The Power of Organization, Good Inventory, and Automation with Tiger Safarov
This is a crosspost from a recent interview, where Dr. Gina Dorfman interviewed Tiger Safarov on the Power of Organization and Inventory Control.
Dr. Gina Dorfman sits down with Tiger Safarov, founder of Zen Supplies. They talk about a wide range of hot topics in dentistry from inventory management to motivating and complementing your team. It’s an episode packed with tips and topics about technology that you don’t want to miss.
Hello and welcome back to another episode of Behind The Smiles. I’m here today with my good friend Tiger Safarov. Tiger is the founder and the CEO of ZenSupplies. Tiger, welcome to the show. How are you today?
Fantastic. Thank you, Gina, for having me.
I’m excited to have you here today because everyone talks about saving money on supplies, and I think that your company began with, wanted to get a little bit perspective of what your company does and how did you end up with that?
Sure. I always talk about how it started. The whole premise of Zen started out of curiosity. I was walking in a hallway by the dental practice, and I saw a dental assistant using a sticky note, and just writing down the things that they need to buy on a piece of paper. My curiosity was always through the roof. I stopped and I asked him, “What are you doing?” His name is Justino, he is the lead assistant at the practice.
He said, “Tiger, I’m just sticking order.” I started looking and he was writing down gloves, three boxes, and three boxes of pouches. And then the funny thing, he had a phone and an Apple Watch. It was 2015. Then he takes a picture of it and texts it to the rep. I’m like, well, it’s a little bit of technology here. But then he’s like, “Please confirm when you receive it.” I’m like, “How long would it take you to get the confirmation?” He said, “I don’t know, he may never text me back.”
I thought, just out of that simple thing I said, what if we build something a lot easier to use where it’s all in one place, you just click and submit it? Little did I know that now we have to deal with 250 distributors; 500,000 products; about the 1000 manufacturers. Three years ago, I didn’t have a clue that it’s going to be that big of the problem to solve.
When we started out, it was funny. We started writing code, December 2015, I’d say right after Thanksgiving, November. We were launching the beta version by April. We spent December, January, February, March, four months writing the beta.
Dr. Dorfman: That’s incredible.
It was super-fast, and I was so proud of it. Again, I had no clue. I have no software background. I knew a little bit about technology. And then in April 2016, I’m at that same dental office with the same dental assistant and we’re going to the inventory page with about 700 products, and you know this spinning wheel, and it’s like spinning and spinning, spinning and spinning. I grabbed Justino by the arm and said, “All right, let’s go grab a coffee at Starbucks.” Came back, it was still loading. So that’s how we started.
It’s a blessing that I had no idea about dentistry because if I would know how much it would take, and if I would listen to a couple of other people out there that say two dentists can’t agree on a single composite, I probably would never start.
Another thing is people ask me, some of our really expert Zen members, I call them Zen masters, they call me and they say, why do you charge so little? You should charge more. I have other people that are like, “Oh, I don’t think we’re going to use it.” I’m going to tie it back into the concept that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what the Zen should be because we’re still learning. We’re three years into this and we’re still learning. Oh, lidocaine is equal to bupivacaine and whatever the names are. We’re still building the system, where it’s as simple as you go to search and type gauze and who would know that it’s actually two by two?
All these things that make sense for dental assistants and dental professionals, like dentists, and hygienists, they don’t make sense for software. That’s where we come in, and we try to understand, okay, if you’re searching for gauze, and I have 1500 hits a month on my search for gauze. All right, let’s take a look at what that means.
I think we’re just getting started. That’s why I look at it as a project. I look at it as an experience. We started with long onboarding and It’s a long process to onboard an office and get them started. Then we said, you know what, people don’t have time for that. Maybe we should automate that and we automated the whole thing and with very little human touch onboarding. And then we learned that it’s not going to work; therefore, we’re slowly coming back to it that and realized people do need the training to learn the basics of inventory.
We usually start with, do you guys need an inventory management system? I’ve never had an office say no. Everybody’s using three methods.
- Tags with rubber bands
- Spreadsheets where you can manually manage products and orders
- Nothing – is the most popular method
These are the three most popular methods of managing inventory. So, then we start and we say, “All right, what would work best for you?” And then we schedule the training.
