by financial services firm Lehman Brother on September 15th, 2008 remains the largest bankruptcy filing in US history, with Lehman holding over $600 billion in assets. And you walked out graduating from that. Did you ever think you’d be alive 10 years later?
Jonathan Cook: I mean, I heard it from a lot of different perspectives. I had a lot of friends who were in real estate and they got crushed. I mean, most of them went bankrupt. And then I had other friends who were in D.C. where Obama came in, and it was bigger government. So they didn’t see that massive decline in housing prices, and the … You just didn’t feel it as much there. So I had a couple different perspectives, but man, the global economy went into cardiac arrest. And it wasn’t for maybe a couple more years before people could take a deep breath and a sigh of relief.
Howard Farran: My favorite Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Schumpeter who wrote the book Business Cycles. I remember reading that book. And I read the first page and I could stop until it was over, but basically humans are irrational. They make irrational decisions and that’s why you always have a business cycle. And nobody knows everything, we don’t know what we don’t know, but it happens in ’80, ’87, 2000, 2008. And it smells like teen spirit again. I mean, it totally smells like it’s happening right now again.
Howard Farran: Warren Buffet won’t tell you what to do next. Even he will stop short of making a prediction because nobody predicted the Berlin Wall, the Arab uprising. No one predicts the outbreak of World War I, World War II. But I’m glad you’re on the show because it does smell like teen spirit. So if it does happen, to do it again, is there any advice you give to some kid walking out of school with $289,000 in debt?
Jonathan Cook: Yeah, I think it’s easy. Honestly, we have it pretty darn good, us dentists. And let’s just say worst case scenario you can’t manage to get a full time job. Maybe you’ve got a part time job because, let’s be real, how many dentists are hiring associate … If you’re not one of those big DSOs, how many solo practitioner dentists, or maybe you’ve got a group practice who lost a guy who needs a position to fill. But they’re just aren’t that many full time positions, especially for guys that are right out of school. So let’s just say you do something similar to what I did, where you’re bouncing around from one office to the next, or let’s say you can only get one job and it’s two days a week, or three days a week.
Jonathan Cook: We had it nice. I mean, I can’t see how you couldn’t make $80,000 or $100,000 doing that, working two or three days a week as a dentist. And you just weather the storm. And then a couple years go by and before you know it you’re grinding again.
… Continued in Part 2 …