Alan is married with 3 daughters, and graduated from Midwestern in 2013. Alan is a serial entrepreneur with multiple businesses, inventions, and patents while practicing dentistry part time.
One business many of the newer dentists may be familiar with is CourseSaver.com which has helped over 75,000 students prepare for their DAT, and other entrance exams. His newest business is ReminderDental which follows the success of CourseSaver offering comprehensive services at only $50 per month.
VIDEO-DUwHF #1081 Alan Halls
AUDIO-DUwHF #1081 Alan Halls
Howard: It's just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Alan Halls all the way from Lehi, Utah how are you doing Alan?
Alan: I'm doing great thank you for asking Howard.
Howard: My gosh were both dentists but I have four boys if you have three daughters. He's married with three daughters after working in IT for 13 years to return to school and graduated from Midwestern in 2013 in Glendale Arizona right?
Alan: Yes sir
Howard: Right up the street for me five years ago. Alan is a serial entrepreneur with multiple businesses inventions and patents while practicing dentistry part-time. He started using computers when he was 8 built his first age 14 his first IT job is 17 one business many of the newer dentists may be familiar with his coursesaver.com which was started in 2010 and has helped over 75,000 students prepare for their dat another entrance exam. His newest business is Reminder Dental which follows a success of course saver offering comprehensive services at only $50 a month. Well thanks for coming on the show today.
Alan: Well thank you for having me it's an honor for me.
Howard: So where is Lehigh in relation to Salt Lake is it next to Provo?
Alan: It is just right between Provo and Salt Lake City and so we get to take advantage of the programmer talent between both counties.
Howard: Well as we speak right now it's a yeah what is a Monday?
Alan: It is.
Howard: It's the Dentrix user meeting is right there, were you aware that that's in Provo today?
Alan: I didn't we're actually just about two miles away from the Dentrix office here
Howard: Yeah so we set our editor Tom Geacoby up there so he's up there now but the point I was making is we did an issue on dentaltown you know how they call a Silicon Valley?
Howard: Utah they call silicon slips I mean there's so many dental companies I mean you got Dentrix and Ultradent and I mean Arrowhead and can you rattle off the list of all the companies?
Alan: Well you can't anymore people who may have driven through this area years ago wouldn't recognize it. I saw an article a couple years ago where they had enough office space planned currently planned that it would exceed the World Trade Centers I think two times over seems like every time I Drive down the i-15 there's another seven story building that is just massive and so when and it's a lot of those companies are tech related and so you know as you're graduating from you two are graduating from dental school and you think where should I set up my practice of course everyone's first thought is Utah and not really that's the highest saturation in the US.
Howard: Yeah it's a little bit different when you look at median income for dentists the lowest median income state is Utah.
Alan: By a lot.
Howard: and it's it's a tough question because I'm down here in Phoenix which they call South Utah I mean there's a and these the biggest the second biggest I think the first biggest place if you weren't raised Utah leave is go to Arizona and so many of those kids at Midwestern you know I tell them demographics matter and they say well family matters more and I'd rather yeah so they're they're going back despite. So let's start with your course saver did you start that when you were at Midwestern dental school in Glendale Arizona?
Alan: So it actually started during my freshman year of college and one of the good key example of why it was so important was that during my physics class they said you have to turn in a physics lab report and I raise my hand I'm like hey do you have a sample of what this lab report should look like they said no like do you have an outline of what you're expecting they're like no like do you have anything at all that could help me understand what it is you're looking for and the answer was no and and so I grew up in IT and it was really a shame to me that at that time I think it was 2005 2006 that there was no resources available and so I decided at the time that I was going to make everything that I did available online and so I started posting pictures of like the anatomy lab biology lab dissections, I did all of my lab reports whether no matter what kind of a grade I got I posted it and with all the red lines and everything so that nobody was gonna get stuck like me wondering what in the world that was expected of them. Along the way we started videotaping some lectures and one of those lecture series really took off it's known as Chad's videos on course saver and the time that we went back and looked at it the entire lecture series was being downloaded 60 times per day and so we realized at that time that it was important and we needed to make it better because there was a lot of people that wanted to use it but just couldn't. So we made it better and things just really took off. We started the business side of it during my freshman year of dental school.
Howard: So is this still a thing is it still something you maintain now that your not in dental school?
Alan: It is we have we've continued to providing these services throughout dental school we experienced about a 300 percent growth year over a year of course there's only so long you can keep that up with a limited pool but we did the math and we were doing about 80 percent of all incoming dental students were using our platform.
Howard: Now I see on your course saver right now on my iPhone.
Howard: and I see DAT, MCAT OAT, PCAT, NBDE1, NBDE2.
Howard: So the MCATs med school so you do this for dentistry and medicine?
Alan: Yes there are separate videos available for each category there's some overlap of course.
Howard: Whats OAT?
Howard: Okay and then PCAT?
Alan: Pharmacy pharmacology
Howard: and then NBD?
Alan: National board dental exam Part one and Part two, so during our third and fourth years of dental school I recruited an army of fellow dental students and we went through prep material and so we had flashcards and I said your goal is to take every concept on that flash card and write six questions and so for national boards I think we've got about a thousand sorry six thousand national boards prep questions with full explanations like massively good explanations.
Howard: Well you know that was the way I always studied it was so easy because if you knew the test was gonna be 40 multiple choice questions like it always was easy and you knew these were the three or four chapters that were gonna be on the test instead of reading and memorizing reading memorize I thought it was read thinking I was a teacher trying to write every test question I can and I always thought it was a victory if you went in there on the end you came out with 200 questions and 35 of them are on the test and that is a really awesome way to study which is backwards.
