Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran
Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran
How to perform dentistry faster, easier, higher in quality and lower in cost.
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774 100 New Patients with Marilee Spears, RDH : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

774 100 New Patients with Marilee Spears, RDH : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

7/17/2017 7:17:39 PM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 264

774 100 New Patients with Marilee Spears, RDH : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

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774 100 New Patients with Marilee Spears, RDH : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran

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VIDEO - DUwHF #774 - Marilee Sears

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AUDIO - DUwHF #774 - Marilee Sears

A message from Marilee, “Want to learn the secret of getting more new patients through your front door than you know what to do with? Join me for ‘100 New Patients’ -- an online event featuring the leading experts across the field of dentistry as we share our insights and learnings on how you can drastically increase your new patient growth to levels you’ve never seen before. Best of all, it’s absolutely free!

Marilee helps dentists break through the seven figure mark (that’s $1,000,000 in case that wasn’t clear) in their practice and double their income, all while reducing stress and making the whole process as fun as possible (because she thinks it’s bad for business when dentists don’t smile).

Howard Farran: It is just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Marilee Sears, RDH. She helps dentists break through the seven-figure mark ... That's a million, in case you're not clear ... in their practice and double their income, all while reducing stress and making the whole process as fun as possible, because she thinks it's bad business when dentists don't smile. She's been doing this for 25 years. Her dad's a dentist. How are you doing today, Marilee?

Marilee Sears: I'm doing awesome. It's really, really great to connect with you, Dr. Farran.

Howard Farran: Oh, call me Howard. So your dad was a dentist, and you became a hygienist. That is so damn cool. Was your dad the first dentist in the pedigree, or were there other ones before him?

Marilee Sears: My dad was the first dentist in the pedigree, and he definitely laid the foundation for our family. I'm the 10th of 11 children, and he-

Howard Farran: 10th of 11th?

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: Okay, you have to be Catholic or Mormon.

Marilee Sears: Mormon.

Howard Farran: Okay.

Marilee Sears: What happened was, my dad wanted-

Howard Farran: See, I'm always right on that, aren't I?

Marilee Sears: You're always right. You're always right.

Howard Farran: It's never Presbyterian or a Lutheran.

Marilee Sears: But I will tell you this. I will tell you this, Howard. My dad, I don't think he knew what he was in for. My mom wanted 12 kids. I think my dad would have been very happy with two. So they compromised, and they had 11.

Howard Farran: That is awesome. That is awesome.

Marilee Sears: As husbands, you probably realize how that compromise works. Yeah, I was the 10th. I was like only the seventh or eighth unwanted child in the family, but we had a good group of us going along. My dad worked very, very hard in his practice. He had to. He had 11 children, right? He was at his practice all the time. All the time. Growing up, I really believed my dad was at the practice all the time because he had 11 children at home. I'm not going to say that there wasn't any piece of that. I'm sure that there was some piece of that. It was his peace and quiet. It was his bachelor pad. But in 2012, my dad was diagnosed with leukemia, and he very quickly went downhill and he passed away.

Howard Farran: Ah.

Marilee Sears: I realized, I can just ... You and I started speaking about this before we started the recording that there is absolutely a spiritual part of why I do the work that I do, and that is just my dad's legacy and my dad's spirit. Because very quickly after he passed away, I realized that his perspective was different. I realized that the take I had of him that he was at the practice because he wanted an escape from the family or to be apart, it was very different. The fact is that he had to work so hard because he was working to provide for our family, and that if he could do it all again, he would do it very differently. I help those dentists that want to do it differently while they have the opportunity now. My dad unfortunately doesn't have the opportunity any longer, but a lot of us, we're still living and breathing. We have the opportunity to change our priorities, change our businesses, and live the life we want to live now.

Howard Farran: How old was he when he passed?

Marilee Sears: He was 77.

Howard Farran: Oh, well that's ... The average just live 74.

Marilee Sears: Yeah, I was going to say-

Howard Farran: He beat half his homies born in the same year.

Marilee Sears: You know what? It's advertising dentistry. Are you kidding me? Because for whatever reason, I thought it was 78, so he did beat it.

Howard Farran: Yeah. Well, it's 74 for males and 79 for women.

Marilee Sears: Okay.

Howard Farran: Men die almost five years before women. One, because they want to, and two is ... No. When you look at all the big killers, like 30,000 in car wrecks, that's more likely to be men. Look at their insurance rates.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: The 30,000 suicides is the majority men, because women actually attempt suicide twice as much, but they always do it with, like, a butter knife on Facebook Live and take a pill.

Marilee Sears: That's right. That's right. Or an overdose of ibuprofen or something like that. Yeah.

Howard Farran: And men always use-

Marilee Sears: Men are more-

Howard Farran: ... a violent weapon.

Marilee Sears: Exactly. Men are-

Howard Farran: Men's ratio of attempted to completed is very high. And then the 30,000 accidents, so it's your dad that falls off the garage or the tree or whatever. Well, I'm sorry you lost your dad. I bet that was a rough year.

Marilee Sears: You know what? It was a rough couple of years. It was a rough couple of years because I was really working a lot in his practice during that time. When my dad gave my sister and I ... My sister was the hygienist within his practice. I lived about two and a half hours away. I lived right outside of Seattle, Washington. My dad practiced south of Portland, Oregon. When my dad handed over the keys to my sister and I, to me, Howard, that was like a celebration, because my dad lived at that practice. He lived and breathed dentistry. When he handed over the keys and said, "I can't do it any longer. Take care of the practice. Take care of your mom," it was, at that moment, just such a relief that he realized he needed to take care of himself. 

My sister and I, we were like, "Okay, we've got it." What happened was, as soon as we went down to his office ... It was a Saturday in September. We went down to the office, and that relief was gone almost immediately because we saw where the numbers where at in the practice. We saw what was going on, and it was like a very dire situation. The practice itself was actually on the brink of bankruptcy. It was a really tough year for the next couple years. I can honestly say through a series of nothing short of miracles, the practice was able to be turned around. We were able to transition it. And there's a fantastic practice who continues his legacy now.

Howard Farran: Now, did you sell the practice to a dentist, or did you hire an associate? Or what'd you do?

Marilee Sears: What we did was at first we had a temporary dentist in. My dad also was a ... He was a general dentist that also did orthodontics. We were able to eventually sell the private practice and then also bring in an orthodontist and transition the ortho patients to an orthodontist. We weren't able to sell the ortho portion, but we were able to bring in an orthodontist, and then we were able to sell the GP part of the practice.

Howard Farran: And then how long did it take your mom to bounce back?

Marilee Sears: Oh, I think she's still bouncing back, to be honest with you, and it's been four years. Isn't that incredible? You know?

Howard Farran: She's still not bounced back?

Marilee Sears: Yeah. Well, I mean, she's fantastic. If you met my mom ... I'm just saying, she still misses my dad, right?

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: About a year and a half into it, she realized ... That's when the practice, things were just very solid at that point. That's when I think she could feel like she was completely taken care of, and that, of course, put her mind at ease just to know that she wasn't going to have to go back to work as a greeter at Walmart. Right?

Howard Farran: Right.

Marilee Sears: She was going to be okay. I think that took her ... It probably took her a solid year, year and a half, to feel like she had solid footing. A big portion of that was just finances. One of my siblings unfortunately has passed away, but she has 10 children to still keep her very busy, and over 30 grandchildren. She stays busy, and she's doing well.

Howard Farran: There's 11 kids, and one already passed away?

Marilee Sears: Yeah. My sister, when she was 28 years old, passed away from cancer.

Howard Farran: Ah. Was it the same kind?

Marilee Sears: No, it wasn't the same kind. She had Hodgkin's disease. She had it when she was 19 years old. In fact, that's one of my earliest memories, is my sister being in our formal living room and just being so incredibly frail and sick. I mean, chemotherapy is never fun. Man, I'm telling you, 20 years ago or 30 years ago, it was a beast. It was terrible. That was one of my first memories, is I ... There's a 17-year aged gap between my oldest sister and myself. When she was 19 years old, she had cancer. She had Hodgkin's disease. My had leukemia.

Howard Farran: Wow. Yeah. there's 17 years between me and my little brother, too.

Marilee Sears: Are you serious?

Howard Farran: Yeah. He was a Roman Catholic, birth control ... What do they call it? The Vatican Roulette. You know what? It was weird. He was a total mistake, and he was just the life of the family. There was nothing ... I mean, you know how happy a family can get when they get a new dog or a cat or a puppy.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: Well, a talking human blows doors on a puppy. Me, my five sisters, it was the coolest damn thing. It was the best thing that ever could have happened.

