Podcast Episode 10 | Private Practice in High-End Dentistry

With Dr. George Betancourt & Dr. John Pinnix, Advanced Dentistry of Blakeney

About the Prosperous Doc™ Podcast

The Prosperous Doc™ podcast by Spaugh Dameron Tenny highlights real-life stories from doctors and dentist to encourage and inspire listeners through discussions of professional successes and failures in addition to personal stories and financial wellness advice.

Shane Tenny, CFP® is our podcast host and Partner at SDT. He has lectured numerous times for hospitals and physician groups and, most importantly, helped hundreds of clients develop strategies to navigate through turbulent times toward their financial goals.

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Intro: 00:00 From Spaugh Dameron Tenny, it's White Coat Wellness, a show for doctors who are ready to improve their financial wellness. We know you work hard to help your patients, but you can't be at your best if you don't have your own finances in order. In White Coat Wellness, we highlight real life stories from physicians and dentists to educate, encourage, and inspire you to personal, professional, and financial wellness. Now from Spaugh Dameron Tenny, please welcome your host, Shane Tenny.

Shane Tenny: 00:30 Welcome to today's edition of White Coat Wellness. I'm Shane Tenny, and today we're talking about private practice in high end dentistry. We know this topic came up in our planning session because we know that in medicine only about 45% of medical practices are owned by the providers today. The trend has been clear over the last decade as more systems and hospitals have been taking ownership of medical practices. But dentistry, the ratio is exactly the opposite with I think three out of four dental practices across the country being owned by the dental provider, that varies by state and different laws there. And while the picture of a dental practice is the solo practitioner running the practice 'til they're 65 years old, the generational trends, those winds are blowing and now almost half of dentists entering the field would prefer to be working in some sort of partnership, which brings us to our topic today to work through.

Shane Tenny: 01:33 And so I'm excited to have you guys here and to have you able to watch our talk as we go through the highs and lows of private practice partnership with Dr. John Pinnix and Dr. George Betancourt from Advanced Dentistry of Blakeney located just on the edge of Charlotte, North Carolina. I know you guys started in practice about 15 years ago and have ridden the roller coaster of success and stress, and appreciate you guys being with us this afternoon to talk a little bit about it.

John Pinnix: 02:02 Thank you for having us.

George Betancou: 02:03 Thank you for having us.

Shane Tenny: 02:04 Now, as we dive in, I want to make sure you guys feel comfortable, and so I thought one of the most important questions that everybody who's not in dentistry wants to know is, at what point in the training do you learn how to translate [inaudible 00:02:16]?

George Betancou: 02:20 It takes a few years, it takes a few years. It doesn't come right away.

Shane Tenny: 02:22 That's the mastery level?

George Betancou: 02:23 That's right. That's right.

Shane Tenny: 02:27 Start at the beginning for us. Tell us a little bit about how you guys formed the practice or found each other after your training.

George Betancou: 02:35 Right, so I was in their residency training program here in Charlotte and John was working in a private practice setting in Atlanta in a large group setting, and he wanted to head over this way and through networking of certain people in our community, we ended up becoming partners and opening a practice from scratch. We found a really nice location that we thought had a lot of future potential in terms of growth, and we at the time knew that we were on similar pages in terms of what we wanted to achieve professionally, and in terms of the makeup and the style of the practice. And to be honest, we just jumped right in and determined a few things that were really important to us at the beginning. And from there, through years of experience, and growth, and some tolerance, and education, and getting to know each other and learning the business side of dentistry, which is a pretty important topic in our profession, we started to grow the practice from a grassroots level, if you will. And over the years it's turned into what we have now.

Shane Tenny: 03:45 So how long did you know each other before you decided to jump into a business together?

John Pinnix: 03:50 We knew each other, we talked quite a bit over the phone. So we were introduced from a Henry Schein rep, a local dental rep. He had gotten to know George through his residency and then me, I was looking to move back to the area from Atlanta. So we've talked quite a bit over the phone and then we actually opened the practice together probably three months later.

Shane Tenny: 04:12 Okay. So it was a long distance dating and then love at first sight.

George Betancou: 04:18 Right, yeah, exactly.

