Breaking the Mold: Differentiating Your Dental Practice


Podcast Summary

As dentistry evolves, it’s crucial for dental professionals to adapt and set themselves apart from the competition. In a recent episode of “Innovations in Dentistry,” Shawn delves into the importance of differentiation and innovation in the dental industry, encouraging dentists to embrace change and create unique customer experiences.

The Allure of Dental Spas: Shawn begins the podcast by discussing how dental spas have emerged as an innovative business model in the industry. By combining dental treatments with spa-like amenities, these practices offer a relaxing and enjoyable experience that sets them apart from traditional dental offices. Dental spas showcase the potential rewards of taking risks and breaking away from convention.

Learning from Failure: Shawn then shares his own journey in the dental field, candidly discussing the failure of his first company, Root Cause. He emphasizes that learning from failure is a critical part of growth and that it’s important to fail quickly and learn from the market. By embracing discomfort and uncertainty, dentists can innovate and differentiate themselves in an ever-evolving market.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone: In the podcast, Shawn encourages dental professionals to take risks and step out of their comfort zones. He acknowledges that dentists often want the rewards that come with being unique but tend to follow conventional methods instead of taking risks. By pushing the boundaries, dentists can create a unique customer experience and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The dental industry is continuously changing, and for professionals to thrive, they must embrace differentiation and innovation. By learning from failures, taking risks, and stepping out of their comfort zones, dental professionals can create unique experiences that attract and retain clients. As Shawn highlights in “Innovations in Dentistry,” it’s time for dentists to push the boundaries and explore new opportunities to set themselves apart.

Podcast Transcript

Guys, this is Shawn with innovations in dentistry. And one of the things that just completely it just drives me crazy is this thing that I see, dentists want growth, dentists want the rewards that come from being different from differentiating from being able to create value in the marketplace that patients can’t get somewhere else. And, and I’m not talking about a crown, I’m not talking about an implant. **But the craziest thing is, they want the spoils that come with differentiation. But then they look around, and they simply do what other dentists are doing.** Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a chance that some of you are like, Hey, we found those innovative dentists, we go to those conferences, where there, there is cutting edge stuff happening in work, we’re learning. Okay, I’ll give you that. But to many of you, you’re simply finding formulas and models that have worked that are simply the same. It’s like creating another little caesars, right? There’s going to be tons of competition for that. You know, what was that a decade ago, when acai started coming out everywhere now. Yeah, they’re, they’re a dime a dozen. You can you can find Acai anywhere. You know, I remember when I was in college, Yogurt Land came out. And it was like, come on a new take on ice cream, right? Yogurt, self serve, add as many toppings as you want. You pay by pound. And that came in and left pretty much just as quick. It doesn’t mean they’re not yogurt places anymore, because then the next thing was what gelato… the market moves. Now, I get it fundamentally, mouths don’t move, right? We’re not what I’m talking about as a species that our mouths are evolving at such a rapid pace that all of a sudden is wow, like, plaque doesn’t build up anymore. We’re so sophisticated. We don’t get cavities, no caries, right. No, no, no, I get that. So at the very core, clinically, dentistry is fairly unchanged, except that there’s advancements in technology, right? What you can do to 3d printed denture, what you can do with technology is advancing so fast. But it’s not just that in my world, right? So I’m a business guy, entrepreneur, in my world. Marketing is often what can change things. It’s just simply how you position something, it’s how you market something, it’s the light in which you cast over something.

So **Dentistry has the opportunity to stagnate, which means again, we just keep looking at what everyone else is doing. Or you can do something different. And that’s why even like business model wise, I think it’s great, these new practices that are positioning themselves more like dental spas**, I don’t know how long it’s been going on. But that’s, that’s something I’ve been seeing for quite a while. And it’s like, okay, people have a pretty negative perception on dentistry. And by and large, it’s not something people get super excited to go to, you know, you don’t wake up in the morning, go, Oh, my God, I’m going to my dentist the same way. You know, I’m going to a basketball game, you know, an NBA game, or I get to go to Six Flags today.

You know, it’s not like that, or even the way that you go to see like, you know, to get a massage. So I love that someone’s like, what if we made it more of a boutique experience? What if we made it more of an experience. And I think 100% If you can own the CX space, you are going to thrive CX it just means customer experience. If you can figure out how to architect, how to craft, how to fashion unique experiences for your patients, when they’re in the chair and beyond the chair 100%, You are going to win… you go to a dental office, and I think the craziest thing is because because you guys are small businesses.

