440: Dr. David Rice | Growing 3 Acquisitions and a Startup Using the Lean and Mean Strategy

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Guest: David Rice

Business Name: Ignite DDS

Check out David's Media:

Instagram: @igniteDDS

Ignite DDS Facebook Group

Email: david.rice@ignitedds.com

Other Mentions and Links:

The Psychology of Money

David on Episode 159

The Making Of Facebook Group

Sandy Pardue (Classic Practice)


Jon Miller (Patterson)

Henry Schein


Bank of America

Host: Michael Arias

Website: The Dental Marketer

Join my newsletter: https://thedentalmarketer.lpages.co/newsletter/

Join this podcast's Facebook Group: The Dental Marketer Society

My Key Takeaways:

  • Lending banks do not want to see that you have no debt, they want to see that you can SAVE money. Keep some savings in the bank when securing a loan!
  • Many dentists start off with more than they need. Try running lean an mean at the beginning and add more ops later.
  • Always consider the logical answer before making quick business decisions based on emotion.
  • Podcasts and books are great learning resources starting off, but plan to have 3-5 good mentors to put things into action!
  • Look at the dentist demographics in your area as well as the patient demographics. If there are hungry dentists saturating the market, another location may be better for your startup!
  • Planning to reassess and improve your professional relationships every 90 days is imperative to growth.

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Episode Transcript (Auto-Generated - Please Excuse Errors)

Michael: David, how's it going, man? That's great. How you doing today? I'm doing pretty good, man. Thanks for asking. If you don't mind me asking, where are you located right now?

David: St. Petersburg, Florida. Is

Michael: that where you're, are you speaking right now or is that where your

David: hometown Yeah, so that, so St.

Petersburg is home for me, although I do dentistry in, uh, east Amherst, New York, which is Buffalo. So I've got a.

Michael: Yeah. How far is that?

David: You know, it's about a two hour plane flight, door to door. But I, I, I chunk my time, so I'm in St. Pete for, you know, a month, month and a half, and then I go back there for a week or two and so on and so forth,

Michael: man.

So he racking up the, the miles man,

David: Yeah. Yeah. Delta and I are besties.

Michael: I know. awesome man. So we appreci. Everything, man. I, I know a lot of the listeners here are from the startup group, dental Marketer Society, Facebook group too as well. A lot of other groups. You drop a lot of, knowledge, expertise, especially for startups.

Do you have, your own startup practice, or was it an acquisition or.

David: So I, you know, I kind of ran the full gamut, which I think is important for your listeners to understand. Mm-hmm. , you know, as they listen to people, as you know, advice from folks who've done things lots of different ways matters. So I was an associate, I did three acquisitions and a startup.

I've sold it all. I'm back to being an associate again by design. And, that, that matters when you're listening to folks. You know, one startup is great, 10 startup. Means something, you know, one acquisition is great, 10 acquisitions mean something. Mm-hmm. wanna be careful who you're listening to.

Michael: Yeah, that's true. Mm-hmm. , when you went to three acquisitions, was that your, out of the three acquisitions in the startup, which one was the first where you dove into?

David: First one, uh, was, was an acquisition. there are reasons to do one versus another based on your goals, demographics. opportunity, things like that.

But first one was an acquisition.

Michael: Gotcha. And then you continued to acquire more and more and then decided to do your startup like that? I,

David: I did. And you know, part of the reason I did a startup, part of the reason I acquired other practices as well as did the startup is, , people like to put you in a box and say, well, of course you're sober, successful, you're in East Amherst, New York, not Buffalo or de pew or Lancaster or wherever.

Mm-hmm. . And, um, so I just decided, well, I'm just gonna keep going and prove, you know, there are processes that work, they're universal, and then Yep, there are some things that shift based on geography. So that was, that was my why, honestly. And it was fun. And we got to put some young docs in really great positions early on to, you know, become owners and, and to take over.

Gotcha. What

Michael: were the processes when it came to the acquisitions where you're like, this is universal man, it's, it's whatever acquisition you jump into, it's gonna happen like this. And then what are some things we gotta look out for where it's unique?

David: Yeah. So I'll tell you some of the things that are important from a process standpoint are, um, how you sequence them.

So the first thing you need to do if you wanna buy a practice or start one, is like, get with a lender and get pre. Step number one, 100% of the time. then things differ. But, so acquisition, once we had the lending in place, then we started saying from a vision standpoint, like, who do I want to be?

What kind of practice do I want to have, kind of dentistry? Do I want to do what? ZIP codes, location, location, location, support that rather than trying. really high-end cosmetic dentistry in a demographic that couldn't support it or go into a neighborhood and wanna do bread and butter dentistry in a neighborhood that didn't understand that's not what they wanted.

So, you know, get the lending down, figure out what kind of practice you want to build from a vision standpoint. Then build your kind of your core team. and, and build out your, your business plan to deliver just like 10 steps. I love, but just a couple

Michael: there. . . So you said get the lending down. Let's, let's jump into it with you, right?

Sure. How did you get the lending down and then how did you figure out what kind of practice you wanted?

