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Advice from Apprentice Winner Bill Rancic on how to stay "agile" -- and ahead of the competition -- in a challenging economy
The following is a partial transcript of a recent interview with Bill Rancic, entrepreneur and winner of season one of the hit reality TV show, "The Apprentice". Bill recently spoke with our colleague, Melinda Heryford, a member of the prestigious Academy of Dental Management Consultants - we are members and Past Presidents as well -- for ADMC's popular audio series, A Step Above. The topic was the entrepreneurial mindset, and how it applies not only to consultants, but to dentists as small business owners as well.
(And just for fun, there's a quiz, below, to assess how your practice stacks up to Bill's "agility" score.)
ADMC: As the winner of The Apprentice, what do you think set you apart from the rest of the candidates, and what is the most important message an entrepreneur can send to a prospective client?
BR: Number one, you have to have an entrepreneurial mindset, and that's what separated me from the pack of all those other contestants. They had impressive educations, but may not have had that entrepreneurial mindset. If you think like an entrepreneur you're willing to be agile along the way.
A lot of people hold themselves back because they're not agile. They're set in their ways. They do it the way the textbook taught them -- that's the only way they know how to do it. When you're an entrepreneur you look right, you look left, you look ahead, you look behind, and you change up your game plan as needed.
On The Apprentice we were presented with 16 different business challenges and I was able to bring a different strategy and different management style to each task, where a lot of my competitors only brought one style to the table and that style didn't always work.
ADMC: So you're looking around all the time. How do you do that?
BR: We're seeing this now with the shift in the economy. There is opportunity out there. It's the entrepreneurial-minded people who are taking advantage of it, who are changing up their game plan. When I was in the cigar business we started out in one business and we finished in another. We had to reinvent ourselves, still staying in the cigar business, but we had to retrain the way our salesmen sold the product and we had to retrain the way our buyers bought it. We reinvented ourselves completely going from an 'Cigar of the Month' club to a wholesale cigar distributor. Had we not done that we would have gone out of business.
That's what's happening with entrepreneurs today. You have to look for other opportunities that you may not have looked for because the economy is changing, because people are spending their money a lot differently than they did 5 years ago. You need to adapt and react to that. It's leaving your comfort zone, it's looking for opportunities you may not have thought of, it's having an open mind and taking the blinders off.
The older we get the more we ingrained in those comfort zones and I think fear is probably what holds most people back. Afraid of failure, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of learning new technology.
I'll give you a great example. Twitter, Facebook all these social media avenues, you have to get on those because if you don't your competitors will and they're going to steal your customers!
ADMC: What is the most common mistake of businesses that are crashing and burning?
BR: A few things. A lot of people in multigenerational family businesses are determined to do it the way their grandfather did it, and their father did it, and that's how they're going to do it. But the world has changed, and I think the lack of agility is probably the biggest mistake small business owners are making right now - being able to adapt and react.
ADMC: You've done presentations for small business owners. What is the most essential key ingredient in business?
BR: Whether you work for yourself as an entrepreneur or work in corporate America you have to understand business principles. There are a couple of those I live by. One is practical execution. In the real world it's about getting the job done. You have to deliver results. We talked about agility, and you have to be able to manage risk. You need to understand that in order to break from the pack you need to do things differently than the guy next to you and if you don't you're going to be stagnant. You're not going to grow, you're not going to push, you're not going to take yourself to the next level.
ADMC: Risk management is difficult for dentists. They are scientists, basically. What advice can you offer them for getting out of their comfort zone?
BR: Yes, dentists are scientists to some extent, that's what their trade is; they're not necessarily schooled in business. When you go to dental school they don't necessarily teach you how to be an entrepreneurial minded person. And that's why the dentists who will be attending this event tend to be the most successful because they're taking the first step and the first step is saying "Wait a minute. I don't know everything. I've got to check my ego at the door and I'm going to go to people who know how to run a practice the right way or who can help me take my practice to the next level. It's the dentists who have these egos -- who think they know everything there is to know about everything -- who are the ones who will be stuck making the least amount of money.
ADMC: In closing, we're in the business of helping dentists become more profitable so they can make a difference in the lives of their patients. What's the best advice you can offer us and our clients about how to continue to move our businesses forward - ours as well as theirs - especially in this challenging economy?
