MME: Stop Hating Your Problems and Learn to Love Them for a Profitable Practice | Kiera Dent

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Can embracing problems really lead to better decision-making and growth in practices? That's what we're delving into in this episode with our guest, Kiera Dent, from Dental A Team. She's here to offer some unconventional advice to practitioners and stress the importance of facing your challenges head-on. Not only will doing so increase your understanding of key metrics such as overhead, profit margins, payroll, and cash flow, but it also allows you to find innovative ways to reach financial freedom and increase practice success.

But, it's not all just about embracing the numbers. Kiera also discusses the crucial role of team collaboration and effective communication for leveraging this numerical data for growth. By aligning everyone on your team around these figures, you are fostering a shared responsibility and culture that's geared toward success. This episode is filled with insight and practical steps to help one comprehend not only the power of numbers but also the importance of viewing them not as obstacles but as levers for success.

What You'll Learn in This Episode:

  • The transformative power of embracing challenges in dental practices.
  • Importance of understanding key metrics for making informed decisions.
  • Viewing numbers as tools for financial freedom.
  • Role of team collaboration in improving the monetary aspect of practices.
  • The value of effective communication around numbers and benchmarks.

Don't miss this episode that is filled to the brim with unconventional, yet extremely beneficial advice straight from the experienced Kiera Dent!

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Episode Transcript (Auto-Generated - Please Excuse Errors)

Michael: Hey, Kiera. So talk to us. What's one piece of advice you can give us this Monday morning.

Kiera: Oh, Michael, thanks for having me on. Um, so mine is going to be a little controversial and unconventional is to stop hating your problems and learn to love them, which I know feels a little funny to hear.

And I'm going to tie it into numbers for you, but, um, as I was thinking about it, Our body is like when we have pain, like the natural tendency is to pull back from that pain and, and so I, I was thinking about this and I thought like there are things that cause like psychological pain as well.

And those psychological pains are ones to like lean into and our brain is a web of even more nervous cells. And so like our natural tendency is like when there are problems, We want to pull away from it. We want to run away from it. We don't want this to be our problem. But the exact opposite, I believe, is what is needed to actually lean into them, solve them, because problems can create innovation.

And I feel like, again, it's counterintuitive to what we think we should do, but stop hating our problems and truly learn to love them.

Michael: What are some common problems that you see a lot of us, either as humans or as practice owners, tend to hate the most? Where we either ignore it or it bites us back in the butt later on.

Kiera: Yeah. I would say like the number one thing I see with our dentists that we coach are numbers. I think numbers are just one thing. We don't want to look at it. We think that me knowing my numbers, me looking into my numbers, I am a dentist. I am an entrepreneur. I'm a business owner. I don't know numbers. I know dentistry.

And so it's almost like even with my hands, like we're pushing back, we're pushing against that. But leaning into that problem, because so many of our problems actually stem from not knowing our numbers. can I hire this person or can I not? I have a client currently, and she's like, Kiera, I've got all this turnover.

And I'm like, well, one, like, let's look at the pattern. So like leaning into the hiring piece. But if you don't know your numbers, it's very hard to make decisions of, can I afford this person? Can I actually give raises? Uh, what do I need to do in case of a recession? How can I recession proof my business?

What is my true overhead? How do I like, what do I need to set my production goals for looking at all those numbers? I would say is like the number one thing people literally like, it's like a visceral response. Like, no, I don't want to know my numbers. I don't want to look at the PNL. It feels like a totally foreign language.

Which it is and it's scary and it's daunting, but honestly leaning into that and loving the things that possibly cause the initial pain are going to be the ones that give you the most freedom.

Michael: So then going with the numbers side of this, the main numbers we need to be looking at are what?

Because that's a good point you brought out where it's like, I would feel like, man, I'm just so overwhelmed. We need another hygienist or, Oh my God, I don't want to do hygiene. Or we need another assistant, another front office because we feel overwhelmed. Um, but what numbers need to speak?

Kiera: Yeah. So what I love and we actually just created an awesome calculator that I think people can have is number one, like go through and figure out if you don't know what your overhead is.

So overhead is all the costs of running the business, prior to paying our doctors. And like, sometimes if you've got associate doctors that should go up in the top line overhead, but then below that would be how much we're paying you as a doctor. And then below that is how much are our debt services to ultimately get a profit number.

And I like every office to be running at least at a 20 percent profit margin. After paying themselves and after debt services, that would be ideal. Um, but then looking at the overhead, ideally 60 between 50 and 60 percent is a great number. Now, when we look at it, it's also, then you can tie into, all right, what is my payroll payroll right now?

You're in California, Michael. So, uh, 30 percent has been the standards recently, but in some areas it's higher than that. And so if I want to get my overhead down to 50 percent or 60%, Looking at all those different metrics and the numbers and knowing what should my supply cost be? What should my payroll be?

