This week, Dr. Forrest Bryant interviews Linda Miles of Dynamic Dentistry.
Books mentioned in this podcast
- Dynamic Dentistry by Linda Miles
Quotes in this podcast
- Carrie White – “The task before you is never greater than the power behind you.”
- Pankey Philosophy: 25% of our days should be spent in work, 25% should be spent being spiritual, 25% should be play, and 25% should be family
The following is a transcript of the podcast audio.
FB: Welcome to the High Speed podcast. This is your host Dr. Forrest Bryant and we are always trying to help our listeners and our members get to freedom and legacy through mastery of business, family, finance and lifestyle and I’m really excited to have a guest on today, Linda Miles. How are you doing today, Linda?
LM: I’m great! How are you Forrest?
FB: I’m doing great! This is gonna be fun! I’m having so much fun already even though it’s pretty early in the morning but we’ve been on the call probably about thirty minutes before we realized, “You know hey, we’ve got a job to do. We’ve been sitting here, chit chatting, having a good time catching up, and we’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to record the Podcast.” I so appreciate you being here. Linda. I’ve known you, we were talking about it earlier, it’s been probably 15+ years, I guess maybe closer to 20 years that we first met and you are one of the premiere dental consultants and coaches and have been for decades, you’ve just been doing this for a long time, probably one of the most respected dental consultants and I’m tickled to reconnect with you and to have you on the podcast today. Thanks for being here!
LM: Well thank you for inviting me, it’s a joy!
FB: Well great! So lets, you know, I’m gonna let you give a little bit of your background, I mean you’ve written books, you’ve consulted I don’t know how many dentists and practices, you’ve spoken all over the world and I know you’re very passionate about Oral Cancer and helping patients and helping doctors so why don’t you add in a little detail to the back story for us.
LM: Thank you, Forrest, again, for the invitation to be here. I started my career right out of high school. I was working in a dental practice as a one person office back in the day. I was lthe dental assistant and the receptionist all in one and the dentist primarily worked a lot so that was 56 years ago.
FB: Oh wow!
LM: And I’ve been a dental speaking consultant for 36 years. I was helping a new dentist enrichment entrepreneur start his practice and I was a clinical assistant for 14 years travelling with my air force husband and he said, “Linda, you have the personality to run my business” and I said “Well, that’s great, I appreciate the compliment, but will you show me how to do the business side?”. He said “I have no idea, they do not teach this in dental school” and so I thought “Gee, there’s a business here somewhere” so I started out helping 4 of his friends a half a day a month on my day off and one of them said “You have so many good ideas that work with marketing and telephone skills and scheduling and customer service. Why don’t you hold a seminar and invite a lot of people?” and my first response was “Do you think I can talk all day?” he said “Yes” so I started speaking on public seminars and then I was on my first mastermind meeting early in my career and at that meeting, back then practice management in the early 80s was just, you know, a thought, and so I was picked up by a lot of the other major meetings and in my career 36 years of travelling, 15 to 18 days a month, I have clients in Tasmania, I have clients in Australia, I have clients all over and about a thousand practices that I’ve actually personally consulted over those years. I’ve spoken in all 50 states and on 4 continents and just had a wonderful wonderful career helping people and I love the fact that dentists can be more successful and professionals can be more successful but my greatest joy was seeing each of the team members reach goals they never dreamed possible.
FB: Wow, that’s fantastic and I know just from personal interaction with you and having you at our practice when I first started with Dr. David White and when you came in, you just have such an amazing persona and your ability to connect with the team and to inspire just a… we just really appreciate all the help that you gave us and on behalf of the dental community I want to thank you for everything that you’ve done for so many dentists and for so many dental teams and ultimately that leads to better patient care so on behalf of all of us, thank you.
LM: Thank you!
FB: Alright so let’s shift into… wait before we do that, tell us about your passion and your cause now, the Oral Cancer, tell us how are you helping out in that area?
