#78: Transitioning Your First Associate With Dr. Staci Blaha
Transitioning your first associate can be rough. So, how do you do it as painlessly as possible? We interview Dr. Staci Blaha to find out!
A situation many dentists find themselves in
Using a financial model vs. a capacity model
How to integrate a new doctor
Training staff to accommodate a new doctor
Marketing for a new associate
Eliminating barriers with the front desk
Taking out “always” and “never”
Should you bring in someone who does the same procedures as you?
How to get patients to see the new doctor
Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by DentalWebContent.com and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.
Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome once again to another podcast. We’re so happy that you’ve joined us. And today we have another special guests, don’t we, Mark?
Mark: We do we do is Dr. Staci Blaha, is in Platte City, Missouri. Which is a, you would call it a suburb of Kansas City, wouldn’t you? Dr. Blaha?
Staci: Yes 15 miles north of Kansas City.
Mark: And the reason we brought Dr. Blaha here was because her situation or previous situation is probably shared by, I don’t know, 30 or 40,000 dentists in the country who are probably thinking about doing the same thing she just did. And we thought it would be very helpful and useful to kind of go through a chronology with Dr. Blaha. So, Staci, thank you very much for taking the time out of your day to help to help dentist.
Staci: Thank you for inviting me
Mark: Yeah. Okay, so let’s go back to Well, let’s go back to about a year and a half ago, before you ever called us. What was the reason? Why not? I mean, not specifically why you called NPI. But like, what were What were you thinking? What was your goal? What were you trying to achieve?
Staci: I knew I was trying to increase my new patient load. I, I averaged 32 to 34. It’s always 32, 33 or 34 patients a month, which is very healthy, and very healthy for my practice. But I knew I needed to bring that number up to about 44. Right. And to either expand my practice, because I was, I felt like I was getting a little stagnant in the space that I was in, or to build a new building.
Mark: Ah, ok.
Staci: When I did the numbers, it worked out when I use my average income per patient or average amount that a patient pays, right, that I needed 44 instead of 34.
Mark: So you figured that out? Not from a you didn’t figure that out? From a capacity standpoint, you figured out from a financial standpoint,
Staci: I used a financial standpoint,
Mark: okay. Okay.
Staci: I did, because I feel like you can you can change your surroundings to meet that if you have it most can change the surrounding to meet that. And then as you know, my son approached me he was in dental school, and I tried not to say too many things when he was in his four years of dental school, but when he entered his be really quiet. Did you want them to do the same thing you did?
Mark: Right, right.
Staci: You want the same thing for I want the same thing for him as I wanted for me.
Staci: Because I I love dentistry.
Staci: It’s somebody it’s the I don’t know, it has to be the best profession in the world.
Howie: Oh, we totally agree.
Mark: 100% agree. Right.
Howie: I don’t know where you can find a business with the profit margin and that the industry has its amazing schedule
Staci: and the people and the staff.
Staci: I love every hat that I wear. I love the business, I love the being the producer. I love being the technician. And, I don’t love being the it bought the guy. That’s why I needed Josh
Mark: Right, right, right, right.
Staci: Um, so Trent approached me at that point, I knew that. Because I was stuck in my space. I knew I couldn’t bring him in and make more just adding another doctor doesn’t mean you make more money.
Staci: because I was using the space that I had. And in fact, test joins me now and I’m probably making less
Staci: So I knew that my, my, my objective was going to be to increase my new patient load,
Mark: because you were actually expanding capacity because you were or anticipated bringing in additional doctor hours.
Staci: Yes, because I was very happy with my average of 32 to 34 new patients this month.
Mark: Yeah, right. Okay,
Staci: what I needed to do, I needed to bring in a few more patients.
Mark: Okay, now, have you expanded your space? Or are you just using time to
Staci: my space that I am expanding is a adjacent tenant? Moving out today?
Mark: Aw Stacey, that’s awesome.
Staci: I’m going to be in there busting walls down to the camera on Sunday.
