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AUDIO - HSP #222 - Geoffrey Wan
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VIDEO - HSP #222 - Geoffrey Wan
Geoffrey Wan discusses the first ten years of his career, including the life of a young dentist, study clubs, books, goal setting, and much more!
Geoff was born and raised in Vancouver Canada, but ended up going overseas to Sydney Australia where he did his dental degree. He sought to return to North American soil by completing a GPR and an AEGD, then working at a DSO for 3 years. During that time, he married an Australian and has returned to Sydney to start a family. Geoff has been in private practice in Australia now for 4 years. Geoff has done some training in Orthodontics under world renowned Derek Mahony, some basic implant training with Zimmer, and his restorative influence is from Frank Spear. Much of Geoff's time is now devoted to family, but he is able to slip in much content from Podcasts and audio books daily.
Howard Farran: It is a huge honor today to be interviewing Geoffrey Wan who started off in Vancouver, then was in America and then was in Australia and never came back because you met the love of your life.
Geoffrey Wan: That's it.
Howard Farran: How's the love of your life going?
Geoffrey Wan: She's doing really, really well. She's still asleep right now but that's cool.
Howard Farran: It's 1pm on a Thursday. It's my lunch here at 1pm and you're 7am in Australia tomorrow.
Geoffrey Wan: That's it.
Howard Farran: We're Wednesday here and it's already Thursday.
Geoffrey Wan: Yep.
Howard Farran: You were requested. I had townies sending me requests to interview you because here I'm this old guy. I'm 53 interviewing a bunch of 50, 60, 70 year olds who have done 10,000 root canals or implants or whatever. A lot of townies, podcast fans were saying talk to someone younger, Howard. Talk to someone who's been out the first 10 years and talk about, because a lot of people who devour these new podcasts, they're not old dogs like me and most fans of the show are like your age. In fact, you're kinda old for the fans of my show.
Geoffrey Wan: I would be.
Howard Farran: I would say the most common email I get is, "oh yeah, we sit in the back row of dental school and we have a boring lecture, boring instructor and we just listen to your podcast or take Dental Town online CE or whatever. I wanted to interview a young dentist and of course I wanted to be perfect and I can tell by your haircut that you're just perfect.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: You're bald and beautiful dentist. I want you to talk about life as the first 10 years out. What is it like being life of a young dentist? In saying that, I also want to preface it that, it's easy for people to see that difference in boy/girl or ethnicity or whatever. It's really hard to see the differencing, how does a baby boomer like me think versus a millennial or generation X'er or a senior citizen? A lot of older dentists when they're hiring associates, they don't realize that your generation of kids, you don't think the same as baby boomers. Tell me what it's like to be a young and 10 years out and what was it like going from dental school to 10 years out? What tips could you give all these kids that are juniors and seniors in dental school or they've only been out a year? They're looking for their first job. The older guys should listen to this because you're trying to hire these young kids. You gonna connect with them. Take it and run.
Geoffrey Wan: Sure. Basically, I'm at the tail-end of the generation X and right before the millennial generation.
Howard Farran: Explain that to our viewers what that means. Some people might not know what that means.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) From what I know, the generation X are usually the right after the baby boomers which is right after World War II. Generally, we were still kind of hard working. We still had dreams of having a career that would last us for 30 years and then retiring after that. Where as the millennials, are the ones that are switching careers every 5 years and are more focused on the now and experiencing pleasure today rather than putting it in, working hard, working hard and hoping to secure a future for tomorrow. Would that kind of make sense?
Howard Farran: Yeah. Millennials are people who supposedly come of age at the turn of the century 2000. They were getting their car and they're just kind of come of age in the year 2000. When I turned 50, I realized my Dad and my 2 grandfathers all died at age 60 and I thought for half a century, I'm just crushing it 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for delayed gratification later. I thought to myself, you know what dude, you're 50. You ought to just slow down a little bit and then you see the millennials looking at how their parents lived like me. We're all gonna die anyway. We're all gonna be lowered down into the same sized coffin. Why are you doing this? I think you guys are more moderate which can look to older people as lazy.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: It that rude what I just said?
Geoffrey Wan: No, not at all.
Howard Farran: Just 2 different ways to looking at it. They say Japan is the most stark contrast because they have the lowest birth rate of any advanced country. They don't even have a point 9 kids per family and when they ask those kids why, they go, "look at my dad, all he's done is work for Toyota all day, everyday his whole life until he dropped dead of a heart attack. My life wasn't born for Toyota or Honda or Lexus." There's more to life than making a Lexus.
Geoffrey Wan: Absolutely. Even though it's not a bad way to go. (laugh)
Howard Farran: Yeah.
Geoffrey Wan: Coming from Chinese immigrant parents, I mean, you've spoke about this before. Usually, the children of immigrant parents to North America end up getting a lot of pressure from their parents because they want to secure a better future for their children. Growing up, it was always, you're gonna be a doctor or a lawyer or one of those professionals. (laugh)
Howard Farran: I still think the funniest scene ever was on "Family Guy", did you see it? When the little kids' in there playing with a toy and his dad opens the door and says, "Are you doctor yet?" And he goes, "Dad, I'm 9!" He turns around. He's all mad and he slams the door.
Geoffrey Wan: Well, why not! (laugh)
Howard Farran: (laugh)
Geoffrey Wan: It's very true and I'm really glad that my parents did everything they did for me.
Howard Farran: Where were you born and raised? Were you born...
Geoffrey Wan: I was born and raised in Vancouver.
Howard Farran: Where were your parents born and raised?
Geoffrey Wan: Hong Kong.
Howard Farran: Oh, Hong Kong.
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, they basically left their homeland for a better future and this wonderful place called Canada. (laugh) Which was very different back then.
Howard Farran: Did they leave at the time that Hong Kong was handed back to mainland China?
Geoffrey Wan: China? No, no they left in the mid, late 70s. There was a pretty big migration back then but I think there was a much bigger one in the mid 90s when Hong Kong was just about to be handed back to China.
Howard Farran: That was because a hundred year lease from the United Kingdom expired? Was it a hundred year lease?
Geoffrey Wan: It was a hundred year lease.
Howard Farran: What year did that expire?