David: Man, great question. So here's, here's the first thing. I got the lending down the wrong. , so don't do what I did. Mm-hmm. , you know, I love to teach from the mistakes I made. most of you who are young dentists are being told by maybe parents or faculty or maybe even folks that you see online that you should be like, knocking off your debt, knocking off your debt, knocking off your debt.

Not true. Absolutely. 100% false. You should be going income-based repayment, making your minimum payment possible. Dashing cash. and then the moment you've either acquired your practice or if you start up, started up a practice, then crush your debt. I did it backwards. I, I went to a lender with zero debt.

I owned a home with also zero debt and I was a bad lender cuz banks don't want to take away your home or your dental practice if something goes sideways. They wanna look at an account and say, Hey, here's 150, $200,000. And if, God forbid, you're the half of a. , we've got a way to make ourselves whole again, don't do it the way I did it.

bank Cash, that's the first lesson.

Michael: Okay. So was it hard for you to get a loan cuz of that, or who'd you go with? Yeah. Who'd you end up having to

David: go with? So I went with Bank of America, I did. Three of my, my loans through them over the years. They're, they're, they're awesome. They've been great. They have a dental division.

They're the largest dental lender out there for a reason. and there's some lessons there too. Part of it is rate, but it's not all about rate. But I went with them and yeah, my first loan was, was tough. I had to have a co-signer, like, oh, think about all that, man. I was 27, I had zero debt. I was firing on all cylinders, and I needed someone to co-sign my.

because I did it wrong. So don't do

Michael: it wrong, . Okay. So like depth is good in this situation, right? Like you want to have that, cash in the bank.

David: So yeah. Cash flow is king. Mm-hmm. . And if you have, ballparks say 50 to 80 grand and a bank. and you show a bank that you can, save money, not light it on fire, cuz you're all excited, you finally get a paycheck. They're not actually gonna take a dime of your money. They just need to see that you're capable of saving money. And then there's other things they need to see too. But I didn't have that right. Even though I thought I did all these things right. What they saw was like a zero net balance. And that wasn't, that wasn't good for me as a young dentist who wanted to be an.


Michael: so then you got the lending down. Yeah. What are the, here's, here's the process where you're like, okay, I'm just gonna get an acquire this practice right here, or how'd you figure out Yeah. The steps for that, like the practice that you

David: wanted? Yeah. So I knew for me, I wanted to do complete care. I wanted to do, I wanted patients who wanted like to invest in the.

and you, you guys know the dentistry that's out there. It's, you know, call it full mouth rehab, total health, whatever you wanna label it as. But they weren't, I didn't want patients who came in on an emergency only. I didn't want patients I had to fight. So whether we like that or not, that requires a dental iq.

Doesn't mean you have to be smart or, in, in life in general, but you have to have a high dental iq. You have to, you have to inherently value that kind of dentist. Or it's an uphill battle to build, 2,500, 3000 patients who get to that value. That's something we can build over time. But if you're gonna buy a practice, you wanna buy in an area where people sort of instinctively get that.

So we targeted zip codes and said, Hey, they had to have a certain household income, their family structure had to look a certain. , we wanted a family structure, not 10 kids, but maybe one or two kids. Mm-hmm. and people who, who lived in, in certain areas and he shopped in certain places and they, they liked and bought certain goods and services cuz we knew if they valued those things, they would value the dentistry we wanted.

So that narrowed it down for me, like three zip codes in, in Western New York, which is where I want it to be. So do that wherever it is you want to. And, narrow your search. And then from there, you know, there's some really good companies out there that can tell you should you be in a strip mall? Should you be in a standalone?

Should you be, a, at a complex that houses 10, 20, 30 businesses And you can study all that stuff and put yourself in an optimum position.

Michael: Gotcha. Did you go with any of those companies? Those really, really good. .

David: at the time a lot of them didn't exist. So who I did go with and who I still rely on to this day is I called my friends at Care Credit and said, Hey, you guys know, don't just know dentistry, you know, like healthcare.

Mm-hmm. . So tell me in these zip codes what neighborhood I should be in. Am I in a corner? Um, what kind of building I should be in? And they had all that data, which was super.

Michael: Gotcha. Okay. So you figured out like the, the patient base that you wanted, right? Like the exact type of patients then you went from there.

Yeah. When you've acquired these practices, cuz this has happened a lot in the past where numbers look inflated, right. whether it's production collection, new patients and they get in there and they're like, this is not at all what I thought it was gonna be. Yep.

David: Did that. No, thankfully I had great people on my team who knew how to look at not just the top end number, but why those numbers got there.

And they also knew who, how to dissect the practice based on the team that was present and say, Hey, this is the team you can count on moving forward. So these numbers should hold true or. , you know, this team member's been there 35 years, they're probably gonna retire. Or this team member, these team members only been there six months, so they're turning people over.

So that's gonna be something you need to consider on building a new team. So they dissected the numbers themselves, they dissected the processes. Um, we looked at existing team and culture. We looked at insurances. Participated versus accepted versus network. We looked at all those factors and then we looked at goodwill.

So if you're buying something, if you're thinking about buying a practice, ultimately that's what you're buying. You're buying me the seller anointing, you the buyer, as the greatest dentist on the planet and the person I've been searching for my entire career. And when you have all those things put together, you will not lose.

more than 10% of the patient base, and you should lose less than 5%. And anyone who tells you you're gonna expect to lose 20 or 30, they don't know how to do what they should know how to do. Don't listen to that advice.

