Airplane licensed pilot, Dr. Scott Bridges DMD, discusses his volunteer work with Smiles from the Heart clinic providing free dental care for those in need. As a dentist who has started various practices, Dr. Bridges advises that you should not start a practice directly out of school, but rather find an associate position to learn business operations and diverse your experience. Dr. Bridges shares other valuable tips for running your practice.
Shaun Keating: Hey everybody, I’d like to welcome you to this week’s Dental Up podcast. Today, we’re going to be speaking to Dr. Scott Bridges. God, I remember when your office was back in Paducah and now you have a place called Bridges Dental Care in Clarksville, TN. What’s up Scotty?
Dr. Bridges Well, that’s kind of right. A lot of things have happened in the past year, Shaun. And back when I was in my old practice in Paducah, I was in a partnership and that’s when you and me and the other guys were hanging out pretty hard in Vegas. Those memories have kind of, I’ve kind lost some of those memories. But, my Bridges Dental Care Office in Tennessee is apparently in the process of selling.
Shaun Keating: Okay.
Dr. Bridges About a year ago, I opened up a new dental office in Paducah. And it’s in an old gas station, it’s called the Smile Station.
Shaun Keating: Oh, you’re kidding?
Dr. Bridges No man, it’s an old Texaco station, and I made it look like an old Texaco station, gas pump and all.
Shaun Keating: No shit? That’s awesome, dude.
Dr. Bridges It’s a lot of fun, man. People love that shit. They love, just the old gasoline theme, you know?
Shaun Keating: Oh, you got to get like a lunch truck out there or a little side, serving food. Like feed them after you get the new chompers, or something.
Dr. Bridges I know. Give them a full tank of gas or something. I could give them the gas, but it’s not the right kind.
Shaun Keating: Oh, exactly. Well hey dude, before we get going on this, I’d like to start off a little bit of sports. And, what do you got going out there in your neck of the woods? Anything going, you guys? Any basketball you into? You into any of the horses racing? I mean, you guys are Louisville there. You know, you went to Louisville I remember back in the day, right?
Dr. Bridges Yeah, man. You know, they just finished up the Kentucky Derby and I did not get to go this year which was … It hurt my feelings a little bit. I’ve gone for long time, and I’ve had some good times at Derby. And you know, I think they had a good year this year. The track was really wet. But Derby’s always a funny thing because it always turns off about a thousand degrees, the weekend of Derby.
Shaun Keating: Really?
Dr. Bridges And so, you’ve got all these ladies wearing dresses and hats and they’re all sweating and everything. But now they’ve got these millionaires boxes everywhere and you can watch everything from one side. But it’s crowded man, I mean there’s like, I don’t know there were-
Shaun Keating: A gazillion.
Dr. Bridges Like 175,000 people there this year, or something like that.
Shaun Keating: Yeah. And it was just, they’re all getting hammered drinking those Mint Juleps, man. And I mean, I don’t even know what the heck’s in a Mint Julep but I was in a little-
Dr. Bridges I’ll tell you what it is, it’s a good way to fuck up a good bourbon.
Shaun Keating: Is it really? Someone who has a bourbon and they put some mint in there and smash it or something?
Dr. Bridges Just drink the bourbon!
Shaun Keating: Yeah. What’s that now, what’s a Manhattan? Is a Manhattan like, is that vermouth, or? I don’t know. I got a buddy who always drinks a Manhattan everyday when he gets home at work. He has to have two Manhattans to calm himself, but I don’t even know what’s in it, but.
Dr. Bridges I think a Manhattan’s got some bitters in it.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges I usually just drink the bourbon, just bourbon.
Shaun Keating: There you go. I remember, my one buddy used to always say, don’t waste no space with that ice either! You know? That’s funny.
Dr. Bridges Did he do that when he went through a Drive-through? I want my coke with no ice!
Shaun Keating: Yeah, man. I don’t know about that. It was with booze, this dude. But yeah that’s awesome dude. Yeah, I watched it last week. I started doing the little horses, you know just betting on a favorite only to win and that stuff doesn’t happen man. It’s like, it happens. I thought it happened more than it did and the last few times I’ve bet favorites and they don’t win. And it’s like, oh God. It’s tough.
Dr. Bridges Let me throw you out a little story. I’m going to give you a story from 20 years ago. And so, 20 years ago I wasn’t a dentist yet. And I was working for a company that had me stationed up in Northern Ohio that spring and it was absolute misery. I mean, it was snowing in April, in May, and I hated it. But, I quit the job after about three months. Drove down to Louisville and met all of my friends at the Derby, right?
