Adrian is a business and personal coach with a successful practice in the greater Boston area. He is also a motivational speaker who has presented internationally to groups in excess of 700 people.
His business clients include some of the premier dental practices in the Boston area, in addition to other medium-size non-dental organizations in Eastern Massachusetts. Adrian is the author of “The Way Of The Superior Dentist”
Adrian designs, implements and leads personal development workshops. For the past 20 years he has co-facilitated emotional reeducation workshops working with thousands of participants. Adrian Wilkins is a founding partner in WHM Dental Consulting, LLC.
Prior business interests include the founding of a successful retail chain which began with a single location and was built into an eight-store chain with revenues in the high seven-digit range. He also started, grew and sold other smaller retail operations. Adrian is heavily involved in the study, as well as the practice of Organizational Development, Systems Thinking, Psychology, and Communication. Adrian is a Certified Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistics Programming (NLP) and was formerly an adjunct professor at New York University.
VIDEO - DUwHF #983 - Adrian Wilkins
AUDIO - DUwHF #983 - Adrian Wilkins
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Howard: It’s just a huge honor for me today to be podcast-interviewing the man behind this book, Adrian Wilkins, who wrote the amazing book: The Way of the Superior Dentist: Connecting with Patients, Creating Abundance, and Cultivating Your Passion. Adrian is a business and personal coach with a successful practice in the greater Boston area. He is also a motivational speaker who has presented internationally to groups in excess of seven hundred people. His business clients include some of the premier dental practices in the Boston area, in addition to other medium-size non-dental organizations in Eastern Massachusetts. Adrian is the author of ‘The Way Of The Superior Dentist’. Adrian designs, implements and leads personal development workshops. For the past twenty years he has co-facilitated emotional re-education workshops working with thousands of participants. Adrian is a founding partner in the WHM Dental Consulting, LLC. Prior business interests include the founding of a successful retail chain which began with a single location and was built into an eight-store chains with revenues in the high seven-digit range. He also started, grew and sold other smaller retail operations. Adrian is heavily involved in the study, as well as the practice, of Organizational Development, Systems Thinking, Psychology, and Communication. Adrian is a Certified Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistics Programming (NLP) and was formerly an adjunct professor at New York University. It’s just an honor that you came by today.
Adrian: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.
Howard: So, you had a retail background. The first thing I was thinking about that was, "Man, Amazon is killing retail. It's crushing it."
Adrian: Not as bad as the business I was in at the time. I had a chain of video rental stores, which I was lucky enough to sell to a larger chain that was doing a full roll up, an IPO and I got out of it in ’96, but we got killed earlier than everybody else did.
Howard: Yeah, but there's always that unique situation because when everybody started zigging out of retail, knowing that every time Amazon increased its monthly sales - a billion dollars - thousands of feet of retail would go under. Steve Jobs, completely counterintuitive, said, “No, we're going to start opening up retail.”
Howard: Apple stores. What did he call them? The museum to his brand or the-
Adrian: There are companies now saying, “Hey, listen, we're not making money in our stores, but those stores give us web presence or it's driving people to the web. So, in a way it's the reverse of what it was originally. Originally the brick and mortar was the place you went to buy and the website was something that was on the side. Now the website is front and center and the brick and mortar is the billboard.
Howard: Jobs, it’s still amazing how even after he’s passed as you go on, you get more enlightened to how genius this guy was. Like when everybody was realizing when Amazon started in ’94 and it was just killing it that if you could sell your product shipped in a box, you’re dead. And Jobs, I mean, he obviously shipped this in a box and his Mackintosh, all that stuff. but he said, “There's three parts to a sell; there’s the pre-sell, which is your advertising, your public relations, then there’s actually the sell, the store, the dental office, the Apple store- What does he call his stores? What does Apple call its-
Ryan: The first one was in Prague-
Howard: They call them the Apple museum?
Adrian: Apple museum, isnt’ that interesting.
Howard: Do they really?
Ryan: Yeah, they do
Howard: And then there's the post-sell of why did your patients or customers not come back? Things that you add in to get them to come back, like a warranty- What we always did is the warranty's not good and valid if you don't get your teeth cleaned at least once a year, so if you want me to warranty your crown or root canal five years…Some other non-brainers are... Every endodontist I know wants a x-ray of the tooth a year later to see if it worked. That gets them another chance to come in, another chance to say, “You still got the bad tooth here”. Same thing with implants. If you leave a little piece of cement and get peri-implantitis, but at a year if you would have had him come in and take a check (unclear 00:04:33), so there's the pre-sell, the actual sale and the post follow-up sell.
Adrian: And also think about how that patient feels that someone cared about them after they drove the car out of the lot. We're having them come back; it benefits us, but at the same time, they’d have a special feeling like, “Wow, they weren't just worried about getting the implant placed. They're worried about making sure that it continues to function.” So I think it's a win-win.
Howard: The hardest thing about any business, whether you're in Boston- Is your football team The New England Patriots?
Adrian: It certainly is. Wait a minute, no holding this against me.
Howard: Is that the closest NFL team to Boston?
Howard: Because where is the Patriots?
Adrian: It’s probably about-
Howard: What city is it called?
Adrian: It’s Foxborough, Massachusetts. It's probably thirty-five, forty minutes from the city.
Howard: Isn't there a big Indian reservation casino out there?
Adrian: Well, there's starting to be some in mass, but down on the Connecticut border, there’s Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, and Foxwoods for a while was actually the largest casino in the world.
Howard: Because I know I've lecture out there and it’s really… But even if you're the New England Patriots, it’s HR, it's all the fifty people. And look at the Cleveland Browns who didn't win a game last year. Well, they did all the pre-sell stuff, right? They had the great marketing, the websites, the Twitter, the Facebook, they have gorgeous uniforms… When you say we didn't win a game, you can’t go back and say, “Well, they didn't do enough advertising or Facebook or social media or they didn't have the right facility or their uniforms right.” All that stuff before is nothing compared to nailing HR in the human experience. And it looks like in service industries, it's so tough because you're selling the invisible. I know this an iPhone; I could buy that on Amazon, but when my engine light comes on and I go to Greulich’s auto supply and he tells me whatever I need, it’s just blind trust. I'm trying to size you up like, “Do I trust this guy?” And I do because I've known him, I know his wife, his kids, his family. I trust that he's in this community for the long run, but that's the hardest part about dentistry and the dentist think that if they learn all these new technologies and lasers and CAD/CAM and bone grafting, that that'll be the answer to all their success and they'll end up being the Cleveland Browns.
Adrian: And from their perspective, think about it; it really actually makes sense. You're a dentist and you do all this training. What are you thinking about all the time? You’re thinking in your mind, “If I can do an amazing implant, if I can do an amazing root canal, then that's what it's going to take for people to come to me and trust me and work with me.” `They're not realizing that's not what the patient sees. The patient has no idea really whether or not that procedure was done well, really well, was excellent or just okay, so it's interesting that what dentists value. And they should. I don't challenge that at all, but what dentists value really differs from what patients value. In fact, there was a study- I haven't actually seen the study, so if I'm inaccurate at all, don’t be too tough on me, but there was a Harvard study years and years ago where they had patient survey their doctors, their dentists, and they surveyed them on how competent they thought they were and how much they liked them. There was a direct correlation between whether they liked them and whether they thought they were competent. So this is critical, right? It's not just that they liked them and they would go to them. Basically what they were saying is if they rated a doctor a ten in competency, they also rated him a ten in likability. What do you think they did? Number two, they rated the doctor's competency on how much they liked the team. So, think about how scary that is. You’re being evaluated, your clinical competency is actually being evaluated by whether or not somebody likes your front desk (unclear 00:08:36), hygienist, or (unclear 00:08:37) system.