Marilee Sears: Are you and your younger brother the only boys in the family?

Howard Farran: Yeah. Yeah.

Marilee Sears: That's fantastic.

Howard Farran: I got two older sisters that, straight out of high school, went into the Catholic nunnery. Then I was going to be a priest until I met this blonde chick named Jane. And then the three younger sisters and me, they all got married and had kids and all that stuff. Then my little brother, Vatican Roulette, family planning, whatever. Out of the 11 kids from a dentist, two became a hygienist. Did anybody else go into dentistry or health care?

Marilee Sears: Yes. Two hygienists ... One is in hygiene school right ... and two dentists.

Howard Farran: Oh my god.

Marilee Sears: The lower end of the family is very dental heavy. I think my dad realized, as he was putting more and more kids through college, that he realized, "Hey, I really want my kids to carry on to dentistry." The second half of the family is very, very dental focused.

Howard Farran: Wow. That is so cool. Are you all there in Washington, the state of Washington, together?

Marilee Sears: You know what? We really were close together around Portland area. I'm just north of Portland. But in the last couple of years, everybody's kind of gone their different ways. I have a sister that's a dentist in Hawaii, a brother in California, as far as Wisconsin. We're kind of more spread out now.

Howard Farran: You're in the state of Washington, and there's a plant behind you. I assume it's medical marijuana growing?

Marilee Sears: How did you know? How did you know?

Howard Farran: How is that going over in the state of Washington?

Marilee Sears: Oh my goodness. Can I tell you? They're everywhere. They're everywhere. I guess they're in Oregon now, too, because I went back to Oregon last weekend ... I had a high school reunion ... and there's a plant ... In this tiny little town that I grew up in of 5,000 people, there's a big pot shop. I'm going to guess it's legal in Oregon now. Just yesterday I was taking my kids to the craft store, and this guy is spinning a sign, like, in the middle of nowhere. It's kind of like in this residential area. I was like, "Is it a garage sale? What's going on?" I turn, it's a cannibis store. Full disclosure: I have never been in any of them. But obviously, they're popping up a lot, so they must be pretty darn popular.

Howard Farran: Well, I've been in one, because they opened one up across the street from me. My buddy's a dentist above it.

Marilee Sears: Okay.

Howard Farran: So he's a dentist above a medical ... It says, "Dentistry," and then, "Marijuana." It's a ...

Marilee Sears: How's that been for his business?

Howard Farran: It's actually hilarious. I went in there to see what it was. What I thought was the most amazing thing is it had 10 times more security than the bank. I mean, they had, like, inch-thick glass. I mean, you could walk in there with an automatic machine gun and not got ...

Marilee Sears: Really?

Howard Farran: And then I was talking to that lady, I said, "Well, how's sales? Are you busy?" I was talking to her, and there was just stacks of cash. She says, "No one wants to buy it on their credit card, so it's all cash."

Marilee Sears: That's hilarious.

Howard Farran: They just come in there, and it's just crazy.

Marilee Sears: It's crazy. I mean, I don't have the numbers in front of me, but there is a franchise up here in Washington, and I heard that it was ridiculous. Like, the amount of money that it takes to ... I mean, it's just ridiculous, because they're making so much money.

Howard Farran: You mean it costs a lot of money to get a license?

Marilee Sears: Yeah, to get a license.

Howard Farran: Yeah. Yeah.

Marilee Sears: Because ... Yeah.

Howard Farran: Yeah. But I bet the taxes they're making in an all-cash business like that, I bet ...

Marilee Sears: They're doing well.

Howard Farran: ... the huge portion doesn't even get reported.

Marilee Sears: I'm sure.

Howard Farran: This is so neat. This is what spawned your dental consulting career.

Marilee Sears: I was doing hygiene coaching before my dad was ... I have two kids. When my children were younger, I started doing hygiene coaching, because I was fortunate enough to work some of my dad's practice, and I was also really fortunate right out of dental hygiene school to work with some awesome practices who had invested a lot in hygiene. I knew a lot about systems. I think having a different perspective of having a father that's a dentist, I realized that I don't just make $40 an hour and that's a guarantee, that I really want to be a producer for the practice. I've just had that perspective because my dad would complain about how much hygienists made when I grew up. I knew that I wanted to be a benefit to the practice.

A couple of years out of hygiene school, I met my husband. We moved across the country. I started working for a new practice that didn't have systems in place. They saw what I was doing, and I started working for a few different practices across North Carolina and Virginia doing hygiene coaching. Then I had my two kids. Started staying at home. And then it was when my dad was diagnosed with leukemia, and I saw for the first time ... I thought I knew the stresses that went along with operating a practice. It was not until I was taking on that managerial role that I realized for myself how truly stressful it was. I started doing more practice management and leadership coaching after that.

Howard Farran: Your website is

Marilee Sears: That's right.

Howard Farran: I assume your husband was the ... You don't have to work because he inherited the Sears company. How many Sears stores did he inherit?

Marilee Sears: Zero, unfortunately. He was the unlucky son. Everything went to his brother. No, I'm kidding. Yeah. No relation at all to that Sears family. In fact, you know how you were saying that the accidents always happen with the grandpa ... or the dad or the grandpa. His grandpa, the Sears name, passed away when he was ... well, before my husband was born, when his dad was only like seven or eight years old. They really had no contact at all with his dad's side of the family. He has practically ... We both have like no information about the Sears family and the heritage or any of that. Maybe one of these days we'll figure it out. If it turns out we're heirs, that would just be a great surprise.

Howard Farran: Yeah. It's just amazing how they just didn't see the vision. I mean, when they closed down their catalog ... That's a good entry. Let me start with that and [inaudible 00:12:49], because what Sears was doing is they didn't realize that all their margin was on the catalog business. Their stores, they had to buy land, buildings, people, health care, dental insurance. And then Walmart was afraid of Sears in the big city, so they started crawling around the rural, where the dentists still haven't found the rural area yet. They started crawling around the rural areas.

By the time they got to about 20, 30 states, they had killed the only profitable part of Sears, and they closed down that catalog business. I believe that was ... Was that '84 or '94? It think it was '84 or '94. But that's when Jeff Bezos was starting to build up the infrastructure that Sears was sitting on for years, this massive distribution system, all these deals. Sears lets theirs fade away and close down while Amazon's building theirs up.

Marilee Sears: Exactly. Isn't that amazing?

Howard Farran: It was ... It's just great. Well, and so the point I'm asking dentistry, so many dentists lose money in hygiene, filling, cleanings, exams, x-rays. And if they don't do three $1,000 crowns a day or a couple more ... They only make a margin, and you can really find that where that margin is by looking at the dental specialist income. I mean, when people say they don't like to do extractions or wisdom teeth, it's like, okay, yeah, oral surgeons, they make the most money. They say, "Well, I don't like to do endo." Okay, well those guys make twice as much as you do.

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: What do you want to do? They don't know the cost of each one of their departments, just like Sears didn't know. It was all ...

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: ... peanut butter and jellied in. Then when the cash cow died ... And the thing that your dad had to live through the hardest was that Delta of Washington was giving me and your dad $1,000 for a crown 30 years ago, and now that fee's been reduced to about 40%.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: Instead of doing a $1,000 crown, they're charging $1,000 and adjusting off $400. Now the number one highest overhead is adjusted production.

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: When your dad and me got out of school, labor was 28%. 30 years later, labor is 28%, but your adjusted production is now number one cost at 42%. But what I want to ask you is, what are you seeing in the field? Who's calling you? What are their problems? What are you solving? If my homies went to, what do you do for them?

Marilee Sears: Well, that's a great question, Howard. I would say this, is that I'm definitely not for everyone, because there is a spirit to my practice. That's all I can say. I think most people ... Well, I would say the foundation of the practice is hygiene, and that's why, even though I do practice and leadership coaching, I always look at hygiene, because I do believe it's the foundation of the practice. I do believe that there's something deeper in every single practice. The numbers don't-

Howard Farran: Foundation of holding the patients in or foundation financially?

