Posted by Productive Dentist Academy | December 9th, 2020
“You can’t just dream and hope that it happens,” says Dr. Darren Webber. In practice for 12 years, Dr. Webber was doing fine. But then he rediscovered his passion for dentistry and realized the way he was doing business prevented him from having the impact he dreamed about. Today, Dr. Webber joins us to talk about how a shift in mindset about business planning put him back in control of his practice by allowing him to:
Dr. Darren Webber
Dr. Webber was born in Sandy, Utah. He attended Utah State University where he earned his degree and then continued his education by receiving his dental degree from The University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. He enjoys spending his time away from the office with his wife and four children. They enjoy supporting the Aggies, being outdoors and anything Disney!
CHAD: Hey, everybody, it’s Chad Johnson here with the Everyday Practices Podcast with Reagan Robertson, my co host. How you doing?
REGAN: I’m feeling invigorated today. Chadwick. Thank you for asking.
CHAD: I love that feeling and invigorated those were both fun words and how to describe it. So Darren, Dr. Darren Webber, how are you doing?
DARREN: I’m doing great.
CHAD: Excellent. Thanks for joining us today on our episode. So just for the audience’s sake, Darren, and I recently did a class business class through Productive Dentist Academy. But that’s how Darren and I met. So Darren, tell the audience a little about yourself.
DARREN: Yeah, not an endodontist I, I live in Utah. I was born and raised near Salt Lake and Sandy, Utah. did my undergraduate at Utah State University, which is Logan. And then I did my dental school in Las Vegas, even though he graduated in 2008. And then in practice, 12 years, General Dentistry. And yeah, that’s good.
REGAN: Something that was really interesting. Darren is, as I participated in this program, and got to know you a little bit as is you stuck out to me because you ask really good questions. And I know it’s kind of a hallmark of a leader to ask really thought provoking questions, and I saw you searching, you know, searching for new answers and searching for different ways to think and do things.
And I saw Dr. Bruce Baird this morning, and Dr. Mark Costas, Bruce was speaking in his in his group on his podcast today. And, and they were talking about being continual learners and always searching for different ways to do things and show up as a leader. And, and I think, you know, one of the things that I find a lot in my decade in dentistry is that it is easy to come to a place of kind of complacency. So just kind of get into everything.
You go through school, you get your own practice, and then it just runs. It just goes and it’s okay. And and you’ve been in for 12 years now, you know, in your practice, and I’m very curious, when was that? What was that moment for you? What kind of questions were you asking yourself? What? What prompted you to say, Hi, you know, there might be a different direction for me to go or our life just isn’t quite what I want it to be. Where did that thought process begin for you?
DARREN: Yeah, I think probably like most dentists, you know, you go to dental school, you learn a ton of stuff, and four years, can seem can be kind of overwhelming, just the amount of stuff you’re learning clinically. I got out I came into a very busy practice, and just started working and, and felt like I was just kind of doing a craft, you know, I mean, I got in here and was a technician, basically, and came in and did my treatments.
And it was just my job. Like, for probably, probably eight years, maybe nine years of it, I was just showing up to work and it was fine. I liked it. I made good money. Like my patients had great staff around me. So there wasn’t anything that was like, miserable about it. But I think I once I started really, um, I just felt so comfortable with the clinical side of things. It was almost like I was getting a little bit bored. Just with work.
CHAD: You got the seven or eight years, huh?
CHAD: Yeah. I started doing CE in and around implants and cosmetic dentistry stuff that I just hadn’t really done anything with yet. And some of those courses were really enlightening to me as far as you know what? I’m pretty good at what I do. Um, and I enjoy it. Why don’t I do more of what I enjoy. And and I think I didn’t find my passion, I guess in dentistry until maybe three, four years ago, when I really realized like, I really like what I do. I have a really good job. And it can be so much more than just a technical thing that I show up and do.
