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|Turning orthodontics into a business|
|Happy clients are 95% of our marketing|
|Transitions, partnerships, associateships|
|When is the best time to bring in an Experienced Consultant?|
|The face of orthodontics is changing|
|It's all about relationships|
|Looking for referrals?|
Ken Alexander's 25 years with Millenium Management Services along with his training in communications and human relations has made him one of the most successful consultants in orthodontic practice management. As Millenium's key lecturer he has spoken to thousands of orthodontic practices in North America, Europe, and Australia. He is the consultant to practices large and small, many of which are the most successful in the world.
Ken is known as one of the foremost experts in both practice efficiency and marketing. His consulting work with hundreds of practices has allowed him to know the intimate details of all orthodontic management systems. Ken's lecture style is creative, dynamic and to the point.He is a polished lecturer who instills great motivation in all who hear him.
Ken received a B.A. from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He received an M.Div. and four years of graduate training in psychology, communications, human relations and public speaking from Biola University, in La Mirada, California.
Turning Orthodontics into a Business
So now you have graduated from four years of dental school and three years of specialty training, but you have no clue how to begin building a business. Whether it is growing a practice from scratch, or buying a practice and taking it to the next level, few consultants possess the breath of information and business savvy of Ken Alexander.
Ken was trained within the Millenium Society, the only company working exclusively with orthodontists in the early 1980s. Excellent consultants like Ellen Grady, Dean Bellevia and Ken Alexander came out of the group having been coached by Frank Edwards and others who helped take the principles of management and customize them into systems for orthodontics. In 1985 Ken Alexander became the Director of Millenium and launched the massive amount of proprietary information into the public domain through 25 lectures each year, some lasting up to five days. The new company, Millenium Management Services, flourished and grew up to 400 clients in North America and Europe. Ken’s private consulting business encountered a six month backlog of client requests which sent him traveling across the United States and the Atlantic for more than half of each year. Working exclusively with orthodontists, Ken helped to develop some of the largest practices in the world, many of which are in the $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 range even today… and that is often with just one doctor.
The keys to success were simple and Ken preached them to all his clients. Capture the patient with an inviting New Patient process, deliver outstanding service through systems, especially staying on time, build relationships and get patients and parents to cooperate, build teamwork, but ultimately deliver a beautiful smile that will give a lifetime of satisfaction with quality results.
The Orthodontist as CEO
If management is “getting work done through people,” then the doctor has to learn to be a terrific manager and CEO of his business. But how does an orthodontist learn to be a great leader and a practice cheerleader, instead of a perceived grump?
The easiest way to learn is by example and by watching Ken Alexander come into the practice and rally the group towards common goals and tasks that will quickly move the practice to the next level. Ken realized long ago that practice growth had to be matched by an underlying foundation of systems, the right staff and facilities that would allow a practice to capture the growth so as not to find the practice reaching its “level of incompetence” and returning to its smaller size. Even the best of marketing systems and ideas will ultimately fail if management cannot produce a desirable level of customer service and quality.
Ken’s experience allows him to quickly analyze a practice and see exactly what steps it will take to move the practice to the next level of growth and enjoyment. As a 25 year veteran consultant and master chess player, he looks at all the pieces in each practice’s game and develops a specific action plan for the new CEO, the doctor, to get to his or her goals. There is no need to flail away trying new things or old things that will be ineffective. Having worked with well over 400 orthodontic practices, and by being familiar with most of the latest and greatest management and marketing ideas, Ken is able to save a practice much time, energy and effort by getting the doctor and staff to focus on things that work. Ken is all about a common sense approach and proven ideas and systems. Let someone else invent the wheel and after it proves to be a great idea, then start using it. But too many practices are out chasing the next new idea without having first solidified their marketing, service, staff management, new patient enrollment, scheduling, patient cooperation and quality of treatment. Get these things properly in place and the practice cannot fail but to achieve super success.
Thinking outside the box
Although we focus on major proven systems and ideas, we do not believe that one size fits all. So many different variables come into play for each practice including location, doctor’s personality, the staff, the current practice size and the goals of the doctor. Ken likes to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to solve problems in the easiest way possible, often saving thousands of dollars with just a few suggestions. There is no “cookie cutter” approach that will ultimately work as so much of the practice success will depend on the doctor’s personality, dreams and willingness to grow through change.
Change Can Be FUN!
Change can be easy for those who are accustomed to it and those who know its tremendous benefits, but to many, change is a threat and is often detested. The right consultant will recognize that change takes place only when others can see the benefits and be given the proper motivation for change. It is vital that the experienced consultant not only deliver a huge amount of information and change in a short period of time, but that he also make things fun and exciting for the entire time. The consulting process requires the right balance between information, explanation of benefits and fun and enjoyment. Focus too much on any one of these areas and the time together is not as productive as it should be. Ken’s middle name could be “FUN” as he lives with joy in everything he does, seeking to serve others over his own self-interests. Is this not what we want from our staff and the doctor? If patients and parents feel that you really care about them and their needs… if they feel that you will give them great quality and their money’s worth of service and enjoyment while in your practice, only then they will be happy to refer their friends.
Happy Clients Provide 95% of Our Marketing
About 7 to 8 years ago I realized that I needed to retool my approach to marketing so as to enhance my quality of life and be more effective as a consultant. What that meant was that I had to stop doing some of the things I loved to do for the sake of achieving bigger, better and more worthwhile goals. Sometime around the year 2000 I could no longer accept all of the many requests to lecture as I did not need any additional marketing outside of my happy clients who referred their friends. I found myself spending much time and energy talking potential clients out of working with me as I had no place to put them all. It is a dangerous thing to turn down lectures, study club meetings and talking to new graduates, but my family of four children and my long term health required that I focus my work on the things that give me the greatest return and satisfaction. I have no problem filling my schedule each year with management consulting, office design and practice transitions. I do regret not having my name in lights more often as I only lecture a few times each year and at the annual AAO meetings. Most of my work comes from happy, satisfied clients who have become my friends and who appreciate all the time, energy and expertise I have contributed to make them super successful.
