Episode 605: Getting Real: Acquiring a Practice

practice acquisition Nov 22, 2022

 Dr. Jenny Perna is once again on the podcast! With Kiera, she gets detailed into the realities of acquiring a new practice, and all the miles that come with it. They touch on the following:

  • Working with banks during a sale, and how to supplement income

  • Conversations with the seller during the transition

  • Communicating with parents that the quality of service will stay the same (or improve!)

  • Getting the team to become raving fans

  • Making culture the best it can be (consider Culture Index or VIVAHR to help)

There are many ways to go about the craft of dentistry. This episode gives a great look into a great way to go about things from a leadership perspective. 

Episode resources:

Follow Dr. Perna on Instagram

Listen to episode 481, Finding Positivity in the COVID Crank

Listen to episode 388, 3 Tips to Be a Rockstar Associate

Listen to episode 320, Plans Derailed? Here’s What to Do.

Reach out to Kiera

Subscribe to the Dental A-Team podcast 

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0:00:05.9 Kiera Dent: Hey everyone, welcome to The Dental A Team Podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent, and I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants where we have traveled over 165 different offices coaching teams. Yep, we don't just understand you, we are you.

0:00:34.3 KD: Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress, and create A team.

0:00:45.8 KD: Welcome to The Dental A Team Podcast.


0:00:53.1 KD: Hello The Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera, and you guys, I am so pumped. It has been far too long. I mean, this girl has gotten married, she's moved, they've opened a practice. There is so much goodness here. I am so excited to welcome back Dr. Jenny Perna. If you guys missed my episodes with her before, be sure to go listen. We have done this quite a few times and she is just a dear friend to me, somebody I admire, someone who is just running this world with me in the dental world. She's brilliant guys. So welcome to the show, Jenny. How are you today?

0:01:21.1 Dr. Jenny Perna: I'm so good. Thank you for having me again. It's always a pleasure. I think I say this every time. It's always a pleasure talking to you. I think I could talk to you for hours, but yes, it doesn't even feel like it's been that long since I've talked to you yet. So much life has happened in between. [laughter]

0:01:34.2 KD: Right. I know. I was like, wait, last time I talked to you, you were in Texas and now you're in Florida and you guys bought a practice and you're married.

0:01:42.8 DP: No.

0:01:43.2 KD: If you don't know, Jenny is a Yogi dentist on Instagram. So go check her out. That's how we actually met. I was just saying hello to people and then we became just really good friends. And it's been a really fun journey. But Jenny, I'm so jazzed. You and your husband, both dentists, if you guys missed it, Jenny, the first podcast I think we ever recorded was when Life Plans Don't Go As Planned and you were planning to buy a practice and we had talked about... I even coached you. We had a whole plan. You were getting ready to buy this practice. It didn't work out. And so tell us kind of where you guys are now. You guys just actually bought a practice. So I'm so excited to hear from that episode to today. Where are you guys off?

0:02:23.3 DP: I know. And the crazy thing is the time between those episodes.

0:02:27.0 KD: Right. Not very long guys. [laughter]

0:02:28.4 DP: So if you guys haven't... Not very long. If you guys haven't listened to that episode, we basically podcasted because I had a practice acquisition and that fell through. I was buying a general dentistry practice in Florida. So there were plans to try and get back to Florida. Both my husband and I are from Florida. We loved Austin, Texas. If you know the right opportunity, kind of like came around and we dabbled in that idea, but our roots are back in Florida. So we podcasted on that and that itself, I think what a lot of people don't know is the practice acquisition journey can be a very long journey. You don't just like one day wake up and say, "Okay, I want to buy a practice." And then the perfect practice comes along and then everything's smooth-sailing and you close on the practice like a week later. [chuckle]

0:03:13.7 DP: It can be way, way, way more drawn out than that. And for me on that first acquisition, that didn't end up happening, COVID started... Happened between that. So that derailed a lot of plans. So that was back... I probably started that process back in 2019. The practice fell through December of 2020. And then we ended up moving back to Florida in April, May of 2022. So this year, so that's many years in the making.

0:03:48.6 KD: That's a year and a half. Not that long.

0:03:51.0 DP: Yeah. No. Well, it feels long to finally, [laughter] looking back on the journey to finally get one under our belt. It's like, "Oh my gosh, all of the steps that got us to here." But yes, my husband's an orthodontist. I'm a general dentist. I like a lot of focus on cosmetics and we have acquired an orthodontic practice in Stuart, Florida. It's in downtown Stuart, really, really cute space, legacy practice. And yeah, it's really exciting to finally put all those ideas that we've had stewing in our mind for years and years into actual realization.

