Within one month, Dr. Palmer doubled his production, from $57,000/month to over $114,000/month.
production, hygiene care, leadership, practice atmosphere
In 2015, Dr. Stephen Palmer got a wake-up call. After noticing his vision was cloudy, he went to the doctor, fully expecting to find out he had cataracts. But that was not the diagnosis he received. Instead, he discovered he had Fuchs’ dystrophy, a hereditary cornea disease that can cause blindness.
“That was scary — I thought my career was over,” Dr. Palmer said. “Luckily, I found out I could get cornea transplants to solve the problem. But when I met with the surgeon, even though I could barely see, I said, 'I’m really too busy to take time off from my practice. I need to be back to work in two weeks. Is that doable?’”
In June 2015, Dr. Palmer had his first transplant. His second transplant was in September 2015. But he still needed to keep his practice running in between. Saltwater helped clear up his bad eye, but only for an hour at a time. “I took ten days off for each surgery and had local dentists fill in to keep things moving,” Dr. Palmer said. “There was no way to get someone in there that fast. In order for me to continue working during the summer while waiting for my second surgery, I had to wear contacts and rinse my eye with saltwater. In between every patient, I’d remove my contact and flush my eye, and put my contact back in and go do a crown or whatever.”
The surgery gave him a real boost and motivated him to continue working. “I couldn’t believe how beautiful my office looked after that second surgery,” Dr. Palmer said. “My eyes had really gone downhill, so when I saw how great my office looked, I thought, ‘This is beautiful, I think I’ll just keep working.’”
At that point in his career, Dr. Palmer had already been practicing dentistry for over 30 years. Starting his career in Phoenix, Arizona in 1981, he was an associate for 15 years before buying out the practice when the dentist finally retired. But after five years, tired of the traffic, crime, and life in a big city, he sold the practice in 1999 and moved to a small town in Arizona to raise his family.
However, after a couple of years, he was looking for something to do, so in 2002, he bought a dental practice in the town of Eagar, Arizona, with a population of 6,500. “There was an older dentist with an old building,” Dr. Palmer said. “He had a dental assistant and a front desk person but no hygienist. His production for the previous year was a hundred thousand for the entire year.”
Over the years, Dr. Palmer grew his production to $57,000 per month and added a hygienist. He added four new operatories and 1500 square feet, abandoning his previous operatories, converting the space into office and breakroom space. “We were growing the practice the best way we knew how,” Dr. Palmer said. “I didn’t have a coach or consultant.”
After his eye surgery, Dr. Palmer began thinking he needed to start figuring out how to transition out of dentistry. But at 58 years old, he didn’t have enough money saved for retirement.
“Before Team Training Institute, my mindset wasn’t very good,” Dr. Palmer said. “I thought because I was in a small town that I would never find anybody to sell the practice to. My plan was to work as long as I could, put away as much money as possible, and, at some point, I’m literally going to walk out the door, lock it, and throw the keys in the bushes.”
In 2019, as he was approaching his 65th birthday, his wife began seeing family and friends retire. “My wife, Donna, wanted to know what my plan was,” he said. “And I still didn’t have one. I thought, ‘I’m in a small town, what more can I do?’”
With no real plan in place, Dr. Palmer began looking at ways to super-charge his hygiene department. Searching for ideas, he saw a video in a friend’s collection. “It was called Optimizing Hygiene in a General Practice,” Dr. Palmer said. “I decided to have my whole staff watch it and then have a meeting to talk about optimizing hygiene. The hygienist presenting in that video—her name was Wendy Briggs.”
At the end of the video, Dr. Palmer signed up to receive a book written by Team Training Institute (TTI) co-founders Wendy Briggs and Dr. John Meis titled, The Ultimate Guide To Doubling and Tripling Your Dental Practice Production.
After a year of reading and deleting emails from Team Training Institute, Dr. Palmer finally decided to get help. “I spent a year ignoring them,” Dr. Palmer said. “But I was sick and tired of my mindset, so in March 2021, I called and talked to Team Training Institute. Within a few days, I pulled the trigger and joined at the Blue Diamond level.”
Dr. Palmer had his first Hygiene Explosion training with Team Training Institute Coach Paige and his first coaching call with Team Training Institute Coach Karleen in April 2021.
Within one month, he doubled his production, from $57,000/month to over $114,000/month. At 98% collection, he ended his first year collecting a million dollars. “I took a leap of faith that we were going to double our hygiene production and that’s exactly what we did,” Dr. Palmer said. “It was amazing–like no sweat off my brow at all.”
Soon after, Dr. Palmer attended Team Training Institute’s annual summit in Dallas. “Historically, I’ve been really slow to pull the trigger,” Dr. Palmer said. “But after the summit, I went all in. I’ve done everything, including attending Case Acceptance in Atlanta, and doing a Vision Day with Dr. John this year.” Dr. Palmer also created a management team and is expanding his practice. Even though it’s been less than a year since joining Team Training Institute (at the time of writing), his profit has increased and he’s enjoying practicing dentistry more than ever.
Here are four discoveries Dr. Palmer made in the first nine months working with Team Training Institute that helped him double his production and increase his profits.
#1 Start with Improving Hygiene
During his first month, Dr. Palmer and his team went through Hygiene Explosion training. Not only did this double Dr. Palmer’s production, but it also significantly improved the preventative treatment he and his team provide. As reflected in his Google reviews, patients comment on how they appreciate “how thorough Dr. Palmer’s team is” and how “preventive-oriented” they are. His team “loves being incentivized,” but also, they “love being able to do the preventative things they were taught in school.” He says rather than feeling they are doing “mundane” work, they are excited.
