How to Attract and Retain High-Caliber Staff for Your Dental Practice

February 23, 2022

In this episode of The Art of Dental Finance and Management podcast, Art meets with Dr. Summer Kassmel, dental practice owner and business coach for dentists. Art and Dr. Kassmel discuss important HR topics affecting dentists, including how to:

The Transcript

Art Wiederman, CPA: Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Art of Dental Finance and Management with Art Wiederman, CPA. I'm your host. My name's Art Wiederman. Welcome to my podcast. Welcome to February 2022. My goodness, time flies when you're having fun and I have a real treat for you today. One of the great things about this podcast is not only do I get to interview great people in the profession of dentistry, I mean, you've heard me talk to the president of the ADA, the executive director of the ADA.

Other wonderful, amazing people in the three year journey we've had. But I also get to talk to dentists who actually are in the trenches doing the work. And I got a dentist today that I'm going to be introducing you to if you haven't met her already on the lecture circuit. Dr. Summer Kassmel. Dr. Kassmel has two practices. One is in Avon, Colorado, and the other is in Eagle, Colorado. And Dr. Kassmel is not onaaly a dentist who practices and has two locations in the Rocky Mountains near Vail, Colorado. But she also does some other things which she's going to tell you about, one of which is that she actually teaches dentists how to open a dental assisting school, and I'm sure that that helps dentists find world-class dental assistants. And she's also a dental coach. So we got a lot to talk about today.

But before we get to Dr. Kassmel, I want to tell you about my wonderful, wonderful partner, Decisions in Dentistry magazine, which is the premier clinical magazine in America. You can purchase 140 wonderful clinical CE classes for one low price from them. Go to their website at www.DecisionsinDentistry.com.

Also, if you are not working with the dental CPA, I am a dental division director at the CPA firm of Eide Bailly and we work all across the western United States. So if you wanted to get a hold of me and our team, you could certainly do that. Our number is six five seven two seven nine three two four three. That's my number. My email is awiederman@EideBailly.com.

We are also a proud member of the Academy of Dental CPAs, and that's www.ADCPA.org, which is my mother ship, my friends and brethren. Twenty four CPA firms across the United States. We represent over 10,000 dentists.

So I got a couple of updates for you before we get to Dr. Kassmel. First of all, very, very, very important. Write this down, please. If you received more than $10,000 from the HHS Provider Relief Fund, you would have received probably two percent of your revenues in the month of July, August or September of 2020. That was phase two. Phase three was an amount of money that could have gone into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you would have received that money either in late 2020 or early 2021. So if you received in cumulative is no, that's a that's some Roman term that I don't understand. No, not in cumulative cumulatively. There we go. Cumulatively, if you received more than $10,000 from the HHS Provider Relief Fund between July one, 2020 and December 31, 2020, you must and I repeat, must do not pass. Go do not collect $200. You must report on the HHS portal. You must report information which is going to take you some time to accumulate on or before March 31 of 2020.

Two. If you do not report, let me repeat that, if you do not report, you will have to give the money back. So if you got seventy five thousand dollars and you don't do this reporting, you'll have to give it back. We recorded a webinar on January 21st, which is available. It's available for purchase. We were charging a small nominal fee for this. It ran two and a half hours and it will give you everything you need to know about what to do and how to report on the portal. The first half of the webinar is the rules, and the second half is we literally go line by line, page by page on this portal website. And by the end of this, you should have no trouble doing this on your own. If you would like the link to register for the webinar again, send me an email at awiederman@eidebailly.com.

Also, if you have not started looking at the Employee Retention Tax Credit, you have about another year and a half to do 2020. If you had a greater than 50 percent reduction in your gross receipts in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the second quarter of 2019, as well as for twenty twenty one. This credit is robust bordering on criminal and I say criminal because the amounts of money that we're getting doctors back who had greater than 20 percent reductions in any of the first three quarters of 2021 versus any of the first three quarters of 2019, or even in the fourth quarter of 2020 versus the fourth quarter of 2019.

I'd give you an example. I'm working on one right now with a doctor who has about a two and a half million dollar practice. About 20 employees, he qualified for 2020 and the first two quarters of 2021. And we are getting him over $220,000, folks. They just made this silly. So if you need help on that, please again send me an email awiederman@EideBailly.com.

OK, let's get to my guest who is I can the great thing with these podcast, I get to see who I'm talking to. Dr. Summer Kassmel as I mentioned, she is a dentist. She has two locations. She had four locations, which she consolidated down to two locations. I'll let her tell you more about that. She is located in the mountains near Vail, Colorado. And she's got a really, really fascinating story. And we're going to talk today about what we know about dental assistants, we're going to talk about what works in a practice. We're going to talk about how to make if you have PPOs, how to make them successful. So, Dr. Summer Kassmel, welcome to the Art of Dental Finance and Management.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to be here Art, thank you very much for having me.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So how's the. My aunt lives in Littleton and she tells me about the weather. And my understanding in Colorado is if you want to see the weather change, blink your eyes and open them again. I guess that's how it works. So how's the how's the skiing up there this season?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: You know, we had like a whole bunch of snow that dumped not too long ago. We just haven't had a really good dump of snow for a bit. So it's starting to get a little bit crunchy out there from what I understand. I don't ski any more since I've had some of those hip surgeries, but I don't ski as much, but I hear from my children that it was really good. It's getting a little crunchy now.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Uh huh. Well, I remember my skiing career almost ended Dr. Kassmel when I was up at Mammoth Mountain here in Central California, and I was on my skis and I don't have the greatest coordination in the world. Ask the people that know and love me and I'm going down. And this 14 15 year old young lady on a snowboard just took me out and I ended up doing about a somersault on the skis. And she goes, she stops. She goes, Sorry, dude, you OK? And then just went off. And after that, I kind of cut the skiing short.