Shane Tenny: 04:18 And as you came together, George, you were talking about just some of the thinking, the training, the vision you had for the style of dentistry. Do you remember, looking back I guess to 2005 or '06 thereabouts-

George Betancou: 04:30 2005.

Shane Tenny: 04:32 2005, do you remember any expectations that you had from the long distance phone calls that you started to kind of I guess have a dose of reality as you came together, 'This isn't as easy as I thought, this is frustrating'?

George Betancou: 04:44 Right, well to be honest I was a little bit less concerned about - since it was a start from scratch, I was a little bit less concerned about my partnership with John and more concerned about whether we would have patients in this office. Your attention is divided among some important things, and there was a lot less thought into what you want the partnership to become and a lot more thought to how do we get this up and running?

George Betancou: 05:07 And we, in a lot of ways, grew together. We had a similar outlook and a similar philosophy both in how we treat patients and the level of dentistry that we wanted to accomplish in our practice, as well as the business side. And so that was a natural fit, which was just to be honest, quite convenient. I think it's hard to find and we were a bit lucky.

George Betancou: 05:28 But where we did have some strengths was in our communication with each other in setting those expectations. But we were just on the same team when we came together because we had to be in order to be productive and to keep the ball rolling, if you will. So we were almost immediately thrown onto being on the same team and being goal-driven for each other because we needed to get patients in the door because it was a brand new practice. And so it was kind of a unique situation in that way.

John Pinnix: 05:57 I think one thing that was important to me, George was coming out of a residency, so he was probably sitting in a hospital setting, not in private practice. After I graduated from dental school, I was in a large group practice in Atlanta, and it was a private practice. There was probably 20 to 30 other dentists and there was 12 offices, and I learned a tremendous amount in the time that I was there for four years about how to practice dentistry. But I also learned some things that I didn't want to do. They were heavily insurance driven, so it was a high volume practice, and we were urged to use less expensive materials, I noticed that they didn't pay the staff very well, so it was hard to keep good people around. The labs that we used weren't the best, and I hated it. I mean, I was miserable.

John Pinnix: 06:46 So when I moved to Charlotte, our goal was to open a fee for service practice that was quality driven, not volume driven. And sharing that with George, he had the same philosophy and said, "Hey, let's do this. Let's start it and do it the right way." So I think we grew quite a bit more slowly in the beginning because we weren't bought in to every insurance plan, they weren't feeding us patients, but we grew the right way with the right type of patient. And-

Shane Tenny: 07:15 How did you - talk a little bit about that marketing strategy when you're not just associated with Cigna, United health and everybody else. How'd you go about finding patients that wanted your type of care and were comfortable with your fee arrangement?

John Pinnix: 07:29 It's tough. I mean a lot of it is just word of mouth and you get people in. And I remember some days where we had one or two people [crosstalk 00:07:37]-

Shane Tenny: 07:37 Way too much free time, right?

John Pinnix: 07:40 We were putting golf balls in the hall in between patients, but when somebody came in, they literally were our sole focus. And I think we both have good head on our shoulders, we know how to treat people right, do the right thing. And we both know to practice good dentistry. People recognize that and then spread the word and it grew, but it grew slowly.

Shane Tenny: 08:01 And when did you... I guess maybe the first year or two or three, whatever, is largely dominated by the goal of survival. At what point did you, looking back, would you say you really began to try to set goals together and what did that look like? How's goal setting evolved for you?

George Betancou: 08:19 I think it took a few years. Learn the management side of private practice dentistry and learn the business side. When you come out of dental school, we don't have all the business level expertise regarding LLCs, and operating agreements, and just how you structure the business and how ... working closely with an accountant for all the different types of purchases that you might make that have tax benefits and things like that. Those are things that took a lot of time to develop. And as we both grew together, then through open lines of communication, you start to set those goals as to always looking at what your strengths are, looking at what your weaknesses are, and always trying to prove and trying to work towards the ultimate goal, which is to have a very secure financial present and future, trying to include time for your family and family activities, and free time. And with it being the two of us, really open lines of communication, I can't speak enough to that. There's a lot that we bring to the table where there are enough similarities where it's a good starting point, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't come without some discussion as to how we get there.

