Podcast (Dental)

Optimize and Strengthen the Culture of Your Dental Practice

March 10, 2022

It’s been said, “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” In your dental practice, growth doesn’t always equate to happiness. In this episode of The Art of Dental Finance and Management podcast, Art speaks with Kiera Dent from the consulting company, The Dental A Team.

Kiera and Art discuss ways to take care of your team and build a good culture in your practice. They also discuss optimizing everything from system processes to handling patient cancellations, scheduling, billing and more. This ultimately leads to greater overall fulfillment and profitability.

Reach out to Art if you have any questions regarding dental finance and management for your dental practice. More information about the Eide Bailly dental team can be found at www.eidebailly.com/dentist.

Being more strategic in all aspects of your dental practice will lead to increased profitability.

Today's Guest

Kiera Dent             
The Dental A Team


Show Notes and Resources:

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 Art Wiederman and welcome. Welcome to my podcast. It is a beautiful February day here in Southern California and I have a treat for you today. I have one of my favorite people in the dental profession on my podcast today. My friend Kiera Dent, who is the CEO, founder and Chief Cook and bottle washer, as my late mother used to say of the Dental A Team.

Kiera and I are going to kind of give you a good kick off for 2022 talk about some hot topics that she's seeing in dental offices. She works in over she and her team, working over 100 dental offices nationwide and there. Let's just say in the mouths of dental practices, helping them to become more profitable and run more efficiently every single day of her professional career. So we will talk to my friend Kiera in a moment.

But first couple of things for you. As always, I want you to go on to our wonderful partner, Decisions in Dentistry magazine. Their website is www.DecisionsinDentistry.com. Best clinical content of any magazine in the world. Best Advisory Board. One hundred and forty continuing education courses that you can buy for a very reasonable price. Go to www.DecisionsinDentistry.com.

If you're looking for a dental CPA, I am the Dental Division Director. The DDD, I guess they call it of at Eide Bailly. We are a regional CPA firm and I am out of Tustin, California, about five minutes from Disneyland. And so we are a proud member of the Academy of Dental CPAs, 24 CPA firms across the country that represent over 10,000 dentists, and we've been the financial first responders for the last two years. So if you're looking, if you're not working with the dental CPA, you can give one of us a call. You can give us a call. We're always accepting wonderful new clients. You have to be nice. If you're nice, we will take you as a client. It's that simple. I'm to that point in my life. We want you to be nice. And most every dentist in America that I've dealt with over the last 40 years are the nicest people. I know many of them or some of my best friends, and I'm proud of that fact. So you can get a hold of me at six five seven two seven nine three two four three and my email is awiederman@EideBailly.com.

We are recording in early February and Kiera's podcast will come out in probably a month or so, but I do have a congratulations. I'm pretty sure he's not listening. But our firm Eide Bailly sponsors a golfer on the PGA Tour and his name is Tom Hoge, pronounced hogi. Tom has been moving up the ranks in the PGA. He was fifth, I believe in the tournament and Torrey Pines back in January. Well, he won on February six, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament he beat, he beat these two golfers. You might have heard of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay, who both won, I believe, the FedEx Cup. And Tom, I think, ended up at 19 under par. So I just want to, on behalf of Eide Bailly, congratulate Tom Hoge for his first PGA win, and I am a massive, massive golf fan. So that's why I had to do that.

I want to remind everybody also that if you and this is again, this is going to go on in early March. So it will be before the 31st of March. If you received more than $10,000 from the HHS Provider Relief Fund between July one of 2020 and December 31 of 2020, more than 10,000 cumulatively, that could be more than two payments. If you would, you must report on the HHS portal on or before March 31 of 2022. If you don't do it, you will get a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services that says Dr. Smith, you got $72,000. Please return it to us. And here's the address.

We did a webinar at Eide Bailly on January 21st, which is available for purchase on our website. Or you can just email me at awiederman@EideBailly.com and we'll get you the link to purchase it. It's a two plus hour webinar, and it will tell you everything that you need to know about how to navigate that portal. And many of you got hundreds of thousands of dollars, so. Really important that you do that reporting before March 31st.

And if any of you had a greater than 20 percent drop in your dental practices between the first, second and third quarter of 2021 versus 2019, or even in the fourth quarter of 2020 versus the fourth quarter of 2019, you are eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit. We've gotten it for over 100 dentists. We're approaching $4 million of credits that we have gotten for our clients. We are starting to hear that they're actually going to send the money out here sometime between now and 2087, but we're hopeful. So if you want help with that, feel free to give me a call.

All right, I want to get to my friend Kiera Dent. Kiera is the CEO and founder of The Dental A Team. Kiera and her team consult in over 100 dental offices nationwide. They tackle in-person dental office coaching. Kiera's company's mission, and her mission is to help clients achieve maximum success and efficiency. Kiera, which I love this about Kiera, is that she's also a partner in several dental offices, so it's kind of her workshop where she can probably try different things out and see how they work to help her clients. She's nodding her head as I can see her on the on my computer screen. She's worked in just about every position in her own practices. And, you know, she her goal with her team is to help her clients positively change the structure and culture inside of their dental practice. Kiera Dent, welcome to the Art of Dental Finance and Management.

Kiera Dent: Thanks. It's good to be back with you. Happy 2022, and I must say, listening in on that. I love that you're the same guy. You just want to work with happy, nice people. And I agree. I just love that. That's your style. I'm the same way. So I loved all the things you had to say, but that was definitely my favorite part of all of it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, you're very kind. And I am I've literally gotten to the point in my life that I just want to work with happy, friendly people who want to engage, whether it's my friends, whether it's clients, whether it's, you know, going and buying a pair of shoes. I mean, that's kind of what it's all about. And that's the great thing in that care about being a dentist is that you can fire patients. I mean, it's not good for the business model. But I mean, have you told people to fire patients at some time, 100 percent.

Kiera Dent: And it actually, I personally think is good for the business model because as a team member, I dread seeing those patients on the schedule and working at Midwestern University Dental College in Arizona. I remember one of the he's now the assistant dean. He and I were chatting and he said every year he gave him and his team the best end of year gift, and they would all go through their list of patients and any patient that they all just like, cringed and dreaded to see on the schedule. They actually would write them a letter at the end of the year and suggest some other practices for them to go to.