Alan: Well you know it was interesting the course saver website was really rethought from the ground up how to study as we were building the website there was all these tools available for classroom lecture styles types but what they didn't have was tutoring style. The difference being that if you're taking a test and a lot of times as I was going through my DAT practice you get all of these questions and you're like I almost don't even have to read the question or the answer anymore because I've taken it so many times because I know it's that I read this question oh it's the third answer down and then you get to the end of the test and they give you an overall 80% and you're like okay great I did I'm doing okay or whatever and so with course saver we redid that and as you have the option of as soon as you answer a question it can tell you no that's not the right question or the right answer and it can tell you why and the reason is is I didn't want people to accidentally remember the wrong answer because they just moved on they're like I gave it my best guess and I'm going to move on and then they remember that they got a good score on the test and so whatever answer they gave whether it was right or wrong ended up with a good result and so I wanted to train them that, that wasn't right and so then we also mix up the order of the answers so that they're not always in the same order people have to actually read the question and the answer and so a lot of what we did had to be custom-built because those tools weren't available to without custom building it. In the math area everything has a video solution everything other ones have written solutions so anyway.
Howard: You know it's really bizarre because if you look at the budgets of all 50 states education is the largest cost of all 50 states and it's just amazing how you know I got a bunch of green kids in school now and they still don't do anything differently than when I was there I mean they're you still have a human up there reading in front of class and me being a boy he raised four boys I can just look out at the class okay staring out the window dreaming about catching frogs and snakes he doesn't even know what she's saying he's not even tuned in right and she spends half the day say pay attention look over here pay attention look and then the kid moves too much since she thinks you should be on medication. So your business model is what $50 a month for these dental students.
Alan: It is it so you know you look at the competition of Kaplan Princeton Review other resources and they charge several thousand dollars for their study materials. At the time that I started course saver I was planning on being a dentist and we weren't relying on it for income it just really had to support itself and so we looked at the variable cost what does it cost us per student and we tried doing it at $20 a student and it turns out that that was too low at the scale that we were at and so we had to raise the prices a little bit and then around $50 it gave enough to provide a quality service and then with the growth then we became extremely profitable as well and so it kind of changed my career trajectory a little bit which is why we did end up in Utah was because programmer Resources became more important than dental income.
Howard: and you know why there are so many programmers in Utah?
Alan: Well Utah has more startup businesses than almost anywhere else in the country.
Howard: because they came there for the programs
Alan: Maybe that's one reason.
Howard: Yeah but you know who started the programmers?
Alan: I believe it was potentially the BYU Marriott School of Business there's a lot of really good business schools here and engineering and robotics and all these different things and then you end up with a bunch of small businesses with a lot of technology needs and that attracts people and it's driven up wages to where they can make a really good living here and that has it so when I was graduating from dental school and I was looking for programmer resources there was really just about four or five major cities in the u.s. that we could end up in and you know there was some areas that we didn't want to live in for either from lifestyle or taxes or other reasons and Utah just seemed like the perfect fit and so as we drove through town our first drive through Salt Lake City on i-15 we saw all of these billboards directed towards programmers and it was so foreign coming from Phoenix were like oh my gosh we really are in the right place and I continue to believe that's true.
Howard: Yeah I just remember so I'm 55 you're?
Howard: So how old were you during the last tech bubble last time the crashed March of 2000 how old are you March of 2000?
Alan: I think I was about 22 oddly enough I was working for the guy who's working behind me his brother who he had built today.com he used to own stockmarket.com woman.com delivery.com. I was their network administrator webmaster and during that dot-com bust they had a multi-million dollar business or product that they had developed over the years and it was finished and they couldn't find funding to put it on the shelf it was the saddest thing for us because it was.
Howard: but going back to Utah and I remembered there's between that 94 to 2000 that big run up. A lot of those companies...
Howard: The founders of Nobel and even companies that weren't in Utah, like Sun Microsystems I remember Scott McNealy going on these rants telling these states that we cannot go to your state if you don't have a bunch of programmers who's talking about how the school curriculums were all wrong and Utah really got out in front of it Utah listen to them and Sun Microsystems and Oracle and all these companies said this is what we need and then jr. Simplot was the big Idaho Potato farmer was also very involved in Utah because Idaho it didn't have enough population to make that the programmer so when jr. Simplot was investing in other companies he said how there's companies I want invest and where they the entire population of Idaho wouldn't be big enough and so a lot of really smart people was telling all the states and Utah was one that massively listened that if you create a supply of IT people a bunch of companies are gonna come there and that's why you have silicon slopes it's amazing. So your new project to source saver is doing well it's still doing well today?
Alan: It does.
Howard: and it's doing well enough where you're not fixing teeth and dental office right?
Alan: It is it's actually been one of the greatest blessings for us for this new project you know a lot of businesses
Howard: Which is Reminder Dental.
Alan: Reminder Dental yeah so most projects like this would have had to go out and look for multi-million dollar funding they would have worked as hard as they could tell the funding runs out or is in need of run or you know they can see the writing on the wall then they have to launch whether they're ready or not they have to charge a fortune because that's the only way to make up their investment and so a Reminder Dental has been built a little bit different we've been working on it for about two and a half years and and we have never been willing to release it until it was ready and we believe that through building a quality product we won't necessarily even need a sales staff coursesaver.com had no sales no advertising staff no marketing budget and and we took over the entire market by having a better product at a lower price. We believe the same thing is possible within reminder dental we've built it with almost no overhead or the operating costs has have almost no overhead and so and there's no debt in the business it was all personally funded so as soon as we start signing up customers were going to be profitable.
Howard: So as reminder dental is it up and running now?
Alan: It is yes.
Howard: When did it go live?