We verify all the distributors, people connect all of their current vendors to Zen, and then we start analyzing and say, okay, so you’re buying this from this company, this from that company, maybe you should look at all the other companies available.
The biggest thing we discuss with new practices is how to get off of the next day delivery. And the idea behind is you managing inventory and not running out of items. Believe it or not, the number one reason why some of the big three names are the big three names is they master their logistics. It’s just Susan at the dental practice, don’t want to get yelled by the doctor that she’s out of the product, so she’s going to go in one of the big three websites or call the rep and place an order for the lidocaine so it’s there tomorrow.
We start that discussion saying, “All right, how do we get you to two or three-day delivery because that’s where you can save money, and buying the same products from other vendors.” Then we go into deeper training. Lately, I’ve been going to offices and simply throwing shit away. The first thing we do is we buy foldable tables at the Wal-Mart, bring them to the office and unload each individual room these tables, and we go through every storage, closet, drawer, everything.
Believe it or not, every single office that says: “Tiger, I don’t have a single expired product”, we end up throwing about a full construction bag full of expired products and just old stuff they never use.
I believe that because I’ve been … You know what, I always, my claim to fame, I’m a very organized person. I have a very organized office. In fact, everyone who comes into my office, they say three things. Wow., it’s very clean. Wow, it’s very organized and wow, it’s very efficient. Where have you been before? But in my office, my clean, organized, efficient office, we always throw things away because dental supplies expire because a lot of times you get them close to the expiration date.
Actually, I want to mention something. There are some websites that are selling inexpensive supplies. I think you can buy supplies on eBay probably. There’s Net32, there are some other companies. The problem is that you need to get a big order to get a discount. And then a lot of them are close to the expiration date. So, now you have a lot of well-priced shit that’s close to the expiration date and you don’t have enough time to use it up or even determine whether you want too much. How do you determine if you want too much?
I interrupted you, but I believe I heard they call you Mary Kondo of dental?
Tiger: The Russian version.
I should come up with some funny words like, you know how she speaks Japanese, right? I watch a couple of Netflix because when people started calling me that I didn’t know what they were talking about. And then I watched a couple of them and she talks total Japanese and nobody cares. I think I should go into the offices and just speak Russian, and then have a translator next to me and translate it into English. I think that will spice it up a little bit.
But you’re touching on something very, very important. I think a lot of people don’t realize that number one, there’s nothing free. People are buying free goods and specials. So, people are literally buying free goods. That’s the concept just doesn’t fit in my head. And then the second part is, people, waste their time chasing deals, going to eBay and going to Amazon, when the best part of … To take a step back, the best part of running Zen, I have right now about 350 offices across the country. I can study them all. I see everything that people buy. I see the distributors and all of the transactions and I see what makes an office 3.8% overhead. And I have offices with five and I have seven and 10 % overhead on supplies.
I can tell you, putting everything I’ve got. If I would lose all of it tomorrow, I can put my name on it, that the biggest problem that offices make is they’re buying too much stuff. An example I always use is this. Let’s use lidocaine. Most likely people that are listening today on March 2019, paying for lidocaine about $27. If you pay more, you have a problem. But on average, people are paying $27 for a box of lidocaine
Imagine, you go on eBay and you buy it for 24, a great deal. You save $3, right? The problem is most of the offices when they go on eBay, they buy three boxes versus one. Now, you’ve wasted $48, 24 by two, $48. Their $48, yes, they’re going to use it at some point when it gets expired, they don’t even know. But in reality, they needed one box. None of my offices that are running supplies budgets under 3.8% will ever buy specials and free goods. They can use their big three, it’s totally fine. It’s just the problem is that 80% of the savings come from quantities and only 20% comes from price.
That equation is reversed right now in dental that we’re trying to bring it back into quantity versus price.
I think that for … We’re talking about cash flow here. There are so many things that we can invest in, besides lidocaine and gauze and in order to save money on buying in quantity. Especially for startups, every single startup essentially is a no brainer for a startup, because starting with a system, and in the startup cash flows is a big deal. The lidocaine that you’re injecting today, you’re not going to get that money from insurance for six to eight weeks. That’s in money investing. If you are buying lidocaine to last you till October, you might save $7, but that’s a lot of money invested into lidocaine that could be going towards paying off your student loans or your other loans, right?