George Betancou: 09:32 And I think that as we grew and learned the business of dentistry and became able to practice at a higher level of dentistry through experience, and CE courses, and expanding our knowledge base, then it comes together. It comes together when you're on the same page, when you're spending a lot of time together, when you're relentless at the idea that you're going to have a successful business, and that you want it to be a certain type of business that affords you certain luxuries. We feel really lucky that we're able to practice in the type of setting that we do in that fee for service setting.

George Betancou: 10:08 And it absolutely can be done. We look at colleagues whose practices are highly insurance driven, and once you are here and once you're in a fee for service model, it's very difficult to envision how you ever would have practiced that way, because I don't know that I could. I think that the type of dentistry that we do and and how we practice is pretty unique to our environment and what we've created.

Shane Tenny: 10:31 When you're planning and setting goals, has there been a time when when you've got a vision for something, George and John, you're sitting there thinking, "There's no way," or, "I don't know about that."

John Pinnix: 10:42 Yeah, I think there's two types of goals. Some of them are the direction of the practice and then maybe if it's services you want to provide, or technology that you want to purchase, or things that you want to get good at. And then the other is financial type goals. And they both are kind of looked at differently. I think that our financial goals are very similar and we can talk about that. But sometimes I, for example, am more cosmetic driven, so I do a lot of the prosthodontic type procedures and things. George's area of expertise and interest is surgical type things and implants. And so when we try to divvy up resources towards those two different areas, we're sometimes butting heads a little bit.

John Pinnix: 11:25 But ultimately we've grown the practice in both directions, and I think that's ultimately been the best thing.

Shane Tenny: 11:31 And did you ... how many years did it take in the evolution of advanced dentistry for you to begin to realize your own just natural interests, and proclivities, and things like that? Because I imagine in the early days, essentially we're basically bringing anybody in, and providing great service, and cleanings and-

George Betancou: 11:48 I mean that's absolutely right. I think in the beginning because you were just trying to be busy, and trying to be productive, you were willing to take on things that we were all more than able to do. We could all do some cosmetic cases, we could do restorative dentistry, we could do a lot of similar things.

George Betancou: 12:07 I would say to answer your question, maybe years six, seven, I mean, it's longer than you think. We each always had a certain interest in what we would consider our niche at the moment, but it wasn't for many years into the practice that we decided, hey, we might have something here. There are things that I really enjoy doing, there are things that you really enjoy doing and then we have to exploit that. We have to put in the effort to make that a realization, which means not only do you and I have different areas of interest, we need to go hard in each of those directions to do the correct CE courses, no overlapping CE courses. My CE courses went in one direction, his went in another.

George Betancou: 12:45 There's going to be plenty of overlap through our discussion and the fact that we work together, but we really needed to focus on what each of us enjoys. And that brings up just a whole different aspect because now you can get into the satisfaction of what you're doing rather than just being productive. You're being productive, like what you really enjoy. And in dentistry there's so many things that you can do that if you can identify, hey, these are some things that I really enjoy. Well , it's a great opportunity to be able to do those things more than you do the things that you don't enjoy. And that diversification within the practice of what each of us likes to do, it just really bodes well for the partnership.

John Pinnix: 13:27 And I think when you first get out of dental school, you think that you know how to do everything, and you really don't. I think we're taught how to do single tooth dentistry really well. But when you get into some more complex issues, there needs to be some advanced training. And I think you get out of school and you start on the practice like George and I, and we're both kind of on the same level. And then as you continue to train yourself and you go in different directions, you start realizing, hey, I've been doing all this training here and now I'm doing this at an elite level. And you've been doing all this training here and you enjoy this and you're doing it at elite level. If I tried to do what you're doing, I'm maybe not doing it as good as you are. So it makes a lot of sense at some point to say, "Hey, why don't you see this guy?"

George Betancou: 14:08 Yeah, or if I had to do what you're doing, I would dread my drive in.

John Pinnix: 14:11 Right.

George Betancou: 14:12 There is a lot of truth to that, absolutely.

John Pinnix: 14:14 Exactly.

Shane Tenny: 14:15 Why don't you tell me more about the company right after this quick break.