BR: Remember, knowledge is power. You have to understand who your customers are. Your customers can be your best friend, they can obviously bring you more business than you can possibly imagine. But you have to manage that process. I know the smart dentists have the networking down to a science. They offer incentives programs, and it's different for every dentist. I spoke to a group of dentists recently and it's amazing, it's the ones who go outside their business and get guidance or get trainers to come help them understand their business better -- have twice or three times the amount of revenue.
Why? Because they're idea sharing, and networking, and looking for best practices, and asking why other dentists have failed. I think that is critical - you want to learn from other people's mistakes, but more importantly I think it's seizing the opportunity. When that customer comes in the door you want to make sure that you're touching them every way you can, whether there's a video on or whether it's in the chair or follow-up mailers or calls, or the referral incentive programs that you offer. That's what consultants like you do - arm the dentist with the right tools.
- "INCOTERMS" (International Commercial Terms) are universally recognized set of definitions of international trade terms developed by the International Chamber of Commerce--Paris, France, 1936.
- The definitions are revised and added-to from time to time as business conditions change and evolve.
- . You may see some of these quoted on the purchase orders as three-letter abbreviations, and you may be using some of them yourself.
CFR (formely C&F) - Cost and Freight
In an export quotation, the port of destination is indicated after the acronym CFR, i.e. CFR Alexandria. Cost and Freight are used primarily for ocean freight. Cost of goods and freight charges are at the seller's expense.
CIF - Cost, Insurance and Freight
The cargo insurance and delivery of goods to the named port of destination, is also at the seller's expense, i.e., CIF Singapore.
DDP - Delivered Duty Paid
The seller is responsible for most of the expenses of transportation, which includes the cargo insurance, import customs clearance and payment of customs duties and taxes at the destination. It also includes the cost of cartage to the buyer's premises, i.e., DDP Tomahawk, WI.
Nuggets of Knowledge
- It takes 43 muscles to frown but only 17 to smile - so relax and smile!
- Bad teeth and bad breath are the top turn-offs for women according to a recent survey for a men's magazine.
- Compulsory registration of dentists was introduced in Britain at as late as 1921. Before that anyone could call themselves a dentist.
- The first commercial shown on British TV in September 1955, was for a toothpaste brand.
- A collection of nine rotten teeth from famous mouths such as Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria fetched £1,840 when auctioned by Bonham's in London. The buyer was a dentist - who else?
- Regular dental check-ups ensure healthy teeth and gums and can help early detection of diseases like cancer. But only around 50% of people in Britain visit their dentists regularly.
- Fluoride toothpastes were first marketed in Britain in the year 1959.
The 80/20 Rule is also known as the Pareto Principle and asserts that a minority of causes, inputs, or efforts usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards. In other words:
- 20% of the products usually account for about 80% of your dollar sales value
- 20% of your customers usually account for about 80% of your sales
- 20% of your customers usually account for about 80% of your profit
- 20% of the criminals account for about only 80% of the crime
- 20% of the motorists cause 80% of the accidents
- 20% of your carpets are likely to get 80% of the wear in the years to come.
- 20% of your clothing will get worn out 80% of the time
- 20% of our time produces 80% of the results
So using this rule, how can you achieve more with less?
By asking yourself some hard questions you can become much more efficient..
Which of your activities produce 80% of your results?
Which of your customers account for 80% of your profit?
Which of your products account for 80% of your sales?
Which of your clothes are you wearing 80% of the time?
This Nugget is taken from Susan's Aim-Fire-Grow Program and soon to be released book by the same title. The Aim-Fire-Grow Program is available in a variety of formats ranging from a keynote address, to an all-day program. Individual Coaching opportunities are also available. Please call Susan for more information.
Consumer Expenditure Info
Consumer expenditures on dental care are expected to hit $93 billion in the US by 2008 according to the US Health Care Financing Administration. This represents a 73 percent increase between 1998 and 2008
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002 reports $129,030 as the annual salary for a US dentist. In 2002, the BBC reported $67,500 as the average salary for a British dentist.
The academy of General Dentistry reports that over 60 percent of American baby boomers (ages 45 to 64) are typically unaware of the links between oral health and other diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease. This represents a great opportunity for dentists to become a part of these patient’s health care team.