0:04:28.5 KD: For sure. And that's actually why Jenny and I decided we wanted to podcast today is because we wanted to talk about how this is going to be actually of what does it look like to actually acquire a practice? But Jenny, I actually have a question and one thing I love about you is you don't filter things. People know on the podcast, I'm very real. Do you wish that you would have bought a practice back when you were originally in contract or are you grateful for the time in between? Like, do you feel it was a perfect plan? 'Cause we all hear like, "Everything's perfect and timing's perfect and just trust the process." But do you feel that way today? I should probably ask you've been in this practice for how many months 'cause maybe you're still shifting through [chuckle] that process.

0:05:11.4 DP: We officially acquired the practice in July. So it's been about a few months of ownership within the practice.

0:05:19.5 KD: And I say the first three months of ownership were my least favorite. Like I call it, you're drinking from a firehose. I call it the three months shakeout for sure. Almost up to six months. But how was that for you? Do you feel like it was perfect timing for you guys? Or do you feel like, "No, we were ready and I wish we would have bought it." Of course we can't know. I believe that life truly is perfect, but how was it from your side? Do you feel like it was perfect? Are you glad it was a year and a half later or what's kind of your take on that?

0:05:46.0 DP: I think there's a couple of things in play there. I think one, when I look back at it, do I believe that we were ready to own a practice? Yes. I think that whether we truly were ready or not, you rise to the challenges that are presented. So I'm sure we would have gone into it. We would have succeeded at a lot of things. We would have failed at a lot of things. It would have all been like a learning curve. But I also look back at the fact that it gave us more time in Austin. And I think it was really crucial for us just as humans outside of dentistry to enjoy more time in a city that we absolutely love. So it gave us time that now we can look back at Austin and say, "We did it." You know, we went out there, we had a great time. We had great jobs out there and we were able to experience that before, like life really hits you, even though we were both working professionals out there. So when I look back at it, I don't harp on it that we didn't get that practice.

0:06:45.2 DP: I don't really think about it. I just think my life had a different trajectory and I'm perfectly okay with the trajectory that it went. And I think something that I personally struggled with and I've learned to adapt to or kinda work through, is the idea of like, what's the right decision? And it was hard when you're living in a different state and you're looking to acquire a practice when you're not there day in and day out. You can't go easily visit the practice. You can't see the in and out workings like every single day, you have to schedule time to go out there. And if anyone's acquired a practice or look to acquire practice, there's a level of like secrecy that's involved where the selling doc maybe hasn't told the team yet that they're selling or patients definitely don't know. And so it creates this barrier to really knowing the practice that you're about to purchase. And for me, while we were sitting in Austin, especially with that first acquisition was like, is this the right decision for me? And what I've learned to work through is that in life, there's really actually no real right decisions.

0:07:54.9 DP: I mean, there are some things that are black and white, but it's really just decisions and consequences and you have those decisions and there's going to be consequences and you learn to work through them and every single thing's going to have like a learning experience.

0:08:09.9 KD: I love it. And I love that you talked about it because I feel like so many listeners, we've got quite a few new grads, we've got quite a few, I will say wise dentists out there that have had their practices for a while, but yet I feel we get so frustrated as type A high-achieving people of when life doesn't go exactly the way we wanted. And so I really love that you said like, there is no right or wrong. And I tell people this all the time. When I'm coaching them on buying their first practice, I'm like, "There really is no perfect practice. Do your due diligence, make sure it's not a junk practice. Make sure you know what you're getting into and that you can truly sustain it." But like you've said, I think there are just decisions.

0:08:48.5 KD: I don't think... I almost feel like it's a corn maze and there's like a 100 different ways to get out of it. It's just which are you going to go left or right at this fork? Are you going to buy this practice? Are you going to wait? And then like you said, we make life and we create life and we're creators of our lives rather than managers of that circumstance. But I think that that's a much higher level of learning. I remember on not that original podcast, but another one we did, you said you meditated like 30 minutes in silence in the mornings. I remember this because I've thought like, "How did she sit there for that long?" [laughter] But I've often wondered if maybe you do a lot of mind-training as well so that way, no matter what decisions are happening, you see it as benefiting you. That is a decision with the consequences and then making life beautiful, no matter what you choose. Do you agree? Like I feel... Or maybe you're just a special breed, Jenny, but I feel like you truly do train yourself to accept life, to be this way rather than just filling victim to the circumstances around you.

