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DAT - Dental Admission Test
Dr. Gardner Beale
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My Key Takeaways:
Michael: Mary, how's it going?
Mary: Everything is going great, Michael. Thank you for having
Michael: me. No, thank you for being on. If you don't mind me asking, I know you told me before we started recording, but where are you located?
Mary: We are in Orange County, California.
Our offices are in Orange County and Los Angeles County. Actually, we're we're expanding a little bit.
Michael: Really? Why Los Angeles?
Mary: It's still within driving distance to Orange County. So currently with our offices, we still like to be really present in them, at least visit them once a month or so, and mm-hmm.
Now we just wanna drive, make it like a 30, 45 minute drive and, um, and we have patients that live in LA County that want us there. So we decided to serve our patients.
Michael: What, how many practices do you
Mary: could have? So we have seven currently. And, um, I think we're gonna just keep going. We're having fun doing it.
Michael: uh, you make it sound like so, so funny, like, you know, let's just keep going and build. And so before we dive into that, tell us a little bit about your past, present. How'd you get to where you are today?
Mary: Initially, I actually didn't think I was gonna be a dentist. Mm-hmm. I, I wanted to be an ob gyn.
My parents were like the typical Asian tiger parents and wanted everyone to be a doctor. So I applied to med school. I was a med school reject, and um, I moved to Houston, Texas against my parents' wishes and became a Hooters girl. So I loved, so I worked there and then I met a dentist actually at the end of my shift.
And she came in, she had some chicken wings and we were just chatting and she was like, you should really consider dental school. And then I was like, nah, I don't wanna be a dentist. I don't wanna be in people's mouth all day. But then she, she was like, all you have to do is take the d a t, see how you do and it'll just open more doors for you, so you should try it out.
Mm-hmm. So I took the, I decided to focus, I took this KAPLAN course and I took the d a t and I did acceptable enough to get into U S C dental school, and I guess that paved the way for me and dentistry. And so, um, went to dental school not knowing much about dentistry at. And, um, I did pretty well in dental school, to where one of my mentors, Dr.
Gardner Beal, um, he encouraged me to pursue pediatric dentistry because he saw during my pediatric rotation that he's like, oh, Mary, you're really, really good with kids. You should consider pe. And I was like, nah, I'm ready to start working. Make some money. So, you know, start my career. And he is like, well, let's just, you know, pr be a part of the pediatric selective and just, you know, you'll have fun.
You, um, you really seem like you like it. And he encouraged me to apply to pediatrics. And then I got into pediatrics at the University of Illinois and Chicago and I finished my residency. me and my husband got married. He's an orthodontist and he decided to, Settle in Orange County, and that's how we ended up here.
and of course, because he's an orthodontist, he's like, I want my pediatric dentist wife to refer me all the patients, so I never have to do any marketing ever again. So, within the year I just opened a startup. and it was just like, luck, you know, we, we thought we were gonna open in this city. It didn't work out.
At the time, you're very discouraged because you're looking at all of these locations that you think you wanna work in. However, everything doesn't align the way that you, thought that it would. And so, um, we ended up finding our first location in placenta. The contractor was, you know, who we're still there today and he owns the building and he's like, you know what, Mary?
Like this is the last suite in this building. I'll pay for everything. I'll pay for to build it out. I'll pay for whatever you need. So you just put the equipment in and it's yours. And so I. And I didn't have much of a startup cost there except for the equipment and a little bit of upgrades and it costs.
But besides that, I was really fortunate in that I found them. And so, um, from there, we, I would say within the first three years we became busy, you know, um, our model is, Give everyone a reason to smile. And what we mean by that is everyone, no matter what type of insurance you have, no matter what your socioeconomic status is, we think that every child deserves quality, specialty, dental care, if the parents choose that, so, You know, we're not picky with being like a fee for service or a PPL only.
We cater to everyone with the best technology and with specialty care. And so that has just been our business model. And when we realized that we're able to become profitable while seeing all different types of payers, It really became something that we loved. You know, like I didn't wanna just serve fee for service patients.
You know, like, how could I develop this business model that can be profitable, but, and also doing what I love, so, That was really fulfilling. and then we started growing really fast to where we decided to open in different locations where our patients were asking us. So we just opened our Lake Forest location a couple of months ago, and I would say 80% of the patients that come through are, were our patients that visited another location.
Moved to South Orange County to where they're like, oh my gosh, we're so glad you're here. And I'm like, you spoke, we listened. You said you guys need an open one in South Orange County. So here we are. so that's kind of where we are today. and it's still a really fun ride. You know, I think when people start to scale by the second or third location, they.