Alan: We started taking in customers back in May and so we've expanded we have been carefully very carefully recruiting some offices over the past several months we've watched other companies that had very good ideas very good products launched and experienced overwhelming success which overwhelmed their service we've been very careful not wanting to repeat their mistakes because we saw the negative feedback that consumers had when they would sign up and the service that they were paying for that their office relied on wasn't available and so we wanted to ensure that we didn't scale too fast and so we grew slowly and then finally we've decided that it was time to come out of the closet so to speak and let everyone know.
Howard: Well you know that reminds me of this Herb Keller of Southwest Airlines. I live I was born and raised in Wichita and whenever I'd want to fly in Wichita Southwest didn't go to Wichita and the state of Kansas and told South Airlines that will buy you your fifty million dollar 737 we want your service then Herb Keller said we're not ready to go to Wichita and that growing too fast is worse than growing too small and he called a Southwest Airlines and he was in Texas for many many years he just got to Wichita a few years ago.
Alan: Oh really
Howard: Yeah I mean just a couple of years ago he just started Wichita. So you're not growing to fast and then another example I want to give these listeners is that a lot of these dentists will go find some venture capital and some private equity and they'll go raise ten million dollars then they'll go buy 10 1 million dollar officers they'll say oh look at us we were from 0 to 10 million in one year and then they just implode because they didn't have the systems. I mean taking one dental office to two would be the greatest feat you ever did and all the systems you had to do and then it turn two into three would be about 50% less stress and then by the time you did for it be 25% on stress and then by 10 we go from 10 9 to 10 it would only be 10%. So a lot of these DSOs I mean east west bank you know we've already had one of the biggest DSO lenders in the dental industry stop lending the DSOs because of all their default rates and people are talking about that people are talking about how DSO's are gonna take over I always say well can you please tell me two things why did East West Bank stop loaning to them and number two how come not a single one of them could do an IPO on Wall Street tomorrow why would not one stock broker at Goldman Sachs believe anything they're saying because you know they just they just they're buying earnings they go they go ten million in debt to get ten million sales and they don't have any systems. So growing slowly putting your systems in place you're giving your team ahead of the growth is everything so I applaud you for growing intelligently instead of growing rapidly.
Alan: Sure and another thing is a good for instance is you know we've had a bunch of dental offices sinking with us and one of the features that our software has is multilingual services where you can if your patients speak Russian or Italian or French or whatever you can include the custom audio for any of those languages or custom text text messages or emails. Now just because our service supports multiple languages and we had tested it with English and Spanish everything was working great we had an office the other day synchronized with English Spanish and Portuguese and all of a sudden it was throwing an error were like oh my gosh what's going on and so as we identify so building it for as you say one office is easy building it for two offices not so bad but if we were to have 80 people all start synchronizing we wanted to make sure that we had identified all possible variances between their data so that there weren't any issues with that and we want to be able to offer a consistent service with everyone even though some dentists for example we've got one in Canada that doesn't use the recall schedule within their software they just look at the patient's chart and say it looks like it's been a while since you've had a cleaning and yet we offer recall reminders and so how do we offer a similar service to somebody who doesn't use the system the same way as somebody who uses the the recall system to a t that's one of the reasons why we've been moving carefully is we want to make sure that no matter what kind of data people send us that we're ready for it.
Howard: Well let them look by the way tell ya under on your website that the emailing assess service at HTTP colon forward slash forward slash.
Alan: Oh that's a good one.
Howard: Well owning dentaltown I'm really trying to be looking for bugs.
Alan: Alright well Spencer's right behind me he'll start working on that right now.
Howard: Yeah so you see that on the...
Alan: On the contact us page?
Howard: Yeah on the contact us page it says service at HTTP com.
Alan: Oh great.
Howard: So I'll send you a bill for three dollars for finding that bug. So Warren Buffett my idol always says that if you can't explain your business on a five by seven index garden he's not gonna investing guesses you don't know what you're doing. So tell my homies what is www.reminderdental.com why should they go to reminderdental.com?
Alan: All right so reminder dental is going to offer all of the best reminder services that you can get. It is customizable and flexible for every office needs it doesn't just serve the 90 percentile and so we've built it with flexibility in mind. It is all dental service companies from the dental analytics for front office, back office, reminders that we're all pulling from the same data and I think it's a shame that people are paying multiple services for essentially re manipulating the same data over and over we believe that we can provide all of those services by just continuing to add to our service portfolio and so the and and because of our price point we believe that we can do it and remain profitable continuing to add to our services there will be some that we might add you know an extra $10 a month here or $20 a month there so for example hosting pre-op post-op videos for people if you want to be able to for us to host your website do all of these different things we might charge a little bit more for that but I firmly believe that appointment reminders is a $50 a month service.
Howard: I always you know I think we'll have to Provo Utah for 30 years because obviously if you're a dentist you know if you're Muslim you need to go to Mecca in Saudi Arabia if you're a dentist you got to go to Provo and see Gordon Christian the god of Dentistry I think I've been I think I'm taking like 12 of his two-day courses up there but that's where Dentrix was up the street and I just think if all these little companies are going to spread it off around Dentrix within a mile or two of me that's should have all been in Dentirx.
Alan: I know you know I believe...
Howard: Is that just me am I am I seeing that wrong or do you agree?
Alan: No I completely agree.
Howard: I mean how many companies can you name that wouldn't even exist and Dentrix would have done it?
Alan: All of them.
Howard: So my question I wanna ask you is you know I like you know I call it Dentistry Uncensored because I'm just brutally honest I just like honesty I think honest people just simply don't care about critics or criticism I could care less what you think of me I'm trying to help a homie who just walked out of school with four hundred thousand dollars in debt when the first question he's gonna ask is I'm setting my own dental office and then they're gonna end up setting out because like you first went and worked for a chain right and how did that work out?