And I think I started to, I think value what I offer people and seeing the transformation in people’s lives. Whether that be through restorative dentistry, or the thing that most affected me, I think, is seeing how dentistry can change, like people like you see them coming in initial visits, and just whether it’s like their sense of self worth, or you know, the way they carry themselves into the office. And then, you know, you give them their smile back and see their life change. And, and so I, I started to, I think, just see that dentistry could be so much more than just something I show up and do every day.
And that, you know, in dental school, you learn all the technical stuff. I don’t think I was running it very smart as a business person. And so that’s where Productive Dentist Academy came in. When I when I took that class that was like, oh, like, I couldn’t be doing things a lot better, that maybe would provide me opportunities to do the treatment that I’m really wanting to do more rather than just show up. And whatever comes in the door, we treat it.
REGAN: Wow. So So recognizing, and I think, by the way, Darren, I mean, I’ve said many times on this podcast, in fact, it’s one of the things that makes me extremely passionate about doing what I do just connecting doctors with business solutions, because I personally feel it’s I just, I try to put myself in that doctor shoes, you went through school. And as an artist, I can tell you, I was a graphic artists for many, many years, and I honed my craft, I can’t imagine trying to run a business on top of it. And not only that, I’m not talking like a boutique agency.
I mean, a dental practice so that you’re a building manager and HR manager, now you’re a marketing expert, did you know that you get to be that too. And you have to be all these different pieces and hats. And so I it’s, it was a big shock to me to realize, Oh, you have to go in and be a business owner on top of it. And I’ve heard that story many, many times. And so you got to this place. Where did you start looking? Did you go online? Did you look around for solutions? Did you try DIY? You know, when you decided, Okay, I want to do more of what I’m passionate about? I need some business help.
CHAD: Reagan that was going to be my next question. That’s a great question.
DARREN: Maybe like an important detail in my story is, I came out of school to a very busy practice where there was, I had a partner. And he’d been practicing for many, many years. And so I just was kind of here we were 50/50 partners, but I was very much the minor. And so I didn’t, I didn’t have a lot of as far as you know, like, technology and things like that. It was very old school. And, and, and he, he passed away unexpectedly in 2013.
So then all of a sudden, I am the business owner, and that was probably a big change. You know, that was five years into my practice. And, and it took a couple years of just okay, like, this is my baby now, like, what am I gonna do with it. And it took some time to kind of, we were so busy when he passed away, then it was just me. And so so to kind of transition, the practice. And then I think that’s probably, you know, a year or two after that, probably seven, eight years in is when I started to say, okay, like this, this can be more than what it is.
And, and I think obviously, this year with COVID, that’s how I found PDA really was was I was listening to some podcasts during shutdown. And they were talking about PDA. And so that’s, that’s really, I don’t know, if COVID made me feel like desperate as far as like, Where is the future going to be of dentistry? You know, at that point, I think all of us were a little bit scared. You know, and, and, and maybe part of the reason I like that podcast and I don’t even remember who was on the podcast for from PDA, but the positivity was so much better.
Because there were so many podcasts out at that moment that were like, Oh, this is the this is what dentistry is going to be like forever. Now, you know, we’re never going to have waiting rooms, we’re always going to be so scared and PPO is going to be hard to come by and, and I even kind of refused to believe that. Um, but it was disheartening to hear that over and over and over again from these like special, you know, bigwig, dentists.
So the positivity from PDA is probably what drew me most of that and then realizing like, I’ve got to be ready, in case, you know, for the next COVID like, what, what business? Yeah, for whatever comes next, hopefully nothing but we’ll see.
CHAD: But inevitably, there’s something I mean, I don’t even care if it’s 10 years from now, but there’s going to be another market crash, there’s going to be another, you know, election, there’s going to be another you know, it’s always something and what matters to you or us or the the world. I mean, that’s, you know, time will tell but so what I think is interesting is you noticed that a lot of people were seeing it as a crisis you saw as an opportunity.