What should my labs be? What should my marketing be? All those different areas and making sure that they're in line. But then really looking at what my true profit is and then making sure I know what my cash flow is, that's going to help you then maneuver throughout to know what exactly do I need to, to change, to adjust and looking at numbers, not as like pain or punishment, or I'm not doing this right, but as levers on a dial of which one can I turn?

It's like a combination lock. If I turn this one just a little bit, or I turn this one just a little bit, I'm going We instantly get more cash flow, less stress, but I'm able to hire more and have a happier team at the same time. So a lot of people had really bad Decembers and I think, well, go look at the numbers.

Why was it a bad December? It was a bad December because we had holiday parties, we had bonuses, we had PTO. Well, if we use those numbers and look to see how much extra was being paid in December, Divide that out amongst 11 months. Now it's a very small amount that we save up through every single month.

We can prepare that into our costs. December won't have to be a hard month for you ever again, but it's looking at those numbers. First of the overhead, the profitability of the practice. And then we move into like the KPI. So what's going to influence the supplies. What's going to influence the payroll was going to influence that and getting your team bought into it.

And I think like, gosh, Michael, I could come on here and talk about anything, right? Like any topic. But I promise you, if I can empower people to not be afraid of the numbers and to say like, all right, it's kind of like, I think air traffic control towers, can you imagine, like, just for three seconds? Like, I cannot imagine hearing the nonsense chaos that that per person's having to like navigate through.

It probably sounds like static in their ears, but like, the more they listen to it, the more they're able to understand, they're able to understand what those pilots need and be able to guide them in safely. Same thing with looking at your numbers. It might feel like static and chaos and overwhelming today, but even just committing to, I'm going to look at my P and L every month.

I'm going to figure out what my overhead is. I'm going to figure out what my cashflow is. Those little, little tiny steps that seem daunting. One step is going to lead you to financial freedom. And that's honestly, we're done. It's like, like, if you want to feel free, confident, and secure, knowing those numbers forward and backward, and then getting your team bond into it, it's going to give you all the freedom that you've ever wanted.

Michael: Do you let the whole team know all the numbers?

Kiera: It depends on the practice, but it depends on the owner. So, uh, in our company, like in the ones I've been a part of in the practices I've owned in the practices, I've been a team member in typically, yes, they do share their numbers. And what I mean by sharing all the numbers, doctors, I don't care what you're paid, I want you to be paid.

a very healthy amount. I tell all of my teams, you want your doctors paid insanely well, because when they're secure, your job is secure. And so, um, I don't think you need to necessarily share like your pay, your cashflow. I think that that can be personal for you, but the top line overhead numbers of our payroll, all those different pieces for sure.

Let them know what the benchmarks are. Teams honestly want to support you. As a team member myself, uh, I was a team member before I became a consultant. Um, I've owned practices. Just know that that team wants to support you and they're not thinking about you like, Oh, they want to buy a boat. It's literally like, tell me the number, let's go for it.

But they need to know what they're guiding towards and what their metric is in order to be able to hit it correctly.

Michael: Gotcha. Okay. That's interesting. So if the numbers don't work when it comes to wanting to hire an employee, where do you think they can start trimming?

Kiera: Yes. So, like I said, first is the overhead.

Second, I like to have a monthly cost spreadsheet for every practice that I work with. This is like annoying, Michael. This is the stuff that's controversial. This is the stuff of like the discipline here will create the freedom in the future. So get your monthly costs of there of everything that you're spending, go back to last month's credit card statement.

Um, go back, put in like I've got this assistant. I pay them 25, 30 an hour or whatever you pay in your area and they work this many hours. I always err on the high end, not the low end. So that way I can see like my quick month at a glance costs. Then from there, if I can't afford, let's say I need to bring on another assistant.

I'm going to go look at the remaining costs below. Am I paying for extra things? Like, do I have subscriptions that maybe I could consolidate? Could I maybe go and work with like synergy of a supply group and get my supplies lower? Are there ways that I could maybe change my labs? Is there, maybe I'm paying for Netflix and we don't need to pay for Netflix.

Do I have like subscriptions on there that maybe are no longer serving us? If so, that's where I would start to But like, again, numbers are levers. So either we increase the production. Are we decrease the cost and I'm always pro of like, let's cut the costs that are unnecessary, but also can we look at our schedule and can we find out within our schedule?

Are we like, what is our dollar per hour? Are we using block scheduling instead of just letting patients go wherever we want? Are we making an ideal schedule and having our patients schedule there? Like those little things. can make your hourly be so much more productive with ease and you're doing nothing else other than just scheduling the patients in a more effective block.

So before I go cut teams or I cut anything else like that, let's look at your schedule too. And could we make your schedule a bit more productive? So that way your time there is better utilized. And then we can hire that team member. And also just knowing the number, break it down. A lot of times we break it down into like, Oh, I need to make this per month, break it down into.

Per month, per week, per day, per hour. And then again, build that block schedule. It's really fun. You can get into Excel. Like this is where you get into the nitty gritty. And I love to do this for offices, but I found for offices, when you like get even into that schedule, before you go cutting costs, I've been able to add usually between 30 and 50, 000, like minimum.