But it just some of those patients are so hard, and I think we have a little bit of a scarcity mindset as practices like, No, we want every patient. Now, Mike, you actually don't want every patient. You want the patients that show up, do treatment, pay their bills. They're great patients. They refer like, that's who you want. So make space in your life and your schedule to accommodate more of those types of people.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So I'm not going to tell you how to run your business or how to coach, but here's an idea you can coach your dentists to use it. Call it their outpatient policy.

Kiera Dent: Yes, I love it. I think it's great. Yeah, you can give me tips all day long. This is our podcast. Guys, we were just sitting over here rifting on new business ideas, new policies. That's what Art and I are going to do today.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Oh yeah. No, no. Actually, my dream job is. So here's what I want to do Kiera. I want to. I want to go ahead, and I want to get people who want to take golf trips all over the world. And so my job is to take them. So there's three people on a trip or even four we can do. We can do a group of five. And I'm the one that arranges the trip and then I get to go to all these like exotic golf resorts. What do you think? I mean, that works great.

Kiera Dent: Well, here's the thing I'll tell you make a vision board with that on there, because truth be told, my vision board when I was working in Arizona, my husband was going to pharmacy school legitimately my vision board had travel the world and a type it out with dentistry right next to it. And I now travel the world helping dental offices. So I say Art, just make yourself a vision board. Put that on there and I could see you in the next year or two years definitely doing that. I think it's a great business idea. I love it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, that in being behind a microphone are my real passions and stuff. So. But anyway, so I hear you got a new car.

Kiera Dent: I did it. It's something people don't know about me. I come across as my husband when he met me, had no clue that I live on 7.5 acres with my parents and we had horses and he's like what you see, like the kind of girl that's like a city girl, like you go to the mall and get your nails done. I never expected you to have like horses and cows and be on a lawn business. And so I kind of come across as more of that city girl. But I love cars. I have a huge passion for it. I. So yeah, I just got a we got a Tesla. We went to the Tesla world. But the only reason why was because I have an Audi S4 that's a manual and it's chipped and tuned. So it's an even faster one that was one of the biggest reasons I got it right. They stopped making the manuals. And I do love that stick shifting like grinding through all the gears, and it's very fun and thrilling for me. But we raced and the Model three performance Tesla could actually beat the Audi.

So some people are like, No, we're going to go gas. But I will say that Tesla makes me have great and bad habits. I mean, it drives for you. It, you can walk away from it. You don't have to lock it in the winter time. It's always heated up. Art you would never appreciate that because Laguna is perfect weather all the time. But for those who live in snow, it's an amazing feature because it's just fun. It's a real fun car.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So I was in, I was in a Tesla, and I'll tell you what my wife's cousin's husband, he said. Let me show you how this works. My heart ended up going through the back of my scapula, something I don't know. And it was it. So that thing, when it accelerates, it accelerates so. So if you just so if this coaching this dental coaching thing doesn't work out for you, the I mean, we're thinking, maybe NASCAR, what are we thinking here?

Kiera Dent: Totally. Absolutely. I'm going to I will take the Tesla. I did name her, Tessie. I want to get the name Evie because I just think that's more clever than Tessie and Dental A Team our initials are DAT. So I actually got the license plate on it and says DAT Fast. So my goal is actually to take her to the racetracks and see how she does. So I'm sure all the gas people are like Kiera, that doesn't count, and I'll say, I agree. However, it's a really fast car. You should try. It's real fun, so.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well we'll keep that in mind. I'm not sure Tesla's for me. I'm a you and I completely opposite. I'm cars. Get me point A to point B. I've owned. I told my audience I've owned for cars since the age of 20 and I'm now I will be 63 in August. And but you know what? I don't have a car payment financial planning tip, folks. I don't have a car payment. And so but anyway, driving with you, I used to have a friend and then we'll get on to what everybody wants to listen to use of it from one of my best friends from college. He used to always say that he got more parking tickets than he was old, so he says he got 42 parking tickets. I mean, speeding ticket that bright days speeding. Wow. Yeah, yeah. And drive with him. You would absolutely definitely know that.

So well, let's get into how let's just start off before we get into some specifics. How are your dentists doing these days? I mean, we're at the yeah, we have the Omicron thing going on. It's twenty twenty two. There's all kinds of challenges and all this and that. The other thing and you know, well, how are your dentists doing?

Kiera Dent: I think that's a good question, and I would say I think most of them are I call it the COVID Crank. I feel like a lot of us are just like sick of it and I. Yeah. It's interesting because I'll hear teams and I'll hear dentists say here, I just wanted to go back to normal and I hate to be Debbie Downer. I just tell them, I'm like, I think this might be our new normal, and let's start accepting that. I think covid is here to stay. I think certain policies and changes are here to stay. But I will say most of the offices right now are they're doing well. I will say most are actually financially doing well, thankfully. But I think it's more the morale, the culture, the I mean, 2021 was the Great Resignation. So team turnover, just having patients call out sick for covid all the time. I think those things are really starting to wear on the practices. It's wearing on them morale. It's wearing on the teams. And so finding ways to kind of kick that morale and get back excited about life when it just feels like, holy moly. Like, all right now, Omicron, like January, everybody was canceling off the schedules. And so I think that that just kind of where the doctors are at. They're doing well. They're profitable. They're still seeing patients. A lot of them are actually seeing massive growth, but it's very interesting to me. Growth doesn't always equate to happiness, and I'm starting to really see that through this whole COVID crisis with them.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So what do you mean by that? In other words, are they working harder and they're not happy with their. What does that mean?

Kiera Dent: That's interesting. Yeah. Is that the practices are growing. They're more successful. They're seeing higher revenue numbers. They're not necessarily having to work harder. But I think it's the like. I guess it's I heard a quote once that said success without fulfillment is the greatest tragedy. And so even though their practices are more profitable, they're taking home more income because they're it's just this, like I would say, this heavyweight, this heavy cloud on them, the day in, day out team members are calling out, patients are calling out. And so that's what I mean.

