Creating Rock Stars in endodontics
What can you tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in Riverside, California, and was the fourth of six children. My dad was a firefighter and loved what he did. My parents were always very supportive and encouraged us to do our best, serve others, and continue learning. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of extras, but we always had what we needed, and there was plenty of love in our family. I received a BS in Exercise Physiology from Brigham Young University and received my DDS from Indiana University School of Dentistry.
After graduation, I went into the U.S. Army Dental Corps and completed an AEGD 1-year program at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and later received a Certificate in Endodontics from the U.S. Army Endodontic Residency Program at Fort Gordon, Georgia. After serving in the U.S. Army Dental Corps for 7 years, I purchased an endodontic practice in Kennewick, Washington, and made the leap into private practice. The practice was near family, and we felt it would be a nice area to raise our four children. My lifetime goal was to own my own business, but it was scary to leave the security of the military and buy a practice during the Great Recession and in a challenging dental market. I had no backup plan, so I aggressively learned all I could about business, dental practices, marketing, team building, and exceptional customer service. I also hired great consultants and found terrific mentors to guide me during the process. Despite making many mistakes, we took massive action and were able to grow the practice by 60% the first year. The practice continued to grow, and despite being very rewarded financially, I regretted not having more time with my family and felt like I was never truly able to leave the practice. We’ve since grown the practice from a single practitioner practice to our current team of three full-time endodontists, an office manager, two receptionists, a part-time marketing coordinator, and five dental assistants. We have four treatment operatories and one CBCT consultation room. We are currently working on adding an additional operatory and staff break room.
Friends began asking me how we were able to grow the practice so fast, and I shared with them the systems, marketing strategies, and staff team training we were using. Having enjoyed sharing these strategies and with the encouragement of friends, family, and my practice partner, Dr. Chad Dawson, I launched Dental Specialist Institute, LLC, in January of this year. Our mission is to help endodontists, oral surgeons, and periodontists take their practices to the next level and gain more abundance and freedom in their personal lives. It also helps with my vision of giving back, as a portion of the business profits will be donated to charitable organizations, in particular the Salvation Army for their work in feeding the needy.
When did you become a specialist, and why?
During my second year at Indiana University School of Dentistry, I had a fantastic endodontic instructor named Dr. Joseph Legan. He made endodontics enjoyable, and I decided that year I wanted to pursue a specialty program in endodontics. After completing 2 years in the U.S. Army Dental Corps, I fulfilled that dream and began an endodontic specialty residency at the U.S. Army Endodontic Residency Program in Fort Gordon, Georgia. I completed the program in 2007 and appreciate my awesome residency classmates and the program directors, Drs. Anthony Joyce, Steve Roberts, and Stephanie Sidow for their great mentorship and encouragement.
Is your practice limited solely to endodontics, or do you practice other types of dentistry?
Our practice is limited solely to endodontics, both surgical and nonsurgical.
Why did you decide to focus on endodontics?
I appreciate the precision of endodontics and the immediate gratification that is typical of alleviating our patients’ pain.
Do your patients come through referrals?
The vast majority of our patients come through referrals from other dentists. With that said, we do see more self-referred patients who saw us in the past for a root canal and appreciate the care and customer service we provided. Some of these patients learned they needed another root canal and called us for the treatment. We are extremely grateful and honored to serve our referring dental offices and their patients.
How long have you been practicing endodontics, and what systems do you use?
I’ve been solely performing endodontics since 2005. Clinically, I use the EdgeEndo® rotary files and have been very pleased with their performance. We also use the Brasseler USA® .02 taper RaCe™ files, EndoSequence® BC Sealer™ and BC RRM-Putty™, and Dentsply TRUShape® files for certain cases. We also love our Zeiss OPMI® pico surgical microscopes and Carestream 8100 3D CBCT scanner.
Within our practice and in life, I’m a huge believer in the concept of leverage and finding leverage points to improve efficiency, communication, and customer-service excellence. Leverage comes from practice systems, space, equipment, and most importantly, our human capital. The best clinicians in the world will struggle in private practice if they don’t have a well-trained, customer-service-minded, motivated team surrounding them.
What training have you undertaken?
