Dr. Kirchner's practice increased by $100,000 within three months and a full $600,000 by the end of the year.
preventative care, team development, expansion to multiple locations
In 2010, when Dr. Michael Kirchner bought his first practice, “corporate dentistry” seemed taboo. “Back then it was sort of a dirty word to be in corporate dentistry,” Dr. Kirchner recalled.
From the time he was in high school Dr. Kirchner knew he wanted to build a significant practice. And while multiple locations were what he really wanted, he was afraid to tell anyone and so he focused on growing his newly acquired practice, instead.
It was a rough start. He bought a practice that was supposedly doing $400,000- $500,000 and quickly saw a third of his business disappear overnight after he discovered he was no longer receiving the implant referrals. He knew the fastest way to success was to get help, so he tried a few different consultants. Within 7 years he had successfully grown from about $500,000 to $1.2 million and was finally operating the biggest single doctor practice in Clark County Indiana. Although he was in the top 10% of single doctor offices, he had the itch to do more but was stalled. “I’d outgrown my consultant,” Dr. Kirchner confided. “I’d always wanted to grow to multiple practices, but I never found anyone to address that and didn’t know how to do it.” And that wasn’t all. Keeping his ear to the ground, he knew it was more important than ever to expand. “As I listened to podcasts and leaders in the community, I began to realize that corporate dentistry was here to stay,” Dr. Kirchner said. “The single doctor practice is no longer going to be feasible in the next 5 to 10 years. Not that they wouldn’t exist, but existing would be so much more difficult. I began noticing how I didn’t have time for vacations and didn’t have time for anything else. I was working like a dog and I knew that had to change.”
After expressing frustration at a dental conference, a fellow doctor raved about his experience with Wendy Briggs and The Team Training Institute’s (TTI) Hygiene Explosion Program. He admits he was skeptical at first. “I was suspicious because of the high promises TTI made,” Dr. Kirchner said. “I’ve been burned a lot in business by people over the years. When my TTI Coach told me she could increase my practice by $100,000 by the end of the year, I laughed at her.”
However, TTI rose to the task, and more than made good on their promise. His practice increased by $100,000 within three months and a full $600,000 by the end of the year. His first full year with TTI, he hit over $2 million in revenue. A couple of months after completing Hygiene Explosion, he joined the Blue Diamond Coaching Program and in April 2019, he ascended to the CEO Mastermind Group. “What intrigued me about Wendy and Dr. Meis is that they worked in the dental field,” Dr. Kirchner said. “It wasn’t like the other business consultants...most of whom had not worked in dentistry so they could only give suggestions which often didn’t make sense because they didn’t know what it was like to work in an operatory. I was impressed that Wendy and Dr. Meis would be available to me in addition to access to their knowledge—it was comforting. And when I heard that Dr. Meis had the experience of growing Mortenson Family Dental Practice to 125 offices, that excited me. I felt like this was the missing piece because that’s what I wanted to do, and I hadn’t met anyone who it until The Team Training Institute.”
In 2019, he added $400k, reaching $2.4 million with one office. He bought his second office in February 2020, tripling the revenue in the first year. By September 2020, he was completing the paperwork to purchase his third office. And by the end of 2020, his revenue topped $3M.
His team has grown too – from 4.5 employees in 2010 to a team of 30 today. When he joined TTI, he was the only full-time doctor. Today he has three full-time dentists and two specialists who work evenings. Profitability is up 10%, the patient experience has improved, and Dr. Kirchner is working less and enjoying life more. Here are seven key strategies Dr. Kirchner used to make the leap:
#1: Take On the Role of CEO
Dr. Kirchner discovered he needed to stop micromanaging and rely on others more. Like most dentists, Dr. Kirchner struggled a bit with giving up control and feared change. But he didn’t let that stop him. “I had the mindset that I was paying good money to get this advice,” Dr. Kirchner said. “And if I didn’t listen to TTI, then it was pointless.
I put my faith in what they told me to do, even though I was very scared. Because they had been there and done that, I trusted that it would work out. After the first training, I knew they knew what they were doing.”
Today, he has solid team leaders in place that are self-managing. The team leaders take care of the management role so that Dr. Kirchner can play more of a passive role. “One of the biggest things was getting the team to take ownership of things,” Dr. Kirchner said. “We changed the culture from me doing most of the work and my team being reactionary to my team being self-sufficient. They understand the systems that are in place and understand what the expectations are. From a management perspective, I’m supporting the systems and making sure other people are talking to the team to get the systems in place. I’ve taken less and less of an active role and am focused on being more of a CEO.”
#2: Let Go of People You Can’t Change
To make the change to CEO, Dr. Kirchner presented it in a complimentary way. “I told them I’m not going to micromanage you,” Dr. Kirchner said. “I think you are professionals and as such, I have the expectation that you will work at that standard without someone standing over you and telling you what you’re doing wrong.” But there were challenges to changing his office culture and switching to CEO. The hardest part was a team member who didn’t like the changes. However, he discovered that letting go was the best choice. Entrepreneur, investor, and co-owner of Digital Marketer Perry Belcher said, “Nothing will kill a great employee faster than watching you tolerate a bad one.” Dr. Kirchner moved swiftly...