Howard: I know so that's what I can't believe I'm in these dental schools I'm like they're like well the chains say we have to go work for them because in 20 years it's like they say Oh Howard he's old and when he was little all the pharmacist had her own shop and now all the pharmacists work for Walgreens and CVS I'm like okay well and they say they're all gonna there you're all gonna work for a change so you better join us now then later. Then I say okay well why don't you go back to the graduates five years ago that all wouldn't work for those chains how many of them are still there?
Howard: What for what percent quit after the first year in your experience?
Alan: I only made it a few months with the chain.
Howard: Yeah I know, so I'm like okay so if you go back five years and 90% of all your classmates are no longer there after two I mean they're not keeping them one or two years what they're trying to do is delay it, it's fear they live in you know you live in fear and greed. Greed is I'm really thirsty I want to go drink out that Lake and fear is I can see the crocodile sitting in the lake so what's a bigger a bigger stimulus it's the fear. So if you look at Wall Street the Dane the ten biggest one big games are a lost smaller move than the ten biggest one-day fear Falls. So they're gonna have to do the inevitable they're gonna have to do the dirty I graduated May 11 I had my office of September 21st because it took me I mean may 11 to September 21st what is that 130 days so if your going to do it just go do it. Same thing with kids I made four boys in 60 months now my point is there's never a good time to have kids or start a business they're both gonna be horribly stressful overwhelming events so get it over when you're young and dumb and have energy and bouncing off the walls don't wait till you're 55 and fat and tired and couldn't do it again. So one of the when they opened up their own off it's the first brutal question they're gonna ask is well you come on dude you're an IT you've been in this business space for a long time which ones to get the big ones are Dentrix, Eagle soft, Softdent, Open dental, what would you tell them?
Alan: So from my standpoint...
Howard: I know this is tough for you because you're a Utah boy and you're up the street from Dentrix you probably have hunting and fishing buddies that work there.
Alan: Well I have hired some of their programmers that in the past but here's the reality in my book is Dentrix created a really good product what it was at 30 years ago they locked in their customers and and people don't want to change once you have that much data in your database changing is painful and so when people look at cost-benefit analysis how much is it going to cost them to invest in redoing and re and adding all of these features that we talked about into their platform and if they do that will they make any extra money and I was with one of the Dentrix guys earlier this year and he said flat out to me the people like us are going to put them out of business because we want to innovate because we want new customers and so it has seemed that Dentrix innovates through acquisition they acquired demand force they didn't go build the features themselves they could have they should have but they didn't want to so they bought demand force they purchased they're buying out other practice management solutions rather than attracting people away from their existing practice management system by offering a better platform they're gaining customers through acquisition of other software companies. Companies like Open Dental and it will be required to innovate to a greater degree than any other company because they want to attract new customers and because those customers are not locked in they could leave any day they wanted there is nothing that would prevent a data transfer from dental from Open Dental to Patterson EagleSoft Dentrix, Max Practice any of those companies and so because of that freedom in the customer then companies like Open Dental will be required to innovate to a greater degree than anyone else. Now just saying that they're going to innovate doesn't really convey a lot of confidence in where they're at now but I want to say Open Dental is one of the best practice management software I've ever seen and their customers are fanatics about how much they love it. If you look on dentaltown if you talk to Open Dental customers they love it and not because they have no choice.
Howard: Yeah I was on Softdent for 30 years and I switched last year to Open Dental because on dentaltown it's they just have raving fans Stan Bergman who we had on the show I mean he's an amazing guy I now now they're starting Henry Schein one and you've been following Henry Schein one they bought demand force, dentalfine.com, dentalplans.com office site, sesame that's know and they're the new CEO is Robert n Brisco CEO of internet brands dental plans demand for us off-site E-Edoctors and that's the dental ones I mean in medical they own like WebMD but again it's like some big Wall Street investment play so I like tell young dentist yeah we want to buy a stock that that might be a really really good stock to buy but as far as keeping it down and dirty your dental office you'd recommend open dental?
Alan: I like it.
Howard: Yeah would that be would that be your first choice?
Alan: Yeah and that is what I use in my practice is what my family uses.
Howard: and it was started by a dentist.
Alan: It is and that makes a really big difference.
Howard: and you know why Nathan Sparks started it?
Alan: because he didn't like what he was using before
Howard: Yeah I mean so what so then how much does it cost your service?
Alan: So our fee is $50 a month.
Howard: So you're still doing course saver fee?
Alan: It is
Howard: Just down and dirty 50 bucks a month.
Alan: It is now most services are between 300 and 500 a month and we believe firmly that it is $50 a month service. Now some software packages like Dentrix do not provide an open platform for us to connect to and they charge an additional fee and because of the low price of our service we can't absorb that fee ourselves and so a Dentrix customer will end up paying an additional $30 a month for the right back privileges to set the appointment complete within their software but it's been
Howard: You should just brand Ulysses S Grant on that on that because he's on the $50 bill just brand the $50 bill on to all your advertising platforms.
Alan: So you know one of our goals is to show as people are selecting graduating from school selecting a practice management software you know you look at the price and you say well gee I can sign up with Dentrix and it's going to cost me how many thousands of dollars to start up how many thousands of dollars per year in maintenance fees with them and then when they sign up with other services like Reminder Dental they're going to have to be charged an additional fee on top of that or they could go with other services that are less expensive and I'd also like to use that as leverage when negotiating with companies like Dentrix and EagleSoft to say look your customers will pay more for our services which will encourage them to select a different practice management solution we want to drive people to the most to the best software on the market and to us the best one is the one that's the most open.
Howard: I know so so back to open dental it was Jordan sparks dentist Oregon he was trying to extract data from dentures and he found out that not only could he not do it but he realized they had paid programmers to build firewalls around it so that he could be like oh my god not only can I not do it they purposely made it so I couldn't and talk about how Dentrix still does that with the insurance downgrade so I'll talk about that.