Start to get stressed out. Like what worked at one location doesn't always work with two, and what works at two doesn't always work with three. But once you get to three or four and you've systemized a lot of things, it really helps with scaling. And so, um, and so yeah, it's a, it's a fun time for us and, and it also scaling allows your team to have growth opportunities.
You know, like if you're in a single location, then you might just be a dental assistant, maybe like a lead. But then where is it? Where else can you go right from there if you stay there? So, My goal has changed from opening one practice to how many more lives can I change? Not only patients, but my team.
How can I continue allowing them to grow as we grow because they have been with me for so long. Right? And you just wanna see people succeed. So it's fun. I love it.
Michael: Nice. That's a a lot. Uh, you going? That was a little, it's fantastic. It's fantastic. Real quick, where in Houston were.
Mary: I was, I lived in Pasadena, but the Hooters that I worked at was off the, off of Kirby.
Michael: Okay. Okay. Nice. Yeah. Pasadena over there is different than Pasadena in here, right? Yes. It's very different. Yeah. That's nice. Okay, so then it's interesting you said no twice, right? You're like not a dental school and then NAD to pediatrics, but you went that way, right? Why? Why do you think that?
Mary: I think part of it was one, it would make my parents proud that even though I wasn't a doctor, I was some sort of professional.
so that was one. And then two, I think that I wanted to push myself into a better opportunity, right? Like I, I actually used to do nails. My parents owned several nail shops growing up, and one thing my mom always told me was, no matter what the skill. You can always learn more, and that'll just make you a better person, you know?
Mm-hmm. So like I still have my manicuring license, even though I don't use it, I still renew it every year. Yeah. And it's like, it's fun, right? It's like you, it's a skill that you've acquired, that you've learned, and you're licensed to do it, and it's only good for you to learn to do a lot of different things.
So, Dentistry. I don't practice behind the chair as much. Maybe once or twice a month when I'm filling in for my doctors who are on vacation. But, um, but I did it for 12 years, you know, and I really loved it. I feel like I became very good at not only clinical dentistry, but catering to patients needs. And now I have my second calling, which is developing people.
Mm-hmm. And continuing to build my company. Uh, you know, affect as many lives as I can in a positive way. Yeah.
Michael: No, that's, that's fantastic. Now, I know you kind of said like, now you accept anybody, right? Like, or not now, but like you've always accepted any kind of patient. Does that mean like Medi-Cal, any type of insurance?
That doesn't matter.
Mary: Exactly. So we are in network with almost every payer. The only ones that we are out of network with are the HMOs that require certain criteria that we think are unreasonable. Like for example, there's certain HMOs that say you have to try at the general dentist three times with failed appointments before we will pay for you to see a specialist, which I think is wrong because the general.
Knows if the patient is able to tolerate treatment at a general dentist or if they need specialty care, why make them go three times before you'll refer them? Because by the time they get to us after the third time, they're so scared, you know? So those are the only insurance plans that we don't take are the ones that I just ag I don't agree with.
They're pro protocol or their, their philosophy.
Michael: Gotcha. Okay. And then you also mentioned that the, then the first three years, Of your startup, you became busy. Mm-hmm. So break it down to us. What were you doing? What didn't work? What worked?
Mary: So initially I thought I wanted to be this boutique fee for service practice.
Mm-hmm. I think that's the, picture that people paint, right? Mm-hmm. And so whenever I was a resident, we saw every payer type, mainly Medicaid. As a resident, and then when I went into private practice, I thought that I wanted to be this boutique p p O practice, but then I realized I wasn't fulfilled, I didn't see as many cavities or much extensive treatment.
It was a slower pace. Um, which is okay, but I like being busy. You know, I worked at a nail shop for 15 years, right? So, I mean, you're seeing, you have a lot more interaction with people and so it, it, it's just a different type of practice. It's not right or wrong, but I think it's just like different dental practices in general, right?
Some people like to sit and talk with their patients for a really long time, and some people thrive in a fast-paced environment where I like saying hi to five different people and. With kids in particular, they're very impatient. And when the kids are impatient, the parents are more impatient. Mm-hmm. So I like the fast paced type of environment.
when I first started practicing, I worked out in Riverside County where it was like a hundred percent Medicaid. And so when I left that practice to open my own, a lot of the patients would come and see me at Lollipop, where our practice was in placenta and, um, At that time I didn't take Denal because I was like, well, you know, I don't know if I wanna open that door, but I'll still see them for free.