Geoffrey Wan: 1997
Howard Farran: 1997. That's when Vancouver really got a massively huge Chinese population.
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, influx of Hong Kong immigrants. Shortly after that, it was the Taiwanese which was awesome. Then, mid 2000s, since then it's been a lot of mainlanders, as in mainland China. They've seen this tremendous amount of value in just being in a really beautiful city like Vancouver.
Howard Farran: Which of the 3 countries you've lived in is a bigger melting pot? I mean, you lived in 3 melting pots: United States, Canada, and Australia. You go to some countries like Poland, they're 98% Polish. There's not that many countries like the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, where it's a melting pot. Of those 3 countries, rank them as far as most melted.
Geoffrey Wan: Most melted would probably be Canada.
Howard Farran: Yeah.
Geoffrey Wan: Based on my limited experience in America, I've lived in smaller towns and I've always just spent a weekend course here and there in San Francisco. The big cities are certainly melting pots, absolutely in America. Australia, melting pot/mosaic. There's certainly very, very small cultural pockets. We've got middle suburbs that's filled with Koreans and Vietnamese and Greeks and the Middle Easterners.
Howard Farran: You just covered all the food groups so we're good.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: You know, I can't believe that in Australia, they don't have a Chipotle. My brother just moved to Sydney, a year ago. His name is Paul Farran. Will you look him up?
Geoffrey Wan: I sure will.
Howard Farran: Email me at email@example.com and I'll reply back. How old are you?
Geoffrey Wan: I'm 36.
Howard Farran: Here's 37.
Geoffrey Wan: Oh, no kidding. (laugh)
Howard Farran: Seriously, Sydney Australia is the only city, lots of beautiful cities I've lived there but I don't know if I'd move there. I would want to vacation there like Rio and Paris or London. Sydney's the only city that every single time I go there, I just went down there last month, lecture in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, every single time I thought, "what the hell are you going back to Phoenix for? Your brother's here." It's such a rich life. Every block has a restaurant, a bar and a band and a bookstore. You don't need a car. My brother didn't even buy a car when he got there. My suburb, where I live in Phoenix, I could go out in the street in front of my house, lay down in the middle of the road and die and probably no one would know it for 3 days.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) Yeah, Sydney's pretty awesome. It's just one of those huge cities where there's great things about it and there's not so great things about it. I'm pretty sure people from big cities like New York and San Francisco can say the same thing as well. The traffic can be horrible. The people can be not the greatest but at the same time when we get people like you Howard gracing your presence at our cities. This is the place to be. This is where everything's all happening. Sydney is awesome.
Howard Farran: Unlike an awesome city like London where it's a rocking hot city, if you're there in the summer. You go to London in February, you just wish you would have stayed at home.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: Sydney is like a London but with amazing weather.
Geoffrey Wan: Absolutely. Phoenix is pretty awesome too.
Howard Farran: Yeah, when I left Kansas, of course that was the armpit of America so anything would have been better. Anywhere I would have gone would have been an upgrade. My God, yeah, it was my first pick. I would move to Sydney in a second but I got 4 boys here.
Geoffrey Wan: Absolutely. Whenever you're ready, Howard, you can always have a second home here.
Howard Farran: Right on.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) And go for jogs with David Moffett.
Howard Farran: Tell me this. Everybody wants to know. Is the millennials like you, we'll just call you a millennial to make it to keep it simple.
Geoffrey Wan: Sure.
Howard Farran: A lot of demographers are wondering and this is a big, huge economic question even with the Department of Labor in America, are you guys going to work and see as many patients over your career as guys like me?
Geoffrey Wan: Probably not.
Howard Farran: (laugh)
Geoffrey Wan: Probably not, no and here's why. I think there's this crushing desire to work, to work, to work and that work ethic has been drilled into the culture of the baby boomers. That's just how it's done, that's just how it's done, that's just how it's done. Nowadays, thanks to social media like Instagram, Facebook, which is splashing things into your immediate forefront. You're seeing all these people having a great time going travelling, eating out, they're always taking pictures of food and having all this great stuff that are very, very pleasurable that you can experience now. It certainly takes the focus off of gotta work, gotta work, gotta work to hey, I gotta live and enjoy life.
Howard Farran: I find it very offensive that you're wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt in front of an Arizona Cardinals fan.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: I mean, that's just, how are you going to insult me worse than that shirt?
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: (laugh)
Geoffrey Wan: You guys are doing great this season so far.
Howard Farran: We are but we always do great until our quarterback gets tackled in the knee and then the season's over. They might as well just cancel all their remaining games. What should an old guy like me think when you're hiring a young kid who's a millennial and how do I attract a great millennial? How do I create working environment conditions that will retain them because attracting them is one skill. If you don't retain them, there's no value added. How could these older dentists that have a dental office, you know they always complain about all these corporate chains and I'm like, well you know what the corporate chains do well?...
Geoffrey Wan: I worked for one.
Howard Farran: Yeah, and you know what they do well? They hire kids and you know what the older dentists do? There's a 168 hours in a week and their office is open Monday through Thursday, 8 to 5, that's 32 hours. 19% of the week, it's utilized. 81% of the week, their rent, mortgage, [inaudible 00:13:13], computer, insurance, malpractice, nothing's utilized. The patients are calling in with toothaches and questions that aren't even tracked. Some don't even know what kind of demands coming in. How does an old guy who sits there and says, "I need some help. I want to hire a young millennial." How could he attract and retain a millennial?
Geoffrey Wan: We have to figure out, what does a millennial want? Millennial, I'm guessing here, wants to be able to do great work. They want to do good but at the same time they also want to be able to have the freedom to take CE, take vacations as they please. They also want mentorship. They want to be able to learn from those before them so they can grow their skills, grow their capacity, grow the way they think.
A lot of the older docs are thinking business-minded. If I'm closed on a Friday, I want this place to be open on a Friday, I'll stick an associate there. Which may be fine if the associate's nice and has had a few years under the belt, a bit more independent, doesn't really require the mentorship. What I found from my first real job since I got here 4 years ago is one of my bosses, who's been an absolute, fantastic mentor, we're able to discuss cases together.
