Understanding Modern Business Concepts with Dr. Joyce Kahng DDS
August 1, 2019
Our guest this week Dr. Joyce Kahng, DDS sits down with Shaun Keating and talk about why its important for practice owners to know both the business and dental aspects of running a dental practice. How at 23 years old, she quickly learned the importance of knowing your worth in the dental industry and the importance of self-reflection which led her to become an Assistant Clinical Professor at USC, a practice owner and was named one of the Top 40 Dentists under 40 in 2019.
You will hear all this and more on this week’s episode of The Dental Up Podcast!
What you will here on this episode: -Dr. Kahng’s experience entering the Dental World as a graduate at 23 years old.
-Understanding modern business concepts.
-The Importance of looking at the bigger picture.
– How Dr. Kahng handles patients with high anxiety and created a syringe-less dental environment.
-Knowing your worth and reflecting where you are and where you want to be.
For more information on Dr. Kahng and her practice, feel free to check out the links down below:
Host: Ladies and gentlemen, this is The Dental Up Podcast, brought to you by Keating Dental Lab, a full-service, award-winning dental laboratory. Each week, you’ll learn tips and techniques from real-world dentists, bringing you in-depth interviews, motivating stories, current events, and sports. Here’s your host, Shaun Keating. Shaun Keating: Hey, everyone. Shaun here. Welcome to another episode of The Dental Up Podcast. Our guest this week graduated from the University of The Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and was named one of America’s Top 40 Dentists Under 40 in 2019. Shaun Keating: She’s the proud owner and operator of The Orange and Magnolia Dental Studio, and also the Assistant Clinical Professor at USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. Currently practicing from Costa Mesa, California, please welcome Dr. Joyce Kahng, DDS. How’s it going, Dr. Kahng? Dr. Joyce Kahng: Great. Thanks for that crazy introduction. Makes me sound very accomplished. Shaun Keating: No, man, you’re crushing it. You’re so young and you’re doing it all, man, so thanks so much. I know how busy … heck, you just got in from USC. Heck, you’re like a professor over there, aren’t you or something, at USC? What are you doing over there at USC? Dr. Joyce Kahng: So yeah, my position at USC is I work with all the students in the first and second years, so mostly the Sim Lab where I teach in cariology and Fix is my major course. And then even in the denture course. So this morning we did CAD cam, and we are just teaching them how to bond their restorations. Shaun Keating: Wow, how cool is that? That is so neat. Wow, that’s awesome. My brother Kevin went to USC Dental School. Heck, I think he graduated, you weren’t even born. He graduated in 1981. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Oh yeah, I wasn’t born yet. Shaun Keating: What year are you, like ’84 or something, ’87? Dr. Joyce Kahng: I’m ’86. Actually, my mom went to USC for dental school, and she was pregnant with me her last year. Shaun Keating: Oh, you’re kidding? What a small world, that’s amazing. That is so cool. Heck, my boys, one was born in ’84 and the other was born in ’87, so it’s like I’m talking to one of my kids. That’s awesome, no. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Oh yeah. Shaun Keating: No, that’s so cool. I like the way you got awarded that Top 40 Under 40. Tell me a little bit about that, what was that all about? I had another dentist in Texas that got that too, Tuan Pham. He’s a really good dentist and a great guy, but tell me a little bit about that real quick if you could. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I don’t know too much about it yet, because they haven’t really released the article. They just let us know that we were one of the winners. Shaun Keating: That’s so neat. Oh, that’s awesome, man. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s coming out in July. It was a big surprise. It was a nice surprise, though. Shaun Keating: Oh heck yeah. No, that’s a huge thing for sure. And I love it, you’re crushing it on socials and everything else, and that’s why we wanted to get you on, man. So thank you so much. Shaun Keating: Hey, I always start off talking a little bit about sports. Are you into sports, or your husband or anything? Into football or baseball, or you a big USC Trojan? Tell me a little bit about your sports enthusiasm you have, if any. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Oh, I don’t know very much about sports at all. My husband is really into football. He’s really into golf, basically every sport. And we have very little in common. Shaun Keating: Hey, that’s how opposites attract man, that’s what it’s all about. But no, that’s awesome. Was he a USC guy too, or is he a Trojan fan? Dr. Joyce Kahng: No, he went to UC Irvine, but weirdly he’s a UCLA football fan, and he’s a Dolphins fan. Shaun Keating: Oh perfect. Miami Dolphins used to be my favorite team back in the day. Back when I was growing up playing in youth football, Dolphins were like the best team in the NFL so I always kind of liked them, so that’s kind of neat. UC Irvine, our lab is right next to it here, and we actually got the football Rams coming there for about seven, eight days practicing preseason there. Kind of neat, getting to go over there and see some of the old legends and veterans of years past, go see Jack Youngblood and all those guys. I think that’s Friday, I’m going to go over there a couple weeks from now. Shaun Keating: But that’s pretty cool, man. UCI’s a great school, for sure. But USC man, that’s pretty awesome. We’ll go ahead and Dental Up now, Dr. Kahng. So tell me why did you get into dentistry, and at what point did you think, “I want to be a dentist?” Dr. Joyce Kahng: I was really young when I decided I wanted to be a dentist. I was in elementary school, and it’s a little odd when you say that you want to be something and you don’t completely understand what it is, and it’s just because like your mom is a dentist and you grow up in a dental office. And even having grown up in a dental office, I didn’t really truly understand what it meant to be a dentist. I just kind of wanted to be one because it was something I was familiar with, and my mom was a dentist. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I think that is one of the hard things is you never really know that you’re going to like dentistry until midway through school or after you graduate from school. You can just kind of imagine what it’s like and you can shadow as much as you want, but you’ll never really know-know. Shaun Keating: Exactly. That’s a good answer there, and you started off young. I was kind of the same way, leap of faith. My brother was going to dental school at USC, and he’s about I think eight, nine years older than me. But he was going to be a dentist, and he was like, “Shaun, you could be a dental tech,” and I’m like in eighth grade, he’s making my mouth guards. And I’m like, “Sure.” Shaun Keating: I didn’t know what it entailed either, but I always knew I was going to be a dental tech. Then when I go to be a dental tech, it’s like, “Man, this stuff’s hard, and I’m not really that talented with my hands.” So I was like, “Well, I got no choice, I got to do this.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: I guess you figured it out, huh? Shaun Keating: Yeah, I guess. I still remember, I tell this story that towards the end of the course, it was like a year course, trade school in Huntington Beach. And the dude, our instructor, pulled me aside and goes, “Shaun, you know what? I just don’t really know if this is for you. Your hand skills aren’t the best.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: Oh no! Shaun Keating: Yeah, he was honest. He was being honest with me, because that was 1984 and it was like, “Dude, what do you mean?” He goes, “Well, maybe you should think about doing dentures, getting in removable.” And I’m like, “Heck no man, my brother’s going to be a dentist. I’m going to be his lab tech.” And he was like, “Well, okay. We’re going to graduate you.” Shaun Keating: And then I come find out a couple months later, my brother Kevin, he’s just finishing up dental school, and he’s in the Navy. They gave him a scholarship to USC and all that. And he goes, “Shaun, guess what? I’m going to do a two year residency in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’m going to do endo training for two years residency, and I’m going to be an endodontist.” Shaun Keating: And I’m like, “All right, that’s cool.” I had no idea, what’s that mean to me? He’s like, “Shaun, it means to you is, I’m gonna be doing crowns and bridges and all the stuff you’re doing.” I go, “I could do your post.” He goes, “Shaun, if anything’s got a purge, I fill it.” Whatever, and it’s like oh well. So I was on my own, man. Luckily, I went to a guy that was real sharp, and helped me learn the field and was a great mentor to me. Gosh, it’s a trip, man. A leap of faith. I remember that guy taught me meta. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s just so happens that you chose the one specialty that you’re not needed. Shaun Keating: Exactly. He’s like, “You’re on your own, Shaun. You’ll be fine.” I’m just thinking … I remember, I was kind of pissed at first, but nah, I truly believe nothing’s by chance. Everything happens for a reason. It was all meant to be. My life is all planned out. Nah, it’s amazing how I look back, and it’s neat when I hear you at an elementary school level knowing that, “I’m gonna be a dentist. My mom’s a dentist.” That’s kinda cool, man. Shaun Keating: When you got out of dental school, tell me a little bit about your dental school. How’d you like it? Were you in the top of the class? Did you really get into it perfectly? Was it easy for you? Tell me a little bit about your experience in dental school. