Dr. Morris eliminated his financial stress and grew his practice during the pandemic, despite being closed for 3 months.
systems, team development, same-day dentistry, analytics
Dr. Joseph Morris knew he was NOT heading down the right path for growth, let alone personal sanity.
“We were flying by the seat of our pants,” he said.
“Everybody was running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Everyone was asking me about everything. And it was the same conversations about: How do we deal with patients? How do we get a good perio program growing? How do we talk about case presentation? How do we ask for money? It made for a very frustrating day. I don’t consider just getting through the day a definition of success, and I knew that wasn’t going to get us where we wanted to go long term. I needed to know how we could take care of patients and all the issues that come up in a systematic way.” Serving middle-class, working patients in Long Island, New York, Dr. Morris also struggled with money. “I was nervous because I had a cash flow issue,” Dr. Morris said. “I needed to do something so that I could enjoy going to work and know that everything was going to be okay.”
His fascination with dentistry started over 50 years ago. “I was interested in becoming a dentist since I was about nine years old,” Dr. Morris said. After graduating from New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry, he opened a practice with a partner in Islip, NY, the town he grew up in and has lived most of his life. A little over ten years in, the partnership fell apart, and the practice dissolved. Dr. Morris took his patients and opened a solo practice, Innovative Dental Care, on November 5, 2011.
A lifelong learner, Dr. Morris describes himself as “a seeker of knowledge.” He’s studied with clinical dental gurus, completed the prestigious NYU Implant Program, and is a firm believer in personal coaching. He also shares his knowledge with others as an Associate Clinical Faculty member at NYU and organizes a lecture series for the Implant Program at NYU. So, it comes as no surprise that he would pursue coaching and mastermind groups to help run the business side of his practice.
“I’m a fan of coaching,” Dr. Morris said. “I used a consultant right out of the gate, but unfortunately it didn’t click. I found Wendy Briggs about 15 years ago. She came to my office to do a Hygiene Explosion presentation. We got a lot out of it and made good progress. Wendy is lovely. She’s fun. She’s engaging. You can tell that she’s not a cookie-cutter type of person and she’s going to give you what you need and help you get there.”
Later, when Dr. John Meis (a.k.a. Dr. John) and Wendy Briggs joined forces, Dr. Morris joined the newly formed TTI as a Blue Diamond Member.
“Everything is better because of TTI,” Dr. Morris said. “A good example is that we were out almost three months in 2020 because of COVID, and we did better than in 2019. These kinds of processes keep us moving while keeping the focus on serving the patients.”
Dr. Morris saw an increase in 2020 and based on projections for 2021, he predicts they will be up another 30% to 40% this year.
“When we came out of the COVID shutdown, the months after have been the best months of my career,” Dr. Morris said. “In 2020, we surpassed the production of 2019–and that was working only three quarters of a year. I credit TTI for a lot of that if not all of it.”
Frustration has decreased significantly too. In the past, when his staff didn’t do something perfectly, Dr. Morris would get upset and think, “Why don’t they know his?” Today he views situations as an opportunity for team members to grow. “We have high expectations and are still working towards our goals,” Dr. Morris said. “However, I don’t really have frustration anymore. When something happens now, I see that it’s giving me the opportunity to teach and to grow people. I’m happy about that.”
Patients are getting better preventative care and comment on their experience too. “We didn’t do adult fluoride and adult sealants before,” Dr. Morris said. “When patients come in, they say, ‘Wow, you guys really know your stuff and that makes me feel good.’”
Here are the 5 key strategies that helped Dr. Morris achieve success:
#1: Solve the Number One Challenge
Now that Dr. Morris has systems in place, his practice runs smoother, he’s eliminated frustrations, and is more profitable. “Everything comes from systems,” Dr. Morris said. “TTI has helped every aspect of my practice with systems for everything from asking for referrals to how to greet patients to how to ask for money to how do I become more productive each day. They’ve helped me with marketing, our social media, and how to keep our patients happy. The fact they helped me and continue to guide me with systems is the key.”
#2: Tap Into the Power of “One Plus One Equals Three”
When Wendy and Dr. John combined forces and TTI was formed, they created an even more powerful route to a profitable and growing practice. “Dr. John is impressive,” Dr. Morris said. “He brings such a unique perspective—it’s almost like pre-science. He can see things that other people don’t see. Between Dr. John and Wendy, you really pay attention. It’s like if you decide you are going to buy a blue Volkswagen, suddenly you see blue Volkswagens where you never saw them before.”
When Dr. Morris initially joined the new TTI, it was the same-day treatment that made the biggest impact on his practice. “If you don’t know to look for things, you’re not going to see them,” Dr. Morris said. “Learning how to look at same-day treatment and what it’s going to take to do that made a huge difference. For instance, having a system set up so if we’re going to do a crown on same-day treatment, my team is ready to go for that and establishing capacity for that too.”
#3: Understand What Your Numbers Really Mean
When TTI taught Dr. Morris how to look at the numbers and what questions to ask because of them, he eliminated most of his money frustrations. He says paying close attention to them also gives him a constructive way to help his team perform at a higher level. “I’ve discovered that numbers impact your bottom line, not just because of the number, but by what questions they make you ask,” Dr. Morris said. “If you see something changing in the number, it may not impact your bottom line today, or tomorrow, but it may impact you six months or a year from now. Or it may show you that one of your team members isn’t on top of the game in a complete way which can impact their opportunity to grow. TTI has helped me to understand that I need to take time to look at the numbers and given me a process to do that.”
Putting systems in place and looking at the numbers has also given Dr. Morris additional financial freedom. “In the old days, we had to hold on ordering,” Dr. Morris said. “I don’t have to do that now. If we need something, we can get it. It’s nice to have a buffer in the bank and be able to plan financially. When you’re freer from a money point of view, you can save better, you can enjoy time off a little more frequently...I’m planning on tiger proofing and renovating the practice to increase capacity. So, if I want to sell the practice or want to sell the building, it has increased value. This change has given me the opportunity to personally, and from a practice point of view, do things that I might not have been able to do before.”
#4: Don’t Settle: Get the Right People in Place
Dr. Morris found two components crucial to successful management. First was that the people he placed in a leadership role needed to be 100% on board. Second, he found he needed to be extremely clear with them about expectations.
“There’s not a lot of people on my management team because we are a small office,” Dr. Morris said. “There were problems with the first two people I hired because they weren’t very receptive. They just thought it was Dr. Morris with some of his wacky things. They paid lip service, but they wouldn’t engage. Now my practice manager, Tina, is awesome. She really embraced the TTI way. I’ve also found that my current team cares and wants to do the right thing. They just need me to be extremely clear with them and continue to guide them on what I want them to do.”
#5: Surround Yourself with Successful People
Dr. Morris had dropped out of TTI for a while and rejoined prior to COVID. He found that interacting with TTI coaches and like-minded members not only provides solutions, but it also extends your network, so you never feel alone while running your business.
“Any success that I have comes from engaging with people,” Dr. Morris said. “It’s about a mastermind. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people that will give you strength, specialized knowledge, and guidance. The best decision I made was joining TTI because they’re all about this and more. Had I not rejoined TTI, I would not be smiling right now. COVID was a challenge for many of us in the dental field. I don’t think I would have bounced back as well. I might not have been able to reopen or I’d be struggling to make ends meet, which I’m not. It is nice to have support on both a personal level and from that systematic point of view. Dr. John and Wendy give us information on what is going on with things such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and how to handle everything on a management level. From the personal aspect, it helps to know I have somebody there.”