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: So to have two locations, what management information software do you use to have two? Is it cloud based or do you have two separate IT systems, hardware? What do you do?
Jonathan Cook: No, the beautiful thing now, every program has its pros and cons, but I’m really loving how if you just get WiFi or internet, you’re on. It’s Dentrix Ascend. It’s the new Dentrix. They named it Ascend for whatever reason, but it’s a cloud based Dentrix, essentially, but it’s very, very different from Dentrix. I mean, nothing about it looks similar to Dentrix. You know the old traditional Dentrix? But I love it because I can be anywhere … Sorry, you were going to say something.
Howard Farran: That’s what Heartland Dental uses. Rick Workman out of Effingham, he’s got 900 locations on Dentrix Ascend.
Jonathan Cook: Okay. Well, that makes me feel a little bit better. But yeah, so both practices, or anywhere that I happen to be, I just jump online, and I can access both locations no problem.
Howard Farran: So there’s a lot of really big businesses coming out in dentistry that find dentist associates because there’s all these DSOs and they can put hundreds of dentists to work on any given day. You bounced around, you said, from associate to another. Why do you think associates bounce around? What percent of associates can look in the mirror, like you and I do, and say, “I want to do the business of dentistry and the art,” versus what percent of these dentists, do you think, if they took an honest look in the mirror and say, “Look, you’re not committed to owning your own practice. You’d be a better employee.” I know that’s a lot of questions.
Jonathan Cook: No, that’s okay. I mean, I can tell you that it can’t be more than 5% or 10% of … I immediately think of my class, my graduating class. How many of those kids at the time had a real business sense? And it can’t be more than 5% or 10%. So they gotta be honest with them …
Howard Farran: So are you saying that when they graduate in middle school that 90% of them probably want to just be employees their whole life and only 10% want to be owners, or are you saying they’re not ready for it and someday they will?
Jonathan Cook: Great question. I think that definitely a larger percentage of them think that they can be owners, but don’t have business sense. And either are willing to learn it, because let’s be honest, it’s learnable, or aren’t willing to learn it, or they just start chasing their tail, like you always say. Which is they try to throw everything at their practice by getting continuing education. They’re like, “But if I only buy this laser, then and only then will I be successful, or then I can market to a different type of patients,” or whatever. They’re so clinically minded, they don’t open the door for business. And I just think that they … It’s natural for us as clinicians to go in that direction, to always be pulled in the direction of continuing education, and let me learn a little bit of laser, let me learn some implants, and implement that in my practice. And now, all of sudden I’ll be successful.
Jonathan Cook: Well, if you’re spending all this money on all these implant courses and you’re getting just as little return on the patients that are coming through the door as you are with your current patients not having that information and knowledge base, then you’re really ruining yourself and setting yourself up for disaster because now you’ve purchased all that implant supplies, and materials, and all that, and you’re ready to go. And you’ve got Sally at the front desk who’s not answering the phone, you’ve got so and so trying to close the case and she’s got a 10% closure rate. And so you’re just losing all these patients and all these opportunities to actually make a buck. And so I think that’s the vast majority of dentists. So at 5% to 10% may have a real business sense. Another maybe 10% or 20% get out there, open their own practice, don’t really have much of a business sense, but know how to figure it out for themselves.
Jonathan Cook: And then the rest, then there’s probably another 20% or 30% who go out there, don’t learn it, open the practice, think that they’re a dentist and don’t realize that they’re actually a business owner. And so the remainder are just those that are perfectly suited to be associates.
Howard Farran: And that’s why I always tell them get your house in order. Get your house in order. And they’re always in a failing restaurant. And they think if we just lasagna or beef stroganoff, we’re going to be successful. It’s like, “Well, you weren’t successful with steaks, and salads, and baked potatoes, but beef stroganoff’s going to do it. And they don’t want to face HR, accounting, legal, marketing, phones, treatment plan presentations, knowing their numbers. When you’re doing a merger and acquisition, how far away do you think that … In a Fort Lauderdale area, before the patients say, “You know what? This is a good excuse to find a new DSO. I’m tired of driving that far.” How close do they need to be?
Jonathan Cook: Great question. Five miles. That’s where I’ve set the radius. Anything outside of that, more people are going to get drawn to your practice nowadays, and I’m not saying this is 100% across the board, but nowadays more people are going to be drawn to your practice because they are searching for a practice online and they’re getting drawn into your practice because they see great online reviews, they like the way that your website looks, they like what they see on social media. All of these things are going to get them convinced that you’re the place for them before they even decide to make the phone call. So if it happens that you’re five miles away, you get in the car. And yes, traffic can be terrible around Fort Lauderdale, but worst case scenario five miles can’t be more than 20, 25 minutes, which is not a big deal.
Howard Farran: And it’s just so cool, these dentists want to learn something simple, like placing an implant. They feel they gotta get in an airplane, fly across the country, drop $3,000 somewhere when they could’ve road their Big Wheel across the street to a periodontist who’s a lonely introvert who’s dying for a friend. And would just love to have a friend, and then you feel good when you help another human, or a dog, or a cat. And knowing every dentist within a five mile radius and popping the question, like, “Hey, I’m young Jonathan, you’re an old fart.” I gotta tell you my old fart joke. So I was teasing one of my grandkids this week on a Sunday and I said, “Hey, why are you doing your hair? Why don’t you shave your head and look just like grandpa?”
Howard Farran: And she said, “I don’t want to be old.” She associated bald with old.
Jonathan Cook: Oh, my God.
Howard Farran: But when you go to those older dentists by you, they gotta look at you differently now. Now you’re this friend. They’re sitting there thinking, “Dude, I’m 60 years old and this Jonathan guy is five miles up the street, and he’s already popping the question. Maybe we should get married someday and sell me your practice.” You’d have to have better relationships, more likely he’d leave as emergencies on call with you. Just not talking crap about you.
Jonathan Cook: Yeah, it’s a beautiful world.
… Continued in Part 6 …