I had a wild ride in dentistry with failures and successes both evident in his past.
My first practice ownership experience was a complete disaster that almost caused him to go bankrupt. From that background, however, I have has since built a dream practice that now receives 220 new patients every month, and has produced over million dollars per chair (the practice has 4) for the past 8 years.
In this article, I talk about the bad times and reveals the path that led me to where I am now as a practice owner, coach, investor, and dental marketer.
How Did You Get Started in Dentistry?
I was born and raised in Africa, in Kenya. My dad was a doctor and my brother had gone into dentistry at Sydney University. He’s two years above me. In school, my parents were always quite stern on us studying, making sure that we put enough time into school.
Growing up we didn’t have phones, social media, no access to the internet. When it came to studying the message was you had to work hard. That resonates in Indian culture. We had a lot of extra tuitions. It’s not just what you learn in school. You’ve got to do extra studying outside the classroom. You’ve got to put in the hard yards before you can enjoy the fruits of success.
When I was about to finish high school and graduate, I was still super unclear. The cultural trend in Africa is that you have to follow in the footsteps of your parents. And that left me with something in the science field. I felt that dentistry was a better option, compared to medicine. So, what got me into dentistry was simple following the footsteps of my elders, my parents.
So, I chose to do five years of dentistry. And I was winging every exam. Just making sure that I pass. I did end up passing. My passion started to grow in the last year of dentistry, but not much. Even after graduating, I didn’t find it very exciting.
In the university, it was very procedural. But we were never taught the why. We knew how to do root canals and make dentures. We were never taught that we would be transforming lives. I was in the business of helping people elevate their confidence. Get back in front of the camera, get back in the dating game.
When passion started, I started learning and attending courses obsessively. I started learning about ceramics, implants, and full mouth rehabilitation. I started getting really exciting. I must have spent close to $150,000 to $200,000. Literally 50 cents to every dollar that I was earning.
What’s Your Worst Moment in Dentistry?
My worst experience was that the first practice I opened closed within a year. I almost went bankrupt in that. I was more of a business operator, not an owner. I didn’t understand the essentials of running a practice. I didn’t know marketing. I didn’t know how to handle my team. I didn’t know how to lead my team. I didn’t know how to convert cases effectively.
My brother and I both attempted to open the practice together. We overspent initially because we didn’t have the right guidance. By the end of the year, we realised this was not the practice for us. That was the biggest wake-up call in my life. My dentistry skills were pretty good. I had studied, spent a lot of money. But my business skills were nowhere. I still see that today. After owning a practice for 15, 20 years, their dentistry skills are amazing. But if I were to rate the business, they’d get two out of ten. I ended up having to sell that business. We just had to get rid of it.
That experience, though, glued us together as brothers. I remember very vividly that we both cried. We were screaming and shouting. We’d lost the plot. But our brotherly love and family support got us through it. It’s not the end of the world. It was time to get up, brush the dust off, and try again. Because there is no failure. There’s only feedback.
What are Some of the Biggest Lessons you Learned Throughout Your Career?
The biggest moment in my life was when I actually found what it requires to be a practice owner, not a practice operator. 90 percent of dentists are practice operators, not owners. I figured that out after years of success and failure. Trying different things, learning from the experiences. You’re not just an operator only. You’re a business owner because you’re growing and elevating your business. Now we have the ability to make a million dollars per chair. We’re getting 220 new patients a month.
The second is team culture. How your team can turn into your family. They are the engine to the practice. Without the engine, the captain is useless.
The third thing is being able to communicate through visual and vocal methods. Most people think that we only use language to communicate, but it’s less than 10 percent of your communication. When I realised that, my entire approach changed. I was able to inspire, influence, and impact people.
What’s Your Proudest Moment in Your Dentistry Career?
My proudest moment is my ability to work. I’m working two to two and a half days a week as a dentist right now. I make a similar amount to what other dentists make every month. I’m doing dentistry, I’m doing what I’m passionate about. By having a team, you have the ability to do what you love and outsource to your associates to do the other work.
What’s the Biggest Case You’ve Ever Done?
The biggest case I have done personally was close to $120,000. That was grafting with implants, all that type of stuff. The average case is between $15,000 to $20,000.
What Got You into Coaching?
Every time I’d go to a conference or seminar, I’m meeting a lot of dentists. I used to see a lot of pain. A lot of hidden pain. Dentists aren’t great at opening up about how their practices are doing. I remember I was talking to a dentist and he told me he was getting 80 new patients a month. But the practice was performing at 40 percent capacity. There’s something missing.
The other thing that got me into coaching is that I walked the talk. I had achieved success. I’ve traveled all around the world meeting people. I’ve coached close to 1,500 people. Everyone who owns a business knows that when they work on themselves, the business improves. That’s the secret. It delivers results.
I’ll give you an example. I have a Dr Vikram in Townsville. The practice was making $60,000 to $70,000. They are now making close to $180,000 each month. In two years, he’s 2.5X. For some of my other clients, I started with them two years ago, when they had two practices. Now they have five practices. The primary practice is making $200,000 a month. The other practices are making close to $140,000 a month.
What Stops People from Achieving Business Success?
I would say that you need to be selectively open-minded. You need to listen to the people who have been there and done that. Why would you listen to the people that haven’t done it yet? Too many people are taking too many opinions. You need to ask the person questions. What have you achieved? Are you doing marketing? What’s your case conversion? Do you have leadership skills? You can learn a lot from a book, but you need to be trained in these things.
What Services Do You Offer?
Everything in the success and growth of our practices starts with marketing. You can have the best team in the world. But if you don’t have the right patients coming in, that’s where your focus should be. You need to work on your marketing strategies. I offer digital services, like a website. Your website should reflect your culture and your character.
I offer content creation strategies which are things like Facebook ads and social media optimisation. I advise AdWords and PPC. I have fine-tuned these in my practice over 14 years. I’ve learned through my own failure. I know what works.
I help people with in-house coaching and training their teams. I also run Masterminds. These are a personal development program. I think most dentists have the skills, but they need to work on their leadership. Through Masterminds, we work on their communication and business skills. I help them build relationships and improve their public speaking. I basically help them maximise and unleash their potential.
I’m a certified coach. I have four certifications. I’ve been to Gallups strength school, NLB business school. I’m a high-performance coach. I’m also an advanced PSYCH-K facilitator. I can work with people’s belief systems. Changing the way that they see the world. Get rid of their limiting beliefs.
Kinnar Shah is a practice owner of Smile Concepts in Sydney CBD, a coach, investor, and dental marketer. To find out more about Kinnar, visit www.kinnarshah.com.au.