In the first 8 months, Dr. Novak’s revenue jumped 25% to $2.5 million.
production, team development, leadership, systems
In April 2021, Dr. Tom Novak was building a new dental facility in Weatherford, Texas, expanding from 7 operatories to 12. Determined to be prepared for the new, larger practice, he was looking for guidance so he could hit the ground running and have a full schedule the minute they opened their doors.
In 1996, Dr. Novak bought Beacon Dentistry for $83,000 after spending 5 years fixing teeth in the U.S. Navy. A fee-for-service office, he started with one assistant and a hygienist two days a week and has been steadily growing ever since. In 2018, he brought on Dr. Garrett Johannsen and today has 4 hygienists, 5 assistants, and 4 team members in the front office.
“We don’t accept any PPOs (Preferred Provider Organization) or anything like that,” Dr. Novak said. “While we’ve always been remarkably profitable and productive, I did not want to show up in a brand-new facility doing exactly what we were doing and hoping things were going to grow. I wanted to start the growth now and do all I could to encourage growth and not just stumble through. When we stepped into the new facility, I wanted to open the floodgates and be extremely busy running twelve rooms. I knew the whole operation was going to be bigger. I figured I had the leadership skills to get me where we were, but I didn’t know if I had them to get me where I wanted to go.”
Dr. Novak was introduced to Dr. John Meis through his dentist friends that were in his original brain trust. After taking the majority of his team to the Team Training Institute’s Summit in April 2021, he signed up for the Blue Diamond program. Having previously worked with 5 other consultants, Dr. Novak said he chooses to work with The Team Training Institute for three reasons:
1. Advanced Best Practices:
“When things are running well, the air gets kind of thin when you’re starting to look for advice,” Dr. Novak said. “I think any consulting firm could tell me how to take a practice to a million dollars because it’s pretty easy. But once you start getting up a little higher, it’s little, teeny, small differences, and it might be just the choice of words sometimes that makes a big difference. The Team Training Institute was an opportunity to investigate best practices through the eyes of a consultant and people who are in offices all the time.”
2. Like-Minded Philosophy:
“The general philosophy of Dr. Meis is similar to mine,” he said. “The Team Training Institute’s philosophy is to provide really high-quality care in a way that’s extremely efficient and at the same time, it’s comfortable. It doesn’t seem rushed. It doesn’t seem hurried.”
3. A Track Record of Proven Results:
“Wendy Briggs is a proven performer in the hygiene arena,” Dr. Novak said. “Wendy and her team know how to manage hygiene and bolster it.”
In the first 8 months of working with The Team Training Institute, Dr. Novak’s revenue jumped 25% to $2.5 million. At the time of this interview, his new facility had not opened yet, however he fully expected his numbers to increase. “I suspect our profitability, revenue, and production will be better when we get into our new spot and will continue to go up without any additional big costs.”
This added revenue has allowed Dr. Novak the freedom to focus more on what he enjoys doing inside the practice and the opportunity to delegate the things he no longer wants to do.
“The best thing I ever heard out of a consultant’s mouth came from The Team Training Institute’s coach Sherri when she told me that the first thing a doctor runs out of is mental energy,” he said. “And I thought you’re right. I’m just hired to run it. And so, out of everything, that’s been the biggest benefit so far is that there is a real focus on getting me out of the picture.”
#1: Invest in Your Team
In anticipation of their expansion, Dr. Novak is investing time and resources in training his team. They’re doing drills to prepare for the new practice and have taken Hygiene Explosion, Perio Explosion, and Shared Mindset training. He’s taken his office manager and team leads to multiple quarterly meetings and just returned from taking his whole team to the annual Champions of Dentistry Summit in San Diego.
He’s hired an extra hygienist and increased to 5 assistants, over- staffing to get everyone trained and ready for the new practice. “Bigger is better,” Dr. Novak said. “It makes everything easier.”
#2: Optimize Production
After TTI coach Paige came out and guided the team through Hygiene Explosion training, Dr. Novak started to see hygiene production increase rapidly. It increased by $200,000 within the first six months of their initial training and is expected to continue to increase as capacity increases in the new facility.
“Since we started with TTI, we’ve had a tremendous jump in hygiene,” Dr. Novak said. “Year over year, hygiene is up almost $200,000 compared to last year, which was an anomaly because of all the madness. If we compare to 2019, we’re up almost half a million. So much starts in hygiene as far as diagnosis and treatment goes, so that has bumped everything up compared to last year. I attribute a lot of that to The Team Training Institute. They’ve been extremely helpful. This is my fifth consulting firm in 25 years and The Team Training Institute is easily the most objectively measurable in terms of how much success we’re experiencing.”