So the social worker would bring them and I would still see them. And, um, I just wouldn't bill or wouldn't charge or anything like that. So then the social worker was like, Dr. Fam, like, we can help you. Why don't you just sign up so then you'll get paid for seeing. These patients that, that are driving an hour to two hours to come see you.
And I'm like, all right, we can do that. So I called Medi-Cal and they said, you can, you can choose to see whichever patients you want, whether it's just kids under five special needs kids or whoever you can, you don't have to take every single person, right? You can just selectively decide like which patients you wanna see.
And then I was like, yeah, I just wanna only see my patients. I don't wanna take any new patients, just the patients that I've followed for many. And so, um, so then we. Got slammed with patients cuz I couldn't say no to anyone. Mm-hmm. I mean, I had this, this thing where I'm only gonna see my patients and then hey, but I have a friend and then I, I'm telling everyone to come here and we love it here.
And I was like, yes, yes. We'll see them, don't worry. Like, we'll take care of everybody. We can save the world. And so, um, so that's kind of how we got busy was because we were like, you know what, we're not gonna say no to any children that need specialty care. And we know we're the best, We're not gonna close our doors to anyone at all.
You know, if we can help them, we will. Mm-hmm. And that's how we got from like, kind of like a boutique P p O type practice to where we are today.
Michael: Gotcha. You're right, a hundred percent. So many times we're like, I wanna be a boutique then I only wanna have like work one to two clinical days. Right. Maybe good, good days.
And then from that point on, have an associate be fee for service. Where does that come from? Why did you have that?
Mary: You know, I can't, I can't put my finger on like one particular thing, but I just think people always Put Medicaid in like a negative connotation. Mm-hmm. Like, oh, it's like low reimbursement people cancel, the socioeconomic status and it's gonna run the fee for service patients out.
You know? And then, so actually what I said was, you know what, like we're gonna be the in and out of pediatric dentistry no matter what your socioeconomic status is, whether. Bill Gates, if you like Inn out, you'll be there. Or whether you're a homeless person, you can still eat Inn Out or someone will buy you Inn out, right?
And so, but there's no selectivity of who goes there. It's more of like, okay, if you like a good fresh burger, like it's affordable to everyone. So mm-hmm. That's, that's where I felt like, I don't know. I think just my heart is with children and I feel like I didn't go into pediatric dentistry to just. A fee for service type population.
I went into pediatric dentistry to, to help the kids with the best level of care that need it the most. And if we could find a way to make it into a profitable business, then why? Why won't, why wouldn't you do that, right? Mm-hmm.
Michael: Mary, when did that change then, for you, when you were like, okay, I, I did my startup, I wanted to be boutique, and then you.
All right, now we're gonna be in and out. Like it felt like there was some part in your, in this moment, maybe it was before, I don't know. You honed in, you hyper-focused on exactly what you wanted to be do and things like that. when did that happen? The
Mary: moment that I can think of is when I had a family actually that had like two or three adopted children that were under Medicaid, and then they had a couple biological children that were like ppo.
And so, um, parents told me that they would always have to take the Dental Cal or the Medi-Cal kids somewhere else because there wasn't like a quality dental office that took everybody that was a specialist. And so at that time I was like, well, I don't want you to have to split up or like, feel like you're not getting that quality care.
And, and that's the comments that we get is like, Oh, I've, I've never seen a Medicaid office look like this or provide this level of care. So I think there's a stigma with like Medicaid offices. Mm-hmm. Is that they're a rundown, or the technology's not there, or you're not getting the quality of care that you would get.
But I think that we've changed that. You know, we're like, you know, no matter who you are, you're still gonna get the same level of quality. No matter if you're a Dcal patient or you're a cash patient, you're gonna get the same level of quality. There's no difference in. Service or procedure or products or materials that you get recommended, um, because of your payer status.
And so I think knowing that you can serve everyone, um, and like I said, that one family was that one moment where I was like, oh man, I didn't realize that, you know, you had to kind of split up your family just because there wasn't one place that you could go that you were comfortable with.
Michael: Mm-hmm. That's true.
And I'm sure it means a lot for the child too, you know what I mean? And when looking back, maybe not in that moment, but like looking back, they're gonna, you know what I mean? Think about it and say, oh, we always had to go to like another practice that like real, they heard us, they did all this. Right. And my brother and sister, they went to the nice one, right?
And things like that. And I wanted to go, but looking back, they'll, they'll realize that. But So then when it came to the Medi-Cal, do you feel like sometimes people, or Dentca, do you think sometimes people. Like, you know what Mary? Like, I, I wanna accept it. I do accept it in Medicare, but I just, I either have to see a ton of patience in order to make something and pay my team, and then I don't even have time to get, you know what I mean?
