Friday, July 10, 2015

Giving It Away

I don’t know how well you guys know me. 

If you’re an avid reader (I mean, if you’ve been reading this blog since 2008), then you know me. But for those of you who don’t...

I have a pretty average practice. I am a solo practitioner who works four days per week.  I am kind of a one-column dentist. I have two rooms, but I rarely use them at the same time.  

I have nine hygiene days. (I have three hygienists, but one is here for four days, one is here for three, and one is here for two.) Pretty average, right?!

I practice family general dentistry in a relatively small town. I am right down the middle. I don’t do any perio surgery, or implants, or crazy root canals. I stick with what I know and don’t really veer from that. 

I love kids, and I love families. I am very conservative, but I know how to do the full-mouth rehab (as a young dentist, I completed all the continuums at The Pankey Institute), and I do a couple of those cases each year.

I recently looked up the latest (2013) survey put out by the American Dental Association (ADA) about salaries. The survey talks about what dentists make. It talks about the average salary, and then it talks about what the top 25 percent are making. 

I am not going to tell you how much I make (because everything I write here always gets back to my staff). But I am very satisfied with where I lie in the range.  

So how does an average, small-town guy become successful? (Understand that successful to me means so much more than a dollar amount. It means being happy, it means getting satisfaction at work, it means making a profit, and it means liking what you do and the people whom you work with and for.)

I am going to tell you what I think, but I don’t think you are going to like it. 

You might know this, but I am VERY conservative. In 2009, which was the previous time the ADA did this survey, I was really surprised that I was in the top echelon of practices (money-wise), because I had only done—you are not going to believe this—58 crowns that year. Yes, I said 58. Now, I know some of you just fell off your chairs realizing that’s about one crown per week. 

Yep, I was able to be in the “top practices” line (at least, according to this survey) doing only one crown per week. (Since 2009, I have bought my father’s practice, which has come with a lot more mature clientele, and I have almost tripled the amount of crowns I did in 2009, but the same principles apply.)

And, I think I know why—and this is the part that might be hard for you.

Give it away.

I do a lot of free dentistry. It is kind of a theme in this office. It starts in February when my staff and I do a day we call Dentistry With a Heart. I started doing this 10 years ago. This is a day when I open up the office, filling every room with a different dentist or oral surgeon, and we do as much free dentistry as we can for 10 hours. And it just continues from there.

This has had an impact on the community. It kind of gets the word out about what kind of dentist you are.

Then a guy at church who you know, but who goes to another dentist, knows about this other guy who needs your help. Then it is his cousin, or a friend of a friend, or someone’s son. The answer is always yes. I say, “No problem, here is my cellphone number. Have them call me directly, and we will get them taken care of.” Sometimes, I don’t even know what I am saying yes to. It might be a filling, or a flipper, or it might mean a couple of root canals and a bunch of anterior restorations. I have even called in a favor to my orthodontist (an innocent bystander) and had him put braces on this one college-aged girl who wouldn’t smile because she hated her teeth.

And I know what you are thinking...word is going to spread, and you will have tons of folks banging on your door asking for free work.

This is what I say to you about that: “So what?”

Are you telling me that you don’t have holes in your schedule? Why not fill them with people whose lives you can really change? A single mom of two. A guy who just got out of prison and wants to turn his life around. A guy who just can’t find a job because his front teeth are a mess.

Now, it’s not always a perfect situation, and the receiver of the gift is not always as appreciative as your staff might desire, but it is about your heart. I am not going to get all Jesus on you but a couple of Bible verses come to mind.  One is the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the one about God giving us talents and he expects us to use them and multiple them.

I don’t do this to get new patients, but it just happens. “I came here because you helped my friend.” “I came here because I know you do that day for the poor.” “I saw you in the paper.” And on and on.

Now you know that guy who goes to another dentist who sent this other guy. Guess where he is going to go to when his dentist ticks him off or dies? (I mean retires.)

So it goes both ways. The word that gets out can work in your favor.

I feel like I am in that top echelon of practices not because I do more crowns that you. I think I am up there because people start to know the kind of dentist you are. I am the guy who is pretty conservative and fair, and cares. I also am the guy who loves my job and can’t wait to come to work.

What do you think? Am I on an island on this one? Is anyone giving it away, too? How’s that going for you? Does anyone disagree with me?

I would like to hear from you.

John Gammichia, DMD, FAGD


hurtownia worków zelmer said...

Congratulates the place where you are. Success for everyone is different and mean something else. The main thing is to follow his way and not worry about what others say.

Jared said...

What an excellent philosophy! I'm sure that you are simply reaping what you sow. I've always noticed that one of the best ways to gain abundance in your own life is to give generously of your time and talents - so this all comes as no surprise to me. Thanks for confirming this philosophy!

Unknown said...

You are doing a Great Job...

Milton Dentist

Altamash Dental Clinic said...

A must share! In the cut throat competitive times of today, there are people like you who follow such noble gestures and philosophy of life. Indeed it requires a pure heart and a clear soul. You seem to be blessed with both! Congratulations!


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