Alan: Within Dentrix as far as I can tell I have access to virtually every piece of data that that we need for practically anything with the exception of I tried showing the patient balance what does the patient owe not their total balance that includes insurance claims but just the patient portion very easy thing to do with Open Dental and I spent two weeks of long days late nights trying to even to just estimate that data and before Dentrix just flat-out said it's unavailable and the reason why is as there is the insurance downgrades where if you do a composite filling in the posterior that should have been an amalgam then you know the insurance is only going to play pay X and that means the patient is going to know another portion on top of that and so I can tell you one of two things I can tell you what the patient would owe if they if insurance covered everything or I could tell you what the patient owes without any insurance but with if I do it just the total patient balance I had an office where they it showed the patience for this office had an overdue balance of like $18,000 and I'm like man that's actually it's just supposed to be a few hundred but I just I can't arrive at a good number for Dentrix and I think that that's part of their desire to to keep customers from leaving because again how painful would it be to have an office with 20,000 patients and then lose all of your insurance downgrade information.
Howard: Yeah we did it we just bite the bullet and we just did it and and and the other thing that was most surprising is that not only do we love and all that stuff but we just said when you didn't have any of the crashes the support the IT maintenance I mean it was just such a more stable system you because I got five programmers for dentaltown so sorry for the dentist that doesn't have five programmers working for them, he's got hygienists because he doesn't have a programmer. So my programmers are just like oh my god you know we should switch from not you know years and years ago so...
Alan: Howard can I interrupt?
Alan: Have you ever called Open Dental tech support?
Howard: I have done it with my office manager.
Alan: Okay so every time I've called Open Dental tech support I get off the phone with a huge smile on my face, they have the most amazing staff it's easy to get a hold of them they're extremely knowledgeable about their product they're not just rate reading off of a check sheet to say a flowchart that says okay they're having a problem here means I should walk them through here they're creative they know everything and I just remember I called up their company last year and I just said hi my name's Allan Halls and I was hoping to talk to the president you know the CEO and within a few minutes I was on the phone with Nathan sparks Jordan's brother and I was just like I've got to tell you, you have the most amazing staff I don't know how he finds these people.
Howard: I got to interrupt you now, I own a media company they're the only ones who don't advertise. So all these other companies with all these threats on dentaltown bitching and moaning and complaining they're all spending a ton of money on advertising and I couldn't even get Jordan to do a podcast with me his brother Nathan held out for a year and I said well what's the deal he goes well I were growing so fast word of mouth and and I have to attract retain quality key customer support people and then when I hire someone answer the phone there's a lot of training involved in and we don't want to attract any noise we're growing too fast without advertising just by word-of-mouth referrals.
Alan: and it works there's a really works.
Howard: That's like Hello I mean what I have to do I just spell out for you that's a flight up and I know not only do I have no economic incentive not only I've no financial money the people that I'm dissing give me money and the person who doesn't give me money is the one I'm recommending. I mean God dang how much of my myself see my there they gave up on me years ago they said we know Howard I said you know some guy owned by a big advertising campaign and then Howard will go badmouth among his lectures his column his podcast.
Alan: Just give him a free banner come on you can do it.
Howard: Yeah I mean well I mean like saying he's growing too fast I mean and the other thing is what would sit easy enemy talks is small is it?
Alan: No Open Dental is up I think Washington or Oregon.
Howard: Yeah Oregon I've been to what is what was I saying?
Alan: You said Utah.
Howard: Oh no yeah Oregon but it's a it's a small town he doesn't know if you know what is it
Alan: Is it Eugene?
Howard: Eugene, Oregon and then I met like Heartland dental poor workman started in Effingham Illinois it's a population of 10,000 and to run Heartland dental he's told me that I think I've hired every single person that wants a job and all of Heartland but remember that big computer company that was going toe-to-toe with Dell was it gates...
Howard: Gateway and they were in South Dakota and pizza hut was in Wichita Kansas and Wall Street was saying and by the time they finally moved from South to go to San Diego is too late Dell had already won and when I was in school they were doing all the the case settings they set out you know that was a problem and pizza hut when they left Wichita and just went to Dallas I mean you think the Kansas people thought that pizza hut had you know you know shot the last living penguin on earth and you know it was just a most horrible thing ever but pizza hut was like we need people we have to. So what are the top three reasons why you should pay you a grant a bench ulysses s grant $50 bill every month why is it my homies you're driving to work listening to you say why should I give Alan Halls and $50 a month?
Alan: Gosh I think the bigger question is why should you pay anyone else 300 but for us it is it's the best service when you look at here let me share my screen really quick are we're the only company I have seen that actually has a dashboard that shows you a calendar we take that data we analyze it and we say look at Salvador he's had six appointments total he's missed three of them okay we've texted him but he hasn't confirmed yet so tomorrow your office staff needs to know that they're going to need to reach out to Salvador and get him in the office and if this was a different day so let's say this was today and Misty was the one that was a gonna be a no-show what the dentist might do is look at John's chart and talk to John when he gets in and says John my eight o'clock may not show up if I have extra time today would you like to start those crowns that we've been waiting on so we have the appointment statistics. We can tell them you know every step for example this one they've got a red dot in the corner the reason why is they scheduled this appointment yesterday and that means that we can't go through an automated schedule that to do that so the dashboard is awesome. The action items here that shows us you know how much is the front office responsible for collecting today from who and it will go through and show every patient who needs a cleaning and if they have any children or spouses that need to schedule let's schedule the whole family well anybody's in the office. So we have tools that help you manage your existing clientele we have tools that help you expand we've got when we looked at communications I've got an office here down the street from me that's only open one day a week and they purchase solution reach and they can't use it because the the way solution reaches schedule works is great for the 90 percentile dentist that's open five days a week eight to five doesn't work great for an office that is not. So here you can define any schedule you want and then you can set it up by procedure codes so if you want to send somebody with an IV sedation a different email than you do everyone else you can and when I say it's flexible it's really flexible when we talk about growing your business do you know where your patients live do you know where it's just because you know where all of your patients live do you know where the patients are that have been in within the last six months or the next six months yet if you want to relocate your practice you don't want to lose you know you don't want to move farther away from your biggest customer base. If you own multiple practices I can show you how to identify the patients that are driving past one practice to get to the other and then you can identify those patients based off whether they haven't been in within the last year so that you reach out and tell them you know we have a new office location that might better serve your needs. Let's say you see a patient an emergency patient at nine o'clock in the morning it throws your whole schedule off you can come in and you can text message the rest of the afternoon let them know to show up a little bit late to adjust for that.
