Michael's Book - Treating People Not Patients: https://a.co/d/gsHKkx3
Free Course Preview: https://www.michaelsonick.com/freepreview
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My Key Takeaways:
Michael Arias: all right, it's time to talk with our featured guest, Dr. Michael Sonic. Michael, how's it going?
Michael Sonick: It's going great. Thank you for having me on the show, Michael.
Michael Arias: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I appreciate you coming on. If you don't mind me asking right now, tell us a little bit about your past, your present.
How did you get to where you are today?
Michael Sonick: Well, I'm a perinatalist. I've been private practice since 1985 and I graduated dental school in 1979. So I'm probably than most of your audience. And I've had a true passion for, you know, working with my hands and also customer service. And so over the course of my 35, 40 years of building a practice, One of the things that resonated with me was really developing great connections with my patients.
And my background was in the, not only the furniture business and woodworking, I was a lifeguard, but I also played cocktail piano. I did a lot of work in the restaurant business. So I waited on tables. I was a bartender. I was a busboy. Um, I even was a chef in the kitchen. So in college, every, every summer I would have a job, you know, when I wasn't lifeguarding, I moved over to hospitality. And that was a lot of fun. I met a lot of people and I realized the importance of connecting with, you know, my customers who are people in the restaurant. So for years, I always thought about the importance of really serving, people and we do that as dentists and also serving people in the restaurant business.
So there were a lot of parallels between the restaurant business and my office. So when I first opened up my practice, I opened up in 1985 and for whatever reason I was sort of entrepreneurial. I didn't know it at the time, but I just decided I just wanted to work for myself. And, you know, today we have a lot of different choices.
You can work for somebody else. You can work for a large corporation. You can open up your own practice. I still think there's a real strong need for people to be in their own practices and to connect with other human beings. But you're going to connect with other human beings, even if you're in a large corporation, or if you're working for somebody.
That is critical. So in dental school. I did okay, you know, I liked it, but when I became a periodontist, you know, I was a general dentist for a few years, and then I went to my residency program, became a periodontist, and then I really just really enjoyed it, and I'd pull all nighters, and even though there weren't any grades, and it was a pass fail, I just really, really got into it, and I spent a lot of time the first 15 20 years of my, my, my career.
Building my craft. And I think that's essential. You have to be really good at what you do. Most patients don't really know if you graduated first or last, or if you did a good crown prep or a bad ground prep, or you're good at dentures or extracting teeth, but what do they know? They know that you didn't hurt them.
They know what your fees are and they know what the experience was like. Unless it's a front tooth, they're really not going to understand, the quality of your work. So. I still think it's real important to do great quality work, because it puts you in a niche, a top. So that's what I did. My first part of my career, I just studied, and I went to a lot of courses, and I spent a lot of time teaching, and I've been teaching for 40 years clinically.
But I also realize it's real important to be able to connect with the people that you serve. And you have to do it by building a strong team. And that's by hiring the right people. And that's a whole different, you know, that's a whole different thing. How do you hire, how do you get the right people?
How do you develop a culture? So there's a number of things that I believe you have to do to be a really successful dentist. One, you have to be great at your craft. Two, you have to have a nice looking office. It has to be clean. It has to be neat. You have to be clean and neat. And three, I can't say it's most importantly, but it's really important.
And it's something that's not taught in dental schools. You have to have the ability to be able to give great superior customer service. Now, when I say customer service, it's not the stuff that's expected. It's the stuff that's not expected. It's the unexpected. It's going above and beyond. And, you know, Mike, I'm sure you remember those four or five great meals you had in restaurants or somewhere it could have been in someone's house.
And you, if I asked you what was a great meal, you probably could think like, well, it's this meal. And what happened during that meal was the food was good, but there's also something very special that meal. Maybe it was the type of wine they opened. Maybe it was the way they. Gave you special attention.
Maybe you didn't tell them that it was, you know, your friend's birthday. And then they came over with it and they did an over the top, you know, thing for them. Those are the things that, that we really remember. And I try to do that for my patients on every visit. We called it in our office, giving them the wow experience.
Michael Arias: I really like how you pointed out these four things. You got to be great at your craft, nice looking office, ability to give great customer service. And I remember not that long ago, I read this book called Unreasonable Hospitality.
And it provides... By William Godera.
Michael Sonick: Yes, uh huh. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a classic.
Michael Arias: Love that book. And I like how he said, service is black and white, but hospitality is color. Right. And so it is what you said, like you got to go above and beyond. So how do we do that in a practice? Because I know you're kind of a master at this.
You wrote a book called Treating People, Not Patients. And so you dive deeper into this topic on just hospitality or what is that about?
