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 dentist associate turnover is so high. What advice would you give to dentists who have an associate to be better employers? Is it picking them at HR? Can you just tell the people that are going to bounce around? Is it an HR pick? The NFL draft is next week and these guys take HR I think more serious than any business I’ve ever seen. I mean, they just take HR [crosstalk 00:47:33] so if your goal was to reduce dentist associate turnover, what advice would you give?
Jonathan Cook: Well, it’s coming from the owner dentist’s perspective. I mean, start teaching them. It doesn’t cost you any money and it’s a way to justify them not making as much money as you hoped that they would. A lot of these dentists, when they take on associates, they have all these grand ideas that everybody’s going to ride off into the sunset, and a lot of times, that’s just not the case. If a dentist comes on, in their own mind, they’re like, “$150,000 is what I need and I know that I’m worth that.” So then when they’re churning out dentistry and they’re maybe making $100,000 a year, there’s going to be some bitterness and some resentment there that breeds. But if the owner dentist is there and is able to give them something more than just money, then now all of sudden they’re less likely to get disgruntled, and upset.
Jonathan Cook: And look, who knows, maybe in year one you made $100,000, but in year two everything’s humming, and you’re making $125,000, and you see this uptick. And when everybody’s happy and patients pick up on that, everyone benefits. And so there’s nothing worse than having an associate that’s not happy. And it almost always comes down to money. They’re not making enough money. So I would just say tap them on their shoulders, and every free minute that they have bring them in and teach them not just clinical stuff, but business stuff. Maybe they want to learn that, too. I took one under my wing and I taught him a lot about the business, a lot. A lot of people would call me stupid for it. They’d say why are you teaching this associate all your tricks and insights? And I’m like, “I don’t care about that. I’m not worried about that. I just want to teach and help this guy. And he’s asking the questions, so I’m assuming he’s interested in the subject.”
Jonathan Cook: So I taught a lot about clinical stuff and taught him a lot about business. And if a day came or a week came and he has a crappy paycheck, it’s not as bad as it would be if he didn’t like you.
Howard Farran: And listen to what Jonathan’s saying. A lot of dentists will post on Dental Town I’ve got two associates which one should I take. And it’s just the counting mechanism, it’s like, “Really?” Imagine if Tinder was like that, they had no pictures, just purely a bunch of numbers.” Being an associate at a DSO where there’s nobody in that office that owns the place. Let’s say you come out of school and you really love implants. Well, getting an associate job with someone whose place does one implant a week or more is not something numerical. I always found it bizarre when you look at these dental lawyers who are in practice transition. They show the office, it’s just all numbers. But I can’t tell by looking at it if this office’s average staff has been there seven to 12 years, and this one the staff is turnover every year. That tells me nothing about the culture.
Howard Farran: And then they don’t place a value on the culture, but they sure have a place for the value of 10 year old dental equipment. And it’s like, “Really, 10 year old dental equipment is more important than who the hell’s answering the phone, and the hygienist?” And just everything that matters. An accountant is really a glorified historian. So how do you incentivize your staff? You were talking about incentivized staff to build their own following on social media, and how to get all staff on board for creating content for social media. Do you think social media is a big part of marketing or do you think it’s more …
Jonathan Cook: Huge.
Howard Farran: You think it’s huge versus direct mail?
Jonathan Cook: I mean, this market just in general in Fort Lauderdale is really saturated, but the direct mail, I did it for years. And maybe if I were to go back at it, maybe we get enough of a return on our investment. I just doubt it because it’s so … I mean, I go to my mailbox and it’s five to 10 different dental offices that are in there with direct mail. I mean, how do you choose? It’s too saturated. I mean, in fact, I was doing that in 2011, 2012 when I first started. And there was a return on investment there, but man, did things come on quick. And no, I wouldn’t go there personally. At least not in this market, maybe other places in the country. But social media is huge. It is just huge.
Howard Farran: And when you say social media, what does that mean? Define social media.
Jonathan Cook: Good question. So really, the big three players are Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And I really feel like LinkedIn is the Instagram of four or five years ago, where there wasn’t that many players in the game, but you had incredible exposure. And online video marketing, testimonials, all that sort of thing is going to grow exponentially. If you’re not in the game now, you’re going to miss the boat.
Howard Farran: Well, what I don’t understand about LinkedIn, Instagram you think more likely to be some kid sending selfies. Instagram, everybody has a job at a Fortune 500 company and has dental insurance.
Jonathan Cook: LinkedIn, everybody has it.
Howard Farran: Oh, my God. I mean, I love LinkedIn. To be on LinkedIn, you gotta be presecreened to be intelligent, whereas your 12 year old cousin can be on Instagram. I mean, my gosh. What percent of the people on LinkedIn do you think have dental insurance?
Jonathan Cook: Oh, my God. I can say the largest percentage, other than Instagram and Facebook combined, for sure. Probably combined.
Howard Farran: And you’re the first person that’s been on my show that talked LinkedIn.
Jonathan Cook: So I’ll give you one example of Instagram just so you can wrap your head around how that’s worked for us. And yes, maybe this is an anomaly, but we have had really hundreds of thousands of dollars funneling into our practice from Instagram. And this is just one particular example that I can recall in my mind, we brought a patient in who was what you would define as a micro influencer, so had maybe 50,000 followers. He was really big into fitness. I think he was even a model. He comes into our practice [crosstalk 00:54:35]
Howard Farran: Are you talking about me?
Jonathan Cook: You got it. Sound familiar, right?
Howard Farran: I thought this story sounded familiar.
… Continued in Part 8 …