What's the latest technology? Let's do an admin day. Let's figure things out. Let's make our mission, you know what I mean? Or is it the. Kind of the other way where it's like, Hey look, I don't wanna do that because I'm not gonna have the time for and the money to do what I wanna do with my practice.
I think everyone's goals are different. Right. like we talked about before, some doctors just like to sit and chat with their patients and for quite some time. I'm the type that delegates very well. So what I mean by that is, is my assistants are trained to do a lot of the anticipatory guidance in nutritional counseling.
The oral hygiene instructions. Um, they spend 95% of the time with the patient. And so I'm just going in to diagnose, verify, and make treatment recommendations. So I allow my team to. Really develop that bond with the patient and be the main educator because they can tell them exactly the same thing that I tell them and it doesn't make a difference if it comes from me or from the assistant.
And I feel like doing it that way empowers them too. Um, because I've hired some assistants who have worked for 10, 15 years, but they've never passed an instrument to the. Because they said that the doctor likes everything on their tray. Kind of like in dental school, we are the only, like, we are our own assistant, so you're used to working a certain way.
And so I've had assistants that only hold the suction for doctor, and they've done that for 10 years. But when it comes to pre-op, post-op instructions, You know, getting everything ready, you know, informing the patient of all of these things. They've never done that because the doctor does all of that.
So, you know, I think for us, we, the quality of the care that you're providing, but also the patient experience is very important. And so do I feel like the patient experience with my dental assistant doing a lot of the talking, communicating education, Am I still able to provide that with the same level of care as if I were to do it myself?
And I do. You know, and I think that we, we have, we call like a Lollipop Dental Training Academy, where we actually go through training for every single person. And like their first week they're, it's customer service training. So they're learning how to talk, what type of energy they're gonna bring, and then they're learning all the verbiage when they come.
Michael: Break that down to me. How does the Lollipop Dental Academy work? So the first week is customer service, and then every day you like, welcome, come on to the team. And how does it.
Mary: Yeah, so after they do onboarding, the first week is, like I said, customer service training. It could be anything from learning all the education.
There's a lot of role playing, so I'll just use a baby exam as an example. Like if you have a child and you bring the baby in for the first visit, there's a series of questions and recommendations. That are asked such as, does your child have any habits? What type of water are you drinking? And then depending on what the parent says, we make a recommendation on that.
So we do a lot of role playing. So that way every assistant is trained on not only the guidelines, but also what to recommend and even how to respond if a patient says I wouldn't say the wrong thing, but let's just say if it's a, it's a bad habit. how to say that in a way that's not judgmental, you know?
So like, Kind of like when you go to the dentist, right? And they say, are you flossing? And they just say, yeah, but they're not really flossing like they're supposed to, but they know that if they say no, there's gonna be a lecture. Mm-hmm. So there's never a lecture, there's never any judgment zone. Um, the way that we teach our team is, you know, treat them as if they're your bestie, bringing you their baby and you just wanna help them, right?
So. Mm-hmm. Um, so yeah, customer service training, week two, we go into, I think certifications, um, expectations on quality. Hmm. So a lot of, you know, not every dental assistant, um, Corona Polish is the same, you know, some of them don't do it as thoroughly. So we do have like clinical excellence, expectations and it's graded, so then they'll get graded on the quality of each thing.
And then I think each week they just progress in clinical skill. And then there are expectations of customer service each week as well. Meaning, did you get a Yelp review? Like week two? You should have two. Week three, you should have three Week four, you should have four that week. So they have those expectations.
Michael: Wow. Has it ever happened where it's like, Hey, it's week four. I I, I didn't get a Yelp four. You know what I mean? Like, are they just asking or how are they getting these?
Mary: Yeah, they're just asking, you know, like there's ways that we ask and um, And their lead or their trainer will help them, because sometimes people are shy.
But, but then you have to get them into that habit of, okay, this is the expectation that you have is you have to get four, but if you got one week one, then you know how to do it. Now you just gotta keep doing it. Um, so yeah, they ask.
Michael: Gotcha. Uh, you mentioned that you have a way to ask how.
Mary: I don't wanna tell you all my secrets, but,
Michael: but we get it.
You got, you got you, got you. Okay. No worries. Okay. That's interesting though. So then how long is that? When is the training process done?
Mary: Normally it's week seven or week eight. All of the basics have been taught. then it's just repetition, right? Like if you're practicing, uh, space maintainers, then you.