Howie: Please, please take a picture. Please send this.
Staci: I absolutely cannot wait for that picture.
Howie: Stacey with a sledgehammer
Mark: Put her on HGTV DM
Staci: And I also put a letter of intent down on a piece of property. Wonderful, which I hope to hear from them by tomorrow. So I hope by March I’m building a new building.
Mark: We said we’re thrilled. We’re thrilled. We’re thrilled.
Staci: But 1 one thing I needed is About 1400 extra square feet to accommodate these new patients that are coming in.
Mark: Right? Well. Okay, so I’m not trying to stop you here. I just
Staci: Go ahead.
Mark: All right. Um, how is Trent? How are you integrating Trent? Because for from the education standpoint, for the people listening to this, many times, they find that it’s difficult now I understand Trent is your son. And I understand the mom son relationship and it’s never going to be broken ever. We all ended we all get that, right. But if Trent wasn’t your son, you probably be just like you said before you want him to experience what you have. Yeah, you’re probably integrating him like you would.
Staci: I try to in fact, if Trent were right here with me, but he’s at work.
Staci: Instead of sitting in the nice sunshiny day, like I am,
Mark: Right, right.
Staci: Yes. If Trent was sitting with me, he would tell me tell you that I have not treated him like a son.
Mark: Yeah, I figured I knew as much but I was wanting the audience to hear it.
Staci: Yeah. So the first thing that I did is I spoke with instructors.
Staci: Make sure that he was the person that I wanted. Um, I, I used call, you’re an associate that of Cleveland. Sure. You write the contract for me,
Staci: Trent and I traded that contract back and forth a few times before we had what we call the final working copy and turn that in and both of us signed it. Um, I did a lot of training with Trent.
Mark: Yeah, right.
Staci: Before he came on. And, and kind of strangely, Trent finished early. As his instructors told me he would write when I didn’t think he was going to be ready to go to 15. He was ready to go June 1.
Mark: Yeah, I remember. I remember that.
Staci: Yeah. So I had to I had to integrate him into the practice early. But I so back to your real question is I we did a lot of staff training to bring Trent in. Because I think there’s a lot of, there’s phone call for you have to go over again, how you want phone calls answered because your phones are ringing more than they ever have.
Staci: When you start this marketing program where phones are ringing, right? So you have to have people answering the phone that know what they’re doing.
Mark: Thank you.
Howie: It’s critical.
Staci: It’s the most critical thing there is
Howie: That’s right.
Staci: And if you don’t mind me expanding a little bit.
Mark: No, no, no, no, no goes, dude, we’re just gonna, we’re gonna let you go. Go ahead.
Staci: Okay, so you have eliminate, you have to eliminate barriers. So your, your wonderful people, as we like to call the front desk up front. Hey, have to understand that a patient won’t wait two weeks to come in. Yeah, they will. If they say I can wait two or three weeks, but they, but they won’t show on you. If you schedule them out two or three weeks, a lot of times they’ll find someone who will see them quicker.
Mark: Yep, that’s the magic number is eight work days Staci.
Staci: That’s right.
Mark: That’s the magic word.
Staci: In that’s what my practice does, too. I say five to seven days. So we work pretty diligently on how to get that patient on the phone in. Lots of I have, we have lots of ways that we do that. But that’s the goal is to get that patient in. We try to eliminate words like never. And always, when we’re talking to the patients on the phone, like oh, we always schedule you for an hour and a half. Because I don’t know, we don’t always sometimes we don’t have an hour and a half. But sometimes we have an hour. So we’re going to get them in and maybe we’re going to get a full mouth series of X rays. And we’re going to get an exam but we tell the patient what’s going to happen during that time.
Mark: Yeah, right.
Staci: So that the patient isn’t disappointed or unhappy with what they scheduled.
Mark: Well, and honestly, they’re not sitting there considering what the hell they’re going to do in a chair for 90 minutes.
Staci: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Which is what they do when you tell them they’re no idea.