So many of us strive so hard to hit these certain amounts in our production. We hit to have certain dollar amounts within our lives. But if we're not happy within our teams, if our families aren't happy, if we're not personally happy inside, all that success in life actually doesn't equate to happiness and kind of watching that through all this COVID. My happiest offices are those who have great family relationships that they are really taking care of themselves. They work out there, they've got a good mental space around them because they're taking that to their teams are following.

And that's what I'm starting to find about this happiness. Vibe is still available, but it's not necessarily coming when you're hitting higher production. Of course, those are great. But just realizing like, that's not the driver of happiness. What I've been seeing in a lot of our practices.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, while I do need to lose a little bit of weight, I did break my personal best on my Peloton this morning.

Kiera Dent: Congratulations.

Art Wiederman, CPA: A lot of it was the teacher that pushed my you know what to that? But anyway, let's start. You mentioned COVID cancelations. How do you deal with that? Is it? I'm hearing that too is, you know, cases call you. I've got COVID. I have to quarantine. My wife has COVID, my husband has COVID, my goldfish has covid, but everybody has COVID, right? How do we how do we deal with COVID cancelations?

Kiera Dent: So what we've been kind of coaching our offices and guess what, guys? This is like new rule book, and I feel like today recording it might change by the time this is released. So as of today, when we're recording what we've been helping, a lot of our offices do are pending upon the state you're in, pending upon what your policies are, because I know some states are pro-vaccine, some states are not pro vaccines. I don't actually care what you guys are doing, but what some of them are doing is for sure. If a patient is calling to cancel because of COVID, get them back on the schedule or a lot of people are saying but Kiera my schedule is so full, it's packed. We have no space for them that day. It's falling apart.

So what I'm saying is when they're calling to cancel, I try to get them back within two weeks at the latest. But you can also just pop them out a couple more weeks, but then make a note on their chart that says like pull forward asap for COVID. So this way, I mean, these patients who are calling to cancel for COVID, most of them are going to be available in a couple of weeks. So that's building that quick, fill list for you.

Also, some other things some offices have been starting to do is they have actually been. Again, this is your state policy. This is your practice policy. Make sure you guys are comfortable with it. But if the patient has been vaccinated, they have no symptoms and they have no fever. So like they're really asymptomatic, even if they've been in contact with somebody, they're still having those patients come in. So again, check to see we don't want. I can affect your whole team because then your whole team goes down, so check to see what your policies are. But like, we just had COVID in our office and most of our employees did not even get sick from it. We only had one person of our whole team go down. So that's what some of the offices are doing. If they have been vaccinated now again pending upon what your state is and depending upon your personal stance. But I think some of those things are helpful.

Also, we're suggesting that offices tag patients because I think patients get smart. They used to learn that if they said it was for work. They could get off of the schedule, then it was if they had, you know, they just come up with all these reasons that they can cancel. So I feel some might actually be taking covid to the next level. So we've been recommending you actually star your patients in your software and just so you can track how many times they're actually calling with a COVID cancelation reasoning. And then if they're getting excessive, let's maybe put them on a same day they call us to get into the practice if they keep canceling on us.

But really, with those cancelations, a lot of offices are saying, Kiera our whole schedule is falling apart. And I suggest in your practice, if that's the case, start actually tracking your cancelations. It's real simple. Just get a piece of paper out and write their reasons these patients are canceling, because we might be able to save some of those. So if it's for kids, if it's for school, if it's for work, if any of those other variables. Let's get some great verbiage for your team. So that way, truly only the cancelations coming up are COVID. And those are just some of the things having like great voicemails as well. So letting patients know if they have been in contact but are asymptomatic, they can still come in. Some of those different things can help prevent patients from canceling. So I think being a lot more proactive on our confirmations as well has been something that's really helped cut down those cancelations because they have been hot these last couple of months.

Art Wiederman, CPA: You know, one of the things I've heard over the years is the, you know, when patients cancel, sometimes maybe even the doctor calls and says, Are you okay? We're very concerned, Mrs. Smith about you. And you know, we're concerned about that number 16 tooth and that it might be headed to a root canal. I mean, whatever it is. And I have found, you know, again, in health care in general, you and I both know Kiera that in health care in general, the customer level of customer service is not what it used to be. Not even close, not even close. I mean, you know, you call a physician's office, you call a hospital, you call this and there are of course, exceptions. And I'm not trying to generalize, but it's just, you know, you get a recording and stuff. Whereas if the doctor, if the dentist picks up the phone and calls me at seven o'clock at night says, Hey, Kiera, you know you missed your appointment today. Are you OK? Is everybody okay? Is your family OK? I mean, that goes a long way towards building, you know, trust and goodwill with these patients, doesn't it?

Kiera Dent: 100 percent. And I love that you said that because that there actually are some software out there because I know a lot of dentists say Kiera I'm so busy. When am I supposed to do this? And one of my favorites actually is Modento, and they actually can allow you to do a voicemail drop. So doctors, you could actually record a voicemail that's very sympathetic like Art was saying, and it will actually drop on all these patients phones for you. So you are getting and then they can call you back, let you know. But you're also getting that goodwill, if you will, on a voicemail where you can say, like, Hey, you know, you missed your appointment today. Just want to call, check in, see how you're doing. Make sure you and your family are doing OK. You don't even have to make all the calls. So I don't want the excuse of I don't have time because there are softwares out there that make it very easy for you to do this.

But I agree with you, Art, I think we need to as an industry, if you would like, I think just showing forth a little bit of kindness. I think this world is lacking kindness and I think especially coming from their dentist, that also leads to patients who are not showing. So they just they might be confirmed and just don't even show up. I know that's super popular right now. Just like a lot of employees are saying, they'll be there for an interview and they're not even showing up. Like, I don't know what's happening. But on those patients who don't show up that just no show, and I'm actually suggesting to offices that they do print a statement. I don't care if you charge a no show fee or if you don't, I actually don't think it really matters. This sounds silly, but put it on a piece of colored paper, I would suggest like yellow, blue, green something so that it does look different and just say, Hey, we missed you today. Please give us a call ASAP to get you rescheduled and just mail that out for those no show patients, because that also can help get those no-show patients to come in.