LM: Thank you so much! When I was 63 I decided it was time to sell my consulting firm and I was very fortunate that one of my female dentist clients who always wanted to be a speaker bought the consulting business and the two – day workshops and my books and tapes and then I still had the speaking consulting network and 20 years ago I decided that I was doing so much mentoring of people in my audience that wanted to be consultants I might as well have a network so I started SCN (Speaking Consulting Network) and grew that from 11 people year 1 to about a 150 my final year which was 2010 and I sold that company in 2010 to a contemporary who is a dear friend and one of my mentees and board members, she’s done a magnificent job with SCN and that allowed me to start and spend more time with my real love which is Oral Cancer beause I lost a sister – in – law in 2012 to it. My business partner, Robin Morrison, lost her brother the same year and we decided with our 80+ years in dentistry, my 50 and her 30, and her marketing expertise, that we would start a non – profit. We’re both volunteers and all of the work that we do is volunteer. We have one paid employee and she is a former Oral Cancer patient and she’s a fabulous survivor, 33-year old mom diagnosed with the rarest form of cancer and she is working and doing a magnificent job with Oral Cancer Cause so those are my new loves and I’m also doing an online program with my personal dentist Dr. Tanya Brown and I started Ultimate Team Mastery and that’s online, 12 topics on practice management and that is available online so it keeps me from travelling so much, Forrest. I now travel to about 5 general meetings a year to speak on behalf of Oral Cancer but I now travel with just family, friends and for fun.
FB: That sounds great! Sounds like you’re doing what you want to do and that’s what we call freedom and so we’re glad to help our listeners get to that point. So obviously we could and we may get into some of this things today but you know there’s a fascinating history of the dental industry that you’ve seen from 50 years ago to today. It’s changed dramatically. Practice management has changed. We’ve talked about that a little bit before we got on the call, just over the last few decades how that’s changed dramatically and I’d love to know what’s in your crystal ball for what you see coming up down the road… I’d like to pick your brain on that (don’t you love that term?) I’d like to find out what your thoughts are about those things but, to make it practical, just some tips that would help our listeners if they’re at dental practice today… some actual tips… so let’s start off with… how things have changed over the years and what you see coming up in the future. Let’s start there.
LM: Okay, one of the biggest change is, Forrest, is that the size of dental practices and the largest segment that’s growing is of course the corporate practices and another middle level growing segment is the doctor that’s buying like 8-10 practices in various locations, we see a lot of that, and the sad part is that back in the 80s, 90s and even til mid 2000s, dentists took their team members twice a year to major dental meetings and this is where they learned to be the best they could be clinically and administratively and this is where dentists learned to run their business a little bit better and the dentists stared going but they’re not taking their 40, 50, 60 or 200 team members because of the cost involved in doing so, so I see that as one of the biggest detriments and a lot of people want to know well, with fees for service so low, practice is going by the wayside and I don’t think it will ever completely go away because a lot of patients like the personalized attention but the main reason that corporate and larger practices are growing is, there’s two things, that patients look at the cost or the fee and the availability of appointments for their busy lifestyle and those are the two things that private practices typically are not as focused on so that is the plus side of the large groups. The total fee for service boutique, high quality, high patient care, those practices are still in existence and will always remain strong. I have a lot of clients that are still fee for service and the good news is the fee for service practices have stepped up their customer service, their team development, their technology, their facility, everything has been kept up today and they can ask for and usually receive a higher fee for doing so. They’re not into volume, they’re into high quality and I think there will always be a place for that practice about 20% will always be the boutique fee for service, a one on one practitioner, but as far as the plus side of being a fee for service practice and not accepting a reduce fee of up to 40 or 50 percent, those doctors that I work with and I still work with some on the, pardon me, on the online program and they are working a third to forty percent fewer hours per week so talk about quality of life they have chosen not to be part of the insurance rat race and they’re not on sheer volume and they work a lot fewer hours and they have a higher quality of personal lifestyle.
FB: So that leads to a good question I think. Can a practice today do both? You know you just painted a beautiful picture and you got the small fee for service practice who’s doing good and you got the huge conglomerate over here, you know a lot of guys are trying to play on both fields. Can a practice do that today? or do they really need to decide where they wanna be?