Dentistry can be a very, very lonely profession. With stuff like Dental Town which is like, oh my God, I can't believe you've got over 200,000 people there. I can't even believe that I'm here talking to you, Howard.
Howard Farran: We start in 1998. Were you even born in 1998? How old were you in 1998?
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) I just finished high school so I was about 19? Yeah, how's 19.
Howard Farran: That's why you I because I was professionally lonely. I hired an associate right when I got out of school because I just thought it was, I mean I went from 120 rocking, hot, cool people in dental school to being alone in a box. [crosstalk 00:15:12]
Geoffrey Wan: Surrounded by 2 or 3 women.
Howard Farran: Yeah, well I grew up with 5 sisters so I was used to pain and suffering. That was a joke. Did anybody catch that joke?
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: I didn't even know what I wanted in an associate but I hired Bob Savage because he was my same age and we had this little click of all these dentists that were our same age. All the fun thoughts I can think of those first 10 years was the interactions with these young dentists my age. I started Dental Town because I thought it was professionally isolated. I just wanted to show an x-ray and a picture to somebody who had done a thousand of these things. I had done 50. What's going on? I actually made it for myself and that's probably why it worked because I didn't need any market research. I knew this would really help me. Since I was a dentist, it helped all the other dentists.
Geoffrey Wan: Yep. What else for millennials? Educational opportunities...
Howard Farran: I want to go back to specific questions. Is a dentist more likely to track the millennial if he's got a bunch of shiny objects like a CAD cam and a biolase laser and a CBCT? Do toys attract and retain them or they really not toy driven?
Geoffrey Wan: You could see millennials with their Ipads, their MAC book airs, their Iphones, they're pretty gadget driven. They can be, yes. That's not to say that's gonna be the key thing that attracts a millennial. That certainly is one of the parts of the ingredient to the secret cake that will give the millennial the, ooh, I want to go for that.
In Sydney, it's a bit of a different story where there's, I'm pretty sure you've heard, there's this over supply of dentists because now that we've got more dental schools that are graduating more students. Recently we've just stopped taking in internationally trained dentists from outside countries because before 10 years ago there was a shortage. Not necessarily in Sydney but Australia-wide in more of the rural areas but now they realize wait, there's too many of them now.
Howard Farran: Is it fair to say that whenever politicians see lack of dentists in the rural areas, they say, "let's make a lot more dentists", but it doesn't necessarily mean a lot of dentists are going to go out to the outback. It means there's just gonna be more dentists in Sydney. Is that fair to say?
Geoffrey Wan: More in the capital cities, so, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, maybe Perth, maybe Adelaide. Most of the time, people are gonna want to stay close or within the capital cities. This is the place to be.
Howard Farran: Perth is my, no offense but Perth is my favorite city in Australia.
Geoffrey Wan: Why is that known as offensive? That is awesome.
Howard Farran: For those of you that don't know Australia, Australia, China and The United States are all 3 the same size in geography. China's got a billion three. America's got point 3 billion. Australia's only got 29 so most of the people are just in this little strip of coast, Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane. You have to cross the whole area equal to the United States or China and then in this little corner, there's this little quaint city called Perth. Australia is already on the other side of the world. Perth is on the other side of 90% of the people of Australia wouldn't you say?
Geoffrey Wan: Yep, yep. Absolutely.
Howard Farran: They're so out there, so far, it's kinda like they just culturally volved, just more unique and the restaurants and the architecture. My God, is that a cool city.
Geoffrey Wan: I still gotta go. I haven't been there yet. I've been pretty much everywhere else. I worked in Alice Springs for 6 months. That's the red center next to that big, giant red rock. (laugh) Yeah, that was pretty awesome. Perth is still on my to do list or to go place.
Howard Farran: Talk about, when you got out of school, importance like study clubs or dental societies or podcasts or books or online. What do you think helped develop you looking back that you would tell a young kid, "Do this and you'll be a better, faster, higher quality, happier, healthier dentist quicker."
Geoffrey Wan: Sure. There's not one single thing that's gonna do it. It's a multiple of all these little ingredients. Just like why is a cake or cupcake taste great? It's not because of one ingredient. It's because of multiple ingredients and how they're put together.
Based on my journey so far, being an Australian trained dentist, I had to do 2 years of post graduate residency in the states. I spent one year in Youngstown, OH and the other year in rural Washington state in a little town called Othello. That was fantastic working in those community health clinics, in hospital and being able to just really refine the clinical sills in a semi-supervised environment. That's one of the things that allowed me to get really, really good at taking out wisdom teeth and also really, really good at treating children (lots of stainless steel crowns).
To beef up your clinical skills, you can got to private practice however I think you're gonna get much more hands on exercise in a community-based health clinic like a hospital or doing a residency.
Study clubs are excellent. [crosstalk 00:20:40]
Howard Farran: Where were those 2 cities at?
Geoffrey Wan: Youngstown, OH. Go Buckeyes! Othello, WA which is like about 45 minutes from the tri-cities. I don't know if you've ever heard of [crosstalk 00:20:53]
Howard Farran: The takeaway from what I'm hearing, because you always hear these dentists say, "well, you know, it's easy to get an associate if you're in LA or San Fran but I'm out in the middle of Timbuktu." You traveled a thousand miles from Vancouver to find an associate in that city I'd never heard of. The bottom line is, looks like when dentists are trying to attract an associate for a millennial, they know they're rocking hot. They can do these certain skills. Instead of just saying,"associate needed, Thursdays, Friday and Saturday." There should be a long paragraph, kind of like a Claudia Murato consultant saying. It should be like an online dating profile.
Geoffrey Wan: Absolutely.
Howard Farran: For instance, I could brag, "I can pull any four wisdom teeth in under 10 minutes and usually I can pull them all under 5." If you sit there and say, "you know, you come with me, I swear to God you'll be able to take out any wisdom teeth there is." If a dentist is like really good at this or that. They should be creating an online dental profile because it sounds like, the question isn't, "well, this one pays me 30% and half the lab bill but the other one will pay me 35% and pay the lab bill, which one should I do?" That's not what you're saying at all. You haven't even mentioned money or percentage or anything. [crosstalk 00:22:13]
Geoffrey Wan: I got paid peanuts my first couple of years out in residency. Some residencies don't even pay you. I didn't do that for the sake of that's what I should do. I did it because I had to to get a license to work in America. With that said, I would have done it again. I would have repeated and done the same thing again if I had the choice.