Mark: What the hell you to do for to me for 90 minutes.
Staci: Yeah, the thing is, your office can’t be closed every afternoon.
Staci: Because your phone is gonna ring, right. So if you’re not there, you still have to have staff there answering the phone. five days a week. I mean,
Mark: or atleast have it forwarded, right?
Staci: Or at least have them forwarded it to where someone is someone needs to answer the phone.
Staci: Because if you don’t answer during working hours, what a patient would consider working hours, which to me is about eight to five. They’re going they’re calling somewhere else.
Howie: That’s right.
Staci: Or they’re getting online and scheduling with someone else.
Mark: Yeah, I looked at your I looked at your platform since July, and there’s been 76 people that booked online and 93% of them are new.
Staci: Yes. And say they don’t cancel.
Mark: No, I know. I know. People dentists are like No way. They’re going to cancel all their appointments. And I’m like, No, they don’t they actually like it.
Staci: And they show up.
Mark: I know. I know, Staci, you I know. I know. We’re speaking. We’re preaching to the choir. You know what I feel like right now. I
Staci: I never believe that.
Mark: I feel like I’m in a Baptist Church.
Howie: Hallelujah. You’re singing right?
Mark: Yeah, no
Staci: Oh, my gosh, I think I had two today.
Mark: Did you really?
Staci: They schedule they show up. But there’s even one more thing they do. They know where their insurance card is.
Staci: It asked them on their what insurance they have. So they have to look it up.
Mark: I know it’s you know, it’s amazing
Staci: They’re more educated than the person just calling to schedule an appointment. Who has to call you back?
Howie: They’re more prepared for sure.
Staci: I can’t believe it.
Mark: No, I know. It is absolutely you know, without it, we couldn’t have disclosed that many new patients out of your market, right. So whatever I when you said it best really Stacey, when you said remove the barriers. That’s one of the barriers. Right? Remove them all. You know what I mean?
Howie: This would be a good time. We’re going to take a short break. Don’t go away. Stay seated and our audience Don’t go away. We will be right back.
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Howie: Alright, we are back now with our good friend and plant Dr. Staci Blaha, continue to your marvelous story. Wow. Are you if you wouldn’t mind when you when you brought your son in? Did you? Did you have an eye toward having him do or provide certain things that you didn’t necessarily want to do or provide? Are you know what I’m saying?
Staci: Like I did not? Because no one did that for me.
Howie: Aha. Okay
Staci: Um, number 1
Mark: well, this is for you.
Staci: Yeah, once again, I wanted to love dentistry.
Mark: Yeah, right.
Staci: Um, and I want him to develop his skills and techniques. Um, you know what? He’s really good.
Mark: Well, that’s
Staci: I mean. He’s, he’s really good. I mean, I would say that if he wasn’t my son, I would have thought I just hit the lucky jackpot because his inspectors told me In fact, two of his instructors told me if I didn’t take him they were going to.
Mark: Well, that must have made you proud, right?
Howie: Yeah, that’s great.
Staci: He’s ready. He’s doing, he’s doing occlusion. He had an occlusion teacher that kind of took a liking to him and took him alongside and worked with him a little bit. But he is doing the full case veneers. He’s doing interiors. He’s doing dentures partials. But a lot of that I think, too, is my staff. I think my staff is very well trained. Right? When they don’t let him shy away from anything either. But no, I I don’t know. I love everything.
Mark: Well, let me most of most dentists, donors who are looking to bring on an associate many of them, I’m not going to say most but I’m going to say at least half come to us and they say mark, you know what, if I do another to surface composite, I’m going to drive a pencil in my ear. Right? Okay. So I want to start doing some of the fun dentistry. Okay, want to do some sexy dentistry, I want to add implants, I want to add sleep apnea, I want to add something, whatever, okay, they come to us, or I want to do more Invisalign, or what you know, they come to us kind of bored, right? Now, the normal drill and fill,
Staci: enter. So you have to have the marketing for that.
