Brett Wells is a practicing dentist and owner of Wells Family Dental Group in Raleigh, NC. An entrepreneur at heart, he opened a restaurant venture in 2014 called Tasty 8s gourmet hotdog company, partnered to launch a Twitter-based software service called Tweetbox, and most recently, in response to the growing need for dental insurance alternatives, launched DentalHQ. DentalHQ revolutionizes dental practices by helping them create, customize, and automate the tracking and payments of in-house dental membership plans. In his ever-dwindling spare time, Brett enjoys spending time with friends and colleagues, traveling, Carolina sports, and cooking. Do you share a passion for food? Join his Facebook group, Dental Foodies.
AUDIO-DUwHF #1091 L Brett Wells
VIDEO-DUwHF #1091 L. Brett Wells
Howard: It's just a huge honor for me today to be podcasted interviewing Brett well DBS is a practicing dentist/owner of Wells Family Dental Group in Raleigh North Carolina. An entrepreneur at heart he opened a restaurant venture in 2014 called tasty aids gourmet hotdog company partnered to launch a Twitter based software service called Tweet box and most recently in response to the growing need for dental insurance alternatives launched Dental HQ. Dental HQ revolutionizes dental practices by helping them create customize and automate tracking and payment of in-house dental membership plans. In his ever driveling spare time bright enjoyed spending time with friends and colleagues traveling carolina sports and cooking and he's got a Facebook group called dental foodies. How long did it take you to get after and get over the super bowl loss?
Brett: Oh which one yeah the Denver?
Howard: The Panthers Carolina Panthers.
Brett: Well there's been two now and I've been at both games and the first one against the Patriots where we must the kickoff at the end of the game and that was that was probably the most devastating one but the Denver one I mean we were out of that one from the beginning so that was absolutely easier.
Howard: I'm so glad I never stood bet on sportster he had this young hot Kameron guy who could dive over the line do a flip land on his feet he's young against this peyton manning guy who looked like he was ready to go into traction and rehab and who won the old guy I just couldn't believe it.
Brett: I never in a million years thought that game was even going to be it that never even had a chance both are drivi fences and he had a much better offence I didn't think it was even going to be close and you know what today so it is what it is but a number 10 to 1 fan wise in that game so I think that had a little bit that it was loud.
Howard: and yesterday the Cardinals were won the first half 14 to 0 and then went on to lost the game a halftime I would have got my car okay we got this one we got this one and I'm so glad I still on my car I never I never vote because I'm not smart enough. Well you know the reason I brought you on the show is because Americans they did something about health insurance they just think that you know they gotta have insurance or they can't buy which is so crazy like they buy the biggest thing most Americans will ever purchase their home and their home is usually about three times more expensive than the largest health procedure they could have, like it like if you got cancer you know you live in a $300,000 house the cancer probably under 1000 but they're like like idea purchase some four hundred thousand and then they'll buy a car the median average price of the car sold last year was thirty three thousand five hundred they don't blink about mine that they don't believe it you know but when it comes to dentistry even though it costs you know the price of their iPhone think it's in their mind they just feel like they can't buy it without insurance. So basically what you're doing is you're just making them feel better I have insurance so now I can go ahead and purchase this.
Brett: Well I think it's a little bit more than that I mean everything you described from a car to a house allows consumers to make monthly payments so you know your mortgage or car payments consumers think in terms of monthly payments they don't think in terms of the big bulk price. So I think you know membership and when you break things down into a monthly option gives consumers that more palatable price point you know I mean if you know our patients come in to see us every what six months if if they've got extra bills to pay if you know their kids having to get braces or you know going up to college to put aside the $200 to get your teeth clean is kind of an easy call if you're not having any problems but we make it affordable and give them better access then yeah they're gonna come in every six months it kind of distributions that barrier to entry. I think that's one of the things you know that we were doing a lot better job of as a profession is kind of breaking our treatments down and procedures and care and a more palatable monthly payments so I think that's a big reason behind a lot of the a lot of the surgeons all the sudden of all these automated in-house membership plans.
Howard: Okay so they're driving to work right now so I was briefly your Twitter analyst @dental_HQ and I'm gonna retweet your deal. So what would they do they go to the website www.dentalhq.com and what are they gonna find?
Brett: They're gonna find big and bold kind of our missions begin with which was dental insurance as a problem we've solved it. So you see that quote you know you're on our site big and blue up top and the bottom just goes through a lot of information about what's going on with insurance right now kind of some of the sticking points the pain points that we're experiencing as a profession what a membership plan is and then how to get in touch with us and how to sign up to be on the plan if you're interested.
Howard: Now oh I love that is that a train?
Brett: Yeah I live in a condo in downtown Raleigh and you know I've got about 8 train tracks on either side I don't even notice it.
Howard: You know it's so cool because I hear which toddler and the Catholic churches I would bring at the hour and then trains and I just think that the coolest damn sounds I love those sounds. So how much we'll talk about the details so how do we sign up what is it cost and is it a one-year plan or is this in perpetuity because I write what I am fascinated with is like the fact that Netflix works what Disney is is because Wall Street loves the recurring revenue business model, you know Netflix every month they're gonna ding millions of credit cards for another 10 bucks and did they look at Disney and they're like well Disney it's gotta invest 100 million dollars into a blockbuster it's gotta be 300 million it might not be the 300 but it's it's its boom bust boom bust and Wall Street page Bank for a recurring revenue models but when I see a lot of these dentist set up these dental membership plans there for like one year well live it one year you have the boom and bust again and now you gotta say your number one expense labor the dentist the staff the dentist is thirty five of the staff is 25% trying to get Mrs. Jones to sign up for another year. I want these things in perpetuity I want to get your credit card and ding it every gosh darn month till the end of time. I mean that it's the only way their gym memberships work I mean you talk to anybody holds a gym, they say that when you sign up for a gym that you're motivated their biggest month is new year's resolution and by eight months almost no one's coming back but it takes some thirty eight months to unhinge their credit card so they get excited you go eight months and then they still digging them. Every gym owner that I know in Phoenix and seppia challenges my god of all my members showed up they don't want to refunded there wouldn't be a machine for them. So the recurring revenue business model is intense did you do this or does it go bang bust at one year?