0:09:48.4 DP: I think I 100% have trained myself, because I'm the type of person that I can really get decision fatigue where I just ruminate over a decision. And I have to remind myself that an indecision is a decision. Like if I'm not deciding, that's a decision. And it is something that doesn't come naturally to me. It's interesting when it's in my personal life. I don't make decisions like that, like off the bat. If it's with a patient, it's with ease because I feel very comfortable in that space. But when you're trying to make a decision that has a lot of unknowns, it presents a lot of worry or what ifs and, "What if I'm making the wrong decision?" So I think you're right. I've trained myself to get out of my own way, like, "Get out of your own way, get out of your head, just make a decision. You are like the narrator of your own story and you'll figure it out. You've had peaks and valleys, things have gone your way, things haven't gone your way and you find your way through all of it." So like this, especially speaking of like practice ownership, you'll figure it out. There's going to be great moments. There's going to be moments that aren't as great and you just keep working towards your goals.

0:10:57.3 KD: I love it. So let's actually get into the nitty gritty of practice acquisition. That's what we decided we wanted to chat about today of how has it been? Things that you wish you would have known, things that you've done well. I don't care where you choose to take this because I feel like this is... I just love podcasting with you because I know we're going to get into the nitty gritties of like all... It's like dentistry behind the scenes. [chuckle] I'm like what I wish I would have known. So just kind of walk us through your experience. I understand that this is your husband's practice, but you're obviously attached to it. I know we were talking pre-show of how guys, I think you should all weigh in. You can either do it on her Instagram page. You can do it on ours. You can email me [email protected] I told Jenny, I think she's cut from the cloth of a startup practice, but she's still toying with acquisitions. So let's just talk about how this acquisition has been for you and Vince and how... I don't care, again, take it wherever you want to go. I'm just excited to hear about the acquisition and what listeners can learn from.

0:12:00.4 DP: Well, I think it's interesting when you think of like an acquisition versus a startup, if you asked a 100 different people, everyone would have like a different answer for a different reason. And it really comes down to where you want to be uncomfortable because you're going to be uncomfortable either way.

0:12:14.9 KD: For sure.

0:12:15.0 DP: Business ownership is being uncomfortable. You're not guaranteed your X percentage, with all the patients or your daily men, like that goes out the window, right?

0:12:24.3 KD: Totally.

0:12:25.4 DP: Like you now own a business that yes, we are providing top-notch, excellent dental care, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to turn on the lights, feed your team, make everyone happy, make patients happy. It's a whole different ball game. So the acquisition route, the beauty of it is that you're looking at, you already have cashflow, right? There's already patients that are coming in that are loyal to the practice and there's going to be a cashflow numbers. And that's coming down to hiring a CPA and someone on your team to be able, sometimes brokers will do this as well. They'll evaluate the practice. They'll look at all of the P&L, the profit and loss for the past few years, the breakdown of everything and what they expect your take-home to be after debt service with the bank. Now, the other part, but the pain points of an acquisition, and we've seen it within this acquisition, is that you are acquiring someone else's baby. It's a practice that they've had for however long. And it could be a 30-year baby. And we all know this as people, as humans, there's things that we probably all do in our lives that have inefficiencies or just can be done better. Well, this practice has maybe survived on that, [chuckle] or maybe it hasn't.

0:13:42.6 DP: Maybe you find a practice that is like a well-oiled machine. It's cash-flowing a lot. It has a lot of top line revenue. Well, then you're going to be paying top dollar for those, because they're going to be a higher value practice. On the flip side, when you look at a startup and I have a lot of friends that have done both and they've spoken to them and my friends that have gone to startup were out, the pain point there is you don't have cash flow.

0:14:08.0 DP: So you're taking out a huge loan from the bank. You get to build it how you want to down to where the light switches are, down to where the outlets are and you get to start kind of fresh in that space. But you're not going to have cash flow. And you're going to have that pain point of trying to get patients in the door and trying to rev up your revenue there. And in that case, the smartest thing to do, and banks are probably going to require this for lending is you need to have another job. And so you have to have something to supplement that income. So when you're looking at both of those, it really just depends again, where you want your pain points to be. You're not going to avoid it, neither are going to be easy. And each is going to come with their challenges, but speaking to what we've experienced in doing the acquisition, I think one major thing, even going back to prior to signing the documents, the day the office is yours is getting to know the seller, especially if the seller is staying on.