Yes, these are two such important things. If we get to leadership, we’ll talk about it. When we demo the product there are usually two excuses I have from doctors when we get to this free goods and cheaper prices, people say number one “Well, I’m going to use it anyway, so I have cash available. Why don’t I do that, and I just buy all the supplies and they keep them there. It doesn’t cost me anything to keep them in the practice.” But the opportunity cost of lost cash?
Right now, everybody talks about Facebook being one of the greatest platforms to advertise. 250 bucks can bring you; I don’t know how many new patients, but at least one. What’s that one new patient will be worth for the practice? Probably a lot more than you saving all that money. That whole concept that people have of like, no, I would much rather put money, literally park dollar bills on the shelf and wait until it’s being used is ridiculous.
I think the second one I hear from people saying, “Well, who cares if my assistant is spending two hours in ordering? Going from website to website trying to find a deal? She is on payroll anyway.” What about patient recalls? What about doing things that … I’m sure you guys automate, but it’s a human touch picking up the phone and say, “Hey, we haven’t seen you in six months. Would you rather do that?” Or have your assistant be on the phone to try to save you $2 in a box of lidocaine? That’s just ridiculous.
Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree with you. The same thing with next day delivery, we need next day delivery, because we’re running out of stuff. But the company that I order with, and you know I have a long history with this company. I buy so much that I’m actually getting a really good deal, which is why I was asking you, can I still order from them through you? Which is really cool, because you can keep your vendor, but there’s a charge for that next day delivery. But the reason why it needs to be placed is that the assistant doesn’t want to be yelled at for running out or being low on something.
A lot of times because we don’t have a good inventory system, like in my office, nowadays, they’re building those tilt out bins or whatever. But in my office, you have cabinets and closets, and you just have boxes sitting in closets. You don’t know what’s in there.
Dr. Dorfman: I think that the ability to really monitor your inventory, and … Zen allows budgeting, is that correct?
Dr. Dorfman: How does that work?
It’s funny. When people tell me, “Can you get me to 5%?” I usually say, “I can get you to 5% next month.” They say, “It’s impossible, I’m at 10%.” I hope people know what we’re talking about, it’s the collections multiplied by your overhead goal on dental supplies, usually 5% or 10%, that should be a budget. First of all, 80% of the offices that do a demo in supplies don’t even know how to set up a budget. Literally, people don’t know that you take these two numbers, collections for the last month multiplied by the percentage where you want to be, that’s your budget. People don’t know.
Second is, people would say, “Well, how long would it take me to get to my budget?” I say, “Next month.” Because you set the budget, and build Zen properly, which we train people to do, your assistant is not allowed to spend more than you allocate per month. Now, if she spends more, that means you approved it because we have an approval process within Zen. She sends an order for approval, and if it’s over the budget, she can’t even send it for approval, she needs to adjust or he needs to adjust the quantities. I tell people, next month you’re going to be at 5%. As simple as that. Budgeting is really cool. A lot of people love it.
I love that. You actually go into offices, you help them clean up and you help them implement the system because you have trainers, I’m sure. I bet when you go to offices, you can really quickly spot some differences between the offices that are very successful and the offices that are not. Tell me about it. What are some of the differences?
Tiger: Can I show you one? This is my favorite. This is literally my favorite subject. Check this out. I hope you can see it. Right?
Dr. Dorfman: That’s really cool. Can you describe it for the listeners?
Yep. For Listeners, especially doctors, if you’re the ones taking the trash out, if you’re the ones that don’t mind taking a broom and cleaning up the place and turning over the rooms and helping you assistants, you’re the type of person I want to work with. I’ll be honest. I have an office that I just went to … Again, it’s so cool, we have … Can I tell you very quick the craziest thing about running Zen?
Dr. Dorfman: Yes, please. Please do.
I rarely pay for hotels. Most of the time, I stay at my clients’ houses. As weird as it sounds, I rarely stay at the hotels. Every time I go on travel, it’s like, “Whoa, Tiger, can you stay at my couch? I got a room for you.” The number of times I’ve stayed at people’s living rooms, it’s insane. It’s like a long night conversation is fun. It’s really awesome.