Michael: Gotcha. Okay. That's really, really good advice. So then, mm-hmm. , you built three acquisitions.

So what was the, why not do a fourth one? Why'd you do a startup instead?

David: prove, I could prove I could take a startup to a million dollars in under 18 months, so that, that was. .

Michael: Oh man. So break that process down to us, like how did that happen?

David: Yeah. So, okay, so similar process. Go get a lender, get your pre-approval.

interesting enough. , your easiest lend is your first one, friends. So do that one, right? Every time you go back to a bank, yes, you, you have history, but you need to have really strong history. So in my sense, it worked out really great cause I had strong history, but in general, your first lend is easiest.

So start a practice. We looked at the same thing. What kind of dentistry do we want to. , what zip code codes will support that kind of dentistry? what kind of marketing plan are we gonna need? Because now they're not butts and seats from day one. We've gotta build butts and seats. And, and then how do we build the right lean team to open the doors with?

And how do we build the right le um, have the right lean, build? . So we didn't build a space that was too big. and we're paying for things that we don't really need. There's, there's lots of myths out there. Like, oh, build it for like six ops. No, do not do that. build lean and mean. You can move, you can expand.

worry about being locked in a space that's too small. That will be the best problem you'll ever have. so simple things that work and are repeatable Gotcha.

Michael: Halene and mean.

David: We did four ops. we plumbed all four, but we had only three outfitted. One as a main restorative op, one as a hygiene op, and one is sort of an overflow that you could use either way now.

I'm gonna caveat this. So imagine that I'm in a community that knows me already, so I had an advantage over you. Somebody who's doing a startup and no one knows you. Mm-hmm. . If I'm doing a startup and no one knows you, do not. Don't plan on having a hygienist for like six to eight months. Like go in as dentist, have an assistant who can also answer phones.

And then as soon as you can warrant adding somebody, add someone at the front desk. So you have front desk assistant dentist, and last, and not least add hygiene, but, I went and lean with, a trio. I'm gonna say most of you'll go and lean with the trio and, unplug hygiene.

Michael: Hmm. Okay.

That's really, really good. And then mm-hmm. , what was your marketing

David: plan? marketing for us, we had an advantage. One of my really great friends owns an ad agency that deals with outside of dental industry, so n f l, like big time folks. Hmm. But they took us on, out of friendship and then we targeted procedures and demographics of people that we knew would mix.

So we went urban with the. We knew we were gonna target essentially millennials as our patient. So what are procedures that we knew they wanted and what are factors we knew they wanted? So convenience was number one. Technology was gonna be number two, services like, know, Invisalign and things that people in a demographic whitening would want would be number three.

And then we just built everything from that core sort of found.

Michael: roughly monthly. How many new patients were you getting? 40. 40. Wow. Okay. So then today, where do you see it go wrong? Where do you see, like, where people are like, I'm trying to do all these Facebook. I don't know. You know what I mean? Like a bunch of stuff.

Where do you see it go wrong?

David: Oh, lots of places. So people don't, um, it goes wrong when you don't do your home. it goes wrong when you emotionally attach yourself to a location, and say, boy, I really want to be here, but you haven't studied to see, can that support you? One, are there enough patients per capita Two, are they the right patients for the style of practice you want to build?

that's one piece. Another piece is, investing in, in lease space or ownership. I would tell you if you're doing a startup, Nine out of 10 times you should lease not own. you wanna lower your, cashflow out. Cuz again, this, this is a cashflow game too. So the faster you can get the positive net, the better.

So most often that's leasing a space. Hire someone to negotiate for you. Uh, you would be shocked at the um, negotiation leverage you have when you get somebody in the game who understands how to beat a landlord. if you're thinking of doing a startup in the next year, the a n u, this could possibly be the best time to do a startup in the last 15 years.

so Awesome. So, you know, side then size of space, don't overbuild. I think a lot of people overbuild and then I think a lot of people over dentally, tech out get foundational pieces of technology that really, really matter. outfit your primary room to do all the things you want it to do, and then everything else is kind of nice to have.

If it fits in your budget, I would rather you spend way more money on your marketing, than outfit three rooms, Mac, daddy them. You can always come back and invest in, uh, more equipment. So I think those are the big ones. Okay. If it's me and what I'm seeing out there,

Michael: is a good, like, rule of thumb when it comes to, cuz it, you know, you hear that a lot, like, invest as much as you can in your marketing.

What's a good, like percentage wise when you're, when you're looking at

David: that man, it, it's, it's, honestly, it's hard to say. I'm gonna say the average startup today is 700 grand. So if you said you're spend. Oh God, 10% of that, 15% of that on marketing. That's, that's, that's probably a healthy budget.

I think it's easy for people to go, it's easy for people to underspend and then wonder, why am I only getting a couple patients? Cause there's, you know, you know, from what you do, there's like a critical mass number and you have to, you have to hit that threshold in order to cross over the other side. So I would say minimum 10, 15% of that load you.