Brett: Absolutely so I mean that was kind of one of the reasons why I've created this because I was doing an annual plan in my office anyway we went to the State Board we figured out came up with a contracts a form we had them sign you know we made them a little card and then the real hassle began I realized that we were just accepting we were just renewing people when they were coming in for their cleanings. So it might be you know they might come in such a seven month or 6 month cleaning it might be another seven or eight months and then also we're looking at a 16 month renewal period when it supposed to be 12 months you never so I was like oh man you know we're losing a lot of money here because our annual membership plans just got stretched out so sixteen or seventeen month. So then I started having my team running the memberships you know collecting everyone's credit card running that annual leave and they created a lot more administrative headaches for them and it got to the point where we almost gave up on our membership plan so that's when we started creating our that's when I started building Dental HQ. You know I knew what I wanted is to do we I wanted to give up dentists a lot of flexibility because like at our office we still offer annual because a lot of our older patients really like to pay put it on the annual plan they don't like to have their current payments on their cards that's what we found and so...
Howard: but cant you recurring revenues and say okay we'll ding it every January first instead of just saying I'm gonna ding it for a year but I'll renew it every other year until you tell me not to.
Brett: Yes what the system does today you can set up a monthly plan you can set up an annual plan we find a lot of times our elderly patients like the Angels our younger patients like the monthly plans and you know we mix all around the board we charge a little bit less for an annual plan if you multiply the monthly times twelve and so we get a lot of people who will go in prepay for a year just to take advantage of maybe it's just $25 but you know by given the flexibility to the offices I think that's been a real selling point for our for our company.
Howard: and how old is Dental HQ?
Brett: Well we launched the ADA last year so we're rapidly approaching one or one year anniversary but we beta-tested I mean I started building Dental HQ two years before we launched. I mean the designs took me six months to get all designs development beta testing and then we finally launched outside of beta at ADA last year.
Howard: and I see Rodney Levine's picture on your website that founder of the Levin group he was of he was identified who helps practices tremendously to retain existing patients and attract new ones I recommend Dental HQ for any practice that wants to decrease insurance dependence, so is he a partner on this with you?
Brett: He absolutely is you know Dr. Charles Blair and Dr. Roger Levin are two-point practice management gurus that I've always you know gone to their classes for probably 10 years and so both of them you know at some of their different courses I've heard about membership plans from Charles Blair 7 years ago so I hold both in the side and I went down to Charlotte I met with Charles Blair probably spent 8 or 12 hours walking through everything with him getting his advice kind of molding the software based on what he felt that dentists would want and the same thing with Dr. Roger Levin I mean you know he's educated therefore 30,000 dentist over his 30-year career and I thought he would you know both these people would make great partners. Dr. Levin is a minority partner of ours Dr. Blair he calls me all the time and we and we talk shop and he asked me how's it going on I kind of share advice he's not actually a partner of ours but he certainly helps in any way he can. They've been really both really instrumental in helping guide the company.
Howard: You know it's funny my president of my company Laurie been with me 20 years she just mentioned, you know Charles Blair, Roger Levin and me were just speaking at the Ohio State Dental meeting last week and I posted some selfies and Laurie said I remember the first seminars she'd ever gone through in dentistry I've got with me 20 years ago and the first practice matter the first seminar that she ever went was Charles Blair and man he's still just were to ask what's that we do for fun these days he says all I do is work I just keep working.
Brett: He's got this cool little thing he's trying to he's trying to launch really neat stuff.
Howard: and what's that?
Brett: He's kind of he's got this practice booster software that'll like kind of analyze your how your practice is doing and telling you if your fees are too low or high just all kinds of little stuff that's the main reason why he didn't have time to partner with me because he said look if I'm gonna partner I want to be all in and I've got all this two or three different projects he's working on I said and I get it Dr. Blair if you could just be a resource for me to call for advice every once in a while he's been great I mean he put us in touch with the North Dental Society so we're working with a meeting with them in a week to chat about helping North Carolina dentists you know educate them about how to offer membership plans in their offices and you know really not they used when all these if you are not it it's all about just like making it more accessible for the consumer and helping dentists understanding but they can and kind of can't do and at least a North Carolina and beyond.
Howard: You know every time I read anything by a health care economist like say Regina Herzlinger from Harvard who's got a doctorate in business administration at DBA. You know they always say the American healthcare system about 30 percent of the cost is just shuffling paper and it's always blowing my mind that this Steve Jobs came out with a smartphone in 2007 and I still have that you know people come in they have to bring paper to have to bring cut down trees then I got to get on a phone line and call some other monkey without a tail and I'm always thinking well why don't one of those dental insurance companies just have an app and they just come in and I just you know brings up a barcode I scan there you are and there's everything any other breed wells it's plant you know maybe someone comes in and they got to go back to work and they got to go back to the factory and they got to find HR and they got to get their paperwork and it's like I mean here's Delta the biggest dental insurance company in the world and why isn't it paperless on their smartphone.