But anyway, yeah, you mentioned, you mentioned some hip surgery, so you have an interesting story. You were you had some issues with your hips, which kind of got you into some of this work that you do once you share a little bit about your, your background and your story before we get into what we're going to talk about today.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah, absolutely. And I and I only share the story to say, you know, truly, the obstacle can be the way for doctors. And that's that, you know, I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and I started having some pretty bad problems getting up out of the chair when I was doing dentistry and I would say, maybe year 10. I started noticing it was getting really uncomfortable to do dentistry, and I finally got to a doctor who diagnosed me with severe hip dysplasia. So over the course of two years, I had four hip surgeries, which pretty well kept me out of being able to use my two hands to do clinical dentistry.

So I was kind of backed into a corner to figure out how do I run successful businesses that don't require the use of my own hands? And so what I love to do and part of what I do now on the side is because I really had to work hard to figure out how to make that happen and make a successful business that I love teaching other doctors that don't wait until you get into that position where you're backed into the corner. Ideally, there's things you can start doing now to help you get to a position where dentistry doesn't always have to be reliant on you. So that's part of what I coach doctors about.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So you pretty much didn't have a choice. It was like either sit there and eat bonbons and drink hot chocolate or go out and do something because you was it, was it a situation that you didn't, there was a possibility you could never come back to dentistry.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Absolutely. My doctor definitely said, you know, just at this point when you're going to come back, we don't know. I'm hoping you have a Plan B. Well, I didn't, you know, I was 10 years out. Thankfully, I paid off student loans, but I really didn't have a Plan B or what to do or anything like that. And so, you know, so much of my journey took me to figuring out truly for the first time the business of dentistry, and I was one of those doctors that kind of buried my head in the sand.

A little bit about numbers, about finances, about pencils and balance sheets, because I always kind of assumed like, well, isn't that my accountant's job? And yes, I use Eide Bailly. They're great. But what I will say is nobody knows the business like the doctor themselves or the owner, and nobody's going to care about it to that degree. And so I really used the time that I had to determine, you know, either I sell the practice or I figure out how to run a truly profitable practice. Associate more associate driven and truly creates a profitable organization that could grow.

And from there, that's where I ended up acquiring practices and then kind of merging them into different locations was because of all of this. Once I actually started looking at the numbers, really understanding what was in front of me, it allowed me everything kind of great on the other side of it. And my path's not for everybody, it's more so. I only share the story to be able to say it's nice if you don't have to be backed into a corner to figure out what could be a plan for you if you can't actually do clinical dentistry.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And that's an amazing story. And that's the great thing is, there's lots of dentists out there like yourself who are entrepreneurial and you are definitely entrepreneurial. And kudos to you for taking, you know, what could have turned into a total disaster and turning it into a positive. And we're going to hear a little more about that as we go along here.

So. So you know, one things you and I have talked about when we've been on the phone before is the great resignation and the great resignation. I just read this morning that I think there were 4.3 million people that quit their jobs now, whether those people quit their jobs and they're just going to basically go to the beach every day or whether they're going to change careers. You know, we don't know. There's a there's a lot of things we could spend an hour just talking about that. But you know, one of the things that you've done and that you talk about and by the way, Dr. Kassmel coaches with the Dental Success Institute, which is part of Mark Dr. Mark Costes, is group. He was on our podcast very recently. And so, I mean, actually, this great resignation we've talked about can actually benefit the dental practice. How would that work?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah. And you know, this is a really hard concept for doctors. And I find that often, you know, our first reaction is panic and almost resigned to the fact that, like, there's almost just nothing we can do. This is what it is and we can complain about it and we can be frustrated and mad about it. But you know, what I tell doctors is if you can take a breath, take a pause. This really can be something amazing. If we just look at it a little bit differently because what I tell doctors often and really I'm having to eat my own cooking all the time is. These people are leaving. Because of, you know, what they were in and the needs that they felt like they weren't necessarily having fulfilled and we all keep hearing it's about money.

And what I find is it's often not about the money that they were leaving. It's usually there's a need that they're looking for somewhere else. And so what I told doctors is, you know, we completely revamped our whole hiring process based on the great resignation, and we really spoke to the people that we're looking for exactly kind of what my little, my little clubhouse that I'm making exactly what we. We do fulfill for needs, because often some of their needs are more senses of affirmation or growth, benefits that are actually different than what you may think, it may be more like child care. And I'll get into that in just a second, but our ad speaks to those people. Are you struggling to find something that fulfills your need for growth? Are you looking for something that provides you with a sense of true fulfillment and doing a job? Well, you know it really.