Michael: Okay. It's interesting. I feel like, do you think some people look at the unicorn who like, oh, I opened up where I wanted to, did what I wanted to, did all this. And then they're like, I throw money at you, like, tell me how to do it. You know what I mean? Kind of thing. Do you think that's kind of like, I guess like common instead of, all right, we should sit down and do our due diligence here and this is not gonna work out.

David: Yeah, I think that's, um, unfortunately. , it's, uh, you know, social media. There's a blessing and a curse to it. The blessing is we meet people and we, we can learn some best practices. The curse, the downside to it is we're really like tiptoeing in somebody else's water and everybody's circumstances are different.

So I think, yes, unfortunately probably eight out of 10 people look at the unicorn and say, well, I'm just gonna do it that way, and that way might not be the way at all there. There needs to be process. this should be a zero emotion and a 100% logic driven process for everybody who's gonna do it.

Cause the feel good goes away the moment the bills start coming in and the revenue doesn't.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. Cuz I feel like I get, I hear that a lot, David, where it's like, oh man, I just needed my own place to do a startup. This is my own brand. Finally I can do what I want. You know what I mean? And there's a lot of emotion and I guess emotion kind of sells, but like, is that, is that wrong?

David: I'm just gonna say that I, and I'm you, anyone who's watching me, like, I'm not an absolute guy. I'm like, life's gray in the middle. But if you're making your choice on emotion yes. That is in, in that situation, it's 100% not the right way to do it. There are instances where you're gonna wanna start up and then there are instances you're absolutely not gonna wanna start up.

You're better off buying a practice. And then there are instances you might be better off staying an associate a little while longer to bank more cash and wait for the right opportunity to open up. it's e it's easy as a young dentist to think, man, I'm not moving fast enough cuz I'm watching all these people sprint.

I think what, what we don't see is all the behind the scenes stuff. Like it's easy to take a snapshot of my life today and be like, wow, that looks really great. But I'm here to tell you, like for every good thing that's happened, there's been like a hundred bad things, . that's just not what we talk about on social media all the time.

We don't talk about the work and the stress and the days. I would close the door and be like, you know what? I'm not paying myself today. I'm gonna pay my bills. I'm gonna pay my team, and then I'm gonna try to figure out how I'm going to. and like I had those times just like everybody else had those times.

So, you know, if you're thinking about this process, like really sit back, get with the small, and I mean small, like three to five people, mentors, stops and start listening deeply to their lessons and not this wide swath of people. Cuz you're gonna get a hundred different answers from a hundred different people.


Michael: So then what would be. Where you're, somebody's telling you, let's just say like, all these people are. I, I think I've heard it somewhere where they're like, undercover mentor, right? Where you don't know that, David, you're my mentor, but I've been listening to your stuff, watching your po, you know what I mean?

Kind of thing. So it's like, all right, I'm listening to David. And now what would you say to be like, Yeah, you do need a startup. You do need to do a startup. Yeah. What, what would be the, okay. , the

David: okay for it is, the first thing I would do is I would look in an area and I would say, okay, where do I want to be?

So here's where I want to be. Then I would say, what are the li where are the realistic opportunities in like those three zip codes? Can I acquire a practice in those three zip codes for a reason, like a fair value? yes. Or. yes. I'm here to tell you buy the practice, don't start one. unless you're looking at a group of dentists who've been there, who are already, really enjoying life.

So if you went into where I, my first practice where I started and you talked to my partner, my former partner, mark and Laura, and, and you wanted to compete, you could do a startup in their neighborhood. because they're already getting 60 new patients a month like clockwork. Everything's good. They don't have to worry about it.

So if you want to come in and do some marketing, like they're like, ah, come in my neighborhood and do some marketing. Now, if you wanted to do a startup in a neighborhood where there's six people who are just like you and everybody's hungry and everybody's trying to build, and maybe it's people that are, uh, two, three years ahead of you, so they have some systems in place, that is not the place to start up.

You're gonna get buried. , no matter how good you think you are. Mm-hmm. . so I think always look at not just the patient demographics, but the dentist demographics. And if the dentist demographics are people who are on autopilot and you wanna do a startup, go for it. If they're really, really new and they're not doing a lot of things, well go for it.

But boy, if they're in the middle and they're hungry and they do a lot of things right, that's not the place to do a startup. Don't do it.

Michael: Okay. Any like specific place? Like are you thinking of like Frisco or California? Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter. Okay. Doesn't matter.

David: Yeah, just any place where there's a population.

Population of people. so it doesn't, I mean, Buffalo, New York, I can, if you wanted to be in Buffalo or some suburb, I could tell you do not go to East Amherst. , do not go to Orchard Park. You wanna be in Buffalo proper, you wanna be in Lancaster to Pew, you wanna be um, in Lockport. All those places are opportunity.

But if you go to one of the three places where all the Beth dentists who are really hungry are, it's gonna be a tough haul uphill.

Michael: Yeah. So then that's like the strategy. But when it comes to like, I guess cuz you said to ignore the emotion, right? To, so yeah. Let's ignore the part where it's like, oh, I just want to do my own startup.