0:15:09.8 DP: And that's something that, this is nothing negative against any sellers, but the truth is, is again, this has been their baby for years and years and years. And it doesn't matter if the baby's been wearing green all this time and you want the baby to wear blue. Like they're not going to maybe love that. [chuckle] It's the minor little changes that can kind of like, irk them and just really getting to know the seller and knowing what their expectations are and having those honest conversations and telling them like, "I need you on my team." There's going to be changes. And I know some of them might be uncomfortable, but I promise you that every single change I make is for the betterment of the team, for the betterment of the patient care, for the betterment of the office as we move forward and grow. And so that's just one of the most important things, especially if the seller's staying on, and working as your associate. [chuckle]

0:16:05.8 KD: Those are always interesting to me. I'm like, okay, just imagine like, let's put it into layman's term, how would you feel if you've been living in your house and then Jenny, I just decided to come into your house and I'm going to tell you like where we're moving the furniture and how we're going to cook food, and you're not sleeping in that bedroom anymore? You're actually sleeping down the hall. That bedroom needs to be converted into a guest wing. You'd feel real uncomfortable or maybe you're super-awesome and you're like, "Absolutely, come on in," whatever it is. And so I really feel like for sellers who want to stay on making sure those conversations are had of...

0:16:40.2 KD: I think that they conceptually understand that these things will change, but the reality of heartstrings, are they truly prepared? And I have actually seen sellers. I've got one in Maui actually, and shout out to that practice. He is one of the most incredible sellers and he just wants these two doctors to truly flourish. He's there. And he actually pushes them along. He's like, "You guys are not diagnosing enough and you need to do better on this," but truly does not get in their way. Whatever they want to do, whatever changes they want to make, he's on board with it. But I will say I've seen a lot more sellers, not like him, where they truly do still want to run the team and be the boss and tell you how to run it. But yet, you as the owner have all the bills to pay and the way they're running it wasn't necessarily maybe the most profitable, the most efficient. And also the way they were running it before, they didn't have this ginormous debt on them that this owner now has, therefore changes have to be made. So how has it been? What things have you guys learned, Jenny? I'm excited to hear it because that's always the most exciting.

0:17:45.1 DP: Of course.

0:17:46.4 KD: I'm always like, "Guys, if you can just get it in your contract, unless it's a fee for service practice, I'm always pro sellers be gone. Like high five, hug them, tell them they're amazing. You can pay them their AR. There's a lot of things you can do. You can tell them their family can still come for free dentistry. But if there's any way to vacate that seller, I think it usually transitions easier and cleaner unless again, like I said, it's fee-for-service, then I think there's a lot of value in maintaining just so you can keep them for credibility sake.

0:18:16.8 DP: I agree, and I think that's a good message for anyone listening that's considered selling their practice, is please deep dive into your soul to know what you can handle post transition. Because I think what happens later, which is great, there's a lot of sellers that are like, "Okay, I know that I want to stop being a chairside dentist by like this day," and they know they need to plan in advance. So they bring on someone, they sell the practice, but they still want to work part-time, which is fine. However, you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, like it's no longer your baby. And so I beg anyone listening, please, please understand that. Now I will say like with our transition, the seller has been really great at transitioning things, talking up us in the community. This is the very... Now it's orthodontics, but it is more aligned with that, like fee-for-service kind of model where they file for insurance, but it's... Specialties are a little different because he's like, they don't have necessarily like negotiated fees like you'll see more so in general dentistry, but people go to this orthodontist because of who he is and who he is in the community.

0:19:28.8 KD: Sure.

0:19:31.0 DP: And he's built a wonderful practice built with a beautiful reputation for 30 years. So the transition was really important for him to help instill the trust in my husband and part of that is me being present in the office when I can and just going in there and saying hi to people and making conversations and introducing myself as his wife. And I applaud the seller as well. Now, my husband started there back in May, took over the practice in July and now the seller is transitioning out of the practice. And I give him kudos because his plan was always to transition out after a period, but he was very self-reflective once the practice was sold, that he said, "You know what, I think that what he... That you guys are doing a great job. Everything you're doing is great. I just... I wanna exit out so I don't get in your way."

0:20:29.1 DP: And so, with seeing our way or not, we're gonna make those necessary changes regardless, but I think it was a wonderful moment for him to realize that, so that way he doesn't go crazy, he doesn't go crazy in this whole process. So I applaud him for that. With the patients, it's a mixed bag. There's some patients that are really sad. There's some patients that are really happy for him. That's just gonna be normal. And I would say the vast majority of patients are happy for him. They're not... Our patients aren't dumb. As people get older, they expect that someday you're gonna stop doing dentistry.

0:21:11.0 KD: Right.

