Last updated on July 27th, 2018 at 03:53 pm
About Abe Gershonowicz, DDS
In 1978, I started my dental practice in Sterling Heights, Michigan and for years it grew steadily. Fairly early in my career, I set a goal to build my practice up to the point where I could bring in a partner. With this in mind, I began to bring in associates in the mid-1980s. I had several who came and went prior to Dr. James Neme, who came on board in 1990. After working with Dr. Neme for several years, I decided I wanted to make him my partner. There was one problem: The practice wasn’t productive enough to economically accommodate a partnership. To make a partnership work, I figured that collections would need a 20% increase from where they were at. While we weren’t doing badly, things just weren’t where they needed to be.
The clinical aspects of my practice were under control—I was confident in my dentistry and we took great care of patients, but I was frustrated with the lack of growth. We seemed to have hit a plateau and for the first time in my career, I wasn’t able to hit the goals I had set.
Around this time (1995), I spoke with a colleague from my area who happened to be an MGE: Management Experts, Inc. (MGE) client. His practice was doing quite well and he seemed excited about what he was learning, so I contacted MGE to see how they could help. Beginning with an MGE seminar in the Detroit area given by Dr. Greg Winteregg (one of the owners), I had a number of realizations, and was especially excited about the information I learned about communication. From there, I decided to sign up for the New Patient Workshop.
The New Patient Workshop grounded me in the fundamentals of how to properly market my practice and attract new people. Once I understood what marketing really was and how to do it in a way I was comfortable with, I signed up for some additional coursework, including the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars.
When I signed up for more MGE services, I considered that a 20 percent increase would have been a success. Right after becoming an MGE client, I began to make changes in my practice and statistics took off. Using what I learned from MGE about communication, Dr. Neme and I worked out what would have to happen with the practice to really pull off our partnership. We began working together as a team to grow the practice to where it needed to be.
I also brought Dr. Neme and my chairside assistant Heidi Dixon to MGE with me for training. I could see that Heidi would make an excellent executive and decided to make her my office manager, so I enrolled her in the MGE Office Manager Training Program. She’s been our office manager for over 15 years now and she’s fantastic.
Dr. Neme and I both completed the training on sales and communication, which taught us how to really connect with our patients and enrolled in the MGE Power Program (executive training). In addition to the three of us training at MGE, I also brought some of my staff to MGE for seminars. In my first full year as an MGE client (1996), I hit the 20% increase target I had set for myself when I began the program! By 1999, Dr. Neme and I made our plan a reality and he became my business partner! That same year we also doubled our total collections, while getting close to 100 new patients each month!
The keys to this expansion were being trained as an executive and having a trained executive team (i.e., office manager and junior executives) along with a well trained staff that functions within a stable organizational structure.
To this end we have also trained several other staff at MGE over the years as executives to administer our growing organization along with our two associates who trained at MGE on the basics of case acceptance and communication. I’ve also set up an in-house training facility in my office modeled after the MGE training program so that all of my staff can get trained.
With everyone knowing what they are supposed to do and being able to do it, we have been able to expand routinely each year without having to resort to HMOs or most other managed care type plans.
Currently, I own my building with Dr. Neme and I have about 30 staff (including several trained executives), 3 associates doing general dentistry and 4 part-time specialists. By 2010, our collections were up 600% and we averaged over two hundred new patients per month! We have 13 chairs in 5000 square feet. With a fully trained staff, my patients still get the personal touch they are used to from when I first opened my doors.
Personally, one of my biggest successes from the MGE Training Program is knowing that I can successfully manage any business. I know how to lead, manage, hire, market, delegate, train and plan and feel comfortable confronting just about anything. We are very profitable and unstressed and despite our growth, my clinical hours have not really increased.
Having the primary office under control enabled us to take the game to the next level. In the past five years, we’ve expanded to three additional locations (with partners) that are all performing successfully, with more on the horizon. And remember, this is all in the Detroit area—one of the areas hardest hit by our recent recession.
The point is, if you have a workable system in place and really take great care of patients, your business can be successful no matter what is going on.
When someone asks me if they should do the MGE program, my response is usually “You’re crazy not to!”
Dentists spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to know how to be a dentist, which is what they should do. But it’s time for dentists today to also realize that they are businesspeople, and they should spend appropriate time and money to learn to be able to do that.
If you don’t get trained—don’t expect miracles. You need to know how to communicate, market, manage, and be an executive so you’re able to reach the higher level that is actually possible for a small business.
If you want to know if MGE could help, my advice to you is this: Do what I did— call MGE!