We get to connect at a very different level. And then I always, on my flight back, I’m taking notes in my journal, and I say, what makes so special about this doctor or the practice? If I go and I combine all of my notes together, it’s usually bowling down to a couple of things. Number one, my most successful offices, the doctor never walks through the back door. It’s paramount how much a doctor walking through the main door means to the practice. Number one, that means he or she is on time. Number two, they get to see everything within a practice the same eyes as the patients. Amount of times the offices that I went to that have very poor leadership, I go in and the garbage can in the front is full, there’s no water. There’s a sign that says, we have coffee and cookies and usually, it’s empty, it’s crickets.
Doctor’s ability to go through the front door means a lot. Then the second part which is also equally important is, when they go through the front door, they can see the reaction of the person that greets the patients. If the doctor walks in and he is a little grumpy and stuff like that, that affects that person right away. If they come in … Usually, I can tell you. My top doctors are all these cheerleaders. They come in and they’re like, “Megan, how are you doing today?” That’s how they come in, full of energy, or some of them come in and bring the Starbucks to their team members.
Imagine $7 spent on Starbucks for two cups of coffee for your front desk per day will probably lead to a lot of recalls and reactivations. It’s just my experience. I might be totally off on that, but that’s just my experience.
I don’t want to interrupt, but you’re absolutely right. I always hear team members say, not always, but a lot of times I hear team members talking about feeling underappreciated. The doctor always thinks well, they want a huge raise, they want this. A lot of times, it’s really the small things, just letting them on a daily basis know they matter, that they’re important, and then that we’re thinking about them. That’s what that appreciation is, letting people know that you’re thinking about them, right?
Yep. Part of when I visit the offices, as crazy as it sounds, is I pick up on dynamics pretty quickly. And then I always remind doctors, especially when I do these inventory makeover projects, “You know what, there’s going to be one big challenge for you is not to say anything.”
When we start working with your team, especially a dental assistant and hygienists, where they’re going to take a lead on reorganizing the rooms, agreeing on how we’re going to do things, they’re going to decide what’s going to go in the treatment room, not you. You can have a say “Look, ideally for me as a doctor, I would love to have a set of burs 557 as an emergency and things like that. But that’s on you to decide whatever we need, whatever you think is going to be an urgency, and that’s it.” Not even like … You could check at the end and say, “Yeah, great job. I’m proud of you.” But not even being the process.
There are so many people that we start, and I say, “All right, Stacy, what do you think?” She will say, “Well, I think we should do it.” And the doctor will interrupt right on the spot and start saying what needs to be done. I’m burning inside. I will be the one saying timeout, timeout, let’s go grab a coffee. I will grab a doctor and say, “That’s got to change.” Which is really hard.
It is hard, but you’re absolutely right. First of all, people support what they help create. If the dental assistant takes leadership on creating this inventory system and deciding what goes in the rooms, if she really owns that project, then she’s going to continue to run with it. For us doctors, we’re practice owners, we’re doctors, we’re decision makers. We make decisions and we expect people to implement those decisions, and then they don’t. As soon as we walk away, things started to tank because they were never part of the original decision because the flow doesn’t make sense to them.
It’s really those who are carrying on the responsibility that should be implementing. Also, because I can see how it can be demoralizing to employees when the doctor is constantly talking over them or, sending direction down the stream so to say. I think when they allow them to own a project they really build them up and help them become more self-sufficient and independent and take pride in that work.
I love what you said about walking through the front door. It’s funny because yes, you’re on time, and yes, you’re raising the energy of the team. I always say the CEO is the chief energizing officer. You know what, I remember we once had a meeting at my dental office. It was one of those … I’m not a touchy-feely type of person, I don’t like those touchy-feely meetings. But it was one of those meetings where we started off with everyone having to say something nice about someone else in the room. What they appreciate about that person.
One of my hygienists said she was talking about Ken. She said, “What I really appreciate about Ken is when he walks in, he comes out to every single one of us, says, hello, addresses us by name, asks how we’re doing, what kind of day we’re having.” For me, it was the biggest aha moment because I am the one, I’m coming in, I’m all about business and have a ton of things to take care of.
Hearing that from my team … This is so small, you just walk through the front door, and you say hi to everyone. That was a big game changer for me. That was okay, I have to adopt. I might not be that person, but I have to become this person if I want to be a good leader.