LM: I think that there is a place for the hybrid we call those the hybrid practices and yes a lot of my clients were because if you live in an area where 80% of the workers there are on a certain dental benefit plan and you choose not to be, you are professionally pulling the rug out from under yourself so I have a lot of hybrid practices that are doing well they are working a little bit harder and they are on more of a volume, they usually have an associate or two and they’re doing quite well but I have always looked at my client base as the 20% of the dentists like your practice was that really don’t need a consultant or a coach, they are the ones that hire them because they are like Tiger Woods they know that you never ever ever lose the fact that you always need somebody else looking out for the parts that you’re too busy to mind and you have staff turnover so you constantly need this reinforcement and practice building. In my client base and in the world of dentistry, I think 20% of the dentists have always been the top of the game they were the first people in their classes they probably sat down to do their first procedure in their cap and gown from school and they were always go-getters, they were go-getter little kids and they are still go-getters as professionals today and so that 20% is doing really well then on the lower end sadly we have 20% of the professionals who are not doing well at all and who are probably a month away from bankruptcy and are totally discouraged and in the middle we have the hybrids we call those the “bobbers” B-O-B-B-E-R-S they have a wonderful income, they have happy and productive team members, they have invested in some training and some on-going training and they are never going to be in the Top 20 and they don’t want to be, they are very down to earth and they are very satisfied with their personal business and therefore they’re not going to try to always go to the next level, they’re at the level… I have one general practice that was always at the same level and he’s the happiest dentist I think I’ve ever met and I kept giving him ideas to grow and he was totally happy where he was and so I just had to accept the fact that he was a bobber, he was a happy bobber, so yeah it’s okay to be in the middle and I think it’s 20 on the top end and 20 on the low end and about 60% in the middle
FB: Okay and you know that… you know we work with so many physicians and small business owners as well and I think what you just described works across any business
FB: So you’ve got some people that are just gonna keep their foot on the gas and they’re gonna do great and no matter what, they’re going to figure out a way to make it happen and you got some that are just gonna struggle and then you got a lot that are just gonna be in the middle and just gonna be…
LM: Content hmmhmm…
FB: So you know what, I think it’s good for listeners to ask themselves a tough question trying to figure out “Are you a bobber?” That’s it… that sounds like a book we should write together “Are you a Bobber?”
LM: Bobbers are doing well, they’re not ever gonna be the “set the world on fire” but they’re happy.
FB: Yeah well, ultimately in the end, that’s one of the most important things, making sure that you are happy and you know what makes you happy and you can’t take the money with you for sure so we talk about kind of the current atmosphere, where we are with dental you know take out the crystal ball and wipe the dust off of it you know… What do you see coming up down the road?
LM: What do I see coming up the road? I’m very excited about it. My only regret is that at age 74 I probably won’t be here in 30 years to see how it all works out.
FB: You never know. Don’t count yourself out!
LM: I met a little lady the other day. One of my fun jobs at our church is taking little old ladies who are in independent apartments to their doctors appointments and to visit friends so I actually met a 107 year old little lady who is sharp as a cat. She’s my new goal. Anyway…
FB: You can do it!
LM: As far as what I see coming down the pike is that the medical and the dental world are coming together, Oral Cancer is on the rise. We have about a 64% increase in the 20 – 40 year old with Oral Cancer do a large part due to HPV and so now the medical facilities and the medical people are realizing that dentists are the only true physicians of the mouth and that hygienists are part of it of course preventive care and looking for things that shouldn’t be there and so I’m really really excited about A-OSH which is the American Association of Oral Systemic Health where medical doctors and nutritionists and the whole medical dental world comes together and I’m actually going to be at that conference in the middle of September in Salt Lake City and so I see this as a step toward the blending of the professionals which is a good thing and I see one of the biggest things coming down the pike is the fact that when a person has been diagnosed with Oral Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, the first step of medical treatment is having a dental clearance and unfortunately as my sister – in – law had to wait 6 weeks and go to a different city because her town of Lynchburg, Virginia, they didn’t do medical clearance for cancer patients so Dental Oncology is coming down the pike and I think that that’s gonna be one of the biggest classes for dentists to learn how to take care of cancer patients. We’re not talking about head and neck only, all cancer patients must have dental clearances so I’m encouraging all the dentists I meet to, especially those who are near Cancer Centers, to know the radiologist, the oncologist, the head and neck, ear nose and throat physicians and build a relationship and become the go-to dentist in your neighborhood for the physicians who need to refer patients.
FB: Yeah that’s a great one element when I was practicing we saw that a lot and I agree with you. You could position yourself to be that go-to person for work… I know a lot of times those patients they get a referral to an oral surgeon then oral surgeons takes care of them from a surgical standpoint a lot of times they need a lot of care after that and being a compassionate person that could take care of them would be a great way to position yourself so that’s a great tip. What do you see happening with insurance and corporations… what do you see coming down the road? You think they’re just gonna get bigger and bigger and fee for service is gonna get smaller and smaller? What about the hybrid models? What’s gonna happen 10 to 20 years down the road?