We try to actually speak to the person who's in their job right now currently, and they're kind of thinking about this isn't fulfilling. And I don't even know what my needs are. They read the ad and they go, Yes, that it kind of speaks to exactly the people we're looking for. So we've changed our hiring. And then we've even changed the hiring process to narrow it down to ideally, we're probably not honestly aren't going to find people who are sitting home eating bonbons. I think we're going to see the people. We're going to find the people and attract the people who are in jobs currently that are kind of feeling that sense of what the what this whole pandemic kind of showed me is the needs that I have aren't necessarily monetary, because if they were, I would have stayed. It's my needs are something else. I'm going to go to some place that recognizes what those other needs may be.

Art Wiederman, CPA: That's right. And I've always said, Dr. Kassmel, that people go to work for two reasons. They go to work because they have to make money, because if we don't have money, we can't buy food and pay for rent and all that kind of stuff. But they also go because they want to go to a place that they like, you know, spending one third of their life at. I mean, we spent eight hours a day. I suspect you and I probably work a little more than eight hours a day, but, you know, eight hours a day doing work. And why would someone go to work if they don't like going to work?

And so have you changed the way you communicate with your employees? I mean, I was always empathetic and not sympathetic. I was always someone. I ran my own CPA my audience know this for 33 years, and three of my people stayed with me for over 30 years and couple 15. And so, you know, and we would we would respect our people and we would ask them, you know, I mean, how they're doing. I mean, there's nothing wrong is there? I'm saying to your employees, How's it going? How are you doing? You don't have to get into their personal problems and whether they're their kid is not cut in school or stuff. But how do you how do you change the way you communicate with your employees today as compared to before March of 2020?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think the first thing is when you hit it on the head, I think addressed that something's going on. I think one thing is dentist often because, you know, so many times they're either analytical or very clinical minded. Being able to just communicate honestly and transparently with people can be tough. And so, you know, I think its first important, you know, I walked into those meetings and said, you know, especially as this is all going good and I still do once in a while. But you know, hey, guys, how many here are pretty concerned about how this is affecting their family. How many people here are having anxiety about this, guys, me too. Like, I want you guys to hear. I too can understand this level of uncertainty and with uncertainty, it makes us anxious. Uncertainty just does. I want you to know I'm going to do everything I can. I'm going to protect you as best I can and your jobs. I can't protect you from that, which I can't control, right? But I'm looking out for you. I'm going to try to really communicate well during this time and on a weekly basis.

But I think sometimes we almost feel as if we don't talk about it. It's not happening. And I think that's the worst thing we can do. Just lay it out so that your team knows. You're aware that they're anxious. They're uncertain that this is, you know, I also hear doctors. I have people who on hygienist right now. It's a really tough thing to find hygienist, and they're all scrambling to find them, and they're freaking out that they're going to lose their hygienist. But they're resentful that I don't want to have to keep paying them these exorbitant amount of money, but I don't know what else to do.

And I would say, well, honestly, I know this sounds crazy. Have you brought them in one at a time and discussed how valuable they are? If they are, hopefully how valuable they are, the contributions that they're making right now that you know what the climate is right now? Hey, listen, you know, Britney, I completely see what's going on. I know that right now, hygienists are being poached from practices and things like that. And I can't stop you, but I know that that's around you all the time.

Here's the thing is, I want to be really transparent that I really appreciate what you do. I appreciate who you are and how you see the patients. And I want to give you every opportunity to grow and increase your income. I want to create an action plan for us to do that. And that means you might be here, Tiffany, with these expectations and these goals. I'd love to help you grow, to be here this point. And there's a little gap in between. I'd love to create an action plan for you and I to where you can make more money and or have an extra day of paid time off and or whatever, you know, an incentive program, whatever it may be.

And when you get there, I can't wait to offer you these opportunities so that you feel really good about staying here because I want that for you. Tell me what needs am I not addressing? Tell me what's going on in your head that I don't know. I think our natural reaction is we freak out, we throw money at the problem and then we chase our tail around and around and around, and the doctor gets resentful is usually what I hear. Their overhead drives up and the hygienist sometimes knowing that they can just keep doing that. Sometimes they will. So I think we're scared of the conversation, but the conversation is exactly what we need to help. So that has changed. I was doing it before, but I definitely still I do it differently maybe now.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And it is more important doctors than ever to communicate with your team and respect your team and respect the fact that you know you may have young women who work for you who are fighting with, OK, my kids going to school today know today is remote learning day. No, today is. This is that and it's back and forth. I mean, this pandemic has been absolutely brutal for the last two years for everybody, and empathy is important. But leadership is so important to continue to let your team right doctor is to continue to let your team know that we're on a winning team. The ship is sailing forward, the wind is behind us. We are going to grow and here's the plan and just make it. Also, is it important to have fun in the office? I think that's important too, huh?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more on all of that, which I cannot put enough fine a point on leadership. I think really, I mean, not to quote John Maxwell here, but like everything rises and falls on the leadership. If we don't own everything around us in every department nothing can get better. So I'm a huge advocate, so as DSI Mark Costes, you know, just true ownership of everything around us, it has to start with us. But then second to that, you know, we can get really intense, myself included with numbers and, you know, KPIs and hitting certain things. And sometimes our level of frustration can bubble out. And I think it's really important for us to have that emotional awareness on a constant basis of I know we're under the gun, but you're right, you know, team members are too.

