Dr. Herron’s practice has grown to over $3 Million with two locations and 18 employees.
hygiene care, same-day dentistry, specialty services, profitability
In 2014, Dr. Rob Herron was burned out. He’d opened the doors to his three-chair dental practice, in his hometown of Columbus, Kansas, population 3,400, after graduating from Creighton University in 1989. Located in rural America, Dr. Herron enjoys the more laid-back lifestyle and raising his family there. But he’s also driven to succeed and to continually do better, which is what led him to meet Wendy Briggs in 2006.
“At the time, my practice was decent and solid enough, but I’m very competitive and entrepreneurial and I thought I should be doing more,” Dr. Herron explained. “I went to a big meeting in Chicago to learn marketing. Wendy Briggs was a presenter there and just blew me away. Through Wendy and Hygiene Diamonds, I discovered we could build a good practice around the hygiene department, and if you keep the hygiene doing what it should be doing, everything else falls into place.”
After working with Wendy, Dr. Herron was introduced to Dr. John Meis. “I joined The Team Training Institute (TTI) and was with them for quite a while,” Dr. Herron said. “But then I did my own thing for a little bit and things started going sideways. We just weren’t doing what we needed to do, and I felt adrift.”
While vacationing with his family in Utah, he met Wendy for lunch to discuss what was going on. “I was pretty bummed out,” Dr. Herron said. “I could have been done at that point.”
After meeting with Wendy, Dr. Herron came back to TTI and started attending meetings again.
“I needed to get back to doing what brought me success,” Dr. Herron said. “I knew what TTI had to offer. I had slipped away and wasn’t doing it and participating like I should be.”
Not only is Dr. Herron back on track, he has also increased the value of his practice to make it more attractive to associates and potential buyers. “If you go back to when I first started 14 years ago, Wendy talked about growing three times what we were doing. I thought that was pie in the sky and would never happen. Since we first started, we have grown about three and a half times with TTI.”
Dr. Herron’s practice has grown to over $3 Million, two locations, and 18 employees. He’s added an associate doctor and has protected hundreds of thousands of teeth. Plus, the practice is no longer solely dependent on him and he’s figured out his end game.
Here are eight steps Dr. Herron took that will grow your practice, reduce your stress, and create a practice other dentists want to buy:
Step 1: Your Entire Team Must Experience the Hygiene Training
“If it’s just the doctor that goes, it’s harder to do as the other staff have not experienced the process or experienced the uplifting that happens in an actual meeting,” Dr. Herron said. “That’s where the importance of the TTI coaches coming into the office comes into play. The coaches make or break the whole thing. All of the ones who coach for TTI are hygienists themselves.”
Step 2: Put the Process in Place and Stick to It
“Putting the process in place is dependent on getting everyone to buy into it,” Dr. Herron said. “The doctor has to be persuasive and persistent that this is the process we are doing, and then he needs to stick to it and not back off.”
Step 3: Learn to Do Same-Day Dentistry Well
He’s found the secret lies in eliminating bottlenecks, putting a system in place, and having the right mindset. “Patients only like to come in once,” Dr. Herron said. “Solve your capacity problems. When patients come in, make sure you have enough operatories, enough staff, and enough time.” Dr. Herron continues to expand his practice, adding operatories and staff to ensure he doesn’t have bottlenecks. He’s found that the cost to add a new operatory is quickly recovered. By always having room to take care of problems discovered during hygiene, his patients are always taken care of that day, giving them the best care possible. “If you build a new operatory and incorporate same-day dentistry, you’ll pay for that operatory easily within the first quarter, even if you’re slacking,” Dr. Herron said. “You also need some protocols and systems in place.”
Step 4: Be Persistent with Your Systems
“We sometimes suck at systems, but we do same day dentistry well in spite of ourselves,” Dr. Herron said. “We aren’t McDonald’s where everything is chop-chop. We’re not that good. But we have systems in place and just keep working on getting better. My advice is to stay on the path, be persistent, and keep going in the direction of perfection. You’ll never get there, but the journey will be much better than if you just wander aimlessly and you’ll be rewarded both financially and personally down the road.”
Step 5: Distance Yourself from Everyday Management
Dr. Herron knew he not only needed systems to grow his practice, he also needed management in place to position himself so he could one day retire. Anything he doesn’t want to handle or can’t handle in-house is outsourced. For example, he uses an HR company to handle employee issues, so he doesn’t need an HR expert on staff. “I hate management and I’m not good at it,” Dr. Herron confessed. “I don’t like talking to people about problems and issues and having to be the bad guy. If you don’t like management, my advice is to pay yourself less and take on someone good at it. Or if you can’t justify a layer of management or can’t afford it yet, farm some of those responsibilities out. Know your numbers and know when you can do it. But once you get to where you feel you can afford someone more full time, absolutely distance the dentist from the everyday management.”