Howard: It makes sense because the dentist tells you you need- I used to love that Charlie Brown series, because you see that mistake with parents on their first child. You always see them talking to a one year old as if it was ten, and you have to tap them on the shoulder and say, “Dude, this baby has a twenty-word vocabulary.” So all the baby hears is, “Wawawawawawawa…” When you're saying, “You have two interproximal lesions, we’ll need two (unclear 00:09:05) cavities, you have irreversible pulpitis…” You might as well just be going, “Wawawawawawawa…”, but you have the assistants over there and she's rolling her eyes or she's not intuitive or- Someone comes up to the front desk and says, “I was supposed to have appointment in tennis at ten after,” and she's rolls her eyes. Basically you're selling invisible and everybody's not on your team. I see this at seminars all the time. The staff will come up to me and I'll say, “Who do you work for?” and they'll roll their eyes and go, “That guy in row three,” and I'm like, “Wow.”
Adrian: And you know they’re doing that whenever they're carrying out scripts that they've been told to carry out. You know they're doing it with the eyes up in the air because they have to do it.
Howard: And their likability thing is also- In business, what works? Money is the answer. What's the question? Not “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. What works? These dental and medical malpractice- The people did a great study and they're saying, “Okay, why do 1% of our doctors get the majority of lawsuits?” And they went in there and found out that again, it wasn't incompetence; it was because everybody thought he was an asshole. Likability reduces going to the state board. Likability not only gets them to come back, it gets them not to sue you.
Adrian: In fact, another study related to this- A good friend of mine, Sanjiv Chopra, Deepak Chopra's brother actually and he was at Harvard medical school when they did a study on what to do when people had any form of malpractice and they said they would do something the lawyers told them all not to do. First, apologize. Say, “We’ve screwed up.” Tell them even if the patient didn't know about it. And three, figure out what can we do to make it right and the claims went to the floor versus going adversarial and “We didn't do it and we're not going to talk to you. We're not going to tell you anything.”
Howard: Yeah, I can’t believe it on Dentaltown. It's crazy. A dentist would say, “The patient just left this message at the front desk and said all this stuff. What do you think I should do?” And then the next response is, “You should call your dental malpractice carrier and see what advice…” It's like, “Dude, why don't you just pick up the phone like a human?”
Adrian: I was looking at a post the other day before coming here and there was a conversation going on about a root canal. There was an x-ray of the root canal done a year ago and the question was, “Should I give this patient a refund?” And I was sitting there and saying, “I don't know clinically whether or not you should give a refund or not, but I'm sitting there saying, for whatever it's going to cost you to make that right with the patient, how much is it going to cost you to not make it right? How many people are they're going to tell versus them saying, ‘Hey, this was a great guy. He took care of me. He did the right thing.’ And why is the patient asking for the money back?”
Howard: Yeah, and to upset a patient who lives within driving miles of your practice for five, ten, twenty, thirty years. It's just crazy. Walmart was the one who established it because he was starting in a small town. Nobody had warranties, nobody took anything back, but he was in a small town and he sold a woman a pair of shoes and the heel broke off and Sam said, “Not my problem.” Well, next Sunday at church, the lady tells Helen, “My family's never going back to your store again,” and Helen says, “Dude, we only have five thousand people in town. (unclear 00:12:42) to have a family of five never coming back.” Sam had to pioneer the No-Questions-Asked Refund, and then the next time that guy came to sell him ten pairs of shoes, he pushed up the value chain and say, “Well, you're going to switch this around free.” It went all the way up to the value chain so finally they had to make shoes that actually worked.
Adrian: Right, so they actually solved the real problem by having the right warranty. It's also interesting when you talk about that. One of the things that I see happen is once the decision is made to make it right for a patient or a customer in any industry, one of the things that makes me absolutely crazy is when we do it resentfully. If you got to give the money back, do it with a smile. Don’t do it with, “We’re going to give it to you, but you know, it's kind of your fault. It really wasn't us.” So now you've spent the money and again pissed off the patient. So from my perspective, if you're going to give money back or warranty something, do it with an open heart. Be glad you did it. Let the patient know. Have it be a positive that people go out and talk about you as opposed to the opposite of that.
Howard: Ryan. do you know how I got rid of all my over ninety (unclear 00:13:52)?
Adrian: I stole it.
Howard: How I did it? Do you know? So if someone owes you money and they're not going to pay, I can take them to small claims court and start a war with somebody who lives in (unclear 00:14:04) - that's the dumbest thing in the world. What is the Superbowl-
Howard: Christmas in America. When people say, “There's a war on Christmas, are they dumber than a rock?” It's bigger than all the other holidays combined. Most of these malls do 40%o f their yearly sales between Black Monday and Christmas. To think there's a war on Christmas, you have to be dumber than a shrew. So what I would do is I will go get a bunch of Christmas cards and then I would zero out their account and say, “Hey, we had a great year, but you didn't pay your bills. You obviously didn't have a good year and I'm sorry for that. But with the spirit of Christmas around the corner, I want to know that I have zeroed out your account. You owe me nothing and the only thing I ask is for your continued support and referral of a friend or loved one.” Oh my God. They come in crying with pumpkin pies, hugs, kisses. I turned a complete negative. Now I’m hugging this lady.
Adrian: Crazy enough when you do that, because I've now done it with a number of offices- I probably picked it up from you twenty years ago.
Howard: I stole it from Ryan years and years.
Adrian: A lot of checks came in the mail on top of it all. People came in and said thank you, people came in in tears, but some people stopped and took the time to just say, “Hey, let me just pay for this.” Best collections I’ve ever seen.
Howard: Another thing they do is a lot of the seeds of doubt about anything you've done wrong or planted by the dentist across the street because they’re thinking you’re in scarcity that they don't want to be buddies with the guy across the street. I knocked on every door when they come to town. “Let's go to dinner or come to my house!” And all the dentists that closed the door and thought in fear and scarcity, “Well you’re a competitor,” not know that (unclear 00:16:00) is your competitor and Disneyland’s your competitor. It's so amazing that all the dentists that I went drinking with and watch sports games with and all that stuff, we've all been diffusing each other's nightmares for thirty years. You'll get a second opinion by somebody who say, “Look, he's a good guy. Something went wrong. I'll redo it. He re-does mine.” So when your root canal fails and you can say, “You know what, you can go across the street to my buddy. I’ve known him for thirty years. All paid. I have the (unclear 00:16:29). I did this. I think I can redo it, no problem, but if you've lost faith and trust, I get it. Go to my buddy across the street, go anywhere you want. I'll pay for it.” And just diffuse it.
Adrian: But that's an abundance mentality, right? That’s the mentality that there's enough for everybody and the more I give, the more that's going to come back to me versus when people get scared, “I don't have enough patients, I don't make enough money, I’m not doing well enough.” Then we start to do all of the wrong things which absolutely destroyed our business. You know, one of the things that my book is geared towards-
Howard: The way of the superior dentist.
Adrian: Yeah, that’s not an accident. The title really is because it's what I believe in. I really believe in taking your career or your passion and having it be something that furthers you and helps you develop and helps you grow as and that's really what this is about. A lot of people that tend to read this book are dentists that have done a lot of continuing education who want to do more comprehensive care dentistry, and what I've found is that- We were talking about that word of mouth. Done the wrong way, the quest for comprehensive care dentistry can destroy more practices than probably anything else.
Howard: What would destroy more than anything else?
Adrian: The quest to do comprehensive care dentistry done incorrectly can destroy practices, and I've watched it happen. There's more than one practice. The guy comes in, does a lot of advanced training, a lot of it out in this area and comes back to his practice and says, “Okay, that’s it. We only do it right now. We're going to do optimum oral health, whatever that is. Either you do it and you do it all well, or get out.” And I've watched really good practices get destroyed about way. I still believe there's a market or a niche for the dentist that wants to practice. I don't think it's the majority. I don't even think it should be the majority. It doesn't really work for the majority of people, but for the people that do, it has to be done in a way so that your patient is just as happy if they say yes or if they say no, and they talked just as highly about you if they say yes or if they say no.
Howard: I always get a 100% treatment plan acceptance. You know why?
Adrian: Because you don't recommend anything.