Brett: Yeah I mean the dental insurance industry as a whole is just right for disruption any medical insurance as well it's so outdated and you know I got a little bit of some insider information at that about three percent of all the revenue that comes in from a dental insurance company it's just over head you know it was administrative cost. I mean their margins are really only five percent but the dentist only see about 55% of those premiums and then you know forty percent is their administrative and 5% goes to profits. So you know you know I just had a paper post in dental economics which this is a really interesting statistic that was published in the ADA and not many people caught was that seventy percent of the time the consumer buys dental insurance that cost of the co-pays for premiums outweighed the cost of the care they receive at full market price you know the full crisis of the dental office is lower than the premiums and the co-pays that they paid that they buy their own dental insurance. So it's almost always a lose-lose situation for a consumer to buy their own dental insurance.
Howard: Well yeah I mean it's an actuarial risk analysis I mean you need a big pool of people I mean that's the only thing that's crazy about this whole publications there's no such thing as dental insurance anyway. I mean it's a benefit the only benefit is if you know your employer pays for but I mean insurance would be a hundred people have insurance on a car but only one person's stacks it every year. Fire insurance I've lived in my neighborhood for thirty years and I've only seen three houses burn down it's about a once in a decade if that. That's some house without the plane so everybody pays a little bit one guy came but with dentistry have you insured one hundred people a hundred percent would eat a cleaning exam and xray, a six month recall you know they all drink Dr. Pepper and eat Funyuns you know so you can't really spread the risk around.
Brett: There's been a three-fold increase in the percent of private consumers who have gone and bought their dental insurance in the last five years. So it went from about three percent to about ten percent in the only reason that makes sense is just that it's a monthly premium they can break their payments up because if you look at the cost the cost is almost always going to be more if you buy your own insurance but that's you know one of the things that gets me so excited about the membership plan is that we're able to now directly compete with the dental insurance just by offering a monthly plan you know I'm called a premium or a plan whatever but now we directly compete but you remove all the administrative overhead and it's just directly between you and the consumer so it's more profitable for the business more profitable or less costly for the consumer it's just a win win and a loose for the insurance company. So if you've read any article from the insurance companies about direct primary care I mean they just talked about how it's the worst thing ever but it's obviously one of the best things both in health care with concierge medicine and dentistry with subscription based dentistry.
Howard: So do you think this is a right now because membership plans are bleeding edge and they're kind of feeling out the market or do you think it's it's now past having gone to leading edge I mean do you think this is going to have a serious impact and they help dental health care and macroeconomics in dentistry?
Brett: I can tell you that the insurance companies are very aware of the the dental membership kind of momentum that has been created and this isn't a new thing I mean as any dentist as a lot of us new to this there was dentists have been offering their own plans for 8 10 15 20 years maybe it's just probably in the last few years as some different automated solutions that come out to really take this thing to make it go gangbusters where everyone's starting to hear about it you're starting to read about it and and I would say you know win for maybe five to ten percent of offices or maybe less than five when I first started to now I mean I would say almost every dentist I know I mean has some sort of plan whether or not they do it themselves manually kind of offer it are they automated with the third-party software. So is it I think it's I don't think it's going anywhere because it's such a win win for the dentist and the consumer I mean it's only going to continue to increase over the coming years.
Howard: Okay why you and they did so on my podcast alone they burned several different people that do this what is your unique selling proposition. Why should they do Dental HQ?
Brett: Well exactly so you know I think one thing that's pretty unique about us and I think there may have been one other one but the kind of the the big players don't have this aspect which is you know we're created by dentists for dentists. I developed and critiqued this through what I saw happen at my office and it worked extra player Dr. Roger Levin have been to try to you know mold this into something that would be great the entire profession. Whenever we implement a new program or a new upgrade I'm watching it my dental office, Im seeing what works and what doesn't work you know I'm gonna think of my office manager my front desk my members to see what the sticking points are what what they want to improve. So I'm in it you know I'm in the trenches with everyone else and I'm seeing what's going on every day so it's allowed me to really kind of create and software and we're constantly doing upgrades to be more useful for dentists. We also built it to create unlimited unique customized plans which there's a lot of kind of rigidity with a lot of the other things out there where you can't like here's our options take it or leave it as far as you create a unlimited plans you can create multi plans or annual plans and I think our price point is pretty pretty fair I think. You know what I've seen with any of the become pretty entrepreneur going sort of there in companies is that we're very cognizant of how much we spend or over spend on different supplies and marketing and whatnot and so I was very cognizant that when I built this and so to sign up there's no cost so there's no risk to you, you can sign up check it out you don't like it you don't pay as a dollar you don't use it we only make money if you use the plan you keep us small residual each membership about 8% for like a thirty dollar membership that's about 250 275 and if you don't sign up any members we don't make a dime but for me I've spent enough money for different marketing companies will promise me the world and have a delivered that that for me this model is set up on the way we have monetized it seemed the most fair for dentist.
Howard: Nice so more details so how did they actually sign up what's their deal they go to the website Dentalhq.com.
Brett: Yeah there's a little sign-up button on the upper right it's gonna ask them a few questions to get the process started they're gonna get an email a link they're gonna go to that link go through about two or three steps we've got a great membership plan kind of Automator predictor where they enter a few of their fees.
Howard: Is that on the smartphone you said go to the hamburger hamburger icon you go?
Brett: I would have to see them are smartphones I know on the on a desktop is at the top right I'll have to see it.
Howard: Okay so you're the hamburger and then go to enroll my office?
Brett: Yes that's it.
