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My Key Takeaways:
Michael: All right. It's time to talk with our featured guest, Damien Bonner. Damien, how's it going?
Damien: Good. Good. How are you?
Michael: Doing pretty good, man. If you don't mind me asking, where are you
Damien: located right now? well Actually right this second, I'm in New York, I'm a longtime native of New York, but moved to Florida market about 18 months ago, just up here visiting some family this week.
Michael: Oh, okay. Moved to Florida just for funsies or like it was.
Damien: I don't know if I want to get into all that too much politics, too much taxes, too much things in New York that uh, after 43 years of living here, I've had enough and uh, took the family and moved to what we thought was gonna be greener pastures.
And, so far has been everything we thought it would be especially with the, uh, no state income tax on my, uh, salary. So very important for us. Nice,
Michael: man. Awesome. So then, Damien, talk to us a little bit about your area of expertise. What
Damien: specifically do you do? so I'm a believer in in your why and what your why is, Not so much what I do, it's why I do what I do. So my goal is to help every dentist become digital so that they can offer a higher level of, Thank you. Patient care and patient satisfaction for their patients. So what does that mean that I actually do? I sell digital technology in the dental space.
I've been doing so since 2008. What
Michael: type of digital technology do
Damien: you sell? In 2008, I started with Patterson Dental as a CEREC specialist, so in office manufacturing, CAD CAM systems digital technology back in the day. Sarah was one of the only players, if not the only player in the marketplace.
When I first started today that's obviously grown to many other technologies that offer digital scanning. Intraorally 3D comb beam technology practice management software, CAD software in office manufacturing. And now the big thing is that 3D printing. I went from being a specific CEREC specialist to now selling all the products I just mentioned.
Michael: Man, that's really good. So then how'd you get into this?
Damien: by accident I was in the mortgage industry back in the early 2000. So if you've ever seen the movie the big uh, now I can't remember the name was the movie was but It was a movie about the mortgage industry and subprime lending.
I was right in the middle of that noticed things pretty early on that I was making way too much money for doing way too little work and something wasn't right. lo and behold, the market crashed and. I went from a decent salary and commission to making 25, 000 a year.
And I didn't want to go back to that part of my life where it was very based on the market, I wanted to do something that I felt was going to change people's lives for the better. And I think everybody needs. Dentistry in their lives. They should. And I had a friend who worked for a line technology and said, Hey, there's this product called Eric and uh, there's an opening.
I think you should apply for it. So sort of how I got into it and no idea what I was doing and how I got into it, but haven't looked back one day. Man,
Michael: so rewind a little bit. Talk to me about how you felt when you were at that oh man stuff is racking up as far as like bills and stuff like that.
Damien: Yeah It's very demoralizing Hard on relationships Having to borrow money from my then girlfriend now wife to make ends meet but she stuck with me through everything realizing that you're at the highs, there's absolute highs and then there's the absolute lows. And I was definitely in a low and while starting in dentistry at 25, 000 a year and slowly building my gradual climb to a normal lifestyle.
Was a slow and steady pace, but again, I haven't looked back since my mentor once told me that, you can be up here and down here and up down here and never have a steady aspect of life, but you can maintain the course and just gradually increase what you do.
and that's where um, you know, I'm at today and that's how I try to live life is, not go for the gusto and, take life gradually and build upon that every day. I
Michael: like that, man. That's really, really good. Really smart. So then the selling part of the digital technology. Do you feel like now there's less selling to do and more people are reaching out and like, hey, we need this, but there's more options?
Or do you feel like now we still got to like teach show them like you need technology?
Damien: Well, There's a lot of different technologies out there, and they're all great. There's, probably 30 different inter role scanners which needs to be the hot topic for most offices.
Getting into digital technology is where they start that aspect. If you look at a practice in general, digital starts with the practice management. So you have your practice management. Which is full digital, at least, hopefully, at least, 95 percent or so have digital and they're not paper files anymore.
And then it goes digital x ray, It's no more film turning that corner. From there, intral scanning seems to be the next logical step where panoramic x ray, 3D comb beam, something of that nature. And then comes in office manufacturing. So, We used to call it when I was at Patterson Dental, the digital waterfall of where you have your, 90 percent market share of doctors who are doing practice management digitally, then you have the next level, which was falling over from there.
It would be your, digital x ray. And now that market is complete. So now we're back up here. And now we're still at that intro scanner market, which is probably in my estimation, 45 to 50 percent penetration into marketplace. So there's still a lot of dentists who don't have digital technology in their office in some format.
We're starting to see that it's going to start shooting a lot higher, a lot more people adding the technology to their practice quicker but adding the right technology is the important aspect. And that's sort of where I come in. Again, when I worked for Patterson, I was selling 1 product.