LM: Well I foresee the insurance companies becoming stronger until the ACA or whatever the governing body is takes a stand on it but if you have an overhead of 60% which is considered overhead standard and you are taking 40% off the top, in some practices that are on fee for service models they’re taking 60% off the top and they have a huge 80% overhead, how in the world can you continue to survive if you are not only doing all the dentistry for free but you’re taking 20% out of your wallet to do it free and while I’m a very compassionate person, I’m also a business woman and I know those numbers do not add up. I had a practice, a young dentist who was struggling and this dentist had been in the navy and he felt very committed to take care of the navy personnel and their dependents and when I explain that the overhead was 84% and they were writing off 60% and I said “I know you’re committed but we have to get your productivity up because when collections go up overhead percentage declines and you can’t keep your foot in a glue bucket and expect to move forward in any business” so I really do hope that… and I know one of the reasons people go to corporate and start these hybrid group practices is that they can negotiate a better fee with the insurance company and I really don’t think that’s fair to the other practitioners and I know that also they can buy supplies and get a better rate which make sense everybody wants the big practices as their client or customer but I don’t think that it’s fair to the solo or 2 or 3 doctor practices to be able to negotiate such a better fee and I know for a fact you cannot go to an employer near you that has a thousand employees and say “If you’ll send all your employees to me we’ll do their care at a reduced rate, I look at all that negotiation as a form of fraud toward the solo or the 2 or 3 doctor practice.
FB: Good point! You know when you’re losing money on every procedure you know a lot of dentist just put their head down and say “We’ll make it up on volume”… but it doesn’t work that way does it?
LM: Really doesn’t!
FB: You’re going to a worse place even faster
LM: Yeah. you burn out and you burn out good team members that way.
FB: So you know building off of that I would say if you’re out there you gotta know your numbers whatever business you’re in if it’s dentistry or if it’s medicine or if you own a small business you gotta know what your numbers are and you gotta know what your profit margins are and if you’re doing unprofitable procedures you need to shape up. This ties back into your personal development and getting things done. We take the same direction with what we’re doing personally. We try to get rid of the tasks that aren’t profitable and do hard level things personally and that also goes into your business life and also goes into your business so need to… that’s how you ratchet-up profitability and getting things done… stop doing things that are losing money. So let’s see… Linda we’re doing great here give us a few pearls if somebody’s out there and they’ve got a whatever business, if they’re a physician, a dentist, you know… what are some pearls that you could drop here that would help somebody?
LM: Well I love what you just said Forrest about knowing what is profitable and the value of the business owners time. For instance, when I had a corporate office of 10 people in a home office, 6 consultants who were out there busy as can be, I absolutely am one of the business owners that if something needs to be done I jump in and do it. I don’t expect the people that work with me to do things that I personally haven’t done or wouldn’t be willing to do in a pinch. However, if I could hire somebody at $15 an hour to do shipping and handling of books and tapes and making sure our exhibit booths were fully stocked with products, why would Linda Miles be on the floor sorting products and putting that together. I did it in the first early days but if you can have that done by somebody at $15 an hour and I can be on the phone selling a consult or talking to a meeting planner about coming to speak for them, I’d much better use of my time and I have 3 grand daughters, two are 26 and one is 23 and they are all business women today and I tell them “you know if you are going to be a wealthy person one day and live the good life after age 55 or 60 you have to know where you’re money is going” so I beg them to keep a log of every dollar that leaves their hands, “where is your money going and what percentage are you investing either in real estate or in something” and it would be shocking and I think the biggest problem with today’s world is of course the use of credit cards and you know I get a call from my niece “Aunt Linda, I got this at 25% off” and I’ll say “Great! did you pay cash?” “Oh no! I used my credit card, I always use my credit card.” “Well, do you pay your credit card off in full when you get the bill?” “Oh no, I just pay my minimum” and so…
FB: Troublesome indeed.