DARREN: Yeah, I think it pushed me to a point where I, I think I think slowing down was the best part for me like, I closed my office for about seven weeks. And to be away from it, like, probably helped me realize how much I enjoyed it and appreciated it First of all, but it also was like, okay, like, what do I enjoy? What am I missing? You know, what am I, the first part of the shutdown was super stressful. And then it was really great just to be at home with my family, but I still miss dentistry.
And so when I was like, hey, what am I missing? Like, what parts of my job do I love? And I was like, Well, why, you know, I’m the boss, like, why don’t I just make that my job? You know, instead of just showing up? And whatever we do we do, why don’t I try and focus on the things that I love. So that was probably one of the goods kind of side effects of of the code shutdown was it gave me time to stop and think where I wasn’t busy every day just doing dentistry?
CHAD: Well, because you were, you were feeling like you were the one that had to do everything. If you know, you’re the point person and something that I took out of what you’re saying was that, like, you’re saying that you should be able to enjoy your job? How do I focus on what’s best for the patient? And, and, and make this happen? And in spite of the crisis or through this crisis? You know, so that way you could get on to greener pastures, right. Am I am I hearing that? That’s kind of where you were at at the time.
DARREN: Yeah, I agree with that. I think it was like it the shutdown gave me some some perspective, maybe on, you know, what the future could look like, just because I had had so much time to sit and think about it, where I wasn’t just at work working every day and worrying about, you know, employee issues or whatever it was just, you know, the business side of things became so much more important because we need to be ready for, for the what ifs.
REGAN: So talk to us a little bit about this shift in mindset. So you, you I really appreciate that you shared you know, that we were Thank you, by the way for whatever podcast you were listening to with the positivity of it, I think that’s fantastic. I, I too heard that. The end is nigh was just like a really a lot of gloom and doom. And it’s not that not the most helpful situation. So as you shifted your mindset, and and got started, you know, I mean, how did you get on this process?
So walk us walk the listener, I guess I would be walked them through this if they’re sitting there now. Because I know, the second wave is obviously upon us. And, and, you know, I don’t know how, how you would have felt if you hadn’t done what you did? how you’d be feeling today. If you hadn’t done it, and, you know, up, take us from there.
DARREN: I think I just never, I mean, it never even crossed my mind to like have a business plan. I think I kind of fell into a good business model already where things were productive and running pretty smooth. And, and I just kind of carry that on. But like as far as looking down the road, and like having a plan and goals and things like that. I think I always had kind of like a native mindset in regards to like financial goals and numbers and things like that, because I prided myself so much, and I still do on, like, just show up and treat the person like it doesn’t, like I’m not gonna set a goal of you know.
I need to produce this much a day or, you know, I need to see as many people as many new patients or whatever, like, I’ve always felt like just show up and treat people good, like treat them like you would want to be treated and they take care of me as I take care of them and it’s just never been an issue. That’s what you’re told you’re told that it’s always going to work its way out if you just take good care of people, right. I mean, it’s this virtue that’s that’s almost taught within dentistry. Don’t worry about the money. Do what you love, treat people right and the money will will What?
CHAD: So it’s not it’s not that there’s wrong it’s it’s like the book Good to Great. It’s just like, you know, perhaps just that is the good level, but then getting to great requires for there to be some some planning. So along comes foundation. Darren, how did that class hit you from the beginning to end like what was going through your mind on? What challenged you?
DARREN: You know, I’ve only been out of the class a couple weeks, and I’ve kind of worked on a plan. And it’s still the mindsets hard to get out of because goals are totally healthy, right? So I think shifting my mind away from like, the numbers are bad or like don’t worry about the numbers, like take care of the people. The thing that opened my mind probably or my eyes the most through through that program was just like, goal goals are kind of necessary if you want to be successful because you need to have you need to have kind of the end in sight.