We were selling CEREC. And it was pretty much the only product available at the time, and it was 120, for a full system set up. Not something a lot of people wanted to partake in or invest in as time has gone on. There's been, internal scanners and some people. Who don't want to do in office manufacturing, so they send the files off to a laboratory digitally.
The market was dictating that people didn't want to pay extra fees or high prices for these items. And so we at Cadre discovered Medit early on. Medit is an internal scanner that has no fees involved with price point when we first started selling was at 18, 000. So a price point that was unmatched in the industry for the most part without additional fees.
that sort of broke down that barrier for a lot of people to start looking seriously at digital technology. and today we're the number one dealer of Medit in the world. We also have Trios. We have Shining 3D. I mean, it's not just, all our eggs in a basket of Medit, but the idea was that We could overcome the obstacle the barrier of many offices, which is cost with the product, as long as the product works and more importantly, we were able to support the product people would adopt to it pretty quickly.
And so that it had grown to a point where they have a new system out. The I 700 came out a couple of years ago at an even better price point and even easier to use. And I think that sort of put the industry on notice to re look at their pricing and their fee structures. So a lot of the companies like 3Shape Trios uh, lowered their price, what cost you 41, only a year and a half ago, now cost you 21, 900 with no additional fees.
If it has done anything for the industry, it's break down that barrier and also force other companies to look inward and redesign what they're doing. And so I know it's around about answer there, but to answer your question, there's still a lot of selling to do to doctors to make sure they make the right choice.
I think they all know they need digital technology in their office at this point. I think, that they're all going to adopt to it, but making sure they adopt to the right one is where our job comes in.
Michael: that's interesting. So then, if we rewind a little bit, you said Meta broke down big barriers, right?
Big barriers and people were able to adopt it better. To you, what would be the biggest barrier then? Would it be the price point?
Damien: Price is always the biggest barrier. again, I can bring it back to my CEREC days at 120, 000. Price is always going to play a factor in any decision anybody makes, whether it's buying a car, buying a house buying anything.
Now I choke at spending 3 more for For avocado Chipotle. So price is an important factor for most people, but once you break that price barrier down, I feel it becomes about a mental state of, can I do this? Is it easy to use? And then it comes to, will I be supported? So not just for the sale, but after the sale and beyond the sale.
And that's where we at Cadre sort of take over. To give you a little background on Cadre, if I can for a second. we're a distribution company now, since 2018. Again, Medit was our first product. But prior to that Cadre was started by our CEO and clinical advisor, Dr.
Armin from Los Angeles. he's a one of the founders of sericdoctors. com. Which is now part of spear education. When he sold his aspect of that sericdoctors. com, he still wanted to maintain educating doctors and bring in technology to these doctors to... Show them what helps him in his practice and educate others, spread his love for technology his geekiness for the digital technology aspect.
But one thing he always maintained was Cadre. Cadre was a digital implant planning company. So back when comb beams were 200, 000 and more he had the idea to start these scan centers where. Doctors would be in a metropolis area, like Chicago or la and they can send their patients in to get scanned.
He would then take the file, planning the implant and send a surgical stent so that they can do digital implant planning without having to invest in a cone beam. Technology. Obviously, prices on cone beam have come down now. You can get into a cone beam for as low as $40,000. and do the planning yourself.
So the scan aspect went away, but the digital planning was still a big part of the business, but education was always his biggest thing and trying to find a product that made sense to expand and educate doctors on was something that he was continuing to look for.
So my former colleagues. Rich and John both worked with me at Patterson as CEREC specialists joined forces with Armin and created Cadre Distribution with the idea that we know what it takes to support a doctor. Again, education from Armin on the clinical side of, CEREC dentistry has always been his background.
Rich, John, myself, a CEREC specialist for Patterson Dental for over 12 years. we know what it takes to support a doctor to make them successful. and we sort of felt that was where other companies fail. Anybody can sell the product, but supporting the product is the most important aspect. So when we started this venture, it was about the customer first, not about us, not about the product. In many ways, I feel like we're a education and support company first and a sales company second. And doctors noticed that. And we are very, very organic. Company in that we do no outbound marketing at all.
Everything we've grown to become has been through social media and through referrals from doctors and you don't get referrals unless you do something really good. and our support with medit has allowed us to grow to where we are today to bring in other products and support our doctors.
After so if you were to Google Cadre we have hundreds of five star reviews.
Some people talk about the products we sell, but every single person talks about the service, support, and education they receive from us. And that's our calling card. So support is by far the most important aspect of what we do on a daily basis. Nice. Okay.
Michael: So then some of the biggest barriers we talked about was like money.