And you know, this person may have had to figure out at the last minute how to get their kiddo into some form of child care or a neighbor helping them so that they could show up. And when they show up, they may be frazzled. And so recognizing they're in a level of discomfort right now, too, they're experiencing the challenge. Acknowledge it. Hey, I totally see what you had to do to get your commitment to your team is amazing. Brittany, thank you so much for doing that. Acknowledging it, being grateful for it is.

It goes so far and it's funny Art, by the way. What I was doing when I had to make you wait, just a second is we were having our one on ones. And even though we have, you know, anywhere between 30 and 35 team members, I sit every three months myself and my practice director, and that's exactly what we do. And what was funny is I was finishing up learning about how does Nicole feel appreciated? You know, with the five love languages, is it words of affirmation? Is it acts of service? What is it for her that makes her feel appreciated? And then how does she show appreciation?

So I do think that, you know, I know doctors sometimes are like, Oh, when do I have time to do all these things? You don't have time not to communicate with the people that make your world go around. And so I feel like it's really important now more than ever post-pandemic with the great resignation. Even if you sit there, you're thinking to yourself, That's never been me. It's going to be so weird for me all of a sudden to be this person. I'm not asking you to like, change your whole world and start singing Kumbaya at meetings, but I do think it's really important that you start somewhere. And usually the easiest one is genuine, specific appreciation, especially for people like that who put their kids on hold to come and help you or, you know, did what it took to really help with the patients.

I think having them see that you appreciate it so much. The great resignation, by the way, one of the main reasons was lack of feeling appreciated and that their work mattered. Right. We don't want to be those people, so I tell doctors, just start there. And that's the language that can help in the great resignation more than anything.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And remind and I think you also doctors, you need to remind your teams that you are. And again, I'm a frickin broken record. I don't apologize for it. But this is the message. That's my legacy to the dental profession after almost 40 years. You don't just fix teeth, you're about a better life and a better relationship and a better self-esteem. And that's why you do what you do.

So every time during this horrible crisis, doctors that you have a patient who says to you, Oh my goodness, my smile, I'm a new person. Celebrate that with your teams. Hey, guys, we not me the doctor. We changed this Mrs. Smith's life for the better. And here's what she told me. And I'm, you know, maybe don't have a glass of wine at two o'clock in the afternoon while you're given dental treatment. I think the dental board might have an issue in Colorado with that, maybe.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: I think so.

Art Wiederman, CPA: I mean, Pinot is my choice, but that's beside the point. But anyway, the point is, is that we have to celebrate and we have to make sure that the doctors are letting everybody know they're on a winning team and that, you know, because if and that's another thing about this great resignation. Number one, it tells you who are not the real team players, does it not?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: It does. But it also can tell you if you're seeing the consistent message if you're not doing an exit interview. But if you're seeing a consistent message of why there might be something upstream, I'm much like you. I'm a broken record with how you're hiring, who you're hiring, how you're onboarding. Are you onboarding at all? And are you expressing benchmarks in appreciation? I agree. Benchmarks, appreciation. Celebrate. Hold accountable. You can't hold accountable if you haven't done all the other things as well. And so I think that the celebration and the fun in the practice really does come from team members recognizing when they're winning.

They can't, they can't celebrate sometimes when they have no idea if they're winning. So you want to let them know what are the benchmarks for winning? What does it look like and then celebrate it. And for us, we celebrate it. We have meetings every single week on Tuesdays are called our accountability meetings, and we sit in that room and we hold each other accountable as a team. And then we celebrate when things are going well. Right now, we're working towards a six month goal to kind of keep us focused and excited and all that good stuff because I love them to look forward to something and work as a team towards something.

But I think the celebration can be built in to the accountability. You don't want to offer, as my business mentor loves to say, you don't want to offer dessert before the broccoli. We have to do the hard work. We have to really make sure that we're doing what it takes more or less to ensure that there's teamwork because what happens is if one person is not accountable on the team and everybody else is picking up the slack sometimes, unfortunately, if they're given all the dessert without having to do the other stuff, I've just seen, it leads to a little bit of disgruntled people.

So I think you can celebrate the benchmarks with that person, and we have kind of an onboarding system of that. And then you can celebrate. But I find sometimes undeserved rewards sometimes can lead to a little bit of a wrong idea in people's minds. You can celebrate without having to give rewards every time to. So that's what I'm saying. It's nice to root for team members to be hired well, onboarded well with the accountability, with the how do they win? And then we celebrate. And even when they don't win and they make mistakes, believe it or not, we sometimes celebrate that too, because we're like, wonderful, you made the mistake. And now, you know, better.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, I don't usually disagree with my guests, but you mentioned dessert before broccoli. If it's carrot cake, I would take the carrot cake before the broccoli. Just so you know.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yes, I'm not going to lie. Me too.