So, back then you know, when I was in my twenties, went to the Derby by throwing on a T-shirt and some flip-flops and some shorts and go to the infield where the party is. And so, when I was there, I had a pocketful of cash. I didn’t have much money in the bank anyway back then. But I had a pocketful of cash and I was going to like, use it or lose it that day. So, this buddy of mine, his brother-in-law gave me this tip on this horse. It’s going off of really high odds. Like 25 to 1. He was like man, if you put $100 on it to win, then you can’t lose. I mean what you’re going to lose $100, so what? So I thought man, that’s a great idea!
You know, I’m gonna put about $500 on this horse to win. And I’ll never forget man, the horse’s name was Silver Charm and so, I just kept partying, kept partying and pretty soon the Derby is about to go off. And so, I make my way to the betting window, it’s in the infield. And I’m standing in line, it’s taking forever. And as soon as I got to the window, they closed the betting down. I was gonna put $500 to win on this horse Silver Charm. That sucker won and went off at 17 and a half to 1 odds.
Shaun Keating: Oh, you gotta kick yourself on that!
Dr. Bridges Yeah it’s totally just from, you know me getting to the window too late. I totally lost out on that. And I needed the money when I was in my twenties.
Shaun Keating: Jeez, can you believe that? I did it, like a couple weeks ago. I didn’t go down and bet on this one horse. And I forgot it was the Phillippi Estates in Florida, or something. And I was going to pick this one horse. And you know, go put some money down on it and stuff. And I didn’t. And it came in and won and I kinda kicked myself. But moreso than not, it’s like you know, they’re not going to win. But, it’s so tough man. Those damn horse races. Its just, like gambling. It’s just tough in particular to come in. And like I say, you know, they build those casinos in Vegas because they’re a bunch of knuckleheads out there that built them by giving their money away!
Dr. Bridges Winners don’t pay for casinos, man.
Shaun Keating: Oh I know, that’s so on the money there. So dude, what about out there, in basketball? We had this big thing, the lottery pick last night. I’m a big Laker fan, and we got the second. We were hopefully to not get out of the top three and we got second pick. So, we might get this Lonzo Ball guy. I don’t know if you ever heard about that guy? His dad’s kind of a knucklehead, but he’s a really good guard. He’s kind of like a Jason, like The Kid. Remember Kid back in the day? Just a pass first type guy and the Lakers could use him. So, we’re excited about that. But they got the Belmont coming up here, or The Preakness is actually Saturday.
Dr. Bridges Yeah.
Shaun Keating: And that’s just, it’s so open. The one, Always Dreaming won it last week. And I didn’t bet on that. Or a couple weeks, whatever it was at the Kentucky. So this one, it’s just first time. The Preakness there’s really no clearcut horse. So it’s kind of anyone’s horse. So, I’m not even going to bet this week. I’m going to let it go. And my wife said, Shaun, let it go. You don’t know what the heck you’re doing. So get out of the horse race and betting and let’s go do something else.
So, actually Saturday we’ve got this Doheny Blues Festival. It comes every year and it’s right on Doheny beach, they do it there. And I got Jason Bonham, man. John Bonham’s kid, the Bonham Experience. Led Zeppelin Experience. I’m a big drummer guy so, I just loved Bonzo Bash. You know, I do that every year for the Bonzo Bash groups like 30 drummers each play a Led Zeppelin song at this little facility by my house.
Dr. Bridges Wow that sounds, badass.
Shaun Keating: Yeah, it’s fun. Good times, man. So I got a lab day on Saturday and that.
Dr. Bridges Speaking of drummers, I was reading the other day that Neil Peart, who obviously drummed for Rush for so long, can barely drum anymore cause he’s got arthritis so bad.
Shaun Keating: Oh, you’re kidding?
Dr. Bridges But he really doesn’t play anymore, if you can even imagine that.
Shaun Keating: Oh, I can’t.
Dr. Bridges He was my hero, back in high school.
Shaun Keating: Oh, he’s like the best drummer. I mean he is just … I can’t even watch him, because he’s just so good and you try to do what he does. And, you just almost can’t teach and it just takes thousands of hours on that kit. But he is just the best. I mean, everyone started air drumming through those songs when we were younger, you know?
Dr. Bridges Oh, yeah.