It’s just the lack of systems and processes but not not just for the ability to duplicate or replicate something at high fidelity. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ability to duplicate experiences, so that every patient gets the same experience of care not not the like, how do you concierge the experience of that patient to the degree of a Ritz Carlton. How are they able to differentiate themselves from other hotel chains? It’s because they trained their staff empowered their staff to literally connect and engage with guests in a way that guests hadn’t experienced before.

Even that, what if you thought of your patients not as patients, but as guests. I mean, it’s just a different take, right? Let’s say I have a solicitor walking in my door coming to my door, let’s say I have a stranger walked into my door, let’s say I have a neighbor walk into my door, or let’s say I have a guest walking to my door, how I treat each and every one of those is, is completely different because of how I perceive them. And the way you view a customer, right? Like, it does not mean it’s aligned with the way that you view a guest.

So that, yes, this literally started as a rant because I, it’s so crazy. **It’s like you want to be different. You want to differentiate, but then you do what everybody else does. Differentiate, go for it. Like, I think you can be the leader of the pack, you can figure out what is it that you don’t like about dentistry?** I don’t like dealing with insurance, you know, how many consultants and practice management people out there that can help you get off insurance. So you can just have a fee for service practice. I know two amazing ones right now you want them? Just email me. I think what’s the best email? Just email me If you want to know right now how you can get off of insurance go fee for service. I know exactly. Two unbelievable practice management companies that can help you do that.

Why? Because that’s what it’s about. **It’s about practicing dentistry. On your terms. If there’s something you don’t like, then stop it. figure a way to look at it differently**. Great story is. So with my, my first company roots, I’m not going to say the whole Okay, fine. It’s called Root Cause I don’t even know if existent anymore online. But my dad, again for years had been selling manual toothbrushes.

And I was like, you know, I just I’m not inspired by manual toothbrushes. They don’t excite me I don’t even like the conversation with dentists about you can save 10 cents, 20 cents, whatever. So at that time, I really loved TOMS shoes. I love so many companies that I felt like we’re doing something different. You could sell shoes, you could sell performance shoes like Nike, or you could show Sell, sell shoes that really made an impact on the world. And that’s what Tom or the founder of Toms Blake was doing.