Michael Sonick: Yeah, that's a good question. Well, Will Guderia's mentor was Danny Meyer. I don't know if you know who that is. Danny Meyer. People know Danny Meyer because of Shake Shack, but Will Guderia, his restaurant, 11 Madison Park, was top restaurant in the world one year, voted.
it's one of the best restaurants in Manhattan. Well, that was Danny restaurant, and Will Guderia bought that restaurant from him. Danny Meyer started Gramercy Tavern. And he started a union square cafe and he hunted 11 Madison park. He has about 50 restaurants in Manhattan, but he got put on the map financially because he started Shake Shack.
And that's a, that's a whole nother story. that's what made him very wealthy, but he, he brought what we call hospitality to the restaurants. And we'll get there ran with that because, you know, he was a mentee of Danny Meyer and took it to the top. And in his book, he talks about the things that they do.
They actually have somebody on staff there that's just there. I think it calls the director of customer experiences. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Great experiences there, buddy. He gives them those, those unique experiences. And in his book, he talks about. these like four people there. I think they were from Iowa and it was their last meal in Manhattan.
And they're about to go back to Iowa. And he goes, what restaurants were you here? And I talked about it and, you know, a bunch of food. He used to talk about the same thing. And he probably a foodie if he read that book he says, well, what was your best experience? They go, we had a lot of good ones.
He goes, anything you missed? He goes, yes. We never had a New York city hot dog. And so we'll get the era who's, you know, owns the restaurant. He goes outside in his suit in the middle of the day and he gets a couple of hot dogs in the street. brings to the kitchen and he asked them to cut them up.
He says to serve and they play them with mustard and relish and, you know, some sauerkraut. And it comes out, of course, the chef didn't want to do that, you know, being a, chef in a, in a top restaurant, but he wanted to do it to give them that experience. Now, whatever kind of food they had, I think they had duck that night.
It didn't really matter. They're going to be talking about the hot dog and the hot dog has nothing about food. So how do you do that? And in my book, I have 10 different chapters. I also have a series of videos that you can purchase that are specifically there to train the staff and there are different techniques you need.
You need to be able be nice. It's basically four words, be nice to people. And when you have somebody in your chair. Or in your office, or in your waiting room, you know, are you nice to them? And how does your practice look to them? So the model of my practice is actually based on the restaurants, but it's called the Zagat model.
Now, Zagat was a restaurant review book that was published by Tim and Nina Zagat out of Yale. It's no longer on the market. It was bought by Google, but they rated restaurants based upon three things, food, service, and decor. So I'm going to make an assumption that every dentist out there knows what they need to do to do good dentistry.
So we don't serve food, we serve dentistry. But we still have to have good decor, and we still have to have good service in our practice. So how do you do the decor? Well, there's a whole series of checklists that we have, and we have a checklist for everything that we do in our practice. We have a checklist for the human being in our practice.
Is your hair combed? Are you clean? Is your uniform pressed? Do you have a nice smile? Are your fingernails clean? you wear nice shoes? We have something in our office called the white sneakers. So in our practice, everybody wears white sneakers, and they're clean, and I buy them for everybody. And if they're not clean, they go out and buy a new pair, and they're had permission to do that.
So when people join our practice, we tell them what our team is about, what our culture is about. And as one of one of the most important things in the dental practice is to be neat and clean because people are afraid of a couple of things in the office. They're afraid of pain. They're afraid of how much it's going to cost.
afraid of the unknown, but they're also afraid of diseases and germs and cleanliness over the top clean office. You're going to stand out. Very few offices are like that. So we do a check and we go through it. We go through everything in the office and I do sort of, I'm sort of very picky when it comes to cleanliness and having everything run very smoothly.
So I'll do little things like I'll unscrew a light bulb. I'll see how long it's going to take for somebody to realize that the light bulb is unscrewed. And I say, hey, how come nobody saw that light go? We used to have telephones with the cords that used to be raveled. I used to, if I saw a raveled phone cord, I said unravel it.
And then when I unravel it, I'd unplug the phone and take the cord out. So people would answer the phone and there'd be nothing there because the cord would be unraveled. They go, Oh, Dr. Sonic was there doing that again. Sometimes I'll leave a piece of trash on the front lawn. I go, didn't anybody see that?
and I do sort of games like, you know, with that, with, with the people want to practice. I say, bring it up, bring it up, bring it up. So I think to do that, you have to just make a decision early on. Are you going to be an excellent practitioner? Are you going to be someone who really wants to give great service to your patient?
Do you realize that's important? Because I'm telling you it is. It makes such a difference with your patients if you are present for them. And I have a lot of different strategies for that. Cleanliness is one. Another one is giving everybody. On every visit, a phone call after their first visit there, whether it's surgery or not surgery from the team.