Brett: So enroll my practice a little pop-up screen with a few questions I mean the whole process takes about 10 to 15 minutes so it's not too bad you can be up and going it's fully automated you get your box of marketing materials in a couple weeks later and you're rockin and rollin. We have a client success division that will do it 30 or 45 minutes on board morning session training session will teach you how to use the software how to maximize your membership program how to set it up our software assignment process itself kind of helps you come up with your fees you enter what your what your fee schedule is on a few year fees and it pops I would recommended membership fee that you can use an item so it really kind of walks you through that hold your hand watch the whole process of setting your plan out and the other thing is really unique about us is one of the things excited about this was I was like okay now as dentists by creating monthly automated plans this is something that we can go directly to consumers. So at some point we want to get really direct to consumers don't this really awesome marketplace where once we get big enough and have enough dentists utilizing the platform we can go direct the consumers on behalf of dentist and say hey there's some great dentist in your area and here's some dentists down your neighborhood here's you know pictures the offices services hours and by the way the biggest question mark the biggest thing holding you back as a consumer which is cost it's going to cost you $30 a month to go see this dentist. So I put everything that consumer needs right the touch of their fingers and you know that's kind of connected with Dental HQ. None of the nobody else has any kind of marketplace like that with these subscriptions but my ultimate vision is you know taking this awesome thing for doing this profession and helping dentists go direct to consumers to bring in more patients who don't have insurance and help consumers see you don't need dental insurance it's a waste of your money here's a much better solution.
Howard: Well you're right dental entrance extremely ripe for disruption that I mean I think the universities are the most I mean universities have been increasing the cost of tuition two to three times greater than inflation for decades when it could virtually all be done I mean and I think that Invisalign is starting to reality check the orthodontist. I mean those guys no matter what they do they don't budge under $6,500 treatment plan case and that and so now Invisalign is going around them with smile direct Club. If you said that insurance companies have forty five percent overhead pay 50 percent premiums only net five percent that looks like they're on the brink of a disaster.
Brett: yeah I mean this is this is information I got from somebody in in the business I don't know you know how accurate it is or not but it's certainly not information that insurance companies want us to know.
Howard: Well you know really it's not accurate because of the dysfunction of the dentists. I mean you go into any other industry you know my dad you know had nine sonic drive ins and bought a million dollars of meat from this guy every year and that was like one of his best friends everybody I mean you know how many suppliers it takes to make an iPhone or to assemble at Ford 150 and the value chain everybody works together but the dentist has been has had a abusive relationship with insurance companies since day one I mean the insurance company will give them you know three four hundred thousand dollars in the dentist's or write one letter to them a year and it includes profanity because they didn't cover some procedure and then they want to know, I mean I can't tell you I I've asked every insurance company there is to come on this show and they're like dude although almost sit at a bar and drink with you till 3:00 in the morning but your homies are crazy and they're kind of afraid of them. I lectured I let you to a dental insurance group in a Florida just a few months ago there's like three or four hundred people there they'd show me all this amazing stuff I'm like please will be posted on dentaltown or give me that really hell no you know those all be used against us and until but like I was in Ohio yeah but I just said that me Charles Blair and Roger Levin where was the executive director of the Ohio Delta Dental where was the big blue they're never invited to the party they're never there never included and so dentists have been treating each other I mean thinking how many geo-political countries do that they're you know them and their neighbor have been dysfunctional. Greece and Turkey I mean these guys haven't seen eye to eye forever and that's the way Dentistry is until they start showing some respect to these CEOs and start inviting them to the conventions I mean how many dentists are listening right now they got over $100,000 last year from just one dental insurance company and if you pulled them over their car with that podcast out of there and put a gun to their head say name the CEO of the company that gave you this hundred thousand dollars and they're like I don't know but Kim Kardashian it's like well you know if that dude gave you a hundred thousand dollars and you live in the same town with them in Cleveland Ohio why do you not know his name why didn't you go to lunch why didn't you go to dinner I look at how many dental insurance companies where maybe they're going in to sell this factory dental insurance well how come I've never seen you email saying hey our sale's guys going in there'd be really nice to have three dentist from the zip code that practice across the street to go in and help me you know sell this policy I mean there's just none of that and I believe that not on the insurance companies because I blame it on the dentist man big egos.
Brett: I mean I think you know the dialogue always can be improved but I think there's been some states where you know the dentists have tried to create a dialogue and it's just it hasn't helped you know so they did it's like me in North Carolina I hear about these situations like I think Washington State's going through a lot of a hard time right now with Delta and you hear these stories and it makes you go out you know there in it for us that they don't want to help us you know so it makes you hesitant to open up the dialogue but you know it's gonna require both sides coming together and finding common ground but I think it's only getting worse I think you know what I'm experiencing 10 years now versus 10 years ago it's worse now than it was 10 years ago as far as the denied claims and you know the adversarial relationships is only kind of dissolve.
Howard: Well I know that every when the American Dental Association has the best health care economist in the world I mean he worked for the World Health Organization in the United Nations I mean just an amazing at Marco Marco.
Brett: He wrote that paper.
Howard: Yeah Marco Rico is it is Marco...
Brett: I couldn't even begin to pronounce it.
Howard: and he can't even go next door to Delta in Chicago the parent company and get insurance claims to run algorithms through it. Some of these old questions like how long does an amalgam last works the posterior composite. I mean here's insurance companies with hundreds of millions of dollars of claims and he couldn't even get them to meet at a Starbucks for coffee, that's how bad it's getting but I'll tell you where it always in the five meters faster easier higher quality lower cost and more miniature and what you're gonna see is a disintermediation of the middleman so the question right now and economic said you're gonna make it lower cost well then you get rid of the middleman I mean that was Walmart's entire deal yet Sears Gibson teaching wide coast-to-coast and he said well I'm not gonna buy my paper towels from the Procter & Gamble rep for Arkansas who takes a twenty five percent markup and only calls on my store once a month my time he gets here we've got empty shelf space because this is America I'll find someone that will sell me paper towels direct and this is going to be if what you do you know that the consumers really invested a thousand bucks in a smartphone which is a bigger computer than what landed on the Apollo mission what landed on the moon and if you can this smartphone replaces the middleman my gosh that that's that's it disintermediation is that where you see this going over the next ten years?
Brett: You know I yes the relationship with insurance for more become more adversarial yes their not increasing our reimbursement rates and making things tougher but there's been so many advances in dentistry in my opinion that I still think we're working the golden age I'm a big CEREC guy you know I love doing CERAC. I've taken all the courses I'm fully bought in, you know I think when you start doing CEREC it drives the cost of care down I think there's so many SAS companies from companies that will help automate the texting reminders reactivation of your patients um there's think there's so many more tools we have in our hand right now that can make it more efficient for us to practice dentistry and keep our schedules full that we didn't have 10 years ago that I think that's overcoming that the kind of difficulties were having with the insurance companies and one of them certainly is in house membership plans by by directly competing with the insurance companies were able to start driving those consumers to us and so they're going personally insurance company of need for me to see us that I'm much heavier markdown on our reimbursement rate. So you know I think I think we're really potentially it kind of it I feel like we're not in the golden age there's so many tools I'm learning about every different companies that are helping me grow my business become more efficient become more profitable that you know it's really to overcome any lack of them I mean I think my MetLife fees have been increased once in ten years and then you know they're just maybe twice we're not they're not keeping up with inflation that's for sure but I've been able to find ways to make my my practice more efficient and profitable in other ways.
Howard: Now when you say your practice your WellsFamilyDental.com I see three addresses Wake Forest, North Raleigh, downtown Raleigh do you have three offices?
Brett: Yep yep
Howard: Holy moly and you out have only been out 12 years?
Brett: I love it yeah so I did my first one about ten years ago and the second one with a colleague of mine downtown dental about five years ago and then we just opened our third one about six months ago so it's fun.
Howard: So the last two before the first one was your own and then the number two and three at a partner?
Brett: So the first one was my own number two was 5050 with my partner and then we just merged the first and second and in the third one my partner for the other ones as a small piece of, but my model is to allow my great associates to buy in and so we kind of just create a great group practice where everyone has the same goal in mind or intertwined business and success.
Howard: Well I mean if you don't believe that incentives matter then you're then you then Russia should have a bigger economy the United States. I mean it's just it's just so obvious to me that when you own your own practice and I molar comes and you do the molar root canal when you're an associate you refer to an endodontist. When a tough tooth comes in and your owner you pull the damn wisdom tooth and when you're an associate you refer to an oral surgeon and that's the curse of DSO's. The curse of DSO's is that their doctors don't have any skin in the game and then and then you're selling the invisible and associates whether they're in private practice or in DSO the turnover is every one to two years. I mean the lowest turnover I've ever seen with an associate in private or government or whatever is about 20 percent per year is about as good as I've ever seen it but when someone comes in and this what lawyers had to figure out, lawyers have the same problem with all associate and how did they figure it out they said well after four or five years or whatever I'll make partner and if you come in there and you hustle then you get out there running for mayor and you bring in some big cases and lawsuits and you're hustling they'd say we'll make you a partner and now there's a lot of DSO's that say oh no Wall Street just wants to own all this we only want you guys to be all employees you're never going to be in the game we're not publicly traded you won't even have stock and it's incentives matter don't they?
Brett: Absolutely you know incentives matter I'm also a big Richard Branson it's kind of approach to business which is you know you take care of your people and they take care of your customers. So we take great care of our team you know I don't want this model with doing multi locations like I'm doing with this new associates every year to at each location I only want this if I have a stable group of dentist we care about quality care for our patients and our gonna be with me forever you know so that's my vision and that's kind of what we're growing and we'll see you know everything's going great so far a lot of people that are really bought in and so you know it's easy for me and I'm gonna do what I really like is kind of growing the business and kind of tweaking the operations and seeing what works what doesn't work and talking to all these other SAS software companies and seeing what can help our company we've got all kinds of cool stuff we've implemented and but even with Dental HQ so we found a wanted to do men house payment plans so we found a company called Verity that helps you automate your in-house payment plans and they even have an option that allows you to gain or keep your in-house payment plans the patient pays a little bit extra. So the patient stops paying at month three Verity steps in and makes the rest of the payments when we thought it was so great we integrated their software right into DEntal HQ. So now you've got membership plans for consumers without insurance you've got in house payment plans you can do right from Dental HQ and then we got more stuff coming. So you know all this stuff is just giving us more ammunition that can make it easier to consumer to get the care they need.
Howard: So I write on your website www.wellsfamilydental.com by the way all for my boys is middle name as Wells did you know that?
Brett: No I didn't
Howard: Well I grew up with my sisters and I watch sexism you know which begins at home or you know I could go swim in the river lake and give 10 feet from the edge you know my mom put me in jeans and I heard patches on the outside but them dresses and they get in trouble they were soiled and when I got married and had my poor boys I just thought it was horrendous that their mom gives up their name they're all Farran. So I took her last name and it's the middle name Wells of all four my boys and the thing it's really cool because they're all for the only ones they know that are Wells Farran's you know I mean and III think it's cool but I love on your website and by the way your first name what why do you like Brett your first thing L. is Lorne and you're named partly Lorne Michaels of Saturday night live?