I've even had upwards of a hundred K per month added to a schedule. And they're working no more hours. We're not having to do extra treatment. It's using the treatment we have, having better blocks and then teaching your team how to be like, Oh my gosh, Dr. Michael's incredible. They do their crowns at eight o'clock or 10 o'clock, which time works best for you.

So I'm guiding the patient into a perfect schedule. I'm not going to go cut costs. But then after that, like, From there, then we go and figure it out, but I would rather see could I be more productive with my scheduling before I'm having to cut other people to be able to hire. And then also sometimes you might have to make a, all right, I'm going to do a hope, a wish, and a prayer.

I know this person is going to bring in revenue over the next three months. Can I sustain that extra cost for three months? And if so, that was a good investment. And I've even hired people and been like, look, I can't afford you today, but I know you're going to be able to bring in the income. I need to be able to afford you.

I've got three months and you're going to prove your worth. And this is where we are. And it's a hope it's a wish, but if they know, and you know. I've never been burned in that situation. Maybe someone has, but uh, being upfront and honest, they usually will prove their worth really quickly and pay for themselves.

And that's usually like a TC, an OM, a hygienist, a producer. Usually there are costs I'm willing to run maybe a little high on for three months because they'll, they'll pay for themselves within that three month period.

Michael: Interesting. You tell them that you're like, Hey, I can't afford you, but I'm going to hire you.

Kiera: I have Michael I just think I have the honest combo because I want to be up front with them of like today I know I need you. I can't necessarily afford you but i'm also so confident that You're going to bring in the revenue to my practice to be able to afford you. Like they're a producer, right? A hygienist is a producer, a doctor is a producer, a treatment coordinator, they're not technically a producer, but they can close cases to put money on the books.

They're going to actually pay for themselves. And like, yeah, I hired a treatment coordinator in my first practice and I was like, I can still see her. And I said, honest to goodness, I. you are out of the budget of what I was planning, but I'm so confident you're going to be able to make up your salary in our monthly revenue.

I got three months of a runway. And if not, like, I honestly, I'm going to have to part ways with you. And she was so like, she has a TC and she's like, Oh girl, I'm going to put this money on your books. Like you will, you will pay for me like 10 times. And she did, she was an incredible, incredible hire, but, um, sometimes you gotta just take the risk to knowing that you're hiring who you can't afford today.

But who's going to put money on your books? Be careful though, you don't want to get into hot water, but producers, I'll take a risk and I'll run on them, knowing that they'll bring revenue to my practice.

Michael: What does hot water look like?

Kiera: Hot water is when you're not paying yourself and you're taking out like, second mortgages on your house.

Um, I've had some doctors where they're like, like, it's just like, we're just going to keep pumping money into the machine versus saying like, all right, what things do we need to cut at this point? We do need to cut costs. And maybe that is cutting. I never liked to cut team members. They're my last one. A lot of consultants are the opposite and they come and just slash.

I just feel like teams are valuable and I see them as assets, not liabilities of a practice. And so hot water is you're not paying yourself. We're taking out more loans. And there is, there's a fine line of having the hustle versus the like, completely engulfs you to where you can't come back from it.

And so that's going to be your hot water. I don't like to run less than like a 5 percent profit. Now, if you're a startup practice, you're going to be negative for a few months, but you've got your working capital, hire the people that are going to produce for you. Be strategic on my startups. I'm always like, have the hygiene patients come in. But if they need dentistry, do that first and then schedule them back on Friday and hire a temp hygienist on just Fridays. That way, when you're here, you're doing more production instead of just doing the hygiene, scooch that out to Friday, fill a full Friday schedule.

You are always able to produce. That's how you build up a schedule. So always also be working at the top of your, your license is a good way to look at it as well.

Michael: Interesting. Okay. Awesome. Kiera. Thank you so much for being with us. But before we say goodbye, can you tell our listeners where they can find you?

Kiera: Absolutely. If you want help with this, if you want help to get your numbers, I love to do this. And this is why we built the dental a team. It's consulting, and we have virtual and in person. We have lots of different things. It's a ton of fun. So head on over to the dental team. com. You can also listen to our podcast, the dental team podcast.

And if you ever are curious about consulting every Friday at 8 30 AM Pacific. 1130 a. m. Eastern. You can come pop on. We have a 15 minute, like learn about consulting, see if it's a good fit for you. No stress. You can just come learn, but I'd love to help anyone out. Thedennallyteam. com. And if you tell us that you came from this podcast, we actually have, um, preferred pricing for all the listeners here.

So definitely mention it. We want to take care of you guys. Go have an incredible day. Thanks, Michael. It was a good time.

Michael: Awesome. So guys go check out the preferred pricing in the show notes below and reach out to Kiera too, with the links in the show notes below. And Kiera, thank you so much for being with us.

It's been a pleasure. And we'll hear from you soon.

Kiera: Thanks. See ya.