Howard Farran: The classified ads on Dental Town, a lot of my friends that are on Dental Town, they're always on the message board. They don't even understand the website because they just know their behavior. Do you know that on Dental Town, all those people on the message boards that have posted 4 million times, do you know if a 100 dentists go on Dental Town, not even half of them go to the message boards?
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah.
Howard Farran: More people go to the rest of the online magazine, classified ads, industry, the rest of the website. On those classified ads, you're right, most of those older, what's older than the baby boomers? What are they just called just senior citizens?
Geoffrey Wan: I guess so. (laugh)
Howard Farran: Maybe those older dentists, they just say, "Yeah, associate needed in Youngstown, OH." Then they'll say the salary range. They should have a picture. They should be saying what are they good at, they got their fellowship in this, or their mastership in that. You come work with me for a year, you're really gonna learn these things that I do. Some millennial might be thinking, "God, I would love to take that job just to learn all that under a mentor." That's the soft stuff that really matters not the hard just money, money, money. Money's the answer, what's the question? You want 32% or 33%?
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: I think that's where Heartland is crushing it because Rick Workman out of Effingham, IL, who started that thing. He has massive continuing education for his docs. They have courses on learning how to do implants, basically anything. If you go work at that big chain, I think they've got 1500 offices.
Geoffrey Wan: Wow!
Howard Farran: You can really learn how to do any skill set you need. That might be Rick Worman's secret sauce of attracting millennials. He's probably listening to this podcast saying, "Howard, I knew that 5 years ago."
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) After residency, I pretty much being a Canadian, I had to get whatever job would offer me a visa. Usually that would be the corporates. I ended up working for this corporate chain. People can say all they want about it but...
Howard Farran: What was it called?
Geoffrey Wan: Aspen Dental.
Howard Farran: Okay, Aspen. They're headquartered out of New York aren't they? Kind of near Buffalo?
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, Syracuse.
Howard Farran: Syracuse, NY. Okay, sorry I said Buffalo.
Geoffrey Wan: I'll tell you what sort of competitive advantage they got over a smaller private practices.
Howard Farran: Who's the CEO of that?
Geoffrey Wan: Oh, goodness. I know his name was Dan something but that was like 5 years ago.
Howard Farran: Is he the founder?
Geoffrey Wan: I think, yes.
Howard Farran: Can you email him and say I want a podcast interview him?
Geoffrey Wan: I could. [crosstalk 00:25:25]
Howard Farran: I did the founder of Heartland, Rick Workman. I think that thing got more views than anything I've done. I tried to get Steven Thorne out of Pacific Dental Services and he just replies back, "LOL." I'd like to try that at that Aspen.
Geoffrey Wan: Sure.
Howard Farran: You're right. Corporate dentistry, lots of negatives because it's competition. You said it worked for you?
Geoffrey Wan: It worked for me. It allowed me to refine my surgical skills because we were doing lots and lots of dentures, lots of extractions of hopeless teeth and treating a lot of dentally-reclusive patients that didn't have a dental home. The ones that got treated, they got what they needed. The ones that came in, realized it wasn't for them, guess what, they went to my dentist next door. It was like, "oh, you know, I'll go here instead." As much as people want to hate on the corporates, really, it increases the public awareness of dentistry and makes people more likely to go out and seek some dental services.
Howard Farran: I just can't understand when you look at country like America with 330 million people. They always talk about the new car that got some award, some magazine award, best this or that. Do they not realize that 70% of cars sold in The United States are used cars? Only 30% of cars purchased are new. Just at that top 30% new, you got low cost Chevy then more money Pontiac, more money Olds, more money Buick. They dont' see market segmentation. They don't understand that this country has 100 million people that don't have 2500 bucks for a root canal, build up and crown to save a molar.
Geoffrey Wan: That's it. Where was I going with this?
Howard Farran: Aspen Dental.
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, Aspen. With one out of two people, in America, haven't seen a dentist in the last year. That's 50% of the population that's pretty much free market. They're the ones that seek care when they have a tooth ache or they're the ones that just have been hiding because they're scared. They're marketing is really, really effective at giving people hope. When I watch it's like, "Dang, I want to go to Aspen Dental." I don't know if you've seen the ads over in Phoenix.
Howard Farran: Do you have any of their ads on YouTube?
Geoffrey Wan: Probably.
Howard Farran: Start a thread on Dental Town saying, "Just did a podcast with Howard. He wanted me to post some Aspen Dental." A lot of times those ads are on YouTube. That would be great because if you're saying they're marketing's effective and what I've noticed on the marketing is now that everyone's got to cable. It used to be back in the day dentists couldn't advertise on TV because you'd have to buy an ad for the whole city or the whole county. Now, when I'm watching a football game, there's ads coming in just targeted. You can get on cable and you can run a dental ad just for your little area. My little area, Phoenix, it's Phoenix, AZ but everyone calls it Ahwatukee. There's just stores just advertising on TV. I'd like to see those TV ads.
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, yeah sure. What's also brilliant about them, they've got a 24 hour call center.
Howard Farran: (shaking head)
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) If you see that ad in Phoenix. You're gonna call that number that you see on the bottom of the screen. It's gonna go to some central call center, probably still in New York state. They're basically gonna say, "oh, you're from Phoenix. Okay, fantastic. Nearest location is this. The doctor that services the patient there is that name and we can book you in Wednesday at, how does 10 o'clock sound?"
Howard Farran: Yeah. Rick Workman in Effingham. His headquarter is in a town of 10,000 called Effingham, IL. He says the call center's limit is on hiring. They'll hire anybody that walks through that door and try to get them up to speed because it's so hot. For the free enterprise private practices, look at the academy, the call center, Jay Geier, The Scheduling Institute.
Geoffrey Wan: Oh, yeah.
Howard Farran: That's on fire. Anybody that uses those guys, training their front desk to answer the calls better. Oh yeah. The only connection you have to the rest of the world is that incoming phone. Usually it's answered by someone with no training and it's usually only answered Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 so that's 29% of the week. 81% of the week it just goes to a voice mail.