Howard: My dad had nine Sonic's in four states and back in the day Dan Carney the founder of Pizza Hut friend of mine but you know what they had to do that day and does dentist ever you thought about this service you provide and here's what I saw in Dan Carney's pizza when I was 10 years old they have a big ole 6 foot by 4 foot map of the city right on an easel and when you walk in they ask you to put a pin where you live and then they would do a cannibalization study they say okay because this store is too busy but everybody's coming from east nobody's coming from north south west so they would drive three miles down the street and put another Pizza Hut there and then these dentists they don't know where their people are coming to him that makes sense because there's a lot of psychological barriers on these humans that Dan Carney found at a pizza hut taught me and I was little that they were at interstates rivers like you go to Pittsburgh like crazy city because it's got three rivers running through town and monkeys humans are talking animals and they would rather drive five miles east then drive one mile west if they had to cross an interstate or a river it's just a psychological barrier. So when you start seeing where all your people are coming from you realize okay nobody's coming from across the river across the interstate for whatever monkey reasoner is that now you know where to target you're.
Alan: Right so well so now what you know when you know that is you know you don't want to relocate your existing practice to the other side but because you would lose your existing customer base but if you wanted to expand and put in a second off then you want to build on an: the other side because now you're capturing a market that is completely new.
Howard: Absolutely it's just I so what should I was i smart enough to ask ya? Who's your competition, whos in your space?
Alan: You know I like to think we don't have any competition, the people in our space of course our solution reach lighthouse demand force legwork but...
Howard: Okay solution reach lighthouse demand force, legwork. So who owns Solution who bought them?
Alan: Oh gosh I don't then by who.
Howard: Was it Quicken?
Alan: Maybe I forgot that they had been purchased but it rings a bell.
Howard: So Demand Forces is Henry Schine and Legwork and those are all about how much money a month?
Alan: There are about 300 legwork I love their ad it says they have an ad that says still paying $300 for appointment reminders try legwork it's only $100 a month and then you go to their website and you start looking at what you get for $100 and you're like well that doesn't really work and so then you choose there $300 a month package but I'm an economics type I loved economics in school and the example I give and the reason why I say I don't really feel like we've got competition is that if I pulled up to your house with a pallet full of your favorite soda and I said Howard I've got your favorite soda here it's only 50 Cent's a can how many cans of soda do you want and you're sitting there and you're like I don't know maybe I'll buy a six-pack but if I come up to you and say Howard I've got your favorite soda here and it's only six cents a can all of a sudden you were not in the market to buy soda today and yet at that price all of a sudden I converted you into a customer and you start looking around the garage for where you can put the whole pallet right and so I believe that through price control I can create demand and so there are a lot of people who are not customers of any practice man any reminder service because their existing prices are just too high they'd rather pay their front office to do it but they look at our service and they're say how can we afford not to use reminder dental. We don't have a sales staff currently we've had people that have asked if they can be our sales staff and even work on Commission only we've had dental companies ask what our partnering plans are for them and but instead what we do is we get out and we talk to our customers my programmers and I we go out and we knock the on doors and say look at this product show us what you wish you had show us what what features we are important to you that that you use the most and on our website we have a section where anybody can request features and then every other office can vote on it and and that way will work on the most requested features first we want to do give you key analytics we want to help you with your morning huddle report we want to help you manage your business more effectively and essentially like I said every software company out there that helps dentists are working with the same exact data we just have to know which way you want us to crunch it and so we're gonna focus all of our time and money on building the best product possible and so I think that's one of the reasons is like Open Dental who will be forced to innovate constantly to stay ahead we will also want to innovate constantly stay ahead of any other company.
Howard: Im posting on right now you'd posted on the reason I called you is because I'm you have posted on dentaltown.
Alan: Yes those dog pictures.
Howard: Those dog pictures?
Alan: with the dentures.
Howard: oh oh that one no on August 9th you said that you started a thread four free months of appointment reminders for open dental users.
Howard: Do you remember that post?
Howard: Why did you do that what made you I'm post that and why was it just for Open Dental, and not Dentrix, Softdent Egosoft?
Alan: So as we were working at all the bugs...
Howard: and is that offer still good?
Alan: It is in fact I'll tell you what I'm gonna have I'm gonna reactivate the the two hundred dollar coupon I'm gonna bump the limit up to let's say fifty and then I'll put the hundred and fifty dollar coupon up and we'll put another fifty on it I'll then add $100 coupon and we'll do a hundred customers at that. So that'll give people anywhere from two to four months to try our services risk-free anything they want. Now the reason why we initially started targeted Open Dental is the way Dentrix data acquisition works is they have one price if you're a read-only company and they have a second price if you want to read and write and so we have been working extensively with the read-only license and we are making we've gone ahead and bitten the bullet on the write back access and so people who want right back access on Dentrix will should be able to get that towards the end of this week and then we are expanding Dentemax practice management software we've been able to get access to them we've been working with Eagle Soft for a year to try getting access they just let us know last week because of this podcast actually that they're going to move forward with give access to Eagle Soft they were just they were in the middle of a large software upgrade and they didn't want to rock the boat in the middle of their upgrade.