Marilee Sears: Well, both. Both, because I think that the standards of care that are set within hygiene set the standard for the rest of the practice. For example, the things that the hygienists are looking for, the things that they've determined as healthy within hygiene, set the standard for both the production of the practice and also keeping those relationships within the practice. For example, having that standard of care for when it comes to inflammation and infection. If you don't have ... Most practices, most hygienists I talk to think that they have a standard of care. But when it comes down to it, perio is this super gray area. Right? What one hygienist calls perio is what another hygienist won't call perio. 

I don't even call it perio, because I think perio is too big of a gray area. I really talk about inflammation and infection. Right? Because we can kind of at least agree there: is there inflammation? Is there infection present? Because if we start talking about perio, you and I are going to get into a debate about when we diagnose and when we treat. Instead, let's just look at, is there infection? Is there inflammation there? I like, for there, I think all of those standards of whether we diagnose and recommend a crown to a patient, whether we recommend fluoride to a patient, whether we recommend an occlusal guard. I believe that those standards get carried out and communicated ... communicated and carried out ... let me put it that way ... in hygiene.

But I do believe that there's something under the surface. Right? That's why I say I think it's deeper than numbers or that it's more than numbers, is that there has to just be a spirit to the practice of knowing what you're there for and what you're providing for the patients. A lot of times ... I mean, granted, as you said, the base expense is adjusted production, but I think a lot of dentists just don't value dentistry enough to tell patients what they need. It's same for hygienists, too.

Howard Farran: Well, yeah. I mean, I've been saying this a lot lately, that the average price of a new car is $33,000. What percent of Americans in their lifetime will buy an average new car for $33,000? What percent would you say?

Marilee Sears: I would say 80.

Howard Farran: 80%? What percent of dentists never sold a $33,000 treatment plan one time in their entire life?

Marilee Sears: 90%.

Howard Farran: What percent?

Marilee Sears: I would guess 90%. I've never-

Howard Farran: Yeah, 90. Exactly. So 90% of your patients have bought a $33,000, brand new Pontiac, and you're afraid to tell them that they have something more than a broken tooth.

Marilee Sears: Exactly.

Howard Farran: In every single dentist that tells me that ... You know, it's never the man in the mirror. It's always Obama and Clinton and Hillary and Putin and the Federal Reserve. It's never them. I'll say, "Okay, dude, you're in a medical dental building with eight dentists. That guy at the end of the hall, he does three cases a month over 20 grand."

Marilee Sears: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Howard Farran: Everything you just said is completely ... That's what I love about the CareCredit report, because CareCredit will come in and show you how much everybody in your zip code or county or city or state ... It's all electronic. And they'll sit there and say, "Well, the economy's bad. The factory closed down. Everybody's committing suicide. Everyone's dying." It's like, "Really? Well, you only do three CareCredits a month for 300, and the guy on your same block does 15 a week that are over 1,000."

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: So giving them data. Do you go into the office? Are you in a regional? Do you fly to different states, or you do it all online? What do you do?

Marilee Sears: The majority of the work that I do is distance. This is what I say to new clients that come on, is that for the first 90 days, we're just going to set the goals and see if we meet the goals. If we meet the goals, then they can add on. They can always choose to add on an onsite visit. Otherwise, it's just optional. I would say 80% of my clients, we hit those goals within the first 90 days. If they would like to add on the onsite day, it's totally fine. If they don't meet their goals, then I'm happy to go onsite, and we figure out, really, again, what the deeper things are.

Howard Farran: So 80% of your clients is online.

Marilee Sears: The 80% is [inaudible 00:19:26]. Totally online. Completely online.

Howard Farran: I love it. I mean, I can't ... Like, I'm talking to you now. I feel like we're at lunch, and you're sitting across the table at Subway. I never saw that coming when I was in dental school. You really don't need to go. I mean, why can't you just ... That's why I hate the Android technology, because it's so much nicer to talk to all your friends who have an iPhone, because then you can FaceTime them.

Marilee Sears: Exactly. It's such a pain in your rib when our friends don't have FaceTime. My husband has an Android, and it drives me crazy.

Howard Farran: Yeah. I mean, I ... Yeah, I just love facetiming my homies. I don't want to text them or call them with sound. Why would you just want sound? I still think that's very interesting how movies were silent for 40 years while they had phonographs. It took 40 years for one monkey to combine the two. I mean, isn't that just bizarre?

Marilee Sears: That's insane. I've never watched a silent movie. I don't think I would have the patience for it.

Howard Farran: Everybody that thinks that everything they see right now is the best way possible ... I mean, there's no historical evidence of that. When you look at the Fortune 500 in 1950, by 2015, 88% of those companies are going to be gone. Your last name, Sears, is on life support.

Marilee Sears: Oh, for certain. For certain.

Howard Farran: Man, there is no way-

Marilee Sears: I mean, I was reading just the other day ...

Howard Farran: ... that they're going to pull out of that.

Marilee Sears: I mean, even Gap, Old Navy, all these ... There are so many companies that I think were, at least growing up, I thought is such solid, secure companies. Completely on life support right now.

Howard Farran: You drive around ... Any city I lecture to, the number one store you see in every retail place in every center is Space Available. I don't know what they sell, but it seems empty.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: These dentists, these millennials getting out, they should be able to get some of the best retail location for the lowest price. I mean, I don't even know if it would make sense to own your own building with the way the retail values are plummeting. Because every time Amazon's doing another billion dollars a month, more retails are closing down because they're not buying retail.

Marilee Sears: Well, I'll just share this experience. Personally, my dad owned his practice, and no doubt about it, Howard. When I was driving around ... At this point, we had transitioned the practice itself to the new dentist and to the orthodontist. But driving around the town that I grew up in, 60 to 70% of the retail areas were completely open. They were vacant. I was like ... My thought was, "Good luck selling this." And we still had a mortgage on the property, and we were able to sell it. But it's almost shocking to me, because 60%, if not more, of the retail space is vacant in that town.

Howard Farran: Yeah. When the stock market crashes, no one wants to buy. And then after it's been in a bull market for years and years, years, then everybody piles in at the top.

Marilee Sears: Right.

Howard Farran: Right now, real estate is just plummeting, so no one wants to touch it. This is the time these young millennials could go in there and get a rocking-

Marilee Sears: Great deal.

Howard Farran: If you're going to sit there for 40 years ...

Marilee Sears: Yes. Oh, absolutely.

Howard Farran: And now, there's so much commercial real estate that's selling below its replacement construction cost.

Marilee Sears: Yeah. That's insane.

Howard Farran: You could even tear it down and build it for that fee.

Marilee Sears: That's insane. Oh, and I wanted to ask you about this, because you mentioned this when we spoke before, and I always love this take on location. You said so many dentists want to be inside of the city, right, and then they commute 30 ... They buy a home or rent a home 30 minutes away. You said, if they really looked at it just the opposite, right, if they looked at the rural, and then maybe they even wanted to live in, say, San Diego, but then they drive out 30 minutes, drive east, and then they're going to have an area where they don't have as much competition. One of the things that I think a lot of dentist still ... I think millennials, I think those that are graduating are becoming aware of the competition and the population per dentist, the per capita, but that was something that I don't think has been looked at before.

Howard Farran: What's bizarre is they go, "No, I don't want to go into rural." I'm like, "Dude, your mom and dad came from India. They went to a different country, and you can't go an hour into the hills? Really?"

Marilee Sears: Yeah. Yeah.

Howard Farran: Why did your parents come from the Eastern Hemisphere? For opportunity. I think you need to leave San Diego. It's just an hour.

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: You're not going to have to get on an airplane, a boat, a ship. You don't have to go through Ellis Island. It's just an hour away. You can get back home.

Marilee Sears: I'm going to tell you this, Howard. I used to live in San Diego. We lived there just for like six months because it's beautiful. I mean, San Diego really is wonderful. I spoke with three different dentists who credit to you and said, "I wish I would have listened to Howard. I wish I would have listened to Dr. Frim," because they did practices right in San Diego, or right around San Diego. Just like you said, they lived 45 minutes out of the town, and they're faced with so much competition.

Howard Farran: Yeah. Yeah.

Marilee Sears: Take your advice. Those listening need to take your advice.

Howard Farran: I think everything should pass the four-finger muster: faster, easier, higher quality, lower costs. I imagine, if you're doing online consulting, you're probably faster, easier, higher quality, lower costs. What is your fee for your clients?

Marilee Sears: My fee is ... It's $1,500 a month for most of my clients, and that's ... We have tracking that we put in place. There's some kind of communication each day that they're working. And then generally, it's two calls a month: one with the dentist, and then one with the team. Then there's more support in place if they need it. A lot of them, it's just, that's the standards.