And the next day, I will call a patient. So, a patient gets two phone calls from our office. Not many people get that from their dentists or their doctors. Another thing that I do that's really important and that I've recommended to every dentist, but nobody does it, is the patient letter. every first visit, Michael, if you came to see me as a new patient, let's say you had, you come in and you look like you have nice teeth, you have no disease or anything.
Michael, it's a pleasure seeing you today. Today we did a diagnosis on you and a comprehensive examination. The good news is you have no periodontal disease, you have no decay. You don't grind your teeth. You don't need a bite guard. Okay. And, um, I'm very happy to say that if you get your teeth cleaned every four to six months and just brush and floss, you'll probably not need any dentistry for the rest of your life.
Pleasure having you here. If you have any questions, feel free to call me on my cell phone, 203 209 7029, or email me at my private email, mikeatsonicdmd. com. Who gets that from their dentist or their doctor? Now, if you had a severe problem, you'd get a more detailed letter. And then I would say to you, go home, read this, discuss it with your, you know, loved one, or your friend, or maybe you know somebody else who's a dentist.
Read it, and if you're not sure about whether you want to go through a treatment, come on back with your, you know, husband, your wife, your mother, whatever, your son, daughter, and let's have a consultation, we'll talk again, and share that letter. So what I do is a very specific strategies as I give information and I make it very easy for patients to communicate with me now.
A lot of doctors. Now, I work with a lot of positions. It's really hard to communicate with positions. They want to communicate with faxes. They do not give you your personal email. You never get their cell phone. So if I'm going to meet somebody new, Michael, if you were a new person I'm working with, doctor Michael, what's your cell phone, what's your personal email.
I get that all the time. And I have a database and I have a huge database so that I can call you directly when I want to communicate, as opposed to, I haven't heard back from him. I haven't heard back. So I'm very proactive about getting things done. I think my skill is I'm well known as a good surgeon, someone who does a lot of implants, et cetera, but my real skill is good communication.
being very clear and direct with my patients. No ambiguity. You know, I don't know if you know about Adam Grant. I'm sure you've read his work as well, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania. He says what people find more and more challenging is not getting negative information or positive.
It's that one in between. It's the ambiguity. When someone is ambiguous, It's confusing. And you've probably been with people, I mean, a lot of people do this. they don't do it advertently, but they may do it, you know, because it's just their habit. They use confusion to control you because they don't want to make a decision.
So they'll start to say, you know, well, I could do this, this way. And you're talking with a patient, it's like, are you going to go through treatment or you're not going to go through treatment? What's the deal? So I find out, I go, you know, seem a little confused. I go, what is it? Is it the money? Are you fear of going through it?
Have you had bad experiences? Do you not think you're worth it? Do you want to give the money to your children? Or do you have to pay for something else? Or do you just not trust me because you don't think I'm competent at what I'm doing? Here's what I can do. And I give patients all the information that I can.
And I have, I can give it to him many ways. I can talk to him like I'm talking to you. I can write down the pictures. I can open up my website. This is another topic we can talk about. We should have over 1200 pages of content on my website. So they can go there. I've written six books, four of them picture books that are self published in the office.
So this is a gum graph before, this is after. And we can all do this. We can just take a picture and do that. So I show them my work so they can say, this is my stuff. So you can look at it. Very few doctors will show you that. I don't know what that's like. Oh, you don't know what a bone wrap looks like?
Here, here's a PowerPoint presentation. This is a flap reflector. This is the bone. This is the graft. This is what it looks like six months later. I will show them. I'll take away the mystery. I always say to patients, it's sort of like you're in the Wizard of Oz, and I'm the wizard, very omniscient, have all these powers, I'm behind a curtain.
Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take back the curtain, I'm going to bring you into my world. I'm going to take you backstage. And I love going backstage in operations, but I'm going to take you to my backstage. And I'm going to show you what I actually do. And a lot of doctors are afraid to show the patients what they do.
And then it becomes ambiguous because they don't trust you. And what's the most important thing you want to bring to a dentist or doctor or anybody that has a responsibility? You want to be able to trust them because you want to be able to feel love. cared for, nurtured. It's almost a spiritual experience when you're having that kind of a relationship.
It's not an I it relationship where like you're an object and I'm just giving you a coin like I'm going to a toll. It's a really intimate relationship. and I try to break down those barriers. Now, I look, I've been practicing a long time. I couldn't do this when I was 30. I had developed confidence I was very arrogant as a young dentist, because you know, I was good.
I was good. You know, I was good. I was good in my residency program. I had no experience, but I thought I was good. I thought I was smart. I thought it was cool. it was all basically a front because I was insecure. I realized I didn't know anything. I've been practicing one year. How do I talk to a patient with confidence?
It's very hard to do that. what do you do as a young person? If you don't know how to, if you don't do that, you tell the patient what you can do. You tell the patients what you do know. You tell the patients what your experiences is. And you give them that great experience, you know, in that area. there are a lot of little hints that I can give you to do that.