0:21:11.3 DP: And so they all kind of knew at some point he would step away from the practice and transition it to someone else. And what we hear most people say is like, "Thank you, you were such a big part of our community and we hope you enjoy retirement." And that's been the general sentiment. But of course there's gonna be a few that are concerned and I think the most important thing there is approaching it head-on and my husband's been doing that and meeting the patients and talking with them and going over any concerns and reiterating the fact that the quality of care will never suffer. We are gonna up-stand the same amount of care that you've known for years and it's gonna... Everyone's going to be treated the same, if not better throughout the years.


0:22:00.4 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera and you guys, how was your 2022? I want you to look back and tell me, was it the year of years, or was it a really hard year? Did you crush it or did it crush you? This is the time, guys for end of year, Dental A Platinum is welcoming you, where we will physically fly to your practice. We will come and we will elevate your dreams and make them into a reality. And guys, space is limited and prices are going up. This is not a sales pitch. This is not something where I'm trying to scare you into it. I'm just facing the reality of inflation is here, flights are expensive and I want to see as many people as we possibly can and serve as many as we can.

0:22:44.3 KD: So if you wanna be part of our elite group of people, there are limited spaces 'cause our consultants can only see as many, we are taking on 10 new platinum offices by the end of the year and that's it. That's all we have space for. So if you want to be one of the elite 10, come join us, be a part of our top notch elite doctor community, be a part of our office manager and hygiene and front office communities, get your operations manual done and live the life that you've only been dreaming of today.

0:23:14.0 KD: Email me [email protected] and make 2023 truly a year that's unforgettable. We are a complete tax write-off. And like I said, we are only taking 10 offices. So don't get left behind. Be one of those 10. And I cannot wait to give you the biggest warmest welcome to completely and utterly changing your life for good. Welcome to the Dental A Team. I can't wait for you to join us. [email protected] Cheers to 2023 and making you your best self yet.


0:23:48.0 KD: I think that's a really key point also as you're buying the practice, is realizing you've got six months of new patients and you've got to song and dance them and really just be gentle and coddling and realize, guys, dentistry is weird and I just wanna paint a picture, no stranger on the street would you ever allow to go put their fingers in your mouth. You would never ever. I mean at dinner at a restaurant, you would not allow the waiter or waitress to be like, "Let me just take a look back there. Let me see a number 30." It's weird. It is a complete weird spot. And so to realize that, well yes, you as the buyer are super excited, this is your practice, these patients don't know you, you are a stranger to them. And so I think you guys have done a good job of realizing, like whenever you transition, I tell everyone it's a six-month shakeout and you really... It's new patients, it's coddling, it's reassuring them that you're doing a great job and really you are on display because patients talk.

0:24:46.0 KD: And so making sure that your first impressions and your work is really fantastic especially in those first six months because that's when patients are really assessing, do they wanna keep coming to you? The answer is it's way easier to keep coming to you, so most of them just by convenience will want to stay coming to you. But at the same time, are you a dentist that also is reputable that they like you, that you're similar to who they've been coming to? You can still be your own style and flair, but I really feel you guys did a great job of recognizing that and helping other people who are buying realize you do have that time period where you are being assessed every patient every day all the time, and then it will get easier, you'll build that patient base up and they'll love you for you. But for that first transition time, it is crucial to really coddle those patients and make sure they know they're being taken care of.

0:25:36.5 DP: It's so true and they have to trust us. Like you said, we're performing a skill on them that they have no idea if we know what we're doing, [chuckle] as new people in their face. And a lot of that comes down to, yes, the transitioning doctor, but also the team and who supports you. 'Cause you have to remember, like you said, it's much easier for them to continue coming to see you because not only do they know the doctor of that practice, they know the person who works in the front, they know the hygienist that cleans their teeth every six months, they know the assistant, they know where the bathroom is in the office. They... A lot of people enjoy consistency. And so if they're going to leave your practice, they're gonna have to find a whole new team. It's a whole new family rather than just like substituting in one person. So really getting the team onboard too and I think transitioning the team smartly as well so that that they trust you and they can convey that as well to your patients I think is crucial.

0:26:33.4 KD: What are some of the things you've done on the team side? Because agreed, if the team doesn't have your back, I tell everyone, I'm like "Go in and get that team to be raving fans," but also there's the caveat of sometimes it's hard to transition and have this team because they might wanna do it the old way, they might not want to be onboard with new doctors. So what are some of the tips or things that you guys have found, Jenny, for this team transition?