Art Wiederman, CPA: I just want to be clear on that that we don't have. I want us to be friends when this podcast is over. OK. Yeah. I want to switch gears for a second. And I have been in dentistry almost 40 years and I've never met a dentist who teaches other dentists how to hire dental assistant. So you have a dental assisting school. So first, tell us a little bit about that. And then I want to get into talking about dental assistants because we don't get a chance to do that. Often there's such an important part of the dental team. So first, tell me about the dental assisting program that you have and how that works. And then I want to talk about dental assistants, the good, the bad and the ugly, if you will.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah, yeah. Well, and this kind of comes into play with the great resignation, too, because I know obviously dental assistants are so in demand as well. So for me, I started dental assisting school back in 2015, and honestly, I did it as kind of a way to initially, I was like, Gosh, I remember I couldn't necessarily practice dentistry, so I had to figure out a different stream of income.

But I also had noticed for so many years prior to that I couldn't find really good qualified dental assistants, even the ones that came out of the schools that were, you know, in Denver or Grand Junction. I just found them to be ill prepared for the dental profession. They would come from these schools. It took them anywhere between nine and 12 months and cost them, gosh, I heard upwards of nineteen thousand dollars and they would come out and they didn't know the basics.

And so what I found was I saw a desperate need. I was like, Gosh, I really need to figure out another stream of income. I do love teaching and I actually started off my career. I've been in dentistry almost 30 years because I was a dental assistant before. And so I found that, you know, I have a passion for teaching. I love dental assisting. There's a need and it could be an income.

So I started the school and I recognized after about the second and third class. The most fulfilling part was changing the lives of the students who now got an opportunity to leave jobs that they weren't fulfilled and that they weren't growing, and I'm talking all industries. Burger King workers, gas station workers, daycare providers, all really amazing jobs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to say any of those are not great jobs. I'm saying they were looking for more and there was no opportunities for them to be able to do so.

So the most fulfilling part for me became changing their lives. And then the other cool part was I used some of my own kind of rock star team members to also be able to supplement their income and teach, and they got a level of fulfillment. So what's funny is the secondary income that came was actually like the last thing that excites me at this point. It's really the impact on my community, those students and then my own team who get to teach now. In my one practice, they teach the school.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So I love that. This is fascinating to me. So first of all, is there someone like you mentioned, you know, people doing other things? I remember I used to. I still do talk about the fact that I think that sometimes a front office person would be best hired if they had experience either working in a restaurant or working in a bank because they know how to deal with money. They know how to deal with the public. You know, someone who's working as a server in a restaurant wants to be nice and friendly because they want to earn a tip. Is there some, some profession or job that someone would come from and say, Wow, that person would be a great dental assistant because they did this job beforehand?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah, that's a really great question. And by the way, I couldn't agree with you more. I love hospitality and I love food servers. I do. Especially high end food servers, so I live by Vail. So there's a lot of high end restaurants.

Art Wiederman, CPA: That's high end.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yes. And so we have a lot of, you know, higher end places. Most cities do. I find those can end up being some good dental assistants. The other thing and this sounds maybe silly, AT&T stores, Verizon tend to pull a lot of maybe lower educated people who are actually pretty smart about technology, small things, little details, things like that. I actually recruited one. I went in to get my phone serviced for something, and the little girl was so amazing and sweet. I just said, Hey, if you're ever thinking about changing careers or want to grow in kind of a health care field with better hours and things like that, let me know. And what's funny is it took her about four months and she did, and she became one of our dental assistants. She went through our school and then became one of our students or one of our assistants. So those are some areas that I tend to look for.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So what makes a good dental assistant? I mean, you have I'm assuming you said you have 35 team members in your two offices. I'm assuming what, seven, eight, nine, 10 of them are dental assistants and hopefully they're all world class. And what makes a good dental assistant?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah. So, you know, I really do feel like and everybody here is culture and things like that. I do think it's a level of detail, orientation and awareness of not wanting to consistently make those same mistakes. Again, they're very intentional. And really, we look for that regardless and people that we don't we don't mind one bit people making mistakes because that, of course, is always going to happen. It's what they do with them on a consistent basis.

Dental assistants are great if they have kind of a natural customer service slant. We have core values, so obviously their core values kind of have to mesh with our core values. For us, that has to be a servant's heart. So you combine that and then capability wise, a level of detail orientation and, you know, a sense of not wanting to consistently make the same mistakes over and over, just their own standards don't allow.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So when you interview someone and obviously I'm assuming that out of your dental assisting schools, and maybe that's where you get some of your dental assistants. But if you interview somebody from the outside. What are some good questions I always used to say when I worked in a CPA office, my first thought was actually a Public Accountants office in San Pedro, California, when I was 16 years old, back when the dinosaurs ruled the Earth, right?

So what happened was, is that the first question that Larry Shipley let you know he was my mentor? He first question, he said, is Are you bright? And I fortunately answered the question immediately. Yes. And he hired me, and I asked that question of every single person that ever came to work for me. Now, do you have some questions that you like that basically can tell you pretty quickly? Yeah, this person would be a really good dental assistant. Or maybe this is not the right fit. Maybe, maybe some of those.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah. Well, and I would say, I don't know if it's just one question.