You know, from the simplest ones, to writing a letter, to cleanliness, to calling the patients, to developing a team. Now, developing a team is a very difficult thing to do. Most dentists say, Oh, I love the dentistry. I just hate my staff. Well, that's a problem. Okay, you want to be able to love your staff and you want your staff to support you.
I get a lot of compliments on my staff. Most, actually, most people leave the dental practice not because of the quality of the dentist, but because of their relationship with the staff. before I even meet a patient, you know this 'cause, because this is what you do for a living before a doctor, before a patient even meets me.
They probably have 15 to 20 different touchstones with our practice before the referral. The phone call, the website, the location, the outside of the building, the parking lot, what is the door squeak or not when you walk in, when it confirmed properly, did they say, or do you say hello? Hey, Michael, welcome or say, what's your name?
they know it's at 11 o'clock. We've got one patient coming in. Might as well greet them by their name. How are you doing? The nurse meets them, they go in there. By the time I walk into that room, I got to really be bad to blow it, because they've already been sold. They've been sold because they've been treated well up until that point.
And it's like, all of a sudden I walk in, it's like I'm a movie star walking into that room. Because they say, oh, a doctor's here. Yeah, but they've been treated well up until that point. And they often say, you know, well, Danielle or Amelia treat us really well. Whatever they say to do, we'll do, because our team is really what supports us and lifts us up.
Michael Arias: Gotcha. And I feel Can you give us a little bit more insight on like how we can build the perfect team? I feel like there's a lot of people who feel like they get B players and they turn into C They get A players and then the B players are bringing them down kind of thing
Michael Sonick: it really started, it starts with the, with the leader of your organization when dentistry, how do we become dentists?
Well, you got to get good grades in school. It has nothing to do with clinical skills or building a team or being nice to people, right? it means you're good at multiple choice tests. I always say to some of my friends, you know, that are really smart.
But they're not successful. I said, you know, the problem is you're too smart. you always the expression, the, uh, the A students work for the C students, you know, so it's a different skill set to build a team and it's, I have a whole chapter on hiring and how do you build a team?
And we build it. First of all, you got to know what you want. And I think before you build a team, you got to figure out who you are and that sort of starts with developing a mission statement or a statement of purpose or whatever you want to call it. It starts like, well, what is it? What does your practice want to look like?
does your practice want to look like someone who's just making money that just does high quality dentistry? Or does it want to look like someone who really. helps other people. So we developed our mission statement decades ago, and it's really, we've dumbed it down now. It's not really dumbed down, it's simplified.
And it's really to improve the quality of patients lives. So when I hire people, I want people to be able to be similar to my mission. I want them to be able to help people. Now, I can't really train people to be nice. You know, I hire nice people. So that's, that's what I would hire you. You seem like a nice guy.
No, you're, you're smiling. You're good. You connect with people. So you'd be great. You know, I would probably hire you based upon this, this podcast right now. you can really get, you know, Malcolm Gladwell, I'm sure you know, he talks about a blink, you know, it's like immediately you sort of know. So we develop our core values and I think every practice should look at their mission and their core values.
And that's, that's a lot of self work and our core values are involved being servant hearted. So I want people to be servant hearted. I want them to be able to treat Patients. Well, I want them to have very high integrity. I want to be health oriented, and I want them to be teammates. I want them to be educational.
So those are our five core values. So the most important ones, okay, are having integrity. That's, that's a, that's a non negotiable in our office. You know, if you don't have integrity, if you lie, if you steal, et cetera, that doesn't work. Um, and you have to be serving hearted. You have to want to serve the people.
So everybody in my practice, I have 25 people in my practice. Everybody is there to serve. Okay, that's what we're there and also they should be good teammates. So we want to get along when you have 24, 25 people in the office, small office. It's not always easy, but we always talk about it. We talk about that and we're very transparent.
No ambiguity, like I talked about earlier. So we're transparent and that there's a problem. we're going to bring it up and we can say, Hey, what's the problem here? Not make it personal, but talk about what the problem is. So once I find who I want, then we craft an ad and we, we interview people, but before we interview them, we get their resume, and you can tell a lot from resume, We get them to fill out a, um, employment application, you know, some basic information, but what's really important is we do something called a culture index. And not a lot of people know about this, but I do this on almost everybody in my life. What a culture index is, is, is a way that we can, I can look at somebody's personality and I look at them for seven different characteristics.
Are they autonomous? Are they going to work on their own? Are they going to follow orders? Are they very social? Or are they very, are they not social? Are they very detail oriented? Something very important for dental assistant or they're not detail oriented. Do they have a sense of urgency or if they're really laid back and they'll just move at a slower pace.