Also with practice is I will put out there, a lot of front office love to have a full schedule, myself included. So it's like got on my blocks in play. All the patients are there. We're good. But if a patient has not confirmed their appointment, I also suggest maybe scooting them over and filling that spot. So having your confirmation process say, Hey, we do need to hear back from you. If we haven't heard back from you, we will be scooting you off the schedule. Reason being is because usually an unconfirmed patient is a no show patient, so let's not hope and pray this person shows up. Let's move them over, bring someone in and help train our patient that we do need them to respond and to confirm to the appointments that we were not having holes in our schedules as well.

Art Wiederman, CPA: In any profession, folks, whether it is a dental office, a CPA office, a law office, one of the things I learned early on and running my own CPA practice is you have to train your people if you want a certain behavior, if I want somebody. You go ahead and send in their tax information before the 14th of April at midnight or the 15th of April midnight. I need to tell them, by the way, if you don't send your stuff in before then we cannot guarantee that we're going to do your tax return. And it's the same thing with a dental office, isn't it, Kiera? I mean, we need to set expectations for these patients that these are the as my dear friend and partner in our practice transition business, Dr. Phil Potter, who I quote all the time. We want to know what the rules of the knife fight are, right? I mean, how does this work? Right?

Kiera Dent: For sure. And I think so many practices are afraid to put these rules into place. And what I let these practices know is at the end of the day, most people are willing to play by the rules, but they have to know what the rules are. And to your point, what your patients are doing is literally trained by you. I had a practice and I actually was a patient of theirs, and sometimes I can be a snooty patient just because I like to see how far I can push the limits with practices.

Art Wiederman, CPA: You snooty? I don't think you have a snotty bone in your body.

Kiera Dent: It's me testing to see these systems. So I don't wanna say snooty, but it's more testing to see. Let me see how far I can push the limits on some of these practices. So my own dental office, I just called and canceled on him, and I wanted to see how many times I could cancel on them before they said anything to me. I will tell you I canceled on them 10 times and we're talking like day of day before, and I just kept canceling and they'd be like, Oh yeah, no problem, let's just get you back in. And I thought, Holy cow, guys, I'm going to just keep doing this to you unless you train me otherwise, it's kind of like I use the example and women will understand and men, you will understand if you know a woman. We do not cancel as women on our nail girls, on our eyelash girls or on our hair girls because we know and you'll hear every woman out there be like, Oh no, you do not cancel on those people because I know that to get back into my hair, grow back into my nail, girl, back into my eyelash girl, they are going to push me out.

So don't worry, I will change every other plan under the sun. Besides that hair appointment. And so I tell people, let's create a similar type of urgency around our practice if they're going to call and cancel on me. You better believe I'm going to push them six weeks out and not give them prime time. And then I'm going to be silent. So if you were calling me to say, Hey, Kiera, I can't show up today, but you are Kiera calling the practice, I think, Oh Kiera, I am so sorry to hear that. Tell me what's going on. I'll try and find a solution for them right then and there on the phone, because maybe are, you're just calling me because you've got to get back to work and you don't really need your appointments only an hour. So I can say to you same day. Fantastic.

If I can't and I can use some great verbiage of Hey Art, what could I do to help you keep this appointment today? That way, art knows that. My expectation is let's keep you on the schedule today. If art can't do it, I'm going to say, Are doing it art? I'm so sorry. My next available appointment for you, Mr. Art, who's calling me last minute, is going to be on May 8th at 4:00 p.m. and I'm just going to pause or I'm going to say at 10:00 a.m. whatever time you choose and I'm just going to pause now, Art has a decision. Is he going to cancel on me or is he going to kind of figure out his schedule because he knows he does not want to wait that long to get in for an appointment if he chooses to take that later appointment? Fantastic. I'll make a note on his chart. Let him sit there for about two weeks and then I'll pull him forward.

So I think some of those things, people don't realize I'm literally training Art that if you call and cancel on me, my next available is going to be about six to eight weeks out, and I'm going to give him an actual date to your exact point. Most of the cancelations, most of the holes in our schedules, most of that craziness is by us training our patients. And I will promise you the practices who actually have higher level of boundaries, higher level of expectations that their patients have a lower no-show rate, have better patients that show up and their schedules just flow very easily. So I would just ask you choose your hard. What's the harder thing? Is it harder to train your patients or is it harder to have a day that just totally falls apart on you? You get to choose, and there's lots of easy ways to fix it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Hmm. Let me think about that. I mean, it's the same thing is when we get a new client, we say, Listen, doctors, you could say you could send your tax information on on the 8th of April, but you have to remember that everybody else is doing the same thing and we're trying to get to the finish line and it's you're going to get much better. You know, we're going to be a little less stressed and that's how it is and you train them about it. I say, let's talk about Kiera COVID in the office. What about what if our team members get COVID? What are you doing about that?

Kiera Dent: Good luck, guys, you're on your own. I'm just kidding, just kidding. I think a lot of it is helping offices right now, I was mentioning before. I think right now we're trying to do some cultural shifts in practices that we're seeing, and no one is just like have all hands on deck. So really kind of just have a meeting and a like, let's come together as a team because when the team members are out, the expectation is, guys, we're going to scramble and get everybody in here. It might be your day off, but let's just have a culture where we're going to cover. We're going to pitch in because at the end of the day, we're here to serve our patients. So I think setting that expectation. But then when team members are out again, check your state laws, check your HR policy. I love CEDR. They're really helpful. But for a lot of those team members who are out with COVID, they could work from home.

Again check your laws. Every state's a little bit different. So if you're a state that can't do that, then by all means don't do this. But if you're a state that can, a lot of those team members could be working on those like hairy scary projects that we quote unquote never have time to do in the practice, such as operations manual, creating protocols, calling on those recare lists to get patients in, calling on unscheduled treatment plans, going through AR and sending out statements for those balances that have not been collected, possibly setting out our collections and doing our collection calls and doing videos, if you can, of a perfect scripting for our phone calls. But like all of those things that we quote unquote never have time to do, it's a prime time when team members again, if they can and they want to, let's not make people work when they're sick.