“I had one person who had been here for probably 30 years,” Dr. Kirchner said. “I told her to get on board or go work somewhere else. She left, and we got someone else in here that does what I need her to do. Once I got rid of that person, the practice went up a couple hundred thousand dollars a year without changing anything else... and that was because everyone was on board. They wanted to move forward. Letting that person go was kind of like a cancer—it’s scary to cut off your foot, but you move on. No one is irreplaceable. I believe that having that greater responsibility and greater contribution to the office is rewarding to people. They enjoy their work more because they are able to do more and have more influence and they understand better how their work contributes to raising everyone’s welfare.”
#3: Hire an Office Manager
Prior to joining TTI, Dr. Kirchner had a failed attempt at bringing on an associate doctor. “I wasn’t very successful with the associate before TTI because I wasn’t able to grow the practice any larger.”
Dr. Kirchner hired another associate when he started with TTI. At first, she was working part-time three days a week. Since TTI, she is now working full time. “One big reason for my success was that I also hired a new office manager who took ownership of the office,” Dr. Kirchner said. “I was able to let things go and rely on her. A lot of times, she does a much better job than I do, so I’m extremely thankful to have her.”
The business has gotten a lot easier too. “It’s been wonderful,” Dr. Kirchner continued. “With my office manager, I don’t have to worry if someone is checking the supply closet or if someone is looking over payroll and making sure no one is abusing the time clock and that kind of stuff. If I want to take time off, I have associates now to work and so the practice stays open and is generating income for me without me being in the building. Before it was all dependent on me and my sweat.”
#4: Set a Higher Standard in Patient Care
Dr. Kirchner and his team are taking better care of patients and protecting their teeth more, and patients are noticing the difference. “We’ve definitely improved patient experience since joining TTI,” Dr. Kirchner said. “Before TTI, I can say that we weren’t doing any of the stuff they teach. We were doing a little fluoride and perio was okay, but since TTI, we have added $20,000 to $30,0000 a month in teeth protection services.” He continued...“We’ve increased the perceived value that the patient is experiencing. When they walk out the door, they feel like they’ve received a higher level of care and feel they’re more valued than before.”
#5: Get Systems in Place
When Dr. Kirchner discovered Dr. Meis was behind the massive growth of Mortenson Dental, he was ready to sign up for the CEO Mastermind immediately. However, TTI recommended he wait. “The only reason I didn’t join the CEO group earlier was because TTI told me to get systems in place and get my profit and loss (P&L) statement under control first,” Dr. Kirchner said. This advice he says made it much simpler to grow his business.
“Refining the first office and getting the systems down, made the second office pretty easy,” Dr. Kirchner revealed. “There were hiccups, but it has not been very stressful. For example, I was in my second office last Friday to do some administrative stuff, but I hadn’t been in there in five weeks. It takes very little time for me. My office manager makes sure everything keeps going. She just follows the systems that TTI gives her and she makes it run. The second office is in the state of Kentucky and I don’t even have a Kentucky license. That’s how confident I was with TTI systems that I didn’t even think I needed a license.”
#6: Tiger-Proof Your Practice
Next, Dr. Kirchner needed to protect what he’d built. When Dr. Kirchner started with TTI, he was working five days a week in dentistry. With no downtime, he discovered that one of the things holding him back from growth was that he had run out of doctor capacity. This not only left him fatigued, it also put his practice at risk because if he became sick or needed time off, the practice would come to a screeching halt.
With the first associate he hired, he was able to get down to working four days a week so he could take every Friday off. When we spoke, he was in the process of hiring a third doctor who would work in the third office and take Dr. Kirchner down to working three days a week. “At some point, I’d like to get down to two days and then just do administrative stuff the rest of the time because I really enjoy the business side.”
#7: Place Importance on Profitability
By maximizing his production, developing his management team, taking control of his P & L, getting his systems running like a well- oiled machine, and tiger-proofing his business, profitability has increased substantially. (Dr. Kirchner says now he pays cash for new equipment and keeps out of debt.)
“Since joining TTI, I’m much more profitable now,” Dr. Kirchner said. “We’ve increased profitability by 10%--the only reason we haven’t done more is because we are in a high growth mode. The first office is at about 20%. With the second office, I have to purchase some things, but I believe it’s possible to have an extra $15,000 to $20,000 a month from that office in Q1 of 2021 and be able to get to 15% to 17% profitability. With the third office, I believe in a year or two I will be to the point where I don’t have to necessarily work anymore, and I can just do it for fun and the practices will generate income and pay my living expenses.”
“Without TTI, I’d have a lot more stress,” Dr. Kirchner continued. “I’d still be plateauing and have a Chicken Little mentality. But now, I’m working less and enjoying life more. I want to add as many practices as I can until it’s not fun anymore. If it’s twenty or thirty, great. If it’s five and I’m done, then I’ll stop there.”