So those are the four major ones, but then it's like, how logical are they? I want people who are logical. Do they, are they creative? And do they have higher or lower energy? So I look at that and I'll tell you something. If I look, there's seven dots and I can look at these seven dots and I look at probably, probably look at 15 resumes and culture and disease a week.
I can look at them and within about literally seven or eight seconds, I know what that person's like. Okay. I can, I don't know their integrity. I don't know if they're smart, but I know what kind of worker they're going to be. If they have the wrong culture index, they're not getting hired. And every time I don't follow the culture index, I hire the wrong person.
Okay. I always try to fire it. So the culture index, the resume and the, um, appointment application. If I like the culture index and their resume, which is about one out of every 25, then they get a FaceTime interview with one of my office managers. If they like them after the FaceTime interview, they bring them in and then we do the blink and I look at them and within about three or four seconds, I know if they're a pretty good fit or not, if they know nothing about my practice, you know, if they haven't read the website, they're probably not very good.
They're not curious, and they're probably not the right fit. If they don't stand up and look me in the eye and shake my hand with a firm handshake. They're not going to get hired. If they come in, they are looking terrible, disheveled, unwashed hair. If they're 15 minutes late, okay. If their fingernails are dirty and their shoes are all scuffed up, they're gone.
So, I mean, it's just very quickly and it saves us a lot of time. We very rarely hire the wrong person anymore. It took me a long time to do this. And when I like, if I like them doing that blink, then the rest of my team interviews them. If they like that, they go home. Then if we like them at that point in time, we make them back for a working interview where they spend a full day with my team.
And that's not for me. My team that makes the final decision. Are they a good teammate or not? We know very, very quickly. If I ever feel badly, sometimes people look great on paper and they, you know, and the other people like them, but they give me a knot in my stomach. They don't get hired. And I think, you know, that you either like it or it's a very, it's a chemical thing that happens.
And once you're pretty perceptive and you become perceptive to this, and you can train yourself to become more perceptive, you start to see, because there's nothing worse than hiring the wrong person, and now they're there for four or five months. Now you got to let them go. It's stressful. their life. I'm doing somebody a favor if I don't hire them. you know, I don't want to have to hire somebody to fire them and we very rarely fire anybody. the reason people leave is because, um, usually, you know, the husband gets transferred or wife gets transferred, something like that, or, or they go back to school.
We have a lot of people go back to school and, you know, better themselves. You know, I have like three or four people who went to medical school or dental school. So the hiring process is something I find very fascinating because I get to put the team together and I'm not hiring me. I'm hiring a teammates and it's like somebody doesn't work out one area.
We have other jobs in the office where I can move them around to like, one of my best. One of my assistants is really social, but she's terrible with details. I mean, you know, I asked her to hand me the blue thing. She hands me the red thing. I know that about her. She's been with me for 11 years, always forgetting stuff.
But she's the nicest person, and she always takes care of people who are nervous, and she'll do whatever it takes to really connect with people. She's the best connector, but she's the less detailed. So that's what we use her for, connecting with people, making people feel good. She's great, you know, and we love her.
She's just a great, great human being. And I have other people that are really detailed, and really, and really persnickety. They're going to get everything right. great. Those are the people who do all my ordering and make sure everything is there. You know, so I'm not going to give my ordering to the person that's really nice, but not detail oriented and vice versa. I'm not going to put that person, uh, who's very detail oriented, not always that nice, you know, with a, with a disgruntled patient, something like that. very fascinating. How do you put the team, the teams together, stress when I have a good team.
Michael Arias: you built like a, a system here to do that. You know what I mean?
Especially tailored to you, or I think you can kind of like create this, uh, system and put it in literally any practice, but then they can kind of tailor to their mission statement and stuff like that. Right. and it's very strict in the sense of like, or not strict, I guess, but it's more like, Hey, this is the requirements because every, everything has to have a requirement.
Right. In order to, to function well, even if you have, if you play Monopoly, right, you can't just, if I were to play Monopoly with you and I decided to do my own rules, you're going to be like, this is not fun no more. Right. I don't like doing this, but if I were to go by the rules, we can all enjoy it. And it's fun.
Michael Sonick: nobody in my life is perfect and I'm certainly not perfect. So we're all different. We all know, like my partner, I have two partners and my, partner, Ray Ma, he has a very different personality than I do, but I don't expect him to have my personality he's not a visionary.
He's very good surgeon. And he's very detailed and he likes to look at numbers now. I'm good with numbers, but I don't like numbers. I don't like to look at him. I don't like to look at the pros and cons. I give it to somebody else. I make money, but I don't, do the spreadsheets. I don't even know how to use a spreadsheet.