Smart Practice offers two brochures that can be personalized for dental offices: Bacterial Endocarditic (BR0034) and Gum Disease & your Health (BR0035). To educate patients on the connection between oral and general health, call customer service at 1-800-522-0800. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
People in the US charged $1.3 trillion on credit cards in 2001 while using debit cards to make an additional $423 billion in purchases. The VISA credit card is now accepted by 87 percent of US dentists.
Fast Fact: 48 percent of job seekers consider the availability of dental insurance very important when looking at prospective employers, according to a survey conducted for Delta Dental Plans in California and Pennsylvania.
Why do I want to separate and recycle my amalgam?
Amalgam is about 50% mercury, and mercury is ranked third in the US Government list of hazardous substances. Mercury comes after arsenic and lead, but ahead of all the organic toxins such as PCBs and pesticides. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified mercury as the number one environmental poison.
Symptoms of mercury toxicity cover a wide range, including respiratory, immunological, neurological, reproductive, developmental, genotoxic, and carcinogenic. Some individuals also exhibit a hypersensitivity to mercury.
Mercury from many sources is appearing in our air, water, food, and sewer sludge.
Sewer sludge is usually sold as fertilizer to agriculture and tree farms. Sludge with a high content of mercury cannot be sold or even given away; it is a toxic waste, which must be properly disposed. The best characterization of mercury entering the sewer system was done by the city of Palo Alto, California in the US.
Their results are as follows:
- 47% Dental Offices
- 36% Human Waste (Amalgam)
- 7% Permitted Industry and schools
- 6% Human Waste (Food)
- 3% Storm Water
- 0.1% Residential Products
- 1.6% Other
With around 80% of the mercury entering the sewer system being from dental amalgam, all levels of government are moving towards regulation.
Air emissions of mercury are also a major area of concern. Mercury is a volatile liquid that changes to a vapor over time, or rapidly with the addition of heat.
Sources as estimated by the US EPA are as follows:
- 26.7% Medical Waste incinerators (includes amalgam from traps)
- 22.7% Municipal Waste Combustors (includes amalgam from traps tossed in garbage)
- 4.7% Boilers- Utility, Commercial, & Residential, primarily from coal
- 0.9% Crematories and sludge incinerators
- 13.2% Manufacturing sources
- 1.8% Fluorescent lamps, labs, dental preparations, landfills, paint, and misc.
Regulations are removing mercury from many products. For instance, paint contained mercury as a mold inhibitor until a few years ago. The energy industry is facing EPA regulations on coal fired boilers. Air emissions from dental mercury can be greatly reduced by recycling amalgam from traps instead of throwing it in the garbage and medical waste, or flushing it.
Dental amalgam that enters garbage landfills will contaminate ground water and volatilize into the air.
Mercury levels are increasing in our food supply. Sewer sludge is used as fertilizer for our food. Mercury in the air eventually gets into water and the food chain. Living tissue accumulates mercury, and this becomes more concentrated at the top of the food chain. Fish have been found to accumulate very high levels of mercury.
Government agencies use two procedures for finding mercury in the sewer system. If local regulations require amalgam separators, then spot checks at the dental clinics are done to verify compliance. The second and less known procedure is used when a sewer treatment facility has a problem with high levels of a contaminant. They first test every sewer line flowing into the facility to see which ones have high levels. Next they go upstream on the offending line and sample at each divide until they can pinpoint the building or office creating the contamination. This has led to work stoppage and a requirement to collect and dispose of all liquid waste at some private dental offices and one US Government dental facility.
Most municipalities or sewer districts in North America already have regulations which place upper limits on the parts per million of various elements that can be in the waste stream entering the sewer. Keep in mind that agencies will measure total mercury, both particulate and dissolved compounds.
The bottom line for dentists is avoidance of liabilities and anticipating or meeting regulations. Canada just passed a national program for dental mercury, and the US EPA is developing a program. Mercury accumulating in vacuum and sewer lines may be a hazardous waste site liability when you move the office or demolish the building. Recycling amalgam from traps and unused portions will improve our world and eliminate a liability. Install a Rasch 890 ISO 11143 certified amalgam separator to remove fine amalgam particles and dissolved mercury from your waste system.