Will Koster: 14:22 I'm Will Koster, and on this episode's White Coat Wisdom, I want to talk about budgeting, one of the most dreaded topics of financial planning. Here's a hot take. Stop budgeting. At least in the traditional sense. Most people get discouraged from the expectation that budgeting requires you to track every purchase down to the penny, and if you exceed your monthly appropriation then you have failed. I'm here to tell you that budgeting is not an exact science, and no matter how hard you try, there will always be categories of spending that change from month to month, season to season, and year to year.

Will Koster: 14:57 However, there is a solution. Tools like Mint can really be the key in establishing a baseline for your spending. This will take a couple of months to get an accurate average. Once established, you'll likely notice a couple of categories that you were surprised by. For myself and a lot of people we work with, is categories like eating out, clothing, or how about Amazon? This is where you focus your energy when budgeting. Don't worry about tracking things like gas. You're not going to break the bank because you have to fill up an extra time that month. The bottom line for my time today is choose one or two categories of spending to focus all of your attention on, and be extra mindful when making those purchases. Everything else will fall into place and you won't be exhausted from stressing over every penny. If you control a few areas of spending, you will likely do your budget and your mental health a favor.

Will Koster: 15:50 For this episode's White Coat wisdom, I'm [Will Koster 00:00:15:52].

Shane Tenny: 15:55 And with this, just your specialization and kind of the art in finding a way to leverage and then begin telling that story. I mean, first you have to realize it yourself, and then we have to begin communicating that to the marketplace, and referrers, and and other folks. Do you apply the same type of ... I don't know, diagnostic is maybe too strong a word, but the same type of lens to your staff and-

George Betancou: 16:21 Absolutely.

Shane Tenny: 16:21 Seeing their strengths and their proclivities and, "Oh, you'd be good." Getting ... what's the phrase? Getting the right people in the right seats on the bus?

George Betancou: 16:27 Absolutely. I think that our vision and our treatment philosophy doesn't just go for us as professionals in the level of dentistry that we're providing. Everybody in the office, from the front desk staff, to the hygienists, to the assistants need to be on the same page with what the expectations are and what it is we're trying to accomplish, seeing the big picture and understanding what we're trying to do as an office, as a team. And that's incredibly important. In the office, one of the ways that they're able to communicate that, and we do as well to the patients, is on many occasions we will both be involved in one individual's care.

George Betancou: 17:07 There is a lot of crossover between what we do and many of the patients that need the complex restorative dentistry, cosmetic dentistry that John does are also people that that might very well need some surgical services, whether it's gum surgeries, or implants, and things where I'm involved. And when patients come into our office at the staff level and at the doctor level, we both tend to be pretty involved. We will often both meet and consult with a patient about a complex treatment plan at some point before anything is ever done for that patient. And the communication between John and I and the patient as well as the staff, both from a front desk standpoint and an assistant standpoint, there's a lot of continuity there.

George Betancou: 17:49 And when you establish that continuity and people understand that, hey, I have a team of people who really know what the heck is going on here, and based on my last opinion as to the dentistry that I should do, I feel more comfortable here. They've got it together. And I think that's really important, and that doesn't involve just John and I, it does involve both of us, but it involves everybody else who might come in contact with that patient at any point.

Shane Tenny: 18:14 How does ... you're mentioning that your commitment to the patient's outcome often ends up with both of you having that same patient on your schedule so you can meet together, and we can talk together and brainstorm together. Which brings up one of the most common topics when I'm talking to folks about partnership, and that is money. How did you decide how to pay yourselves, how to split the revenues, that sort of thing?

John Pinnix: 18:38 That's evolved over time and I think that the change-

Shane Tenny: 18:41 90% you, 10% George.

John Pinnix: 18:43 Yeah, yeah, that was how it started, and then it went to 85. No, we used to split everything up on a production or collections basis. So what he collected per month and what I collected per month, we'd divide that up by a percentage and then whatever our profit was at the end of the month, that was it. Then we started to realize at about the same time when we started to diversify our procedures, that we didn't want any competition involved. So if I felt like that George could do something better than I could, I wanted him to do it and I didn't want to have any influence on that.

John Pinnix: 19:15 So around that time we said, "Let's just forget all this dividing stuff up," and at the end our profit is divided 50/50. And I felt like that that was a huge turning point in the practice, because it really created a team approach. It wasn't, "This is my patient" or, "This is Dr. Pinnix's patient, and this is Dr. Betancourt's patient." They're all collectively our patient. And whoever does the procedure and is best suited to do it is the one that's going to do it, regardless of the cost.