Have a certain level, um, before you get that signed off. And then once you, once clinically, you, the trainer feels like you are competent. It's like a competency in dental school. Like you keep doing it until you pass. Mm-hmm. And then once they. Are competent and our leadership team feels like they're ready for the next step.
And then they're, you know, we kind of see where each team member is and what, how they think they can contribute past just clinical skill. And everyone's different. You know, some people wanna train, some people wanna lead the team. Some people like KPIs and metrics. You know, um, everyone's a little bit different.
Michael: Nice. So then has anybody. Not like, maybe like week four you're just like, all right. You know, taking, taking you out, you know what I mean? Kind of thing. Oh
Mary: yeah. I mean, there's a certain level of expectation. You know, some people interview very well, but then are really shy mm-hmm. On the floor. Um, and if they don't kind of break out of their shell and meet the expectation, then we do have those conversations.
Mm. Like maybe you're not meant to work with kids, you know, even though you think you are because of x, Y. Mm-hmm.
Michael: Does that normally go good, those conversations?
Mary: Um, I always say we never let someone go as a surprise, you know, so we do, um, you know, verbal conversations, um, written warnings, uh, everything. So we, we set expectations, um, to make sure that they understand what the benchmarks are and, you know, and I.
If they meet our core values. And, and I think that's the main thing. If you meet our core values, but it takes you a little bit longer to get where we want you to be, but we can see that there's progression, then that's more important. And, and maybe not, this role's not for you. Maybe we need to make a lateral move and put you in another department because you're struggling with this.
Mm-hmm. You know? So, um, so I think. You know, we, we follow traction with like our, our, um, meeting cadence and systems and we do what they call the people analyzer, where if we don't have clarity on whether or not we should keep someone, we just put it across our core values and see if, okay, are you kind, are you dedicated?
Do you have a growth mindset? Do you show leadership quality? Um, are you, you know, team player? And then if they do seem like they have all of our core values, then we say, okay, maybe they're just struggling with this. Maybe they'll do better in billing, or maybe they'll do better in this role, um, because we do feel like they fit our culture, but they're just a slower learner.
Or maybe they're not that detailed in this, but they're super customer service oriented. So maybe we can put them in a people operations role or so.
Michael: Gotcha. Okay. That's interesting. And so when that happens, let's just say for example, you're, they don't meet one or two core values, but you're kind of dry on that role.
You know what I mean? Like where you're, or has that ever happen? I know that's happening a lot to a lot of us out here right now where we're struggling looking for team members. Right. Um, but it comes to you where you're like, okay, we need this. They're not the best fit, but we can do for now, does, do you do that or.
Mary: So if someone's a straight no. So we do it like a plus, plus minus, and then a minus. Mm-hmm. So if they're like, let's just, I'll just use proactive, right? So if they're like kind of proactive sometimes, but then sometimes they're not, they'll get a plus minus, and that means we can work on it. But if they're our, one of our core values is dedication, and they're like, no, because they're late every single day and they call out.
Then we say, okay, this needs to change right away. And if they're late for the next, 30 to 90 days I think is what they do if they're late one time in the next 90 days. And that could be grounds for immediate termination. So we, we really do stick to the core values when it comes to. If you're not dedicated, you're not dedicated because you call out or you come in late every day.
That's disrespectful to everybody that comes on time, and it's showing that we as a company tolerate that and it goes against who we are. So we have let very good skilled people go. Due to not fitting our core values. And it, and it always ends up being that the team appreciates that. Mm-hmm. They're like, oh, they were late every day.
Like, why should I come on time every day if they're allowing that? So we do, um, we do do the people analyzer and like I said, it does give you clarity on whether or not someone fits who we.
Michael: Gotcha. Okay. That's interesting. Now, you also mentioned that once you open the first practice second, right, you systematized.
Mm-hmm. I know a lot of the times we think when we open a practice, number one, we're like, got it. I know the blueprint. I can do the same thing for the second one. Is that true?
Mary: No. You always have to pivot and change. Because they're, you know, like, I'll use one perfect example. When you have one location, everyone, you can probably verify all your own insurance, right?
You don't really need help, you're not that busy. Mm-hmm. Or you've come up with the way that works. But then as you well in that one location, if as you grow, it's gonna put a lot of stress on your team. what we do is we say, okay guys, what is it we could automate and what is it that that's causing you a lot of stress right now that we can help?
And from there we come up with a solution to help with that. But I think as you're growing more locations, um, it's not gonna be the same, you know, like you have more team members, you need more managers, um, you centralize a lot of your services. You know, because you don't need a biller for each office.
