What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
After working in several other practices throughout Miami, I was fed up with what I was seeing. Over-booked schedules that make it difficult to give the time needed to render quality care and educate patients about their issues, poor quality materials and equipment, treatment being determined by insurance contracts instead of what’s best for the patient and hour long or more wait times were all par for the course. Everyone including doctors, patients and staff were miserable and I knew there had to be a better way. So I interviewed all my friends and family to create a list of everything they hated about the dentist and set out to build a practice that would address these grievances. I set out to create a practice that is at the forefront of dental medicine while at the same time providing the old school experience and doctor patient relationship that your grandparents probably reminisce about.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Starting a business is like having your first child, you have no idea what you’re getting into, it’s harder than you think and more rewarding than you ever thought. We went to several conferences and spoke to many dentists in order to help us avoid mistakes and get advice on how to handle insurance, marketing, staffing… We got some good input, but when you’re trying to do something different you’re going to have to figure out a lot on your own, like how to schedule so that you actually run on time and how to get detailed information from insurance companies so that patients never get an unwanted surprise bill. We opened march of 2015 with one receptionist, one dental assistant (the 2nd assistant quit a few days before our grand opening) and my husband working on his days off from the fire department answering phones, doing accounting, marketing and pretty much anything else that didn’t involve touching patients. We made plenty of mistakes during those early days, but I think my patients saw that I truly cared about them and it wasn’t long before our reputation and business growth started to accelerate.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Early on I realised that my current patients are my best source. I still do plenty of marketing, but making my patients feel truly cared for has a better ROI than any ad campaign. Every industry is different, but in mine, the customer typically doesn’t know if what they received is good or not, they either trust you or they don’t. In fact my patients tend to judge my practice on everything except the dental care. Rarely does a patient rave about their filling or crown, instead they talk about how they never have to wait, how clean the office is, how friendly and inviting we are and how we take the time to make sure all their questions and concerns are addressed. We do throw in a few extras such as a menu of available beverages and amenities, in room streaming entertainment with noise cancelling head phones and a lavender steamed towel to clean up when your done, but overall how we make our patients feel is what keeps them coming back and sending us all their friends and family.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are doing great, 2020 was a challenge, but we were able to get through it, reopen and even do slightly better than 2019. 2021 has been a year of growth for us. In fact we’ve gotten so busy and booked so far out that we had to expand. Our just completed expansion will allow us to bring in additional dentists and specialist so we can handle all dental care in house as well as nearly double our capacity and provide more convenient appointment times for our patients. Looking to the future I see Deering Dental continuing to expand though whether that means a larger location or multiple offices is still unclear. I love my business and my patients and want to make sure that as we continue to grow, we do it in a manner that protects our brand and reputation and doesn’t water down what we do.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Always focus on your customers, if you take care of them it will always pay dividends in the long run. Once you build trust, people will stay with you and become your biggest advocates and promoters.
Don’t forget your team, if you want them to work hard for you, make sure they know you appreciate them and notice their efforts and work to create a culture and work environment that’s as pleasing to them as it is to your customers. If they’re happy, productivity will rise accordingly.
Lastly, when you start a business you tend to wear a lot of hats, it’s important to realize that as you grow your role changes and many things you do should be outsourced or delegated to free you up for higher level tasks, otherwise you’ll reach a point where you start to burn out, growth slows and you’ll start to hate going to work.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use a lot of dental specific tools that I’m not sure your readers would be interested in, but I will say that you need to find tools to automate as much repetitive task work as possible. We have systems that send reminders, review requests, automate pt data importation and we’ve outsourced a lot of office work that can be done remotely so that our team can focus on the things that only they can do.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
80/20 sales and marketing by Perry Marshall will make sure you never look at your customers the same way. This book completely changed the way I think about customers and marketing.
Traction by Gino Wickman. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a great vision and amazing ideas, unfortunately we’re not always the best at sticking to the plan. This book helped me solidify my vision for Deering Dental and create a roadmap to get us there.
The Star Principle by Richard Koch, great for analyzing your business and figuring out what your unique selling proposition is and how to make your company stand out.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Read the books I mentioned, dive deep into whatever industry you’re thinking of and figure out how you can do it better. Find a niche and exploit it. Above all, follow your gut. I’ve learned I’m not always right, but whenever I’ve gone against my instincts, it usually hasn’t worked out.
Where can we go to learn more?
www.Deering-Dental.com, you can also find us on Facebook and Instagram