Brett: Okay yes I was now I'm gonna tell one of my really embarrassing stories all of dentaltown where I've been a member since 2004 but so my name was supposed to be Lorne Brett Wells but the way my mom tells it's Loren so it's Loren. So the way my mom tells the story is that you know after having me she was so exhausted that the nurse just put the e before the n and she just kind of just told them to go with that it was fine and so that caused about 18 or maybe you 13 or 14 years of just horrible first days of school where you know Lauren Wells and they would be looking for the girl in the class and you know it would be and you know so you know I just dreaded the first day of school so since then I've always gone by Brett now you know I think it's a great name but you know I kind of grew up going by Brett.
Howard: So yours is spelled Loren?
Brett: Ya was supposed to be Lorne but I kind of like it.
Howard: What is what is Lorne Michaels how does he spell it?
Brett: Yeah ne
Howard: I love Saturday Night Live gosh darn so but I love the fact that on your site it says no insurance no problem doing our in-house membership plan includes cleanings exams x-rays and discounts on treatment only $25 a month sign up here. I mean and then I go ask the dentist and I'll say yeah how many people land on your website each month I don't know well what percent convert and call the office I don't know Oh what do you know. Like right now in Phoenix the whole town's excited because there's a big digital denture conference in Scottsdale this weekend and I swear God I mean have a thousand dentist you know I mean I can't tell you how many people I know that are there coming from out of town to see that thing and every one of them will just drool and want to buy this technology and want to make digital dentures and they don't even know for how many dentures they do how many of them landed on their website potential dentures and never even converted because why because they didn't have insurance because they didn't have a friendly website and what's even funnier is the ones that are coming with the exception of Ryan MCcall who is like the denture God he's like the denture of God but these other denture people I know that are just elite in dentures and you go to their website it doesn't even say dentures they didn't buy a digital camera and even post one where they said this is my own work here's my before and after denture and it's like I just get out of the guys I know you love that you love technology but do you realize have anymore dentures you could do you just got your house in order and got your business and art right and Ryan post a denture case that he did every single day on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. I mean talk about a marketing genius he's a denture genius you know he's a business genius and he's a marketing... I mean yeah.
Brett: Well yeah I mean you know I think we as dentist we get I don't the right word on me now but we just kind of get set in their ways everything's going well you know the schedule is full enough and we're content and so you know you just you forget the straw to continue to improve your practice and track things and keep track of your metrics and you know continuing to move the practice forward. So one thing that I noticed when I kind of cut my hours back and did more running of my business was you know now we're signing up and bringing companies that really start tracking the metrics and so we didn't really start improving things like retention rates and the activation of our patients you know we obviously were big into membership plans because I've been a passion of mine for seven or eight years we're leaving a call tracking and monitoring our calls. So you know that's one thing as dentists we just let go by the wayside because we're content you know things are going well and it's and it's really easy to just keep the status quo instead of looking and making changes for it you know we're really important it's the work did they announce membership in whether or not you use an automated third party or are just doing annual plan something to give consumers a more palatable entry into your office and something that you can market on your website into it.
Brett: Do you think on your website by having in big bold letters Joyner in office membership plan no insurance no problem do you think that increase the conversion rate of people in Raleigh landing on your website to convert and call?
Brett: Well I think absolutely you know we've had patients who sign up into our membership plan but we've haven't even talked to one thing yeah eventually had patients because when you sign up into our membership plan it sends the office an email that you know you have any member and it lets you know what they want you to call them or they're going to call you and you can people sign up or like we're looking at our charts and you're like this isn't a patient of ours you know so they find our website they send them to the membership plan we get an email and then they call them instead of the appointment so it's really it's been really awesome.
Howard: Yeah that is amazing. Another thing you have is CEREC and I know a lot of kids listen here it's like I not only for that I have $350,000 in student loans. Do you think a CEREC machine was a return on investment in your office?
Brett: I think so here's what I think I think initially when I first got a CEREC about five years ago I think it was a break because you know what they don't tell you is you've got a bur you ever replace every you know eight or ten uses of three like $15 you've got a do oil back then it was the powder there was the you know your CEREC club every month and i was like well this is you know kind of neat i hate bringing patients back and getting them numb and doing this segmentation of the crowns and i didnt have to do that anymore and patients liked it and I mean the Crown's come out amazing but once I once CEREC kind of continued to evolve where I restore implants now you know my lab fee for restoring implants $150 with the CERAC whereas it was $700 before and I'll still send an occasional one out but I'm doing 90 plus percent of them or my CEREC and they come out amazing. I can do bridges with my CEREC there's so many like higher cost lab procedures that can now be with my CEREC where yes it's absolutely a revenue generator and now that Schine kind of come on board you know I think the price it not even Schine but all the other great intraoral centers and improving options out there just gonna continue to make their prices more palatable but you don't have to go buy a hundred hundred twenty thousand dollar brand new CEREC there's like you go dentaltown classified section you can find a ton of them for half that price thought about buying some there myself so you know.
Howard: On the classified ads on dentaltown?
Brett: Yeah yeah there's you can always find.
Howard: You know yes I don't do enough in house house commercials on my site but my gosh dentaltown has on any given day six thousand classified ads and you know that if you bought an f-150 pickup truck brand new and just drove it off the lot and then did a u-turn and drove it back how about what percent of the value would you lose.
Brett: Yeah you...
Howard: and here dentaltown free classified ads six thousand before you go buy something expensive see what they're selling for and when you search see it and it's also a great to go to you I mean if some guy tries to sell you something for fifty thousand and you say okay I get when you use on downtown today its a year old for 25 well they might come back and say okay well i'll lower the price.
Howard: Or I'll throw in training or whatever but dentaltown classified ad just.