Aside from my formal training listed previously, I regularly participate in continuing education programs through local study clubs, online, and the American Association of Endodontists Annual Meetings. It’s exciting to see all the advancements that are taking place in the dental market and to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in treatment. I’ve also worked with some great consultants that helped me establish systems within the practice and how to focus on the key areas that affect and yield the greatest result. Dr. Ace Goerig and Todd Holmes with Endo Mastery were the first consultants I worked with, and I appreciate their guidance and systems they helped me establish in the practice. We’ve also worked with several other consulting companies within and outside of dentistry, including Fortune Management, Business Mastery with Tony Robbins, Speaking Empire, and the Scheduling Institute. Some of their systems weren’t a fit for a dental specialty practice, but we took the best strategies and adapted them within our practice. Quality consulting should be an investment that yields much greater returns than the cost of the program.
Who has inspired you?
There are many individuals who have inspired me throughout my life, including my parents, my Savior, and other family members. My amazing wife, Alissa, and my children provide some of my greatest inspiration and support. I’ve also been blessed throughout my career with great mentors who have inspired me to do my best and find joy in serving others. Drs. Ace Goerig, John West, Syngcuk Kim, Joseph Legan, and Carl Newton have all inspired me with their willingness to teach and share in their wisdom. Drs. Michael Feldman, Elizabeth Perry, John Stuparitz, Kenneth Tittle, Brian Hornberger, Chris Smith, Richard Wittenauer, and all the other members of Root Masters Study Club have been wonderful sources of inspiration, collaboration, mentorship, and dear friends.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your practice?
Our practice is such an amazing team, and I look forward to waking up in the morning and seeing everyone at work. Each team member has certain roles and responsibilities that we take ownership of and areas of expertise, similar to a team of Navy Seals. We have a shared vision of the way we want to treat our patients, our referring offices, and how we want to interact with each other. When each team member has an area of responsibility and expertise, they become more engaged at work. Personal fulfillment levels tend to rise as does profitably. We also know how to support our team members and have each other’s backs. Our office staff truly is a team of Rock Stars, and I feel so grateful for them. The acronym Rock Stars stands for Results, Ownership, Customer Service Excellence, Kaizen, Systems, Team Player, Action, Resolve, and Serve. We share these concepts with our coaching clients, and how they can develop this Rock Star team culture within their practice.
Professionally, what are you most proud of?
Our amazing office team, the support we receive from our referring offices, and the wonderful relationships we have with our referring doctors and their patients.
What do you think is unique about your practice?
Our Rock Star team culture. These concepts truly guide our office culture, and how we interact with those we serve.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Having enough time in the day to accomplish everything I’d like to get done and still maintain a good work/home life balance.
What would you have become if you hadn’t become a dentist?
A physical therapist or something else in the healthcare field.
What is the future of endodontics and dentistry?
Although I believe endodontics and dentistry in general have some major challenges heading our way with insurance companies, competition, massive student debt, and corporate dentistry, I believe the long-term outlook is very bright. As the baby boomers age, they are healthier, living longer, and want to maintain their smiles. I believe this will help keep endodontists willing to provide great care and exceptional customer service very busy.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful specialty practice?
I can sum this up with one word — RELATIONSHIPS. Specialty Practices, as in life, are all about the quality of our relationships. We should continually ask ourselves, How can I improve my relationship with my referring dentists, their staff, our patients, and our own team? When you regularly ask this question and come up with meaningful answers and systems to implement these answers, your practice can’t help but be successful.
What advice would you give to budding endodontists?
Find some great mentors and coaches, and follow their advice. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you can model the strategies of highly successful practices. Whether you work with Dental Specialist Institute or another consulting company, quality coaching should be an investment that makes you more profitable, faster and with fewer headaches.
What are your hobbies, and what do you do in your spare time?
After joining the U.S. Army Dental Corps, I began training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and fell in love with it. Aside from helping me stay fit, it’s taught me some neat lessons in using leverage and systems that apply to other areas of life. I also enjoy many activities with my family, including traveling, outdoor activities, fishing, gardening, and enjoying tasty food.
Top 10 favorites
- EdgeEndo® Files
- EndoSequence® BC Sealer™
- Carestream CBCT
- Zeiss OMNI® pico microscopes
- Brasseler USA® .02 taper RaCe™ files
- DEXIS™ digital sensors
- PBS Endo® endodontic management software
- Having a practice newsletter
- Rock Star team training
- Celebrate the journey!