Art Wiederman, CPA: You can give two. Yeah. Long as I can have my carrot cake, you can give three.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yes. OK. You can absolutely have that too. You can have all that. So we do love. Tell us why you're looking for a different position. What are you leaving in hopes of gaining? You're leaving something in hopes of gaining something. Tell us what that is. The reason being, most people don't know. And if they don't have specificity of what they're looking for, we're going to try to chase their happiness for them. I don't like to chase people's happiness. So we want to know what are you leaving and hoping to gain with here?

I'd say another one that we tend to ask is, what are your non-negotiables? What for you in a job is non-negotiable, you can't budge for your own standards. If they have none I worry. And sometimes they have some that are, because that means they don't have boundaries. And sometimes that means they have ones that truly just we can't honor. They'd never want to work after five. They never want to. And that's fine, too. I actually.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Great question. That is a great question. I love that.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah, we love that one. And then believe it or not, we love what lights you up? And they'll be like, I don't know what you mean. No, no, no. Like what like, do I love dental assisting. Great. Awesome. Is there anything else that you do outside of dental assisting that lights you up? That question people really do. Well, honestly, like I, by the way, a hygienist just applied from another office because of our ads and things like that. Hers was yoga, so much of the interview is based on getting to know them, not speaking about who we are. It's so much of us getting to know who they are, where their needs are, what lights them up and seeing is who they are as a person makes sense with who we are as our little clubhouse here. And does it make sense for both of us?

Because, you know, it's always like, I don't think we're some cool elite club that doesn't let people in. I think it's I don't want to set unrealistic expectations for that person that we can't meet. And by the way, I'm sure that person doesn't want to do the same thing. So for me, those are the questions that we can start to see. Hey, your personal core values, our values of our clubhouse here that we've worked so hard on. They seem to really mesh. We invite you to come and hang out with us and see what you think about kind of how we do things.

Art Wiederman, CPA: How many of your team members interview a prospective dental assistant?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Love it. Great question. So I have I first have a hiring person who she's I have an admin team that works outside of here. I have three of them. They work on the dental assisting school, the school that I sell to doctors, and they also help with hiring and ads. So they call and they've just got a couple questions. Really simple. Super quick. It's kind of an easy button, and all they're listening for is what one does the person respond? Do they respond promptly to things? And what do they sound like on the phone as far as personable things like that?

Then they actually move it to the next phase of what I call our ambassadors of culture. So these are the people that just exemplify who we are, our core values, our mission statement, they just exemplify it. And so that for me, that's Julie and Krista. So what Melissa does is after she does that quick little interview, if she feels like, yeah, we should, we should have them go ahead and talk to Krista and Julie. She then sets them all up on an email and says, Hey, you know, Krista, Julie, I'd like to introduce you to Jill. She's applying for this position. I'm going to let you guys take it from here, Jill. And then we edify, you're going to love Krista and Julie. Everything you read in the ad, that's who these people are. They're amazing. You're going to love them.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So you're creating an excitement in that prospective employee that before they even take the job, it's like, Wow, they've got a whole process here. I mean, and having a process is so important. I mean, so many businesses don't know how to onboard. That's another podcast, by the way. I wish we had another hour to talk about onboarding. So what makes a bad dental assistant? What issues does if a doctor is thinking, you know, I've had this lady, she's been with me for twenty seven thousand years and she was here when the building was built, and I've never really, but she's been here forever. I mean, what makes a bad? What do we have to look for?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: So that's a hard one for me to answer because I think it's different for everybody and I know the culture. I talked to doctors who literally say pretty much what you said. She's been here for 20 years. The team doesn't like her or the patients don't like her, or I'm having to pay her a ton of money and she's not growing at all.

Art Wiederman, CPA: But other than that, she's great.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Other than that, she's really loyal. I'm like, you know. You know, loyalty is unfortunately not a skill. I get that it's important and I understand that, and I respect that very, very greatly. The thing is, is really good, loyal employees who still fit the culture much like you were saying in yours. They still grow with the practice.

I think that people who are unwilling to grow it makes it makes it difficult, at least in my organization. But the thing that just I can't tolerate and really, I've trained my ambassadors and all my leaders of the team is really on the premise of omission and commission. And that, for me, is kind of our guiding principle that, you know, if a team member comes in, they all know how to win the game immediately because we want to give that to every person who joins our clubhouse. Here is the rulebook of how to win the game. No surprises here. And you know what we tell them is omission.

Here's the cool thing about omission is that part of the game like that is pretty much a hundred percent on us, maybe ninety five percent on, you know, the leaders, the doctors of the practice that if we're missing something, support resources, guidance, training that's on us, we need to know the five percent is on you that you just need to let us know you're missing this stuff. We're always going to give benefit of the doubt and assume it's omission.

Once we've provided the resources, the tools, the this, the that, we've really clarified expectations. If we're sitting in that position and the person then keeps making those same mistakes, well, then that moves as we tell all new team members to commission, and that really just means you're making the same mistakes over and over, or you're late constantly or you're kind of a toxic team player and gossip is one of those things. It's a hundred percent on you. I have no control over it. That's commission.