0:26:56.9 DP: I think when I look at a team, there's a few things that I think of that can help with it and one is that your team always wants to feel safe. So the day that you show up and you say "I'm the new owner," depending on, again, we talked about how like there's an element of secrecy, now this practice that we transitioned, no one knew anything until literally the day that we were the owners. And Vince and I were there, my husband's name is Vince, and we were in morning huddle and we were telling the team. And so not all doctors or transitions are gonna go that way. Some doctors will do it ahead of time and really kind of preempt with their team. So that's all gonna be different.

0:27:32.8 KD: I will say most though are the second, like what you guys had. And it's because guys, your team is a huge value asset of what is being purchased. So if the doctor tips them off, it loses the value of the practice and the new owners don't have the value of the practice. So it's very common. But to your point, that gets really exciting. I was a team member who got bought, like our practice got sold and bought and I was like, "What the... This feels weird and I'm supposed to be cool and it's Monday morning huddle, like hello. I don't even know if I have a job at the end of the day."

0:28:05.8 DP: Right. And so the very first thing that we told the team in the huddle was, "You... " And this is a personal choice of how you wanna handle it but we said "You all have your jobs. No one's getting fired in this morning huddle on a Monday morning. [laughter] We're gonna... Everyone is safe." And we planned separate lunches with each team member to sit down and talk to them just one-on-one. "How has your employment been here? Are you happy? Where are things that you think that you can improve on? What are things that you are looking to do?" Just getting to know them. My husband was there for months before, so we had the opportunity to get to know them so it wasn't like a brand new stranger coming in. But I think it was just really good and reassuring for them to know of like, "We are here for you. There will be changes. We're gonna roll them out slowly, like you're not gonna show up tomorrow and it's a whole new building and we're doing things radically different." And the team took it really well and they have been amazing in the transition and they... The way that we describe them is it's...

0:29:08.8 DP: They're our team. So in a weird sense... I feel lucky in that sense. They are fully onboard and I think part of that also comes down to culture and cultivating the culture that you're looking for. Now, we didn't have, and we're lucky in a sense here, there weren't any bad seeds on the team. And so we didn't walk into a team where there was like this toxic person that's been there for years. But I would say if we did, we'd probably let them go because team culture is so important to us. And prior to even acquiring the practice, we were interviewing. So we have a mentality of always be hiring, always be looking. Our plan in our careers is growth. And so we wanna be able to grow the practice and that's gonna take more manpower. So we're always looking. And so if there was a bad seed, I would try to have a stockpile of resumes or people I've spoken to that can maybe come in that fit our culture better, that would get along with everyone better and to not be afraid by that because you'll get kind of chokehold if there is someone on the team who's resisting the transition and they're just causing a lot of issues.

0:30:23.4 DP: And I've heard this time and time again from friends when they've had someone in a practice that they know they maybe should have let go of, that once they do it, they're like "Oh my gosh, [laughter] I didn't realize exactly what was happening in our practice until we transitioned them out." So getting that team onboard and cultivating a culture around what you're really looking for with your core values I think is so, so crucial and that's something that we're very big on. I'm very, very big on culture, team happiness, teamwork and that being the driving force. And we always say that the people that we take care of as owners and as dentists is our team and our team takes care of our patients. Now, are we physically doing the dentistry? Sure. Are we taking care of patients as well? Absolutely. But it is our job to make sure that the office is happy and inadvertently, the patient care is gonna be superb.

0:31:18.9 KD: For sure. And I think... I'm so glad you hit on culture because I know you and I were both speaking of we're both fans of Nathan Hightower. Guys, if you are interested in the Culture Index, Jenny and I both love Nathan, I've got his contact info for you guys, it's N as in Nathan [email protected] But the Culture Index is something that is a new and up-and-coming model if you will, for how to find people that fit your culture. And so really what the Culture Index does, and I am pro-Culture Index, pro-culture for teams, I think it helps especially with acquisitions for current practices to really pull in this Culture Index where you basically create avatars for every position in your practice. You have your team take this survey and find out a lot of information about them. So it's kind of like the DiSC, kind of like Kolbe, but I feel it's way more advanced because it actually helps you sort, sift, and interview a lot stronger.

0:32:17.5 KD: So like I said, reach out to Nathan Hightower. He knows that I recommend him. He knows Jenny recommends. He will take care of the Dental A Team family. So be sure to reach out to him, [email protected] But Jenny, I know you guys have been using Culture Index to really hone in on that. So do you kind of wanna share how you guys have been able to do that? I think this I feel is one of your guys' differentiators for success of new practice ownership because you are so focused on culture and not so focused on keeping things status quo. So I hope you guys heard that, like focus on culture, not keeping things status quo. So Jenny, how have you guys kind of used that Culture Index in your practice?

