Monday, May 15, 2017

HCSI Interview with Jeromy Dixson of Smiles Dental Episode: 18

Lance King of Healthcare Compliance Solutions, Inc interviewed Jeromy Dixson. Dr. Dixson is a three- time INC Magazine 500/5000 awarded entrepreneur, the Founder and Former CEO of Smiles Services LLC and Founder and Former President of Smiles Dental Group PC.

Jeromy Dixson, DDS
Like most of the people in the healthcare industry that Lance has interviewed, Jeromy Dixson chose his career out of a desire to help other people. He spoke of two experiences in childhood that greatly influenced his path (-39:00 in interview). He had two injuries that required lengthy hospital stays. He decided he wanted to be like the people on the medical teams that took care of him during those times and dreamed of being a doctor. In college, Jeromy spoke to several doctors and they all recommended that he look into going into dentistry instead. He shadowed his dentist and discovered a love for the industry. He was excited to get to know families and even generations of families as patients.
He graduated from dental school in Southern Illinois University in 2004. About one-third to one-half of his graduating class went to work for Heartland Dental Group, the largest dental group in the nation at the time, and one of the first Dental Service Organizations (DSO) in the country.  When Jeromy returned 'home' to Portland, OR he brought back the idea of a DSO with him. He eventually founded the Smiles Dental Group, a DSO in the Portland Oregon area. Jeromy is currently on sabbatical with his wife and three children. They are taking a year off to travel around the world.

Smiles Dental Group
Smiles Dental Group is a DSO that buys private dental practices. Then, Smiles takes care of all the non-clinical aspects of running a practice, including (but not limited to) marketing, continuing education, facilities maintenance, and billing/insurance. Jeromy looked for the top 5-10 percent of practices in the area and then talked to the dentists about advantages of joining a DSO. The main reason dentists choose to go with Smiles Dental Group is because many new 
graduates don't want to own their own practice because of the complications involved with ownership.  Doctors want to focus on patient care. Also, many women are choosing to work part-time as a dentist. The DSO option allows more women to practice dentistry without spending time on the non-clinical parts. Another big driver for people choosing a DSO is the ability to adopt new technologies, such as CAD/CAM and CT machines. These devices facilitate greater patient care but are often cost prohibitive. With a DSO model, the group of practices share the cost so they can offer these treatment/diagnosing options, which will help differentiate their practices from competitors.

What Have You Learned From Failure?
Jeromy says that every successful entrepreneur has had catastrophic failures, and he's no exception. One of the most applicable lessons for anyone looking to buy a practice, or go into business with someone is to stay away from doctors who have both a big ego and whose identity is their practice. He said that you can work with one or the other, but not both. Also, he said that in any negotiation, if there's contention before the contract gets signed, there's going to be contention afterwards.  It's not worth working with someone who doesn't want to change or find common ground, so just walk away.

When asked about entrepreneurship, Jeromy said, “You'll always have things thrown at you that make you want to quit.”  He says the keys to being successful are not to quit, take informed risks, know what your vision is, and build a great team. When he first started, Jeromy said he was naive about how much work and sacrifice was required to build a flourishing company. He says that now he has a basic framework of knowledge, experience, and strategy so he can realize his vision.  He subscribes to the “Blue Ocean Strategy,” namely where you create your own market (blue ocean) instead of fighting over the same market as everyone else (red ocean).  He periodically considers where the 'blue ocean' will be in 10 years and readjusts his focus.

Habits of Success
According to Jeromy, “Anyone I've known that's been extremely successful and a great leader has a curious mind.” He makes time daily to meditate and learn. He says that once a person stops learning and growing, they become comfortable. Jeromy doesn't let himself stay comfortable very long.  He says, “When you move and grow, you become greater.”

Three Absolute Truths
1. “In a world where you can be anything, be kind,” is a quote that Jeromy's wife recently shared with him. As he and his family travel around the world through different places and cultures, they see the commonalities in the human family, and that most differences can be worked out with kindness.
2. The things that matter most are our relationships with people we love and our experiences together.
3. There is no such thing as a free lunch.  People see the tip of the iceberg of success, but they don't see the hard work and determination beneath the surface. He says, “If you're entitled or a victim, then you're never going to achieve your goals. It will always be someone else's fault that you don't have a great family, or a good job, or a successful business.” People with determination work hard to achieve what they want, whether that be in relationships or careers.

Parting Advice
A business is made of of three things—people, product/service, and profit. You have to follow that same order in priority. If you don't treat people well, your business will fail. If you don't have the right product or service, your business will fail. And if you take care of the first two, the third (profit) will follow.

Jeromy Dixson, Bio
Dr. Jeromy Dixson, of Smiles Services and Smiles Dental Group. Dr. Dixson is a three- time INC Magazine 500/5000 awarded entrepreneur, the Founder/Former CEO of Smiles Services LLC and Founder/Former President of Smiles Dental Group PC. He is a visionary, inspirational, and transformational leader who builds unified individuals, teams, cultures, and world-class organizations. Dr. Dixson became the managing partner of Smiles Dental in 2008. In 2010 he finalized a buyout of his former partners, assumed the role of President and immediately accomplished a successful re-launch of the organization, setting Smiles Dental on a path to explosive growth. The company proceeded to double its number of locations and triple revenue in the ensuing three years. From 2013 to 2015, Smiles Dental nearly tripled the number of locations, revenue and EBITDA again. Under Dr. Dixson's leadership, Smiles Dental was recognized three years in a row (2013-2015) by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the United States, topping out at #550 in 2013. Additionally in 2013, he completed a successful private equity transaction. He is currently on sabbatical overseas. Follow his family blog at to catch up with him through mid-2017.

As always, thanks so much for listening, reading, and following Lance King and Healthcare Compliance Solutions, Inc. Remember to find us on Facebook, iTunes, YouTube, and LinkedIn for more interviews, articles, and helpful information about healthcare compliance and more.

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