Shane Tenny: 19:43 And you know that when you're on vacation and one of your patients has to see George on an emergency basis-

John Pinnix: 19:50 Super. That's better. Our vacations have increased since we did that.

Shane Tenny: 19:54 That's perfect.

George Betancou: 19:56 And we're now looking for some associates.

Shane Tenny: 19:59 I'm thinking there may be somebody watching, watching us through the Facebook Live or listening to our podcast recorded here, and they have been in a partnership that maybe doesn't feel like it has the same chemistry you guys have, or maybe they used to be in a partnership that they're not in any more, or they'd like to be in a partnership. Talk about the mess. What's the biggest fight you've had? Where's the biggest disagreement? How have you navigated those things?

George Betancou: 20:27 Yeah, that's a great question. We-

John Pinnix: 20:29 George.

George Betancou: 20:30 We've always said that when either of us has a really strong opinion on a certain topic, whether it's staff, or dentistry, or buying some new piece of equipment, that one of us could formulate an argument that was so convincing that you would overwhelmingly have the evidence to win the argument and say, "This is what's best for the practice." And you should be able to establish your position and reel the other guy in to say, "Hey, yeah, this is ... you're right. Maybe this is the right way to go."

George Betancou: 21:03 But I think what it comes down to with disagreements, and I'd say honestly over the years they've been very minor, the open lines of communication and being on the same page are huge. You can't be in a partnership where people in the group have hidden agendas or even alternative agendas. You really have to be all in, and you have to have a really high level of trust. And I think that's where a lot of partnerships will fail. And not necessarily because they aren't good people in the partnership, or good doctors, or good practitioners, what have you, it's because each of the individuals might have their own different expectations, or own different goals for where they're headed.

George Betancou: 21:42 And we're of similar age, our kids are of similar age. We just happen to have a lot of the chemistry that you need to make that happen. But where it stems from and how you get to the disagreements is just by feeling like you have a high level of trust that, hey, we're in this together and maybe I don't agree with this particular purchase or what have you. And you say, "But we're going to go this route." And you know what, if one of us is wrong, you learn from it, and you acknowledge it, but open lines of communication and trust. I think that seems a bit basic but it's really, really important.

Shane Tenny: 22:18 Anything you would add to that, John?

John Pinnix: 22:20 I think he's exactly right. I think that from the beginning we were lucky enough, maybe we didn't even know it at the time, but we're two people that have a very similar philosophy as far as how we do our dentistry, and how we treat our patients, how we treat our staff, and our priorities as far as family life. And so I trust him, I trust his intentions, and if there's some minor thing that we don't agree about, I know it's no ill will and we end up talking it out.

John Pinnix: 22:47 So I think being respectful of each other and listening to each other's opinions, and then we tend to hash it out. And there's been very few major ones over the years.

George Betancou: 22:56 I think one of the take home messages here, I mean understanding that there are a lot of folks out there listening to this who are trying to get a few pointers. Before you get into a partnership, and before you get deep into a partnership where you're now kind of dependent on each other for your professional life and your personal life, so on and so forth, you just have to be sure. I think you have to try to vet that person as best you can to get to know what they're about, what their intentions are, what their goals are.

George Betancou: 23:31 And if that's done through an associateship type of agreement, that's fine. Whether it's meeting somebody and trying to figure out whether, hey, this is somebody I could partner with, there's a lot of ways in which business relationships can come together. But I think that getting as much information as you can on the front end as to who somebody is, and what they're trying to accomplish over what time period, just information, information, information where you can learn about what somebody is trying to do. And that's somebody as a potential partner, you'll just have a lot less headaches down the line. And I think that's critical.

Shane Tenny: 24:05 You're both really highlighting just the ... in some ways the planning of trying to get to know each other, make phone calls, get to make an informed decision. And as you said, John, and the luck of finding somebody that will grow up and has a similar worldview, not just about dentistry but about how to relate to each other. How big of a role was just the early legal work and setting up the practice and those sorts of things? I'm thinking of kind of the saying about begin with the end in mind and those sorts of things. Was that a big part of ... I guess maybe a big ingredient, in your perspective, on part of what's helped you navigate, and grow, and build, and manage the entity? Or that's just ink on paper that sits in the back and it's really just us looking at each other and have an honest conversation.