Howard Farran: Is it a contract?

Marilee Sears: Yeah. You know what? I used to do a contract, and now I'm kind of leaning away from it, to be honest with you. It's a little bit on a case-by-case basis right now. Some of my clients are in contract, and some of them, we just decide to hit the ground running, and we don't even put a contract in place.

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: I would say, like, the majority of them still are under a contract right now.

Howard Farran: You never do a contract if it involves a marriage license. And then in consulting, it's always like ... Well, I just wouldn't want to be contractually consulting someone who didn't want my service anymore.

Marilee Sears: Absolutely.

Howard Farran: I mean, I just feel that would be an awkward phone call. It's like, "Okay, I'm really ..."

Marilee Sears: Not happy.

Howard Farran: But let's go a little bit more into the logistics.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: Then you are dialing into their practice management system and doing a diagnosis under the hood on practice management?

Marilee Sears: Well, there's just certain things that I have the team report back to me. Sometimes it means that I sign into their system. Other times they just give me reports and send it over to me. It's different for each practice and each client how they like to manage it. It also depends just on how they have it set up, if it's like in an open network where I can more or less be brought in, or if it's something where they need to kind of run some reports and send them over to me. It's different. It's on a case-by-case basis, I have to say.

Howard Farran: I notice associates, when they're thinking about buying their practice management software, they almost never want to use the one there in their office. They think the grass is greener on the other hill. They say, "No, I'm not going to use this one, because I hated that one." They think the next one's going to be better, and they're all equally horrible. Which one ... But you work with ... How many different systems have you worked with?

Marilee Sears: Oh my goodness. How many systems are out there? I've probably worked with, like, 12. There are some that I'll work with a new client, and they'll tell me something. I'm like, "I've never heard of that one before." But I have a few that are my favorite.

Howard Farran: Who are your favorites?

Marilee Sears: I really like Open Dental. And I think Dentrix ... I mean, those two are just kind of the gold standards.

Howard Farran: Yeah. I'm telling ya, on Dental Town, Open Dental has all the raving fans.

Marilee Sears: Open Dental's fantastic. It's fantastic.

Howard Farran: I also notice this. A lot of the people that tell me they like Dentrix or Eaglesoft, just ask them like three generic questions, they can't answer them. It's like, how many dentists tell me ... I say, "Well, if you had 100 patients ... they each just had an MO cavity on number 3 ... and you told 100 patients, individuals, you have an MO cavity on number 3, what percent convert and get it done?" They go, "Oh, 95%." I'm like, "Okay, well, that's never happened one time in the universe. Now I know a lot about your data, understanding of your practice." I mean, a 65% close rate would be a AAA-plus, and used to be on the lecture circuit. A 95% means you don't know your butt from second base. We switched to Open Dental. We were on Softdent for 30 years.

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: By the way, I have no plugs or connections to these companies. By the way, Open Dental's so damn good, they're the only one that doesn't advertise.

Marilee Sears: Yeah. They are.

Howard Farran: They don't have to advertise.

Marilee Sears: They're phenomenal. They are phenomenal.

Howard Farran: You should watch the podcast I released on the Nathan Sparks, the CEO, podcast. His brother Jordan's the dentist who started it, but then his brother, he gave it to his brother. They have growth problems. They don't even want marketing.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: He was telling me, like, "Well, if I do this podcast, I'm not going to get a bunch of new business, am I? Because I don't really want that." Do you prefer to them run reports, or do you prefer that they give you access, and you dial in?

Marilee Sears: Well, let's be honest. I prefer that I have access to dial in, because then I get to choose when I get the information, right, versus hounding someone and asking for information. That would be my preference. That's why I like Open Dental so much, is it's really easy to access and it's easy to share. But it both ways work. In fact, I would say the majority-

Howard Farran: What percent give you access, and what percent don't give you access?

Marilee Sears: I was just going to say that. The majority of my clients don't give me access. Of the majority of them, I would say probably 70% run reports and give me reports.

Howard Farran: Don't you think that's the issue and why they need a consultant? They're not open. They're not ...

Marilee Sears: They're not open? They're not sharing? Well, partially, but, I mean, I actually can't say that I see a connection between the two right now. Because I have some people that they still run their reports, and truthfully, their production doubles within 90 days. They run their reports the entire time. I think a lot of times, it's just that awareness of the numbers. If they're being aware enough, they generally are going to see some changes. I'll say it again, I always think that there's more than just the numbers. The numbers kind of lead us to what's going on, but it's systemic. There's something ... a culture or a belief, or maybe, I would just say, a spirit ... within the practice that causes those numbers to be there, that the numbers just kind of are the symptoms of what's going on within the practice. The belief-

Howard Farran: I know.

Marilee Sears: You know?

Howard Farran: I mean, I've said it a million times. When you walk into a dental office, within 10 seconds, you can smell and feel ... they're crushing it, or something's dead.

Marilee Sears: Totally. Yep. Yep.

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: I couldn't agree more. One of the things that I want to touch on is that I think a lot of dentists make the mistake of really not knowing who their ideal clients are. I think a lot of dentists say, "Oh, I just want more cash patients." You know, or, "I want more fee-for-service patients." But I think it's a really important thing that dentists look ... One of the most important things to be tracking is, who are your best patients within the practice? Who are your most productive patients? Realizing that you want to market more to those, and really, again, build up those relationships. Make that your gold standard of those kinds of patients. That's one of the things that probably is the most surprising when I first come in and I'm meeting with dentists. That they might think that their best patients, they end up not really being the best patients at all. Right?

They can say, "Oh, well ..." To give you an example, I was working with a dentist outside of Seattle. He was saying, "Well, we have a few people that are Amazon and Microsoft executives. We want more of them, because money's just no issue for them." We went through, and we actually did a report looking at the most productive patients. Granted, one of the executives was on there, but 80% of the production was coming from families. None of those people were executives within the practice. The whole point that he'd been building his practice on, up until that point, had been: I want to have the best technology. I want to be showing this off to people so that we are the most advanced practice in the area. While I would say that was a good message, the better message for him was about being family friendly. We talked about offering child care within the practice because he was in a family ... he was in a neighborhood.

He had a ton of families. He actually thought families were the problem. He was like, "I'm attracting the wrong people." But families were his most productive patients. The only way to know that is to look at the numbers, you know? And then he changed it, and he has been killing it, because now he realizes that he wants to be marketing towards the families. Those are his most productive patients. Sure, if he gets an executive, awesome. But he was totally off base on who he was messaging and who he wanted to attract to the practice.

Howard Farran: Yeah. That's why I went to the junkyard and bought that little merry-go-round and put it in the front of my office. When they drive by, they see the dental office, and then they see a little merry-go-round. Then I had it jimmy rigged so you didn't have to put a quarter in there. Sometimes I'll be driving by my office late at night, and there's still kids just riding it. I, just last week, walked out of a steakhouse, because I walked in there, and I had two grandchildren with me. My friend had a couple grandchildren. I saw the way she looked at those kids like, "Oh my god."

I just thought, "You know what? This isn't ... They probably don't even want us." We turn around and walk out. Then the manager came running out and was like, "Is something wrong? Is something wrong?" We just said, "We got grandkids. We're just going to go some place." I mean, I personally think all the best restaurants in the world have pictures of their food on the menu, whether it's Waffle House, IHOP. But yeah, so family friendly, or they're more [inaudible 00:32:21]. What percent of your clients take PPOs?

Marilee Sears: No, that's a really good question. Probably 50/50. I think it's becoming more common. More of my clients are taking PPOs. When I started a few years ago, it was probably more like 60% were fee-for-service. I'm surprised at how many fee-for-service clients I still have, because I know that that's not probably-

Howard Farran: What is your definition of fee-for-service practice?

Marilee Sears: Well, they will bill insurance. They don't do write offs. And they expect to collect their full fee.

Howard Farran: Delta tells on their website that 95% of dentists in America take Delta. That's, to me, they're setting the fee. They're not paying a percentage of the fee. I mean, technically, legally, wouldn't it be 95% of the dentists take ... What would you call that every dentist that takes Delta takes ...

Marilee Sears: I guess maybe I should say this. I definitely have clients that don't ... They don't deduct for Delta. They're not participating within Delta. You can say that ... I mean, I know that's really rare.

Howard Farran: It is rare.

Marilee Sears: It's just the clients that I've attracted, so-

Howard Farran: Okay. Well, I only see-

Marilee Sears: ... I know that's [inaudible 00:33:23].