I mean, that's, that's not what my, where my brain is. So, like, we said, you know, can you teach me numbers? Yeah, I can teach you numbers. You know, if you make money. And then you have this much, this much debt, you subtract your debt from the money. What's left over is the number that you got. That's your, that's your net worth.
I just really simplify it, but he's great at that. And we work out very well because we do different things. So I try to get everybody into their own lane in the practice. So my lane is very clear. You know, I'm the visionary and a marketing person and I do surgery and I try to keep the call and I try to keep to culture.
Running well. So when I'm not there, because right now I only work two days a week, I work Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So the rest of my time is either teaching or, um, you know, writing which I love to do too. So I, well, I'm there Tuesday, Wednesday.
So I come in Tuesday morning. I'll be frank with you. It's not the same as when I leave on Wednesday night and, you know, boxes may be out. This is here. I go, what's going on? And I just come through and they know it, they know what's coming on. I go. That's right. Dad's back in the house. Okay, get in line, man.
I know it. I know it. But I buy him lunch too. And I'm real nice to him during the day, but they know exactly what I want, when I want it. last night we had a, uh, we had a meeting with a group of dentists. We do a lot of education in the office. We have a study club and last night, The other dentists were going, man, they really treat you well.
they're putting a cup of coffee down for me. They're cleaning up my area. I go, yeah, they are. They are treating me well. It's not because I beat them. It's because they have certain roles to do. So do I, if I have to entertain 30 dentists, do I need to go down and make a cup of coffee at that time?
Isn't my time better spent up there running that room and doing the education, doing everything else. And I make sure that they're all. They're all rewarded for that. they don't know this yet, but we do a bonus system. this month, each of my staff is getting a 2, 000 bonus because based upon what we do, I don't push them to make money because they're not, they're not on this bonus system.
Like the more we do, because I don't want to do that. But you know, when we, when their office does better and we're above a certain percentage, you know, they, they get the share in It's always like a gift that they never expect, but nobody would do that.
So nobody's on like a percentage there or anything like that. There are hourly employees, including my hygienist, and some people like to bonus them for doing more, but they don't have to do any selling for me. They just go in there and work. then when they work hard, you know, sometimes they get, they get rewarded.
So we haven't told him that. I just found that out last night, my partner, because he doesn't.
Michael Arias: That's fantastic. And it's good to do that, you know what I mean? To see the team achieve it and everything like that.
Michael Sonick: Yeah, and we buy them lunch. We do a lot of nice things for the staff. We go to a Danny Meyers restaurant every year.
we rent out the back room. This year we rented out the back room at Gramercy Tavern, which is an unbelievable room. And a lot of my team members have never been to New York City. They've never been to a Broadway play. You know, we'll We spend nine o'clock in the morning until probably midnight every summer, you know, taking the team to New York with four or five events, staying in great restaurants and having a really, really nice time.
And so they talk about it to the patients, and then they bring back the same culture from Danny Meyer's restaurant to our office. And they know that we're running Meyer's restaurant. On the cover of my book, my blurb is Mike's deeper calling is to use hospitality gifts to make people feel better as lessons applied in a customer facing business.
And it's Danny Myers. he gave me a blog top of the book, which was a big deal. I mean, that meant a lot to me. He, for me, is my role model for hospitality. And Will Guderian. Of course, I mean, you know, he's, he's phenomenal what he does, you know, we call it a wild experience.
You know, he tries to do that for everybody in his, in his place. And that's how he became number one restaurant in the world. If you read his book, you know, he, the first time he was, he was invited to Europe. I think it was London. And, uh, they were going to give him an award for being one of the top 50 restaurants.
He goes, yeah, great. One of the top 50, but they didn't know where he was. He was number 50. Okay, so one of the top 50, but I'm 50, it bothered him and that was the night he went back to his hotel room with his, um, partner, the chef, and he wrote down on a piece of paper because we're going to be number one, you know, within the next five years.
And I think it took two years later. And then he wrote down unreasonable hospitality and that's what he wanted to do. Every time a patient comes in, I want to give them something that they're going to think about. It could be, like, if you want the best restaurants in my area, I have a list. If you want a place to walk, I have a list.
If you want the top neurologist, I have that number. You want to go to hospital special surgery, you need knee replacement surgery, I have a list of doctors down there. I have a periodontist in L. A., I know who to send you to out in L. A. So, we make sure that our patients always are well taken care of, and I connect with other people that are similar.
And so you end up building a network of like minded people, you know, so if you want to be great, you want to run a really successful practice, look at other successful people and ask them, how can you help me? Call me. I don't do consulting, you know, I just do teaching and, you know, lectures, that's what I don't have a consulting business.
But if you have a question, send me an email, mikeatsonicdmd. com. I'm happy to give you some advice. I have it in a direct you to the right place. Oh, you're you're, you're in Idaho. I know somebody out there. That's pretty good that you can look at. You're in Columbus, Ohio. I know a great guy there that you can talk to, find other people to mentor you because great people love to mentor others.
