Dentaltown August 2020 - 8

howard speaks
column

little spineless. I always say, "OK, but you're a licensed
doctor, so you're not going to like anybody you work
for." Because doctors think they know everything, and
even if a 25-year-old dentist goes into practice with his
65-year-old mom, they're not going to agree on which
gloves to use, let alone bonding agents or root canal files.
I got into a dental office with no money down. I was
in Wichita, Kansas, but I'd done my research and knew
that Phoenix was exploding in population. When I got
here, it was obvious where the city was growing because
unlike cities like Chicago or New York that are against
a barrier-a lake, an ocean, a mountain-Phoenix
spreads out as flat as a pancake. All I had to do was go
to the "ring around the rosie"-I was literally at the
outside edge of the city back then.
I found a 16-acre strip center that had a grocery
store, a pharmacy, a bank and some restaurants, and
asked the owner how much it'd cost to rent 1,000 square
feet. The answer: $15 per square foot per year. I didn't
know how to build out the space, so I offered to pay
$20 per square foot for five years-and with that extra
money, he would do my build-out. I knew he could do
that work in half the time and for half the money that
it would've cost me.

"Play to Win"
Up next: dental supplies. I picked out state-of-the-art
equipment for two operatories and I'll never forget the
number, because it was almost the same as my student
loan debt: $86,000 for everything-air compressors,
vac, everything I could ever want.
The sales guy said, "We'll need a check for 86 grand,"
and I said, "Unfortunately, I don't have a dollar. So let's
divide that by 60. I'll make monthly payments for five
years, and after the last payment, I'll own everything."
He said, "We'd rather have the money in cash," and I
replied, "Would you rather have something or nothing?
Because right now, you're getting nothing. But if you
do this, you're going to get something." They had to
think about it for a week, but they eventually said yes.
That whole process took me 133 days, but new
dentists today will spend 133 days just shopping for
the world's smallest violin so they can play it every day:
"I'm a pandemic dentist. I don't have any opportunity;
I'm a victim."
You are not going to find a non-DSO job in 2020. I
bet you're not going to find one in 2021, either, because
I'm sitting here in 2020 with 20/20 vision. Meanwhile,
there are 2,000 dentists on Dentaltown trying to sell
their practices.

8

"Movers and Shakers"
If your next sentence was going to be, "But the
banks require dentists to practice for a year before
they'll consider a loan," it's like you spend all your time
thinking about supporting your decision of "no." It's
total negative cognitive dissonance.
In the 1980s, banks didn't even have divisions to
purchase dental practices! The practice owners would
carry, which I think is a far better system because if you
sell through a big bank, the selling dentists are going to
take that check and just disappear. But when they carry
the loan, they've got skin in the game: They're vested in
seeing you succeed. Every time they go to the grocery
store and someone says, "I heard you sold your office
to that young whippersnapper. Is she any good?" their
answer is going to be, "Damn right she's good-she's
the best! I could have sold it to a thousand dentists, but
she's the one I picked."

"Do It Now"
Now is also a good time for a new type of market
differentiation.
About half the U.S. market buys dentistry as a
commodity. They base on price: If their insurance only
works at Dr. X's office, they're going to her office, and
if Dr. Z sends them a long letter about how he's better
in all these ways, they're like, "Yeah, but my insurance
only works at Dr. X, so we're sticking with her."
The other half of the market, though, is open to the
value add. Some will pay more for composite fillings
instead of amalgam. They'll spring for restorative work
that insurance might not fully cover. They buy whitening.
In addition to the aesthetics-based value add, there's
now an opportunity to promote disease-control dentistry:
Position your practice as having a "one-patient-only"
policy for people who are particularly concerned about,
or at risk for major health concerns if they contract,
coronavirus.
You could tell them, "When you come in, it'll just be
me, you and an assistant." If at the screening appointment
you discover the patient needs more work, say, "OK,
you need two crowns, a root canal, four fi llings, the
cleanings and an X-ray. Your total treatment would cost
$2,500 and if you pay that right now, we can go up
front and schedule your own three-hour appointment.
It's going to be just you; you don't have to worry about
the crowds and catching it from other people in the
waiting room."
When you've got no options, you've got to make
them. So make something happen! ■

AUGUST 2020 // dentaltown.com

DT0820_Howard-Speaks_AG.indd 8

7/20/20 2:40 PM


http://www.dentaltown.com

Dentaltown August 2020

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