Step 6: Find Something No One Else is Doing, Do it Well, & Promote It
Another way Dr. Herron has accelerated his practice is by focusing on Invisalign® and HealthyStart®, an orthodontic product for young children.
After hearing Dr. John talk about the longevity of doing Invisalign and how you should find something no one else is doing, become the best at it and then promote it, Dr. Herron got involved with the American Academy of Clear Aligners (AACA) to strengthen his skills.
“I take on difficult ortho cases with Invisalign,” Dr. Herron said. “We can do some things that people wouldn’t think you could.”
In the last four years alone, Dr. Herron has increased from eight Invisalign cases a year to about 80 cases a year. “When we run the report of what our highest producing procedures are, we find that our adult orthodontics is the highest producer by far of anything we do,” Dr. Herron said.
Step 7: Figure Out How to Make Your Practice Attractive to an Associate and a Buyer
Dr. Herron struggled with getting an associate in place. He’d hire someone, and they either didn’t work out or would quit.
“For years, I wasn’t tiger proof,” Dr. Herron admitted. “Even bringing in the first associate, I wasn’t tiger proof. I’m a lot more tiger proof now than I was two years ago. If something would have happened to me two years ago, I would have been done. Now, at least things can keep running.”
Joining the CEO Mastermind for a year helped Dr. Herron get serious about getting systems and an associate in place to put him on the path to Tiger Proofing his business.
“Right from the moment Dr. John started talking about tiger proofing, I understood it. When you’re 45, you think you’re invincible. Then you start realizing, well, I built this monstrosity... two big offices, three3 million in collections... Do I just close the doors one day? That makes no sense at all! When you start looking at it from a business point of view you realize, as a dentist, I have a limited pool. If I owned two hardware stores, I could sell them to anybody. But in most States, a dental practice must be owned by a dentist. Suddenly that drops the people that could buy your practice by 98.9%. There just aren’t that many dentists available to buy a practice. You have to make it as attractive as you can.”
He recommends keeping your equipment up to date and always looking ahead for what needs to be done, such as hiring associates or adding operatories. “If you walked into my practice, you wouldn’t say this is in the middle of nowhere,” Dr. Herron said. “People would say I’ve really kept up, paid attention, and stayed modern.”
One of the challenges in hiring an associate was that there was a smaller pool of prospects interested in sticking around and possibly buying his practice since it is in a small rural area.
In 2019, Dr. Herron solved that problem when he found Dr. Samantha Thomas. Hiring from a different perspective, he concentrated on searching locally. Samantha is not only from the area, Dr. Herron has known her 15 years and even coached her in softball when she was younger. Because of the systems he has in place, Samantha quickly became a Rockstar. She’s also excited about being with the practice long term. “She’s doing fantastic,” Dr. Herron said. “Her numbers that she’s doing are ahead of what a lot of general dentists that have owned their own practice for years do. She’s really jumped in and goes to town.”
Step 8: Look at Your Practice with Investor Eyes
These days, Dr. Herron is focused on putting systems in place, making his practice more valuable, and hiring another associate to further tiger proof his practice. He’s also looking at how he can replace his salary with profits.
“You have to switch your mindset,” Dr. Herron said. “If you just sit at a chair and work as hard as you can and rinse and repeat, you’re an assembly line worker and just doing it for production. But if you let your knowledge go to work for you, teach others what you are doing through systems, and take a step back and look at how you can create value in what you’re building, then you are an investor and looking at how you can make your practice more valuable.”
Dr. Herron’s journey has taught him that looking ahead and creating true systems for onboarding associates and team members is essential for growing his practice and for creating a practice he can enjoy without getting burned out. He’s discovered that this not only rewards him financially now but that it will reward him financially when he retires because he’s created an attractive practice someone will buy.
“My friendship with John and Wendy created a new path that I would not have had if I had not come across them 14 years ago. Had I not found TTI, I would still be languishing in that seven-op practice. I might have been doing a bit more, but I wouldn’t have stretched, and I wouldn’t be providing the level of service for patients I am now. Becoming involved with TTI creates a wave that starts with hygiene, better service, and better treatment of patients and moves into having more tools in your tool belt, so you can do more. Ten years ago, regardless of what my production was, I would not have been able to sell my practice to anyone because I was in a town of 3,400 people and pounding along under a million dollars in collections a year. And that’s just not attractive to a lot of buyers. My valuation has gone up considerably. Before it was at zero. No one’s going to buy a practice when there is no value to it. By doing what we are doing with TTI, by being very visible and intentional about what we’re doing, we’ve created a practice that someone or some entity would look to buy.” “The Team Training Institute is not like your normal consulting entity,” Dr. Herron continued. “It’s different from any other consultant that you’ll come across. TTI is a system and a family. The principle people of TTI are good people. They’re honest people and they will help take care of you and help you solve your problems if you’re willing to solve them.”
Dr. Rob Herron has also been featured on The Team Training Institute's podcast. Click below to listen to his episode: