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EP40 The Disneyland of Dentistry with Dr Tim Richardson

Growing A Dental Practice

Release Date: 09/30/2022

EP51 Bookkeeping for Dentists with Erin Rochon show art EP51 Bookkeeping for Dentists with Erin Rochon

Growing A Dental Practice

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In this episode, Mike talks with Dr Tim Richardson, Founder & Owner of Acorn Dentistry for Kids. Acorn Dentistry for Kids is a group of 6 pediatric dental practices located in the State of Oregon.

Tim grew up in Vancouver, Washington, which is a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Many of his family members are Optometrists, including his dad, two uncles, a cousin, one of his brothers, and his best friend from high school. Tim’s mom was a stay at home parent who made sure her five sons survived into adulthood.

Dr Richardson credits both of his parents, collectively and individually, for shaping who he is today. His dad taught him the importance of working hard and never to be a victim of circumstance, while his mom taught him how to care for people.

Tim has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. From a young age, he would set up lemonade stands and sell apples from his family’s apple tree to his elementary school classmates. Tim grew up predominantly playing football, but would take part in any sport involving a ball except golf.

The Richardson’s were a faithful Christian family. He cites strong spiritual roots gave him a really good foundation for how he wanted to be as a business owner in the future.

Keeping busy - with good things - was how Tim unknowingly coped with having ADD. Rather than taking medication, he would just always be doing something.

As an undergrad, Tim was planning on attending medical school to become a heart or brain surgeon. When he found out how long that would take to train for, he started looking at other healthcare options. At the time, he had zero interest in dentistry. That was until a friend - who was planning on becoming a dentist - convinced Tim to spend an afternoon observing a private practice. From that moment, he was hooked on dentistry.

From Tim’s perspective, dentistry finely balances art and science with as much entrepreneurship as you want. Halfway through dental school, Tim discovered pediatric dentistry and chose to make that his specialty.

As an associate, Tim realized that what he’d learnt in dental school was only the foundation. You learn the principles of taking care of patients safely, but nothing about being efficient, working with a team, owning a practice, or leadership.

Tim discusses the circumstances that led to him buying his first dental practice, and why his pursuit of the next challenge led him to expanding to three locations. 

Dr Richardson says he sold his original three practices because he was burnt out and overwhelmed. He was working 6 clinical days most weeks, while commuting 2.5-3 hours daily, and trying to run the business. He also had a non-dentist business partner who he was misaligned with. However, the tipping point came when his wife told him how their young son had asked, “when is your husband coming home?” His son referring to him as husband, and not daddy reflected the relationship he had with his son at that time. Tim knew something had to give. He chose to make changes, rather than continue to drive himself into the ground at the expense of his family.

After selling, Tim took some time for himself. He sorted out his back and neck. Tim also got back into exercising regularly and taking part in triathlons.

It didn’t take Tim much time before he started working on a new multi-site group practice. He was determined to learn from his previous experience and mistakes. Because he’d sold his previous group, Tim didn’t have to worry about finances and could focus 100% on setting up the new clinic.

Tim could’ve frugally retired five years after finishing dental school, but his family had dreams and he admits he would’ve driven everyone crazy. He started Acorn Dentistry for Kids one mile away from where he lived and the rest is history. He knew he wanted the team member experience to be as good, if not better, than the patient experience. He knows he’s still made a lot of mistakes, but he's learnt from those mistakes.

As a practice owner, it’s hard work when you try to do everything yourself and be everything to everyone. It isn’t sustainable and Tim says he has the physical and physiological scars to prove it. Once he realized how to build a team that was aligned with the group's purpose, everything got a lot easier. 

At the same time, Tim recognizes that no one will care as much about the health of your business as you do. It’s your baby and always will be no matter who is watching it for you. The only way to get alignment is identifying why your business exists and it has to be more than the work you do - it has to be the reason for the work.

Tim has learnt the hard way that just because someone specializes in accounting, IT, or marketing, it doesn’t necessarily mean they actually do it as well as you would think or hope. And they often charge more than the ones that do know what they are doing. You can’t simply sign an agreement and hand it over, you still have to be able to keep a pulse on those activities.

On a more personal level, Tim wishes he had known about the differences between managing, leading, and coaching a lot earlier. That would have saved him a lot of headaches and heartache.

Tim also shares his number one piece of advice for anyone thinking about buying or starting their own dental practice.

If you have any questions for Dr Tim Richardson, then feel free to reach out to him.

Visit the Growing A Dental Practice podcast page for more details and links to streaming platforms > patientboost.dental/podcast

This episode is brought to you by PatientBoost - The Business & Marketing Growth Consultancy for Dental Practices.

Last year, we phoned over 100 dental practices to understand how receptionists handle patient calls, and we were SHOCKED by the results.

Based on what we learnt, we put together the Dental Receptionist Greeting Script to help receptionists make the best first impression and increase the likelihood of turning a complete stranger into a patient.

Grab your copy of the greeting script here