Transitions, Partnerships, Associateships and the Art of Deal Making
About a third of my time is now spent in helping with practice transition work. I have worked with many offices in developing a fair sales price and transition plan for buyer and seller. At times I am called in to work with just the buyer or just the seller and it is not unusual for me to spend many hours each week coaching doctors who are looking at retirement and residents on the “ins and outs” of the somewhat complicated world of buying and selling an orthodontic practice. I regularly interact with many of the consultants and practice appraisers in orthodontics, along with lawyers who specialize in writing buy-sell agreements for dental transitions like Dr. Lee Maddox, in Southern California and Dr. Tom Ziegler nationally.
I believe what makes me unique in the area of transitions is that I come from a background of understanding all of the inner workings of an orthodontic practice and how the practice potential is significantly affected by the number of New Patients, patients on Observation/Recall, the Contracts Balance, patients overdue in treatment, treatment approach and technique, relationships with staff, marketing programs and facility. A fair sales price should not be based solely on a formula tied to gross income, net income or future contracts divided by .7. Instead the practice value must be set at what a willing buyer will pay, and a willing seller will accept, while at the same time insuring a reasonable return on investment for the buyer from the potential of the new practice.
Much time is spent each week as I coach doctors to help them understand the true potential and the pitfalls that may exist in each deal. As a grandfather to orthodontics, I feel it is my responsibility not to simply represent a client, but to represent the profession so that both buyer and seller receive a fair deal. I would venture to say that in 15 years of working with buying and selling of practices, no doctor on either side of a deal would say that Ken Alexander was not clear, honest and fair in his representation of the deal, and that my expertise goes well beyond understanding the ramifications of goodwill, C vs. S corps, amortization, depreciation, gross income, net income and contracts balance. There is little or nothing in an orthodontic practice transition, appraisal or deal that I have not seen or helped to pioneer.
When is it Best to Bring in an Experienced Consultant?
Although my average client sees approximately 75 to 80 patients a day with a$1,500,000 to $2,000,000 practice, they didn’t start with me at that size. The ideal time for the consultant to come work with a new client is at about 35 – 50 patients a day and a gross income of $600,000 - $800,000 a year. It is these new clients who can greatly benefit from a consultant who knows what it takes in every area to get to the next level. You can’t double in size until you first grow 10%, but it is amazing how fast a practice can double when it grows 10% each year for 6-7 years. Each step along the way the experienced consultant can fine tune the scheduling systems and coach when to add staff and new systems to capture all the new growth with happy satisfied patients who will shout your praises to their friends.
The Face of Orthodontics is Changing
It is amazing to see how orthodontics is changing at such a rapid pace. In the past it seemed as if success within 3-5 years was a forgone conclusion. Now I am finding too many practices both young and old that are struggling, while others are flourishing. The need for information on management and marketing is much more important than in the past, but perhaps most important is the need for some doctors to have a Practice and Life coach who will keep them on the right track without making too many mistakes.
Young doctors are buying practices that they have little chance of sustaining or growing, and others are buying offices that are too small in potential to sustain even a modest lifestyle. Some highly successful doctors have jumped into the latest and greatest treatment approaches only to find that they could not make the new systems work and the expenses have killed a sizable portion of profitability. Doctors at every stage of their career should not only have a great coach who is only a phone call or email away, but also should surround themselves with peers who can keep them focused on what works, and not on sales promises in the latest and greatest techniques. It is an exciting new world with so much new technology, but let the buyer beware that technology rarely moves a practice forward compared to the basics of service, quality and relationships.
It’s All About Relationships
If you could sum up Ken Alexander in one phrase you might say that he is “all about relationships.” Not only does he teach his clients how to have fabulous relationships with patients, staff and area dentists, but he also practices what he preaches beginning with a 25 year happy marriage and four wonderful children who are all responsible, successful and caring individuals. Most of all Ken’s clients have become his long term best friends who he enjoys seeing at meetings and talking on the phone, often interacting on a spiritual and personal level as they enhance each others lives. There is no doubt that:
The Alexander Family
Relationships are the Most Important Things in Life!
If your practice is looking for a consultant and coach who can take you to the next level, and make the ride fun and enjoyable along the way, then contact me as I would love to explore how I can help. All phone advice is at no charge as my job is not to make money, but to help others and to enhance their lives and practice so that they in turn can pass it on to all their patients and fellow staff members, and impact their families and their lives. As my daughter Cassi said so wisely at 10 years old after attending one of my lectures:
If you are not helping others, you are not helping yourself!
The Alexander family thanks you and wishes you the very best as you explore the world of orthodontic management. We hope that your dreams will come true just as ours has through this fabulous profession that allows us to give back to others for all the wonderful things that God has given to each and every one of us. Thank you for visiting with us and finding out a little bit more about Millenium and Ken Alexander. If you want to know if Ken Alexander is for real… then simply request a list of many happy satisfied clients in management, space planning or transitions who will be happy to speak with you and to help you come to the right decisions as to how to move your practice forward to become the practice of your dreams.
Looking for a Referral?
If at any time you desire to speak with one of my clients, simply email me the size of your practice and location and I will try to match you up with a few clients who can give you the true scoop on Ken Alexander’s experience, expertise and hard work in helping them buy or sell their practice small, medium or super large. I have put together transition deals from $120,000 to $2,750,000 in sales price from all around the US, and in Europe.