And it was just a fascinating story. **It inspired me and encouraged me it was just like, wow, I don’t have to play by the rules**. So with roots, I’m like, Okay, let’s, let’s borrow one of the ideas from Tom’s and figure out how we can help those in need. Now, my my journey in dentistry was I started getting really disillusioned. Believe it or not with dentists. I just it was difficult for me to keep seeing this, like how are you doing? I’m doing great. I’m crushing it I’m and everyone seemed like they were crushing it. But I knew that wasn’t true because I was looking at the statistics and I was seeing the suicide rates and I was seeing the depression. But it wasn’t being talked about now. This is 15 years ago. And it was just kind of discouraging that there wasn’t much vulnerability or transparency in dentistry that I was seeing. I’m not saying in certain tribes that that wasn’t happening. So back oh gosh, I don’t remember the euro. Now. I met two amazing people. Dr. Allison house at the time, she was the youngest president to serve for the Arizona Dental Association. And I met Dr. Chris Vilcek. And both of them were just so refreshing to meet people that were just real. They were completely innovative. They follow their own path and they made me appreciate and love not just dentistry, but the people of dentistry. Now Walczak, his whole story about innovation, I would love to interview him at some point for this podcast, because he literally was a square peg, what is a sweet square peg in a round hole did not fit broke the mold. Anyway, he was doing something at the time is called the CAS homeless. There’s some homeless shelter that he was doing dentistry with. And I started talking to him and I didn’t realize it cordon his words that there were third world mouths in our own neighborhoods. And that got me thinking, Well, gosh, I have a toothbrush company, can I create something with a Toms model that can really help so every single time you purchase the toothbrush or mine, you could donate a toothbrush. So one case, you bought a case you could donate one case to any charity in your neighborhood in your community. And I was like man, this just seems like it’s there’s there’s so many dentists I know that that volunteer at these community centers wouldn’t be great if their purchases could actually just help these these nonprofits. So it was I thought it was great idea. At the time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about business and I didn’t know what I didn’t know about being an entrepreneur. And I was gonna say this is definitely for another topic, but I didn’t understand what how to understand failure and I didn’t understand what true learning meant. So much of what I did for roots at that time, were decisions that I made, based off of theory, from from boardroom meetings, this isn’t going to work, this will work, this won’t work, this will work. And just pretty much went back and forth waffling. For months, while my funding was running out on what to do, instead of just doing it was I ashamed or afraid of, of embarrassing myself, pretty much was afraid of falling flat, telling the world that I was gonna try to do something and not being able to do it. And that’s why I feel uniquely qualified to be able to help you in this journey. Because I’ve gone off script. And the first time I did it, the lessons I learned were huge. And there are lessons I wish I would have learned sooner. So that’s why don’t, don’t waste three years, four years on a venture like I did with roots, with the wrong mindsets with the wrong expectation. Thinking that the first go round, you have to hit a home run. Oh my gosh, that if there’s if there’s one thing that stories like Facebook are become a disservice for for people that want to be successful is that they take the 1% of 1% of 1% of circumstances like Facebook, and go. If Zuckerberg did it, then I should be able to do something or I should be further along. And that’s just not right. So if you think like that at all, I love that you dream big, but Don’t set yourself up. So that you have to think you have to hit a homerun the first time, or else you’ll never swing at a pitch. And you’ll strike out every single time waiting for that perfect pitch. Wow, I feel like that was that was me. I had a great product. I had a great model. But I wasn’t ready to lead. I wasn’t that’s the truth of it. I was already put on my back and say this is this is where I’m going. And this is the change I’m bringing into ministry. So my encouragement to you is you. You weren’t 100% can step out and innovate on like, what I did, like learn learn from my failure, with roots. And the biggest failure with roots is that I didn’t fail quick enough. And I’m gonna save that whole lesson, failing fast failing forward being market driven for another episode. But the point remains, i i overthought, I got stuck in my head. I let bad mindsets stop me. And I don’t want that for you. I want you to be able to differentiate, I want you to be able to think differently. And yet know, like I said, there’s that whole illusion of safety. Like I talked about in the last episode. I was looking for safety. With routes, I was looking for the safe places. And the reality was there wasn’t any. So the second I like the second I stopped thinking and expecting that there’ll be safety, I could have leaned into that just knowing that I need to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and be comfortable with the uncertain I need to be comfortable with what I don’t know, Jeff Bezos, I’m pretty sure you know what that is. But in case you don’t, you know, co founder of Amazon, he’s okay making a decision based off of 70% certainty, which in other words, say that is a he’s okay with making a decision based off of 30% uncertainty. Now 30%. That’s a lot like there’s a lot of variables that could be off in 30%. Like, that’s not small, we’re not talking to 3% We’re not talking 5% Only 30% How many of us would be okay, making a decision based off of only 70% certainty? I mean, come on your clinical life, there’s no way you could be 70% effective in doing clinical dentistry, you you’d be out of business, within a month. But in business, the business mindset, the business hat, the entrepreneur had the innovative hat that we need you to do I need you to put on is one that has a completely different view on failure. And I wish I could have told myself then what I know now. And that is get out of the boardroom and get into the marketplace. Get out of the boardroom, get into the marketplace. And what does that mean? I was gonna save this for another episode, but we’re gonna hit it now. What that means 100% is stop letting theory tell you what works and what doesn’t stop thinking what you’ve read in books is true. It might be true in that area code five years ago, in those circumstances. Sure. That was that personal story was true. But it doesn’t mean it’s true for you. And the only way you find out what’s true, is by letting the marketplace say yes or no. And typically, it’s not that clear. It’s not a clear yes or no. It’s it’s good work. And then you pivot isn’t working a little bit better. And then you pivot. Oh, that wasn’t good. Okay. So then you readjust. It’s your agility your agile, you can problem solve, you can continue to change course. So failure. The only true failure is not trying the only true failure is not releasing something not shipping something not being seen. So the marketplace can say yes or no really That’s it. That’s where true failure is when you second guess when you When you become so afraid, thinking you have to hit that homerun pitch. So today, my question to you is where in your thinking, or do you still have that? Do you have that? That belief that man, I gotta hit a homerun, that you have that belief that if I fall flat, I’m a failure, my encouragement to you is fail fast and fail forward. And that’s the only way you’re gonna be able to build that, that practice of your dreams, that future of your dreams and that wealth that you’re going after.

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