Geoffrey Wan: Yep. It also, not to mention lunchtime or when the phone's currently occupied or when the receptionist is currently either booking a next appointment or receiving a payment. Having the phones answered and being able to communicate with the outside world is super important when it comes to just being able to continually grow your practice. That's a major opportunity for most private practices.
Howard Farran: Practicing dentistry in The United States, Canada, Australia, for a guy like me who's lectured in all those countries a lot. Is dentistry pretty much the same in those 3 countries? Is there much difference between anything to do with being a dentist in those 3 countries?
Geoffrey Wan: I think they're pretty similar. I hate to say it but it's pretty similar. People want what they want. People are people. I think I figured out after 10 years, we go to dental school to learn how to fix teeth. The first 10 years of real world experience has taught me that being a dentist, you're basically working with people. You have to know how to work well with people. Your patients, your teammates, your employers, everybody. The last few years I've been continually refining my people skills.
I've taken up reading. (laugh) I never thought I'd read again since high school or since dental school text books. I've gotten into the habit of reading, going through audio books just like you said it's a hugely growing market. I've gotten back to feeling paper in books. I go through a book every 2 weeks now. It's been awesome. It allows me to think better, see things from a different perspective. I could kind of tell from patient's body language, they're more open to talk to me rather than be scared of me because I'm gonna invade their personal space and hurt them.
Howard Farran: One of things that I love the most about being a dentist, I didn't even realize until it was over but lecturing in 50 countries. I've spent the night in so many dentist's homes and what's really cool is dentist's are all readers. Right behind you is all those books and it seems like if I spend the night or go to someone's home and they're not a dentist, physician or lawyer, they don't read any non-fiction. It might be Louis L'Amour books or "Fifty Shades of Grey" or magazines. It's the coolest profession for me because all my homies have 8 years of college and they've all read a hundred non-fiction books. They're all readers. You can have a discussion on anything and they're intelligent and well-read on pretty damn near any subject you go after. That's the most fun for me for being a dentist is that I just dig hanging out with dentists.
Especially compared to how I grew up where it was all farming and there were only 2 subjects were wheat and Catholicism. You know what I mean?
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: It was the only thing to talk about, the Catholic Church and farming. It's just so cool that you're a reader. What books would you recommend? I agree. I'll give you the best analogy. You thought in undergrad if you could get A's in geometry, trig and calculus, that would be the secrets to the universe and you'd live happily ever after. I've been a dentist for 28 year, I've never used any math I ever was taught in geometry, trig, calculus, integrals, derivatives, none of that was used. When they come out of school they think, "well, I'll be successful if I learn how to bone graft and learn all about [inaudible 00:33:35]." They devour all this technical stuff but the patients aren't going to grade you on any of the technical stuff. It's all gonna be this soft, touchy [inaudible 00:33:44].
What books would you recommend to get this person who was only accepted into dental school because they got A's in physics and now they're entering a people business where what they sell is invisible. Nobody knows if they need a root canal or not. No one knows after the root canal if you did it right or. What skills would you recommend? What books or podcasts or courses would you recommend on how you've developed your softer people skills?
Geoffrey Wan: Sure.
Howard Farran: Was shaving your head a big part of winning people over?
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: Don't you think when you're bald and beautiful that people just love you more?
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, it's cool. They're all supportive of it. They all think it's cool. Since Michael Jordan right?
Howard Farran: I know. I know. What would you recommend?
Geoffrey Wan: In terms of books, before you even start reading, it's a change in mindset and attitude, right? I didn't like reading. Back in the day, I thought, "Oh, what a waste of time. Oh, I get bored. Oh, I don't have attention." Get attention. I think one of the biggest game changers for me was Hal Elrod's, "The Miracle Morning" because it laid down a blueprint for one hour of time when you wake up before everybody else does to silently meditate, gain mental clarity, to tell yourself like Mohammad Ali, "I'm the greatest". You keep telling yourself that until you believe it because when you believe it, it's more likely to happen. If you tell yourself, "Oh, I'm just a lowly dentist. Oh, I'm nobody." You're gonna believe that and that's what you're gonna be.
To read, even if it's 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 5 pages, 10 pages, at least you're reading something. On the subject of personal growth, Dale Carnegie's, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is a classic. "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey also a classic. When you read, you're gonna learn stuff. You're gonna incorporate it into you're mental focus and you're gonna mentally grow from it.
To write, to journal, I've been journaling ever since reading this Hal Elrod book. It's just amazing.
Howard Farran: What's the name of that book? Hal..
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah. Elrod. E-L-R-O-D.
Howard Farran: What's the name of Hal Elrod's book?
Geoffrey Wan: "The Miracle Morning".
Howard Farran: "The Miracle Morning".
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, it's a relatively short read. I think it's less than 150 pages, pretty easy to read.
Howard Farran: Does it have a lot of big pictures on each page?
Geoffrey Wan: Unfortunately, no. Those were my favorite kind of books...(laugh). I get to read those to my son now.
Howard Farran: That's why my favorite restaurant is the IHOP because the whole menu's just big pictures.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: I don't like those fancy restaurants where you gotta read and you can't see and you gotta get out your [crosstalk 00:36:31]
Geoffrey Wan: They're in a weird language that you can't pronounce. What's up with that? (laugh)
Howard Farran: What do you tell these dentists, when you tell them to think positive, they go, "I do think positive. I positively think all my patients are assholes."
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah.
Howard Farran: How do you turn that mindset around?
Geoffrey Wan: Honestly, Howard, I don't know how I did it. I used to be really, really negative about everything and that's why I was like Mr. Sour Guy. I was Mr. Angry Guy. It got to the point where the problem was looking at me in the mirror. (laugh)
One day a lot of people are gonna figure that out. Until they do, they're gonna keep living in that kind of negative space, that kind of world. They're more than likely to be one of those 9 out 10 people who aren't on Dental Town, who aren't communicating with each other, who are kind of feeling like, "I'm trapped. I'm all alone on this little dental island and I don't know what to do." It is a very lonely place. It can be better. When you decide that, okay, there's more out there. I can do this.