Yep. Can we talk about it for a second just to hopefully help your listeners? There are two things in this example that you gave. The big part of it is understanding your personality. I also don’t like when doctors don’t have that within them, it just not in their DNA to smile or to appreciate their team members. That’s totally fine.
You happen to have an office, you can’t just sell it, this is your practice, you want to grow it, I get it. Be self-aware, understand you can’t do it but appoint somebody in your office. Like you have Ken, come in and do it. There’s got to be someone that’s going to do that front door experience, and run it and then come back to you and say, “Look, I think we’re doing great.” Then you can put a checkbox in your checklist for a day and say, done.
Be self-aware, appoint somebody to do that. That can be your office manager, the cheerleader can get it done for you. If you’re a startup and you don’t have somebody, well, suck it up for a little bit until you have an office manager and do it. I don’t have anything else to say.
Yeah, that’s absolute, that’s very true. Often, it’s Ken who would come up and point something that I overlooked. Maybe like the magazines are not looking that great. If you can’t do it, if it’s not one of your strength, you definitely need to have that person in your office who is going to do that. So, excellent point. What are some of the other things? Because you said that earlier like a fly on the wall in the office because you’re coming in from the outside and being a CEO of your own company, you know how things are supposed to run. You see things from the side and you work closely with the team and with the doctor. You probably see a lot of things. Let’s talk about some of the other things.
I think my other thing is a little bit of what we talked earlier, is understanding, which is the hardest, is knowing what you’re good at, what you strong at and what you’re not and not try to fake it. I have seen doctors that it’s just not in their DNA to take the garbage out. But they will show it and prove it to everybody. When they do it, it comes out a little fake. They will come back and say, “Look at me, I just took the trash out.” That’s wrong, in my opinion.
It’s better to say, “Look, I don’t even know where the garbage can is. I don’t know what I would do without my team. I so appreciate what you do.” Being real, I think is very very important. Authentic, exactly. A lot of people is just absolutely not there.
I think another part about delegation vs. Abdication. Doctors are good at abdication, but not at delegation. I’ve seen this many, many times. All right, we’re setting up an inventory management system. Assistants have no clue what that is, and what would that involve? The doctor is like, “All right, Stacy, you’re in charge. Bye.” And then I’m trying to schedule a follow up in two months with a doctor, they have no clue what’s going on.
The right way of doing things is probably and actually picked it up from again, one of my offices at Zen that went from 10% to 5% in one month, is they pick a project for a quarter. Every quarter, they have a project. For quarter four, there was an inventory project for them. I got lucky, they picked us to be their provider. So, the whole team, top to bottom was involved just on inventory.
The way they did it is doctors involved checking all the products, understanding how the flow works, working with the team, understanding how the flow works within their specific office and only then delegating to the whole team saying, “All right, we’ve tried all this, this is what’s going to work. And then on top of it, every Friday, Every week, they check in. ” And say, “Okay, so we put this system in place, how’s it working?” Somebody comes in like Amber she’ll say, “Well, I don’t like that it’s this and that.”
She goes like, “All right, note taken.” The biggest part is nobody says, well, you just didn’t think about this. They’re like, taking notes. And then Susan comes in and she’s a hygienist and she is like a doctor, are you out of your mind? I don’t have toothbrushes.” The team is taken notes down, no conversations about, no Susan you just didn’t look at this cabinet. No, they just write it down. And then they go back with their original three or four people team and discuss and say what did the process feel? Go back change, adjust. Monday on the morning huddle, roll out the next one.
Speaking about the morning huddles, I would say 10% out of 100 will have a morning huddle. How’s that possible?
Blows my mind away. You’re starting a fresh day. You got to have a quick powwow just decided how this day’s going to go.
You know what I learned; this is a fundamental thing every office should implement. I really think that every single dental office should have, call it a social media coordinator or call it a patient heart coordinator. What that person does is for every morning huddle, they would sit down and look at the schedule for the upcoming day. This heart social media coordinator would look at the patient schedule for the next day. Then she goes on social media, literally, that’s what she does, during the day, on the phone, all day long. Looking at all these patients on social media; Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and probably less Twitter but Facebook and Instagram, the biggest one and look what’s going on.