We can't win the game and we take that very seriously. So we set all team members up with that from the very beginning, and I'm talking day one on boarding. That's one of the videos that they watch, omission commission. That's me talking about that. And we're so excited you're here. I want to make sure you know exactly how to win the game from the minute you get here. So we go over that and that for me, is people who live in the commission zone. The more we tolerate that, the more our team sees that. And I take it very seriously that part of my job is protecting that clubhouse and protecting the team members that make it great.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And because the minute you stop protecting the clubhouse and you let your guard down, your team is going to say, Wait a minute, the leader doesn't have my back. I don't like this. Hey, I want to take a second. One more big topic. I want to talk to you about and but take a second tell our listeners, we have thousands of listeners who listen podcast every time it comes out. Tell us about your dental assisting school program and how does that work and how would someone get a hold of you?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah. So our dental assistant program, excuse me, is called Dental Assistant Schools Delivered. And it's more or less like a dental assistant school in a box, so it gets shipped to you and it comes with everything you need to start a dental assisting school. But here's the thing about dental assisting schools is some states don't allow them. So I have a team that works with me that whenever we get inquiries of doctors who are interested in potentially starting a dental assisting school out of their office, they contact my team. My team can check to see if they're territories available. We don't want to sell multiple programs to two doctors who are right next door, and that's just not good and I wouldn't want that. And so we kind of protect the territory. So we check to see, is the territory available and does your state allow it? You do have to have the program passed through the state.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So let me ask a question would it make sense for a dentist to for lack of a better term, start dental assisting school for the sole purpose of feeding their own practice or practices dental assistants?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: So absolutely, I would say maybe, you know, if you have a larger practice and have a desperate need? Yes. The thing is you have to know your demographics. You know, I knew that I didn't have any schools nearby. Even if you have schools nearby, I do say check to see how long it is and how much it is. If you have a school that's close by, but it's nine months and it cost three times as much, you have you stand a very good chance of being able to start your own because our program is 13 weeks. It's only one time in your office for three to four hours on the cost to the students.

We kind of coach you through what makes sense for your demographic. But it's usually about a third or a half as much as most of the bigger name programs. But what I tell doctors is it's not a process to take lightly. It is a pretty long process to get the paperwork in, to get it accredited through the state. My team, though, for the purchase price, helps with that. They can't fill out all the forms for the doctors, but they can get you all the forms. They can help navigate them and submit them to the state with you and navigate talking to the state reps for the doctors.

Art Wiederman, CPA: I don't know too many dental offices who get to work in a dental office and also get to help create dental assisting schools. That sounds pretty cool to me. The last thing I want to go over is we talked a little bit about PPOs, and we know that PPOs are here. They exist, they are alive and well and they're not going anywhere. And unfortunately, dentists have to take reduced fees if they're going to contract with PPOs. That this is not a secret to anybody listening to this podcast. But give me your opinion about working with PPOs or do you work with them in your practice? And do you? How can someone become successful with them?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: So it's not. It's not impossible at all. It's definitely possible. The problem is I think we accept them without recognizing the metrics that have to back it up to make it profitable. So I think it's not that you can't take them. I think that the first thing that people need to do is if they're already either purchased a practice that takes a whole bunch of them or they themselves, you know, have decided to take a bunch of them, whatever, is use whatever your software is and actually pull the number of patients per insurance company and find out how many patients, what the pay. You know, what the what the fee schedule is and what's the quality of the patients on those insurances.

Sometimes when you actually see the numbers backed up, you're taking one that has a 50 percent adjustment fee and you only have 70 patients on it and they're creating all the problems for your insurance team. So I think really the understanding of what the PPO mix of your practice is. Second to that you have to know the efficiencies of your procedures. If you're taking something that pays $800 for a crown and it takes you 90 minutes to do a crown, you may be, especially if it's a two stepper and you have to get them back for another 30 minutes on top.

You might not be efficient with that procedure for the amount of money you're getting. You either have to become more efficient or figure out if you can actually negotiate a higher fee. So usually it comes down to knowing exactly what the pool is. If you're going to have your hygienist doing $37 an hour cleanings, well, then you really probably, you know, or, excuse me, $37 cleanings and they're doing that on the hour. That's hard for your hygienist to ever produce enough to substantiate their wages. So I'm not saying you shouldn't take them. I'm saying you need to be aware of it and figure out how to play that game with the PPO to help your hygienist be able to maximize those appointments with that scale, with that fee schedule.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And remember, doctors and we've had Clint Johnson from Profitable PPOs on our show. There are ways to increase if you choose to work with PPOs to increase the amount of reimbursements. I mean, what you should be doing is you should be looking at every procedure on Dentrix Eagle Soft production by procedure and figure out, you know, how much are you getting if you're getting like, Dr. Kassmel says, maybe you can do a two surface composite restoration in 35 seconds, if you can. I'm being facetious, of course, but if you can do that and maybe instead of getting $385, you're getting two hundred thirty five dollars, you might make a profit. It's like everything else in my life. It's a math problem, right?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. All of it comes down to the numbers. Understanding them and seeing if you can play the game. The other thing is you have to have somebody really smart about billing and coding. What I see is we take the PPO fees and instead of really looking at everything that they'll cover, some of them might pay you low for a cleaning, but they actually pay quite a bit if you include certain other things in that appointment that you just don't think about, including. Sometimes it's diagnostic cass or IO photos. Sometimes it's an eyetero scan.