Howard Farran: I only see those-

Marilee Sears: They're not in network with Delta.

Howard Farran: I only see those dentists doing that in the rural. I don't ever see ... Hardly anyone in the big cities do that. Occasionally there's some boutique guy crushed in cosmetics or implants, whatever, but as far as the big median pie, do you see them in rural than urban?

Marilee Sears: I have two that are definitely, like you said, the boutique practices. 150 ... 137 five-star Google reviews. Tons of cosmetic cases that they are able to promote. Those ones, they are within cities. Like you said, otherwise, yes, it is more ... I mean, they're still in towns. It's not like they're completely in the sticks. But they're just not in cosmopolitan or metropolitan areas.

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: 80% of your clients you do online.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: I think that's ... Do you know anyone else who does that?

Marilee Sears: I guess I haven't ever asked.

Howard Farran: Yeah. I don't know anybody. I think that is just amazing. You think 70% don't let you wire in because that's more a technical deal or an embarrassment/control issue deal?

Marilee Sears: Well, I don't think it's an embarrassment/control issue. I think it might a control issue. I definitely think it might be a control issue. I think for them, it's one of those things that it's more of a hassle for them to set up a network if they don't already have a network set up. Some of them truthfully, especially more in the rural area, they may not even ... I mean, I have one client who has paper charts still. I mean, their computer system ... Every time I ask them to run a report, they're always like, "We don't know how to do that." You know?

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: I am able to put some trackers in place so that they don't have to run the reports. It's just something that they're able ... I can get the information from them on a daily basis of them entering in some information for me that takes them three minutes, potentially. I think it might be a control issue, and I think it also might be a convenience issue. If they see to the fact that they're able to get the results that they want to get without giving me access to their information, they just might feel more comfortable with that. I'm okay with that as long as they're getting the results.

Howard Farran: Online, you say that ... I mean, you've said it several times already that it's beyond the numbers.

Marilee Sears: It is.

Howard Farran: There's something spiritually dead inside. You can feel it. You can smell it. How do you want to fix that?

Marilee Sears: Well, I think we have to fix that. Okay, so I'm going to go into this ... Forgive me for just a minute ... but while I learned a ton in transitioning my dad's practice, a ton, I think the biggest thing that I learned had nothing to do with reports. It had nothing to do with numbers. It had nothing to do with scripts. It had to do with confidence. It had to do with beliefs. One of the biggest beliefs that I had changed when I was going through all of this was the fact that I guess I'm tougher than I realized. I can do harder things than I realized. It was absolutely, no doubt about it, the hardest thing I ever had to do. I have gone through a divorce before. I've given birth to two children. Transitioning my father's dental practice was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do.

About a year after my dad passed away ... Howard, this might sound a little crazy, but forgive me ... I was talking to my dad one evening. I could just feel his spirit. It was like 2:00 in the morning, and I could just feel his spirit in the house. I woke up, and I just ... It just was a different feeling. I felt extremely, extremely happy, wide awake at 2:00 in the morning. I came downstairs, and I started talking with him. I just closed my eyes and said, "I know you're here, so I'm just going to close my eyes and talk to you as though you were here." I was talking to him, and I said, "I hope you're not offended, but I really like the relationship that we have now better than the relationship we had when you were really here." It was kind of a silence for a minute, and he just goes, "Do you want to know why?" I said, "Yeah. I want to know why." I mean, it's not like an auditory thing ...

Howard Farran: Right.

Marilee Sears: ... but we were having this conversation. I said, "Yeah, I want to know why." It was like ... Here, I have a book. It was like this. It was like so fast, but all these memories went through my mind. Some of them, very few of them I actually remember. They were when I was four years old or eight years old of these memories I could remember. They were all memories that I had of feeling very unwanted. Just feeling like I was a burden. Sorry, I will try not to cry, but feeling very unwanted within my family, and especially by my dad. Then my dad said, "Marilee I didn't want you, but it had nothing to do with you." It was the most healing message that I had, and it changed my life completely, because I realized I was always coming from this place of feeling like a burden or not feeling enough.

I see that actually a lot within dentistry. It has nothing to do with the crowns. It has nothing to do with a lot of things, but it has to do with our belief of the value that we bring to this world and the value that we bring to our patients' lives. That's something that I am constantly reassessing for myself and I'm reassessing for my clients on a regular basis, because it makes all the difference. It makes all the difference in the value that you get from your practice, regardless of what the numbers are. Sure, the production is awesome, but you feel unworthy if there's something about you that doesn't feel like you're giving back and doing the best for your patients. I really believe that's the core of everything.

Howard Farran: That is a beautiful story. I saw that, too, growing up in Wichita. It was 25% Catholic. I mean, my friend Brian [Hussey 00:38:37] was one of 21 kids. I grew up with seven kids. I mean, I think when we were in grammar school, his older brother was like 40. I mean, it was crazy. But they used to openly say, "Children should be seen, not heard." I mean, they used to ... especially the priest from Poland would say it. They'd be talking, and you'd stand by to listen. They'd look at you like, "Why are you standing there listening? Go play."

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: Or you go to someone's house, and the mom is always trying to shoo everybody. "Why don't you guys go to the park? Go outside. Children should be seen, not heard." Now the millennial, who's having them a decade later ... And instead of dropping four or five, they're having one or two.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: I think it's truly that children of big, huge families had lots of people feeling that way.

Marilee Sears: Yeah. And I [inaudible 00:39:25] it with my siblings.

Howard Farran: I mean, when you have eight kids, how do you spend time with eight kids, or 10 or 11?

Marilee Sears: It's true.

Howard Farran: How do you do that?

Marilee Sears: It's true. Right? Right? I do. I have a different relationship ... Let me just say this. I am super grateful for my parents. I can't even imagine having 10 kids. I can't imagine having 11 kids. I can't. I feel like a failure enough having two children. I love them to death, but I feel like a failure many ... I feel like a failure frequently as a parent with two. I'm extremely grateful, but at the same time, like you said, I hope to have a different relationship with my children than I had with my parents growing up. That's a benefit that I have from just from the way that I was raised. We all have that perspective of things that we hope to do better.

Howard Farran: No. I mean, how many kids went to college and they only saw their parents or talked to their parents when they went home on their breaks, or whatever?

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: Now you have FaceTime, and you can FaceTime your kids. You always know when they're up to trouble, because they'll text me, and I'll FaceTime them back, and they'll accept. But when I FaceTime them and they deny, and then they text me back, I'm like, "Okay. I was born at night, but it wasn't last night. I wonder why I can't see what you are and where you're at and what you're doing." How do you fix that, though? How do you do that online? How do you find that soul, that purpose? How do you bring to life-

Marilee Sears: Okay. Man, you're getting deep into it. This is, like I said, this is the part where I ... Okay. Part of me, I'm going to say, is I feel like my dad just brings the right people to me. He's a part of what I do to this day. I think the right people ... I definitely have a certain ... If it's all about numbers and it's all about systems, I can help there, but the impact is going to not be nearly as much as if we can go into the beliefs, and really looking at the routines and the mindset that create who you are and what your practice becomes, what you are able to achieve. A lot of it is that we just go into beliefs. There's a lot of beliefs, these things we have in our head, that we are not even aware of. Then I think a lot of it is actually like within their body.

I mean, I have had a conversations with dentists, when I start talking to them, and I can't explain it, but if it's like I'm the right person for them, they share things that they would never share with anyone else. I feel so incredibly grateful for that. They'll share that they were molested when they were five, and we realize that that's still impacting them somehow. All I can say is, I can't explain it. My dad was able to release me from the burden that I was carrying that I didn't even realize that I was carrying, and I think he still just is able to help me, or possibly maybe even work through me, to release burdens that other people carry. I wish I could explain it better, but maybe I'm just a safe space because I've been there myself. When they realize that they're not alone, there's some comfort that comes from that.

Howard Farran: That's a beautiful story. I've always said for 30 years, the best dental consultants in the world are always an arm-chair consultant ... I mean, psychiatrist, or a shrink.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: They're not failing because they're in Tanzania instead of the United States. I mean, when you're in Somalia, you have some macroeconomic issues. Syria, can you imagine being a dentist in Syria? I mean ...

Marilee Sears: No. No.

Howard Farran: ... how are you going to build up your practice with Yelp reviews in Syria?