Howard: No, because one of the treatment plans is nothing.
Adrian: Right, that’s what I mean.
Howard: There’s nothing. There's this, there's that. But you know what? I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but the original comprehensive dentistry legend was L.D. Pankey, and his life story turned into this fantasy thing that didn't even happen. That good old boy was from Kentucky. I'm old enough that thirty years ago taking these courses, I met people who actually knew L.D. Pankey.
Adrian: And he wasn't practicing in the way that he was talking about?
Howard: No, he did total comprehensive care, but he had a group practice, so if you wanted any extraction in Kentucky, you went to door number one with the young associate. If you wanted a single tooth, it was another guy, if you wanted quadrant, another guy. He was the top of this pyramid, but he served the whole family and then it got turned into this convoluted message that he was in Beverly Hills or (unclear 00:20:01) or Scottsdale or Downtown Manhattan doing comprehensive dentistry on lifestyles rich and famous like, “Dude, he was born in Kentucky.” I mean how many, how many lifestyle rich and famous people are in downtown Kentucky? The guy was a family practice dentist and he knew market segmentation. He knew GM sold a Chevy, an (unclear 00:20:22), a Cadillac, and he fulfilled all those markets, but a lot of his followers try to just say, “We’re just a Cadillac dealership,” and that can work in a huge metro with a lot of wealthy people.
Adrian: I think it can work, but it’s such a small percentage. The real challenge is you have patients who want comprehensive care no matter what - maybe it's an eighty-twenty rule. You get 20% that are never going to be interested, and then you got 60% in the middle of that could move one way or the other depending upon whether they want it if they come to understand why they would want it. If you or I were not involved in dentistry and walked into a dental office, we would do exactly what the patients do, exactly the same because why wouldn’t we? All the patients aren't wrong. It's how we're interacting with them that makes the difference, and what I really work with people on is understanding that if you want to practice comprehensive care dentistry first, you have to listen first to your patients, really, really listen, and only after listening to them can you start to say, “Okay, so this is why you might consider this.” Never, ever, ever hammer someone over the head. “This is the treatment plan. Do it.” “This is what I see, this is what it means if you don't treat it, these are your options. What would you like to do?”And there are enough people - when it's done correctly and done in the right order and done in the right way - that will go forward, but when it is done in this approach of, “Okay, here’s the Cadillac. Buy it. If you don't like it, there's something wrong with you because you don't want to buy it, and there's somebody behind you that will buy my Cadillac.” Not only do are you not successful with the patient, but what I watch that happens is, they'd go out and tell everybody, and pretty soon you have a reputation that you’re Cadillac salesmen and not a dentist. I absolutely believe it's possible to do fee-for-service dentistry. I have clients that do it. I think it's possible to have comprehensive care dentists, but not in the approach that I think has typically been taken. To me, that's what's exciting and in the title, ‘The Way of the Superior Dentist’, who do you need to become in order to be effective and successful in that model? And even if you don't practice that model, even if it's not comprehensive care dentistry, there are some real do's and don'ts when it comes to communicating with patients and that's what excites me.
Howard: If I bought a Cadillac in Phoenix everybody would think I sold Mary Kay cosmetics. I'm in Phoenix. Remember the story of the pink Cadillac? If you reached the zenith, she’ll buy you a pink Cadillac. So how long have you been in dentistry?
Adrian: Twenty years. In 1996, I sold my video stores. I had another business at that time, at the same time that I was running, but I had a little bit of a life altering experience. I’m sixty. This is probably almost twenty-five, thirty years ago. One of my twin boys was diagnosed with autism and at that time-
Howard: Were they identical twins?
Howard: No, fraternal. At that time, ‘Rain Man’ hadn't even come out. The word ‘autism’, you really didn't even know what it meant, and so I kind of stepped back and said, “Whoa, wait a minute, what am I doing? Why am I doing it?” that kind of thing. I became very interested in my own personal growth and in helping other people and working with other people. I didn't go to school for psychology, but I did a lot of studying and I did a lot of personal growth work. Out of that, I decided that I loved business. I didn't want to be a therapist, so I said, “How do I really do this and make this work?” I developed a business for coaching owners of small businesses with the idea that who they are impacts the kind of business that they have. They’re their greatest asset and their greatest weakness. I had a number of small businesses. I started out by just doing it for free, and my second cousin, who’s a dentist, called me up and said, “Would you come work with me?” I said, “I'll come work with you, but the problem is I don't know a thing about dentistry.” He said, “Don't worry about that part. I'll teach you. I've done all these different consulting companies.” I'm not going to name them. And I said, “Okay, I'll help you with them.”
Howard: This is (unclear 00:24:50)?
Adrian: No, this is Leonard DiPaolo. His parents sponsored my parents coming to this country.
Howard: From the UK?
Howard: He’s a dentist, Leonard what?
Adrian: DiPaolo, great guy. DiPaolo.
Howard: How do you spell that?
Howard: That is Italian isn’t-
Adrian: That is Italian.
Howard: So he was an Italian here, but your mother was born in Italy, right?
Adrian: My mother was born in-
Howard: But you were born in UK, so who’s Italian that got your mother-
Adrian: It’s very complicated. I can explain the whole thing. His mother actually went to London as well. Met my mother and they hung out together. My mother met my father, had the kids, came over here. It's a little incestuous. Anyway, he said to me, “Look, I'll teach you the dentistry, but what I need is help running my business. I am not very successful with my patients. I worked with him and he got some great results and so he told someone, who told someone, who told someone, who kept telling dentists, and I actually hit a point where when I got up to about 70% dentists and 30% of my clients were non-dental. I started to try to stop it. I said, “I don't want any more dentists. I didn't do this to become a dental consultant. I did this to become a small business coach.” Unfortunately- Not unfortunately. I love it. I went to as many clinical courses I could, really get to understand it, I’ve had an ownership interest in practices, so I've been very involved in dentistry for the last twenty years. I love it because I love working with dentists. Some people tell me that I'm crazy for that, but that's not my experience; I enjoy them. I love how much who a dentist is impacts their success. I have seen dentists that are clinically great dentists and because of their challenges with their communication skills, are very unsuccessful. I've seen other dentists who, let's just say don't do the very best dentistry, who have a line out the door. In what business do you have to be the CEO, the CFO, the HR director, the marketing director, the actual provider of services? You’re wearing so many hats. The opportunity to coach in that from leadership to communication to business strategy. I just think it's like I get up, and I play every day.
Howard: Well, they have to wear every single hat if they have a really high staff turnover because they're the only ones in charge. A lot of them are saved because the only person that doesn't quit every two years is their spouse. So it’s a woman dentist, her husband up front or vice versa, but it's only when you keep a staff for five, ten, fifteen, twenty years- My Laurie’s been there twenty years, my (unclear 00:27:55) Dawn’s been there twenty years, the original programmer at Dentaltown in 1998’s still there, twenty years. You can hand off hats to people after three or four or five years and never have to look at that hat again, but so many of these businesses, have so much turnover. I think it's great that you specialize in just dentistry because I see the dentists who use CPAs that only do dentists and those dentists always have lower overhead and know their numbers. But if they use the CPA they met at church, they don't know anything. I got neighbors out here that coach with the Cardinals. They have a very unique HR setting. What was the basketball coach that used to do the New York- He was in the Lakers?
Adrian: Phil Jackson?
Howard: No, not Phil Jackson. It was another legend. I think it was the Lakers and the Knicks…
Adrian: I'm not a great basketball guy.