John Pinnix: 24:59 I think at the time I didn't think it was a big deal and I probably still don't. Now my brother-in-law is an attorney who was pretty rigid about, "Hey, let's look at this. Let's look at what if this happens? [inaudible 00:25:09]." And I'm like, "Okay." And he walked me through quite a bit of the paperwork and we got all sorts of possibilities sort of laid out on paper. For the most part none of that's really had to come up, and so I don't think it's a big day-to-day thing. I guess we've got that as a contingency if anything does come up, but everything's been pretty straight forward.

Shane Tenny: 25:30 Yeah.

George Betancou: 25:31 Yeah. I think myself, looking back at it and now from where we sit, where I would say what's important is the relationships that we build with professionals in other arenas. And not only do we learn how to delegate within the walls of our practice, but I think over time you realize there are things that you can't do on your own. And I think, for example, the legal side, working with a reputable attorney that you trust to help formulate your documents, whether it's your operating agreement, or trusts, so on and so forth, working with a very ... with an accountant, a big part of our team working with financial planners, people who help you set up really, really, really important aspects of your overall picture that help your practice run a little bit more smoothly.

George Betancou: 26:26 So I feel like we've had really good representation in all those areas over the years and that's really helped. And I think there are some unsung heroes there. I think those professionals that are a part of our practice are a part of our success too. And I would caution anybody to be very careful with who you're working with in terms of legal advice and accounting advice.

Shane Tenny: 26:47 Definitely agree. As a provider of advice to practices like yours, I couldn't agree more.

Shane Tenny: 26:56 As you look at the future and think about the practice evolution over the next five to 10 years, are there ... what do you see coming down the pike? What's the future look like, are there technologies you want to add, people you want to add, procedures you want to add?

John Pinnix: 27:11 I think dentistry is becoming more and more digital. So in the past everything was done in an analog way. So you're taking impressions, pouring stone models, looking at models, doing things by hand on the model. Now a lot of our impressions that we scan always can take an [inaudible 00:27:26] camera and we scan, we've got a digital model. And it's amazing what we can do on the model so much more quickly and inexpensively than we used to could do by hand or pay somebody to do by hand.

John Pinnix: 27:37 So that's where dentistry is heading, and the more and more digital technology that becomes available, we want to take advantage of it. Because it allows us to do our job more efficiently, more effectively, more inexpensively at times, and explore more options, I think it's better for us and our patients.

Shane Tenny: 27:54 Technology allows you to do what you do better and faster.

John Pinnix: 27:58 That's right, absolutely.

Shane Tenny: 27:59 Patients getting turned around in days or weeks instead of weeks and months.

John Pinnix: 28:03 Right.

Shane Tenny: 28:03 Right.

George Betancou: 28:03 And I think it's important to note that when that technology becomes available, it's very easy to look at the price tag that's associated with it and think of it as a cost to the business. And I think the way we look at it is what can this piece of equipment, whether it's a cone beam CT, or a scanner which we use to digitize impressions and things like that, milling crowns in a single visit in the office. Anytime we look at a piece of equipment like that, of course there's going to be a price tag that comes with it. But we look at it as is this going to be an investment for the practice? Is this going to be something that helps us be more efficient and do our job better? Rather than, hey, how much is this going to be to finance over 60 months at whatever percentage.

George Betancou: 28:48 So when you look at technology, I think it's important too to say how is this going to work in my hands and how is it going to make my job easier? Rather than the cost, because you can get hung up on the cost of some of the things that are coming out, but at the end of the day it's about how does it benefit me and my practice and my patients?

Shane Tenny: 29:06 And that really kind of bleeds into ... I mean, I think overall just the culture you're trying to set, your view of how we're going to invest in a practice that best serves its patients. You were talking earlier about the team that you have, the staff that you have and getting them aligned. Talk a little bit about culture and as the practice is kind of ... I don't know, at a maturing point in its life cycle, how's culture fit into what you're trying to do both in what your team experiences and what your patients experience?