Marilee Sears: Exactly. I was going to say, I had a dentist reach out to me from Yemen and asking me questions. It's just one of those things of, like you said, talk about a different set of problems, right?

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: It's so sad to see what's happening to Yemen. We had dentists on Dental Town, and some of them have shared so much and so many pictures of what's going on in Yemen. It's very hard to concentrate on learning better endo skills when every night you're just hearing things blowing up and you're waking up to rubble.

Marilee Sears: Exactly.

Howard Farran: I mean, crazy. Yeah. When they call you, when they reach out, what is their ... Are there more common issues? Are they younger versus older?

Marilee Sears: Oh, okay.

Howard Farran: Is it more-

Marilee Sears: I would say, for my clients, they're either within the 10 years of starting their practice or within 10 years of wanting to be out of their practice. That's probably true of 80% of my clients. I do have few that are in their 40s, but they have no desire to retire. The vast majority of my clients are 10 years in or 10 years out. I think that they either relate ... This is my belief-

Howard Farran: The first 10 years or their last 10 years.

Marilee Sears: Exactly.

Howard Farran: Interesting.

Marilee Sears: This is my belief, and who knows if I'm completely right. My belief is that they either relate to my dad in that story ... You know, in my experience, they relate to my dad when they say, "I don't want to ..." Hold on one second. Sorry, something just popped up on my computer. I think that they either relate to my dad when they say, "Okay, well, I'm still here, and I don't want to leave my family with that burden," or, "I don't want to leave my wife without the production of the practice or the monies from the practice," or that they want to actually enjoy some retirement. My dad never had a retirement.

He retired, I guess retired, two months before he passed away and was going through chemotherapy that entire time. I think they either relate to my dad, or they relate to me, that they realize that they are capable of achieving more. Maybe they've already gone through dental school. They've already been successful. But the realize that there's something holding them back, and it's something more than systems. It's something beyond just numbers, because they have Open Dental, or they have these different reports, and yet they can't get their team to be on board, or they can't increase their treatment acceptance. They realize that there's something more than just systems and scripts that's the solution.

Howard Farran: You're kind of almost like a dental psychologist.

Marilee Sears: Yeah. Maybe I'm a little bit like a dental therapist.

Howard Farran: Yeah. The true definition of a dental therapist. That is a good one. That is very interesting. What is different about those guys preparing their last 10 years versus the first 10-year people calling you?

Marilee Sears: Well, I would say, I always think it's easier ... The earlier, the better. I have to say, personally, I really ... I like working with those that are newer into practice, because it's just easier to change the systems and change the culture when there's been two years into the practice than when there's been 47 years into the practice. And then yeah, there really are some dentists that have work that long, or 35 years into the practice. Having said that, as far as the results, the dentists that have been working over 30 years and see a complete change in the way that they are relating to patients and a complete change in their practice, there is a different relationship that I get when they see the results, because I think it's harder for both of us.

They're like, "Here I am, 35 years into practice, and I finally get the value of what I'm offering," or, "I finally get that I'm really, really good. I finally am feeling confident about my skills," whatever it may be. Because, again, it was never about the skills. It was never about the CE. That was kind of the excuse before. The truth is, they didn't really value themselves. There were some worth issues going on. It's probably not the case in every practice. In the clients that I work with, self-worth and confidence is very frequently a piece of the puzzle.

Howard Farran: Yeah. It's so sad, because how a society raises that kid the first five years is going to have more to do with that kid's future. I mean, and then these kids go to school, they focus on algebra and geometry and trig.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: They don't even know how to take care of themselves. They don't even know how their mind works. They don't love themselves. Yeah.

Marilee Sears: It's so true. I'm the really annoying person. My kids ... I have a husband and two children, both boys, and they get annoyed with me. For example, yesterday, we went to the park. There was this little boy that just comes up and starts talking to me, and I was just ... I don't know. I'll talk to anybody. But this little five-year-old kid is talking to me. He's talking and he's talking. My boys were like, "Mom." I could tell they were getting annoyed because I'm talking to this five-year-old.

But then through the course of the conversation, he tells me that he hasn't seen his mom in years, and his dad is in prison. I'm like, "I am so glad I didn't just brush him off. I'm so glad that I didn't say, 'Okay, I'm going to go play with my kids now.'" My kids get me every day, right? I just have those moments of, like you said, we're lucky enough to get to impact each others' lives, whether you're five or 65 years old. I am blessed to get to do that. It's my favorite part of what I do, whether it's in a dental office or outside of it.

Howard Farran: Are any of those problems, when the dentist calls you ... By the way, what's the best way for them to get a hold of you?

Marilee Sears: The best way for them to get a hold of me is That's the best email address, or marileesears@gmail. Both of those are both my private email addresses, and that's the best way for them to contact me.

Howard Farran: Marilee is spelled differently. It's M-A-R-I-L-E-E. So Mari, with an 'i,' then lee. Marilee.

Marilee Sears: That's right. And it's Sears, like the store.

Howard Farran: And Marilee Sears, like the store. Yeah. I thought that was interesting in Freakonomics, where they said there was 274 different spellings of the name Unique just in California. I always tell people, "You should really thank your mom for misspelling that word." Then you have to correct everybody until you're 103 years old. The best way for them to contact you is marilee, M-A-R-I-L-E-E, Do they usually ... The incoming email, are there any other issues or problems? Is it a staff issue? Is it a financial issue? Is it-

Marilee Sears: Well, I guess I would ... I'm going to say this. I know a lot of people listen to this. The right people, they just ... I mean, I've honestly gotten emails with things like this, like, "It just felt right." You know what I'm saying? Or like, "I've been on your emails, and there's just something about you that's different." Those are my ideal clients. Those are my ideal clients. Because, again, I can help with systems. I can help with implementation. I can help with teamwork and all of those things, but my true things are just the people that, like, we somehow get each other. We kind of connect. As far as what other-

Howard Farran: Your main thing is trying to get their head on straight.

Marilee Sears: Absolutely. 100%. That's a great way of putting it. Because for a lot of them, it's not even necessarily about the fact of ... Again, because of my story, some of them, it's not necessarily that they even want to be producing a lot more, but maybe they want to be taking five more weeks off per year because they have young children. Or they realize that they should be able to ... They have a lot of team turnover, and they're going, "Okay, I'm tired of this. I know that now it's the man in the mirror. It's not because I live in this town and there's no good employees in the area." They start to somehow be willing to take accountability. I think that's when people, they call me, is because they start to realized, "Okay, I'm a bigger piece of this than I realized before." Like you said, it's all about getting their head on straight.

Howard Farran: It's a very homogenous pot, because it's like natural selection. I mean, you can't enter this profession unless you got a A in calculus, physics, geometry, biology. That's a very specific type of monkey. Most monkies, if you say, "What is your worst subject? What do you hate the most?" They go, "Math."

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: Well, hell. You couldn't get in dentistry unless you got a A in geometry, trig, algebra, calculus, then apply that to physics and apply that to chemistry. It should not surprise anybody that the 2 million dentists on earth are extremely similar in their mindset.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: Because they've all been filtered out. I mean, you know?

Marilee Sears: Like you said, they've all been filtered out, and they've been so good. They've been so good until they create their own practice. I guess that's the part that ... And then they're just dumbfounded, because they've been so good. They've gotten A's. They were the top of their class.

Howard Farran: Because the skillset they're good at has no relation to running a dental office.

Marilee Sears: Exactly. Exactly. Right? Because you can ... Let me even say this. You might even be better at school if you lack confidence. Then you need that to help bolster your confidence and bolster your identity. Being really, really good, being top of the class can always be that double-edged sword. Right? Then they take that into their practice, and they think that's something that's going to help them be successful, that they were top of the class or that they always got A's. The truth is, if they don't have the ability to connect with someone else and just be human, it limits how successful they can be in practice.

Howard Farran: Oh, yeah. Some of that stuff ... Like, I actually ... When we got into physics, they started talking about the universe and cosmo ... Is it cosmetology? Or cos ...

Marilee Sears: Cosmos or ...

Howard Farran: Cosmology. Cosmology.

Speaker 3: Or astrology.

Howard Farran: Is it ... Astronomy. Or whatever. The cosmos.

Speaker 3: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Howard Farran: In that course, they kind of dabbled on it a little bit, and they said you can skip some chapters, but I started really getting interested in that. I started reading it, and I realized, "Okay, dude. You could do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week the rest of your life and not even buy a cup of coffee at Walmart. You're getting too interested in this. It's taking way too much of your time. You need to learn skill sets to have a family and start a business."