Howard: Yeah, neither am I, but who was that guy? Pat Riley! There it is man. Pat Riley said something that was just amazing. Actually the Arizona Hygiene Association - this is thirty years ago - they were saying, “My male boss has a problem that all his employees are women.” And Pat Riley said, “Well you know what? In the NBA, all your employees are inner city black youth and if you go consult in Chinese restaurants, like (unclear 00:29:34), your employees were all born in China and speak very broken English. In fact, Zac and I were at the Chinese restaurant up the street the other day and this lady was so adorable. She's like sixty years old, but when she was fifty, she was still living in China with her husband and she was saying, “These Americans, they all want to talk to me and they tried to give me a hug,” and you could just see that she was in a different land wondering why all these people in Phoenix love her and want to give her a hug and want to talk to her, and she’s just an efficient and hard-working Chinese lady who wants to just do the entire meal in the kitchen in two minutes. Every industry has its (unclear 00:30:23) and the problem with dentistry is that you can't get into dental school, med school or law school unless you lived in a library and made straight A’s. That weeds out all your well-rounded people, all the people who are in frats and had friends and girlfriends, so it’s these mathematician, engineer to genius scientists-
Adrian: Right, look at the qualities that you really should have as a dental practitioner. One, you need to be technically competent, right? So you've got to have that scientific mind, that engineering mind. But then you need a personality. You need to be able to relate to people, understand people, bond, connect, that kind of thing. And for some people having some artistic ability- Those are not qualities at all necessarily go together easily, but what I have found is that I don't care how much of an engineer's mind you have, if you're willing to work at it, you can become much better. You may never be as good as the person who has that natural aptitude for-
Howard: We were talking at the beginning that- I love Professor Scott Galloway, the business teacher at New York he talks about the pre sell, the sell and the post-sell. The pre-sell is your marketing, advertising, but the sell is where- He said the greatest companies are taking their money at an advertising and public relations and putting in the facility like Steve Jobs. Cigarette companies pioneered this because they were banned from advertising. 31.57 They say, “We’re going to put all of our concentration in the store sell.” And when I asked that dentist, “What stresses you out the most?”, it’s always the staff. It’s people.
Adrian: Of course.
Howard: Of course, he'd rather be a social media expert in advertising guy in the beginning and post surveys and all this stuff. He does want it and you see this all the time. Almost every dental office I’m in, the dentists will numb up the patient and then leaves the room, takes out his gloves and mask, goes and sits back, in his private office with the door shut for ten minutes.
Adrian: Right, on Google.
Howard: It’s like ten minutes. We could have pressed the flesh, found out that your mother was born in Italy… The only stuff that matters and he's sitting back there in his office with the door shut and then he comes in to his operatory when he's ready to do surgery with his hands.
Adrian: See, I always thought what they should do is have a wall with a hole, and the faces would come along and you do the drilling, then the next face would come. No, I’m kidding of course.
Howard: I actually saw that in Russia. Russia was one of the pioneers of the RK surgeries because no one would try it where there were lawyers. You couldn't do that in London, in Paris, in Tokyo, in the United States, and America has a million attorneys, but the guy that mastered in the RK, he actually stood in place and the patients moved by him. They were on a big rotating… He did a gazillion of them before it was safe enough to try where there's lawyers. But anyway, how do you teach these guys to increase their people skills with their staff and their patients?
Adrian: I do a lot of the things that other companies do and other people do. We work with personality typing, that kind of thing. We do an awful lot of work with that. You said they come in and numb them up and there's an opportunity to connect. I really work with dentists on that initial stage of connecting with a patient and really getting to understand them before they put their hands in their mouth, before they start working on them, because what I've found is so much can be uncovered in that early part of the relationship, that if you don't get it, then you don't get it after it. As an example, I had a dentist come to me. I have something in this book and other people talk about things like this. I refer to something as an emotional exam or a pre-clinical exam. Let me get to know who you are before I do anything with you and I’d coach them just to do this and some people are very receptive and some people, especially associates in a practice where they haven't personally hired me, sometimes the associates goes, “Okay, all right, I'll do the thing that consultant wants me to do.” I had a new dentist who's very good too, nice person, came in and said, “Hey, you know, I just don't understand what's happening. I just talked to a patient. She booked three crowns. She got to the front and then she didn't book. I thought she was gonna do it, but she didn’t.” I said, “What did you learn about her in the pre-clinical exam? What did you find out when you were working with her upfront?” And the jaw goes down a little. “I didn't do it.” I said, “Look, and I'm not beating you up, but go do it. Go do it with your next patient. Really try this one. Please do this.” So, she goes and she comes into the next day, really excited. She says, “I had a patient, I started talking to them, asking them about their experience with dentistry and so on and so forth, and she started to tell me the crowns don't work. My brother had crowns and the crowns came out and this happened and that happened and this happened.” She said, “I got in her mouth and sure enough, she needs three, four crowns. If didn't know that, if I didn't understand where she was coming from, I would have said, ‘You need three or four crowns.’” She said, “She would have said to me, ‘No way.’ I looked at her and said, ‘Look, I know what you told me and I'm a little hesitant to tell you what you need because I know you heard something and you saw something. Could we talk about it?’” And sure enough, the patient went forward with the treatment.
So, a lot of the coaching that I will give people is learning on the front end, diffusing things that happened, learning where that person's biases and attitudes come from and also connecting because once you're connected then you can talk about anything, and I'm really not even talking about rapport. I think rapport is necessary. When you meet somebody, “Hey, how are you, where did you go to school, what do you do, how many kids do you have, the whole thing.” But I'm talking about really being in connection and relationship. Things like price, location, convenience - all critical things, but they really are commodities. Because there are only 24 hours. You could open seven days a week. You can open after that. There's no adding to that. You can only go so far, the price. It can be more efficient and I know you talk a lot about that and I totally am on board. Even customer service. There's a limit to where that takes people. What I'm finding with patients is something deeper than customer service. I would refer to it as-
Howard: I’m taking notes. I'm not on Twitter or Facebook.
Adrian: Oh that’s okay. I’m not taking it personally. I would go a step further and say customer engagement, client engagement. When they're emotionally engaged with you and what's happening in their mouth, takes it to a whole other level. It becomes a differentiator from one dentist to another and that conversation with the patient, sometimes they have very short. I have some doctors that take a lot of time. Sometimes in five or ten minutes they create a connection that is so powerful that would take a lot for that patient to go somewhere else. Someone really listened to them, someone really connected with them, someone really heard this story and that goes beyond customer service and the problem with customer services is everybody's got to give at least decent customer service - as surprising as it is; I know it doesn't happen - but how do you set yourself apart? How do you differentiate yourself? And I really have found for people who want to practice this way, this is a way to do that.
When a dentist says to me, “My patients love me, they're loyal to me.” I ask them a couple of simple questions. I'll say, “If you drop their insurance tomorrow, do they stay or do they go?” When they have done it, they have been absolutely shocked. Mary was with me for twenty-five years. I knew who were her kids, her grandchildren. She hugged me. I dropped that insurance and she went down the street. What that doctor had with that patient was rapport, and what I'm talking about is more powerful than rapport. I'm talking about really being in relationship with that person where you can challenge them, coach them, listen to them, and really make a difference in their lives both in and out of dentistry. I'm not saying it's easy. In fact, it's not for everybody. I really mean that. In fact, I have turned away clients that either I thought didn't have the aptitude or didn't know what they're getting themselves into.
Howard: Were they Irish?
Adrian: Might’ve been a couple.
Howard: They’re either Irish or Russian. No, seriously, when I was in Russia, the most interesting thing about Russia's the Soviet Union culture. These really nice, adorable men. If you ask them a question, they were insulted that you’re questioning them. It's like, “I am all this and a bag of chips. What do you mean? What do you mean do I need a root canal? If you didn't need a root canal I wouldn't have to-” They actually would just unload on them and trying to teach post-Soviet dentists consumerism, that the customer is king… Oh my God.
Adrian: I went and gave a lecture to seven hundred dentists from Eastern Europe in Armenia and afterwards I was there for about a week. It was a great experience. Really just loved it. Got to drive around the countryside, right? What was the old Soviet Union? At night we would go out and they would put bottles as big as that water bottle here, (unclear 00:40:05) the table and these little glasses and you're drinking and you're drinking and you’re drinking. After about the third night I said, “Guys, I don't understand something. You guys have macho. I mean, really macho. And then at night you drink and drink and drink and the next thing you know, ‘You know, I just love you.’” I said, “What gives?” And they said, “Yeah, you see, under the old Soviet Union, speaking was dangerous and the only thing that protected you was if you were intoxicated.” So it became a habit that they would talk and share their real feelings with a few drinks.