Yeah. When would it be okay then, or how do you know if it's like, I'm just being impatient, I need to find a better associate, uh, ship, or I need to find an acquisition. You know what I mean? Like when is it the okay to be, like, is it just when you're doing research and you're like, I feel like owning a business or, or how does that work?


David: I think when you are ready, like when you wake up in the morning, you think I'm ready to be a practice owner, then you should Go for it as a practice owner. But I think then you need to look at what's the best path for ownership for me. Mm-hmm. . and you should be patient enough to know that, like getting in the right relationship in life, like you might find Mr.

Miss, him, her wonderful when you're not looking. So it might not be today, it might be three months, six months, or a year from today. So it own that. You wanna own, that's amazing. But don't take a bad opportunity in a rush if it takes you eight months, 10 months, a year to get exactly what you want. It's worth the weight.

Michael: Gotcha. Okay. And then why is this the best time in past 15 years to do it?

David: So there's gonna be this little thing called the recession hitting the world. not if it's when, and it's how intensely. The great news is dentistry, like it is pandemic proof, it's recession proof. We've already been through multiple recessions.

Dentistry does really, really well. So here's the win. , you're going to be successful because you're still going to do dentistry, despite the economy. The wins are, you're gonna be able to negotiate with landlords much better because that's, uh, a business world that doesn't do well in recession. People stop paying rents.

Mm-hmm. . So now you, you're a really good tenant, or if you wanna buy a piece of property, property values are gonna dip 10, 15, 20%. So you're gonna buy for less. Equipment. Now you're not gonna go to, any major equipment company and get like a 30% off deal, but you are gonna get a deal and you're gonna get a lot of perks.

You're also gonna be able to get your equipment a whole lot faster. So maybe it took me eight, nine months to get my equipment and it takes you six, which gives you time. To get to your startup factor, like you've made the decision, you're doing it, you've done all your homework. Now your goal is to get the doors open as quickly as possible.

Cuz then time is money. So, real estate's gonna be a better buy. Equipment's gonna be a better buy. Supplies will be a better buy. And you're gonna do the same level of dentistry you would've done, uh, economy booming or economy just doing okay. So you're in that buy low sell high kind of place and, and realistically, you know, just two years.

you already have an asset that's probably worth, you know, 1.5 to two times x. And that's doesn't happen very often in that chart of a span kind. That's

Michael: good. I like that. So then if we were one a little bit, your three acquisitions in one startup, you let that go when?

David: life and timing. Seven months pre covid.

Michael: Okay. So pre covid life and ti. ,

David: it was part of an eight year plan. so yeah, I'm a, I'm a planning nut, so I had an eight year plan, where I, I love doing dentistry. I continue to do dentistry, but what I knew is Ignite was gonna take me to a different kind of business. And, it allows me to reach and work with young dentist.

all the time, which I love even more than doing dentistry full-time. And the other part for me, from like a life and a vision standpoint, it is, it gave me total mobility. So my wife and I wanted to live someplace where the sun shined every day. My dental practice was in a place where it's fine, like 20 days a year.

So , you know, ignite allowed us to move and take our, like our next life. earlier than it would've otherwise had I stayed a dentist full-time. So our practice needs its leaders there full-time. I get to go back and do all the things I do clinically and um, tech-wise, I get to build content there, which is amazing.

And then, um, I get to go, you know, be with my wife in Florida the rest of the time, which is, you know, that's our sort of perfect life design. Mm-hmm. ,

Michael: that's how you created it, right? Yeah. Towards the. Man. So you planned that out like that. Interesting. Okay, man. Mm-hmm. . So then I wanted to ask you, um, throughout your process of your acquisitions, also your, your startup and everything like that.

Sure. And what you've been seeing lately, what have been some of the best companies to work with, and then some of the worst ones.

David: So I'll caveat this with I'm different than many dentists where I believe that loyalty really. So I'm a Patterson guy. Mm-hmm. , and I've been for 29 years now.

That doesn't mean if you went to work with Shine or Benko or somebody else, that that's bad. That's not bad. Um, but my relationship started with Patterson years and years ago. They've been amazing to me. We've worked together with every single thing I've ever done, and it's been a craziest success. So if you don't know who to go to, I highly recommend that.

If you say, man, I work with Scheiner Benko and they're doing right by me. , stay with them, be super loyal to them. that's been, uh, I think a life premise. I do that with flights and hotels and everything, like loyalty pays big time. So I like Patterson. if I'm you guys and I'm talking like startups or first practice, one of my favorite people in dentistry, his name is Jonathan.

I love Jonathan. He's, he's integrity through the roof. He's got a banker's background, but he literally has devoted his whole life to, your first practice, whether it's an acquisition or a startup. And I love, love, love that cuz he has no vested interest in which one you choose. It just needs to be the right one for you.

That's like solid objective information. . he's tremendous. I'm a B of a guy. I also like provide, I think they're, they're also a very good lender. So I, I work with, uh, young docs on both of those lens all the time. I don't have no skin in the game. I just know that they both can deliver. sometimes one's better than the other just based on timing and, and offers they have. And sometimes it's just likability. Like, here's a couple good people. Pick who you wanna work with. Mm-hmm. , What spaces are you looking for

Michael: in, I guess gimme like from the processes of your startup, right? Where you're like, okay, we built it, but now after like one, two years, three years after it's up and running because like, let's just say for example, there's a.