Like you need to know where you’re going. Especially you know, in a world like this where things happen that are crazy like COVID and And shutdowns and things like that you need, you need to be ready for that stuff. And so when I started into the program, the thing that probably opened my mind, my eyes the most was just like the thought of having a plan.
And like, how do you do that, and the fact that it’s constantly being remade, you know, like, every six months, you’re, you’re remaking that plan for, you know, two years later. And for me, it was really hard when I sat down to think about where do I want to be in two years. And, and also to, like, shoot for the stars was hard, because you don’t want to set a goal that you’re not going to make, right. So so that was kind of a hurdle to to be like, you know, where do I want this thing to be in 2, 3, 4, or five years. And I know, and I know, one of my big goals is to go fee for service. And that’s scary.
Because that’s, that’s a huge shift from what I’ve been doing for the last 12 years. And so I think, dreaming big and going, like, that’s the way I want to go, like, I’m never gonna get there if I don’t have a plan. And so that was probably what the business program helped me with the most was like, there’s got to be a plan. And I can keep doing what I’m doing forever, right? Like it’s worked, you know, and, you know, my bills, things are fine.
But I’m, I’m finding that the passion in dentistry and what I want to do and how am I going to be able to do that rather than just show up and work. And so that’s probably where the business program helped me most was saying like, there needs to be structure to it. You can’t just dream and hope that it happens.
REGAN: Wow. Bruce’s is very famous for saying or I should say I hang on his every word when he talks a lot about taking great care of patients. When I see him in practice. There’s nothing that separates him between the the relationship with the patient, he’s so fatherly or grandfatherly or come camaraderie with friendship. He’s just right there in the moment with the patient. And he told me one time he said it is so hard to focus 100% on that patient in the Chair, if I am worried about the financial situation, if I’m worried about what tomorrow is going to bring, and I think that for him, without putting words in his mouth or his thoughts in his mouth, I think that probably started that process for him too.
And I’m not personally driven by money. I’m driven by have I impacted somebody positively today? Have I helped connect people with the solution? That’s right for them, whatever it may be. But also at the same time, I mean, you you do like you said, I think you have to have that kind of where where am I headed? Where am I going and understanding that it’s not concrete. I have tried to do business plans over 12 years now. And I tell you, I hit the same hiccups. If I start to go down that road of this is this is final. This is set in concrete. This is what I’m going to do for two years. I feel like that perfectionist mentality kind of gets in me Does it? Is it like that for you, Chad?
CHAD: Yes, that’s why I took the class twice.
REGAN: That’s right. You did it. Did you? Have you written out a plan?
CHAD: I do. And Darren has seen it. I have an Excel file for it. This time I went on it. Yeah, I spent. I spent some hours and hours on it, actually. And I and because well, when when all is said and done. There’s a lot of words on that page. So it looks impressive.
Yeah, when you slide over to the the columns that say okay, for so this is the three year plan. So therefore, who’s in charge of it? What are you accomplishing by when, and man when you put it to that, I don’t even care if I only solve half of those. The fact is, if I solve half of those, and then reassess in three months, okay, now, how do I solve the other three? The other 50% that I didn’t even get around to like beginning, then. Okay, we’re now closer than if I would have just hoped that a year from now that we made progress.
So Darren, you’ll notice on those columns, I went from a two year to a 12 month to a six month to a three month and then it was like actionable items. And I kept everyone on the line. Okay, how do I accomplish that two year goal within 12 months? What do I want it to look like? And then within six months, three months, and then at the three month, I even took it a step further and said, Okay, what actionable item Now are we going to implement within the next, you know, week or two or three have to be able to get started on that. So that’s why it was and you should have seen after I got that salt Reagan, the cool thing was emails started flying out. And that’s my communication method.
So I started sending those emails out. So in an effort to start stirring up that, and Darren, we talked about this before, that it’s not all on you.