Mark: Well, and you know, the associate is diamond, they’re getting they’re there. That’s where they get their speed. Exactly. That’s where they get their, you know, their skills, that’s where they get their variations. That’s where they get, you know, the thirst for knowledge for different materials, and, and all that other stuff. So, normally, it works out fairly well. It’s interesting that this kind of really fit. Um, I have a question for you. One of the challenges that people have when they’re bringing on an associate is existing patients don’t want to see them. Right? How did you guys solve that? I’m sure something the new patients help solve some of it. But how did you? How did that get solved with your existing patients?
Staci: Well, I am, I’m still continuing to see my caseload and I do my I do all of my, my own hygiene examinations. Okay, I guess when a patient calls if they want a time that I’m not there, which right now is afternoons because I’m letting Trent have the multiple chairs in the afternoons. Okay. Because he works late. I work the early. He works the lates, we tried to expand our real estate a little bit that way.
Mark: No, that’s how you do it when you’re when you’re squash for space that’s how you do it.
Staci: Yep, open longer. Yep.
They ask. They just asked ,they, we call him Dr. Trent and I’m Dr. Blah. And they just asked the patient know, Dr. Trent is here Dr. Blah, won’t be here. You know, would it be okay. And I’ve had a few say no.
Mark: Yeah, right.
Staci: But most of them. Most of them are fine with it. Okay.
Mark: Yeah. So sometimes it could be just,
Staci: You know,
Mark: You’re more of a concern than a reality. Sometimes, I guess,
Staci: Yes, it’s more of a concern than a reality. And you have to Now granted, I can look at a schedule, and I can tell you which patients aren’t going to like it.
Mark: Right, right, right! But you’re not up at the front answering the phones.
Staci: So I just tell them, you know, or there’s been a day where I’ve gone back in an afternoon and then a couple of exams, right? Because I knew it wasn’t, you know, about two miles from my house. So, okay, I can make that happen. But people just want to know in advance. And then if they don’t like it, they’ll reschedule or I don’t know, we just haven’t had that. It’s more of a doctor. It’s more of a doctor issue than a true issue. I think we maybe even a personality issue that we have
Mark: the live I’ve heard it. I’ve heard it from docs, and I’ve heard it from office managers who would that I’ve heard the concern and normally,
Staci: Yeah, I do. I do have the occasional parent who wants me to see the child just because they have heard from other people. You know that? I see kids and they feel more comfortable with me. You know, maybe because I’m, I’m not even faster. I think I think he’s faster than I am.
Mark: No Staci. You know, you’re female. Yeah, don’t get me nuts. Yeah.
Staci: So we have such a nap. Otherwise, just not. And you know what? Here’s the other thing, though. People don’t want to say anything bad about my son. Right?
Mark: We’re not seeing anything bad online. Your
Staci: patient isn’t going to come tell me they don’t like my son.
Mark: No, that’s true.
Howie: That’s true. Otherwise, you throw them out, right.
Staci: Although, which would be fine with me. Right?
Mark: Yeah. Yeah, they don’t
Staci: Have any problem with that. I we honestly, when we’re at the office, we are not mom and son. We are a professional team.
Mark: No. And that’s the way it that’s the way it is with, with owners and associates who aren’t, you know, mother and son. I mean,
Staci: We are. In fact, I don’t even think I had one mom moment. When he, maybe his first week with me. I saw him in there working and talking to a young woman who was scared to death. And I saw such compassion. And I had those little tears well up, and then I went, Nope, I’m done. That’s it. Have my mom moment. And I walked into the office the other day, and he was standing at the front desk talking to the ladies. And he said, Hey, Mom, and I looked at him, and I said, That’s Dr. Blaha to you.
Mark: There you go.
Staci: And because the staff needs to see that too, but doctors just need to know that if we tell our patients in advance our patients are if they trusted us to come into us. They’re going to trust the people we chose to be
Mark: sure. Yeah. So your next move is to blow out the walls. This is like this weekend into now do you own that space? Or do you lease it?