Shaun Keating: Oh, man. Well dude, let’s Dental Up now. Let’s talk a little bit about dentistry. Tell me a little bit about your practice, how you started off. And, where’d you go to college at there Scotty?
Dr. Bridges Well, for college I went to Murray State University which is a small liberal arts college. It’s pretty close to Paducah. It’s in Murray which, you know if you’re a basketball fan, you’ve probably heard of Murray. They win the OVC championship every year and sometimes they get a bit for, you know they get in the NCAA and go over. They’ve made it to the Sweet 16 before. So Murray State was my college, alma mater. Then I ended up going to University of Louisville for dental school. And graduated in 2003.
Shaun Keating: Weren’t you like the President of your class at Murray too? I mean at Louisville?
Dr. Bridges Well, I was for a couple of years, and I’ve had enough of that. That didn’t last this whole time, being President it’s like being a whipping boy, so.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges It wasn’t my favorite.
Shaun Keating: That’s awesome, dude. Now what about, I also hear you do a little of this free dental work?
Dr. Bridges Free dental work I do. And I do that is you know, you’ve probably heard of Dentistry From the Heart. It came around, about 10 years ago. And a lot of us dentists that were involved in Sunrise Dental Solutions were doing that. And we got away from Dentistry From the Hart because it’s more of like a company or something. And anyway, we started doing our own with various names, like Smiles from the Heart and things like that. So, we’ll take turns opening our offices up for free dental care, once a year. And it’s first come, first served. You know usually you see anywhere from 200 to 500 patients a day. We’ll have a lot of volunteers. It’s a pretty big effort.
But, it’s really good. You know, especially in these rural communities and Kentucky and Tennessee. I mean, there’s a big need and a lot of people can’t afford dentistry. Especially people that are working that don’t have Medicaid or they can’t find a Medicaid dentist. You know they’ll just let problems go and even you know, immigrants and things that don’t want to go through the regular channels. You know, they need help. And we’re glad to help them. And it really creates a lot of goodwill in the community.
Shaun Keating: I bet. That is so good. We have a couple programs that we’ve been doing since I started, Donated Dental Services and stuff. And different guys. And you know, there’s nothing better than to help these patients out. Especially, when they’re in pain and you know there’s really no options for them to go. Do you do a lot of shucking of teeth and when you do those programs a lot of pulling extractions? Or do you do any fixed work at all? Or, no it’s nothing like that? Like take an impression and come back in a week, or no?
Dr. Bridges Yeah I mean, it’s pretty basic. You get a choice when you come up and sign up. You get a choice of a cleaning, one filling, or one extraction. And, yeah it’s probably, I don’t know anywhere from half to two thirds extractions. And a lot of times we’ll do multiples, especially if they’ve got some old ass perio involved teeth that are flapping in the wind. I mean, I’m gonna shuck a bunch of them out. The cool thing about it, is when you do dentistry for free, there’s no money involved, you’re just doing it to help? People are really thankful. If they don’t have to pay, they’re really thankful. And it’s a good feeling.
Shaun Keating: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Bridges And you know, everybody’s having a good time. And the atmosphere in our office is usually a lot of fun, it’s fast paced and it’s just totally different than your typical day at the office. It’s like you’ve suddenly got a whole bunch of dentists working with you that everybody’s trying to have a good time.
Shaun Keating: Yeah. And the patients are really appreciative, because they know they’re not having to pay for this and they know they have no other options and stuff. So it’s a different, I’m sure, a different experience. And like I always say, it’s always better to give. You feel a lot better, there’s more happiness in giving than receiving and I love it too. We give back on some of the teeth cases that I like getting, these patients that really have, you know, messed up grill. And it’s like hey, let’s donate our dental, you know the dentist donates some of his time. We’ll do it and let’s just change a person’s life and stuff. So, that’s always kind of fun. If you ever get that, a patient come up, that’s really in need and you ever need something like that Scotty, you know we’ll always help you out there buddy. We’ll fix that grill up for that patient that’s down and out on their luck, you know, let me know on that, whenever for sure.
Dr. Bridges Oh yeah, man. Sure, absolutely I know you would. And there’s you know, my sister is the director of a charity here in Louisville that serves the area, and they serve uninsured, working people that kind of fall in the gap between they can’t get Medicaid and they can’t afford insurance on the exchange. And, it’s since the Medicaid expansion took place last year. It really got a lot of people caring, so this charity that exists went from providing medical care to providing a lot of dental care. And we have a local dentist that sees most of those patients and I always double check the treatment plans on those patients. And that’s, it’s not a huge amount. But it’s maybe a patient a month or something like that. It’s pretty rewarding too, it really helps these people that are working their butts off but they can’t quite make their bills. And then they have dental problems that are hurting or preventing them from doing something better.
Shaun Keating: No kidding.
Dr. Bridges Yeah.
Shaun Keating: Yeah, that’s awesome. Now tell me a little bit about your area, so is it pretty rural out there? Is it like, do you have like a city area that’s close by Paducah? I don’t even know where the heck Paducah and the different areas. And Clarksville, I mean what’s that like, you got any good restaurants or anything?
Dr. Bridges Well, Paducah and Clarksville are pretty different. And Clarksville, like I said I’ve been there about five years, but I don’t live there. And Paducah is about halfway between St. Louis and Nashville. So we’re about, at least 2 hours away from the closest large city. It’s straight down an interstate either way. So, what that means is our little city, which is cool little place, it has to stand on it’s own, as far as restaurants, entertainment. So we’ve got a performing arts Center. We have some really great restaurants, and one in particular, a chef friend of mine Sara Bradley moved back from New York where she was a butcher and a chef and opened a restaurant here called The Freighthouse. It’s in an old train freight station. And I honestly, I’ve eaten you know, you’ve been with me, and we’ve eaten in some fantastic restaurants and some really big cities known for food, and I would put her stuff right up there.
Shaun Keating: Oh, that’s awesome.
Dr. Bridges With the best I’ve ever had. So we’re really extremely lucky here in Paducah. We have a pretty vibrant art community and you know, it’s still rural. No doubt the county and surrounding counties, it’s very rural. We have problems with meth and stuff like that. But it’s a pretty area. There’s a lot of farms and we have a lot of water. Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake, a couple rivers. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty it cool. And I’m glad I came back here. I almost didn’t.
Shaun Keating: No kidding.
Dr. Bridges But I did.
Shaun Keating: That sounds like it’s beautiful. And you know, everywhere, every area’s got their issues and you know, it’s just the way it is. I bet it’s a beautiful area and it’s just something that, you know you see it in movies and stuff, man. I’m kind of a suburb kid, growing up in Huntington Beach and stuff. It’s this different world out there that you don’t really realize. And I think it’s just kind of neat to be able to go and you know, get on your dirt bike or go shoot guns or go fish in a lake.
Dr. Bridges Oh yeah and you know, it’s really neat as far as movies go, there have been several movies that have been shot here. U.S. Marshals was one, it was on the other night.
Shaun Keating: I love that.
Dr. Bridges The other thing about restaurants here is, I had one of my patients in this morning is a baker. And two of my good friends here, they work in this bakery. And one of them is part owner of it. It’s called Kirchoff’s Bakery and the bakery was originally started in about 1850.
Shaun Keating: No kidding.
Dr. Bridges And it existed until 19 early 60’s and it closed. Reopened about 20 years ago as a boutique bakery, kind of an artisan bakery. And my friend Josh has been there about 20 years, and he’s a world class baker. I mean this guy, he’s for real. And these magazines like Garden & Gun are starting to take notice of this place. So anyway, long story short this patient, one of the bakers there, came by and brought us this big ass box of cookies and pastries and breads and stuff. And so, you know it’s, what a great place to live.
Shaun Keating: Oh, heck yeah. I’d be 300 lbs if I lived there dude. What about fried chicken? Because it’s kind of the South.
Dr. Bridges We’re definitely in the South. And as far as 300 lbs just you know, go down to Walmart anytime and you’ll see a lot of that.
Shaun Keating: Oh, we got it here. It’s everywhere. A lot of obese people out here but-
Dr. Bridges Oh man, it’s epidemic.
Shaun Keating: Oh dude, that’s crazy. All right man so hey, tell me. we had some younger dentists and stuff like that. What do you specialize in your practice? Because I know we’ve done a lot of work, a lot of different work. You’ve done implants, you do everything. What do you like to specialize in? Do you sink your own implants, are you sending those out? Are you doing any of your endo or just kind of let that go, send it out? Talk to me a little bit about your practice, how it works and what kind of advice you can give a little bit to my younger guys out there?
Dr. Bridges Well, this particular practice I’m a little bit in transition because it’s still considered a startup. I mean, I’ve been open ten months so, I’m doing a little bit of everything. I mean, when you do a startup you need to be prepared to do as much dentistry within the practice as possible. I don’t like to refer a lot of stuff, but I’m also … I’ve got enough experience to know when to refer that root canal, you know? I mean, some things you just don’t need in the office.
