Make people a little happier than they were before interacting with you. That goes for patients, families, their friends, the UPS delivery person, and our IT person. Try to make the world a little better than it already is.
Lee Orthodontics is an orthodontic care office located in Abilene, Texas, Owned by Dr. Victor Lee.
Dr. Lee is an orthodontist who has been practicing in Abilene for over 10 years. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Adelphi University Honors College and obtained his dental degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine on the Dean’s Merit Scholarship. Dr. Lee then completed his two-year specialized orthodontic residency at the University of Minnesota. He remains active in the most up-to-date orthodontic advances, having completed the Invisalign Advanced Technology Certification for Orthodontists, and is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists, Vanguard Society of the American Association of Orthodontists Foundation, American Dental Association, and the Texas Dental Association.
The approach that Lee Orthodontics takes to treatment is to not only straighten teeth using braces or Invisalign, but also to create an enjoyable patient-centered experience for families. Dr. Lee enjoys traveling, dining out, and watching movies, but his favorite activity is spending time with his two children and spoiling his cat Charlie.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I first became interested in orthodontics while having braces as a teenager. It was an amazing process to see my teeth gradually straighten. I have to admit: I wasn’t the best at flossing with braces on. However, my orthodontist, Dr. Rasmussen, was a great doctor and very nice man. He also had a very pleasant staff. Coming from a family of physicians, I was encouraged to go into the health care field. I’m glad I did because orthodontics is a great profession. You are able to help people improve their smiles and see families in the close-knit community that Abilene and surrounding towns is.
My vision of practice has always been patient-centered. Orthodontics doesn’t have to be painful or take a long time. Our patients seem to enjoy coming to their appointments because they can see their smile improving step by step. You can go to most orthodontists to have your teeth straightened. However, I feel that you’re going to remember your orthodontic experience for the rest of your life, whether you’re a child, teen, or adult. Why not make it fun? We do events, contests, and prizes for patients and post on social media the fun and silly things we do at our office while straightening teeth. I have really enjoyed becoming an established part of the community. We have been fortunate to work with most of the elementary, middle, and high schools, not only in Abilene, but also several of the surrounding towns. We’ve been to and hosted community events and enjoy giving back and supporting local charities such as the Cattle Baron Ball, a chapter of the American Cancer Society, Toys for Tots, and Rescue the Animals ASPCA to name a few.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
We stay pretty busy! We see approximately 130 patients per day. We see new patients for their consultations and braces on or scanned for Invisalign the same day. We also see existing patients for adjustment appointments at different stages of their treatment. And we see patients getting their braces off and showing off their new smiles. Getting back to the vision of Lee Orthodontics, we make sure to create the best possible experience for patients. This means having experienced and personable staff members who are energetic and wanting to fulfill this vision. It means making patients and families feel good about themselves, not having to wait to be seen, and always greeting them with a smile. Our motto is “get the patient to be happy.” For child and adolescent patients, we go by the golden rule: “we will treat your children as if they were our own.”
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have the privilege of being in several orthodontic Facebook groups. These groups have some amazing orthodontists in them, across the country and the world. Some of the doctors have studied specific areas of orthodontics, and fortunately are willing to share their findings and novel treatment techniques. I have treated thousands of patients in my career but recognize that I can always improve.
