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April 17th, 2023

Episode 154: Net Zero Marketing

“You get more chances to be productive when you have a healthy new-patient flow.” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

Most dentists spend about 1% of their budget on marketing. I’ve marketed my practice at 8% for the last 20 years. When I did that, I realized that not only was my market penetration getting better, but my overhead was also going down. That’s the concept of net-zero marketing: as you start producing more, you drive all your fixed costs down. In this classic podcast episode, I dive into how net-zero marketing can help you grow your business and profits.

While you listen to this episode, pay close attention to:

  • How you can drive down your fixed expenses – like rent and overhead – by producing and collecting more
  • Creating a unique identity with your marketing messages
  • The importance of marketing consistently


Regan 0:00
Hi, Dr. Regan, Robertson, CCO of Productive Dentist Academy here and I have a question for you. Are you finding it hard to get your team aligned to your vision, but you know, you deserve growth just like everybody else. That’s why we’ve created the PDA productivity workshop. For nearly 20 years PDA workshops have helped dentists just like you align their teams get control of scheduling, and create productive practices that they love walking into every day. Just imagine how you will feel when you know your schedule is productive, your systems are humming, and your team is aligned to your vision. It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. We can help visit productive that’s to secure your seats now.

Dr. Bruce Baird 0:47
We’re looking at Team overhead of 17 and a half percent got a huge team, but we also have huge productivity and collections. So what we’ve been able to do is by marketing at 8%, that drives us down to 17 and a half percent team overhead. If you combine those two, eight plus 17 and a half, you’re 25 and a half. Now, the average dentist at PDA is at 29.1. So I’m in, I’m at 25 and a half and they’re at 29.1. If I’m in your town, I will crush you in marketing. I will be able to market to every everybody that I want to.

Dr. Bruce Baird
Hello everyone this is Dr. Bruce B. Baird and you’re listening to The Productive Dentist Podcast. In this podcast, I will give you everything that I’ve learned over the last 40 years in dentistry, working with 1000s of dentists. I’ll tell you it’s not that my way is the only way, it’s just one that has worked extremely well for me and I’d love to share that with you so you too can enjoy the choices and lifestyle the productivity allows, more time for things you love, increased pay, better team relationships, and lowered stress. Let’s get into it with this week’s episode of The Productive Dentist Podcast.