George Betancou: 29:38 Well, I think it's incredibly important that you get the right people on the team. There are a lot of offices that might experience a fair amount of turnover, and it's something that we've really worked hard to avoid by interviewing as best we can, asking the right questions, even bringing staff members in for working interviews. We really want to have people that will stay long term and create that continuity that a lot of people want to see, but that we want to see. We want staff members that are going to be on board with the level of dentistry that we're wanting to practice, a level of patient service that we need.

George Betancou: 30:17 And I think that setting that expectation and leading by example, John and I leading by example as to how we treat people, how we offer advice in dentistry, and that's something that the staff sees. When we do our hygiene exams, the staff, our hygienist might know in advance what we might think. They're there with us in the room, they hear the advice that we give, they understand our philosophy. That translates into their interactions with the patients when we're not in the room, and so that culture where you want to practice elite level dentistry and have elite level patient service will resonate throughout the building.

George Betancou: 30:57 And a lot of our feedback will not only say, "Hey, we had a good experience with the doctor, but from the second I walked in I was welcomed to the practice and more or less everybody knew what they were doing. It's a very streamlined process." There's a protocol in place for how your first appointment at our office goes, for example. Certain things are being done at each of those appointments and it provides a lot of structure. And I think when the staff and everybody involved are on the same page, and it's a consistent message where somebody can be led to feel comfortable with what's going on, I think it puts everybody at ease and it's repeatable. You want something that, "Hey, we had a good day to day at taking care of so and so." You want it to be a model where, "Hey, we did a great job today. We're going to show up tomorrow and we're going to do the same thing."

John Pinnix: 31:47 Yeah, I think we have a fun place to work in general. We get to show up and we do life-changing dentistry. And when I say life changing, it really is. There's a certain value to doing a filling, or a cleaning, or whatever, but then when you're allowing somebody to eat again or look better, it changes lives. So I think that our staff enjoy seeing that and being involved with that.

John Pinnix: 32:11 And then honestly, we're really cool people to work with and so ...

Shane Tenny: 32:16 And good looking too, I might add.

John Pinnix: 32:19 Just day to day, we have a good time. We work hard, but we're laid back, we have a good time, we're involved in everything that goes on, so we're not just locked off in some office somewhere, but I don't feel like we micromanage either. And we enjoy or value the importance of family time, and all of our staff, they have young families, they're married, they have other activities to do. I think we've always been really flexible with time off and the importance of those type of things. So I think we've got a good environment, and a good group of people that get along, and we do something that's meaningful for the community.

Shane Tenny: 32:56 Yeah. Almost as you've been answering the question and I think about the answers that you've ... what you've been sharing over the last 20 or 30 minutes, there's the culture of ... really of investing. Investing in people, and good people, and investing in technology, and investing in things that sometimes your colleagues around the country see as costs, as drains, as expenses, as that sort of thing. And in contrast, if you see it as the inverse, as an investment that's going to create a culture and a work life balance for our team, for ourselves, you guys being able to work half days, and partial days, and no days and know that the team is catching the balls that are getting hit their way, that is a huge-

George Betancou: 33:39 Absolutely, and I think we are more than fair in our salaries and-

Shane Tenny: 33:45 Yours or the team's?

George Betancou: 33:46 Both, I think both of them. I think both are important. We're in it together. But having that investment in the staff, once you look at the range in which some of these positions pay, the couple dollars difference that you might think are a big deal in terms of payroll costs and so on and so forth, really are such a fraction of the benefit that you have from paying somebody well that you really like to be around, and who does a good job in your office. It's absolutely worth it.

Shane Tenny: 34:15 Yeah. Now as we wrap up here, I want to see if I can throw you a softball. Our podcast of course is White Coat Wellness. You've talked about a lot of things that sound like wellness to me in your practice, but what do you see as the connection between either relational, emotional, financial wellness and what you've built at Advanced Dentistry? I'll ask you, Geo, so you can think, John.