You know, it’s kind of going back to, when I practiced here before, in my other practice for so long, over 10 years and we were real sedation heavy. You know, I was doing 2 or 3, 4 sedations every single day for years. And large cases and so yeah, you get used to doing a lot of that work in house. And it’s funny, because it took me awhile in this practice to get it ready for sedation and I didn’t want to complicate things. And this morning I had my first sedation in this office was this morning and I’ve already gotten three others on the books now since I got the office certified for it about a month ago. And so, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna pick back up again.
But, I mean my advice for younger dentists would be, nobody’s going to come out of school anymore and open the doors of a dental office. It’s not gonna happen, and it shouldn’t happen. You know, spend some time and find a place where you want to be an associate with a dentist hat is respected in the community. And I know a lot of people, they’ll jump on the DSO train because they get promised a lot of benefits. And it’s true, you can get a lot of benefits but there’s always a catch. I mean, I just hired an associate in my Clarksville office who worked for one of the large DSOs for the last two years. And he worked his butt off, but they gave him his benefits but the cost to him personally was a lot higher in a lot of different ways. And he couldn’t wait to get out of it.
I think DSOs have a place. But for new dentists, if you can, if you’re looking to own your own practice someday try to find an office that you can get into where the dentist will let you do some work. Where he will not cherry pick the cases. He can be there for you, but not look over your shoulder. A place that has a variety of diverse procedures that they do.
Maybe I was lucky, but I started out and I talked to about 20 dentists that I sent letters to, before and not emails, letters. I sent them an actual letter before I graduated. And a lot of them contacted me, and I ended up going with the office that I could get the most diverse experiences out of. And it really paid off, because I learned pretty quickly how to do a lot of different things and not refer so much. And you make more money that way. And the other part of that was, he was willing to let me become a partner, which I did. And I could’ve stayed in that partnership but it wasn’t right for me at the time but, as long as you can try to get some kind of business experience out of your associate experience. At least maybe the doctor will let you look over their shoulder, his or her shoulder, at what they have to do on a daily basis to run a business. Because it’s a lot! I mean it’s bullshit, really. But it’s worth it.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges I mean, in the long run. I’ve had it three ways. I’ve been an associate, I’ve been a partner, I’ve bought a practice from an existing dentist that I got a start at.
Shaun Keating: You should write a book, dude cause that’s-
Dr. Bridges Honestly, the startup is by far the most rewarding.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges I mean, hands down. It’s hard.
Shaun Keating: It’s big risk, but big reward, you know? But yeah, it is hard.
Dr. Bridges Yeah, do your homework. I mean, spend a few years paying your dues and working, going to seminars. Go to as much practice management stuff as you can get. And learn what it takes. A lot of them out there, they’re going to try to sell you on something their system or whatever. And there’ll be a lot of smoke and mirrors out there in practice management but you can glean information. You went to dental school, yeah you understand how to weed out bullshit, right? And there’s a lot of it out there. So as you go along through your journey, when you’re ready to buy an existing practice or a new startup or whatever, prepare yourself. Always keep it in your mind, at the forefront. This is where you’re going to be. Where do I want to be in five years? And it sounds kind of cliché, but it’s true. You have to have a goal. Don’t just let stuff fall in your lap, you know?
Shaun Keating: How do you do, marketing wise, are you doing anything like in the local journal, local papers or is it word of mouth just like a lot practices? How are you doing that?
Dr. Bridges Well, with the startup it’s interesting because you have to go really top heavy on marketing. And I don’t only have a startup, I have an insurance free startup. So, without insurance referrals, marketing is extremely important. In the area that you’re marketing in, you need to understand how it works. In this area, we have a local NBC affiliate station in Paducah, so we broadcast in a 200 square mile radius. Well, not every town has that. And so, doing a TV commercial on an affiliate of an NBC station that’s getting broadcast 200 miles, is different than doing a cable TV commercial. It’s different. And you know, it’s different than also direct mail.
We’re in an area that’s fairly rural, direct mail is awesome. It works very good. It can also work well if you’re in a pretty suburban exurban where there’s a lot of competition. If you’re in an area they have a lot of competition, you’re going to have to do coupon dentistry. That’s just the way it is. You’re going to have to figure out a way to get these soccer moms. In my area, we’re pretty rural you know, I’m just blanketing with direct mail. I’m using about 10% of my income, 10% of my budget is spent on marketing right now. And that’s really high percentage.