Dr. Bruce Baird 2:11
Hi, this is Dr. Bruce Baird with The Productive Dentist Podcast and today we’re going to talk a little bit about marketing and what I call Net Zero marketing. I’ve been doing Net Zero marketing for the last 15 to 18 years, and let me tell you a little bit about kind of what the concept is and kind of how it how it came to being. What I, what I noticed was, you know, I’ve been in marketing, as many of you know, you’ve heard the train wreck marketing, I like to market for people and I’ve talked a little bit about it, but I really want to dive into the real concept of net zero marketing and I have been marketing 8%, as many of you know, for the last 20 years, and what I noticed was my overhead didn’t go up. As a matter of fact, my overhead dropped. So when most dentists are marketing at 1%, or one and a half percent or signing up for PPOs and all of that type thing to get new patients, which we know now PPOs are not insurance, PPOs are marketing companies, that’s all they are and so what I began to realize was as I was marketing 8% and the average dentist was marketing one and a half, my penetration into the marketplace continued to get deeper and deeper. When we collected $100,000 a month, I was spending 8000 a month for marketing, when we grew the business because we were marketing and got to 200000 now we were marketing that 16000, 300000, 24000, 400000, you know so as you can see, the more we collected on a monthly basis, the more I was able to mark it and the truth is, you get more chances to be productive when you have a good healthy new patient flow and I’ve talked about that often on The Productive Dentist Podcast is having a healthy new patient flow, not just a new patient flow but a healthy new patient flow. When I say healthy I don’t mean their mouth, I’m marketing to people who need dentistry so and again, we’re doing educational marketing, but what is this concept of net zero marketing? It allows you to begin to drive as you produce more, it drives all of your fixed expenses down. For example, let’s look at what would be considered a good percenT for facility, usually runs in the three to 5%. If you’re a new dentist and you’re you know you have a brand new practice and you’re your overhead for your business for your building, maybe run in seven, eight or nine percent. That’s that a problem, But as you pay the note down, as you build your business and start producing more, you’re driving that fixed expense of the building. Let’s just say you’re spending 4000 a month or 5000 a month, and you’re doing 100, that’s 5%. If you’re doing 200, you’re two and a half percent, if you’re doing 300. So what you do is you take that what is a, what I would call, decent percentage three to 5%, and you drive it down by producing more. and ultimately by collecting more. It’s not good enough just to produce it, you also have to collect it. I watch guys all the time, “Well, I do 100,000 a month.” Really? Well, what’s your PPR write-off? Well, we write off about 34,000 a month, so you’re only doing 66. So let’s only talk about the 66, let’s, don’t talk about 100. If I do 100, as a fee for service practitioner, I expect to collect 100, and maybe 98, 90, 99, but if I get down to where I’m only collecting the national average, based on that dental economics of 93%. What that tells me is I don’t have enough financial options for people. So as I drive that fixed expense down, what are some other fixed expenses? I consider my team overhead a fixed expense. I have, oh gosh on many occasions, I have doctors come to me and they go, and their team overheads today, I see team overheads at 28, 29, 30, 31, 32. The highest I’ve seen is 34% team overhead, and their question is, “Should I get rid of some people? I have too many people,” and usually that’s just not the case. Usually, the case is you’re underproducing, you’re not seeing a good enough flow of new patients that need dentistry, or you’re counting on discount dentistry to you know, be your bread and butter. So, you know, when I talk to people, and they have a 30% team overhead, actually, across the last eight years at PDA, we’ve seen an average of around 27.8% in team overhead, but that number has been rising. So at 27.8%, they’re average marketing 1.3%. So you’re looking at a 29.1% combination of those two overhead items, one being marketing, and one being team overhead. So when we look at team overhead, in my practice, we’re looking at Team overhead of 17 and a half percent, got a huge team, but we also have huge productivity and collections. So what we’ve been able to do is by marketing at 8%, that drives us down to 17 and a half percent team overhead. If you combine those two, eight plus 17 and a half, you’re at 25 and a half. Now, the average innocent PDA is at 29.1. So I’m at I’m at 25 and a half there at 29.1. If I’m in your town, I will crush you in marketing, I will be able to market to every, everybody that I want to I mean, it’s very interesting when I see you know, I mean, I literally could have every billboard and hood County. That’s a little overkill. I wouldn’t want to do that, but I do have a billboard when you’re driving into hood, kemenah small town but you drive into this town, you see a billboard talking about our office and I’ve talked a little bit about billboards in the past about you know, I love educational billboards or something that creates a unique identity. Like one of our billboards says, you know, “Dr. Baird has trained people from you know, all 50 states and 19 different countries or 31 different countries I think it is.” Now is that important to put up there? Now it’s unique identity, there’s not any other dentists in the town that have done that, and if they have, I would recommend that they market. We actually have one of the Docs in town that does use Productive Dentist Academy marketing, so, and he asked, “Is it okay if I do it?” He actually came to PDA as a client, and then asked, you know, “What do you think, Bruce? Would you mind if I use your marketing?” And of course I don’t mind, you know, there’s plenty of patients for us out there. That I can tell you for sure, there are plenty of patients, I’m not worried and truthfully if someone else is seeing my patients or seeing mass number of new patients, I want to know why. I want to know what is it they’re doing that’s creating that unique identity and then I will try to, I will try copy some of those things. So I’m, I’m somebody who, you know, when you start looking at net zero marketing, yes, that’s a concept of that, that I’ve come up with, based upon my experience over 20 years and so the other thing here is, when you look at that 29.1, compared to the 25 and a half percent, a two combinations, take every other fixed expense you have and it drives those down. It even drives your variable expenses, like electricity, and, you know, if you’re collecting more, it drives all your percentages down and I truly believe if you’re marketing at 8%, 9%, even 10%, for your practice, and again, I don’t want two for one happy hour at the office, I’m not recommending that you do, you know, free crowns, you know, if you do one, we get the second one for free. I don’t recommend any of that, that commoditize is what we do. What I like to see is, you know, Laser Periodontal Therapy, you know, come in, and this is the newest of technologies, whether it’s printing, you know, now we have printers we have, yes, milling machines, everything’s done in office, it’s same day smiles, we can actually fix your teeth in the same day, we can give you veneers, crowns, we can even do implants with, you know, with bridges and that type stuff. So I love marketing from the perspective of unique things that we do. So if it’s 8%, if it’s 9%, if it’s 10%, I don’t care because that 10% is going to be driven south with all of your other fixed expenses, and even your variable expenses. So whereas someone who is at 60% overhead, or 58, National Average right now is 73 and I think it’s closer to 75, and that’s because National Average has a lot of PPO, so you’re writing off 30% of your profit right off the top.

