Momentum Podcast: 325

Maximizing The Investment In Your Team

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

As a business owner, it's always our goal to have the biggest impact, the biggest influence, the biggest effect we possibly can on our clients. Dwight Pecora runs a dental practice where they were doing exactly that, but, they ran into a massive brick wall when they were trying to grow and scale their business. It takes a motivated, visionary entrepreneur to create the extreme growth discussed in this podcast and Dwight Pecora is just that!

Full Audio Transcript

What happens when you are impacting your clients' lives, making a massive difference on the people who choose to work with you, and your team is delivering at the highest level, but you run into a wall trying to scale your business? Dwight Pakora went through exactly that, and he's now growing and back in the driver's seat.

I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.

Dwight, thank you so much for joining me on this podcast, man. I really appreciate you being here. Absolutely Alex. I'm super excited and a little nervous because when every time I get a chance to answer some questions from you, I feel like I still get more coaching than I do talking about my own self, so I'm excited to learn what I'm going to learn from you just talking to you, but this is exciting.

Well, Dwight, it's exciting for me. Let's give everybody just a little bit of a summary of what type of business you have, and the size and scope of the business.

Yeah, absolutely. I'm managing partner for DDS partners management, which is publicly known as Fort Bend Dental in the Houston, Texas area. We are a general dentistry practice that also houses all types of specialty services from within so that patients have the ability to come in and get comprehensive delivery of general dentistry and specialty care without having to go anywhere else. And we were on track about ... We were right at that $4 million run rate, right at 4.2 if we were really being generous. And we were coming around where we felt a lot of bottlenecks in a lot of scenarios.

That's when I was really addicted in my morning workouts to your podcasts, and I said I need to spend some time chatting with Alex and getting some perspective on what I could actually do to allow more people in the world received the delivery that I'm providing at my business. So we were at that $4 million run rate, and we were hitting a lot of ceilings and seeing what we could possibly do to make the team and myself and everybody more efficient and able to provide more.

And Dwight, you are in a unique position, because when you look at the business you had, you were making a massive impact on clients. People who come to Fort Bend Dental, they have a completely different experience than the average dental experience. And you are a ... I think it's easy to say that you're one of those guys who takes troubled cases. You're a surgeon, and you take the hard cases, the cases where people have been let down, they've been frustrated, they've got problems, they've got bad work in their mouth. So it's not like you guys are just having people come in for cleanings. You are actually doing the service that a lot of other dental practices won't even provide.


So even though you're providing the services that other people don't want to provide due to difficulty, you're getting a massive result, but you hit a wall in growth, right?

Yeah, absolutely. And I think part of the problem is not that ... We had incredible delivery, which also created a lot of great word of mouth, had a lot of patients coming in, and what happened was all you can start preaching at that point in time is efficiencies and trying to grow and scale your business. But the problem is is that it feels like if you have a lot of areas of your business that you feel are the good areas and are growing, sometimes all of a sudden you realize, well, we're not actually focusing on some of the big core components of your business, like lead generation on other ends and and lead nurturer, and as you like to say, the conversion portion of it.

We can be amazing on delivery, but that is typical in health care, where in health care you are known as that doctor, and everybody says, "Well, you are the most amazing doctor." You want to go see them. But it doesn't mean that general society gets access to you because there's only so many hours in the day. So you want to build a team that's able to grow the business so that more patients have access to that, more people have access to it. And that's really what it was, is I needed to build a team that was much stronger, more capable. I also needed to build the ability to scale what it is that we're doing, because we do believe that we provide the best delivery that's out there.

But we hit so many walls. Financially we were trying to scale, but we didn't have a plan as to where or when we wanted to scale and invest those things. So you would take a step forward and we'd take three steps back. So that's really what's been hurting us for sure.

So Dwight, right before I got on with you, I actually recorded a podcast for tomorrow or the next day called the most important process in your business. And in my opinion, the most important process in any business is really, it's a set of processes. The first one is your ability to strategically plan. The second one is the ability to communicate the plan. And the third one is the ability to get the help around that plan, build the infrastructure around that plant. You're in our program, so you're using our strategic planning system, our communication process, and the infrastructure building tools that we give entrepreneurs. How has that changed Fort Bend Dental and your view of that $4.2 million cap?

Yeah, absolutely. We are now at a $5 million run rate, working with you for three months. And that's-

Holy cow.

Really, it's been a three month change where really, all we did, we haven't implemented any marketing changes. We haven't gone through and rebuilt the whole way we run our schedule. We really haven't changed any clinical process, other than the fact that we created a strategic plan, communicated that heavily to the team so they really felt like they were not only all a part of it, because that's one of those cliche things that you hear a coach all the time, make your team a part of the process. But they own it now. In fact, I would even say that our leadership team and how it trickles down to the rest of the team, they own that strategic plan more than I do. I mean, it's incredible. I'm so passionate about it, but being the entrepreneur that we are, sometimes in medicine, that gets taken down a notch because the team doesn't want to back you and they're just like, okay, well it's brilliant, Dr. Whoever, and they want to just take care of him, and at the end of the day patients just want to see them.