Now you can have a bill. For four offices, you know, for me it's kind of fun building out different parts of our organization. Um, but you know, there's so many things that change that I couldn't even put my finger on one thing. But I think the main thing is, people, you know, like the larger that your organization.
You know, you're and I, and this example I love to use is like, when it's just you and five people, your influence is really strong. You see them every day. You work with them every day. It's like a wifi signal, right? Like you're there and they like, you're really in tune. But as you grow, your wifi signal gets weaker and weaker.
So then you need people. In place that's gonna keep that signal strong. And so they say one person can effectively manage up to five to seven people. And I do believe that like once you get to like 10, 12, 13 people, then you're not as effective in leading those people. But, but yeah, there's, there's so many things that change.
It's hard to just say one thing, but I think just keeping up with what your needs are and knowing that you need leadership in place to make sure that. Each of the team members still feel loved and cared for and, and engaged. And it doesn't necessarily have to be you, the doctor, it could just be whoever it is that their manager mm-hmm.
Michael: Yeah, I like that. It's, it's true. The wifi, you know what I mean? Didn't they say it's like, um, you can test it out with like a pizza party or something like that, like get a pizza and then however much, you know what I mean? If you're like, I need to order two pizzas, and that means you have too many people on your team or so.
Yeah. In the room. Yeah, something like that. But, uh, that's awesome. I really appreciate that, um, analogy and at the same time, I know it's kind of, um, difficult for a lot of people to try to systematize right. When it comes to this. So how did you come up with it? Did you seek help? I know you said you read traction, things like that, but like how did you nail.
Mary: So I think the one thing that really helped me the most was joining a mastermind of people who were very like-minded or better than me, right? Or like better meaning, um, have grown their organization a lot larger. And we're still sane. Mm-hmm. They didn't feel like, crazy yet. So, um, so yeah, surrounding yourself with the people that have that same mindset and that are, that have achieved more than you is so inspiring.
You know, you know how they say you never wanna be the smartest person in the, cuz then you're in the wrong room. Right. So I love to surround myself with really growth, like growth mindset. Uh, people who really challenge me, um, to be better. And so, and, and I joined, um, The D E o I think maybe like few years ago.
It's a mastermind group for dental organizations that are starting off. Um, and then I've joined other groups as well. Uh, and I think everyone's tea is different, right? They just mm-hmm. Some people, um, like different groups. But I would say anything that challenges you, that makes you grow is something that, that is priceless,
Michael: Yeah, I like that. Okay. And then right now with your practices e even if you could recall with like year one or your first practice, what were you doing for marketing and advertising and what'd you stick with throughout this whole time? Um, so
Mary: as far as marketing, we, um, we did a lot of just grassroots, you know, so we would go out in the community, set up tables, um, we would visit pediatricians.
I mean, we would. To events where our patient avatar would be. Mm-hmm. Which is anywhere with children. Right. Or moms. And, and we still do that. I mean, we do a lot of preschool presentations. We do a lot of health fairs where moms are. and then, you know, as far as like, spend on online marketing, we don't really do any of that.
Most of it is just, I think, um, You know, asking for reviews and more grassroots. And we do a lot of, um, like internal promotions for our current patients. Um, but you know, to be honest, we don't spend a lot on actual, like marketing. Mm-hmm.
Michael: No, I think that's, that's brilliant. Like the ground marketing, the grassroots marketing.
when you went to these events, Well, two questions. How did you get inside of like the, the preschools and things like that? Like what would you say? But the second thing is like, did you have an incentive that you would offer them for them to sign up or,
Mary: or. No, we just called and asked. I mean, I think there's a power in asking, you know, like I said, asking for reviews, asking for like, Hey, can we come to your school and do a preschool presentation?
We'd give them little goodies like, like, you know, postcards and toothbrush and some branded stuff. Um, but you know, most of it was just being bold. Putting yourself out there. You know, like when we go to now, we have tools, two full-time marketing people, which we didn't have before. Marketing department when I first opened was me, but which I still go sometimes, but they have more, they, they have a lot more energy than I do now.
Mm-hmm. But, um, but yeah, so as we've grown, you know, we have one, um, social media person who goes, gets content and posts everything, and, and then we have one person who does just pr. Um, community events and like website. So, as we've grown, we just wanted someone just strictly focused on social media, engaging with the families, doing contests, um, and yeah, it's been good.
Michael: It's been good. Cool, cool. So then you don't, like when it comes to the health fairs, right, you don't really give out any, I guess, incentives or anything like that for people to.
