In 2017, Perfect Dental Management (PDM) was featured on GDN’s Emerging Groups to Watch list. Now, GDN is checking in with its founder, Dmitry Burshteyn. We explore which strategies have worked and which have not, learn about his management philosophy which is based on three innovative, non-dental business giants, and he offers tips for other emerging dental groups.
GDN: When we first reported on PDM, your long-term strategy was to take your model into new geographic areas. You were in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Texas under the brands Perfect Dental and Kids Zone Dental. Where are you with your strategy?
DB: That strategy has since been revised. We have sold the Texas location, as it was geographically too far to manage effectively, and we learned that our core skill set is within the New England market; that is where we are looking to stay and evolve.
Our focus is to grow existing practices, but we have also started to do branded and unbranded locations (three total unbranded: two pedo and one general.)
We measure success by doctor count, revenue and chair count versus number of locations.
GDN: In 2017 we reported that, “While DeNovo location growth will still be a major focus, PDM will now look at a plan of action that includes affiliations.” Can you elaborate further about where you are with this? Is this still the case? What are you thoughts about this?
DB: The industry is going through a wave of consolidations and a new levels of ‘disruption’ via teledentistry and expanded mobile dentistry platforms, such as Virtudent and HENRY. Our focus has increasingly been to localize dentistry, similar to the farm to table movement within the food industry.
We have started to hyper focus on the areas in which we and our providers are interested in expanding and catering to that specific demographic, which now includes non-branded DeNovos. Our providers are very excited about the level of support and our goal is to continue to go above and beyond.
I continue to be interested in doing affiliations, but our focus has been on supporting the great providers who have been the focal point of the patient experience for many years now.
GDN: We also reported that, “A key struggle for PDM was that their growth occurred so quickly that they were not able to put consistent operations policies and procedures in place to keep up with this rapid growth. Currently PDM is diligently working towards making sure that every practice operates in a consistent manner.” Where do things stand now? What operating policies and procedures have been implemented? What, if any, areas are you still addressing?
DB: When I started PDM our goal was to provide ‘concierge level’ service to our offices, providers and auxiliary staff. As I started to see the wildfire growth of our industry, I wildered for a bit of time trying to figure out how to be a part of the growth instead of focusing on what made us unique within the industry.
I am elated with the quality of support we are able to deliver on a daily basis, with a core focus of, ‘It starts with US at PDM,’ providing the best possible support on a consistent basis to all of our supported offices. This, in turn, allows them to focus on providing the best possible experience to the patients.
GDN: We also reported, “PDM believes that there are tremendous opportunities to continue to provide high quality care to patients in the markets they currently serve by expanding the services offered, as well as increasing the number of locations and providers. Perfect Dental Management’s long term strategy is to take their model into new geographic areas.” What is happening with your growth now and where do you seeing it going in the near future?
DB: I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish since we spoke last in terms of offering expanded services to our current support offices, but still have opportunities to grow internally and provide more specialties. This will continue to be a core focus for our evolution. I believe there is always going to be opportunity to grow in our existing and expanded markets as long as we are able to provide a high quality products/services that people are interested in utilizing/consuming.
GDN: Tell us about your executive team.
DB: I am a big believer on having boots on the ground and in the trenches. We do not have a ‘traditional’ executive team, but champions in core competencies.
GDN: Can you explain and elaborate on your core competencies? How your team is structured and how that is specifically integrated into your core competencies.
DB: I am a big fan of Jeff Bezos’ leadership style. He is well known for the notorious “?” email, as he personally reads customer complaint emails and will forward the complaint to the appropriate department head for a response. (Inc.)
Our business is supporting the offices, and when anyone on the office level has an issue, I want to make sure we have someone who is able to respond to it quickly and efficiently. A big part of that is hiring the right practice managers who understand our structure and are able to quarterback any issues with the support staff as well as the providers.
Our focus is building a group of individuals who come together as a team, and work with each other to keep growing the business on a daily basis. We are not a traditional ‘title’ based company. Our key employees have roles and responsibilities and humble themselves before the people we have the privilege of serving.
GDN: How are you funded and how has the helped or hurt your growth?
DB: We have been debt-funded since day one. We have a great team of bankers who have believed in our vision and mission, which has allowed us to grow. It is sometimes challenging to go outside-the-box and explore new arenas. However, it has taught me a lot of discipline and balance between wants, needs and desires. This has been good as I am able to utilize this approach with our day-to-day management.
GDN: What makes your model different than other DSO models? How do you differentiate your practices with your patients and also how do you differentiate when recruiting dentists and other talent?
DB: In my humble opinion, I believe that so many great DSOs that started before me have carved out a path for just about any DSO model out there, so I do not think it would be fair to say my model is different. However, I do believe that the execution within our models differ.
I am a strong believer in the global/local approach. PDM is based on a blend of three companies which I admire: Amazon (customer service), Starbucks (branding/employee relations), and Whole Foods (locations/design). I have a personal belief, which I do best to instill within every non-chair side member: Success starts with us and not with the provider. It is our responsibility to prepare the provider/patient for the best possible experience.
GDN: What tips do you have for emerging group practices?
DB: 1) There is no magic pill for success. 2) We must continuously be able to build more value for our providers/clinical and support staff, so they can in turn provide more value to the patients they serve. 3) Innovation must come from within. Every DSO has its own set of challenges that they are facing. I have learned to focus on finding problems and implementing the best possible solutions.
GDN: Born in Kiev, Ukraine and immigrating to Boston at the age of five with your mother, how did you eventually become involved in dentistry?
DB: I have built several businesses in the past which I was fortunate to sell. My latest venture prior to dentistry was a small group of Adult Day Health Care and Group Adult Day Cares.
A dentist friend of mine asked if I was interested in getting into dentistry. At that time I had no interest in dentistry, as my experiences with dentistry have been painful up to that point, but I have a strong passion for entrepreneurship and was curious what possible value I could bring to dentistry. We started with one practice in Worcester, and since then I found my calling in supporting great dentists.
I definitely did not find dentistry, but once dentistry found me I fell in love with the many opportunities it has to offer. The ability to see our organization provide support to the great clinical staff who help patients is something special.
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