Howard: Who was that?
Alan: Eagle Soft
Howard: and they're in Effingham where heartland is.
Howard: Yeah that is really amazing how Heartland Dental and Eagle Soft are both out of Effingham Illinois, do you know where Effingham is?
Alan: I don't.
Howard: It's in the middle of effing nowhere it's in the middle of I mean really is truly I mean it's like halfway between can't I mean yeah it's just it's out in the middle of Illinois. I mean it's like two hours this way to St. Louis two hours north of Chicago the only their only claim to fame is two major intersections Junction air and McDonald's. I was so lucky guess the first time I went there and by the way you guys listen this I flew with my own money to Provo Utah to talk to Dentrix I flew out to maryvale I mean to Effingham to talk to Dentrix I've been I flew up to Minneapolis St. Paul and talked to Pete Forchet I mean I used my own money and my own resources pleading this guy to this day for 30 years I've been on the same mission. I mean if I walk up to any of them, we went over an hour so I'll just wrap it up right now but if you go up to any dentist right now you know when I was little it was the phone book and direct mail now it's this iPhone thing which I never saw coming when I was in college I never thought when I graduated in dental school that someday I'd have damn IBM supercomputer in my pocket with more power than the computers on the space shuttle and the Apollo that landed on the moon and I would go up to a dentist and say okay your website how many people land on your website a month, I don't know. Then you start tracking you find out that for every one hundred only three converts a call how many people called your office last month I don't know I said okay well it's August in the first half year January February March April May June, how many incoming calls you have I don't know. How many land on your website, I don't know on your website about how many people have to land on your website before they converted call your office I don't know how many of you have to call your office before your untrained staff can get from one to come in I don't know, how many people do tell I mean I don't like measuring treatment plan acceptance rates because everybody cheering like super me I got a buddy down the street from me that a hundred percent of all his patients when he comes in he wants to remove all their amalgams all their gold all their PFMs and rebuild it all with empress. I mean so I'm just a radiograph Academy that I can measure on a bitewing I say how many people with the interproximal cavity have to come in before you do a filling, I don't know. I mean they literally know nothing and then I say no what are you doing this weekend all you gotta fly to Provo and see Gordon and Rella and we're gonna talk about bonding strings and bugs, I love dentist I love them but God dang at the end of the day they're all dentists not any of them are business people and it's guys like you that I bring on the show because if you could just fix anything on that funnel you could say well for every 100 people land on your website only three converted but we added a YouTube video and we added this we have it you know and then when they call your friend deaths like a little girl answer the phone maybe she just had a me training it's a pretty one out of three because this is what this is the stats we see the funnel today on your average Charter hundred people laying on the website for three convert to call three a convert to call before you get one butt in the chair three people with a butt have to sit the chair for you to do one filling. So my god anything that fixes that funnel anything you could just take your websites ones into three out of a hundred keyboarding make it.
Alan: So you're you're absolutely right and that's one of the things that is my passion is looking at the overall business of Dentistry and figuring out how can I streamline it I've got hunt well tens of thousands of dental students that are graduating that need my services I know this so what can I do to help them and I look at what can technology do because to some degree I build it once and then it serves all of their needs and so why do I have all of these dentists trying to build their own solutions and so my goal is serious social media integration, patient education. When I say social media integration what I mean is I want to email or text message people that say here is your pre-op thing you're gonna come in for a crown watch this video that shows you the difference between an empress Emax but pfm gold, I want the patient to spend their time becoming educated at home so that they're not doing the dentist doesn't have to spend their time educating them in the chair because that costs money and then as the patient learns all of these things they're more likely to share that video on Facebook on Instagram on whatever that whatever their social media platform is and say something like wow I never knew there was such a difference in crowns and now I know and so that encourages other people to watch that video and that may attract a new patient to that dentist too for care because they see that dentist that cares about the education of their patients. If I can do anything in my business it would be to help other people grow their business.
Howard: Okay were past 60 but I want to ask two quick over time because I'm a big fan of your posts on Dentaltown, there's two things you gotta comment on because you talked about you talk about Dentrix, Eagle Soft, solutionary, Lighthouse, Command Force. Your neighbors with Weave
Howard: and then I also want to talk about another subject that I will first give me comment on weave then I'll ask the last question.
Alan: So I want first say I really like Weave as far as I think they have a solid solid product I admire everything that they've built I would love to do a lot of what they're doing I've called the FCC about what it would take to start my own phone company because you know you call one company and they're a reseller of another and another and another and it's like why am i dealing with a fourth-generation reseller why don't I just become my own phone company Weave did it they they've worked to create their own system. They have a lot of value add and like the gentleman did on his aunt said on his interview there's no way to provide all of those services without be also being the phone service maybe, I'll qualify that as a maybe because I think I've figured out a way that as long as the company is using any voice over IP service I can potentially tie in and do everything Weave is doing but I think Weave has a solid product and and because of what they do I think that they can justify their prices more so than almost any other company.
Howard: If someone listening to you doesn't know what weave sells and does versus why what you do, so what's the difference between you two?
Alan: So what Weave does differently is they really focus on handling inbound phone calls. So a patient calls in it pops up on the computer screen shows a lot of information about that incoming patient has some predefined scripts of you know remind them to schedule this remind them about this ask them about this and that's going to help anybody who answers the phone have a better idea of what to do then if they didn't have that because it will give them all of the information right there without any clicking and so from and then in addition to that of course they have a social media integration for reviews and so they've got several really good products, I'm a fan of what they're doing.