But then at the same time, I guess a great point is the support that's how referrals happen. Right. Like you said, Oh my God, they're fantastic. Not so much like, Oh yeah, they're cheap, but they suck. Right It's more like the referrals, their support is really, really great. So then you mentioned something about, Okay. you guys know what it takes to make a doctor successful. what does it take to support a doctor to be successful?
Damien: Knowledge, obviously, right? So from a technical standpoint, be able to make sure their technology is working.
So if they have an issue, they have one phone over to call. More importantly, they get a live human every single time. There's no numbers to press. Hey, enter your phone number. Let me put you on hold when you call our number. You're going to get a live human anytime between the hours of 8 a. m. and 8 p.
m. East Coast time Monday through Friday. From there, that's the technical aspect. More importantly is the clinical aspect. we were virtual before virtual was cool during coven. So we started basically very slow as a virtual company where the beginning we were. Two sales reps and a CEO that was educating people.
And we were able to reach anywhere in the country through zoom, like we're doing right now. So the idea of selling technology over zoom, instead of a knee to knee aspect or a clinical demo in an office was something sort of new at the time obviously it's changed now where it's a very um, status quo for most companies, it was, new at the time.
so being able to utilize the tools like zoom and team viewer to support the doctors was very important. So one zoom to educate them and train them and then to the team viewer aspect. So we have all sat chair side digitally. In a dental office even our support team. Now, as we've grown, we've brought them in.
They have all been dental assistants who have sat chair side. So we speak the lingo. We know the procedures. So at any time the doctor is doing, let's say the 1st implant scan and they need help. not just going to offer them technical help. We're going to log in with them and sit virtually chair side with them and support them to that case.
Hey, this is where you need to go next. Okay. You need a better scan of that area. And make them feel comfortable in doing those cases. And we can do that anywhere in the world, at any time, between the hours of 8 and 8, of course. but that's the important factors. Yes, companies can offer technical support, but where they fall, sometimes it's in that clinical aspect.
And that's where we take over. Gotcha.
Michael: So it kind of leads to my next question. What can a practice owner, a dentist, do today in your opinion, to improve their marketing or their business?
Damien: I've always been a believer that if you build it, they will come digital technology in general has been ingrained in me and I've been great at my doctors and I've seen practices grow by adding digital technology.
not for just from an overhead perspective. Hey, we're going to cut costs here, or we're going to be able to mail in office and cut down our procedures. But. Referral word of mouth from digital technology, the patient base, I believe, is getting younger and smarter. They know technology, they want to see technology for me growing up I'm 46, my 1st dentist, it was a rotary instrument dentist with you know, big octopus looking thing coming at me.
Those things are ingrained in my memory and my kids. Today they go to the dentist with no issues because they like to see the technology and they're not afraid of what's going to happen to them. I fully believe that adding digital technology, no matter how little or how big is definitely helpful to help build that patient base and garner more attention to your practice.
Michael: Have you seen any of all the practices you work with, any of the practices where they market the technology in like a unique or smart way or,
Damien: or what do you think? well, I mean, social media obviously is a big thing and, you know, especially with tick tock videos and instagram. There's a lot of great information out there now. But back when I first started, there wasn't social media aspect and everyone's doing social media now for the most part.
But, displaying your technology, being proud of the technology, bringing patients through 1 thing that I've learned. Walking into thousands of dental offices is that not every single dental office is the same. There's offices that have wood paneling on the walls. They're very old. Nothing wrong with them.
Not, knocking the dentistry that's done in those offices, but are they pleasing to the eye? No. And then I've seen offices that are absolutely gorgeous and have no patients. where's the difference there? Where does it lie? And totally always believe it lies in the doctor and the bedside manner of that doctor.
And their staff more importantly but I'll ask meeting a new friend or whatever. Ask who their dentist is. And they tell me and I go, oh, okay why do you choose them? I know the office and I've seen the office and I've seen the dentistry that comes out of the office sometimes.
And I'm like, all right, I probably wouldn't send my friends and family there, but I'm interested to know why you go there. And, they say it's I've been going there for years, or I just doctors so nice and doesn't oversell me on things. And, it's important to them, but they've also never stepped into another dental office.
I'm sure if they walked into a beautiful boutique dental office, they might change their mind of who they see just based on looks. Doesn't necessarily mean they're pumping out great dentistry. But displaying the technology getting people to know that technology exists through marketing digital social media, not so much paid ads.
again, personally speaking from my point of view, I think, Facebook ads and social media ads are a waste of money. I think there's a lot of clickbait and a lot of farmers out there that just take your money and people that you want to see really aren't seeing it you think they are.
but just through organic social posts and shares I always love the viral videos but, to go back to your original question.
Yeah, just marketing technology putting it on display. If you have 3D printer, it's really cool technology. Why not put it where patients can see it and see what's happening or a milling unit in the office, putting it somewhere on display behind a glass case. Patients can see their tooth being made they'll take their phone out.