Howard: One time I invited some Polish dentist- This was right after the Berlin Wall fell. I think the Berlin Wall was December ’89?
Adrian: Yeah, about that.
Howard: They just dropped communism and they want to (unclear 00:40:59). A bunch of them called up and they wanted to see me and see my practice, so I said sure. Turns out that it was about three months wages for an airline ticket. In Poland, they were just going to sleep by the side of the road. They brought just clothes and all that and they got here and I said, “Where are you guys staying?” and they say, “We only had enough money for airline tickets and to rent three vans. We’re just going to sleep on the side of the road.” I said, “Dude, you can't sleep on the side of the road. You can't even sleep in a park. If you're going to sleep by the side of the road, just come sleep in my backyard at my house.” So I had them all come over to the house and I pitched my only tent and me and the four boys all slept in the back. I just said, “Anywhere in the house is better than on the side of the road.” But we took them to Safeway and they freaked out because the Soviet Union had just fallen, and they had never seen fresh produce like that. They bought an entire Safeway cart of- They’re just buying everything green and they couldn't believe it, but oh my God, did they buy vodka. And what was amazing is they bought these big gallons of Vodka, they fill up an eight ounce glass, no ice, no nothing, and they would drink it like water.
Adrian: I know, I know.
Howard: So I'm trying to be all Polish too and I say, “Well I'm an Irish, I can now drink (unclear 00:42: 24) Russian and holy camoly, you couldn't even do it. I want to go back to the pre-sell, the sell and the post-sell. So when they call up and start making an appointment, they’re not asking them psychological questions like, “Did you just move to Phoenix?” “Oh no, I’ve been here ten years.” “So have you not been to the dentist in ten years?” “Oh no, I went to this guy across the street.” “Why are you not going back?” “Well, he said I need three crowns.” Or the number one thing we get is, “Well, I just wanted to get my teeth cleaned, but they said they wanted to (unclear 00:43:00) clean.”
Adrian: That’s exactly what I'm talking about with these comprehensive care practices. We have a rule. You got to see the doctor first. Look, if we weren't in this business and we wanted to get her teeth cleaned and someone said you can't get your teeth cleaned without spending two hours with the doctor or this doctor… It’s okay, next. Who’s next? (unclear 00:43:19). The patient will tell you the way that they need to come through, if you let them. They’ve got to be directed. It's not a democracy here, how we do things, but they'll guide you. So yeah, I’m with you.
Howard: But they don't have any time. Here’s the typical dental office: one receptionist, one hygienist, then lazy doc has two assistants and he's always saying, “I’ll numb and then I’ll go sit in my room…”
Adrian: Find another way to spend less time with the patient.
Howard: Yeah, and then “I’ll come prep, then I’ll leave and you pack the cord…” The cord should be packed before you prep so the gums will be pushed down and out so you don't cause bleeding and then you make the temporaries, so they’re a half hour… Whereas if you move that second assistant up front, then she would have time to make her relationships, like when you call up and say, “How much is a crown?” You could say, “Did someone tell you you need a crown?” And then you start a relationship, but then they open up. You still got about half the offices on charts, so there's no way they could go pull a chart (unclear 00:44:25), but that was the main and only reason I went paperless, clear back in ’99. I was paperless by Y2k, and the reason is because from ’87 to 2000, no matter how many millions of times I told them, you always got to pull a chart and enter the psychiatric notes, they wouldn't do it. So I thought the only way I can get them to pull the chart is to take all the charts away. Is your name Adrian Wilkins or “Yo Adrian!”?
Adrian: Whatever makes you happy.
Howard: And then I could start entering notes so that when they come in I can see, “Well Adrian called Valerie, they must’ve talked for twenty minutes because look at all the notes he said. Adrian was very upset because the last dentist did crowns that fall off and he wanted to get a simple cleaning and…” but that receptionist doesn't have time. Here's how they answer the phone in 80% of offices: “Can you please hold? How may I help you? Are you making an appointment? Well, the first appointment needs to be an hour and a half. The first available I have for a new patient exam, FMX and then (unclear 00:45:32) with the doctor and then there won't be a cleaning is two Thursdays from now…” and this is all happening while the dentist has two assistants. And then on the chart: “Have you ever had hepatitis, herpes or AIDS?” Those are questions you ask in a bar.
Adrian: Right, you don’t ask them at the front desk with people walking.
Howard: Yeah, I want to ask, “Why did you leave your last dentist? Why are you making this appointment?”
Adrian: “And why now?” I have one doctor who does two interesting things. One interesting thing is that every new patient that calls in, the front desk schedules a short phone call with her-
Howard: Say it again, every new patient-
Adrian: That schedules an appointment, they’re given the appointment. There’s no screwing around, there's nothing, but the doctor would like to have a short call with you before you come in the first time.
Howard: Nice, I’ve never heard that before.
Adrian: Doctor calls, they plan a time, and they connect. Even if they don't connect for some reason, the patient is impressed that someone cared about me. If they do connect, which they normally do, they just don't fail her appointments. They've connected to her on the phone already so that patient makes it through the door. She's already got a sense of who it is. The other thing this doctor does - it’s very interesting - is related to what you've just talked about. She has a front desk and an assistant, but they take turns being the front desk and what happens is you call up and you say, “Hey, I want to make an appointment.” “Okay, my name's Mary…” and she does her whole thing. When the patient comes in, she meets them and she goes back and she’s the assistant. So there's continuity from the phone call to the assistant and then the other assistant becomes the front desk.
Howard: On my business card, since day one, what is that right there? My personal email, and what is that?
Adrian: Personal cell phone.
Howard: My personal cell phone. This morning I've had two texts because of confrontational tolerance. People don't like to confront doctors, dentists, lawyers, presidents, politicians, rabbis, priests, and a lot of times, it’s of a lot lower confrontational tolerance to just text me and I've had two texts this morning. What I do is I push down on the text and the little circles come up on the side and I hit that and then I hit forward back to that person and I got to enter their name and then to my office manager or the other dentists that she might have seen or the hygienist or whoever needs to be looped in. A lot of times, they know that I'm not going to know who this is. They’ll say, “This is Mike.” In fact, one guy said (unclear 00:48:27), “You always call me Mike the man, but I’m Mike-” then he says his last name. So I enter that and then it was before we opened, it was like six o’clock in the morning. We don’t know (unclear 00:48:39), but I forward that to my office manager. Well, she's on her cell phone twenty-four seven and she was still home and she answered the whole damn thing.
Adrian: There’s a challenge here and I'll tell you what it is. You are an exception in the sense that you are a natural extrovert and what are most dentists? Introverts.
Adrian: But the personality type, whether you use Myers-Briggs or DISC or any of the other ones-
Howard: How many Myers-Briggs studies have you done?
Adrian: A zillion.
Howard: So, what do you think the average dentist is?
Adrian: They’re an ISTJ.
Howard: Do you mind explaining that?
Adrian: I - introverted, extroverted. So, they derive energy by being alone in which was the key point that I was going to talk about just now. They gather information through sensing. They want actual numbers.
Howard: Introverts do?
Adrian: Not necessarily introverts. S.
Howard: Oh I’m sorry, so the S is what? What does that stand for?
Adrian: Sensing or intuition. For example, if I said to you tomorrow, “Hey, how's the business doing?” A sensing person would say, “Run the numbers for me. I want to see what did we produce, what did we collect, whatever.” An intuitive person, an N, would go, “I think things are pretty good. I have a good feeling this was a good month.” T. It’s either thinking or feeling.
Howard: It’s thinking or feeling? And the other one was sensing or intuition.
Howard: Sensing was more quantitative and intuitive is more (unclear 00:50:17).