Staci: I’m leasing the space. I’ve been there almost 20 years.
Mark: Okay. And you’re putting a deposit on some land?
Mark: So your ultimate objective is to..
Staci: Own the building.
Mark: Is to build the building own and then give this back to whoever you’re leasing it from?
Mark: So in the end, in the end, in your mind’s eye five years from now, we do this with all of our clients, by the way. Okay, we try to do this once a year anyway, in five years, if you close your eyes after at least you know, one glass of wine not to just one. Um, where do you see yourself? Where What do you Where do you see the practice five years from now paint me paint me a picture.
Staci: Where do I see the practice in terms of
Mark: how many dentists?
Staci: Oh, in five years? I hope it’s still just Trent and I
Staci: I do have a I am looking for maybe an endodontist to spend some time in my practice. Okay.
Mark: Maybe a specialist or two maybe a periodontist as well. I don’t know, if you place your own impact,
Staci: looking for an orthodontist to come in and
Mark: there you go
Staci: and spend three or four days in the practice? So I see some specialties
Mark: Coming by, right. So I’m going to give you some free advice. If you’re going to have an orthodontist anywhere near that practice. Make sure you plan for that in your parking.
Staci: Yes, I do know that because I have a pediatric doctor in the building that I’m at now.
Mark: Exactly, right. And you can’t park right. So now I know that. Yeah. And same thing with your reception area.
Staci: Yes. It’s actually right. That’s what I’m hoping to do is I’m building a 10,000 square foot building.
Mark: Yes. See, okay.
Staci: I’m going to take six or seven of it. And I’m going to add the other part is going to be for my specialists.
Mark: Okay, perfect.
Staci: I’m not I’m not going to share my space with them.
Mark: Okay. All right. But it’s all going to be under your umbrella.
Mark: And it’s just great story. I knew you’re gonna be you and Trent feeding this.
Staci: Me and Trent. Yeah.
Mark: Okay. Well, if we can be any part of
Staci: and your help.
Mark: I know, I know. But it seems to me to us, it’s like, we’re a small piece of the whole vision, right? I mean, we’re important piece. But we’re a small, you know, this is a great story. This is a mom and a son and, you know, professional development and, and, and wealth bill. I mean, it’s just a wonderful story. And that’s, you know, so here’s, here’s the bottom line to the audience out there, you can be an owner and get your practice to capacity and then plan for it properly, and then do your marketing properly, and then expand without, you know, to offer many headaches, you don’t have to have your son or your daughter come into practice with you.
Although obviously, it kind of helps to have those mom or dad moments. And, you know, if you like what you do, and you want to continue doing it, I mean, basically, the sky’s the limit. I mean, if you have the market, and you have the right, the right patients coming in. I don’t want to say it’s I’m not I’m not going to say it’s predictable, but I’m going to say it’s
Staci: Definitely predictable.
Mark: It’s definitely doable. Right?
Mark: I mean, if you do it right, it’s doable. So, you know,
Staci: I don’t know if you looked at my information, but you know, I’m in a town of approximately 4000 people,
Staci: And there’s five or six dentists in town.
Mark: Yeah, I know.
Staci: My it’s not that easy, right. With the marketing it certainly makes a difference.
Mark: Yep. And hopefully will, will make the area impenetrable. So that we can right yeah, so we can just keep growing this thing. So the in five years we’re having another podcast and I asked you the same question Hey, and five. Where do you want to be? Right? Maybe you’ll be Stacey thank you very much for sharing this I it’s the lessons are invaluable to someone who’s maybe in solo practice, thinking about where they want to go, how they’re going to get there, and maybe stuck. There’s lots of dentists out there who are stuck in and your enthusiasm.
Staci: Don’t get stuck in a rut
Mark: Don’t get stuck in a rut. Stacey, thank
Staci: thank you so much
Mark: thank you so much for being on here.
Howie: Yes, thank you, Staci. And thank you out there and audience land. We look forward to seeing you once again here soon. Bye now.