0:32:56.9 DP: Yeah, I'm obsessed with Culture Index, to be honest. I was introduced to it earlier in this year and what it... And you completely touched on it. It's kind of like the other personality test, but the reason I love it so much is that it's actually actionable. I remember offices like earlier in my career as an associate and we would take like the DiSC and it was like... But we didn't do anything with it. You just got a title, and then that was it. But what the Culture Index has allowed us to do is like you said, we are able to look at a role and say "Okay, these are the qualities that we are really looking for the person who's going to be our scheduling coordinator." And so when we have applicants, what we do once we get their resume is we send them the link to our Culture Index survey and it comes back and we're able to see kind of who they are, who at the blueprint of them is to the core. And I actually just had a training. We had a training with our office. It was my husband and I and then two other team members. And we had a training with Nathan last week. And it was just really cool to see.

0:34:05.3 DP: What you learn about it is where your your natural strengths are and where your driving factor is versus the other people on your team. And you're able to really see like, "Okay, are we... Even within our current team, are we utilizing our team to the maximum? If we have a very high social connectivity person doing insurance in the back, we're not utilizing maybe their best quality and their best skill. They need to be more of like front-facing with patients even on like a marketing perspective. They need to be in that realm and they're gonna be happier." And that's actually what it boils down to is utilizing our team members and our potential applicants' true natural skills for them to have job satisfaction. Because at the end of the day, if you're not happy and you're leaving work drained, you're just gonna have a constant turnover of people. Everyone's gonna be seeking out the next thing. And so using all those tools and it's a very... And the reason I love it so much, if you read my Culture Index graph, you would actually see that I'm a highly emotional person, meaning that when I'm first presented with ideas and facts, I can gear towards the emotion first and like how does it feel rather than the logic behind it.

0:35:36.6 DP: I also have a very high social connectivity. And when I was in the Culture Index, it would say like "Okay, what this says is you actually are like an empath that can feel people." Well what does that do to me when I'm interviewing people? I love everyone. I love every single one. And so I will be like, "Yeah absolutely, you're great, let's bring you in," and then it's not until a few weeks later that you're like "Oh okay, maybe you weren't right for the position." You don't see past that. And so what the Culture Index does, and one of the reasons I love it so much is it takes an analytical approach to it. And so we've really enjoyed using it. We're... Like I told you earlier, we've dipped our toe into it and we're utilizing it and there's so much to learn about it. But my friends that use it with their companies have seen so much success in the hiring realm and also utilizing their team, so I'm very, very, very excited about it.

0:36:29.3 KD: Yeah. Well and like you said it, I'm the same way as you Jenny, which is probably why we like each other...

0:36:34.6 DP: Probably.

0:36:36.7 KD: 'Cause I like everybody. And Nathan told me, he was like "Kiera, since you know that you like everybody, have them go through this filtering process first so you can really make sure it's who you actually want to hire, not just liking people because you genuinely like people." Like I'm a 10, like I'm so far over that level of liking people that I think it's just an interesting tool. So that, and then also I will do a plug for you guys, Viva HR, if you guys haven't used them, be sure to let them know the Dental A Team has sent you, they allow you to post on every single platform. So they're much a reduced cost. I think we're paying like 78 to 99 bucks a month for ads, unlimited ad posting, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, you name it, all the platforms. So between Culture Index and Viva HR, I feel like we've given you guys some good tools to really just focus on that culture. So while, yes, Jenny's talking about acquisition, I feel like these things are pertinent to practices today because I think it'd be a fun experiment for you if you are in a practice listening right now, you're not buying a practice, would you buy the practice today that you have if it was up for sale again? And if not, are there people maybe that need to transition? Are there maybe right people, wrong seat, that could shift? Are there efficiencies that could be improved?

0:37:57.2 KD: Like really truly, like Jenny, you just came in and it's easy when you're brand new to the practice to see like "Okay, we need to change this. Let's hire this. Let's get the culture there," but I think when you've been in it for a while, it gets a bit dusty. And I think today would be a good day to shake off that dust, reassess it, and then use these tools like Jenny was saying. I love that you said "We take care of our people, we take care of making sure that they're happy, and then after that they'll take care of our patients as well." And I truly do think it's a good model to have. So Jenny, any other things that you feel... You've shared so many pieces from like changing your story, having that mental muscle that you build up, to having the sellers transition out, to now talking about culture and really building that. Is there any other tip or trick that you wanna wrap up with? I feel like that was so much valuable insight that you guys are going through and I'm excited that you're in your practice finally. I'm excited for you to probably do a startup next. But any other last thoughts that you have regarding acquisitions or team culture or anything just in the world of dentistry you wanna share?