Marilee Sears: Okay, I'm going to say this, but you know what? Because you have a power to you. You have a power to you, and you know this. That's why you have such a following. Who knows, you might have been the first Wayne Dyer. Is it Dyer? Wayne Dyer. Do you know who that is?

Howard Farran: Wayne Dyer? Yeah.

Marilee Sears: Yeah. You might have been the first Wayne Dyer, but you're like ... There is a power to you. You would have been successful whatever route you chose. I'm glad you chose dentistry.

Howard Farran: Well, thank you. I think where they failed ... They either know what they know, they know what they don't know, but they don't know what they don't know.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: Everything they got A's in doesn't matter. You're never going to use physics and gravity in running your business. Then after that, they seem to excel whatever they're interested in. I mean, if you're interested in playing the violin every day, then everybody says, "Oh, she's a musical genius. She's the best violinist, and she's only nine." No, she's not a genius. She's interested in the violin.

Marilee Sears: Right. She enjoys the violin.

Howard Farran: She plays it a thousand hours a year. But if you dissected her brain and then compared it to all the other brains, you don't see any difference between ant brain, dolphin brain, chimpanzee brain. You all got the same brain. But you only really get good at anything you're interested in. So many of these dentists are so interested ... Like, they'll say, "Well, I bought [inaudible 00:53:30] because I'm really interested in technology." I'll say, "Okay, well, that's cool, but your rationale for ... That just means you're interested in it. I'd really like you to be interested in the business, too."

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: These dentists in Seattle that say, "Well, I want all these Microsoft executives so I'm going to have all this latest and greatest technology." You never hear a physician ever say that.

Marilee Sears: Ever. Never. Never.

Howard Farran: He didn't say, "Oh, we upgraded our CAT scan to an MRI. Our ultrasound imaging, we upgraded to the new color ultrasound imaging. Now you can see your little baby worm wiggling in color." I mean, nobody says that in medicine, veterinary, chiropractor, podiatry. Only dentists say that because they want it to be true.

Marilee Sears: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Howard Farran: Do you think any technology with your clients is making or breaking them?

Marilee Sears: I wouldn't say that ... Unless it's a very competitive market, I wouldn't say technology is something that is a differentiator. Just to give you an example, like I said, I went to my class reunion last week. Someone came up to me and was asking what dentist they should go to. I said, "Okay, well let me do ..." I haven't lived in that town for a while. I said, "Let me do some research, and I'll get back to you." I came back to her, and I said, "Does technology matter?" And she said, "Not one bit." She's making the decision for her two children and for her husband, and she's a nurse herself. I said, "Do you care if they ..." To this extent, I said, "Do you care if they have digital x-rays? Because I know of a dentist in the town who didn't have digital x-rays. A really great, hometown dentist, but has not invested in digital x-rays."

She said, "I don't care." I thought, "That's really telling to me." I'll be honest. For myself, that would probably make a difference. I really prefer for my children and myself that we have digital radiographs. But I thought, "Here it is, a nurse who said, 'Nope. It doesn't make any difference at all to me.'" Technology was not a differentiator for her. I would say that to be able to stand out as technology, at least that can't be the message. That can't be that you need to stand out being pain free. You need to stand out as being family friendly or kid friendly, or the fact that you can sleep through dentistry. But to be able to say, "We have the best technology," I don't think anybody's out there looking for that.

Howard Farran: What factor do you think staff turnover plays on practice success?

Marilee Sears: I think it ... Okay. I used to believe that it was, you know, you want your team to be with you for forever. Granted, that was probably because one of the practices that I worked with early out of hygiene school, they have team members that have been there 15 years, 20 years, and they are a phenomenal practice. Now I've just realized that you want ... I think it's really important to have core team members that are good and that are there forever, but I also think it's also important that you are willing to let team members go that are not a good fit.

I don't think I was as willing to say that early on in coaching people, that, "Okay, it doesn't matter that Mary's been there 15 years. If she's not on board with the vision of the practice, you can only give her a certain amount of time before you say, 'Sorry, Mary. You're not the right fit for the practice any longer. We're going in a different direction.'" I can't give you a really concrete answer there. I think that it's important to have a good core team, but then to also be willing to cut ties with people that don't support you and the vision of the practice.

Howard Farran: They do it in the NFL all day long.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: Some guy took them to four Super Bowls, then the next year he's fired.

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: It's like, "I don't care what you did four years ago." I think the greatest thing in life is the people. I would not have been wanting to be born alone on Hawaii all by myself.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: But there are also ... That's the worst part of life. The people are the best part of life and they're the worst part of life. I think the hardest thing a human has to do is learn to navigate with his wife, his children, his employees, his ... It's all people skills. On those people calling you in the first 10 years, how do you ... Do you see much issues with people skills, whether it's communicating with staff or patients?

Marilee Sears: Yeah. I think it's definitely something of being clear of who you are and what you stand for early on, because otherwise, you put up with a lot of crap from patients and from team members that you never should. I think a lot of people, what I see from female dentists, is that they're too nice. They want everyone to like them, and so they don't set that structure early on. You know, I said women. I see it a lot of times with men too, especially if they buy a practice and the team members have been there for 14 years. "Oh, well, I don't want to rock the boat. Beth wouldn't go along with that." Just realizing the fact of, you have to have a certain level of respect from your team that has nothing to do with the fact ...

It just has to come from the fact that you own the practice and you're doing the payroll. And it doesn't matter that you're 29 and they're 55. There still has to be a certain level of respect. I think that a lot of times, it is. It's setting that up of how a team needs to treat a practice owner, regardless of if they're younger or if they've just come into the practice. I think that there's something to be said both ways, right? For a new dentist coming in, seeing how patients were treated and seeing the culture of the practice, but then also, the team needs to be flexible and be willing to accommodate and follow the new dentist. If that's not possible, I don't think it's a good fit.

Howard Farran: Yeah. That is so cool. I've heard several consultants say over the years that one of the problems with dentists is that they're too nice.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: I'm like, "Well, that's fricking cool. I like being in a profession where one of our biggest problems-

Marilee Sears: I know. Okay, isn't that so true? I think that's one of the things, is that there's almost like this hidden aggressiveness to dentists. It's like they don't stand their ground until they're pissed off, right? I want them to stand their ground and to set those boundaries and set those ... I don't know what the ... The word isn't coming to my mind right now ... but just those expectations before they're pissed off, right? This is the expectation, and deal with your team members before you're at that breaking point if you're going to need to let them go, or you're just going to lose it on them. Right? I think that that's ... Again, just understanding and having that confidence that you can stand up for yourself without being pushed too far, before it comes to the point where you've been pushed too far and those relationships can't be repaired, whether it's with a patient, or with a spouse, or with an employee.

Howard Farran: Yeah. I mean, we're hardwired at birth to not be ... to get along.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: We need to work together. It doesn't matter if you're honey bees, ants, termites, we're all programmed as social animals to get along. Having an uncomfortable conversation is not natural.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: The more uncomfortable conversations you have, you'll rise to the top.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: That dentist will see Mary Ann come in 10 minutes late, and he's like, "Ugh." She does it like six times, and he never says anything.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: And then he goes postal on her and fires her. I tell dentists that if you fire a staff member and they're shocked, you are a horrible manager and a horrible person.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: I mean, she's got a mortgage on her house, her car. This came out of nowhere, and you didn't make that decision out of nowhere. It's all about communication.

Marilee Sears: Yes. Yes. Communication, I think there has to be a certain level of confidence or self-worth in order for that communication to happen and for it to happen seamlessly.

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: Yeah. Well, oh my goodness. I could talk to you forever. I think that they're even flagging you down.

Howard Farran: Oh, did we go over?

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: Yeah. Back to the conversation. So many dentists don't get any feedback from their staff because the staff doesn't feel safe.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: The lab man is afraid to tell you that, you know ...

Marilee Sears: Your margins suck.

Howard Farran: ... he could really help you, but he doesn't want to lose your account.

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: The Patterson rep, when she comes in, is going to bring you donuts and tell you you're wonderful and you're her favorite practice because she told you. You guys are fricking crazy, and I know what's going on. I'm only in here one hour a week.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: It's so obvious. But you don't make anyone feel safe to tell you the bad news, so you shoot the messenger. I mean, that's been a problem for a thousand years. You shoot the messenger. You don't want to hear bad news. And then you're back there in your office scratching your head and wondering, "What the hell's wrong?"