He also reports a higher level of protecting teeth, with a 1400% increase in sealants. “We’re providing higher standards of care,” Dr. Novak said. “Prior to The Team Training Institute, if we were protecting 10 teeth a month, that would have been a lot. Now it’s been a big increase and we are protecting way more than we ever have.”
While they still fit same-day dentistry in, it’s been difficult in the short run because Dr. Novak and his associate, Dr. Johannsen, only have 3 rooms to split. “It was super easy to do same-day dentistry before, however, the 4 hygienists take 4 of the rooms, which means often the rooms are full. When we get into the new facility, same-day dentistry will come back as a giant production resource for us.”
He adds, “Thanks to coaching and everything at The Team Training Institute, I’m looking at patients that are overdue. They’re so overdue on continuing care. And Sherri is like, ‘Tom, just relax because you don’t have anywhere to put them. There’s no reason to spend your time or lose stomach lining thinking about these patients that are going so far overdue because you’ve got nowhere to put them, anyway.’ And so, again, this is another giant bottleneck they’ve made very clear for me. And when we get into the new space, we’re just going to hit the ground running.”
“Another super big deal is how The Team Training Institute teaches us to deploy Dental Intel,” Dr. Novak said. “Before, looking at Dental Intel was like looking at the answer without a question. You’d have these numbers, like your production number is crappy, but what are you going to do? The Team Training Institute’s Practice Success Loop is a giant deal because it shows how the data becomes actionable... so when this number goes this way, this is what we do.”
#3: Create Systems that Improve Efficiency
Building systems and structuring his management team differently keep Dr. Novak from burning out. When his mental energy is preserved, he gets to stay focused on his patients, which means better patient care.
The hygiene and perio systems have made the biggest improvements to the practice so far, but Dr. Novak admits there are systems he’s unaware of due to his team handling a lot more of the day-to-day business.
“I’m proud to say, I really don’t know exactly what systems are making the biggest difference because the real focus is on getting me out of the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been happy. I love the work. I love my team. I love all of it, but I don’t like sitting up straight in bed at two o’clock in the morning thinking about a change that should be made. The fact that there is a very deliberate effort for me to delegate everything has become extremely attractive and it’s getting better all the time.”
#4: Develop Management
Prior to working with The Team Training Institute, Dr. Novak had an office manager who’d worked for him for 15 years. Only 2 months into working with The Team Training Institute, his office manager told him she was leaving to help run her husband’s home-building business. “She’s like a sister to me, so when she told me she was leaving, that was a stab through the heart,” Dr. Novak said. “I was thankful to have TTI coach Sherri around helping me out as we went on the hunt for a new manager.”
Initially, Dr. Novak’s 3 team leaders stepped up, offering to co- manage everything, but it didn’t work. He credits The Team Training Institute for helping establish leadership roles for his hygiene lead and assistant lead, and for helping his front desk lead step into the management role.
“That was all The Team Training Institute,” he said. “TTI helped establish my team leaders and has been developing my office manager, Linda. It’s super beneficial for me because she is growing into this position. I’m offloading more on her than I ever gave to her predecessor. There’s a lot to it and so it’s nice to have guidance.”
#5: Reward Your Team
By implementing The Team Training Institute’s Chip Draw system, Dr. Novak has been able to include the entire team in incentives. This keeps everyone energized and enthusiastic about the work. When the team hits their goals, he draws chips with rewards. For example, if the team achieves a record month, he may draw a $200 or $300 chip. And, he’s been generously adding chips. So, if an Invisalign case is started, he’ll throw in an extra $100 chip. This Chip Draw system is a simple way to incentivize all roles in the practice.
“It’s super easy in certain positions in the office to be able to incentivize people,” Dr. Novak said. “You can put up production numbers for a hygienist, and if she hits them, you can build something easily. Maybe you can incentivize somebody in the front for new patients, but what do you do for an assistant? What do you do for an insurance coordinator? It becomes difficult. So, the chip draw has been a really nice thing. They’re always excited about it and it’s nice that they feel rewarded. If you can’t get your team enthused, you can’t offload stuff to them. You get stuck carrying the whole load. It’s a tiring circle to watch.”
#6: Discovery Your Team’s Strengths
Shared Mindset training with TTI coach Sherri made a big difference in the practice. The training helped solidify the team’s core values and allowed people to understand each other better, resulting in a deeper connection between team members.