Howard Farran: Do you think the big turn around was from that hot little Australian woman you found? Was that a big part of your attitude change?
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: Is that what you're recommending that if we all have a bad attitude, we fly to Sydney and meet a hot, little Aussie girl?
Geoffrey Wan: [inaudible 00:37:49] There's heaps of hot, little Aussie girls.
Howard Farran: It's gonna be very difficult for me to say this and it's very politically incorrect. How dentists view patients as customers also varies massively between countries. There are countries where the dentists think that if a patient asks them a question, you're insulting them.
Geoffrey Wan: Yep.
Howard Farran: Are you kidding me? These are your customers. They pay your bills. They give you money. "I'm a doctor! I know what's best! I'm not gonna explain to this person who knows nothing." I'm just like, "Oh my God." Do you agree that some of these countries are more, same thing with their assistant and they hygienist. They talk down. "You do this or you'll be fired." That's not how you talk to someone. I want to start a course. I think the average dentist could double their income if on the weekends they took a job as a bartender and just learned how to talk to drunk strangers at a bar.
Geoffrey Wan: Absolutely.
Howard Farran: If you could just loosen up and have a few beers and talk to people drinking at a bar all night. That skill would probably make you more money than going to Pankey, Coyce and Spear all combined times three.
Geoffrey Wan: I was thinking about that before our chat this morning. Pankey, Coyce and Spear, fantastic clinicians. Fantastic educators, fantastic facility. How many people go back to their practices and end up doing full mouth veneer cases or full mouth rehab type cases?
Howard Farran: There were two.
Geoffrey Wan: Not me.
Howard Farran: There were two. I have both their names.
Geoffrey Wan: Not me. Some people do and that's fantastic. I think what would be better is just helping dentists be more human rather than "I'm a doctor. You're not." You're spot on, Howard. Some countries do still have that mentality. I see the patients from those countries. They come to see me and they're like, "Wow, no one's ever talked to me like a person before." It's always like, "you got this and this. You need to do this and this." "Okay, doctor". What? You get a choice. You get a say, okay. This is your mouth. This is your teeth. This is your life. This is your decision. It's my job just to let you know this is what's going on. These are your options. This is what I think you should do.
It's just a different way they're being communicated to and they love it. Because of that, they stay loyal or they're more likely to tell a friend about you.
Howard Farran: I want to ask you a question. A lot of how I think, a lot of people ask me, "Why do you think that?" Because I read what the dentists are posting on Dental Town. I've got 4 kids and dentists. That's pretty much my world. I hardly ever am with non-dentists. I see this all the time. You're sitting at a bar. The 30 year old dentist is saying, "well, I have 57 Yelp reviews. One of your biggest problems is you don't have good Yelp reviews." All the dentists, 50 and older are looking like, "Dude, you look at a Yelp review to go to a restaurant." 50 and older, they don't look at Yelp. It's non-existent. 30 and under dentists think that Yelp is a big thing. Do you think millennials use Yelp more than baby boomers and senior citizens?
Geoffrey Wan: Of course (laugh).
Howard Farran: You didn't even have to think about it. You're just like...
Geoffrey Wan: I know my wife, whenever she wants [crosstalk 00:41:28]
Howard Farran: Does that go down as the dumbest question I've ever asked on a podcast?
Geoffrey Wan: That is not a dumb question. That's absolutely very, very relevant.
Howard Farran: I want you to talk to the 3 guys listening on this podcast that are over 50 and I'm one of them. Talk about Yelp or Google reviews and what it means to your generation. Do you realize I didn't even get a cell phone until I was 35? When I left college, I'd never seen a computer.
Geoffrey Wan: I didn't get one until I was 22.
Howard Farran: What does a Yelp review mean to you and your generation?
Geoffrey Wan: I think it means more in the States because Yelp is more widely used in the States. There's more users, more people are going to be going to it as a platform, as a means to find a certain business. I don't know exactly what the analytics of it are when it comes to dentists. With Google, it's easier to determine that as you've discussed previously in other podcasts which I found fascinating. You can locally look and see who's looking for cosmetic dentists or dental emergency or I have a toothache, that sort of thing, in a specific geography.
Yelp, I'm not really sure how that works. I don't know how relevant it would be for dental businesses but certainly in the restaurant and hospitality industry, Yelp is a huge, huge influence on how millennials choose which businesses to go to for the first time. They don't know where to go. If they don't know anybody to get a word of mouth recommendation, they're either gonna go to Google or Yelp.
Howard Farran: What do you think for 30 and under is more popular? Yelp or Google? If you're 30 and under.
Geoffrey Wan: I'm gonna guess Yelp.
Howard Farran: Interesting.
Geoffrey Wan: I really don't know.
Howard Farran: Yelp starts with Y and my generation had yellow pages. I wonder if Yelp is the new yellow pages?
Geoffrey Wan: That could very, very well be it. (laugh) In terms of Google, if I'm speaking to the odd 50 year old that might be listening to this podcast. Google reviews is gonna be super important for anybody looking for a dentist that is too afraid. Nowadays there's no more yellow pages, so you can't call around and see where to go. The type of questions they would ask, "How much would a clean cost? How much does an extraction cost?" "I don't know what a new patient's thinking." They might be thinking, "I'm new to the area. I just want to establish a dental home. What's that gonna entail?" They don't know what questions to ask. They're gonna go on Google and look up dentists Ahwatukee and see who comes up first. Who's got the reviews? They're more likely to listen to testimonials from people that have purchased from the business, you're customers and patients and see, "Okay, a lot of people are saying good things about this place. I'll go there."
Howard Farran: I like it when you walk into the post office, my picture's always on the wall. Right there.
Geoffrey Wan: There you go.
Howard Farran: They always have the Top 10 Most Wanted and there I am right there.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: I want to ask you another question. A friend of mine started the eco-dentistry, Orin, Fred and Ina Pockgrass. I went to their seminar in Utah up on Provo at Sundance. Robert Redford owns that. These kids were telling me that for 1300 people they would start advertising their dental offices eco-friendly. One guy was in San Fran and managed to get off the grid. He had 30 and under patients traveling an hour to go to their office. Do you think your generation is more sensitive to not leaving a big environmental footprint and it more likely to patronize someone who recycles and uses solar and all that kind of stuff?
