Frustration to Satisfaction


More recent unsolicited commentaries from Comfort Dental partners

Dr. Bryan Wyeth, Comfort Dental North Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I just wanted to write a quick note to express my gratitude for what you have built here.  I have been with Comfort for a little over 5 years and I can say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I won’t bore you with the details of my pre-Comfort story, but suffice it to say, it was like so many others…stuck as an employee dentist and going nowhere.

While I finished just short of my 2015 goal of $1M collections (sadly by only $10K!!!), I can feel good knowing that it was the best financial year of my career thus far, and the arrow is pointing up. After 5 years with Comfort, I figured a formal thank you was long over due.  I appreciate being a part of this.  I hope you and your family have a great New Year.

I am happy to share my pre-Comfort story. It’s not very exciting, but here it is: I graduated from dental school in 2008 in the middle of a crashing economy and loaded with student debt.  I was lucky to get a job working for Western Dental in Mesa, Arizona where I grew up.  I was making decent money for a new-grad, but I was working close to 50 hours per week, and didn’t feel like there was great job security in that position.  Since the Phoenix valley was hit particularly hard by the recession, there were private and corporate dental offices closing their doors on every corner. The company I worked for started leveraging the new high supply of unemployed dentists against those of us who were working for them by cutting everybody’s pay, incentives and bonuses and making it harder and harder to earn a fair wage.  Lucky for me, I was working with a dentist named Nate Budge (one of the South Powers all-stars), who knew some guys in Comfort, and he started telling me about his friends’ experience.  It sounded too good to be true, but I had to see for myself, so I booked a flight up to visit with Dr Norton, spent a lunch with Steve Carter, and I was sold.  I went home, started to apply for my Colorado license, and my family and I were fortunate enough a few months later to land in a great office in Colorado Springs, with great partners, and a new start.  In spite of the less than ideal situation in Arizona right out of school, I feel lucky in hindsight that I went through it.  I knew from that experience that I wanted to be able to have control and ownership over my own success, and that I needed to find a model that could withstand and thrive during economic downturns. So that’s my story.  Pretty cliche, but obviously impactful for me and my family. Anyways, again, I just wanted to express my appreciation that I can be a part of this.  Have great weekend.

 Last for now, Dan Anderson, 7 years, Comfort Dental Brighton CO, our lowest overhead office less than 30%!

Hi Rick,

I received your very generous check in the lab mail last week. Thank you so very much, I did not write the overhead response in anticipation of receiving a check for $500 but it was very much appreciated. So, again thank you. On another note, I am sure you have already done this, but if not I thought I would pass the thought along to you. For 3 of the 4 years I was in dental school, I was our dental school’s ASDA legislative liaison. We would have national meetings at which there would be vendors selling products and also groups such as the ortho group O. E. C. Recruiting students to their causes. The students at these meetings are all generally intelligent and most well spoken. Having the ability to communicate is paramount to so many of the things that you have taught us here at Comfort Dental. Instead of incurring the major cost to fly from school to school, attending one of those meetings may be a way of reaching and gauging the interest of students of the respective schools. For example, the school I attended LLUSD would have very little interest due to their religious observation of Saturday as their day of worship, and would therefore be unwilling to work our schedule. Even though their debt, would indicate that this is the best thing for them. If you felt it to be beneficial, I would be more than happy to tell of my success at Comfort Dental to the students. I know when I got out of school there was a feeling of being overwhelmed with the debt and not wanting to take on more. Not only that, they teach you to be skeptical of people who are trying to sell you something. We were told to anticipate a yearly earning of $150-$200,000. So when somebody comes along and tells them their average earnings is in the neighborhood of $375,000, it can be very hard to believe. My first thought was that this is something too good to be true. What I can tell the students now is, that In less then eight short years later I own a million dollar home in the city on 1 acre of land that is paid for, also my student loans which exceeded over $200,000 are paid for, my wife and I both drive new luxury SUV’s. We take Family vacations to wherever we want and stay in luxury resorts. We are able to live the dental financial dream. And they need to know they can do it too. During the time I was waiting for Comfort Dental of Brighton to open up I took one of those “dental jobs”.  After a year of paying on my student loan payments I checked my balance to see how much I had paid down, and even though I had paid in excess of $12,000 of payment, I had only reduced principal by $200. I wanted to vomit. In addition to me having a full-time job, my wife also maintained a full-time job as well. Since being at Comfort dental, my wife has been able to be a stay-at-home mom to our children.