Mary: Oh yeah. So we do put them in a drawing. I think. Like if you book an appointment on the spot at the event, um, I think your name goes into a drawing for like a basket full of like dental stuff.
I think like a toothbrush and all of that. But um, and I think we have like one of those wheels mm-hmm. That you spin that gives away. So we do like little fun things like that, but, um, but we don't have, I don't think like a coupon or, or anything. Yeah. It's just more, um, our biggest goal is to book the appointment.
Mm-hmm. So then when we have our marketing team out there, you know, their key performance indicator is how many appointments did you book? Mm-hmm. You know, and that's how we know
Michael: how they do. And they normally show up or is it like a no show or like what's the percentage? Um,
Mary: I think they come, I mean, I don't know exactly the metrics, but I mean, I don't think that there has been an issue with the no-shows.
I mean, our cancellation rate is pretty low cuz we do like a pretty good job of making sure we have a confirmed schedule. Of course people get sick, you know, and kids get sick in, in that just happens. But, um, but this is part of like your systems, right? And processes, like how firm is your confirmation? schedule D being done, right.
And then if a few days before you have all these holes in the schedule, how are you gonna fill it, you know? Mm-hmm. So we have people in place that really make sure that we have, a productive schedule, like different avenues. Gotcha. Okay.
Michael: Interesting. So then if you could, from the moment, let's talk about from the moment you decided to open your startup Right.
Till today. Right. What's been some of your biggest struggles or pitfalls?
Mary: I wouldn't really call them struggles cause I look at every, like, I feel like I am super growth mindset where I really don't stay down wi on something that bothers me because, I think being an entrepreneur, you know, things are gonna happen. Maybe the first time, like, so I'll use this as an example.
The first time I had to let someone go, I couldn't sleep the night before at all. Mm-hmm. Like I was nervous, I was like crying. I wrote this long letter about how much I love this person and how I'm just so heartbroken. And then I remember when I let her go, I said, oh, you know, I'm so sorry. I have to let you go.
And she was just like, okay. And she walked out the door. And I was, I was heartbroken that she wasn't as emotional as I was. I spent way too much time over this breakup. Then she did. Right. So going back to that and thinking of like where I am today, I've realized that in order to be successful, you have to just.
That things are not always gonna go as planned, and that it's gonna be like a rollercoaster. No matter you're in business for five years or 25 years, there's always gonna be things that happen that are not going to be the way that you anticipated, but it's, that shouldn't predict. where you go, right?
Like, that should just be a part of the journey. Say, okay, this is, there's gonna be something that happens. Like everything is smooth sailing right now, but I know in the next three months it could be completely different. How am I as a leader of my organization gonna respond to any of these, obstacles that come along the way?
And so I never dwell on anything, like if somebody leaves or if something happens, I always say, well, nobody died. Right. Knock on wood. Yeah. Okay. How are we gonna fix this moving forward so that we don't make the same mistake again? What, like how do we drop the ball on this patient that they're not happy with us?
How do we put that into our system so that way we make sure that we. got that eye or crossed that T and so we problem solve quickly and then move on. You know, we don't really dwell on anything becau um, anything that happened in the past, because the more time you spend doing that, the more you kind of just bring yourself down and you're not able to focus on your future.
And then there's so many people that rely on you to be in that right mindset, you know, like, yeah.
Michael: I like that. Okay. Problem solve quickly, right? Yes. And that's, I think, uh, I know for me sometimes, um, same thing like where you're like, oh my God, you dwell and dwell and then you're, you know what I mean? But you grew out of it, you know, so that's great.
Oh, yeah. Fast. Yeah. No, that's fantastic. When it comes to you feeling personally burnt out How do you cope with that
Mary: de. there's this one exercise that I do at least quarterly. I try to do it monthly, but it's really simple and it helps keep me in a right mindset. But basically I write down everything I do from morning until night, like generally speaking.
So like pack my kids lunch, check my email, check my slack. Uh, check in with people and my leadership team. And then I, I go through this whole list and I'm like, what is it that I don't like to do on this list? Like, what is it that I could delegate? So then, you know, for example, I wrote, right now what's on my list is interviewing doctors because I love, I loved doing it, but now I get so many resumes, it's like very time consuming.
But I know that, I mean, it's not something that I don't like to do, don't get me wrong, but It's not my favorite thing. It's kind of like a, you know. Yeah. Okay. And so then I put on here the name of the person who I'm gonna delegate that to, and then I start making sure that I have another doctor on my team sit with me on the interview, start training for that position, so then I could take that off my plate.