Brett: A dozen things off of dentaltown classified ads, I think it's great
Howard: Yeah but there any others I'm on tinder swiping left when they should be on the dentaltown I love that bill marks that the other day he donated a million dollars with something and they said how do you have just a million dollars laying on and he says because I never married I've never divorced I've never have alimony I never had kids I never had palimony and in a Hollywood you hardly have to make any money at all and then by the time you're 60 at millions of dollars for you didn't make all these decisions which is my leading question too you got a partner. 50% of marriages fail and that involves great love and sax and vacations and children why did you decide to get a partner?
Brett: Well you know at the time I had a really busy practice up in North Raleigh and my partner Dr. Adam Moore was just starting to practice out on Garner just outside of Raleigh and so he had more time than I did I had just moved downtown and I really liked the idea of open up a practice right in the heart of downtown Raleigh is it's a really up-and-coming area now it just booming but then it was just starting to really uptic and so you know I called Adam one day and we were kind of hanging out a lot I said Adam what do you think about opening up a dental practice right in downtown Raleigh and he said I've always thought of that and I've always thought the name Downtown Dental and I said that's a perfect name do you want to do it together and he said yeah let's go together and so we did it together and you know we've got a you know different personalities that mesh well and so you know he kind of knows what I like to do and I know what he likes to do and he always just you know put that balance on and then it kind of came to the point where I really wanted to merge it into my practice and kind of really expand things and you know he was all about that and so now you know I am kind of leading the ship so I have the majority ownership now of everything but we still have a great partnership and friendship and he still contributes to the practice and we're doing great things now and growing you know like gangbusters it's been a good partnership for us.
Howard: You have been out of school 12 years have three offices inserted dental HQ and have a Facebook group dental booties I see these kids come out of school I mean I my 31 year practice was last week this is 924 so 92184. So I graduated may 11 87 and 133 days later had my office open and now I just see kid after kid after kid they get a different Association job every year for five year and they just don't pull the trigger and then I read this bill gates recommended this book so I was reading this book I didn't want to try to take a stab at it the guy's name can you can you pronounce that name?
Brett: Yuval Noah something
Howard: Yuval Noah Harari it's called sapiens a brief history of humankind and the most interesting thing I love about this book is how he was saying that you know that incremental improvement of evolution you know most top predators like bears and sharks got there over millions of years but all the sudden humans had some mutation where all the sudden they could talk advanced language and so and all that stuff but but me all the sudden became a top render the day before they were a top predator they were a scared monkey they were a marginal animal they lived in fear they were always scared always hiding up in trees so we still carry that baggage we're the top predator we live everywhere on land but our biology is still this little scared ape who so is scared and fear and nightmares and because we are looking at a shark yeah you're receiving fear in a Shark's face or a grizzly bear. I mean so we didn't we didn't slowly become top predator we did it overnight and they just live in fear what would you tell right now a quarter of our listeners are still in dental school the rest are all under 30 I get like one email a week to Howard@dentaltown.com that says dude I'm as old and fat and ugly as you and so they come out of school they think I say I'm in fear I needed you at GPR I need you to go get a job an associate I need to go in the Navy what what where how did you look what makes you different why did you just dive in headfirst and got three offices in 12 years and what advice could you tell this scared little monkey to just pull the trigger?
Brett: So you know this will be a little different than maybe something different in your perspective Howard but I did do a residency at a one-year age down in Jacksonville Florida and it was it was not in here general school it was an absolute rock star of a program at least 50 implants I did full mouth rehabilitation tons of endo prosthetics oral surgery and I came out of that program and I had the confidence tons of confidence and my clinical side I was very confident in, I've always been very entrepreneurial business minded so my game plan first you know I talk to a bunch of dentists I worked with one you know it just didn't seem very organized and I found the spot I said okay I'm gonna do that I'm going to open up my my own office and I will say when we've definitely share this that opening up that practice is one of the best decisions I've ever made in my career and opening it quickly you know I do...
Howard: It was a de novo scratch?
Howard: and why did you do that instead of buying an existing?
Brett: because back then it is still kind of the case now with Raleigh there weren't a lot of dentists because Raleigh is such a growing city there weren't a lot of dentists retiring some of their practice I mean there you would have to hear about it through the grapevine and then by the time you've heard that was already sold so there weren't a lot of opportunities of to own an existing practice although I think that's especially right now with the construction cost definitely the way to go but back in there definitely were many options. So I found a location I did a scratch start locally I picked the right location because I made for gangbusters pretty quick out there and was able to develop a really strong practice.
Howard: and where did you free enterprise background come from? Was it just curiosity did your mom and dad own their own business what where does this come from?
Brett: Well yeah my dad was an entrepreneur he started a nationwide company he sold probably 10 or 15 years ago. You know my mom's really creative my dad's really driven I'm always coming up with ideas and I'm the kind of guy I don't I don't want to die with regret and so if I have a great idea you know I'll vet it to people and if I think it can it can be good and help people and grow into something great and I'm gonna do it and I might lose lose but you know at least I don't have to regret not trying so I'm definitely you know have the entrepreneurial spirit where you know I've got other I've got plenty of other ideas that to help dentistry as well you know some of which I'm you've been already working on but I've got a lot of other cool stuff to come over my career I'm 10 years in I got another 20 30 here but yeah I love you the entrepreneurial stuff I always have and it's just what gets me excited it.