I mean, that's what you do. You like to help people. I mean, that's sort of what the core value of your business is making the people that you work with more successful. And that's a, it's a pretty cool way of living that every day I get to go to work and be the gift to my patients, which basically, you know, they always say giving is better than receiving.
It is. It is. I mean, it definitely, it definitely is. it's, it's just a great, and you get paid for doing it too. I mean, we, we have a great job. We get to help people get paid for it, do clinical things, meet all these great people. I mean, you know, and improve the quality of people's lives. Yeah, I could be better than that.
Michael Arias: Yeah, a thousand percent. So then where can we, cause I know right now we kind of just talked parts of the book, right? Where can we go get this book?
Michael Sonick: Well, you can buy it on Amazon, so it's, uh, it's called Treating People, Not Patients. You can go to my website, which is my name, michaelsonic. com, and, uh, on my website, you can see courses that we teach.
you can download videos, uh, there's a video series that, that is, uh, I think very powerful. It's three and a half hours videos that you, that are in segments, 15 minute segments. So once a week, you sit down with your team. And you look at the segment comes with a workbook, a course workbook, you can have your whole team right through the course workbook.
And there's a series of questions and you get to evaluate your office. You know, there's a bunch of series in there. Like, how do patients want to be cared for? Are you good at telling a story? You know, do you do comprehensive examination? We haven't talked about that, but that being comprehensive is really important.
most doctors, most dentists do not do a comprehensive examination. They look for procedures to do Most dentists are pothole fillers and they don't treat people comprehensively because they think they got to fill their book and they got to make money. Bottom line is you treat people comprehensively.
Even if they don't need any treatment, they're going to refer you to other people that want the same thing. And going to be waiting around the corner to get into your office, you know, I mean, I booked until January and I don't do any. I mean, I don't do any real marketing.
My marketing is all internal. I just started to do some external marketing because I have two partners, my younger one to build their practice and I was just playing around with it, and I take no insurance, so I've never taken insurance. And, uh, 4 to 7 percent of the population, dentists don't take insurance.
My partner who joined me 10 years ago, wanted to take insurance to get busy. I go, no, wait, just treat people. And it took him a couple of years. He got busy. It's slower to build a practice if you don't take insurance, but you can do it, but you can't do it by being mediocre. You've got to be exceptional, not as a dentist, but as a human being to your patients, and if you want to do that, you can do that.
That's a lot more fun. and my, my youngest partner, you know, she's been with me two years. She thinks no insurance either. So I'm booked. Uh, I'm booked until January. My mid range partner who's middle age, she's 40. He's booked until I don't know, he's booked like six weeks. And, uh, my youngest person, she's out on pregnancy leave now, but she's got a full schedule.
not the waiting list, but she's on me when I have 2 years, but in 2 more years, you're not going to get into her schedule either. So, yeah, you know, I always say to my partner. the way, I'm an American I practice in my hometown, 200 yards from where I went to high school.
Ray Ma is from, China. communist border of North Korea. Uh, Soo Jin Yoo is from, Korea, Seoul. So, I mean, you know, and I have five, six people from Europe here. I have a very international practice and it doesn't really matter. It doesn't really matter where you're from. The same principles apply.
I, I said to my partner, he goes, well, you know, I can't really do what you do. Cause I'm not from Fairfield. I said, I can open up a practice in downtown Beijing and be busier than you. I said, as an American, he goes, what are you talking about? I said, because I'm going to treat people well. And the joke was, cause he's Chinese, all the Chinese patients came in and wanted to see me.
Not him, I didn't realize at the time that it was like a, status to see an American dentist, as opposed to a Chinese dentist. It's like everybody in Korea wants to go to Harvard, Yeah. Yeah.
Michael Arias: Gotcha. Interesting. My, my Korean
Michael Sonick: partner did go to Harvard. So,
Michael Arias: yeah, yeah, no, that's interesting.
you're doing a lot, man. The seminars, study clubs and the book, right. And then your practice that you're running. It's a lot. So if you could, uh, one of the final pieces of advice that you can give our listeners right now, that would kind of help them move the needle towards where they want to go.
Michael Sonick: first of all, I'd take two days. Go to a hotel room by yourself, or somewhere by yourself, and start to write. And write what your practice would look like, if you could do whatever you wanted. If you could take a magic wand and wave it in front of you, what would you like that to look like?
And then, I mean, spend some time doing it. Do you want to be a restorative dentist? Do you want to do a lot of Invisalign? Do you want to do a multi specialty practice? Do you want to be, you know, you want to own a group of practices? Because there's so many different options. You know, if you feel like you're entrepreneurial, you want to buy practices, you don't really want to work, but you want them, and create them.