Adrian: The S is also very external. If I asked you the question, “How's the temperature in the room?” A ‘sense-r’ would go over and look and say, “It’s sixteen point five degrees.” That's what a dentist would do. Not all. I've got to be careful generalizing because people don't all just fit in the buckets. So sensing versus intuition, or intuition just says, “Hey, I think it's pretty good and it’s probably around seventy.” That's an N. T or J - thinking or feeling. Do I make my decisions? Once I've gathered my data, I make my decisions thinking or feeling? Feeling people are very harmonious and want to keep everybody happy. “We don't want to upset Mary at the front desk. We don't want to upset this person, we don't want to upset that person.” Everything is about how’s everybody gonna feel. Most dentists are probably T’s, and then J’s, when they go to take action, do they take action as a- What they call judging. Not judgmental, but judging or perceiving. Judging people want to make a decision, close the door and move on to the next thing - done with it. Perceiving people will have a tendency to want to keep the door open, and think about it some more. But my point was that first one is energy: I and E, introverted or extroverted. If you're an introvert, the idea of answering your cell phone at six o’clock in the morning sucks energy from you. If you're an extrovert, the more people the better. “Come on, bring it on. At the end of the day, I want to hang out with people that gives me energy. When I see a patient and that opportunity, I want to go hang out with them because I'm an extrovert.” If you're an introvert, “I can't get away fast enough because I need to recharge my batteries by being in the quiet.” So, there is a challenge that unless you happen to be fortunate to have been born an extrovert, you're going to have some challenges in terms of your energy is going to get sucked up when you have to interact with a lot of staff and a lot of patients, et cetera.
Howard: But doesn’t like want to hang out with like? I mean you know birds of a feather fly together?
Adrian: Sure, absolutely.
Howard: It seems like when I walk into a dental office and almost-
Adrian: I've never been to your office, I don't know your staff. How long would you tolerate someone that’s down there doing the numbers and the insurance claims?
Howard: Oh my God, my staff is such where I can say to my receptionist in front of you- Just joke around and everybody's laughing. She’ll say, “Blah blah blah,” and I'll say, “Bitch, I told you never again,” and the whole place, they just die laughing. But you go into a dental office and it's where the dentist was born and raised; it’s a library. And you walk in there and-
Adrian: Why did they pick a library as a place of a (unclear 00:53:06)?
Howard: Because birds of a feather flock together. So if I'm an introvert geek, afraid of my own shadow, a businessman would say, “I need to compensate.” Look at the others who compensate. I'm across the street from the Guadalupe Indian Reservation, so for thirty years, I’ve made sure at least a quarter of my staff speaks Spanish as a primary language because I'm across the street from five thousand Guadalupe Spanish-speaking Indians and half of them don't speak English. By the way, I’ve learned my name in Spanish. 53.38I'm pretty sure it's Gordo Cracker. I hear that a lot. But the bottom line is that you compensate with other skills, like if you're a visionary CEO, then you need your vice-presidents to be an operational logistics person, but they don't see that if you can't communicate and you're an introvert and you are not intuitive and you don't show empathy, then you need to surround yourself, but they don’t like those types of people.
Adrian: That’s what I was just going to say. The problem-
Howard: How many times has someone said on Dentaltown, “My God, my hygienist! When I go to my private office, I can hear her talking to the wall.” And what was your point? If I had to pick between five people to be my receptionist, I'd interview all five and I'd hire the one that if you tape her mouth shut, she’d fart to death.
Adrian: I find myself having these conversations all the time with clients. They'll get that person with a personality, but then that person with the personality does all the things you're talking about. Maybe they don't cross the t's sometimes and dot the i’s. We’re not all perfect in everything that we do, and so if you really, really have that kind of perfectionist mentality, which can happen, you find that difficult. When you do typing in an office - that’s where it's really powerful - when it's a real sharing with the team where they talk about personality types, when they get to understand what their vulnerabilities are, where they struggle, that kind of thing, it becomes an understanding. People start to go, “Wait a second, you know something. That's why you do that. That's why you need to go off at lunch. You don't sit with the rest of us. It's not that you don’t like us. You just need to get away from everybody.”
Howard: But is that an (unclear 00:55:27)? I mean, there’s twenty-four hours in a day. You're at work eight to five. Do you really need to go hide in the closet for lunch?
Adrian: I’m not saying what people should or shouldn’t do. I'm just saying that at least when you start to understand why is this person like this, we have a little more compassion for each other. Because you're right, it takes different skill sets in a dental practice to be successful and if you had all cheerleaders in a dental practice, you probably wouldn't file an insurance claim or ever get paid. You know what I'm saying? As much as we kind of make fun of those bookworms, we need them too. So it's how do you bring that together as a team? How do you strike the right balance? How does the dentist lead? Everybody leads differently. Are you a quiet leader or are you an out there leader? That kind of thing.
Howard: What is your standard thing you're doing for dentists? Is it a year-long consulting package?
Adrian: I really don't do cookie cutter. What I really do-
Howard: But do you have a contract?
Adrian: No, I don't work with contracts. Fire me anytime you want.
Howard: I always say never sign a contract. Once a month, “Howard, would you sign an NDA?” “Why would I sign an NDA?” “Well, it’s a non-disclosure agreement because I want to tell you something and you can’t steal my idea.” “Okay well, I'm in dentistry. You're in dentistry. Does this product have anything to do with dentistry? So why am I going to start dating your attorney? Of course I'm not going to sign an NDA.” And you know what I do. And everybody who's ever asked me to sign an NDA, I've never seen them having a product to market. If you want to bring a product to market, go on ‘Shark Tank’. They're not asking you for an NDA. They're asking for a prototype, sales, numbers… Same thing with consultants. So many of them say, “It's going to be this much a month and you sign a contract for a year.” Well, what if the first month, your team thinks you’re idiots? You don't like him. And you walk the talk. You did it with your woman. Why would you sign a contract with a woman only so she can take half of all your money?
Adrian: It’s not even that. All right, so now we're getting very personal. I don't think the state of Massachusetts should define my relationship with somebody.
Howard: Yeah, and if you say to them, “Why don't we get married in Asia?” “Oh no, I want to be married in a US district court.”
Adrian: Well, she doesn't want to get married either.
Howard: But it's one of those things like, “Oh so you really want to get married, but it has to be under US law. Why don’t we get married in another country?” No contracts, good for you.
Adrian: You asked a question, I'll try to answer it. What happens with most people is I'm either referred by someone who knows me or someone who read my book and they'll call me up and they'll say, “This sounds really exciting. Can this really work?” and so on and so forth. I get a little information about their business, I try to understand who they are today, because if someone comes to me and wants to run a comprehensive care practice, has three hundred patients in an empty schedule, I'm not going to go in and make the situation worse. And then I will typically spend a little time upfront with people that I don't charge them for. I've just found that it always comes back to me. Very few, very rarely has it caused me a problem. A normal engagement starts with an offsite with the team for a couple of days, regular coaching sessions with the dentist. One of the things that's critical to the way that I work in patient communication is I ask all of my dentists to record themselves. Very simply, just when they're having their patient interactions, put down a recorder, they say, “Hey, how would you mind if I record this so I don't have to take as many notes?” Everybody says yes. And then I asked the dentist to listen to themselves and what they learned from listening to themselves makes my job much easier. Let me put it to you that way. Then, there’s an ongoing coaching arrangement until one or both of us starts to feel like it's time to scale it back.
Howard: They’re listening to this audio and it's going to be a hard one to remember. Wilkins Handa Mello. So Wilkins, W-I-L-K-I-N-S, Wilkins. Then Handa, think of giving someone a hand, and then Mello-
Adrian: Do you know what’s easier to do? Just send them to Adrian Wilkins dot com. It's not live at this moment, but it will be.
Howard: Send them to Adrian Wilkins dot com.
Adrian: I just forward my personal domain.
Howard: What does this cost the average person?
Adrian: The typical cost to do an offsite with a team is seventy-five hundred for a couple of days with expenses - just for travel. A typical arrangement, depending on the amount of support that they need, is about $4000 a month.