Now, patients come in asking for the people on my team because they are creating and living out a plan where they're so excited to get up in the morning and come to the office and do more. So just with those efficiencies and having a clear understanding of where we're going and where we want to go, everybody talks at every meeting. I used to lead to every meeting, push every meeting, or it would be my operator who would do so. And now we have a whole leadership team underneath her, which forever it was me then her, we had a board of directors, but it was me then the operator. And then underneath her it was actually every other person, which is about 30 people. And it was impossible, and the communication wasn't getting pushed out.

We have two locations, one in Richmond, Texas and one in Missouri City, Texas. The Richmond location often didn't feel communicated to. Now they've started their waterfall and their strategic plan. So now they're gaining this mindset. We're like, wow, we can own this irrelevant of the big daddy headquarters. We can own this and make something happen of it. So now I've got a remote location that's skyrocketing all on their own, because they're passionate about something and it's the business that we're trying to create.

That is where I feel that most doctors and people in health care, regardless of what area it is, is they are entrepreneurs at heart, but they wear their heart on the sleeve because they do medicine. And at the end, what they really want to do is they want to change the world. But you can't change the world without a strategic plan, without understanding where you're going and communicating it to the team and then letting them actually have the resources to be successful. I just don't think it's going to happen. It's actually become one of our company tenants, which is to go in and when we're dealing with problems in the company, we say don't manage, we coach.

And we coach because we want to not only give them the opportunity to stay wherever they are and build together as a team, but they absolutely are ... It's all about giving them the resources to be successful. And that's something that we learned from you all in the last three months. And I'm not joking when I say we've literally done nothing but invest into our team by giving them vision. And that clarity has changed the way they see their personal lives. I mean, I heard somebody the other day was implementing with their husband how to implement the daily planner because there's so much drama at the house that it's affecting their work life.

This is somebody who, she's an employee of ours. We have three or four employees that drive over an hour to an hour and a half away to get to us. And one of them told me specifically, they said, "You know, at the end of the day, I know where I am today, what I'm learning and where I'm going because of what y'all have communicated and, and it's really, really making a personal impact, not just professional one."

And Dwight, what ... And I should call you Dr. Pakora. Just so everybody knows, Dwight's a doctor. He does get called Dr. Pakora, but he's also a close friend of mine, so I call him Dwight. But Dr. Pakora ... And sometimes I even tease him and I call him the emperor Dr. Pakora just to be fun. But Dwight, this has caused a massive shift for you, and I've watched it over the past few months. Share a little bit with us about what has it done for you as the leader of the team to have your team's confidence go up like this, to have them have clarity. What has that done for you as the person who really comes in every day and makes the business move forward.

Yeah. A great example is I just had Angela standing outside at one of our operating rooms because I was a hands deep into a patient, honestly doing a very significant reconstruction of a jaw. And I was working on ... I had just finished, I was suturing, and I was making sure that everything's done nice and clean. But I've never been able to fully walk into a solid room of more perfection than I've ever seen. And I remember a long time ago, you told me to literally to tattoo something. And I wrote it on my arm, and it was about making sure I didn't focus so much on the details, but I focused-

Progress over perfection.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that progress over perfection was something that I shared with my team so much that it's making them more perfect, because they're seeing the progress. And I walk in, I don't expect it, but I see the progress in them, and I have such confidence that our delivery is even getting better. I didn't even realize how good it could get when everybody was at that level and doing what they need to do. And what it's done is, the whole team around me I have this confidence.

All of us have worked in a place where you couldn't walk to the front desk and drop something off and say that's getting taken care of. You always feel like you got to go back and double check it and things like that. When people are passionate about what they do and they're excited and they know their job description, they know what's expected of them, and they're appreciated for that. We had a great round this morning in our morning huddle about, got caught being awesome, and it changed the feel. I want to work in that environment far more than I did three months ago. And I love what I do. But it's made me a better surgeon. It's made me a better general dentist. It's maybe better at being able to run my company, because I feel why run a company in medicine when you can work at a lot of places, just pull a nice check, and go home and not worry about the business. You're going to run a business, be passionate about the people that you're investing into, that you're growing with you, and the team that you're trying to ... You're trying to change the world.

I feel like I've never been actually able to say those words out loud. Even though in my entrepreneurial personality type that's expected. That's in my head. I just can't say them out loud. I now feel like I can, because this team, and adding more resources to this team as we grow and scale, anything's possible. The visibility of the $10 million mark is so clear to me. I said that to you a couple of days ago at the conference. I had never actually seen it. I had hoped, dreamed [crosstalk 00:13:26]


[inaudible 00:13:29] right now that I actually had to apologize to some of my team members, like be prepared because things are gonna change so quickly. Just because it's clear, and it's on paper, and everybody knows where we're going.

Dwight, I have this argument that I make with entrepreneurs. And it's not a fight, it's a contention that if you create a strategic plan, and you communicate it to your team, you will get a bigger return on the investment you're already making in your people. And at 30 people your payroll's huge. On a monthly basis, your organization writes a check that exceeds most people's annual income, and most wealthy people's annual income, just to keep the team in the right place. It's a massive overhead. How much has the return on investment gone up for that check that you write every month?