Dr. Bruce Baird 12:06
So when I see that, you know, you just have to understand what it is, what it means to be a businessman. Most of you did not have a good course on business in dental school. I’ve met a few Docs that were business majors but still, even those docs haven’t experienced it in the field of dentistry. So as I talk more and more about Net Zero marketing, what do we do? I mark it, and I use Productive Dentist Academy marketing and what I do is, if I collect, I’m going to use a number of if you were to collect $100,000, I’m gonna spend $8,000 on marketing. Now I am very consistent and we’ve talked about consistency and I’m actually going to do a program one of our podcasts, about how to run your business, how to keep track of your business because it’s very predictable. I mean, I don’t just go from 100000 one month to 180 the next month to 130, to 400 to two, we don’t do that. We’ve consistently risen our productivity and our collections, month after month, year after year, for the last 35 years. Now, having said that, there’s predictable ways of doing it and we’ll be talking about that in a future podcast, but Net Zero marketing is the concept that I want you to be thinking about to grow your business and grow your net, meaning grow your profits. People say, “Well, I don’t have the money to market, I’d rather just sign up for a PPO or sign up for that.” I would rather see you put a practice together if you were opening up your own practice or if you’re buying a practice, make sure that you get revenue that covers marketing when you first begin. I would rather borrow $100,000 or $150,000 extra and use that with strategic marketing to patients who need dentistry that I want to offer, than I would sign up for five PPOs and have them send me patients because remember, they’re not an insurance company, they’re a marketing company. Delta Dental just came out with that letter that says they’re a marketing company, they’re not an insurance company. So when you when you realize and understand that all they’re doing is going out signing up businesses and their employees and they’re taking a cut out of the middle they’re taking, they’re taking a big cut out of the middle and their goal is to not pay you. So I would rather have patients come in and my favorite patients. I know this sounds crazy, but my favorite patients are ones who don’t have insurance, and you know, and I talk to patients about this on a daily basis and patients even when they have, they come in and we’re out network, yes, we take your insurance. We are, we can work on any patient that’s out there. We are just a non-restricted provider, which means I can work on anybody. Yes, we’re out of network. Yes, the cost is more, let me explain to you why and I’ll go into an explanation with a patient why, why the cost is more. So net zero marketing means put yourself out there, create a unique identity, find a good marketing company that can, that can watch over your money that you have set aside and when I say that, what you don’t want to do is get with a company that’s going to upsell you to some $100,000 marketing plan that you’re not ready for that’s, that would be the worst thing for you to do. So, having said that, I hope my nose is a little clearer after being coming back from New Zealand. So, probably sound a little bit better, but I really believe and if you believe that this is helpful information, please tell your friends and sign up for The Productive Dentist Podcast. Look forward to the next one.

Dr. Bruce Baird
Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Productive Dentist Podcast. If you found this episode helpful, make sure you subscribe, pass it along to a friend. Give us a like on iTunes and Spotify or drop me an email at don’t forget to check out other podcasts from the Productive Dentist Academy of Join me again next week for another episode of The Productive Dentist Podcast

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