George Betancou: 34:38 Okay. Wellness, it's balance, it's finding that balance. A lot of us in our line of work have professional goals. And I think for me, the financial piece of it is very important. You want to feel secure, you want to have a certain lifestyle, you want to be able to prepare and be prepared for your future, and in retirement. For me, it's being in an environment where I can take care of people and do what I was trained to do. I went into dentistry because I wanted to be in ... have that role on a healthcare team where I could make decisions and calls, and do things, and create things that make a difference. And so it's a balance between meeting financial goals, taking care of people, providing a healthy working environment for myself and for my staff. And then having the time to spend with my family that I really desire. That's I'd say one of my ultimate goals is to be able to take time off, and to spend time with them, and be there for activities. And finding that balance between your professional work environment, and your home life, and the time that you spend with the people that matter most to you is everything.

John Pinnix: 35:48 Absolutely. Spending time with family, that's really ultimately my priority is my wife, my kids. And sure, you need to make a certain amount of money, and you want to put money away for retirement, et cetera. But in recent years especially a lot of our goals have been less about increasing our take home pay and more about working less, so being more efficient to do the same amount of production in a shorter amount of time. That allows us and our staff to just spend time with our families.

John Pinnix: 36:16 And then I think the other thing is when you're at work, you want to enjoy being at work. And you want to enjoy the people that you're around, and you want to feel good about the service that you're providing and doing good quality dentistry that you feel good about. It makes me happy, makes me sleep well at night. And ultimately our patients see that, and the patients that we have value that and are willing to pay for that service.

Shane Tenny: 36:40 Wellness for everybody.

John Pinnix: 36:41 That's right.

George Betancou: 36:42 Yep.

Shane Tenny: 36:43 Dr. Betancourt, Dr. Pinnix, thanks for coming in today and sharing with us a little glimpse into your practice. Advanced Dentistry of Blakeney.

John Pinnix: 36:49 Thank you.

George Betancou: 36:50 Thank you for having us.

Will Koster: 36:54 I'm Will Koster bringing you White Coat Achievements, our segment that highlights noteworthy achievements by your friends and colleagues. On this episode we're focusing on the woman behind the Mommy Dentists in Business Community. Dr. Grace Yum is a pediatric dentist and the founder of Yummy Dental and Orthodontics For Kids, a practice that's located in the Chicago area. She's also the author of a book, Mommy Dentists in Business, Juggling Family and Life While Running a Business.

Will Koster: 37:24 The idea to start this community came to Dr. Yum in 2017 after she attended her husband's law firm retreat. She realized other professionals who work in a large firm have a natural network that dentists working in small practices don't have. Dr. Yum founded the Facebook group, Mommy Dentists in Business and it has quickly grown to over 6300 members. Dr. Yum also started a podcast with the same brand name to share her stories and experiences that are designed to help moms be successful in their medical careers and in their lives more broadly.

Will Koster: 37:56 The podcast episodes are extensions of some of the more popular topics brought up in the Facebook group. Today, the Mommy Dentist in Business Podcast has over 20,000 downloads. That's quite a large number of downloads, and certainly one of the reasons we felt Dr. Yum was worthy of a White Coat Achievement. Keep on grinding.

Will Koster: 38:15 As always, if you know someone who wears a white coat and is achieving something noteworthy, feel free to drop us a line, send us an email, we'd love to hear about it. Might even feature them on a future episode. But again, this episode's White Coat Achievement goes to Dr. Grace Yum and everything she's doing with the Mommy Dentists in Business Community.

Shane Tenny: 38:35 Thanks so much for joining us today. We've got more great episodes queued up in the roll coming out in the company weeks, so don't forget to subscribe. We really need you to subscribe, that helps us move up the ranks in the Google searches. Also would love any reviews you have on iTunes or Google Play. You can also join the conversation through our private group called White Coat Wellness on Facebook, or you can find us on Instagram too, and if you have any questions, ideas, suggestions, or an idea of somebody who would be a great guest on our podcast, you can email me directly, Shane@whitecoatwell.com. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you back here next time.

Outro: 39:10 This episode of White Coat Wellness is over, but you're not alone on your journey toward financial wellness. Spaugh Dameron Tenny has been helping physicians and dentists with their financial planning for over 60 years, and we'd love to answer any questions that would be of help to you. Visit SDTplanning.com today and take your financial wellness to new levels. Once again, that's SDTplanning.com. And we'll see you on the next episode of White Coat Wellness.