New beginnings

by Drs. Matt & Ann Bynum

The naysayers said it couldn't be done. The majority of the dental professionals we consulted doubted the direction of our journey. They said it was foolish, impossible, and that we would be committing financial suicide. Of course, we strayed down our own path and chose the direction for our journey without succumbing to the negative attitudes of the infamous "they." After all, who are "they"? If "they" are saying it can't be done, then who are we to stand up and challenge them, right? Who are we to go against the conventional wisdom of those with many more years of experience in dentistry? I think it was Omer Reed who once said, "If somebody else is doing it, then it probably can be done!"

We know who "they" are. "They" are fellow dental professionals and colleagues ... the very same people who are striving to do their utmost to help themselves, their patients, and their respective families ... the very ones who search for ways to improve, but are afraid to take that step out onto the ledge and try for fear of failure and ridicule. Call it fear, call it jealousy, call it what you will, but know that when someone succeeds, it is because of a positive attitude — not a negative one — that allowed him or her to do so.

So, who are we? We are two young dentists, husband and wife, who have been practicing together for four years. We have traversed the dental profession and covered nearly all possible avenues. We completed a postgraduate residency in pediatric dentistry, served as associate dentists for two years, bought a parcel of land, constructed a free-standing dental office, started two combined but independent dental practices, started a family, maintained two very successful and prosperous dental practices, and have managed to stay together and have continuous fun along the way! We are Ann and Matt Bynum, the couple from Simpsonville, S.C., who were pictured on the cover of the October 1999 issue of Dental Economics.

When that picture of the two of us and our six-month-old son, Matthew, was taken, we had been in our dental practice for about a year-and-a-half. We really were in our infancy as far as practice, philosophy, and success.

Now, four years later, our continued efforts have made our practices successful, placing them among the top in the country. We began with no knowledge of how to run a business, where to start, or with whom to talk. We started the practice in a fee-for-service, five-star environment and have maintained that same practice philosophy throughout the years. While our thoughts and actions have taken us "outside the box," we have carved out a niche in our community that has brought about our practice and personal success.

Things have definitely changed in these past four years. Our family has grown with the addition of our second son, Luke, now eight months old. Our practices have grown, and, thus, the sizes of our teams have grown to accommodate this increase in patient flow. Our philosophies have been reviewed and modified to fit our current frame of mind, and our priorities have taken on a whole new meaning. We have shared in many wonderful successes and have been educated by our less-than-wonderful mistakes. However, like all successful people in life, we learn our lessons, and we move on.

The intention of this monthly column is to help you along your journey and possibly to enlighten you as to what has worked for us and what has not. We intend to take you from our practice's inception to the current state of our business and everywhere in between. This column is about business, philosophy, and success. That means it is for the new dentist, the dental student, the specialist, the associate, the solo practitioner, the group practitioner, the new practice start-ups, and the dentists who are retiring or transitioning. This column will have a little bit of something for everyone.

My friend Bill always says, "You don't know what you don't know," and, as good as things may get, there is still quite a bit we don't know. Dental school teaches us basics. Dental school also teaches us sound principles that we can take with us and go to work. The problem is, there is so much more to this profession than just going to work. These basics don't include setting up a practice, buying a practice, or, for that matter, working in a practice. In fact, any business principles taught in dental school are either outdated or insignificant.

Dental offices vary as much as the dentists who run them. Some practices are small, seeing only a few patients a day; some are large, seeing as many as a hundred patients a day. Some focus on the bread-and-butter aspects of general dentistry; some focus on the boutique-type practice, offering the latest that dentistry has to offer. Some dentists want absolutely no responsibility, and some thrive on the autonomy of managerial direction. Every dentist is different. The simple fact that there is not just one way to do anything in dentistry makes it an extremely subjective profession. What one may find beneficial, another may not.

Our philosophy has altered somewhat in our four years of practice, but it still holds fairly true to its course. We strive to give the best that dentistry has to offer in a comfortable, modern atmosphere. We do this on a true fee-for-service basis, where we expect to be compensated in full for services that we render. We also do this in an atmosphere free from outside insurance influence and void of constraints outside the range of definitive. We acknowledge the necessity of true team concepts in order for the practice to run with efficiency and satisfaction, rewarding team members as if they themselves were partial owners in the practice. We utilize the technology and advancements that we have at our disposal and are constantly updating our stronghold on the future of dentistry. Most of all, we acknowledge that we cannot be everybody's dentist. We strive to perform quality dentistry in a friendly, fun environment.

We hope this new column will aid some of you in your decision-making processes and stimulate all of you to stop and think about your current state of business affairs. The new year brings new opportunities and new beginnings ... and we wish you all a very happy, prosperous New Year!

Drs. Matt and Ann Bynum have an insurance-free family dental practice in a suburb of Greenville, S.C. Through speaking, writing, and practice consulting, they have helped hundreds of dentists to free themselves of dental insurance and provide an atmosphere where practice and personal dreams become reality. Ann is a member of the ADA, ASDC, and the AAPD. Matt is a member of the ADA, AGD, AACD, and is a clinical instructor at The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. They can be reached by phone at (864) 297-5585 or by email at dr.matt@hollytreefamilydental.com and dr.ann@hollytreefamilydental.com.

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