Howard: $4000 a month. And does the hygienist Linda Mello- Is she the hygienist for Ratti Handa?
Adrian: No. Just to back up. Linda was doing coaching or co-diagnosis. She did a lot of work with Mary Osborne. She did some work originally in the old days with Omer Reed.
Howard: Okay, Omer Reed we’ve had on the show. He lives up the street. Who’s the second one you said she's worked for?
Adrian: Mary Osborne. She’s done work with Mary.
Howard: Mary Osborne? She's a hygienist?
Adrian: Yeah, she’s a hygienist. She does a lot of co-discovery work, teaching hygiene-
Howard: Does she still do that?
Howard: So Linda worked with Omer, who was the original.
Howard: Oh my God, I love Omer. He’s as energetic today as he was when I met him thirty years ago. But anyway, continue.
Adrian: So, she had her own practice. She came to a workshop that I gave because I do workshops as well with dentists coming to Boston to get the foundation pieces for this approach, which is by the way a very efficient way. We haven't had a workshop in a little while; we’ll be scheduling some shortly. She came and said, “Hey, wow, this is really great.” I was working with Ratti both as a client and she had started helping some of my clients because she happens to be very, very talented at patient communication. She’s unusual in that regard. I just said to the both of them, “Why don't we do this together?” The reality is that most of this is done by me, and sometimes they'll be involved with a client and sometimes they won’t. We really do do things out on a, “What does this dentist need?” This is really not scalable. This is not something where I'll have lots and lots of clients. I know that it may sound crazy for me to even tell you this. I didn't actually even come here to get new clients. I love the new clients, don’t get me wrong. To say that would be disingenuous, but I really didn't come with that agenda. I really came because I'm passionate about what I've got in here, and it's not right for everybody, but it's right for a lot of people. I wanted to meet you and I listened to your ‘Thirty Day MBA’ twenty years ago.
Howard: That was 1998. What's so cool about the ‘Thirty Day MBA’ is not only is that free on Dentaltown, but I put that up on Youtube and iTunes. So if you're following me on ‘Dentistry Uncensored’, I also have another iTunes channel, the ‘Thirty Day MBA’. That program is still downloaded like forty-five hundred times a month.
Adrian: I could tell you I would be in the car with my kids listening to it and we would be laughing and then having discussions about it. I don't know about anybody else but that was impactful for me. So when I did this, if it touches a couple of people- I have non-dentists that have read this book, and I feel a little funny talking about my own work, but I’ve had a non-dentist read it and say, “Wow, I got so much out of it. I bought a copy and gave it to my dentist, just people that know me."
Howard: I get a lot of questions from people saying, “You made that twenty years ago. Is it still relevant?” And I go, “No, everything in geometry and algebra has changed. The geometry and algebra is totally different than it was twenty years ago. People, time, money. We were neanderthals twenty years ago. Now we're homo sapien part droid.” I'm trying to be a leader in dentistry and I don't have to lead these people to go learn bone grafting implants and Invisalign, they're born surgeons. I mean, they want to work with their hands, do surgery in the operatory. They take classes, eight-hour hands on classes, of twenty different stitching techniques. You don't need to motivate a dentist to learn how to do surgery. They love that. You have to be a leader to teach them, “Dude, you have to learn the soft stuff. You got to learn the people, the leadership, the treatment plan presentation, the answering the damn phone and knowing your numbers.”
Adrian: I have gone out to courses and sat with groups of dentists. They’ll let you go in as a consultant or a staff member or whatever and I will talk to a doctor that's done many, many, many, many courses, and I say, “Do you do this back in your office?” “I don't have any patients that want to do that,” and they'll even tell me they've got a basically an open schedule, but instead of saying, “Okay, I’ve got to fix this,” they’re doing more and more training, so what do we do? We do the things we enjoy doing. I understand that it's human nature. They’ll take another course.
Howard: I get it too. Last time I was lecturing, this dentist came up to me and says, “You want to see the coolest thing I've ever seen in dentistry in the last five years?” I thought, “This ought to be good. He's as old as me.” He shows me this YouTube video of this suturing technique where it's all loose and then when it's done you pull the suture and the whole thing butts up perfectly. He's like, “Isn't that cool?” And I didn't even to ruin his (unclear 01:05:44) by saying, “What was your 2017 EBITDA?” Because I get it. That is cool, and when I was seeing it, the first thing I was thinking is I want to do that. So I get that, I know-
Adrian: I could totally understand it. What do you want to do? You go back and do more and more of what you enjoy, and unfortunately what I say to clients is that until you get these other pieces in place, you won't end up doing the stuff you really want to do.
Howard: So, in your book foreword you wanted to specifically thank Frank Spear, who is in the same town up the street in Scottsdale at The Spear Institute. So how do you know Frank first? He’s still your buddy?
Adrian: No, I don’t know Frank at all. We’ve never even met. I went and I sat in one lecture after another of his, and this was before the days of the Scottsdale Center, so my opinion was a little bit different.
Howard: Was that back when he was with (unclear 01:06:39)?
Adrian: After (unclear 01:06:40).
Howard: So, then I’m older than you because when I saw Spear, he was with (unclear 00:06:46). When I first saw Cliff Ruddle, he was still with- It was Ruddle and Buchanan. J. Steven Buchanan and Cliff Ruddle worked together because this is a lead into what I want to ask you in this question. So I saw Ruddle and Buchanan the first time they were partners, and I saw (unclear 00:07:09) and Spears the first time they were partners, and those two partnerships spectacularly disappeared. Your significant other was in a group practice, and wanted to leave and start up her own. You have spent your whole career in understanding people and psychology. What do you think about partnerships? Because on the one hand, you’d want to be a partnership if you could spread out and cover more convenient hours. I mean, I've seen two dentists that will go in there and they'll cover the same hours Monday, Thursday, eight to five. I see other two dentists where the dentist will do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, seven to seven, and then off four days. The other one would come in and do Thursday, Friday, Saturday, seven to seven. When you get into a relationship, there's a lot of glue. There's sex, kids, vacations, marriage. When I marry another dentist that I don't sleep with, kiss, hang out or have kids with, not a lot of glue there.
Adrian: First question I would ask you is what's the purpose? Because when I started in this, I was all for partnerships. Then I started to realize, “Why was the dentist doing it?” and I found that in many cases by having an associate, they could achieve the same things. I also think dentists make a mistake. They make the mistake of thinking someone else can carry the burden that they feel overburdened by, that they're going to save them, and that's deadly. So, does it work? Can it work? In my experience, the important thing is, do they share the same values? If they share the same values, it can work. However, I'm not even sure why it needs to. I've worked with two companies now. Corporate dentistry. Started one with seven, we got to almost fifty, and then it was time for me to move on. I've got another one right now where I started with seven. We'll probably do ten to twelve this year and he has made a decision to have partners.
Adrian: Ancy Verdier who you interviewed a couple of months ago here, a periodontist from Tufts. He's in partnership with this guy that has this company and he has said, “Hey listen, you know something, I don't mind bringing some partners along the way. There’s plenty for me. I'm not worried about it. I'm doing something good and I really mean this.” Just a great guy, but he's not doing it from the place of thinking he needs partners.
Howard: So who is this guy?
Adrian: Abhay Bedi. Great opportunity, anybody who wants to work for this guy.
Howard: Can you find him?
Speaker 3: What is it?
Adrian: Abhay Bedi. Bedi Dental Group.
Howard: How do you spell Bedi?
Adrian: Yeah, from India.
Howard: And his first name is Aby?
Adrian: Abhay. A-B-H-A-Y, but he goes by Aby to make it easier.
Howard: A-B-H-A-Y, then B-E-D-I Dental Group and they're out of Philly?
