“He’s old school”.
I have uttered these words many times to describe a client, co-worker or dental professional. I’ve always considered these words to have a positive connotation and I’ve looked upon these people with high regard and respect. In my mind, these folk have a lifetime of experience and exhibit a work ethic seldom seen today. They can be trusted and generally produce predictable outcomes.
Earlier today, I received a call from a C.E.O. at a dental manufacturer. He wanted my opinion about a candidate that he was considering for the role of national sales manager. He knew I was friendly with the candidate and had worked with them in the past. Before I could offer my opinion, he said that he had heard the candidate was well liked but a bit “Old School”. To him, “Old School” suggested that the candidate may be a fish out of water with the company’s high tech analytics and performance based strategies. He was concerned about his effectiveness with a young sales force and a growing number of millennial customers.
On occasion, I’ll send an old fashioned greeting card instead of a Facebook post or e-mail. Every now and again, there are monumental events that justify the expense and warrant an old fashioned Hallmark™ greeting. Events like a new career, marriage, a new home, a baby or the mourning of a loved one may warrant a card. You may say I am old school sending cards in this era of virtual communication, but, when I received his phone call, I felt validated. A business associate who just got married and purchased a house called me the other evening. I could tell he was very emotional so I asked him what was wrong. That’s when he confided in me. He said that no one else, family or friend, sent him a card to congratulate him. He told me that he had been denied for a mortgage several times before and this was truly a milestone in his life. He was so proud and excited about the next chapter of his life and he told me that my card, sits proudly on a table by the front door of his new residence.
There’s no doubt that the pressure is on. We must remain current by embracing technology and we have to execute better. We live at a time when being old school is not perceived as a virtue, but as an old fashioned value. Working hard, staying positive, demonstrating gratitude, showing humility and caring about others is still in vogue but you must be productive to survive and thrive.
Reluctant to change or adjust your modus operandi?
In 1992, I began my career as a sales rep for a small, privately owned dental distributor. Early in my career, I differentiated myself by being focused on inventory control and procurement costs. This concept was well received by some and did not resonate with others. Back then, Fee for Service/ cash dentistry was the rule and it was quite forgiving to inefficient practices. Today, I have found my voice. Failure to implement efficient systems and profitable strategies will have a negative impact on solvency and harmony in the workplace.
As I write this blog, I have a dozen plus clients that can grow by 25-40% over the next eighteen months if they let me connect them with my resources. I know for a fact, if a practice grosses between $600K and 1.5 Million and would invest $36-$50K on their business with the service providers I recommend, they would grow by over $150K + over the next two years. That’s over $2k a week net. This is a modest result since most practices continue to grow year after year when they learn and incorporate these systems and policies. The best part is the growth is guaranteed!
Recently, a vendor partner (software marketer) shared his frustration regarding dental distribution and its inability to pioneer an intangible business product. While he appreciated the reputation and relationships the dealer community has, he was less than enthusiastic with their ability to move the needle. His expectations were not being met and his resources were being stretched for little in return. He hadn’t expected all the hurdles and challenges regarding mind share and corporate politics. He did not anticipate the Pareto principle (80/20 Rule – roughly 80% of the business would come from 20% of the sales force) and he was surprised that dental dealer reps were not natural closers.
At a recent, regional sales meeting, a senior sales executive held an informal discussion with our team. He discussed our business, the competition and a myriad of challenges facing our clients (dentists). He talked about the industry’s consolidation, the emergence of dental groups, corporate dentistry and how insurance participation is impacting our customer’s profitability. He talked about our responsibility to our customers and reminded us that we had the tools they needed to win their future.
For twenty five years I have sold, serviced and consulted clients in the Hudson Valley. During my tenure, I have been outspoken regarding comprehensive dentistry and operational efficiency. Without both, a practice will experience diminishing returns. However, as a proud relationship manager, I’ve resisted the temptation to challenge clients that have ignored my advice over the years. In a way, those strong bonds that minimize my vulnerability from the competition may also be what’s holding me back. For many years, I have diluted my execution and value proposition because my clients have become my friends. I guess I have been striving for acceptance instead of perfection. In this current business environment I can no longer maintain my composure. The dental landscape is consolidating and changing rapidly which requires me to overcome my fear of upsetting the apple cart. I am concerned for many of my friends/clients that are currently insulated from industry trends and challenges that will soon impact their lives and prosperity.
Re-Set Your Mindset
If you are like me, you are probably trying to figure out how to occupy the space of a seasoned adult and professional while embracing new concepts and emerging technology. It isn’t easy adjusting to change in this chaotic and ever changing work environment. There is a great deal of uncertainty and our work is less appreciated in this new world of anything-anytime at the best price. The internet and the box stores have created a hostile environment for those of us that predicated our business on value propositions and attention to detail. The good news is we need each other and together, we can change outcomes that will have enormous benefits!
New start up practices are down and practice ownership is consolidating
From The Publisher – September 20th, 2016
Great Expressions finalizes fifth Florida affiliation of 2016 – Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC) (Southfield, MI) announced its fifth Florida affiliation since the beginning of 2016. The recent affiliation with two Florida Dental Centers locations, brings GEDC’s total Florida footprint to 92 offices. The affiliation will offer new and existing patient’s access to GEDC’s Smile Protection Plan as well as Invisalign. With the addition of these two offices, GEDC will serve more than 300,000 patients in Florida.
Marquee Dental Partners completes acquisition of dental practice in Bowling Green, KY – Marquee Dental Partners (Nashville, TN) entered into an affiliation agreement with Tom P. Carter, DDS General Dentistry, a practice based in Bowling Green, Kentucky. From a patient perspective, the transition will be seamless. Marquee Dental will leave in place the practice’s dentists and staff. Dr. Carter will continue to be actively involved in the practice.
Aspen Dental opens new practice in Snellville, GA – Aspen Dental Management Inc. (ADMI) (Syracuse, NY) recently opened a new practice location in Snellville, Georgia. The new practice is led by Dr. Rhoda Ballentine. Ballentine and her team will provide dental services ranging from dentures and preventive care to general dentistry and restoration. The Snellville office is one of 25 Aspen Dental practices in Georgia.
The above excerpt demonstrates a trend in dentistry. It is not ominous but it is a movement that will reshape the dental landscape. In every economy, there are winners and losers. Historically, when an industry undergoes a consolidation, there is a great deal of turbulence but there are always businesses that grow in spite of the chaos. For my friends and clients that enjoy a great business, let’s discuss how to create an even better business or a more lucrative exit strategy for you. Many independent dental practices are thriving in this economy and are enjoying a multitude of exit strategies!