And then in the morning huddle, and the next day, they give an update for every patient, and write them the chart notes and say, “All right, little Jackson has a birthday today. Our Lily had a soccer tournament yesterday and her son won.” Imagine those little things they put in a schedule. Now, the doctor goes in into each treatment room and start the conversation with like, “Hey, did Johnny win the tournament last night?” That will change the whole freaking thing for everybody.
That’s what I’ve learned from Gary Takacs, they do that in their practice is for every patient, they have a person that checks everything, birthdays and what’s going on in their life and this and that. Sometimes they’ll tell the doctor and say, look, in this room, we have a person that needs a little bit of pep talk for 10 or 15 minutes, just sit down and listen, something big happened or horrible happened in their life. That’s the biggest thing. You can talk about it during the morning huddle for five, 10 minutes.
Absolutely. You can really change someone’s experience by … First of all, I think a lot of our patients feel like a number. They come in and it’s especially apparent when I think dentists are better when you go to a medical office, it’s like okay, sign your name. Then they got that peel off sticker. Sometimes I have offices always ask us why don’t you have a kiosk? Because we want you to talk to your patients. Human interaction, it’s so important. We like our social media, we like our mobile devices, the convenience, the iPads, all that stuff, but nothing-
The convenience of everybody putting their entire life on this thing. Everybody put so much information. It’s insane how much you can know about the person right before their appointment. I love this, I go and see my clients, I don’t remember their names sometimes. Not like, but spouses and their kids, I would look it up on Facebook, come back and say, how’s JC doing? Things like that? It’s so easy.
I know. It’s great. Very good tip. When you travel to those offices, and you started this conversation, do you sometimes get a little bit of a push back from the team? Like they’re not comfortable with technology? Because I know this is something that we experience. What’s your take on this, and how do you overcome some of those challenges?
I think the blessing is that A, I’m an immigrant, I can play a dumb card for a little bit when I start. The second is, I had a blessing early in my life. I was a lab instructor at one of the colleges for underserved and minorities. It helped me a lot to understand the process, how to get people to even learn how to use computers and things like that the first time in their life.
Looking back now, that it’s such a huge experience for me, I would go in and I would start … Usually, I get an excuse of, “Oh, Tiger technology is not my thing. “ Or “At my age, technology is not my thing. That’s okay, let’s start somewhere. Did you have Facebook?” People say, “Oh, yeah, of course.” “Do you post things on Facebook?” “Oh, yeah, I do.” “Well, it’s just like Facebook. It’s easy. You will be able to post things. Zen’s plays just the same way.”
Then we will do some jokes and I let them play a little bit and click some buttons, something easier, and then people break through and they get comfortable. I think the other thing is, I think I do more than, that my job, I feel like it’s being the cheerleader for them. When I do trainings, I’m this sunshine pumper, sitting and saying, “All right, Susan, you’re doing awesome.” The biggest thing I’ve learned is, I always say, and it’s natural now. I think it’s always been naturally is I say, “You know what Susan? Where you started, and where you at now is incredible. I’m so proud of you for what you’ve accomplished. I know we have a lot more to do. But just that one little step that you have done is huge. I’m super proud of you. Let’s keep it up to the same way.” And then I can feel they’re slowly getting to where we need to go. I think that’s how we do it.
I love what you said there because I think … This is sometimes a reservation that I hear. Someone’s age is going to prevent from using technology. One example I can give, my mother in law is 70 years old. She still works, she’s a bookkeeper. She’s on Facebook. She is using Gusto for payroll. She’s using QuickBooks for … She does online banking, she shops online. It used to be my thing, now my mother-in-law, I get all those packages delivered to my house because we have someone at the house all the time.
If she can do all that online and she’s 70 years old, and then what’s going to prevent someone to order supplies online? She buys things on Amazon; she buys things from Nordstrom, why not. As long as you really take the time with them and help them. She’s still a little terrified of Dropbox somehow because she’s used to a paper filing system. When I moved everything to … She’s a bookkeeper in my practice and she’s working for YAPI as well and Dropbox somehow is a little terrifying because we just moved last year. She’s getting there.
You really just say, okay, see, you’re doing it, you’re doing fine. You’re just doing fine.
Tiger: I think it’s the attitude.
Dr. Dorfman: Exactly. I think you get what you expect, right?
Mm-hmm (affirmative) It’s a similar example. I love your example. I would say something similar. I say, “Yeah, I understand what you’re talking about. My grandfather, 95, had the same problem before using Skype and now he uses Skype every day.”