“We leveraged hygiene and magic happened,” Dr. Palmer said. “Hygiene Explosion gives you almost instant results—you blink, and it’s happening. The way Team Training Institute does training is so unique. Coaches and consultants are always telling you to buy some new equipment to solve your problem or build a new website so you can attract more patients, things like that. But the beauty of Team Training Institute is the way they present and start with improving your hygiene process inside your practice first. Wendy [Briggs] gives us the science behind why we’re doing what we’re doing. She gives us the what/how too, but for hygienists, the why is extremely important. Once the hygienists have that, the dialogue with the patients is unbelievable. The acceptance of sealants and fluoride becomes a no-brainer and then it starts to snowball. As dentists, we all say we’re into prevention, but Team Training Institute’s process allows you to really walk the walk and not just talk big.”
To maximize production, Dr. Palmer is looking for an associate and hired additional staff. He also is expanding his practice to add more operatories.
#2: Be a True Leader
Before joining Team Training Institute, Dr. Palmer did everything himself. He didn’t hire an office manager until he was 65 years old- and spent-time doing things that were important to him, but not necessary for him to do himself.
“It took me 40 years to finally get it right,”
he said. “I always thought I could just run the show. I used to sit in the waiting room and imagine what it looks like to my patients. Does it look clean, and so on? At the end of the day on Fridays, I made sure everything was shut off. On Mondays, I restarted all the computers. I was the guy that made sure the toilet paper roll was full in the bathroom and that the magazines were arranged in the waiting room. I did everything. When I met with Dr. John for Vision Day, he said, ‘Dr. Palmer, we’re going to relegate you to just doing dentist things. How does that sound?’ Now that I have a leadership team that’s taken so much off my plate. I discovered three people who were my implementers, and they are now my leadership team. To me, out of everything we’ve done, that’s made the biggest difference for me. I’m still guilty of trying to do things that aren’t ‘dentist things’ but when I do, my team will slap my hand and say, ‘Dr. Palmer, that’s my job.’”
Dr. Palmer and his core leadership team developed a new vision statement and core values for the practice. His leadership team does all the hiring committee style, so he doesn’t have to be involved. “We hire based on our core values and we have job reviews based on our core values,” he said. “Everything we do is based on our core values and my leadership team takes it seriously.”
#3: Set the Right Tone
Before Team Training Institute, Dr. Palmer says his “crappy mindset” impacted his practice and team negatively. He credits Dr. John Meis and Vision Day as the main catalyst for changing his mindset. Not only is he enjoying the practice more, but his team is happier, too.
“I’m almost 66,” Dr. Palmer said. “Everybody wants to retire when they’re 65. I’ve been told that it takes about five years in a small town to find somebody, which could be true. But as the year has gone on and I had the Vision Day with Dr. John, suddenly, my mindset has changed. I bought new technology and I’m like a kid in a candy shop. I’m expanding, adding three more chairs. I hired new people and my staff is making it so much fun. This makes me want to just keep going. I can still see well. My hands are steady. All my patients tell me I look pretty young, so now I’m thinking, I don’t have to be the guy that fits into that box of retiring at 65. Team Training Institute’s coaching is helping me leverage myself so I don’t have to do the things I don’t want to do anymore and so I can preserve my mental energy. I’m having a lot of fun.”
One of the most appealing parts of the Team Training Institute process is that he is now able to provide a better opportunity for his staff. Dr. Palmer said he discovered just how much this meant to his team during a recognition process they do called “neon notes” where anyone can write recognition on a neon-colored paper slip and drop it in a jar.
“We did a year-end celebration where everyone was reading theirs,” Dr. Palmer said. “One was from my office manager. She recognized me and thanked me for ‘creating the atmosphere so she could have a real career.’ That feels gratifying and gets me misty-eyed.”
#4 Provide Long-Term Security
In addition to removing tasks from his “to-do list,” so he can show up each day physically and mentally energized, Dr. Palmer is also Tiger-Proofing his practice to provide long-term security. He is currently searching for an associate to bring on board. With the help of The Team Training Institute, he’s put together an attractive, extremely competitive package to get the right associate. “I’m going to build a really valuable, profitable practice,” Dr. Palmer said. “And then give an associate the option to buy in at a discount.”
He is really proud to finally be tiger proofing his practice because of what it will mean to his team and patients. “The thing that makes me the happiest is that I’ve told my team I want to tiger-proof the practice because I want them to have a career,” Dr. Palmer said. “My patients need care and my team need a career– because there is nowhere else for them to go in that little town if I throw the keys in the bushes and walk out. My team are all young people. I want to make sure they have something that can take care of them.”
“Before I found The Team Training Institute, I really thought I’d never be able to sell my practice and thought I was just going to walk away. Had I not found them, I would have just gone as long as I could, not being a very inspiring leader, and I’d have a bunch of people that really just were showing up because it was a job and a paycheck. Definitely not very fulfilling, that’s for sure. But luckily, I found The Team Training Institute. I wish I had found them 10 years ago when I was younger, but I still feel I’ve got a lot left in me and now I have a plan. Plus, The Team Training Institute coaches are incredible. Their integrity, positivity, and availability are the best. They are helping me fulfill my plan. I’m building something that we’re going to be happy with when the time comes for me to retire. Now I have a super positive mindset because I have so much support from my leadership team and I just love being at work. I feel that with Team Training Institute, I’m creating a legacy that will fulfill taking care of my team, my patients, and also my family by rewarding me financially for the practice I’ve built.”
What Dr. Palmer want other dentist to know the most: “I’m an extremely average guy that had a crappy mindset in a little, teeny, tiny town and if I can make my practice this much fun and this productive, anybody can do it. Just jump in and take a leap of faith and you’ll get rewarded right off the bat. It’s almost instantaneous.”