But I'll tell you, I had COVID, and a lot of it was just, yes, I was tired, but I was fully functioning. My mind was great and I could have written protocols at home. So I think like, let's also create some lists of items that we really haven't been able to get done in our practices. Those ops manuals we at the Dental A Team, we do have an operations manual that a lot of offices love to snag because it just kind of an outline and a template for all of your practices. But you could be doing that. We could be putting ads out and interviewing people while we're home with COVID. That way, we can just get some of these things moving forward for our patients. You could be writing new patient campaigns.

We could be looking at events that we could be attending. We could be creating social media campaigns. So getting those photos, writing content for it. What about newsletters to your patients? There's so many things that you guys could be doing with these team members who are outside. Say No one. Let's create a game plan at the office of who does what. Number two, let's build these protocols because that way we can also cross train when we've got all of our front office out and clinical teams coming up front. Let's get those let's get those protocols created and maximize that time. Again if your teams open and wanting to work from home during this covid time

Art Wiederman, CPA: And this is the energy from a woman who sleeps, what about an hour and a half a night probably?

Kiera Dent: No I'm actually I'm actually like a grandma when it comes to sleep, I'm like a eight to nine hour over here. I love my sleep Art.

Art Wiederman, CPA: I'm impressed. That's very impressive. So before I got, I'm not done with you yet, young lady. So a couple of things. First of all, if someone wanted to get a hold of you, talk a little bit about what you do at the Dental A Team. And if someone wants to get a hold of you, what the best way to get a hold of you is.

Kiera Dent: Yeah, thank you, Art. So like we've said, all these things that I've been chatting about are things that we do with our practices and we either do them in person. A lot of people love somebody to come in, take a look at your practice because dentists are kind of like solo islands. I know I was. I had only really run in my practice, and so we can come in, bring a ton of ideas and tips. And these are all our entire team has been team members. So office managers, treatment coordinators, schedulers, dental assistant hygiene is really, really not just understanding your team, but we are your team. I know what it's like to have my whole schedule fall apart. So we come in and we give you guys systems and we also help train on efficiency tips and just making your life easier. So our goal is to increase patient experiences, decrease stress in practices which ultimately going to result in profitability.

So on average, our practices see a 10 to 30 percent increase in revenue, usually within their first 30 to 90 days. So our CPAs, they all love us because we are able to help these practices really grow and thrive, but in a way that the team is owning it. And so that resonates with you. Those are things like as a team member, I didn't want a scary consultant. I didn't want somebody coming and telling me I was wrong. So we've really learned how to make it a very fun, empowering experience for your team. So if that resonated, that's something you're interested in, people can email us hello@thedentalateam.com, or you can check out our website, the Dental A Team.com, or our podcast, the Dental A Team podcast as well.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Which is pretty awesome too. I want to ask you before we go on to some of the other things I want to talk to you about Kiera is I have lots of doctors where I'll just go, you know, Doctor, you are writing off so much. You are doing this. You are doing. I mean, I'm a CPA. I've been in dentistry almost 40 years and I. So when an office has got issues, I'm not skilled as you are to, you know, help with scheduling and recall and financial arrangement, I mean, I know all about them, but that's not what I do for a living. And then I'll get the doctor who will say, Well, you know, my staff really doesn't like change. They don't like change. I don't know if I brought you and how would that work? So if you have a doctor who's afraid of change or who thinks their team won't embrace it, how do you approach that if they need to work with a coach?

Kiera Dent: Yeah, I would just flip it and ask the question of like, would you be open to making your life easier? And most people would want to make their life easier. So that's how I come in. I don't come in and say, Guys, we're going to make all these changes. We come in and say, All right. My job is to help you like rock on. You're doing great things. I don't come in and tell your office that they're terrible and they're not doing this right or wrong. I get it. Offices don't like change. dentists don't like change. Dentists don't want to manage their practices. They want to go do fillings. They want to go do their prepping. They want to be with their patients. So that's where we come in. So team members usually love us because as a team member myself, we come in with the approach of what we wish we would have had.

I'm not going to come in and change your life. Number one, you don't need it. And number two, that's a scary word. So let's just say, Hey, my job is to make your life easier. So I'm going to give you some things. We're going to try him out and we're going to try it for a couple of weeks together. And if it works awesome and if it doesn't work, will change it and pivot to something that does make your life easier. So it really isn't scary and everything's customized. I don't have a to cookbook like we're coming in, and today we're focused on scheduling and tomorrow we're focused on treatment coordinating. It is just like a patient and just like how dentists work, we'll treatment plan it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And you know, the one thing that I've learned, too, is that when you look at adding a consultant or a coach to your practice, you find out really quickly who wants to get better and who is happy with the status quo. I mean, doctors, if you want your practice to improve, you need to have an epiphany. And that epiphany is. Yes, I understand it's hard to find people. I understand there's a great resignation. I understand we're in the middle of a pandemic. I understand. I understand. I understand. But the fact of the matter is, is that if you don't make changes, nothing is going to change. Your bottom line is not going to change your enjoyment and your practice is not going to change. And if you have one person in your office that is just pulling everybody down and you bring a coach in and the rest of the team is going because you interview Kiera, you interview people. When you when you go into an office, you interview every team member, right? Pretty much.

Kiera Dent: Yeah. It's not like an official interview, but we do a pre assessment form before we get there. And usually with even just reading those forms, I can tell who your best players are and who my trouble ones will be.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And here's an opportunity to have that epiphany to get rid of the people that are dragging your life down. OK, we won't go any further into that. Well, we can. But I got other things that I want to talk to you about. The hygiene drought. OK, now we know what a drought is, and here in Southern California, we have a perpetual drought. Well, we get some rain in the last month or two, which is good in Southern California. It's like, you know, in New York, we would have when I lived in New York, it was like, Oh my God, there were like 12 murders today. Or there was this. The mayor did this in California when it rains. It's like the first ten pages on the Los Angeles Times. It's on, OK? Channel four news at 11 breaking news it rained today and it's like, you know, if we this town doesn't know how to hold water. So anyway. But what about the hygiene drought?

Kiera Dent: I definitely coined the hygiene drought. I love the hygiene drought because one I think it gives hope that it will end and to helps people see that we are in a drought. A lot of hygienists left. I don't know. I totally stole this from the bike drought. If you guys are looking for outdoor bikes, we are in a bike drought. We can't get parts. I went to like pick up mountain biking. We live in Reno, Nevada, and I could not get a bike anywhere. And they said, we're in a bike drought. And I was like, What is this like? I've never experienced not being able to buy a bike. So they said, Kiera, you buy the bike that you have today and that's what you get. And that's if we can get the parts for it.