Yeah, that’s right. She’s using Skype, she has a smartphone. I don’t really see that as a factor there. When you go to those offices, and you’re working with assistants, are there any aha moments that they experience that, okay, maybe this is really a better way of doing things?
It’s a great question. I think we both have aha moments. For some reason, people say a dental office is a dental office, what are you going to see in another dental office? Every time I go to an office, I have this aha moment that A, I don’t know anything. I literally have to learn things again. And B is, I watch how people have aha moments, and to me, it’s interesting. I say, “Oh, maybe we should say it this way, or maybe we should rephrase certain things and use it differently.”
I think the biggest thing is that people have aha moment is when they truly understand that we try to save them time, that becomes a huge factor for many, many offices. Our biggest thing is at the end of the day, I sell time. I don’t sell anything else. People buy products from other distributors, what they’re paying a subscription for is for the time.
I remember one of the comments that I got, the whole team was sitting and tearing up a little bit, had some tears when an assistant called me. They have 26 offices and she’s been running supplies for one of the largest offices. She said, before Zen, she would stay two hours after work to get everything ready and organized for the next day. Now, it’s 15 minutes. She says: “I can go home and see my kids and spend time with my family. Thank you guys so much.” That’s the greatest comment that we ever get.
Saving money, it’s fine, but when you can provide that to the team members, I think that’s the biggest thing for us.
Absolutely. I can relate because, with our software, yes, it’s convenient. Yes, you don’t have to buy the toner and the paper, and yes, the patients like it. All those are great things, but when you realize that a typical dental office going paperless, the front office will save 600 hours a year just on scanning, filing, shredding, data entry, that’s huge. What can you get done in 600 hours?
We don’t realize that but when we … This is like one doctor, two hygienists working four, five days a week. That’s a lot of time. When you give people the time back that they can do more things and take better care of patients, that’s really important … Because we’re all so busy. Everyone is so busy. In a typical dental office, I feel like a lot of things are not getting done especially at the front office because there’s always something happening.
The front office is answering phones, and people coming in and people leaving and they need appointments scheduled. In the back, the assistants are running from room to room to room. Only when you have an opening in the schedule, is when you can actually sit down and start going through catalogs and finding supplies. That’s actually the reason why a lot of times they run out, is because there’s never an ordering time on the schedule. It’s always like, whenever I have time.
They don’t have an opportunity to do a full inventory and they have things hidden in closets that they cannot see in plain view. I really think that this is the biggest value there. What’s in the future? What are you dreaming about?
My dream is this, I really want to get Zen to the point where you have a package show up every two weeks and you’re under 4% and we’re spot on what you need. That’s all.
Dr. Dorfman: I love that.
That’s a total Zen for me. Nobody runs out of products anymore. It’s done. Nobody needs this whole price … To me, right now the whole industry is going through so much commotion about this whole pricing and distributors and big three being sued by the government and all that stuff. To me, it’s unnecessary for the teams because the patients are number one, and they’re stressed already enough. Why put the team through all of that?
It should be super easy. It should be a couple of clicks to set it up, get everything, put it in the software and then done.
I love that. Let’s talk. I see you have a couple of meetings coming up where you are planning to speak. Tell me about that. Where are we going to see them?
One thing when I travel and go to the offices, I hear doctors getting excited about their Cs. I hear hygienists being sad about their Cs. I feel like my poor dental assistants are left out, and they’re sitting in the room like, it would be cool if we would have some kind of conference to go. But I don’t think there is one. I’ve been thinking about it since we started.
It took me probably a year to really realize something important. For ZenSupplies our end user is an assistant and most of the time, not the doctor. Then I thought, okay, we need to organize our own event where we get the chance to get all of our assistants together and give them the platform to learn more, become better, really encourage to step out of the comfort zone and go for more.
We finally, this year, partnering up with some people that we’re going to help bring that to real life, and that’s actually, it’s going to be Dental Assistant Conference-
Dr. Dorfman: National Conference.
