by Bill Blatchford
Growing up on the lower east side of Manhattan, the grandson of Eastern European immigrants, Dr. Jay Neuhaus often saw the beautiful, quiet streets surrounding the only private, gated park in Manhattan: Gramercy Park. To him, it felt like a small town, although it is located in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world. Schooled in Manhattan and at NYU Dental School, Jay spread his wings for a GPR at Albert Einstein Medical College in the Bronx. As an associate in Staten Island, he dreamed of Gramercy Park.
Jay’s office is in the lobby of a six-story residential apartment building in Gramercy Park. He knows his patients, which include generations of families, well. The office’s previous owner worked with a full-time assistant/receptionist “who actually smoked cigarettes while working!”
“In starting a practice, I had no financial goals - a big mistake! I went wherever the practice led me. Costs kept rising. Living and practice expenses increased at a much greater pace than my practice,” Jay said.
“Then, I discovered my devoted receptionist was embezzling from me. Stealing cash, she then would charge dental patients’ credit cards. When a patient noticed, she made a lame excuse, credited his or her account, and then charged someone else’s card. I finally discovered her scheme and had her arrested and charged with a felony. Believe it or not, today she is working for another dentist not too far away who knows the whole story.
“That was the lowest point in my professional life. I had heard of Dr. Blatchford’s consulting services. My wife, April, insisted it was worth his costs if it would restore my faith and happiness in dentistry. Not only did it accomplish that, it got me to that next level and beyond. It also brought me to another highlight of my life - getting involved with the Las Vegas Institute and making photography a part of my practice. Dr. James Klim helped me put together a photography studio complete with studio lights, umbrellas, and posing tables.
“I increased my net profit and reduced my work hours, leaving me more quality time with my family. My team of three now has nine paid weeks off per year. We work two days from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and two days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Pitfalls happened when I let my practice lead me. In the past, I was too busy being a technician to recognize embezzlement. I used to hire only experienced dental personnel, overlooking their communication skills. I always thought somehow my staff would read my mind and know what I wanted. But how could they when I wasn’t even sure where I was headed? My latest team member is a former flight attendant with good people skills.
“My gross grew from $700K to $1.2 million. Collections went from 90 percent to over 100 percent, creating a 60 percent overhead. We don’t bill our patients; they pay at least two days prior to treatment.
“I used to do one or two crowns at a time and many amalgam restorations. I was better at talking patients out of work than finding out what they really wanted. Now, I do ideal treatment plans at whatever ‘profitable’ pace the patient wants - with no compromise on quality. Right now I have five full-mouth cases in progress on patients who pay $60K to $75K two days in advance. I am no longer afraid to lose patients who do not share my vision. Most of our patients stick with us and eventually agree to ideal work when the time is right for them.
“Our team has morning and evening huddles, weekly one-hour staff meetings, and monthly four-hour skill-building sessions. I am constantly honing my leadership and communication skills through books, and my team is motivated because they feel needed. Once terrified, now I actually feel comfortable giving PowerPoint presentations to groups of specialists.
“Dr. Blatchford coached me to make my practice flow in the direction I chose. I learned that I had to lead rather than follow, a difficult lesson to learn.
“We won the collection struggle by eliminating massive billings and insurance statements and collecting all fees under $500 at the time of service. Another tough decision was to present only what I consider the best cosmetic dentistry for my patients, and then refuse to compromise. Our profit margin has shot up!
“No more going with the flow. If I want to reach my five-year plan, I know I will have to lead the way. When we are playing our ‘A’ game, watch out! Everyone knows it. Our patients enjoy their dental experiences even more when we are performing at peak level.”
For more information about Dr. Jay Neuhaus, please visit www.gramercydentalarts.com.
Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford’s monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.