Keep track of the numbers. There is a lot of peace of mind that comes when you know where you stand.
Dr. Dave Felt is a family dentist in Layton, Utah, where he has been practicing for 5 years. He loves his work, has a terrific staff, and some of the best patients in the world. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, he feels very fortunate to be able to return so close to home to work, live, and raise his family. He and his wife have been married for 18 years and have 4 children.
Dr. Felt is passionate about providing his patients with the best dental experience they have ever had. He listens carefully to every patient and has a way of making them feel comfortable. He insists on using the best methods and materials available and stays current on what procedures are available to help ensure the best outcomes in every situation. It is the priority of each member of his team to make sure each patient is seen on time and is comfortable during their visit. It is this attention to detail and desire to exceed expectations that have helped Felt Family Dentistry to continue to grow and expand to serve more of their neighbors and friends in Layton, Utah.
Where did the idea for Felt Family Dentistry come from?
I grew up surrounded by dentists in my family. My grandfather has been a dentist for over 5 decades and continues to enjoy the work he is able to do for patients. My Uncle is also a dentist. He encouraged me to consider dentistry as an option. Once I began focusing my education on dentistry, I wanted to come back to Utah and open a practice called Felt Family Dentistry. It just sounded good. Well, I learned after I had been accepted to Indiana University that I had a second cousin who had gone the same route. He attended dental school at Indiana University School of Dentistry and returned to Utah and opened a practice. He named the practice Felt Family Dentistry. Near the end of my dental schooling, we decided to work together in opening a Layton dentist practice for me, as well as other practices to continue to grow the brand of high-quality dentistry.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My staff and I meet each morning at 7:45 to review the day. We look at the schedule, focusing on each patient and address any specific needs to ensure we are prepared. We look at tight spots as well as areas we could see emergency patients as needed. We want to make sure our team is working together to exceed our patient’s expectations in every situation. We then begin seeing patients at 8:00.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Before beginning any new ideas, programs, or systems, I have thought through them thoroughly. I have relayed them off of my staff or other helpful individuals. I want feedback, both positive and negative. This feedback is constructive as it gives me other perspectives to consider. I ask them to shoot holes in the idea and see if they are able to determine any potential issues that we can correct before they are learned with our patients. Once the idea is thought through, refined, and ready to go, we hit the ground running. I then continue to monitor the progress to ensure we are seeing the expected result.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Of course, I like to see our schedule filling up so that I know we are using our available time efficiently. But what really excites me is to see our hours in the office or number of members on our staff expanding. This shows not only growth, but increase potential. When I started in this office just over 4 years ago, our schedule was spotty and only Monday through Wednesday. Occasionally we would have Thursday morning patients, but never consistently. We just weren’t busy and were certainly not growing. My staff consisted of one assistant, one front desk manager, a hygienist, and myself. Due to demand as we have grown, we have added Thursdays to my schedule at our Layton dentist location, followed by adding hygiene all day on Thursdays. We filled that time and saw corresponding growth in every aspect of our workday. About a year later, we added a new hygienist on Wednesdays which added nearly 40 new open appointments to fill each month. We are now preparing to add another day of hygiene as it is getting harder to find open appointments for new patients when they call. This shows me that we are moving in the right direction of being efficient with the staff and hours that we have available.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It is hard for me to sit still, I like to be up and moving. If I am stopped, my brain immediately starts trying to figure out why and how to prevent the same from happening again in the future. Many of my ideas for ways to grow and tighten our schedule come during slow minutes in our practice. If I am at work, I want to be working. My staff knows this and we work together to make sure my time away from patients is minimal.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I have never had a bad job. I guess I have been lucky that way.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have gotten started earlier. I feel very good about the way we are growing and the way we do business, but I do wish I would have started school much earlier. Like many others, I went through many career changes during my schooling, which turned my 8-year program into a 14-year program. I got into the profession much later than many of my peers.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep track of the numbers. There is a lot of peace of mind that comes when you know where you stand. By simply keeping track of numbers daily, I have a good feel of the pulse of my practice, even when days are slow. I can look and know exactly where we stand in regards to our goals for growth and success.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
We focus on the patient experience above all else. I believe that if we take care of our patients and exceed their expectations, everything else will take care of itself. Quality is a priority, but the dentistry our patients receive in our office does not vary widely from the dentistry they receive in another office. The experience, however, is where we can make a real difference.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Advertising. It is a little bit like throwing darts in the dark. I have spent large amounts of money through a process of trial and error. The way to overcome it? Keep at it. Keep trying different methods and cling to those that work.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Whatever your passion is, build a better mouse trap in that industry, and go for volume. You do not need to sell a million dollar mouse trap. Instead, use technology and pursue ideas that you can sell one million $1 mouse traps.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently gave a staff member a gas card for $100. She drives from about 50 miles away each day. She is here on time and is so pleasant to work with. This small gift showed her that she is a valuable member of our team, that I notice her sacrifice to get here, and helped her out at the same time. Often times, it is those little ways of saying thank you that pay dividends in return. I know she will continue to give 110% as she feels valued.
What software and web services do you use?
I use Dentrix as our office management software with Dexis for our radiographic imaging. I love how easily these two programs interact. They are both fairly intuitive and offer much more practice help than I could possibly utilize. Often times when trying to learn a specific statistic or trend about my practice, I fiddle with the software for a moment and have the information I need.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Fred Factor. It reminds readers that the level of service we provide and the satisfaction we gain through our work is completely dependent on the effort we put behind it. Often times it is those responsibilities we least like or feel are unimportant that make the biggest difference in the experience we offer our patients.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Mark Sanborn, author of Fred Factor, www.marksanborn.com. He is a motivational speaker that focuses on powerful ideas for purposeful change.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.