“Sherri came out and spent the day with us working on our core values,” Dr. Novak said. “That turned into a giant sobbing, ‘I love you’ fest. Everybody just crying all over the place. It was extremely impactful. It’s a big deal because it helped us have a better understanding of everyone in the office. That’s been remarkably helpful and changed the complexion of inner relationships. The way I look at it, everybody’s default setting is they want to hire somebody like them because you like somebody that’s just like you. In truth, that’s probably the worst thing you could do, because if somebody doesn’t like you, they’re not going to like anybody else at your office either. As far as I’m concerned, as long as they can connect with somebody, it doesn’t matter if it’s an assistant, me, Garrett, or one of the hygienists. As long as they feel connected to somebody at the office, then that’s a giant victory. And the more different they are, the better they are. This just brings the larger collection of strengths. It makes for a much more stable place. This has been a big deal and allowed us to be able to play to people’s strengths.
#7: Set Up Your Practice So It Can Run Without You
At 57 years old, Dr. Novak says he’s not looking to stop working. However, there are certain aspects of the practice he just doesn’t want to do anymore. So, he made the deliberate decision to relinquish control over everything and let his team assume complete responsibility for running the day-to-day operation. This decision has allowed Dr. Novak to build a more self-sustaining practice while also making dentistry more enjoyable for him.
“Sherri has been quick to point out that it might not be exactly how I want it, but it’s done and it’s fine and it’s good,” Dr. Novak said. “I didn’t undercut anybody. I didn’t let somebody work on something for a week and then say, ‘Well, let me make changes to it for two more weeks.’ I’ve let that go and that’s been such a big deal. By my team taking care of stuff, it makes the whole thing optional for me. I’ve got Dr. Johannsen working 4 days a week and he’ll work 5 days a week at the new facility. I work 3 days. My work isn’t hard, but not doing all the stuff, it just gets easier and easier all the time. The less I do, the less I have to manage. Plus, I can just plug anybody in there.”
“I don’t have a hobby that will replace dentistry, it’s still the most fun I have, so I’m not trying to run away from the work. But, I am trying to leave the work at work. It’s not that I do dental stuff at home, it’s just something that is always in the back of your mind. And the more I get rid of that, the more fun it gets to be all the time. As I continue to get older and lose interest in certain stuff, it’ll all run without me. Knowing when I’m not there that everything is going to run without me and it’s fine, that is incredibly comforting.”
Where would Dr. Novak and his team be today had he not joined The Team Training Institute? He says he’d still be productive, happy, and giving good patient care, but that joining The Team Training Institute gave him the direction to prepare him for the growth that’s coming. With The Team Training Institute, he was able to get more off his plate.
“Without The Team Training Institute, we’d be somewhat directionless and wouldn’t know which questions to ask. We’d make money and that sort of stuff, but at some point, I’d sit back and say, ‘Is this it?’ So many of the recipes from the other consultancies are the same, but The Team Training Institute is different. They give us direction and help develop our vision of where we want to go. Having somebody we can ask questions to and who also asks us the right questions keeps us pointed in the direction of our vision. This is huge.”
“They’ve helped me get the weight off my shoulders and once we get settled into the new building, it’s going to take a lot less emotional energy out of me. Because Dr. Meis is a dentist, that has made a giant difference in the way I’m able to let stuff go. I’m inherently somewhat perfectionistic, and that doesn’t serve me. It serves everybody else pretty well, but that’ll eat you up. And so, being able to let go of this stuff and actively decide I’m just not doing that. There’s no shame in not doing it all. And, I just don’t want to do it all anymore.”
“Wendy is a proven performer in the hygiene arena where we can explore all the ways to increase production and efficiency of patient care. This allows me to have Wendy and her team manage the hygiene stuff and bolster those results. Those results are clear.”
“And on my side, I didn’t have to drink too much Kool-Aid. I didn’t have to change my philosophy. It allowed me to continue to grow within a philosophy that I already understood. The two have worked hand in hand and have been complimentary. And so, I’m deeply appreciative of that.”
“The Team Training Institute has given me the opportunity to have a well-run machine. Everything in the whole practice is easy. There’s no resistance from paperwork to treatment to payments to all that sort of stuff, and it just runs. It’s nice to have it that way. It just makes everything convenient for people. You can tell when somebody knows what they’re doing and makes whatever the process is really easy and comfortable. And that’s what The Team Training Institute does. That’s why I signed up with them. Nobody’s trying to put the screws to anybody to bill patients out of money. Nobody’s doing anything seedy. It’s all just honest, upfront, efficient, comfortable work.”