Shaun Keating: That is.
Dr. Bridges But it’s necessary for a startup. Now, over the years I’ll scale that back to around 5%, hopefully. But we’re insurance free, doubled up with a startup, you’ve really got to hit it hard. You’ve got to have a budget ahead of time and plan ahead so you can get new patients in the door. Because no matter whether you’re a new startup or what, new patients are going to be your lifeblood.
Shaun Keating: Oh, absolutely. And on the practice management end now, to get back to that. Any ones you recommend more than others, or? You know, there’s a few of them out there just, any ones that you could kind of give a vote of approval for? Any out there like, I don’t know. I’m not sure.
Dr. Bridges Well, I think that there’s some really good stuff out there. Ross Nash, the Nash institute I think it’s called, has some really high quality stuff. Breakaway Practice, I learned a lot from Breakaway. That’s Scott Leune down in Texas. I mean, I learned a ton from him. I don’t use their systems. You can buy, you can kind of pay to play where they’ll do a lot of your management stuff for you. I’ve done a little bit of it with them, but it wasn’t really right for me so, I developed my own way of doing things. But I’d say I learned the most from Breakaway, as far as-
Shaun Keating: I’ve heard a lot of good things about Scott and his staff there. But again, it’s kind of like you know, you pay to play. I’m not sure the whole system, but dentists are kind of frugal and it’s tough for them to get that. But I think at the beginning, you gotta pay a little bit to get that you know, education.
Dr. Bridges I think one of the most important things I’ve done in my practice, in either practice. Whether it’s the one I borrowed for the one I started, is an after hours scheduling service. And Breakaway does that. But there’s also a company in Indiana, basically in Louisville called UIC Dental, and they do after hours scheduling. And they’ve done it for me for a couple years and really, if you can get your phones answered during those times that nobody’s in your office you can pick up two or three new patients in a week, just off that. The services pay for themselves. Whether it’s using Breakaway, or there’s some other companies that are popping up that are doing this. They’re able to access your schedule and actually schedule for you.
Shaun Keating: No kidding.
Dr. Bridges And instead of just answer the phone, and oh we’ll call you back. You know, now they’re going to put you on the schedule.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges And so, I think that’s been a really important part of new patient flow. I’ve been open about 10 months, I’ve had about 550 new patients so far.
Shaun Keating: Oh dude, that’s so killer. That’s awesome, man. What about social media? Do you have social media in the area, that might work? A little Facebook, or?
Dr. Bridges We do Facebook. We don’t do Twitter, but we do Facebook pretty heavily. You know, I think these days it’s, you have to do it. I mean, there’s no way around it. You need to do it. Any recognition gets your name out there. Social media is one of the lower cost ways to do it. There are a lot of good companies out there that can really bump your social media. I’m not going to endorse any of them outright, I don’t really use any of them. But in more urban places, I think that there’s a lot of ways that they can maximize the social media exposure in like a micro urban level where, you can get ad identifiers that are identifying people that are walking down the street within a couple blocks of the place. People who just type in the word teeth or dental or anything dental related, they’re going to have ads. They’re going to have sponsored ads that are going to their newsfeed. I mean, there’s so much out there right now.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges That I can’t really offer a lot of advice on that.
Shaun Keating: Yeah, I’m trying it myself. And we’ve been doing it for years, but I haven’t gone on the last few months on Facebook and stuff because I’m not really into that stuff. But it’s like, it’s so hard I mean, for a dentist you’ve got all these patients that are just the public. And for us, we’ve got to target these dentists that are hard to find, you know? We’ve got to sift through all the people, and so, I don’t know if we’re getting anything out of it. Maybe a little bit.
But, it’s the way it’s going. Everyone’s going to these little phones and their hand and it’s like, all my ads and the journals that are 10 grand each and then I’ll do a mailing it’ll cost me 20 grand. It’s just hard. Harder and harder to get the public to buy your services. If it’s going to the movies, if it’s buying at a grocery store. I mean, there’s no easy answer anymore on sales and marketing really. It’s like, before, with direct mail they would say oh, the seven touches. You’ve got to mail them out at least seven times before they’ll look at it.
Dr. Bridges Yeah.