So, I do get asked that a a lot like, oh, Mary, how do you do all of this? You know, like, you're a mom, you open practices, you do a mastermind group. So as a hobby, I do a mastermind group too at night, a couple a week, just to help other women who are having a hard time with, um, practice ownership.
Right. But then I, it's because I delegate a lot, you know? Mm-hmm. Like I have a few personal assistants. I have a lot of leadership team that helps run the operations of the business to where I really don't have to be here. you know, I could go for a few weeks and everything be fine, and it'll probably be even better than what I'm here because I have a lot to say and I take a lot of their time.
But when I'm here is when the business is, you know, you know that people are happy and they're doing what, doing their job, what they're supposed to do, and your business is doing well. So it allows me to focus on the things that I really like to do because if you don't like doing something, you, you're taking away from things.
Things that you could be doing that ultimately are probably, more beneficial to not only like your company, but to your family, right? Because you're doing things that really, that you really enjoy. And so that's how I do it. I delegate very well and I have a weekly focus and the focus is always who I need to hire that week to help me with something that I need to delegate off my.
Michael: So are you always hiring?
Mary: Um, right now it's a nanny Uhhuh. No. Cause it could change, right? Not the nanny and I, I actually just filled the other position. Another assistant, like personal assistant? Yeah.
Michael: Yeah. Wow. Okay. So then it's interesting you say that you have a mastermind, right? You have an organization, multiple practices, right?
Teams, all that stuff you have to deal with. what was the other thing you said? So
Mary: I, oh, I'm a mom. You know,
Michael: you're a mom. I'm my husband. Ok. You, you, your husband's another, he's listening to this. He is like, yeah, yeah. No, but, uh, so you do it a lot. I mean, do you ever, I guess, and I know you do, I mean a lot of us do, but have that like dad guilt or mom guilt kind of thing, and then, or do you not?
Mary: I think I used to. But I think that every per parent, right, whether they're mom or dad, has a different level of time and attention with their children that works for them. You know? So I have friends that spend, that are stay-at-home moms, and they spend their entire day with their children. And they love it.
And then I have some that spend all the days with their kids and they're screaming at them all day and they're like, it's so stressful. I don't know why I'm doing this. I need to go back to work. And so for me, my kids come home from after school care or sports or whatever it is, at 5:00 PM and so 5 36 sometimes, and I only have like two or three hours with them a day.
But during that two or three hours, it's like quality time. Hmm. You know, so, My take on that is, is the time that you spend with your kids, that's quality time, that's good for them and good for you. means that you have that nice balance, you know? But if you say, oh, well this person is spending like from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM and you know, on social media, they're going to all the games and they're, Doing all this stuff, you compare yourself to other people, then you're never gonna feel like you're enough.
I mean, there's always gonna be someone who's, more, has more practices, who's, more attractive or who is better than you, right? Or like that you feel like, um, you wanna be like, but if you compare yourself to other people, you're always gonna feel like you are not doing enough. So I just try to say, Hey, you know, Everybody has their level of work that works for them.
And for the normal person, probably how much I work is gonna be way too much, you know? But for me, I love it and I think it keeps, like, I've always worked like I do since I was a little girl. And I, and I love what I do, so I don't feel like it's work. I really enjoy it. But when it comes to being a mom, if I were to spend morning to night with my kids, I really think that I would go crazy.
You know I do. Yeah. Yeah. Like when my husband's not home and I'm with them for the weekend by myself, I'm like, this is not fair. You're working and I'm at home with
Michael: these, these kids. No, I get you.
Mary: Yeah. So I think it's just different. You can't compare.
Michael: No. Yeah. Okay. I, I love that. I love that. I feel like sometimes we get boggled down into, like what you said, that comparison mode where you're looking on social media, you start comparing and you're like, huh, I should, but then in reality, you're like, if I do it more than three hours, It's not gonna be quality time with 'em, you know?
It's just gonna be, they're gonna be like, what
Mary: are you doing? Get down.
Michael: You're just watching them watch YouTube the whole time, and you're like, all right, yeah, just watch YouTube right now, you know, kind of thing. Awesome, Mary, I appreciate that. If anybody had any questions or concerns or anything like that, where can they reach out to you?
Mary: Um, you can find me firstname.lastname@example.org or dr mary fam.com, Dr. Mary fam. That's, that's where I met you, Michael, or my email, dr mary lollipop dental.com. Happy to help
Michael: awesome. So guys, that's all gonna be in the show notes below, so definitely reach out to Mary and Mary.
Thank you for being with us. It was a pleasure, and we'll hear from you soon. Of course.
Mary: All right, thank you.