So I thought the same thing is very relevant to hygiene. And right now we had a shift COVID came in and a lot of people that had been thinking about retiring or retired. We had a lot of moms typically, hygienists, they tend to be more female. There are some guygienists out there, but most of them are female. And so having at home study, a lot of moms came back home to take care of their children and to be home with the kids at home. And so we just saw this whole decrease in the hygiene world. So almost every single practice is struggling to hire a hygienist. Most of them are. I've also seen that the hygiene is they're taking advantage of this, which, hey, opportunity strikes, and we can't be super angry with that.

Like I've seen, the cost of a hygienist go up drastically. And so I think we've got to start to get a little creative. I believe that we can look at this as a punishment or an opportunity. So my thoughts are we're in a hygiene drought. How could you, as a practice, innovate? How can you think differently than all the other practices? So let's get a little creative with these hygiene. Number one, I've seen a lot of practices where they'll actually do assisted hygiene. I get it. Assisted hygiene is not my favorite thing. But guess what, if you can learn to do this, you will never be stuck in a hygiene drought ever again.

Plus, I've also seen practices pay that hygienist more on the days that they're actually doing assisted hygiene. That way, the hygienist is actually excited to do assisted hygiene. You, as a doctor are getting the benefit of two hygienists, but not having to pay the cost of two hygienists in your practice. So I think that there's that option.

Also, could we look to see what if you just brought in a second dentist, maybe on one or the week versus a full time? I get it. A full time hygienist would be way more advantageous. But let's also maybe just add somebody in on a Thursday or Friday. Maybe they could take off a couple of days from their kiddos, but they might need to have lower or different hours. So maybe now they can come in at night, but they've got to be off at 3:00. Guess what they can work through, and that's still going to let you see a lot more of these patients.

And then I think also as you're interviewing, I have told every practice that we consult get your booties down to those hygiene schools and start recruiting. You start getting known to start taking baskets and start doing hygiene lunch and learns, but really start to recruit these hygienists. Because guess what? There will be hygienists coming out of school, but there's such a huge demand out there that if you are not actively being present, not having these hygienists come to your practice, you are going to be out of a hygienist for a lot longer.

So I really feel like let's get creative, let's get innovative. Let's go and start to be where these hygienists are at. And then I would I would put a little asterisk next to this. I think the biggest pieces are you as a practice, a place that I just would want to go. And what makes you as a practice stand out over another practice? Because I will say it's not always pay. Yes, some hygienists will leave over pay, but I will also say to any hygienist listening, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

So as a practice, let's make sure that we're checking in with our team. Let's check that culture. Let's make sure that we're actually checking in with each team member to find out what are their aspirations, what are their struggles? And let's see if we can fix that. Don't be reactive on these. Hygienists, be proactive. But that does not necessarily mean you've got to constantly bump their pay to be competing. Sometimes it's just about maybe they want more time off. Maybe as a practice, you guys could take more time off and still be just as profitable. Could you offer other things? What about profit sharing? What about other opportunities? Maybe you do see benefit. So in your practice, everybody gets to attend CE. Different things like that. But based on what your practice actually wants, I really think are important for us to start looking at. Because we are in a hygiene drought. We just need to start looking at it a little bit differently and make sure your practice is a cut above, that way hygienists want to work for you, not leave you.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And here it is. And again, I think I feel like I'm talking every single week. I'm talking about this, about how important the culture of your office is and how important it is that people enjoy coming to work every day. I mean, that is so critical that they enjoy it. And then when you interview somebody, doctors, what you need to be doing is to say, Listen, our number one priority in this office is the total and complete health of our patients. That is our number one priority. And that is that is through an ingrained in everybody who works here. So if that is where you're at in the dental profession, then we would love to have you as a team member.

And you know, there's no, you know, everybody's got a complaint, but we don't do any backstabbing and we don't do any complaining. And this one did that, this one. And you know what, if somebody is out sick or if somebody's mom is sick or somebody died, God forbid we all cover for each other. That's the kind of practice that we have. And if you do that, you know, you're going to get the people you're going to see, Oh my God, the last three offices I've worked in have been I just wanted to like, throw up every day before I went to work. This sounds great, and then you're going to get them because they're going to be interviewing other offices to so totally. That's a that's a great idea.

Kiera Dent: Well, and it's interesting because we actually are getting ready to rebrand our website. And what I'm what we're trying to find is a lot of times the problems in your practice aren't actually the problem. They're just a symptom of the underlying root, which most the time is your culture. And so if you can fix that culture, people don't leave places that they love. You could come. I have some offices where they are literally like, I can think of an office right now in Washington. They are being recruited day in and day out. Guys don't think that your neighbor is a dentist, is not sending out fliers to your hygienist that they're not trying to poach them off of LinkedIn. So don't think that you're safe. You need to be actively talking.

But this practice has such a great culture. Those Hey, dentists, come in and I just say, no, I got approached and they're going to pay me double. But I love what I'm doing here, and I would never leave. That's the type of raving fan culture. And that's I'm going to say that like we think so much a raving fan patients. Are you creating a raving fan culture where your team members rave about your practice, where they are raving about you as a boss? And again, that does not always mean money that might be. And I will say like I will, I will tell this from the rooftops right now. Times have changed. Guys and people don't necessarily want what they wanted in the past. You are getting a millennial generation coming through. That is very much about lifestyle. That's very much about travel. That's very much about having time off and being with their friends and family and work life balance. So you might want to start looking at different benefits that you're offering that don't look exactly like they did in the past.

And I think if you don't innovate and start to get on board and in the know. Like I started having some team members work from home. I never, ever, ever would have thought I would do that. But we have two days that are flex days. That is something that is drastically attractive about our company because now they can technically have a four day weekend anytime they want. They can work remotely. They've got two days and I purposely did it on Friday and Monday. So there are different things you can offer. I get that, hygienists need to come to the practice, but how can you make it creative to have this work life balance?

