Since joining TTI, Dr. Aldridge tripled his practice. His revenue has grown 100% and he’s doubled the value of his business.
hygiene care, expanding to another location, team development
Four years ago, Dr. Matthew Aldridge thought perhaps it was some sort of trick...
At the time, confronting exhaustion and frustration, he was working too much, and his stress level was too high. But despite this, the dental practice he’d purchased in Vancouver, Washington five years earlier was not profitable enough. “I’d work, work, work, and then I worked some more after I finished seeing patients,” Dr. Aldridge recalled. “I felt like I’d be better off just going and working for somebody else.”
He understood that hygiene is the “engine that drives the practice,” but he just didn’t know what to do next. “Hygiene was affecting profitability,” Dr. Aldridge said. “It was impacting everything in the practice from case acceptance to the patient experience.”
So, when he attended a seminar and heard Wendy Briggs speak, he thought there must be a catch to the guarantee she made. “It was the right fit, but what really appealed to me was The Team Training Institute’s (TTI) double your hygiene or you’ll get your money-back guarantee. I had not heard anyone willing to make that kind of guarantee. My first thought was, ‘Are you really serious?’ But after peppering them with questions, I felt they conveyed confidence in what they were doing and could help us achieve our goals.”
Dr. Aldridge didn’t double production, he tripled it! Since joining TTI, his revenue has also grown 100% and he’s doubled the value of his practice. In addition to solving his hygiene problem, he also achieved an even bigger goal. “I always wanted to grow and expand into another location,” Dr. Aldridge said. “Eight months ago, I opened my second location in Ridgefield, Washington. Mission accomplished.”
Personal changes are ongoing. “I have more flexibility right now than I’ve ever had,” Dr. Aldridge said. “In the future, I will have even more flexibility, but right now it’s allowed me to get back to a more regular schedule. It’s more sustainable and I can still grow the practice.” His patients express that they are receiving a higher level of care and that they are given options and the best treatment. Hygienists’ reactions are extremely positive too. “They have more confidence in talking to patients about their hygiene needs and their overall care,” Dr. Aldridge said. “And they feel we provide a higher standard of care now.”
Here are seven strategies that helped Dr. Aldridge grow:
#1: Resolve Concerns About Change with Live Training
Dr. Aldridge wasn’t the only one skeptical about TTI. He sensed the same response from his hygienists. “There were doubts about these outsiders coming in and trying to teach us a different way of doing things,” Dr. Aldridge said. “I talked to my staff before TTI came to work with us. It’s hard to make changes when you’ve been doing things a certain way for so long. It took TTI working with us to overcome that. Our TTI trainer, Bert, won them over. She is excellent and has an extremely down- to-earth way of teaching. She resolved their concerns and did an excellent job of conveying the value for the patients first and foremost, but also for the practice.”
In addition to “a significant jump in hygiene production after working with TTI,” Dr. Aldridge says his hygienists are now looking beyond just cleaning teeth. “They are looking at other options for patients that we didn’t entertain before such as sealants, and put a higher focus on fluoride,” Dr. Aldridge said.
“I don’t think we educated our patients as well before, whereas now we do an excellent job of educating them and letting them make their own decision for their oral health.”
The experience not only made him more profitable, it also painted hygiene in a different light. “Hygiene isn’t just a necessary part of doing dentistry,” he said. “It can be a really positive experience for patients, giving them great care in a way that is profitable for the practice while giving patients what they want.”
#2: Make Things More Convenient for Your Patients
After optimizing production, Dr. Aldridge dove into the things they weren’t providing that patients wanted such as expanding his hours. He also added same-day treatment. “It took some work to make sure that all our operatories are equipped so that we can do hygiene or restorative treatment, but it was a real positive change.” He also tripled his staff to make these accommodations. As a result, he’s tripled production and has set himself apart from the competition.
“More and more, giving patients what they want is what you need to do to set yourself apart,” Dr. Aldridge said. “There are so many options that if you’re not providing the care they want and need, they will go somewhere else. We cater to them in terms of the hours they want to be seen and the convenience they’re looking for–that’s what sets us apart.” He adds, “Patients love the same-day treatment option, especially right now with COVID because people don’t want to take time off.”