National Conference for Excellence. The acronym is DANCE. We talked about everybody loves to DANCE. I didn’t come up with this, I work with a couple of incredible people. One of them is Julie Varney. She’s putting it all together and we’re fortunate to be part of it. I’ll be speaking at that event primarily about the organization, what that organization of when you can deep really brief. I’ll be talking about how does it feel when everything is organized and it sits in the right place. It’s that feeling when you organize your pantry. Everything is in the right place.
I’ll talk about that, but primarily, my main focus right now is getting that conference to life and we’re super excited to do that.
This is wonderful because there is a conference for office managers. I’ve been to that conference multiple times and it’s always this really fun event filled with so much energy and the office managers who attend the conference really love being a part of it. They love being a part of an organization that really connects them, that provides them learning opportunities. They recognize those who achieved a lot in the field of front office management. Of course, the dentist we have … Are you going to be at the Dental Success Institute in Scottsdale?
Tiger: Can’t wait.
Yes, that’s going to be so much fun. Between the voices of dentistry and the dental town coming up, we’re going to be at the dental town next week and DSI and practice on fire, there are so many wonderful events where people really organize in communities. I’m not aware of anything like that for dental assistants.
For me, when I first started my practice, it was always my goal to bring the assistant up to not only be a patient advocate or someone who is holding a suction all day but really someone who owns her space. Who is productive, who is proud of her accomplishments, who is-
Tiger: And confident.
And confident, exactly. Who are continuously learning? I’ve used every possible opportunity to help my assistants really learn as much as possible. Whether it means that we have small meetings in the office where I personally teach them. Whether I get the videos, bring them to conferences. I think for them to have this kind of conference where they can learn and organize and work together and really be a part of something bigger than themselves. I think that’s wonderful. Kudos to Julie, I’m glad that you are part of this.
Yeah, it’s October 18th– 19th, dentalassistantconference.com. I think the best part about this conference is that nobody’s trying to make money off of it. People are really putting it together for having it. I think that’s always the best part. I love when people do things for a greater good than just putting money in their pocket.
Absolutely. Any other advice before … We are almost coming on time. I can’t believe how fast that went. You talk so fast and I talk so fast, and we still fill out an hour. But anything else in closing that you’d like to?
Tiger: I’d like to ask you a question.
Dr. Dorfman: Okay.
Tiger: What do you think in a dental technology horizon in the next two years, what do you think that technology is going?
I think there’s going to be a lot of automation. I think we’re going to see some bots that are helping connect our patients with the dental team that are going to provide some information when the office is closed. Because we are getting to a point where we have more and more millennials sent to the dental office and they’re going to, whether it’s patients or as employees or doctors. There are more and more millennial doctors entering into practice.
The doctors want to streamline things. For patients, I think it’s really important that they get answers to their questions when they have those questions. They want to be able to connect with the office through websites, through Facebook, through any other venue. I think that being accessible and being available to those patients, and being reachable in a way that the patients want to reach us is where it’s all going.
Of course, on a business side, we’re seeing a lot of DSOs are growing and they’re leveraging technology and they’re leveraging their buying power. For private practices, it’s going to be incredibly important to be streamlined and to budget well and to really leverage technology in their own way to run practices better.
Interesting. Yeah, I think I agree with you, it’s automation. The coolest thing is just as a final thought that I just had is, every single private practice, and I think you and I are in the forefront of helping private practice just to continue to stay private and not go into the DSO route, which is nothing bad. But I think there’s so much beauty of owning the practice and being the 100% sole owner. I think it’s being adaptable to the new technology.
The offices that I see that that doesn’t sit on the rear end and say, well, I’m just going to hold my breath and hope I’m going to retire soon. These days are over. The sooner people jump into the new things and new technology, that will allow them to stay ahead of the curve and not go in the DSO route and continue being successful solo owners.
Absolutely. I 100% wholeheartedly agree with you there. Wow, that was a fun discussion, and I am so glad that you were able … I know you’re busy and you’re traveling a lot. I thank you for taking the time to spend with us, with our listeners. We will put the link to ZenSupplies website on the show notes.
Tiger: Thank you.
Dr. Dorfman: I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Dental Success Summit.
Tiger: And a link to the conference too.
Dr. Dorfman: And the conference, absolutely. Absolutely, thank you for the reminder. I’ll see you at the DSI, and have a good rest of your week.
Tiger: Thank you. It’s been an honor to be on your show. Thank you so much.
Dr. Dorfman: Thank you.