My amazing staff is key to bringing ideas to fruition. There are tons of good ideas out there on how to improve your practice. You need to actually implement them and that’s where the hard work comes in. I give my staff some ideas on how to make our practice better, but I am constantly impressed by my staff, who work hard to implement these ideas and also come up with and implement good original ideas of their own. While I am the doctor and help lead the practice, I am no better at coming up with ideas in certain areas of the practice than the staff, and they often have better ideas than I do.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It’s an exciting time in orthodontics because there have been so many recent advances. We have adopted digital scanning in our office, which means no more goopy impressions. Braces and treatment techniques have allowed for shorter treatment times. Invisalign is still the leader in the clear aligner approach to treatment with constant technological improvements to their product, which allows for more predictable results. One concerning trend is “do it yourself” orthodontics. While this may be okay for some patients, I am concerned about the dangers of unsupervised orthodontics. Lack of radiographs and not having your treatment or teeth monitored regularly can result in irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. However, this gives orthodontists the opportunity to educate patients and the public about their treatment options.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I really depend on my staff to make our practice what it is. I realized early in my career that I can only do so much as one person. I like the team approach, empowering our staff, and playing to their individual strengths to create a great patient experience.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Not to worry about extremely minor details too much! Trained orthodontists have the remarkable ability to not only straighten teeth but also increase one’s self confidence in doing so. I find myself focusing less on trying to achieve perfection of the minutiae – no one is going to notice or care if your lower right back tooth is rotated an extra 2 degrees – if it is going to shorten the patient’s treatment a couple of months. I would say to look at the bigger picture. We do not just treat teeth. We treat patients, human beings, and we should be cognizant of that and do our best for them.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Wear your orthodontic elastic rubber bands, brush and floss between all of your teeth, and listen to Mom or Dad! We love all of our patients including our adolescent patients, but sometimes we don’t see the best oral hygiene. We ask how the patient is doing with brushing or elastic wear. They say, “Good,” but then I look up at Mom, and she is rolling her eyes. It is a struggle to get kids to do what is best for them – ask me how I as a parent know – but we try to make it fun and encouraging.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be nice to everyone! Make people a little happier than they were before interacting with you. That goes for patients, families, their friends, the UPS delivery person, and our IT person. Try to make the world a little better than it already is.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Funny, I would answer the same as above: be nice to everyone, and you will improve your chances of success. Also, people and families go through hard times, whether they tell you, or it’s something they keep private. We never know what each person is going through. Be generous and empathetic. The practice is not just about you as the doctor. It’s about your patients, your staff, and your community as a whole.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We certainly had some growing pains when I first started practicing. I transitioned the practice with another orthodontist who was retiring. He was a good orthodontist, and I enjoyed working with him while we saw patients together for a couple of years before he completely retired, but many parts of his facility hadn’t been updated since the building was built in 1979. We were able to remodel certain areas of the building to make it more patient-friendly and have since moved to a new larger facility to create a better overall patient experience.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Good customer service and open communication with patients in orthodontic practices, or patients of any health care office really, is key. Nothing will replace face to face interaction with patients and their families, but we also make sure to communicate via phone, email, and even text.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Another digital scanner! We had such a good response from patients that we needed a 2nd one. It is a game changer for Invisalign. For years, orthodontists had to use goopy materials for study models, retainers, and Invisalign. The scanner has allowed the patient to be a lot more comfortable through these processes, and it is a lot more precise. It cost more than $100 but fortunately we did not have to raise any fees.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Facebook, Instagram and Google Voice have really helped open lines of communication with existing patients and prospective patients. We are able to let everyone know what is going on in the office, the fun patient-centered culture we strive to provide, and any upcoming events or contests. For example, we have an annual patient appreciation day held at Primetime Entertainment center each summer. It’s a lot easier to tell everybody about things by using social media rather than making thousands of calls and mail.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander. It has nothing to do with ortho, but it is an amazing true story. I would recommend this book to anyone, regardless of your religious affiliation. I don’t want to give away the end, so I’ll just say that he rightfully values family highly. It also literally made me cry at the end! I have never read a book that had that kind of profound effect on me.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two!
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” – Francis of Assisi
- It was a good reminder of our overall vision for our practice, “get people to happy.” We are always trying to do this, but sometimes get caught nearsighted focusing on small details. It’s nice to take a step back sometimes and make sure you are always working towards that vision.
- Community is so important. In the aftermath of the devastating Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a very wise person said that as parents, we always try to protect our children. But eventually, you realize you can’t always be there for them. We are each responsible as part of our community that we take care of each other’s children and each other.
- Our staff is awesome! They work hard and really are the heart and soul of our office. They have created a culture of positivity and customer service in our practice. We vet new team members to make sure they are good fits to this culture of ours.
- A lot of these questions in the interview talk about business and entrepreneurial prowess. While this is important– we do need to pay the electricity bill – this is not the focus or goal of our practice. If you are nice to people and implement excellent customer service, the growth of your business will come, but our main goal will always be to provide the best possible orthodontic patient and family experience for our community.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.