Some offices are working three days that are 12 hour days, and they rotate. So that way, these practices, yes, they work long days, but they're getting really long weekends consistently. But they're open five days a week on paper. So Monday through Friday, but they rotate that schedule. So just get creative. There's a lot of options out there.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So if you have a lot of turnover in your practice, doctors, these are some really good tips that you might consider. And you can always cure. You can always change a culture, right? Cultures are not. They're not set. I mean, it comes from the top. You can always change a culture, but that doctor also has to have an epiphany and say, I need to change my culture. I need to change my thinking. I need to change how I'm communicating. And that is like my golf swing. It's hard to get your right wrist back and through the ball. I you haven't done it for 35 years. You know it's hard, right?

Kiera Dent: Totally. I think I think you hit it on the head on that Art. I say that culture is a slow burn, something that isn't sexy and it doesn't get results overnight. However, it's the key that will keep you going. I just interviewed this is a fun thing. I'll do a little brags that I was just interviewed with USA Today and Authority Magazine. And one of the cool things was they asked me for like the five things I wish I would have known before becoming a CEO. And I said, I wish I would have known that culture is key. That culture is something that you can't let go away, that you've got to look for ways to innovate, and that means, like you said, Art, taking ownership.

Anything I dislike in my practice is a reflection of me. So I think I as a CEO, as a dentist, do your job. Culture is your job. So if you're having turnover, it's your job to go and interview those people and find out why did they leave and take note and change. I had a wild epiphany last year and I realized my culture wasn't what I wanted it to be. So I changed my core values. I started having team member recognition amongst each other, started doing one on one. I dread one on ones. It is a full day of talking to my team members and I dread it because I know it's such a long day.

But I found that when I'm personally invested in every team member, me as a CEO, yes, it takes time. But these are things that they said the greatest. The greatest. I think it was the greatest hurt on a business is the cost of human capital. And so I just think if I can prevent human capital turnover by checking with my team members every month by doing a Friday five where I, as a CEO, call out team members that have done an exceptional job and I start working on that culture shift that's going to save me turnover. It's going to make raving fans of our company.

I do two anonymous surveys every single year with our team to find out how my leadership style is and what they want. Those things matter. They sound like ticky tacky. And who's that time for that? And I ask the question again. Choose your hard. Who has time for that versus who has time for team turnover? That would be the question I'd pose.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, and it's great because I mean, I ran my own business here for 33 years. I like to think I created a good culture. My three key people, Pam, Raquel and Debbie. I'm not shy to say their names because they're three of the finest human beings that I know. They all worked for me for over 30 years. I all I consider them all dear friends. And but we then merged with a local CPA firm in Orange County called HMWC and their managing partner, I'll mention his name Steve Williams. Just an amazing man. Just absolutely great leader, set a great culture. Listened.

That was one of the things I told Steve when I first, you know, after about a year, I said, You know, you're a really good listener. And he says, Oh, I guess I am. I said, Yeah, you are. And then we merged with this firm. You know, Eide Bailly. I didn't know anything about Eide Bailly. And it's the same thing. The culture is fantastic. I mean, right from the top, all the way through middle management. And you know, they have great benefits and they have. And I'm not I don't have to give an advertisement for Eide Bailly. But the fact is that if you create a culture, it can be in a big organization, can be a small organization, but it comes from the leadership.

So one more thing I want to hit with you and then we'll let you get back to, you know, driving your Tesla two hundred and fifty miles an hour or whatever you're doing today.

Kiera Dent: Who knows, Art, watch out.

Art Wiederman, CPA: I'll be looking both ways when I walk up the street. The need for systems and optimization on what we do have. What is that?

Kiera Dent: I'm so excited to talk about this because I think so many times we look at what we don't have. And so this year, Dental A Team. We run a virtual team summit, which is so fun and we actually it's virtual because I know it's expensive to train teams. So we actually do it in your practice. But as my team and I were talking about, what do practices need this year, we realize it's optimization.

So looking at our practice of what can we do today, even when we're losing team members, even when we have patients calling out, like, how can we optimize the areas that we have? So and it's like little refinement, meaning do we have a solid record system? Are we consistently calling patients? Or do we have a process like I was talking to an office the other day and they said, Kiera, I just don't have time to call these patients on our care list. I don't have time to call the scheduled treatment list, but our schedules are always empty because we're having all these patients cancel. Well, I said that to me means we aren't making enough outbound calls to receive enough inbound calls to make sure we keep our schedule full. So how can we optimize that?

So we literally took the whole list, counted up how many patients were on there, counted up, how many days we have in the month and it broke it down to, I think, 10 patients a day that they needed to call. Well, now we're used to confirming patients in the morning how we can optimize this repair list is now they just make 10 calls as soon as they're done, confirming it was a very simple slip in that now they can get all their calls done every single month. So I'm just asking the questions Do you guys have? How can you optimize? How can we optimize those little systems knowing we've got team members who are constantly out with COVID? How can we optimize and get protocols in place? Very simple.

Like, let's not make this hard and drastic, but like, let's create little simple systems and optimize. So that way, when a team member has to go work for our team member needs to go work in the back. We already have a little system like playbook that they can actually pull. So it's really just thinking about, like I said before, with the hygiene drought, how could we optimize and be able to? See more patients, maybe we start seeing patients one hour earlier, one or two days a week, that's going to like the thought on this is I think about OK, so if we saw patients two days a week, maybe an hour earlier, that's two patients. We got four weeks, that's eight patients a month that we could be adding in, that's just a small, simple area doesn't require people that much extra. But that's the way that we can optimize our hygiene schedule.

What about perio? Are we are we checking the boxes on our continuing care to make sure the FMXs are being taken on frequencies. That our exams are being taken on frequencies? Those little subtle areas that I think often get swept into cobwebs, we can actually start looking for those and optimizing even without having team members or patients right now.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Are we probing regularly?

Kiera Dent: Amen to that. Like these small little things I feel like right now is the time. There's a great example and I'll pull it. Mike Michalowicz. He is the author of Profit First, and I remember he and I were doing a presentation together and it was such a good visual imagery. He said, You know, when all of us have a tube of toothpaste and it's full, we just usually like, squeeze that bottle and it's not a big deal. But if we're out on a camping trip and we have no toothpaste in that tube is pretty much empty. We get real creative of like scraping that thing up against the board to try and get that last little bit of toothpaste out, like rolling it, like squeezing it so tight. And it's crazy how much more toothpaste you can get out of a tube that looks almost empty and it keeps going.