Geoffrey Wan: Absolutely. That could be a very, very powerful marketing tool to us younger folks. Basically, all it takes is for you to get them in, impress them, make them happy, give them what they want and then they'll be loyal patients for life. They're gonna recommend to their friends.
Howard Farran: I have heard so many dentists crushing it with trying to have their unique selling proposition not be implant or training the [inaudible 00:45:58] or cosmetic dentistry, but being eco-friendly. I had a consultant come out to my office to how could I get off the grid. I'm in Phoenix. I said, "I'm in the desert, I'd like to get all solar panels and go off the grid." He came back and he said, "Dude, you haven't made one intelligent decision below the ceiling. Your ceiling, 100% solar, couldn't even run your dental office because you don't have any of the basic stuff like when you leave a room the light shuts off automatically or this and that." He so he gave me a big ole laundry list of things to do to get smart under the grid. I thought of a trick. Our power company, you can actually buy electricity specifically from a solar field. It costs a little more. I could buy my electricity only for a solar and then I could advertise my office is run 100% off solar energy. I'm 53.
Geoffrey Wan: There you go.
Howard Farran: You think 30 and unders would like that? Do you think they'd pick up on that?
Geoffrey Wan: Absolutely. Yeah. They're all weird in what they want. (laugh) Even I'm trying to still figure that out.
Howard Farran: Are they all gonna be tooth colored? Is amalgum and gold dead?
Geoffrey Wan: Because of you Howard, amalgum's come a lot more into my present consciousness. Amalgum's that would last 20-30 years and we take them out and put composites...I haven't said composites since I left America.
Howard Farran: What do you call it there?
Geoffrey Wan: Composite.
Howard Farran: Composite.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) Don't even get me started on tooth numbering. We'll put composite in there, it looks all pretty and then within 3, 4 years time it's looking kind of average. It takes you awhile before that probe is really catching onto the edges when you say, "This doesn't feel right. Let's just open it up." Just like you say, it's just mush underneath.
Howard Farran: I know. I know. You go over something metal that's bacterial static. Every hygienist uses stannous fluoride. It's the 10 and it's the half-mercury, silver, zinc, copper, it's the 10 ions flying out of there that's so bacterial static and then you replace it with an inert plastic because it's tooth-colored. These older dentists take out these silver fillings, "well there was scuz underneath." I'm sorry, I'm a doctor. Is scuz a life form? Has anybody gone through the DNA of scuz? It's just crazy. I think dentistry's gone backwards in longevity. Absolutely.
I want to also ask you a cultural difference. It seems like countries closer to Japan use more glass ionomer than countries further away from Japan. Is that true and what are your thoughts on that?
Geoffrey Wan: I can't generalize. I could just say that in America I hardly used glass ionomer but in Australia where we were taught, yes, we use quite a bit of glass ionomer. I personally use quite a lot of resin-modified glass ionomer. I can't give you any sort of generalizations but I cut into an old, large composite build up and was very, very pleased to find that they previous dentist had placed a glass ionomer base underneath and there was no decay under it which was brilliant.
Howard Farran: It has bacterial static properties.
Geoffrey Wan: Yes.
Howard Farran: Why do American not get that? What drives me crazy is they'll say,"Well, I'm a cosmetic dentist." They'll get a 78 year old lady with totally blown Alzheimer's. Doesn't even know the names of her children. Takes out and puts class 5 composites for root surface decay on a woman who doesn't even brush her teeth. It's like really? Amalgum there would have lasted 5 years. Glass ionomer probably would have lasted 4 and her gosh darn cosmetic dentistry class 5's in a dental office where a doctor doesn't even have anything but inert plastic fillings because he's a cosmetic dentist, in one year they're mush.
Geoffrey Wan: Yep. Mush. It's sad. It's tragic. Glass ionomer certainly does have a place in restorative and preventive dentistry. I wish it had more headway in America. It's a really good product to use.
Howard Farran: Who are the glass ionomer product champion dentists down there that are talking about that?
Geoffrey Wan: I wish I could tell you some names. I don't know.
Howard Farran: If you run into some that are rocking hot in that area, basically any Australian talent that you'd think would be a good podcast, if you could turn...
Geoffrey Wan: Yeah, sure.
Howard Farran: Americans love anybody with an Australian accent.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: Take any product you want and just advertise it with an Australian accent and it will sell. You've done some training with the very famous Derek Mahony in orthodontics. He's huge in Africa, in the Middle East, in Europe. Talk about Derek Mahony.
Geoffrey Wan: The great and powerful, Derek Mahony. He's fantastic. He just wants to help GP's get their foot in the door with being able to do some orthodontic cases in their offices. Like you've said previously, anybody with some ortho training will be able to recognize orthodontic problems earlier and be able to refer more appropriately. It works out for everybody. Patients are able to stay in the GP's office for their orthodontics and problems are screened and diagnosed earlier so that they can have the appropriate help they need. You could also recognize certain things that you can't do and be more likely to refer those up to the orthodontist. Everybody wins in the end especially the patients who are presenting with these problems.
One of the other things that Derek Mahony just makes us more aware of, I don't know if it's just hype, because some people would argue it's hype, I believe in it. A lot of jaw size problems are really secondary to airway problems which then increase my awareness about the role of ENTs and how it can be very, very related to growth and development in dentistry. That's really increased my referrals over to local ENTs and also the sleep physicians.
Howard Farran: Give us some low hanging fruit. What's going on with the patient when you send someone to an ENT? I bet you 90% of everyone listening to this podcast has never referred a patient to an ENT. I'm guessing. I have no data to back that up. It's a gut feeling. My gut is about 50 pounds so my gut feeling should be worth a lot more than yours.
Geoffrey Wan: You're also able to move that gut for triathlons and ironmen which I think is absolutely amazing, Howard. You're an inspiration.
Howard Farran: My goal is to be the oldest, fattest, ironman.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh) You'll get that buddy. In terms of ENT, here's the take home message for all the...
Howard Farran: Explain what an ENT is. That's an ear, nose and throat.