So that, that leads to another question like, cuz you mentioned loyalty, right? When would it be okay to let that loyalty go? To be like, man, you screwed up way too many times. Like, these claims are, I can get 'em better done by somebody or I don't know. You know what I mean? yeah. And it's different now too, cuz of social media.

Like, you see everybody's saying they're the best, they're the, you know, contact this person and all these things. So Sure. Kinda like in that area.

David: Yeah, so that's, and that's a really good point. What I would recommend to all of you is you reassess every relationship you have every 90 days. So I'm not looking to make a move, but I am looking to make sure people are performing.

And that's on part of, that's on them, on on, on the other side of the relationship. But part of that's on me too, as an. You know, as the quote, c e o of my company and as a leader, is to define my expectations to all the people we work with and show them what a win is for you. Tell them, and, you know, when we work together, these are the things that matter most to me.

And then if you, every 90 days are circling up with them, they're either checking all those boxes or they're not. So for me, I, at 90 days, if somebody wasn't doing their job, I would say, Hey, remember when we promised? that these three or five things were really important, you were gonna do those things.

They'll say yes. You'll say, okay, so help me understand how we missed. I don't know, two out of the five. What are we gonna do about it? How do we fix that in between now and the next time we get together? And then if they fix it and it stays fixed, amazing. If they don't, then you know that's, you've given your best to the relationship.

They clearly look at it differently than you and. Then it's time to move on. Um, but I think like all relationships, when we communicate really, really well, here's what we need from you. And they say, here's what we need from you, and then we, we both work at delivering what we need. Then you'll find you'll have 10 year, 15 year, 20, 30 year relationships with people, and your life will go much more smoothly as a business owner in addition to costing you a lot less money.

Michael: I like that. So today still, David, do you re reassess it every 90 days or after like 10 years? You're like, we got it. We got, we're, we're

David: pretty cool. Mm-hmm. , we still do, we do it with every insurance. not with dental insurances, but like male practice, disability, life. Uh, we do it with our financial planners, in the office for the 401k and our profit sharing outside of the office.

For what we do alone, I do it with my C P A, we do it with our attorneys. and um, you know, it's, it was really cool when I was with the practice all the time and, and Mark and I were just partners together. We did it together. We brought everybody in and we round tabled it. We're like, okay, you're all on our team.

Cuz what's really interesting is sit down with the CPA and they're gonna give you, this advice, you know, over, you know, over in one cap. And then you sit down the financial planner and they might be in a totally different camp. No, no, no, no. That's a bad idea. Do this. But when we bring our cpay and our financial planner together, And it's not a, one versus the other.

It's more the goal is to win. So share why you c p a see it this way. Financial planners share why you see it this way? It's so cool to see people interact and say, you know what? Wow, I never really looked at that way. I get why you want to do that. So what if we did a little bit of this and then we did a little bit of that, and then we assessed what works best and then we'll do more of what works and less of what doesn't work.

Don't be afraid to take your external team and unite them in a room or a virtual room on a regular basis and have everybody talking to everybody. It's gonna make them feel really good because you're in this with them. It's not a transaction and you'll get really crazy better results when everybody communicates with everybody and people aren't butting heads all the time, you know, over turf.

Michael: So you do that every like quarter or every 90 days. Mm-hmm. you, you get everybody together and.

David: Yeah, that, and we, yeah. And I'll tell you pro-tip, when you're building out a space, do the same thing. We got our architect, our general contractor, Patterson as our distributor, who's gonna supply the equipment, all the subs, electric, plumbing, the whole nine yards.

We got 'em all together at, at a table, handed out a little information sheet, said, this is who y'all are. This is all your. . So we are gonna build this place together. And when you feel like somebody's holding you up, then let that person know along with us and we can hold everybody accountable in this process.

And our buildouts went much better that way than when we tried to do them not doing it that way.

Michael: I like that man. So you let the, you let them know, Hey, if you hold us up, everybody else is accountable kind of thing. .

David: Mm-hmm. . And you know, cuz you know, it's, it's, he said, she, she said, so if you're building a space out and, and you're, you're running behind, which happens too commonly in Buildouts.

Mm-hmm. , someone's gonna say, oh man, I couldn't come in and do my job cuz so and so didn't do theirs. Well, once you put everybody in a room and you hold them accountable to each other, then they, I can't blame if I'm a plumber. I can't blame the electrician cuz boy, we, we all know each other now. So if you had a problem with the electrician plumber, it was your. So let that person know and let us know there was a problem. So we knew what to expect.

Michael: Okay. I like that man. Okay. So we wanna reassess every relationship every 90 days, right? All together. Yeah, everybody. And then make sure we talk to everyone, let them know their roles, communicate and so forth. Okay.

Interesting. So, David, I know you, you do a lot now, I dunno if you're more busier now than you were when you had all the acquisition. So real quick, what's your area of e. .

David: I'm gonna say I'm a leadership and culture builder. That is, that is my, there are, there are things that I'm pretty darn good at, but that's what I'm pretty darn good at, that I really, really love and I'm a huge fan of.