Adrian: No, they're out of Western Mass, just west of Boston. He's a prosthodontist. It was one practice, three operatories, doing crazy revenue numbers. Called me up, said I've been given your name, they said that you are the guy to talk to, and he said, “I don't know what I want when I grow up.” I said, “Okay, so let's just get started like, what do you want? What are you trying to achieve?” so on and so forth. He grew the practice, immediately renovated it, went up to eight operatories because that's as far as he could go in that facility, jumped his revenues, brought in associates, went from being the doer to the leader. He was very excited about the challenge of making those kinds of personal changes, and saw it as, “Hey, this is personal growth for me.” They bought a large perio practice-
Howard: Ancy Verdier, who was our podcast number eight seventy-eight. Love that guy.
Adrian: That's how I ended up here. So he partnered up with Ancy. They bought a large perio practice and then they started adding practices, but the difference between him and anybody else I've seen do it is he places such an emphasis on coaching and training of his doctors. He really, really walks the talk. He meets with every doctor every week, looks at cases, talks about why is this working, why is this not working, how are you going to do this, how are you going to do that. Really doing it, probably growing much slower than the other guy that I referred to, and when we sat with one of the large accounting firms, Larry Rosen - I don’t know if you know Larry - sat with us and said, “Aby, you're the first guy-”
Howard: Larry Rosen accounting? I think he’s a (unclear 01:12:07).
Adrian: Yeah, probably.
Howard: Can you find him, Ryan?
Adrian: He’s got about seven hundred dental clients.
Howard: What is it?
Adrian: Larry Rosen.
Howard: Larry Rosen, R-O-S-S-E-N?
Howard: R-O-S-E-N. Out of Massachusetts? Did you find him?
Adrian: He’s the largest guy out there, and he said, “You're the first guy, Aby, that I've seen that's actually in it for the long haul,” and that's the approach that he's taking. He's saying, “This is exciting. This is fun.” I don’t think Any would care if I told you - Aby doesn't need to work another day in his life. He didn't have to when he step foot in this country.
Howard: So, he never got divorced? Oh, inherited. Did he inherited enough to (unclear 01:12:47)?
Adrian: He said, “If I go back to India, I can live like a prince for the rest of my life.”
Howard: There's a lot of dentists from India in Phoenix. In fact, just Google ‘Patel in Phoenix’. I've known some of them for thirty years and they said that if they sold their house and their office and went back to India, they could have a mansion with servants.
Adrian: We really had a number of late night conversations, sitting by a fire with a bottle of Scotch and I said, “So, what are you doing it for?” When he really got down to it, he said, “If I could just make a difference in my patients, my employees, my doctors, I'd be happy.” And so, he's really focused and growing, but doing it the right way, in my opinion.
Howard: Nice. We went twenty minutes. Our brand is an hour; we’re already at hour and twenty, but again, I know I'm going to say this till I'm blue in the face- In fact, I'm not even wearing a shirt. This blue is just the rest of my body. I'm the bottom line is you want to solve all your problems and buying CAD/CAM’s. You want to buy lasers, you want to learn surgery. Frank Spears, when I took his course ‘The Worn Dentition’, I thought I was in heaven for two days. I was waiting for Jesus to come down and hand out popcorn and beer. I love that stuff. I have a CEREC machine. I don't ever talk about it. You know why? Because you need to get your house in order. You get your house in order. If you can't make money off cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings and crowns and simple endo, if you don't have your overhead under control there, adding implants? Your overhead will to go higher. Buying CADCAM’s, lasers, all this stuff? My God, when you're just doing cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings, crowns, simple endo, and your overhead is high, that’s like a little Doberman Pinscher. Yeah, go ahead and start adding sleep dentistry and implants and Invisalign and bone grafting and CBCT and a CEREC, E4D and a Millennium Laser. Now your little Doberman Pinscher is a Tyrannosaurus rex and it's going to take you out. The only return on investment in dentistry every single time is a dental office consultant to get your house in order. You have to get your house in order and you have to learn the people stuff: the team building, the attracting and retaining patients, the attracting and retaining team members, your overhead, your accounting, that Dental CPA Rosen.
Adrian: Two seconds they can look at your numbers and know.
Howard: Oh yeah, so is that the guy? This is Larry. Oh my God. He just looks like a hoot. You got to tell him to come on my show because every single dentist who's with Tim Lott- You know Tim Lott?
Adrian: I personally don’t.
Howard: There's two groups. There's the academy of Dental CPA’s-
Adrian: By the way, I'm a little holed up in my part of the country-
Howard: Yeah, and one’s the American Academy of Dental CPAs, ones the American Association of Dental CPAs, but that doesn't matter because the association nationally means nothing to you if the guy in your area you don't like. When people say which association is better, I'd say, “I don't care who the CPA is. What you can't do is have a CPA that after you get off the phone with them, calls someone who owns a subway and then a dry cleaner then a Chinese restaurant then a soybean farm. You have to have someone that only does dentistry. Just like if you had a heart attack, you wouldn't want to go to a dermatologist who does hearts every once in a while. You wouldn’t want to have your baby delivered by a dentist. You want to go to guy that’s just organ-specific and this Rosen guy, he's got seven hundred clients. He must have other CPA’s working for him.
Adrian: Oh yeah, he’s got a pretty large group-
Howard; We’ll get him on there because my deal is… I want you to get a dental CPA. I want you to learn the people skills. Go back to college. I was in college nine years. What's the biggest deal? What's the best way to destroy a friendship with your best friend?
Ryan: Move in with them.
Howard: Move in with them, oh my God.
Adrian: I was going to say borrow money but that’s-
Howard: I mean, it’s like two guys, they were just everything until they started living with each other. Now they want to kill each other. So, if you're young and you want to get a partner because you went through school with Mary and Josie and Posey and Josie and Posey’s like, “Oh my God, let's be partners.” Dude. Talk to someone, get personality testing, get a contract that's more iron clad than your prenuptial agreement. You don't get a prenuptial agreement. That’s another thing that blows my mind with dentists. It’s like, “Okay, so you went to eight years of college to be a doctor and you just married a lady from the Waffle House with no prenuptial agreement and she's a perfect ten and you're a two if someone's been drinking? You can't figure this out?” But it's the soft stuff and you know what the dentists call when you talk? You know what they call stuff like that? Fluff. “I don’t want to learn fluff. I don't want any of that bullshit. I want to learn how to bone graft.” And when you bone graft, “Howard, have you seen this new-” This is how stupid our mind is. I saw a tractor with the deal that takes out stumps. He just pulls up and he backed out this deal and that is the same damn thing that takes out implants. I'm watching this guy and he just takes out this deal, lifts it out, spits it on the deal, and I'm just like, "I want that in my operatory.” I get the dental stuff, you get the dental stuff. Americas problem is not their dentists don't know how to do dentistry. Americas problem in healthcare and government is it’s not faster, easier, higher in quality, lower in cost. It’s just it's not available. If you broke your tooth in Phoenix, Arizona on a Sunday in a metro with three point eight million people, it'd be easier to find a tree stump removal logger than it would be a dentist. That's the stuff they got to figure out. And I really, really appreciate you coming down here. I'm sorry that when you get back home, Boston is going to be in a severe storm. You're supposed to have three tidle- What do they call it? A bombast?
Adrian: I know what you're talking about. I'm not sure if this is one of those or not-
Howard: CNN has seen it. By the way, my favorite news is Apple news because you really don't have to worry about it being fake. It’s called ‘Nor’easter, a life and death situation with high winds for almost all of the East Coast.’ A Nor’easter.
Adrian: That I’ve heard of.
Howard: I hope you survive the Nor’easter.
Adrian: Well I got a generator.
Howard: Do you really?
Howard: You know they were calling it a…
Adrian: A bomber something. Bomber cyclone or something like that. I forgot what it is. I've heard it for the first time this year. We had one about-
Howard: Arizona, one time we had a storm so bad, my launcher fell over. Next day, I had to go out and lift at that launcher.
Adrian: It’s tough.
Howard: But again, thank you so much for coming to the show.
Adrian: My pleasure, thank you for having me.
Howard: Thank you, Ryan.