#3: Commit to Continuing Education
He’s found that training is a continual process. Dr. Aldridge repeats training he’s done before and works on improving systems in the practice. “Human nature is that we go back to our comfort zone and what we are used to,” Dr. Aldridge said. “So, we do more training and go back to revisit the things we’ve learned and talked about in the past. And we must do that. However, it’s been a very positive, impact and our hygiene department has grown as a result.”
Create a Replicable Practice with Systems Systems helped increase his production and made it easier to open a second office while leaving room for uniqueness. “We knew the way we wanted to do things,” Dr. Aldridge said. “But every office has their own quirks, so we’re not rigid and have some flexibility to do things a little bit differently in each office. However, the general systems and how we operate are similar in both offices.”
#4: Spread Out Responsibilities
Building a good management team has been instrumental in reducing stress levels and making the practice more manageable. In fact, despite operating two offices now, Dr. Aldridge is working fewer hours than when he only had one office. Prior to TTI, he had some management in place such as an office manager. Today, in addition to his office manager, he has a lead dental assistant, lead hygienist, and front office lead. “Previously our roles were not as clearly defined as they are now,” Dr. Aldridge said. “We also have a way to manage the practice that doesn’t put all the work on one person. As we expanded and opened our second office, it’s allowed me to replicate service without having to be there and without my hands on everything. Owning two practices is manageable because I have good people in position to lead the practice and handle the operations day-to-day. Plus, I now have more flexibility than I’ve ever had if I need to take time off to spend time with family or whatever it might be.”
Building his management team impacted his team positively and allowed him to spread out the responsibility. “People like having a voice and feeling that if they have ideas or input that there’s a way to convey those and that we will listen,” Dr. Aldridge said. “It’s empowering, and it creates a team instead of one individual that feels like they’re pushing everybody.”
#5: Reduce Your Risk by Letting Go of the Reins
Since joining TTI, Dr. Aldridge added a second associate and is currently looking to add another doctor. “I’ve read what Dr. Meis teaches about tiger-proofing,” Dr. Aldridge said. “He’s taught us again and again that your strongest can be your weakest and that if everything relies on you, everything can fall apart. If you can’t be there, if you get sick, you get injured... it’s riskier to be without associates.”
Dr. Aldridge’s advice on hiring an associate is to do your homework, be extremely clear on your expectations, and then just go for it. “There are no guarantees when you are making decisions on people,” Dr. Aldridge said. “But there is no way that you can tiger-proof your practice unless you take the leap of faith. You have to let go of the reins and trust other people to do some of the work for you.”
#6: Replace Your Salary with Profits
Nine months into owning his second practice, Dr. Aldridge can already tell it’s going to be an extremely strong practice. But like any new business, it’s a process. “I’m in transition, taking myself off of the payroll for one office and then becoming an associate at the other one,” Dr. Aldridge said. “I’m paying myself like an associate and then replacing the other income with profits from both practices. While Dr. Aldridge is looking for opportunities to expand, in 2021 his main goal is to grow his two practices by focusing on what can be improved upon in each office.
#7: Surround Yourself with Other Successful Doctors
In 2020, Dr. Aldridge got involved with the TTI CEO mastermind group. He says his perspective has changed through looking at other doctor’s practices, spending time with other successful doctors, and learning from their experiences.
“The CEO group has been an incredible experience for me,” Dr. Aldridge said. “We meet quarterly and talk throughout the year. It’s extremely positive to connect with and bounce ideas off other like-minded doctors who are trying to grow their practices. Everybody is an open book. We dive into the numbers and challenges that they face in their practices and then we talk through those and learn from each other.”
His focus has changed too, from only hygiene to focusing on the whole practice. He is “much clearer” on what he needs to do to grow his practice and increase profitability and is also more confident. “It’s been transformational for me in my practice to have a different perspective and some different skills that I’ve learned through TTI and their methods,” Dr. Aldridge said. “Before I started working with Dr. Meis and TTI I could see problems in the practice,” Dr. Aldridge said.
“I could see it in the numbers and data, but I didn’t really know how to make decisions that would introduce change in the practice. Working with TTI, I now feel confident that if I see data, I know how to approach the problem to make the change and help grow the practice. There will always be something that comes up in business, but I feel confident now that when we have challenges, we have the team and the skills to handle them. And with what I’ve learned from Dr. Meis I can make decisions that will have a positive impact on the practice.”