Not many people say this, but I love going to the dentist. Granted, I have not had many dental problems in my life: one-half of a cavity when I was 12, I have never had braces and only one chipped tooth. The chipped tooth occurred as you would expect – eating salad….
Don’t worry, I am not perfect. My terrible eyesight has definitely made up for my almost non-existent dental problems.
Dr. Tiek and his staff can be summed up in one word – amazing.
Every time I go into their office it is a wonderful and pleasant experience. The front office staff is amazingly polite and they always take the time to make sure every, single patient’s needs are thoroughly taken care of. They take the time to always say “hello” and “goodbye” and make time to chat in between.
You know, the important things.
The hygienists are always professional and polite and they genuinely make my teeth feel great every time I visit. They are never afraid to strike up a conversation (or scold me for not flossing enough…I know…I know). Which, is not necessarily easy to do when they have damn near a whole hand and tools in my mouth and I all I can do is communicate through grunts and eye movements.
I am willing to bet that is a talent one is not born with. But, a skill one learns through the daily practice of being a professional.
Then we have Dr. Brandon Tiek.
It is a common (true) assumption that people in the Midwest always seem to know someone somehow no matter where they travel. Which, according to my girlfriend, who is from New Jersey, is not a common trait on the East Coast. She just laughs and shakes her head when we travel somewhere and I strike up a conversation with a stranger, we end up talking, and somehow end up with mutual acquaintances (and a new friend).
Dr. Tiek and I are no exceptions to this stereotype – we grew up in the same hometown and literally had the same dentist (Dr. Tiek actually trained under this same dentist), as well. However, we did not realize this until the first time I visited his office as a patient.
It does not get any more “Indiana” than that, folks.
You are probably wondering why I am writing about my dentist on my personal finance blog. Well, as you may have noticed, I enjoy working finance into all aspects of life, not just numbers.
I also want to brag on Dr. Tiek and his staff. The way that they run their office is exceptionally efficient and even though they see a large volume of patients (upwards of 300 patients a week) they do not appear exhausted or overwhelmed. With that volume of patients and the quality of the care they provide, I believe we can definitely learn a few things from them.
So, grab a non-sweetened drink or another dental friendly beverage and enjoy!
1. IH: We should start off with a couple basic questions. How long have you been practicing dentistry? How long have you had your own practice? How has your practice grown since you opened it?
BT: I’m in my 15th year of practice. I started my own office business in 2007. We started from scratch with about 4 patients the very first day, and have grown to an average of about 50-60 per day presently.
2. IH: Can you explain the differences that entail between working as a dentist for someone else and running your own practice? Do you believe that running your own practice requires you to learn many different skills that were not taught in dental school?
BT: Huge difference! Dental school equips you for the clinical side of dentistry, but not so much on the business side of things. That’s actually fine in my opinion because not everyone wants to go into business for themselves. I personally have always wanted to own and operate my own business, but I knew I needed to refine my clinical skills first before venturing out. I started as an associate in a very established practice that was able to provide me with wonderful experience to further develop my skills and prepare me for being a dentist on my own someday. The business side is either learned by getting a business education separately or better yet, working with a mentor to guide you through it. You truly learn as you go!
3. IH: We know that dentistry is an extremely professional career. However, I feel that you stand out from many other dentists because of not only your skill but your passion. How do you find the right balance of heart and skill while practicing?
BT: That’s really kind, thank you! I firmly believe in finding a balance. I love dentistry, but it is so important to take breaks from whatever you do, regardless how passionate you are about it. I also find that you need to focus on what you enjoy and do well. I’ve learned over the years to do just that, and it helps make the day so much less stressful!
4. IH: You always mention to me that there is a fine line with your patients between being proactive and preventative vs. not being active enough. What helps you in relaying this advice to your patients? Does following this line make the difference between a good dentist and a great dentist?
BT: It’s all about honesty. You do what needs to be done, and the simply inform about the rest. That can vary from patient to patient. The human body is a miraculously created thing, but we’re not all in the same place from a health perspective. Every patient has a story and an opinion as well. It is important to honor that. They are autonomous over their own body and health, and I am here to help them learn and get them to the healthiest place I can.
5. IH: I have interacted with a number of dental offices in my last job. Some were good, some not so much. However, every time I interact with your staff either on the phone or in person, they are simply phenomenal. They are friendly, caring, helpful, yet utterly professional. What traits and characteristics do you look for when hiring new staff? How do you keep such professional staff members and maintain such a low turnover rate?
BT: Simple. We care about people. If you want to work here, you need to do that. We are here to take care of our patients, and to do so with a servant’s heart. At the same time, I expect all the staff to care for each other as well. We leave our issues at the door and work together for the good of the people we see.
6. IH: Taking care of one’s teeth is a very serious and sometimes expensive matter. Do you feel that choosing a dental office that is not only very skilled in dental care but also that makes a person comfortable and trusting, equate to saving money for that person in the long run?
BT: Hmm, interesting thought. I feel that a dentist should, of course, be skilled at quality dentistry otherwise, they shouldn’t be practicing dentistry. Although, even the best dentistry can fail if the patient doesn’t try their best to take care of themselves. The best scenarios are where the dentist is doing their best both clinically and ethically, and the patient is focused on home care, nutrition, and good habits. That will save them money in the long run.
7. IH: We have talked many times and it is absolutely staggering how busy you are. You see roughly 60 patients a day, 5 days a week, play and record in your band, AND play the most important role of husband and father. How do you that and not get burnt out?
BT: God’s grace and caffeine! Plus I have a short attention span, so I don’t sit still very long. 🙂 In all seriousness, I live life by a simple rule: Do everything you can with the skills you’ve been given and do it all to the best of your ability.
8. IH: Since I have been a patient, I have always felt relaxed in your office’s care. We all know that you have to make money, but I feel there something more that your office strives for. What does your office truly care about at the end of the day when it comes to the patient/doctor relationship?
BT: Loving people. Pure and simple. Everything else falls into place.
9. IH: Obviously running a successful and busy dental practice is not easy and requires a great balance of many different attitudes and skills. What skill or attitude that you look for in not only yourself but also your staff, would you recommend for someone in their life to achieve?
BT: Think about others more than yourself. Our culture seems to move more and more in the other direction, but when you focus on others’ instead of focusing on yourself, wonderful things happen. The other people feel loved, and you feel better because of it.
As you can tell, Dr. Tiek takes his profession very personally. The heart, the soul, and the compassion that make up being a doctor are displayed through not only his quality care but exonerates through the rest of the staff, as well.
In the personal finance early retirement world, we tend to view quality over quantity, but Dr. Tiek and his staff show that when you are professional and care about others more than yourself you can have a vast impact of high quality on a large number of people.
I believe that is something we can all continue to work on every day.
Dr. Tiek is also an accomplished gospel musician, voice-over artist, and runs his own recording studio! Make sure and check out Dr. Tiek’s blog at www.brandontiek.com and follow him on Twitter @BrandonTiek.
Do you have a professional in your life that you feel is more than “just a doctor, lawyer, etc?”
If so, feel free to brag to brag on them in the comments!