Howard: So would you recommend Reminder Dental and Weave or just one or the other?
Alan: You know of course I'd like to see people use us.
Howard: So you can do all their services?
Alan: I currently can't do the pop-up that shows all the statistics about that patient as far as when their next appointment is what I where I'm going though I hope to be able to do that I'd like to be able to show you what their last text message is being sent to them through the reminder service what their last reply was and then open up either their treatment plan or their appointment within their practice management chart but that's going to require a little bit more plugin integration and not all software companies are gonna are going to allow us to integrate to that level. I don't believe Dentrix will ever be able to link our application directly to a patient's chart.
Howard: I know I've taking a you know in Star Wars where he says where you're going attican I can't follow, you mean you turn to the dark side at this point I'm just completely committed Open Dental. I'm going down to Open Dental because it's kind of like a pyramid I mean yeah I can't build a foundation with a bunch of closed proprietary systems aren't gonna let me in.
Alan: Well and what I'm going to do is I'm going to continue building every service every feature I can off of the data that I get from Open Dental and other mysqli ms SQL databases where I have free access to everything if I can provide those services for you know these customers but not Dentrix ultimately I hope that dendrix will modify their terms and allow their customers, now I don't have a lot of hope...
Howard: Oh my god it would be easier to just invite the president over.
Alan: Only because their policy change.
Howard: but the bottom line is this if your company doesn't have a religion of availability your you don't have a partner and I mean I remember when I used to whenever I wanted to talk to Patterson I'd fly to Minneapolis St. Paul and go sit and talk to Pete for an hour I can do that with Benko I can do that with Stan Bergman with Schine. I can do that I can do that with about half the dental companies and you've seen it I got probably podcast most those guys but in my 55 years of experience when you can't get ahold of the CEO that is your first red flag and your last red flag and you know what I also learned that from not only from my dad and other people but yeah I don't forget that beating the streets by Peter Lynch and Peter Lynch was kind of like Warren Buffett in fact Warren Buffett stayed in Omaha he didn't even want to know what all those brokers were saying he does all voodoo and crazy and all that stuff I mean I'm Warren Buffett say you know if you think about buying stock in Boston Market well why don't you go eat at Boston Market why don't you see if the people like the food why don't you walk over the table say hey does your family like his food how often did you come here more than once a month why don't you ask the people if they like the manager why don't you ask the manager if he likes his manager and make your decision that way and Peter Lynch uses what he use to do on Wall Street is he all you Wall Street boy every Monday morning he packed up all the stuff he had a travel list and he would leave he'd drive out of Manhattan and he'd do a five-day circle and instead of reading all this crap on these companies he would show up unannounced and he had a little checklist is it clean is it orderly was I greeted and then he walked in there first verse he asked from the CEO and if he couldn't talk the CEO you know there's a legitimate excuse he's travelling he's gone or whatever but then he walked the factory and it's like when the CEO was there and they couldn't get a tour and we had all the data these companies were ran into the ground but when there were sounds like oh my god I can't believe Alan Halls is here he drove all the way from Lehi Utah oh my god and then gives him a proud tour in the CEO and Peter Lynch said man I can put all my money in this company and I never even check on it and then that's you know that's just like one of the richest guys period and I know.
Alan: So my cell phone numbers on our Contact Us page that I signed up a customer last week we had like eighty-five text messages back and forth he had a lot of really good ideas of improvements and we're working to implement them.
Howard: I can't tell you on my boat my four boys are 22 24 26 28 on we've never done a family vacation where we didn't stop in on these dental companies I mean I'll never forget it was like when we were in to working we stopped at Adeck and Ken Austin and his poor wife he just passed away lovelies I mean he gave my four boys probably the longest tour if anybody ever saw I mean because they were young boys they had all these questions I'm remember when we went to LA went to GlideWell and there's Jim GlideWell the busiest guy on earth giving a 6 8 10 and 12 year old boys a several hour tour and then taking them to the cafeteria for lunch bar I mean those are nice so if they'll do that on a drive by unannounced think what they're doing for their existing customers. So you know it's the same thing when when a patient holds up upset I mean your receptionist if she sees it you just finished up a root canal and you're headed back to the break room or your private office she should be able to say hey Alan pick up like two Mary just told me she wants to strangle you. I mean the dentist should take that call not the poor receptionist so make it a religion that availability and pick your partner's well your life success it's gonna be a summary of the five people you spend the most time with, so if your around a bunch of toxic people if all five of your friends are alcoholic drug addicts depressed hate dentistry, a lot of dentists still hanging out with their drinking buddies and dentist who hate dentistry think it's horrible. That's what I like about going to continue education the greatest thing I learned at Pankey and Spear and Kois and all those deals wasn't so much the material it was the guys I met at those courses. I mean I remember when I got my fellowship admissions it was 9 3 day weekend's some of the dentist's friends I met there have been friends for life those are some of the most upbeat hardcore loving dentistry guys and if you surround yourself with partners who love dentistry dentists that love dentistry every time you go eat a cheeseburger and watch a Cardinals game it's basically CE but I know you're a busy man thank you so much for coming on my show today and talking to my homies I've really enjoyed talking to you and these little reminders is that one word or two?
Alan: It's one word reminderdental
Howard: Reminderdental okay okay so I noticed I'm dentaltown if I search out one word I pull up certain threads and if I search of two words I pull up other threads. So reminderdental is definitely one word.
Alan: Yeah well that's how we brand it in that's what our business applications are with the state and everything it just keeps it consistent.
Howard: I'm in Phoenix I know every single person in Utah has at least three cousins in Mesa or Gilbert or where I live so next time you're in town come by and see the dentaltown.
Alan: Thank you
Howard: Alright have a rockin hot day buddy.
Alan: You too