I have stared at payroll in the past constantly and said, "It's the overtime number, this and that." It's amazing how, the truth is, is the numbers do reduce the stress of looking at payables. They absolutely do. And when they're skyrocketing, that's incredible. But more importantly, to me, when I don't see my team burnt out, like I used to, and that's how we hit the numbers that we use to hit, now we're hitting higher numbers and they look less stressed, more calmed down, more feeling like they're able to go home and interact with their kids. Those are the stories I'm getting. I'm not getting stories about this patient problem or this situation happened. I'm getting stories about how their lives, they feel better than they ever have. I have employees here that have worked here for 17, 20 years, been a part of this practice longer than I have. And they're saying this is a completely different perspective. "I never thought I would actually know what it takes to run this business." And when they knew that, then it doesn't feel like I'm bearing the brunt of the stress of running a company all by myself.

Payroll used to be one of those things. I was like, "All right, I don't want to look at the report. Let's just pay it. Transfer the money."

Hide it from me and pay it."

Yeah, yeah. Pay it, I don't wanna know about it. And now it's like, awesome. Let's see the ability to watch people succeed and grow, and now the whole team is watching it, and they're watching our profitability and they're watching their ability to say, "You know what? We can bring in more patients." The problems they see now are the problems I normally look at, which is how do we get more patients in the door and how are we able to take care of them at the same level of care that we provide currently, in a way, because we believe that the rest of the world should have access to this care. That's what's changed for me tremendously.

I'm excited to watch you guys grow into that, Dwight. To wrap up, I want you to think about where you were just a few months ago. And right now listening to us is a CEO or a doctor, a practitioner, an entrepreneur who has a team, who doesn't have a strategic plan, doesn't have a communications cadence, and doesn't have the infrastructure and understanding of how to build it, and they're looking at the company and thinking, can I even do this? And I know you've been there, I've been there, anybody who has tried to operate without a strategic plan has that feeling all the time of can I even do this. Dwight, tell them how much their life will change when they finally make these changes.

We used to have meeting after meeting after meeting, and even a meeting about a meeting, which took up a ton of time. And then we used to have this scenario where it was like, great. Dwight was always the first in, last out, running in, running out. They would watch my boys come up here, and Grant and Lincoln would play in the back because I was finishing some things up, and Angela and I were running around. We 're now down to quarterly meetings. What used to happen, as far as quarterly meetings with our whole staff other than what we would do, and it's just for rallies and for training of CPR training, and regular expectations that medicine, you have to have certifications for, that is the absolute max. And we're trying to get rid of those right now and doing one annual, other than our regular structure that we run.

What that does is it alleviates the ability to say I know where my business is going to be this week because of our weekly commitments and or weekly reports, and then I know where we're going to be this month. Because the waterfall allows me to have such clarity. I don't stay up at night worrying about it. I don't blog on my computer worrying about it. I don't think through it. I can actually take vacation, get away. At the same time, I've learned a lot from you about how to take care of myself, my own body. I mean, it's very rare in the past that I could have jumped out of surgery and walked right into a podcast and been as energetic and excited about getting to talk to you. Yeah, you're a friend, it's great, but this is an opportunity for me to talk about how passionate I am about something that has completely changed my life and the way that I've jumped into running a business now.

I would say that it's created such clarity that I'm able to just focus on my family, my life, and the ones I really want to be around. And I get to see that in my employees too. Ever so often I have somebody come in, I have a lot of docs that come and shadow our surgeries and do things like that. And they look at me and they say, "You're just ..." There was a guy yesterday and he said, "You're just so calm all the time." And that case went the exact opposite direction. And I said, "It wasn't always this way." And it wasn't, not just in surgery, it wasn't always this way running the business. But I have such calm in the way we're able to run our business and see where we're going, and it's happening all by itself.

I used to make every dollar happen. I used to feel like the doctors in this company had to roll over backwards to make sure that things happen. Right now, the team is carrying everything. It makes a huge difference.

Dwight, it takes a visionary entrepreneur to get our programs in place, and it takes a motivated, visionary entrepreneur to make the ridiculous progress that you and Angela have made. I just want to congratulate you and thank you for sharing today.

If you're listening to this and you're an entrepreneur, a practitioner, if you're running a team, if you're going into business, if you want to make a bigger impact, Dwight has shared with you exactly how quickly and how much of a difference he has had in running his practice, which is, by the way, top 1% of dental practices in the world. Probably top one half of one percent. And if we can make a massive impact there, I know we can help you too. Go to, answer a few questions for me and my team, and we'll jump on a call and see what options we have to help you.

Dwight, I appreciate you being here today with me, man.

Thanks Alex. You're the man. I appreciate you. You know I love you, and your team is incredible. Being able to have somebody like your team, I feel like y'all just joined the company, and you jumped on and are fighting the fight with us. It's rare to have a coach that jumps in the trenches with you. So I really, you know I love you and I appreciate everything you do for us.

I appreciate you too, Dwight. It's amazing getting to work with you and your company. Please say hi to Angela for me, and we'll see you again soon, brother.

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