So I work with young folks all the time on how to build that in their practice. And sometimes it's a personal thing. Most of the time it's a practice thing. when you really get it, you realize it's all the same. Mm-hmm. . So yeah, that's how I personally help people. And outside of that, I'm gonna say my superpower is just connecting you for the right people.

Big ocean out there. My job is just take the ocean, turn it into a pond, and then you as a, a young dock side, who in that pond you should play with. But at least we've weeded. , all the other fluff. Yeah,

Michael: everything else is unnecessary. So then what can a dentist do today to improve their, their marketing or their business?

David: First thing I would do is I would look at my internal systems. I'm a big fan of external marketing as well. I'm here to share with you if your internal systems aren't buttoned up. , um, you can reign in, you know, a hundred phone calls a day and you're not gonna convert mm-hmm. . So why spend the time, the energy and the dollars on that unless you have your internal systems buttoned up?

So I would work on that. I would work on my, my diagnostic skills, my treatment planning skills, and especially my communication skills from first phone call to passing the baton from one team member to the. To treatment plan and case acceptance to follow up. And if you master that process that you do all day every day as a team, you, you can't help but grow at least 20% in less than six months.

I mean, it's, it's hard not to grow that fast.

Michael: Yeah. So then look at, if, if you were to give us like a couple bullet points, like besides phones, right? Because like obviously if phones aren't converting, then we. You know, marketing is just being always what's, what are some internal systems that you've seen where people continue to miss it after year, two, year three, year four, and, and you have to go in there again and be like, keep an eye on this system or create a system for this.

What are some of those? Sure.

David: I'm gonna say low hanging fruit. people don't have assistant to. Patients for referrals. that's an easy one. you know who your best patients are, you probably want more of them and not just more of like the random person. So having a system for asking for referrals is a big one.

Having a system to, be up the case acceptance model from hygienist to dentist. Is another really, really easy one. So as a dentist, you should walk in a room and that patient should be primed. They should already have a, a firm grasp of everything you're gonna say. You and your hygienist should have a really nice system to communicate with each other before you walk in.

And then adding to that system how you share what you share over a patient's shelter. There's tons of data to show that your patients listen more to what they overhear than what they. . Um, and then the third one is system for accountability. And that is everybody does what they promised to do and I've seen so many dental practices fall off the ledge cuz everybody gets excited about something and then three months later, six months later, three years later, they're doing it.

Same darnt thing that they did in the beginning. So accountability is everything. Gotcha.

Michael: Okay. Interesting. Now these next couple questions are just to get into the head of someone who. Ran practices and startups, right. Acquisitions. But right now, what would you like to see more from a practice owner?

David: I would like to see more leadership.

this is gonna be a hard truth for some of you, but people don't leave jobs. They leave you. So if your team is walking out the door, they're leaving you. And I know you think it's about a dollar an hour or two bucks an hour, it's. . It's a good thing that we point to in today's world, but since the dawn of time, strong leaders build strong teams and strong teams stay cuz they're a part of something bigger.

Do you

Michael: ever feel like somebody ever comes to you and like, David, I'm trying to lead this, and then you're, you look at them, you talk to them, they're trying, but you're just like, you're just not a leader man. Like you're not meant for this role. Has that ever.

David: It, it happens a lot. And I, you know, I don't blame anyone when that happens because unless you have invested more time and energy in learning to be a leader, it's, you know, it's inherent in some people.

Some people are natural born leaders, but most people learn leadership as a skillset, just like they learn everything else. So I think what happens is, whether it's social media or parents or you read a book, you, you think you're taking these great lessons and bringing them to the table. somebody's hearing a totally different message than what you are verbalizing or even better what you're showing them, right?

Mm-hmm. , who you are is different than who you're speaking to them, so the connection is getting lost. So if you feel like this isn't going perfectly well, you know, spend some time to learn to be a leader. It's just like wrapping a tooth. You have to be taught.

Michael: Anything you recommend? Like, cuz you mentioned that and I'm like, oh dang.

I do that sometimes. Like I'll read a bucket and I'm like, we're doing this and then a year from now I'm like, what happened to that? We, we should have done that Right. Kind of thing. So what would you recommend where we go to get taught?

David: Yeah. So first I'm gonna say read all the books. That's, that's always a good thing.

Listen to all the podcasts, that's always a good thing. But look at that as like very 1 0 1 information. Mm-hmm. And then I'm gonna say, take a deep dive in leadership with somebody. So, Sandy Paru, great example. Like somebody who knows how to teach leadership. something I do a lot, I teach leadership a ton, um, to young d dentists.

there's probably 10 people I could name that, you know, if, if you guys wanna follow up with me, I'll give you all 10. Like, I doesn't matter to me. There's, there's like so much work out there for all of us. It's not a thing. So I'm happy to share all the people that I think are really, really good.

But find somebody. that you, you really trust what they say. Check on them, right? Check to see who else thinks they're really darn good at what they do, and then go all in and stop dabbling and stop listening to people in a Facebook group, including our Facebook group, right? Listen only to that person.

That's how you're gonna succeed. Mixed messages. It's just noise and it's a diversion from us succeeding quickly.

Michael: Yeah, a hundred percent, man. I agree. So then right now, What do you hate about dentistry or dislike ?