Thanks for everything
Dan Anderson

No, Thank YOU, Dan

Reflecting on (and trying to remain brief) the first 25 years of Comfort Dental and now 43 years in this profession a couple terms strike me:  Immense Frustration and Immense Satisfaction:
I am immensely satisfied that we have been able to provide affordable, quality care to more than 4 MILLION dental patients.  Our concept provides access to care for so many patients who have no other options.  I am, of course, satisfied that we have been able to provide an opportunity that allows hundreds of dentists to work so hard serving our communities and enjoy financial success far beyond their expectations.  Yet, our system allows even more family time than traditional dentistry.
I am frustrated that I have failed to reach even more dentists.  Swimming upstream in this profession for 40+ years is not for those lacking confidence.  Sometimes it feels as though this profession is simply one long argument.  I have lectured to thousands of dentists on how modern dental practice should function (my vintage “Lean & Mean” series) and most of them DID NOT LISTEN.  I realize it make us more special but frustrating nonetheless.   I take COMFORT (pun intended) always knowing I had it right then, now and always.
That is, health care in general, and DENTISTRY specifically, COSTS TOO MUCH.  These days I confine my attempts to Comfort Dental partners and occasional dental students.  You want frustration?  Lecture to dental students who already know everything.  I’m still learning every day but they already know everything.  The cycle of life.  Doomed to mediocrity.
OK Rick, tell us briefly how you did it.  I thought about this for a bit but it really wasn’t all that complicated.  You know how we like acronyms so you just need to practice EACH every day.
E:  Practice E fficiently.  Twice as many in half the time just as well (for half the fee but I’m coming to that).  It can be done.  I realize YOU are very impressed with your amazing skills and like a lot of time to demonstrate this to your patients, telling them about it all along the way.  However, nearly ALL of your patients want it done well but FAST.  “Shut up, do it and get me the hell out of here.”
A:  Practice A ffordably.  While I was trying to figure this profession out, dozens of practice management “experts” told me to keep my fees high to justify my worth.  THEY WERE ALL DEAD FREAKING WRONG.  Remember these 2 truths:  Fees matter, probably more than anything else and most dentists think moronically.  I experimented lowering my fees 20%.  I did 50% more dentistry.  I lowered them 50% and did 3 times as much dentistry.  Fees matter, big time.
C:  Practice C onveniently.  In short, evenings and Saturdays.  Even today, most Americans work and go to school week DAYS.  You want to work 9-5 Monday thru Friday?  Be a banker.  Dentists must work conveniently.  I can’t ask patients to miss work or school to see me.  I’m not that arrogant.  Can you imagine how many moronically thinking dentists in 40 years told me they won’t work evenings or Saturdays because the patients cancel?  We are so busy evenings and Saturdays we HOPE they cancel.  Then we take walk-ins . . . . .
H:  Practice H onestly.  With good PISS—patient interaction skill set.  Again, the short version is that there’s plenty of bread-and-butter dentistry to do with having to “create” it.  The poster child of  “creating” dentistry is amalgam replacement but there are plenty of examples.  I’m describing 97-98% of the market.  Let the slick guys have the other 2-3%.  Okay 5%.   Honestly tell your patients only what they need and they’ll know it.  Provide it efficiently, affordably and conveniently and they’ll let you do it.




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