So really, you have to be smart about the billing and coding, which you can take PPOs. And I'm not here to say you should or shouldn't. You just have to play the game smart and differently if you're going to do it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: But that's why it's so important for your dental team up front who's handling insurance to understand all the codes and they don't have to understand everything. There's hundreds of them, but the top 10, at least. And what you can do, when can we build for a buildup? When can we not build for these types of things?

So as much as I would love to talk to you for the next 10 hours, which I usually end up doing with my wonderful, wonderful guests, we can't do that because this is about an hour podcast. So give me I'm going to want to let you give your information. By the way, I should have said this earlier. I want to. I want to thank my colleague, Scott Haberman, who's a partner in our Eide Bailly office in Fort Collins, Colorado. Who is your CPA? Or should we? Even though he's a Washington grad and I'm an SC fan, should we still give him a shout out?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Oh, I love him so much. I literally think I text him once around like, you're the best. Like, he has saved me so many times. He is the best.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, I will never do that with him. I'm just kidding. He's I'm actually going to be. We're actually going to be recording with him tomorrow, talking about taxes and taxes and all the fun stuff to deal with. But anyway, so if last thoughts on, you know, maybe just something that pops into your head, that makes that would make a dentist successful, that they could maybe go to their office with tomorrow morning?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Ah, that's hard.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, OK, I'll give you five seconds go. I'll have my carrot cake while I'm doing it.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: So, I mean, I think the thing I would say is you, you touched on it is it really does all rise and fall on the leadership. None of what we said really matters if you don't own everything. So I think finding the three areas that are frustrating me the most, figure out upstream, what do you need to be doing, not what do you need to delegate? What do you need to be doing? Just literally starting tomorrow to start making huge effects on that, and it's probably something to do with your leadership or clarity.

Art Wiederman, CPA: OK? Let everybody know if they're interested in either some of your coaching that you do through the Dental Success Institute or starting a dental assisting school. How do we get a hold of you?

Dr. Summer Kassmel: Yeah. So Dental Success Institute, obviously, Mark Costes' organization is fantastic. I will say it's a pretty small amount of doctors who can join just because we are pretty intimate. We like to keep things small. So if you're interested, you really can go to Dental Success Institute online and kind of look up everything there.

The Dental Success Summit is coming up in June for doctors who might be interested in more kind of what I'm discussing. And then for the Dental Assisting Schools. The best place to go is DASchools.com. On that you click on I'm a Doctor and you can actually see the curriculum that we sell. You can find more about the profitability of it. More of the actual kind of frequently asked questions, type information on the website. And what I love is if they reach out in the contact form, if they could put that they heard us from being on this podcast and they're inquiring more information, what I would love to be able to offer them is will offer them a discount on the service. If they choose to go ahead, we'll actually give them a five percent discount on our services.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So make sure that if you call and you contact Dr. Kassmel's Dental Assisting School, you mentioned that you heard about it on the Art of Dental Finance and Management, and they will take very good care of you. And that's wonderful. I love talking to entrepreneurial people. I really do. And you are as entrepreneurial as I can, as I've met in a while and I don't know, you're one of these people that need about 40 hours in a day to get everything done right.

Dr. Summer Kassmel: You know, I've gotten good with creating a team of really good people around me, so I don't need as much time as it may seem. Because I have perfected, I think, putting really great people around me. So I'm good at finding great people, trying really hard to help them be better and grow. And that just allows me to be better and grow.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Thank you Dr. Summer Kassmel from Colorado. Thank you so much for taking your valuable time. Please hang, hang there for a second as I take the podcast out with another great interview some great pearls about dental assistants and PPOs and leadership.

And folks, this is what it's all about is every day do something a little better than you did it yesterday. And so again, I want to invite you to go to our partners website Decisions in Dentistry Magazine www.DecisionsinDentistry.com. Great clinical content, the best clinical people in the world, one hundred and forty continuing education courses for a very reasonable price. Go to www.DecisionsinDentistry.com. Go to our website for the ADCPA www.ADCPA.org.

If you're looking for a dental CPA, we are Eide Bailly. We work with dentists. You know we have about a thousand dentists that we work with. Dr. Kassmel is one of them and we'd love to hear from you. My phone number is six five seven two seven nine three two four three.

And if you are interested in the HHS Provider Relief Fund webinar that we have recorded and you can purchase for a very reasonable cost, it's awiederman@EideBailly.com. Well, I love doing this. This is fun. I wish I could just record for hours, but unfortunately I cannot.

So it is time for us to bid adieu. And that is it for this episode of the Art of Dental Finance and Management with Art Wiederman. Thank you for listening. Please tell your friends about my podcast. Please subscribe so you'll get every podcast as soon as they come out and we'll see you next time.