David: the blessing and the curse of social media. I hate social media and, and I, and I share that with all of you telling you that I built Ignite TDS on social media, right?

right? Mm-hmm. , we reach a million people a month. We built our entire company on social media, but I still, the problem is most of social media today is affirmation and it is not information. Mm-hmm. , it's people going to comm. and, um, it's not all groups, but certain groups who've got some significant popularity.

listen, they're Dan Kennedy marketing trained. They're har, they're honing in on three pain points that they know you have. And if you just pay attention, there might be 20 posts a day, seven days a week. But over the course of six months, they all say three things. They all harp on the fact that student loan debt is.

and shame on dental schools, they harp on insurance companies are awful. Shame on insurance companies for paying you less. there's a few others out there, but, um, I don't like that. I don't like people who, who position themselves to generate business out of fear. It works. I get it. But I, that's my biggest dislike in dentistry today.

Michael: Ah, when you were mentioning that, I, I started thinking of because, you know, we're all part of a lot of Facebook groups. Interesting. Yeah. No, no. I, I agree a hundred percent. Like, so then what would you, I guess, what would you like to see change from that? Just completely stop that or,

David: in, in a perfect world, like, yeah, I'd like people to just stop, but that's not gonna happen.

So what, so what I would like, honestly, a realistic world is each of us. As a, uh, social media user go in with both eyes wide open, and even in those groups where there are things like that, that I dislike, there's really good information, so don't throw it all out. Just go in and realize when somebody says this, they're saying it for a reason.

They're pushing you to an end. if that end game is your perfect end game, listen, if that is not your perfect end game and it's challenging your beliefs and where you wanna go and making you feel like um, you can't get there, then you need to minimize your exposure to it. Cause it repetition will get you and eventually wear you down and make you feel like you can't.

And, and I'm here to tell you, dentistry is still today one of the greatest professions where everything is possible. So you want to go be a fee for service dentist. I can teach you how to do that and make a lot of money. You want to be a P P O dentist. Um, better people than me can teach you how to do that and make a lot of money.

You wanna be a Medicaid dentist. Different people than me can teach you how to do that and make a lot of money. My job is to just help you in the lane if you're in my lane, and then get you to somebody who's in a different lane if you wanna be in a different lane.

Michael: Yeah, man. And I like that man affirmation and that information.

You're right, there's a lot of. , we used to be information overload. Now it's just opinion overload. Totally. Like everybody has an opinion for everything and states it as a fact. You know what I mean? Yeah. Everybody's

David: an expert. Like, and that, that's what I mean. If, if I literally, if I owned one, and in fact even if I owned my four practices and I didn't study practice models and work in like 50 practices a year, times the last 25 years. my information would be purely opinion and would mean nothing to you. So when somebody says, do these 10 things, how many times have they done it? How many different ways have they done it? If it's under 20, stop listening. It's irrelevant.

Michael: Yeah. If it's not applicable. Do you think it's more like, cuz like, oh, we're in the same boat.

I have like that common ground, like we're both just started up kind of thing, right? Yeah.

David: So they. Yeah, I, and, and there's value in that. So there's value in knowing that we're all in this together and that we're not alone. w Edwards Deming, who's probably the greatest economist America has ever seen, but certainly a top three, if you don't know him, study him.

94% of our successes in our systems, I can't build a good system. One shot. I have to have multiple shots over time. I can't have success over six months. I have to have success over time, um, over changing markets, over changing demographics. That's really where things matter. So listen to everybody but understand what that information means and, and the limitations of the information.

Michael: Gotcha. Okay. And then one of the last questions is right now, what do you love about dentist?

David: Everything, dentistry. Pound for pound dentistry is still the greatest opportunity out there for you. So your degree buys you, ownership and multiple facets. One location, two locations, a thousand locations. It's all doable. There's a model for each and a, and a playbook for each. You can be an education, you can never own anything and go to work for someone and do really, really well. If you wanna be nine to five and go. , you can not do any clinical dentistry at all and work on the industry side. So many opportunities there.

And if you want to be a part of the whole like influencer space, do it wisely. But there's a whole world to do there. So I love that dentistry affords all of us so many avenues to succeed and we get to pick the way we wanna do it. There's no one right way. There's, there's several right ways to succeed in all of those different avenue.


Michael: I like that, man. Awesome. David, thank you so much for being with us. But before we say goodbye, can you tell our listeners where they can find you? Sure.

David: find me where it's easiest for you. So if you're on Instagram at Ignite, d d s, if you're on Facebook, we, we have a group, at Ignite, d d s insiders, or you'll see me in any of the number of groups.

I try my best to, you know, pick like eight of 'em and, and chime in. My email is my name. It's David dot Rice. At Ignite dds.com. Um, and obviously you're welcome to come to ignite dds.com and you can come there, register for free, or just come and learn. So, you know, go where it's easiest for you to go and, and, and, and reach out.

Seriously, like Dennis, she's been really amazing to me and my whole mission in life is to help it be more amazing for you.

Michael: So guys, that's all gonna be in the show notes below, and David, thank you for being with us. It's been a pleasure and we're here from you soon, bud. Thanks man.