Shaun Keating: Now it’s like two to three feet of mailers, you know? It’s like the 300th time, maybe. Because 99% of the time, they’re throwing that crap in the trash so, it’s tough. It’s tough, but if it wasn’t tough, everyone would be doing it. It’s just, to be a business owner, I mean, big risk big rewards. But man, there is nothing better than being your own boss. And you know, I’ve worked for a company for almost 20 years man, and it was like when I started my own, and we started at about the same time. I think you were like 2003, and I was 2002. And, it’s been a rocky road but it’s been a fun road. And I couldn’t imagine it any other way, dude. I mean, it’s kind of a neat thing.
Now dude, are you still flying that damn plane? You were flying always, man. I mean, are you still going up in the air?
Dr. Bridges Yeah, I still fly. My dad, I’m a third generation pilot, and my granddad was a private pilot and my dad still is. He just turned 80.
Shaun Keating: That’s awesome.
Dr. Bridges And he still flies. And yeah, I got a ton going on, you know? I’m flying and I got this startup going and it’s rolling now. I’m trying to sell this other practice. My wife’s pregnant. We’re going to have a baby in about three months.
Shaun Keating: Congratulations! Man, you already have a boy, don’t you? Do you have a boy or a girl already, or no?
Dr. Bridges I’ve got an eight year old stepson, right now.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges So he’s going to have a brother.
Shaun Keating: Oh, so it’s gonna be a boy?
Dr. Bridges It’s lot of fun. Yeah man, we’re pretty excited about that.
Shaun Keating: That’s so cool, dude. Congratulations, man. A little boy. That’s going to make you work even freaking harder, dude. I mean, you’re gonna wake up. Well I bet you do, but you’re gonna wake up with that gut and feeling in your stomach going what the hell? College is gonna cost about 600 grand by the time he gets to college!
Dr. Bridges He’ll be mowing yards by the time he’s three years old.
Shaun Keating: I love when they … Yeah exactly. Mow the grass! I remember, jeez just when I had my kids, man it was like, dude. It scared the hell out, I just didn’t want them to die on my watch, you know? It was like, I gotta get so these kids don’t kill themselves!
Dr. Bridges Oh I know, that’s the thing. I’m like trying to wrap my wife in bubble wrap when she leaves the door. I’m like be careful, be careful, you know?
Shaun Keating: Yeah, you’ve gotta let it all go man because you’ll worry yourself to death, man. Things are gonna happen, they’re gonna work out for you. dude. But, well Scotty man, we’ve gotta wrap this up, dude. I can’t thank you enough man, for all the work. How did we do as a lab, we doing okay for you? Do we screw up a lot, or? What about our lab, we doing okay?
Dr. Bridges No man, you guys are great. You guys are great. I can probably count the screw ups over the 14 years we’ve been working together, on one hand.
Shaun Keating: Oh, dude. That’s so cool.
Dr. Bridges That’s pretty damned amazing. I mean, you guys, your quality over the years has increased a lot. I mean, to a point to where, I’m pretty amazed at the things you’re able to do without even being in my office. Like, you know there’s a lot of local labs, unless I want to use a local lab and have someone that wants to get a shade and stuff. But man, you guys have got it going on. And I really appreciate it. And I need to come out and see you.
Shaun Keating: Oh, we do.
Dr. Bridges As a matter of fact.
Shaun Keating: I want to get you guys, I remember back in the day with you and Frank Clayton and Brenton Young and Tamir Bailey, the four dentists.
Dr. Bridges Oh yeah, the young guns.
Shaun Keating: You guys were the young guns, man. And you guys were just, you’re all really sharp people. Real sharp dentists, I mean you do practice really good dentistry. And that’s not just blowing smoke, you know? You really do practice great dentistry. But the four of you together, have a dynamic. And I still think, you got something there that, some lecturing. I remember even Clayton. Clayton makes me laugh so damn hard!
Dr. Bridges That guy’s like a savant. I don’t know, he’s just so funny.
Shaun Keating: I remember he wanted to open a practice limited to sealants.
Dr. Bridges Yeah roundhouse sealants.
Shaun Keating: Roundhouse sealants!
Dr. Bridges Teach the roundhouse sealants seminar. He was explaining his life, the life he was living, which is about what mine is now. This one lecture we did down in Cozumel and he drew, basically a Kreb’s cycle. And it was the life cycle of Frank Clayton. And every dentist knows the damn Kreb’s cycle because they had to learn it probably four times in school, then forget it. But yeah, man he’s a hoot. And Brent and Tami. The four of us were supposed to do a big podcast thing at the end of the podcaster summit in Nashville this past winter. Or it was early spring, late winter. And the thing that Al and me, and Frank, he showed up with the flu. Basically he got out of bed twice, the two days that he was there to eat breakfast. And then he just drove home. And we didn’t get to get the for of us, we didn’t get to have our young guns reunion.