Geoffrey Wan: Ear, nose and throat or Otolaryngologist. Allergies on the rise. A lot of kids in first world, developed nations are just super sensitive to the pollens, the grasses, the dusts. As a result, the airways, the nose gets blocked up, adenoids can grow, tonsils can grow. What are things that we dentists can do to basically screen for airway problems? What I've learned is, when you see a kid that's 6, 7, 8 years old. If they just look like really flat faced not the most attractive kids. You look into their mouth, crowding already. You know they're gonna have orthodontic problems. I invite you to just get them to open up really wide. Open really wide. Get them to stick their tongue out. Get them to say "ah". If that soft palette doesn't move, there's something pushing up behind it. That's probably the adenoids.
You also get them to stick their tongue out so you can get a really, really good look at their tonsils. One really, really good way to do that is making sure that you've got yourself a little head lamp so you can see down there. If those tonsils are just about kissing, then you could open up the conversation with mom and dad and say, "Does little Johnny snore?" "Oh yeah, all the time." With snoring, you'll usually see some tooth ware, erosion, those sorts of problems. I think we might have an airway problem with little Johnny. When you display that you are aware of fields outside of teeth, especially if the ENTs are able to say, "oh yeah, Dr. Howard was spot on, we do have an airway problem. We need to get this sorted out." Then the parents are thinking, "Oh shit. This Howard guy really knows what he's doing and he knows outside of dentals. He knows outside of dentistry. This is a really smart guy. We trust him. We're gonna keep our family with him. We're gonna send friends and family to him."
Howard Farran: Perfect. That is just so true. What you just said was poetry. It really was poetry. Talk about the Derek Mahony course. Was it four 3-day courses? Was it a week? What was the continuum like, details of it?
Geoffrey Wan: It's a 2 year mini-residency. You meet up for a weekend and one clinical day where you observe at one of his offices. You get to go over his cases, go over the photographs, go over models, go over diagnosis, and go over the techniques throughout. With orthodontics, it's not like a single implant procedure. It's not like a single crown. It's an ongoing process. The most important thing obviously is diagnosis, knowing exactly what the problem is, where you're starting, do we have a growing child versus an adult? Where is everything located?
Derek's course is excellent. It's evidence based. It's going to really increase and improve your awareness of what's going on in the orthodontic world. I'm gonna get a lot of flack from this from a lot of orthodontists. It's not gonna make you a cowboy. If anything, it'll get you thinking. It will give you a lot more knowledge. That's what is really, really brilliant about the course. Derek himself is a charismatic speaker, very charismatic, he's a funny guy, very similarly to you Howard. (laugh) He can be a bit controversial too which makes him funny.
Howard Farran: I've had dinner with him a couple times at a restaurant looking out at the opera house. What is that the Ari?
Geoffrey Wan: The Aria.
Howard Farran: The Aria. A-R-I-A. Which is the name of a casino where we had a townie meeting. That's a high note in an opera or something like that? It's across from the opera house. I think he was amazing. What I liked the most about, he walks his talk. He has 4 different orthodontic offices in Sydney that all have 4 or 5 orthodontists or something like that?
Geoffrey Wan: That's it.
Howard Farran: If you sit there and say, "The guy doesn't know what he's talking about." Dude, he has 4 or 5 of the largest orthodontic offices. He's a machine.
Geoffrey Wan: He's an absolute machine. He's a world class educator as well just like you, just flying all over the world, just teach people.
Howard Farran: Yeah.
Geoffrey Wan: Teach people. Help them. Give them knowledge. Knowledge is power.
Howard Farran: I only got you for a minute and half. My brand's an hour. We've got a minute and half. What would your close be? Give a little bit of a close to the kids, what they should do and to the old guys, what they should do to attract guys like you.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: I would make a mint. I'm listening to you thinking, "Damn, I wish you'd gone to Phoenix. I would have made a fortune off you." A lot of kids are just coming out of school. What should they do their first few years?
Geoffrey Wan: Okay. Kids, first few years, do as much clinical dentistry as you can. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Realize that you've made mistakes. Learn from them. Get over it. It's not the end of the world to make mistakes. In school, you get penalized. You get punished for making mistakes. Don't make a mistake> You have to get it right. It doesn't always happen that way. There's not perfection in dentistry. You just have to do the best that you can and that's what everybody does.
One of the other mistakes I've made early on is foo-fooing other people's work. You've got no idea under what circumstances that previous work was done. You cannot judge what other people have done because there's gonna be work that you see 5 years later that's, "Holy crap, I did that?" Don't judge. I made the mistake of judging. I've had a big, fat slice of humble pie. Not doing it. (laugh)
For the older generation that's looking to hire these younger millennials, just realize that we want mentorship. We want to be able to learn from you guys. We want to learn from your experience. We want a team based environment that's gonna to be conducive to learning and growing and supporting of each other. If you've got high staff turnover, more than likely the problem is looking at you in the mirror.
Howard Farran: We have a special once a year issue called the New Grad issue where it just goes to all the kids in dental school and are just graduated, couple years out. You should make a New Grad course, online CE course on Dental Town.
Geoffrey Wan: (laugh)
Howard Farran: You really should. You should make a new grad course. It should be called, "The First 10 Years Out of Dental School. " and for the old guys wanting to hire a young kid, the new grad. "The Circle of Life", the old guys' got foot in the grave and the young kids are just coming out of the dental school placenta. You should do a course to merge that deal. I really enjoyed you for an hour.
Geoffrey Wan: Thank you, thank you so much Howard.
Howard Farran: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'm gonna [inaudible 01:00:53] my brother Paul because you guys are the same age. You're both adorable. He's my favorite person alive. The next time I come visit my brother, we'll all have to go out and have a beer.
Geoffrey Wan: Yep, for sure. That sounds like a plan Howard. Look forward to you coming back.
Howard Farran: Tell Derek I said "Hi". Every time I come into town, he always takes me to dinner at the Aria and he's just a cool guy.
Geoffrey Wan: I will. You're awesome, Howard. Thank you. Thank you for everything you've done for dentistry.
Howard Farran: Ah, thank you buddy. You're too kind. Have a great day.
Geoffrey Wan: Thanks, you too.