They'll go right up to it. They'll take a video, put it on their social media. And then share it to their friends and family. It's a really cool experience when you see that happen. it happens time and time again when you actually make the patient part of the process. They're always going to pull their phone out and video it.
Michael: Yeah, I like that, make the patient part of their process. It's really interesting. now these next questions are just to get into the head of someone who isn't totally involved on the clinical side of dentistry, Working in their mouth every single day. What would you, Damien, like to see more from a
not to be afraid of adding technology come to courses and learn. I think we fell out of the realm during covid of people attending trade shows and courses and starting to come back a little bit at the trade shows doing lately, seeing more people out there, but definitely not where it was.
7 years ago I think that doctors, there's only so much you can learn online and that you need to get out there and learn things in person especially with the C courses, they take the required courses. They take some ancillary courses that you may want to take, but I think anything that you get hands on with.
We'll change how they feel about certain things. So if you're curious about digital technologies, definitely take a hands on type course. So you can involve yourself in the dentistry that you want to do. Or thinking about doing not just learning online because it's a big difference when you get to see it, feel it, touch it.
Then when you are just, reading something online or reading a Facebook post as many people do.
Michael: Yeah. You mentioned afraid, like have you noticed that like a lot of people are afraid to add technology their practice? So why?
Damien: Again, it's, it comes down to their mindset. the barrier of prices, I don't think any longer there because it makes more sense to invest in technology than it is to continue to do the analog processes just from a financial aspect.
That makes sense. I think from a team perspective is where most people have a hiccup. Whether they don't want to make changes on their team or the team is resistant to change. What I found time and time again is if your team is not on board, you're going to fail with the technology. So having the proper mindset going in with your team is of utmost importance in my opinion.
Michael: Okay. And then right now, what do you dislike or
Damien: hate about dentistry? There's nothing I really dislike about dentistry. In general, from my perspective, from a patient perspective I hate dental insurance. I see so many people letting dental insurance dictate their all care not doing certain procedures because the dental insurance is not paying for it's not health insurance and while it's nice to have a little discount with your insurance. I would never let that dictate my oral care. If I need something done, I want to get it done, but many patients don't understand that. And, I think it's an education aspect of the patient to let them understand what insurance actually is in the dental world and what it covers and what it doesn't cover.
But I see it time and time again where, patients go to get their teeth pulled versus getting an implant because that's what the insurance is paying for. And they don't realize how important their teeth are. So I think education for the patient is the most important aspect of that.
No, a hundred percent. Yeah. I agree. And then what needs to change? In your opinion, for people to be more open to dentistry.
Damien: I think it's starting to change now just because the population is getting younger and more aware. There's a lot more research going on with overall body health leading from the oral cavity. And, you know, there's a lot of airway issues going on and breathing issues that lead to high blood pressure and other health factors.
and they're starting to. Realize that and put a positive spin on dentistry. I think there's a lot of negativity towards dentistry, especially from the patient population when it comes to cost. but I think as the patient population gets younger, starting to realize how important things are that go on inside the mouth and we're starting to see a change there, at least in my opinion.
Michael: No, yeah, I agree. I agree 100%. We're starting to see that pivot. Right now, any final pieces of advice or suggestions you'd like to give to our listeners, specifically like startups, people who are practice owners.
Damien: So for us, especially with startups and, younger dentists we believe, or I believe especially that we need to meet the doctor where they are today.
It's nice to sell about the future. But I don't want to oversell a doctor on an idea or a promise that I can't manufacture for them. What I mean by that is if you're starting practice and you want to add technology, you may think you need a milling unit. You may think you need a printer and a scanner, All at once start with one. technology is still going to be there when you're ready to buy the rest of it. But especially from the team perspective. Change is always good in my opinion, but too much change at once could have a negative impact on a practice. And so if you're getting into digital technology, start with the scanner, start with a comb beam and then go from there.
Once you master those things and realize the investment on those products, then you can add the other products. we're all sales reps at the end of the day at Cadre. But it's not about us. It's about the doctor at the end of the day and what's right for them. So don't overbuy buy what you feel comfortable with and get into that mindset of you can always add things on later on.
Nice. I like
Michael: that. Damien, I appreciate your time. And if anyone has further questions or they want to reach out to you, where can they find
Damien: you? You can go to cadray. com. You can reach me personally at Damien, D A M I E N at cad ray. com. And I'm sure you can find me in any social media group involving, dental.
I'll be, uh, commenting typically in any digital technology group. So if you haven't heard of me stay out of the group. So you'll, get annoyed by me.
Michael: No, they haven't. Now they have, man. Now they have heard of you. So awesome, Damian. We appreciate your time, man. It's been a pleasure and we'll hear from you
Sounds great. Thank you so much for the time.