0:39:00.8 DP: Well, I wanna first thank you 'cause I feel like you've been on this journey with me for many years. [chuckle] So it's a win for all. What we kind of spoke about today is a very macroscopic view of the whole acquisition process. There are so many nitty-gritties involved. And you and I have had this call before down to like, "Okay, are you keeping the same name? Are you co-branding? Are you rebranding? Are you changing the signage? Are you changing the parking lot signs? Are you changing the glove color?" There's some micro in the details, changing over the phones, getting a new credit card processing. There's so so many micro details that you and I could even podcast for like 20 hours on. [laughter] But I think the most important thing when you're looking at this process is just to like really dig deep and find what you're looking for. And the answer, it may not even be an acquisition and practice ownership. It may be that you love going to work in a place that has a good culture and speaking as a dentist and you just like doing the craft of dentistry.

0:40:10.7 DP: And actually Culture Index is really good at showing that part of you too. And our friends that have taken it that really enjoy the craft of dentistry and have no real interest in ownership, that their graphs kind of show it that they just like the technical part of it. But really knowing what you're looking for and going out and getting it and just staying focused on your goals and knowing that you're probably gonna doubt it and there's gonna be hiccups, but it's so rewarding. Even down to the fact that we're ordering shirts right now with our logo and we're sponsoring events and we get to be like president in our community, it's so exciting. And I encourage everyone no matter what stage of dentistry that they're in, that they just take a second to look around and realize that everything that they've been looking for is happening and it's awesome and it doesn't mean it doesn't come with stressors, but life could be worse and it could have a lot more heartbreak in it.

0:41:13.9 DP: And so just continue down that path and be grateful for where we all are. Whatever stage of acquisition or associate or whoever you are on the team, just take a second realizing that we're very blessed to be in this profession that opens so many doors for us. And if I can be a resource at all in helping with that too, I would love to be. So if anyone wants to reach out, I can get into more of those micro details with you [laughter] of like the really boring stuff that you have to do on an acquisition including changing the passwords. Those little things. But I think that's the general gist of kind of what I wanna get across.

0:41:57.8 KD: I love it. And I'm so grateful you said that because I agree, as you're talking about sponsoring in the community, I love dentistry so much because not only do you change people's lives, but you change your communities, you change your teams and that's a legacy reaching. So it's not just this person, but you're literally changing lives throughout. So Jenny, thank you for that. And I agree, there's so many little things within an acquisition, like she said, changing the name, getting your socials in place, getting the credit card processor, how are you taking payments, what your collection protocol is, what's your perio protocol, what are all of your protocols, what are your systems, what are the... I'm so glad you said passwords 'cause people forget to check those passwords and not allow people to delete audit trails. There's a lot in that acquisition and that's what I call the three-month shakeout and you just drink from a firehose and you smile and grin and realize this is the dream that you dreamed of for so long that you now get to live.

0:42:47.8 KD: And so Jenny, thank you for just coming in. I always get just like re-energized about life and how to just enjoy life more when I chat with you. So thank you for that. And guys, truly reach out to Jenny, she's... I love her on the podcast 'cause she's a practicing dentist. She is somebody who... She's actually on our CE board, guys. Jenny is literally one of my dearest friends as a dentist, someone I just respect so much. So reach out to her. If we can be a resource to you guys as well, do so. Jenny is on Instagram. What's kind of the best way to get in touch with you Jenny, if they want to?

0:43:20.4 DP: So there's a few ways. Instagram's a really good way 'cause I respond pretty quickly there. It's Yogi_Dentist. You can also go to my website, drjennyperna.com and that is a space for you actually, for... Patients can look at cases I've done. It really just gives a layout of who I am and I have some resources on there for dentists as well. So if there's anything that you guys need, please, please reach out. And good luck. Good luck in this process. I've seen the failure side of it. I've seen the successful side of an acquisition. So I know the process very well and it can feel very daunting at times, but it's all worth it.

0:44:00.7 KD: I love it. I love it guys. So reach out. If we can help you guys in any way, [email protected] And Jenny, thank you just for being here. Thank all of you for listening in today. And as always, thanks for listening and I'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team Podcast.


0:44:15.7 KD: And that wraps it up for another episode of the Dental A Team Podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.




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