DARREN: Delegation is so hard for me that that’s part of why I get overwhelmed is I it’s not even micromanaging. It’s that I’m like, I’ll just do it. I don’t want to bother them or I’ll just do it or half of the time I explain to them what I’m thinking like I could have just done it. And I don’t suddenly came to mind and I don’t know if this is relevant to what we were talking about.
But a huge part I think a shift in my mindset from the class. As far as marketing and like authentic marketing was a huge thing that like kind of a light bulb that went off for me was like, This is my approach, right? Like, I just want to take care of people. And yeah, I’ve learned the numbers are important, but like, conveying that message to patients is like my most powerful marketing, right? If I could get patients to see like, into my heart, like, I have their best interest in mind, and, and the fact that like, money hasn’t been a huge drive for me, you know, like, I have friends in dentistry that are like, man, their goal is to get the Porsche or to get, you know, whatever.
And I just, that’s not my mindset. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, but I think if I could convey that to patients as an authentic marketing technique, and be like, Listen, like, how do I get you as a patient, to see my heart that like, I just want to help you. And like, money is, yeah, it’s going to be a part of the discussion, right? Because your treatments going to cost something. But like, at the end of the day, whatever I do for you is going to be what I would do for my mother, you know, it’s going to be the best thing for you. And so that was probably one of the biggest takeaways for me from the course was like, conveying the patient’s like what, who you really are not who you want them to see you as, but like who you really are?
REGAN: Wow, I get well, the way you say it. And it’s genuine, you make me say, I’ll just I will come be your patient. Well, it’s interesting. As we’re, as I’m listening to this, Darren, I was really excited to kind of ask you about the fee for service angle, and you actually brought up marketing. You just you just really out laid out what I call a BHAG, which is a “big, hairy audacious goal”.
It is you can decide to go fee for service in one day, I’m sure I’m sure you could send your letter to delta, or whoever your PPS are like that. But what would happen from that, and it’s been fascinating to watch Chad go through his fee for service journey and watch some other doctors go through their journey. And what I’ve learned is that it is a process it is not a sit down and eat the pie in one sitting. I think, Chad, did it take you about 18 months fully to to go the whole route? Or was it a little bit shorter than that?
DARREN: Yes. And we have even flirted with a few over the last few years. So I think ours has been a long time coming. But yeah, 18 Yeah, something like that. To be able to, you know, drop your smaller one and then maybe start dropping the next smaller one. And then think about tackling your big one. You know, that’s a that’s tough.
CHAD: And that’s the trigger point. So PPO in essence, Darren, we know does does marketing for you to an extent. So you don’t really have to think about it. So you’re taking the discount so that way they they bring you the patients that in for the listeners that in the audience that are thinking, What do you mean by you know, marketing or discount and stuff? If you’re you’re giving up, you know, 20% or 40%? or dare we say more to be able to get more patients?
REGAN: Uh huh. So right now is the time to be thinking about, about marketing your message. And, and I like it because when you say authentic, it’s not about being salesy, but it is about educating and letting people know when that you exist, what what your philosophy of care is, and I’m finding in fee for service marketing in particular. I mean, it’s not like it was even 10 years ago. I mean, I think people are very disenfranchised by insurance, it’s kind of a, it’s kind of a dirty four letter word at times.
On the other hand, it’s, you know, I only I only use insurance, and I’m really firm with that. So I think there’s a lot that goes into internally marketing like to your team, as well as external marketing. So all of this does definitely lay out, you know, it’s going to be at least a two year process. And if you focused on that alone, Wow, I can’t wait to invite you back in a year and in two years and see how far you’ve come on on both of those fronts.
DARREN: Yeah, yeah. I’m excited. It’s, it’s scary, because that’s just all unknown, right. But I mean, the potential of getting there is exciting.
CHAD: Well, we appreciate you letting us into your journey and being honest with us. I think a lot of dentists feel the way that you feel. And I’m excited for you, hey, if you had something, give us give us your authentic self, that puts a lot of pressure on you here, but Okay, so we have listeners there on the treadmill, tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. But what what little advice would you give them that you’ve learned on your journey that would benefit them?