Shaun Keating: Well heck, maybe we’ll have you come out here and we’ll do it, or maybe even do a lecture here. We’ll fit a hundred doctors in the room and we could touch on just different aspects of dentistry. Because you guys have all done it all, and you just, you’re a bright voice when it comes to dentistry. And you guys have all been very positive and outgoing people, and I just love that.
Dr. Bridges I really hope to get the four of us together again, I really do. Everybody’s lives got really busy.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges A few years ago, for a lot of different reasons. We haven’t been able to make it happen since that Cozumel time. So I’m really hoping to get everybody together within the next couple of years to do some kind of something, I don’t know.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges It’s awesome, I mean just being around everybody. We have a hell of a time.
Shaun Keating: Oh you guys are a dynamic duo, man. You really kind of feed off, I remember when you guys were doing the Shriners thing, man it was like out of a Saturday Night Live skit. I mean you guys, I’m telling you. What the hell is Shriners?
Dr. Bridges I ordered 2000 Fezs and had them sent to the hotel and Chicago for midwinter. And passed them out. Was it your dentist?
Shaun Keating: I had a party at Ditkas restaurant for like a bunch of dentists. And so at Ditkas and you know, because I made Ditkas teeth, and everybody, so we do it every year in Chicago there. And I remember you guys all came with those whatever, all those hats and you took over the whole little party I had. It was the Shriners.
Dr. Bridges We do take over stuff, sometimes. But you know what started it all Shaun, it’s your fault. Well maybe yours, maybe partly Howard Foran’s. But we went out to Townie in Vegas in 2004 and that’s when I met these guys.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges We had known each other from dental town. But we all met out there and had this weird chemistry and you know, here are these guys and they’re wearing these grills at the pimps and hoes party.
Shaun Keating: Yeah.
Dr. Bridges I’m like where’d you guys get these grills, man? They’re like oh man, our friend Shaun Keating made them. You’ve gotta meet this guy!
Shaun Keating: I was making grills for everybody. Austin Powers, and I had gold grills, silver grills. That was crazy times. That was in 2004, man. That was, I remember that like it was yesterday. It was crazy. And then, even Chicago like the Weiner’s Circle, the girl pulling out her boobs and stuff. Going getting hotdogs.
Dr. Bridges The limo!
Shaun Keating: Yeah and get a limo every time, let’s just pack us up and then Dr. Bailey was flashing everyone too, I think, if I remember right. And it was some good times.
Dr. Bridges That’s one of the most epic stories. That was like, I think that was ’09. That big limo Hummer.
Shaun Keating: And little Rich Rosenblatt. Remember she was calling him you little drink of water? You little hobbit.
Dr. Bridges That guy was a midget.
Shaun Keating: You little Joe Pesci, freaking midget.
Dr. Bridges Midget shit stain!
Shaun Keating: Oh, that girl was brutal man. She was the head lady at that Weiner’s Circle.
Dr. Bridges Then they made friends and they ended up signing Jewish school songs together.
Shaun Keating: That’s so cool.
Dr. Bridges Seriously, yeah. She went to Jewish school, so her and Rich were singing these songs. It was great. It was so fun.
Shaun Keating: Well speaking of that, I’ve got some matzo ball soup and a corned beef sandwich calling me, dude. So we’ve got to go. Scotty hey, Dr. Bridges. Thank you so much, man. I really appreciate you coming on this week. We’re going to get you guys out here soon and you know, we’ll fly you out. We’ll do some kind of seminar, whatever. Even if we don’t, I just want to hang with you because you’re a fun guy. And you’re a standup guy, for sure. So, Dr. Bridges thank you so much.
Dr. Bridges You’re the same. I appreciate you, Shaun.
Shaun Keating: You got it, baby. Thanks dude. Hey, I want to thank everyone for tuning in to this week’s Dental Up podcast. Remember to subscribe to us in iTunes. And if you could, leave us a review. Thanks again, and we’ll see you next week. Thanks Scotty!
Dr. Bridges That was awesome. Thanks Shaun.
Shaun Keating: Love you, man. I’ll talk to you soon.