And then find mentors and role models that have done that. And hang out with them. I remember when I was in my Early thirties, I said to a friend of mine, I said, in 25 years, this is what I want to do. I want to teach all over the world. I want to be well known nationally and internationally, and I want to be an educator, and I want to write articles, and I want to be well known like these people.
And the people at the time were David Garber, who a lot of people know, and Frank Spear. And I said, I, that's where I that's a lofty way to be. I said, and I said, that's what I want. And so what I did was I started to meet those people. And all the well known people in our field. I know, you know, I wouldn't say they're friends of mine, but I have all their cell numbers and I talk to them all the time the sharing that goes on is really, really magical.
So create a network of people. One of the things that a lot of people do today, especially your younger audience, is they do things on their own with social media and they learn from Instagram and they see other people and they text, that is a way to do it. I'm not saying it's wrong. But it's not a way to really connect with people.
You don't build your practice by texting. You don't build it with social media only. it's a way to get people in front of you, but you really build it with human connectivity. All the work you do for your clients is useless if they come into a dirty office where the dentist doesn't care to them, doesn't spend the time looking in their eye, talking to them, and asking if they have any questions, and handing the business card with their cell phone number or personal email.
You don't have to do that. By the way, my cell phone does not go off when a patient is calling me. They very rarely call me, but when they do, if I'm there for them to re cement a crown on it, like as I did last Sunday morning, before the patient flew off to Portugal for two weeks, because their front tooth fell out, you know, his dentist didn't, I'm a periodontist, his general dentist didn't pick up the phone, I did, and I re cemented it in with permanent cement, so he'll be okay in Portugal, and I gave him the name of a dentist I know in Lisbon, say call him if you have a problem.
Giving it, not only cementing it, but give him a contact and then giving him my cell phone saying, if you're listening, the tooth falls out, call me. That's a wow experience. That's a hospitality that's over the top. And what did it cost me? I live a mile from my office. It cost me 25 minutes and a little bit of cement, and that is great marketing.
Because that patient's going to be telling that story. And I said to him, I said, he goes, well, what do I leave for this? I go, nothing. He goes, nothing? What am I going to charge you? Can I make enough money for that one visit to get the marketing value? Then, not only was I there, I didn't charge him. I said, nothing.
I said, you know why? I said, because you're going to be telling this story to people for the next 10 years about how nobody would call you back, but I came, your periodontist came in and re cement your tooth and gave you a cell phone number and a dentist and Lisbon. I told him exactly what I was doing for him.
He happened to be a retired guy who was, who used to be in marketing himself. So I told him, and that's kind of transparency was pretty fun, you know? Yeah. Because you could say that I wasn't saying, well, oh, don't worry about, no, hey here, I'm doing it because I'm manipulating you to promote my practice and come back here.
By the way, he's gonna need an implant there, so he's gonna be back in, you know, in, in and a few weeks, and I'll take care of him at that point in time. But that really gives great value to him and I, and I, by the way, I sent him a follow up letter to say, call me when you get back. Let's take a look and come up with a treatment plan.
Okay? Not only did I see him, Did, did the service, gave 'em a contact number, gave 'em my cell phone. I sent them a letter. Okay, that's over the top and it's fun doing so. What do I do? Be nice to people. Be really nice to people. Connect with them. don't rush off. Be there. And the biggest way you can build your practice is when something goes wrong.
Fix it. don't dismiss yourself in a part. That's a lot of younger people. I don't want this complication. Be there. If you can't fix it, find someone who can and develop relationships with those people. It's all about human connectivity and those will transform your relationships, you with everybody.
Yeah. This is not about dentistry. This is just about, you know, connecting with people.
Michael Arias: No, that's wonderful. Wonderful. So with that in mind, if anybody wanted to reach out to you. Call you or anything like that. Where can they reach out to you?
Michael Sonick: Well, they can email me at Mike and Mike at sonic dmd. com. They can text me on my phone.
Two Oh three, two Oh nine, seven Oh two nine. They can go to any of my websites, my name, michaelsonic. com. You can read my book, which I think you'll find very helpful, a lot of dentists have read it. I've had over 170 reviews from dentists from Dennis Tarnow to Christian Coachman to leaders in industry like Peter Diamandis and others.
It's been really well received. Um, my goal is to get this book into every dental school so that we change the culture of how we treat people, you know, both dental and medical schools. and I'm, I'm talking to physicians as well about this. So it's my passion. I'm not hard to find. So nice, nice,
Michael Arias: awesome.
So guys, that's going to be in the show notes below. So definitely reach out to Michael and Michael, thank you so much for being with us. It's been a pleasure and we'll hear from you soon.
Michael Sonick: Okay. Thank you, Michael. Thank you for having me.