DARREN: Yeah, I think at the risk of sounding like an old man, you know, if I if I, if I could get some advice, you know, when I was six months out of school, it would be to like, shoot for the stars, then like why wait, right? Because the one of the one of the benefits of being a dentist, you can do whatever you want, like a general dentist, like you can focus on whatever you want.
And it’s really it’s you’re your own boss. So, I think for me, all of a sudden, you know, nine years, eight years Whatever it was into my career to all of a sudden be like, Oh, I can do whatever I want. You know, I wish I would have thought had that mindset earlier. And so I think showing up to work every day and, and not loving it is it’s not worth it. Like there’s so many things that you can do to create the space at your office that you want.
And, and don’t be afraid to dream big. I don’t remember who it was in the course that your dreams should be a little bit scary, maybe like, like, it should almost make you nervous to say them. Like, this is what I want to do. You know, fee for service. That’s scary to me. But But I think the getting there is going to be so rewarding. So I guess that I don’t know. I mean, my advice to people would be don’t just show up to work and work like if you if you enjoy dentistry, and that’s what you love doing then find your niche and run with it.
REGAN: That’s awesome. I mean, really, I’m thank you for sharing your BHAG. I, you you really do you inspired me in the class, and you inspire me now, I you know, it’s been an interesting journey for myself. And I think every time I have seen success in my own life, it’s been when I do something that I think is crazy. I think there’s how on earth am I going to do this, I’m scared to do this. And I’m going to do it anyway. And you’ll always know if I’m going towards something. So I’ll tell my mom that I’m scared. And I’m going to do it anyway. And it’s only shot me further along in my path. So I I just appreciate you. I appreciate you, thank you for doing this to for in dentistry and then sharing it with everybody.
DARREN: Thank you. And thank you guys, I think, you know, that was one of the funniest things with the PDA group was like, it just blew me away. Like I you know, you meet Victoria, Stacy, Reagan, Chad, like, like, each of you has like this little realm where you’re like a specialist, like, you know, like so much about this one thing, that it was so exciting to me, because I know in the class, I talked about my study club, and yeah, and you kind of get in this small world here, right? Like, do my small little study world, and you bring up fee for service in this place. And they’re like, Ha, good luck with that, you know.
And that’s not what you want to hear, you know, those are the people you want to surround with. And so it was so refreshing getting into PDA and being like, dang, like, these are people from all over the country. Right? And, and each of you have, like, so many gifts, like in different areas. It’s such like, it’s like the dream team of people to surround yourself with.
So just I was super grateful for the course it it became honestly when I went into it. I’m like let’s see how this goes. And then like week like five, six. I was like, dang, like this is going to be over. So I need to like soak it all, though. Yeah, it was. It was great. I really appreciate each and you too especially like I that marketing meeting with you. Reagan was like, just so valuable for me. I went home and told my wife I’m like, like you would not believe like I got to sit and talk to like this group of people about like my marketing situation.
CHAD: You can tell Reagan loves what she’s doing.
DARREN: I mean, like, I talked to Chad on the phone, I don’t know, a week or two ago just about the fee for service thing and like, like, why are you helping me right? Like, I mean, you’re just out of the goodness of your heart. I’m not paying you. You just are like, hey, yeah, like you’ve been where I’m at. And you’re you’re where I’m kind of trying to get and so great. really blessed just to know, you and the whole PDA group and just Thanks for your help.
CHAD: I feel the same way. That’s why I’m just reciprocating it for others.
REGAN: I mean, you know, that is you though. Chad. That is definitely that’s definitely Chad.
CHAD: I get my energy from it. I really do.
REGAN: Yeah, you do like to help others. Yeah, that’s that’s a big deal.
CHAD: Well, Darren, thanks for joining us. And thanks, everyone, for joining us for Everyday Practices Podcast. See you next week.