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: I call it the Saddam Hussein syndrome. The reason these dictators make such bad decisions is because they shoot anyone who disagrees with them.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: And so all the talented people leave. Then as soon as the dictator falls, the place goes crazy, and they always blame it on, "Well, they need a dictator." No, the dictator shot, killed, and ran off everyone that could have ran this country for the last 20 years, so it's been dumbed down.

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: Now we're dealing with the bottom of the barrel because all the talent ...

Marilee Sears: ... has left.

Howard Farran: I mean, every smart person from all those countries, their families moved here 20 years ago ...

Marilee Sears: Yep.

Howard Farran: ... 30 years ago, 100 years ago. You have that website. You're doing a new online event. There's a website-

Marilee Sears: That's right. I was going to say, that's what we're [inaudible 01:02:05]-

Howard Farran:, H-O-W-F. www.100, 1-0-0, What's all that about?

Marilee Sears: Well, what this is about is because every year I do an event, and it's ... Again, I won't give the whole backstory, but I started doing it right after my dad passed away as a way to collaborate with the top experts within dentistry. I did the Future of Dentistry event for the past three years, and one of the most popular topics was always about marketing, how everyone wants to attract more new patients, attracting more new patients. This year the topic is really going to be focused on 100 new patients. What are the best ways, the fastest ways, the most profitable ways to attract more patients into the practice? We're covering, also, a number of things from systems to patient retention to in-office referrals. There's a lot of different topics that are being covered, but that's the main topic we're talking about, is what are the best ways to bring more new patients and more ideal patients through your front door?

Howard Farran: I love that. I support it. I'm all for it. It's all true. And every dentist wants it and needs it. But new patients are just like getting hooked on opioids or heroin.

Marilee Sears: Totally.

Howard Farran: Because if you keep getting a hundred new patients a month, you never, ever have to stop and think, "Why are we losing a hundred new patients a month?" Because I'll go in there and I'll say ...

Marilee Sears: Why do you need a hundred new patients a month?

Howard Farran: Yeah.

Marilee Sears: Exactly.

Howard Farran: Because four out of five of their patients never come back, and they think the problem is they don't have enough new patients. Well, if you lose 80% of your patients every five-year period, that's why you need new patients. I mean, I meet dentists who are the only dentist in a town of 2,000. They've practiced there from age 25 to 65. I said, "What do you need?" He says, "I need new patients." Buddy, you've pissed everyone off in this county three times each. You're 65. After 40 years, you would think the only thing you wouldn't need is marketing.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: I mean, and there's nobody in this county who doesn't even know your name. When you walk into the store, they know who you are. You really think they need a flyer?

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: Did you ever stop to think, "Why does four out of five people not come back"? There's so many things that can go wrong, because, like in a restaurant, if you can get the food consistency ... The killer restaurants have that one thing, whether it's, you go there because you like the chips and salsa or you like the ... There's this one thing. If they can do that consistently, you can pretty much crush it. But in dentistry, my god, whoever the answers the front call can run off the patient. Then when they come in, the assistant can drop the patient.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: They might not like the hygienist. They might not like the dentist. And they sure as hell don't like the shots, and the crown didn't feel right, or they didn't like the shit ... I mean, there's just so many things that can go wrong in dentistry that they like to take the eye off that and just correct it all with a bunch of new patients.

Marilee Sears: Absolutely. Is it the Band-Aid approach? 100%. I'll just share this with you. Is that marketing? I mean, was this a marketing ... Of course, because I don't believe that 100 new patients fixes anything. As you said, those dentists who are attracting 50, 60 new patients a month and are continuing to attract that many patients per month, and yet their practices, they're not adding a new associate every year or every two years, there's a problem there, right, and a big piece of it, because dentistry still is a relationship. It's still a human interaction. As you said, so many things can go wrong. I always say, "You're only as good as your last appointment." It doesn't matter how-

Howard Farran: Right. That's nice.

Marilee Sears: It doesn't matter how well you treat patients. That first appointment, you're only as good as your last appointment or the last patient interaction. It could have even been a phone call, but you're only that good.

Howard Farran: My final question ... That's brilliant. Because right now, everybody thinks linear. I remember the stock market days from '93 to 2000. They were coming out with books, Dow 40,000. I mean, everyone's a linear thinker.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: When real estate's going up ... But what goes up ... Right now, everyone believes, except for me, that corporate dentistry has gone from 0 to 12% in the last 10 years, and in the next 10 years, it's going to 25%, and eventually, they'll get half. I'm like, "Really? Because I don't see any evidence of that at all right now." What is your view of corporate?

Marilee Sears: Well, my view of corporate is like ... I will agree with you. I have been with way too many private practice dentists who have absolutely no plans to change things. That's it. Some of them have purchased their practice three years ago. Some of them have purchased their practice 30 years ago, but they're not planning to retire, and they're absolutely not planning on selling their practice to a corporate entity. I think as long as there are people within dentistry who want to be in private practice and those that are saying, "No, I'm not planning on selling my practice," of course there's going to be private practice. I guess maybe I am jaded because I have that view because my dad was in private practice. I have a brother and a sister that are both in private practice. If I see dentists who are looking to buy a private practice, then I think it's going to continue to be out there. I think it's a little-

Howard Farran: I guess more specific, what I meant is, you're only as good as your last appointment.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: Do you think corporate is significantly better with the patient at that last appointment, or private practice?

Marilee Sears: No, I don't believe so at all. No, I don't believe ... Well, but I will say this. I think that dentists and teams in general believe that they over ... They think that they're better than they are. Can I just say that? I think a lot of times we think that we're better than we are. We can say, "Oh, well corporate can't compete with me because it's a relationship practice." Okay, but what are you doing to exceed your patients' expectations, then? Because you can't just hang the hat on the fact of, "I own this practice, and so my patients get a different relationship with me." I think you really do have to ask those questions.

How do we stand out? How do we go above and beyond our patients' expectations? Because otherwise, really ... I want the patients to feel like there's a difference there. It doesn't matter if we think there's a difference there. It matters from the patients' perspective if there's a difference there. Do I think that corporate is better in that way? Absolutely not. I don't think they're better at forming relationships, but I also think that there's plenty of dentists out there and teams out there that could do better at communicating the value and forming those relationships, and treatment acceptance and all those other things that really have very little to do with the actual numbers in the systems.

Howard Farran: Well, I want to be an equal opportunity offender.

Marilee Sears: Okay.

Howard Farran: I don't want any of my ... I got some very good friends that own big corporate deals.

Marilee Sears: Yeah.

Howard Farran: I mean, I think the world of Rick Workman, who owns Heartland. I first want to say, there's not one dental office in the world keeping all their patients.

Marilee Sears: Yeah. Absolutely.

Howard Farran: There's not one dental office in the world who doesn't need more new patients after 10, 20, 30, or 40 years. That tells you a couple things. Dentistry is a very hard, people-pleasing business. It's a lot easier to please you to perform a mani/pedi or cut your hair on you than it is a root canal. I mean, so let's just be honest. You're in a tough space, working in a scared human, and they're scared about the cost and the pain. It's very difficult. No one's keeping their associates in private practice or in corporate. Again, these people didn't go to school eight years to not have skin in the game. I think the lawyers are doing it better, because they give ... Half the lawyers got light at the end of the tunnel, but they said, "Marilee, you come in here, and you work your butt off for five years. And you bring us new business. And you burn the midnight oils. I'm working nine to five because I'm 55, but you're 25."

Marilee Sears: Yeah, I put those hours in.

Howard Farran: "Your 95 is 95 hours a week. You do that, and one day we might call you in here and make you a partner." They don't see that at the end of the tunnel as an associate if they ... The only associates are staying are the ones that see at the end they're going to buy the practice. They're going to make partner. They're going to own it.

Marilee Sears: Yes.

Howard Farran: It's so complicated. But I just love you to death. I think your story's amazing. I think your family's amazing. I was like your mother. I would have had 11 kids. I mean, I had four boys in 60 months. Yeah, I just think it's a beautiful story. Beautiful family. I hope you crush it on the

Marilee Sears: Thank you. Howard, it's such a pleasure. I just want to say this. You are so genuine, so fantastic. It is always an honor to get to connect with you.

Howard Farran: All right. On that note, I hope you have a rocking hot weekend. Kiss those two little boys from Uncle Howie for me.

Marilee Sears: That sounds great.

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