Howard: Well it is just for every I'm in Phoenix Arizona and my gosh what 25% of people here are retired from I think mine might be nice sometimes I'll read in the paper that Phoenix is 10% of the homes that turned in the last year were were Canadians and so there's so many retired people and within a mile or so miles just all these retirees and every time I love talking to him first when they're 80 90 100 years old and I you sell it for 30 years I say well what advice would you give me or what would you've done differently and they have always said that they wish they would have taken the risk to follow their dreams and someday you're gonna be laying in a pine box so what do you got to lose and they just and it seems I'll be their biggest regret was just living in fear and not following their dreams and not taking a risk like one man said well you know what did that pension so I stayed with that company from age 25 to 65 and I always knew I should have opened up that restaurant you know I mean and another day.
Brett: It has not always been successful speaking of restaurants I have lost but you know it was I come up with a great idea and I'm exactly like that I don't want to I don't want at 50 years from now maybe say boy I wish I had done that I think you could have been a really great thing and so I'm gonna do it you know any time I come up with a great idea I'm gonna do it I'm gonna give it my all I'm not gonna you know put something out that something's good as it could be I put my hundred-person of my effort every time I do it in business and I think you'll see that with Dental HQ with my dental offices I can't stand to have something substandard so I'm gonna I'm gonna build it if I'm gonna put the time ago that's gonna be done right.
Howard: So you loved your GPR that is so great care of all your friends that you hear about what percent of GPR experiences are like errors where they were great versus they weren't great and they were in some some situation where they didn't like they learn that much?
Brett: I haven't known my close friends did for once so you know I think it's I think it's very important to do your research I think there's a lot of bad ones that others just like a 5th year dental school but I think there's a lot of easy ones that are so much more than a fifth year dental school that's like a five year it's like really like five years in practice you know terms of you know yes you can do a ton of CE and I think that's what you should do if you don't do a really great advanced state to your GPR but you know doing a really good one it just gave me that confidence I needed when I got out so really start rocking and rolling and I didn't worry about my clinical side at all it's just about focusing on okay where's my practice gonna be am I going to buy an existing one and I got a partner with somebody am I gonna open my own what am I gonna do and I didn't have to worry about where my clinical skills were you know that was good I had done a ton of dentistry in that year and learned I had done a lot more advanced stuff and I would ever be with private practice you know so it gives you that comfort level. So for me that was one of the best decisions I ever made as far as my education was doing that extra year but I absolutely know enough further than different forms of some other stories about doing programs that aren't that advanced and it really being a waste of time so do do do your research there's great programs out there and don't waste your time on the bad ones.
Howard: and if you're if you're in doubt I mean you got a smartphone you got a dentaltown after the quarter-million dentists on there just just don't be a scared monkey you think you you think you're going to make a personal tomorrow all the dentist are all are gonna wake up and wondering what Susan is doing today I mean that's just not how monkeys roll monkeys only think about themselves so just ask the question no one's thinking about you anyway so just ask the damn question be fearless suppose and I am you know I think the you just don't live with regrets just do it but listening to the fear everything goes wrong remember that when you finance a practice only 0.4% of them default on their loan and it goes to the other license taken away, 80% of that is alcohol the other 20% is vicodin and even that's fixable. I mean if you're waking up every morning and drinking vodka and eating vicodin you could even get that fixed I mean easily even that space it's called the Betty Ford Center but man I am I'm your biggest fan I just love your ambition I love your fearless flying I just love everything you're doing and I thank you so much we're taking a hour out of your busy life to come on the show and one last thing to the kids you know your grandparents always burn the less they earn and they'd always save money and if there's one thing that scares me about this next generation is they're they if they go from $10 an hour and they get a raise at work to 12 they immediately raise their berm and they go from a one bedroom apartment to a two bedroom and then they're gonna raise for $15 an hour so they really buy new car their burden is always ready for whatever they earn and you have to burn less than you earn and when it comes down to continue education we have 400 courses on dentaltown for $18 a piece and they always have to get in a jet fly across the country stay in a resort drop three thousand dollars to learn something they could have made for 18 half of those speakers on dentaltown if you just google their name on YouTube probably have a YouTube channel where you can watch 20 hours for free. One of my rockstar buddies Jared Pope learn how to place dental implants is because every night he came home from work he got on YouTube and search dental implant surgery and watch hours of posted dental and within a year he said I'd seen you know 10,000 hours of all these surgeries and I just he just felt bulletproof and you know and then the best CE's is when you just walk across the street to your periodontist and shake your damn hand and say hey if I ever have an afternoon fall apart on my schedule can I come over and watch you and all monkeys want a friend now the periodontist got a friend the best hands on CE but what I love about this specialist across the street is when you do screw up you got a you got a periodontist across the street you have you got an oral surgeon I mean if you end up pulling out that wisdom tooth and only get the top half out you got a buddy that'll pull the bottom half out for you and so just you know just figure out the five fingers and you know answer this test on everything is it faster is it easier is it higher quality is it lower in cost is the more miniature and if you do all that you're gonna have a rockin good career. Loren I know you don't want to go by Loren you want to go by L Brett Wells but you're Loren to me you're Loren Brett Wells DDS thank you so much for all that you've done for dentistry and dentaltown and thank you so much for coming on the show today hope you have a rockin hot day.
Brett: Howard you have been a role model of mine for many years I would not have had that first practice but wasn't for the hundreds and thousands of hours on dentaltown researching how to do it. So it's an honor to be on your show I'm still a little bit honor that I'm even here thanks everybody for listening and I look forward to meeting you in person hopefully at some point here.
Howard: Alright well come to the next Towniee meeting and tell us what your doing, it's in Scottsdale next year it is like April something in Scottsdale and you come down here and and I'll we'll meet at the bar and we'll drink until I know everything.
Brett: Sounds like a perfect night to me.
Howard: Alright buddy have a rockin good day.