LM: So yeah, you’ve got to know your numbers and you’ve got to hire your team members that know what your norms in every department should be as far as overhead percentage is and you know good consultants share this information it’s what I loved when I work with the practice, to teach them to be an on site consultant to their own practice not only the business owner but the team members and a good office manager or person in charge of running the business should know what the norms are and more importantly they should know if this percentage is off by 12%, what string do I pull to get it back on target? I find that one of the biggest challenges of being a dental consultant in helping them get their systems in place is unless the business owners or the manager watches the systems it’s very easy to stop doing all the systems. Let’s take accounts receivable management for one of the biggies in every business. If you have accounts that are outstanding there’s 26 letters in the alphabet when I work at the front desk of a dental office and in my own company we divided the alphabet into 4 parts and every Thursday morning from 10 -12 I made past due calls and I find that people are happier at the end of the week than on a Monday or Tuesday so Thursdays are good days but it is even better if you are there on Friday. Making those past due calls of 6 letters of the alphabet and xyz of course is one letter but really cleans things up… For instance i tried to explain to the team members “I don’t have time to eat but if I don’t eat I die” so I carved out time for meals and just like carving out time to eat you have to or exercise you have to carve out time to work the systems.
FB: Great great! You packed a lot of good information in there not just for life in general but for any business so that’s really great stuff! Okay so we’re gonna try to kinda wrap it up here so lets… do you have a favorite quote or a book you’re reading or a favorite book right now? What are you reading and what’s your favorite quote?
LM: My favorite quote and I can’t even tell you whose quote it is, it’s on my calendar and on my desk and I love looking at it, it’s “The task before you is never greater than the power behind you”
FB: hmm… Love it!
FB: Love it!
LM: My book that I’m actually reading is my life story. I’ve spent the last 90 days writing my story and the hardest part for me is finding a title for my life story and so I’m still struggling and I just sent all the moving parts of the book to the publisher yesterday and I’m still trying to name my book Forrest so maybe you can help me?
FB: How about “I’m Not a Bobber”
LM: I’m Not a Bobber?
FB: “I’m Not a Bobber” I refuse to bob
LM: Oh my Joe! Anyway…
FB: I know this is a podcast and everyone can’t see us but one day maybe someone watches video so I’m holding up a copy of “Dynamic Dentistry” by Linda Miles that was signed and I’d like to read this it says “To Dr. Forrest Bryant, 2007 will be a great year because you are such a quality oriented people. Linda Miles, 2006” Signed in 2006 so I appreciate that, lot of good nuggets so If you’re out there and haven’t read that one, get a copy of it. Linda, what’s your definition of freedom?
LM: My definition of freedom is being balanced in your life and that is for the 36 years I traveled I was not really balanced. I was on the road non-stop and at age 55, I had back surgery which really put the breaks on me and made me do a consultation of sorts on my own life and I have a team of 10 people in the home office and my salary is for the year that I had back surgery was $333,000 and I did the math and I realized that I’m on the road 15 to 18 days a month and 14 of those days is to have a large office and a large team of people and the only people who visited us were the mailman and UPS so I right sized, I don’t call it downsizing (pardon me), I right sized my own business and I started travelling 4 to 5 days so that to me was life balance and I think that we have to have an equal… I think Pankey does it very well, the “Pankey Philosophy” in Florida is 25% of our days should be spent in work, 25% should be spiritual or inspirational reading or whatever, 25% should be play and 25% should be family and I think that a lot of people that are out of balance leave off the family and leave off the fun and play and they’re all work and sometimes they don’t even have to time to read something other than pertaining to their business.
FB: That’s so good! So if our listeners wanna get in touch with you, I know we’ve talked earlier, oralcancercause.org and ultimateteammastery.com or a couple places, are those best places to… we’ll put those on the show notes, are those the best places to get in touch with you?
LM: Those are two good websites and my other website is asklindamiles.com and I do a lot of personal coaching but I do it by phone.
FB: Okay you know that helps with freedom right?
LM: It does
FB: You can control your schedule… Yea well I love that! Well, Thank you so much for being on here on our podcast today. Don’t go anywhere, we’re gonna record our members only section here in a just a second so we’ll have a lot of good… we didn’t really get into marketing and we’ve got some other special things that we’re gonna talk about on the back side there but for our listeners if you haven’t if you wanna learn more about High Speed Alliance please check us out at highspeedalliance.com and ask about our upcoming dates and upcoming meetings and this has been a pleasure so we’re signing off for the High Speed podcast. Thank you Linda Miles for being our guests today you did a great job!
LM: Thank you Forrest!
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