Art Wiederman, CPA: This is the guy that's owned four cars from the age of 20 to the age of 63, so you could imagine how much toothpaste I get out of each tube of toothpaste.

Kiera Dent: Right, exactly. So thinking about those areas of how can we squeeze that tube of toothpaste just a little bit more in these small little areas? So I would suggest looking at each of your areas of your practice. So our front office or scheduling our treatment, coordinating our billing or management, our dental assistants, hygiene, our doctors, our business. So overhead, our marketing. And how could we maybe squeeze that tube of toothpaste just a little bit in each of these areas and move the needle forward, like calling the recare list it's going to keep our schedule full, which is ultimately going to help us increase profitability. If we had a solid perio protocol that we are following, could we help and serve more patients just a little bit better?

Atomic Habits is another one of my favorite books, and they talk about a one percent. Just that one percent increase can drastically improve a practice. So I think we're all in this doom and gloom. Sometimes we don't have people, we can't hire people. And I ask the question of how can you optimize these simple areas and just get a little bit better refinement and get a little more toothpaste out of that tube? But where we say we can't do anything, we don't have time, we don't have people.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, one of the other things that, oh, that's just golden. As usual, you are golden. And so one of the things that I and I've shared this with our audience, Kiera, is I started meditating about five years ago and my friend is a clinical psychologist. She told me, she says, what you do is you just think peace, calm for five to ten minutes, which is really hard because your mind goes to different places. Yeah. And then at the end of the day, at the end of the meditation, which is maybe 10 to 15 minutes, what you do is you sit there and you say to yourself, OK. I can fix this, this is not I have this support system, I have these people that can help me, I can make changes.

So in your dental practice, doctors, what I've learned is I can't control what I can't control. In other words, I have no control over what interest rates are going to be. I have no control over what the crime rate is in my city. I have no control over what Congress is or is not doing. OK, I have control over what's in my four walls inside my four walls and the systems that Kiera that you're talking about. You have control and you have the legal right because this is America and it's capitalism to make any changes that you want. And we go back to the definition of insanity. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. So you are golden, as I said, and you get just lots of great ideas. I love your passion. You obviously have a passion for what you do. One more time, if people want to get a hold of you, what is the best way to do that?

Kiera Dent: Yeah, thank you again. Art, I just I love podcasting. I love serving our audience. I love helping them out. Guys, just make your life easy and you can change at any moment. You can change in an instant. So they say the best time to plant a tree is, you know, yesterday, the next best time is today. So definitely do that. I think it's good money, right? The best time to invest. But as you know, years ago, but the next best time is today. So don't wait. And if we can help you and we can be a support, what we what I said today resonated. Email me hello@thedentalateam.com. That's kind of like the Home Depot, the Facebook. So it's hello at the dental a team dot com or head on over to our web site, www.thedentalateam.com. I'd be happy to chat with you if you have questions and listen to our podcast, The Dental A Team and we have tons of tips just like this, I break it down into real simple we've been called the Dr. Seuss of systems, so really helping you guys implement very simple systems. Getting your team on board is what I'm all about.

Art Wiederman, CPA: You know that Go Dog Go is my favorite book, right?

Kiera Dent: Yeah, exactly.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, there you go. That if you don't know that, folks, Dr. Seuss wrote Go Dog Go. Kiera Dent from the Dental A Team. I just love the passion that you have and you are a great contributor to helping doctors. Your legacy, like my legacy, is that a podcast like this is a call to action, and I will say this every single time I interview somebody wonderful in the profession like yourself. It's a call to action.

If I can get one of you listening one. We have thousands of people that listen to this podcast every month if I can get one of you to and again, honestly, if you pick up the phone and you call Kiera or you make a change in your own practice on your own, if I can get you to have an epiphany to change your practice, to change your life for the better, then that is my legacy. That is going to be Kiera's legacy. Kiera has got, you know, and we've talked about that. So Kiera Dent, if you kind of hang on as I take the podcast out, that would be wonderful. Thank you so much for your time and your great vision and expertise and all that stuff.

Kiera Dent: Absolutely. Thank you Art. I appreciate it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: OK, so everybody, don't forget to go on to our partner Decisions in Dentistry magazine www.DecisionsinDentistry.com. Great clinical content. One hundred and forty continuing education classes for a very, very reasonable price. Again, Decisions in Dentistry dot com.

Again, if you're looking for a dental CPA, we at Eide Bailly are taking on new clients. My number is six five seven two seven nine three two four three and my email is awiederman@eidebailly.com. We have our partners all over the country the Academy of Dental CPAs www.ADCPA.org. You should be working with a dental CPA, especially with all of this HHS and ERTC and PPP. And by the way, folks, your second round PPP loans are going to be. You're going to have to start filing for forgiveness if you haven't already, probably no later than April, May, June of this year if you are going to get an ERTC credit for 2021. Hold off on filing for forgiveness. Give us a call.

We had a doctor the other day who has held off and we were able to take about $70,000 of his wages and use it for the ERTC because you only have to put down 60 percent of the wages on your forgiveness form, and that's 70,000 times a seven. 80 percent credit was a additional forty nine thousand dollars of credit had he not waited, had he filed for forgiveness. He would have ended up with that much less of a credit. So we can help you with that.

Make sure you file on the HHS portal. You can give me an email, send me an email and we'll get you the link to our webinar that we recorded on January 21st. Please, please, please make sure you do this before March 31st. With that, folks, I want to thank you for the privilege and the honor of your time and listening to my podcast. I can't tell you how many wonderful comments we get every single week on my email, and I'm just I'm honored and humbled by all the nice folks that listen to this, and I'm going to keep doing this until they take my microphone away and my door is shut. I don't have a lock on it, but my door is shut to be hard for them to get my microphone. Anyway, that is it for this edition of the Art of Dental Finance and Management with Art Wiederman CPA. Please tell your friends about our podcast. Write a review and we will see you next time.