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Dental school was brutal for me. I did this three Three Plus Three program. Actually, I knew in high school that I wanted to be in this program. It’s the Three Plus Three accelerated program. You get your B.S. at the Stockton campus, and then you go to the San Francisco campus that’s the dental school. Everything is really fast paced.As you probably know, dental school at U of P is three years, which is very accelerated itself. Oh man. I was a really good student when I first got into dental school. I was really on top of it, and part of that is because I was still 20 years old. I didn’t really socialize. I didn’t really go out. While everyone else was out, I would just stay at home ’cause I couldn’t go anywhere. I was 20! Shaun Keating: Yeah, exactly. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Mid-way through dental school, I turned 21, and then I started hanging out with my classmates, going out, and my grades kinda dropped a little bit. I think where I excelled was always in the Sim lab when I could do things by hand. Didactically, I started off really strong, but as the classes piled up, I just didn’t have the time to absorb everything as quickly, because my learning style is a really slow learning style, where I listen to everything, I write out some notes, and it’s not very efficient, while my classmates are really just fast and bright. They could absorb information really quickly. I felt like I was falling behind, and I would have to stay in the library a little bit extra long just to keep up with everyone. Didactically, near the end, once everything piled up, I was just trying to make it through. I was pushing through. But I did do pretty well when it came to the Sim lab. Shaun Keating: No kidding. You know, some people it comes to you quicker, and it’s almost like a blessing that it comes a little harder to people, they have to work a little harder and it works out. Some of those guys are the top of their classes, and they get into the actual field, and it doesn’t end up that way. I’ve had too many guys get associates that are top of their class, and they come in, and they’ve got a lot of theory, and they got a lot in their head, and they’re really good at taking tests and all that stuff. But when it came to using your hands and having hand skills and people skills, which dentistry is a lot about, they weren’t as great. It’s kinda neat how it happened for you there. So that’s pretty cool. Shaun Keating: Tell me a little bit about when you got out. You’re quite young. Did you start off, did you go work for mom, did you go work as an associate? Tell me a little bit how you started off as an associate, you purchased a practice. Tell me a little bit about that, if you could. Dr. Joyce Kahng: My mom had her own practice, and she actually sold it while I was in dental school, so I didn’t go into her practice. People always ask me why, and it’s because she had a Korean practice, and I don’t speak Korean. So it wouldn’t have been a very good fit. We have very different personalities. I don’t think we would have worked well together. Dr. Joyce Kahng: When I graduated dental school, I was 23 years old. What I decided to do was do a GPR, a General Practice Residency, and I specifically wanted it in New York. I only applied to one residency, and that residency was Jacobi Medical Center. Basically, I just mapped out all the residencies from the Upper East Side to see if it’s where I could live in the Upper East Side and just commute, and then have a home here living in New York. I didn’t really feel like I needed a residency, but I just wanted to live in New York. Shaun Keating: Yeah. That’s cool, though. Dr. Joyce Kahng: So I did that. Shaun Keating: Perfect! Dr. Joyce Kahng: I did that, and oh my gosh, I learned so much in that one [inaudible 00:12:56]. So young as a dentist and having absolutely no life experiences. I’m so glad that I went out and I experienced life without parents hovering over me or that safety net that I was used to. It was great being on my own. After that I actually decided to stay in New York, which my parents weren’t very happy about. That was quite an experience, because I didn’t want to ask them for money. I didn’t want to ask them for anything, so I started saving all my money in residency. I think I started saving a few months before residency ended so that I would survive those couple of months before I got my license. It’s licensure by reciprocity. As soon as I got my license, I started looking for an associate job. Basically, I took anything. I took anything that people would give me in the beginning. I was just so happy to work. Shaun Keating: Oh, heck yeah. I think what you got too, out of New York, it’s such a tough city. Only the strongest survive. To be able to work it, and then also to be able to live in that kind of a city, you probably grew quite a bit. A lot more than Orange County, where it’s all laid-back surfer dudes, and stuff around here. New York man, it’s only the fittest, strongest. Walking down the street man, you better watch yourself. There’s sharp elbows, and it’s a tough little town, for sure. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It is. I grew so much. I met so many different types of people. That’s where I really started to develop my social skills. I was pretty quiet in dental school. I just hung out with the same people all the time. But in New York is where I started to meet a variety of people, personalities, and figure out how I could speak to all different types of people. Shaun Keating: Absolutely. No, it’s a melting pot for sure. Unbelievable. That’s a neat, neat little story. So how long did you stay there? Tell me a little bit about the associate-ships. Was it more of the mill type, or was it private practices, managed practices? Tell me a little bit about that. Dr. Joyce Kahng: A lot of my friends ended up getting their jobs Monday through Friday at one practice. What I ended up doing is associating at several different practices, so maybe Monday/Tuesday one place, Wednesday/Thursday another place, and then Friday another place. I did that just not thinking about it, but I really wanted to make sure that if I got fired from one job, I would still be able to survive. That was my thought process, but in the end, I’m so happy that I did that because I got a taste of so many different practices. When I was done with one practice, I had learned enough from that practice where it wasn’t the right fit, I would be able to say, “No, I’m done here,” and then move on to another practice without having to feel like I was so trapped, and that I had to stay there for my livelihood. Dr. Joyce Kahng: So I did that for a couple years. I ended up practicing in New York for around three years. No wait, maybe two and a half, before I moved to California. Just by having those experiences, I was able to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t in a practice. I ended up settling down in one practice in Manhattan near Grand Central, and that was my major practice. It was a spa-like private office, but the twist was that was it was an HMO practice, and I didn’t really know too much of what went on outside the front office. It was just very well-managed, and I was just doing dentistry. I’m assuming that was an HMO. Now with [inaudible 00:16:53] I know the First Health system like upselling and all that. So I was separated from that. I just did the fast-paced environment, in a very beautiful spa-like environment, and I was happy. Shaun Keating: No kidding. But not knowing that front office, man, that’s a big part of dentistry for sure. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It totally is. Shaun Keating: You know? It’s the same thing with me, man. I was a wax and metal finisher for a few years, then I was a ceramist for about three, four years, and then I became the manager of the department for 14 years. But not knowing that all when I started my own lab, it was like I know everything about teeth, I know everything about technicians and working with them, and production, but that front office, man. That is just all the bills and whistles with the numbers, and had no idea. I’m still learning 17 years later. I’m not learning it, my people are. I just get the right people to do all that. It’s important, front office. The dental school doesn’t teach you that. They don’t teach a lot about the lab work as much as they should. They don’t teach you how to run a business and be a business person. They teach you a lot of theory and a lot of stuff about anatomical mouths, and a lot more medical stuff- Dr. Joyce Kahng: I agree. Shaun Keating: … that you don’t really need. It is what it is. I wish they would teach more on how to run a dental practice for part of those four years. It should be part of the curriculum. I know with you teaching over at USC, you’re already getting into the digital part of it, and the CAD and all that. It’s not old school anymore, man. It’s no longer analog. It’s a changing world. No, that’s really neat. Shaun Keating: So New York. You said, “I’m coming home now.” Were you guys always in Orange County or LA mostly, where you lived? Coming back home, how’d you get into Orange County and how’d you get into Costa Mesa? Dr. Joyce Kahng: I’m from Northern California. I met my husband in New York. He’s also a dentist, and he graduated from NYU School of Dentistry. He just wanted to come straight back after graduating from residency. Shaun Keating: Oh, perfect. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I was like, “No, I love my job!” I had no plans of leaving New York. I was well paid, I had a job I loved. I wasn’t really saving a lot, but I was just really enjoying the moment. I feel like the fruits of my labor, it was just a joy while I was in New York. But he wanted to move back, and I was like, “Okay, we’re not doing long distance.” I know myself. I’m not a long distance girl. I packed up and I moved back. Luckily, my parents moved to Orange County while I was in New York, so the decision was a little easier, moving back for a guy. As soon as I got back, I did put some pressure on him. I was like, “Where’s my ring? Where’s my ring?” Shaun Keating: Exactly. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I tried to associate in Southern California. I associated for a little bit, but in the back of my mind I wanted to start looking for an office of my own. I associated at this one place. They weren’t paying me very well, but I was thinking, “I’m not gonna work here that long. I’m just gonna buy an office.” It took so long for me to find an office that I liked. All the offices that I saw were all really old, they weren’t digitized yet, there was always something wrong with it. I realized, “Oh my gosh, this is much harder than I thought it was gonna be.” So I ended up working there for a little bit longer than I had anticipated. While working there, I realized I really don’t want to work for anyone anymore. Because I realized, the dentistry that I was wanting to do was being limited by somebody else, every time I worked for somebody else. Shaun Keating: Exactly. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I started to shift this focus. It became more of a focus of, “What kind of dentistry do I want to put my name on?” Then I found a practice, finally. I may have overpaid for it a little bit, but I’m very happy there. It was a small practice, and I took over a small patient base that had been there for 45 years. It was an older practice. I just had to do a little bit of cosmetic rejuvenation, I would say, just to make it look a little better. But that base was a good start. Then from there, I just had to build my practice. Shaun Keating: No kidding. How was it transitioning to you, being such a young dentist, compared to the old dentist and being older and everything else? Was it a male, female dentist that you bought from? Dr. Joyce Kahng: It was a male. Shaun Keating: God, I bet ya that was a big … for all the existing patients. There’s a new sheriff in town! How’d that go? Dr. Joyce Kahng: Oh yeah. Shaun Keating: How was that? Was that an okay transition? Dr. Joyce Kahng: The interesting thing is, I’m the fourth owner. The owner right before him was a long-time female [inaudible 00:22:12]. She was there for about 15 years. The guy that I bought from, he was Asian. So by the time it got to me, the patients had already experienced someone who was female, and somebody who was Asian. I was a combination of all those things. Dr. Joyce Kahng: What’s hard about taking over a male practice is the amount of organization that he had. He didn’t maintain any equipment. He didn’t really have a lot of systems. The amount of organization that a woman has … I can’t speak for everyone because this is just the situation that I took over, but he didn’t really have a good grasp on his organization. He didn’t have the systems and having assistants take care of auto claim, and maintain all the things in the office. As soon as I took over, everything started to break down. Shaun Keating: Oh man. It was all meant to be, though. I tell ya, I’ve done this a long time, and a lot of dentists are like that. You’re not really a … geez. But no, hey. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s because people don’t really know the business aspect. Especially he didn’t understand the business aspect. When he took over the practice, it was very big. The practice owner before, the woman, she had done really well at that practice. The practice kinda dwindled under his care just because of the business know-how. That’s why it’s really important to understand business concepts, even while considering a career in dentistry. I’ve gone to USI a couple times just to see the pre-dental students, to talk to them about a little bit of the business aspects. I think if you want to be a dentist, you actually have to think of it in terms of the whole picture, not just fixing teeth. It’s a whole thing. Shaun Keating: Absolutely. No, it totally is. It’s almost that with any business. You could make widgets and do all that and be the best at that, but if you can’t run a business … and I tell ya, I can’t through all my years tell you so many dental practices that these guys or women were just studs. They just crushed it with the patients, and had all the volume in the world, but they couldn’t run the business for the life of them. Just trying to do the books themselves, and a lot of other things. Trying to cut the corners where, man you gotta get that down almost first. And you can almost be a half-way talented dentist, but with good business skills, and be great and survive. You can be an awesome dentist with bad business skills, and you’re gonna not last a whole lot. And if you do last, it’s just gonna be up and down, and even to bouncing from labs. When you can’t pay your lab bill each month because you’re not organized enough to have your bills in order, and have enough cashflow, you just can’t be doing that, bouncing from lab to lab, and this and that. I see it so many times with doctors. Shaun Keating: There are vendors. “Okay I gotta pay the 3M because that’s my impression, to try to make sure they get their payment.” It’s just so crazy, like the basics. They don’t get it. Some live beyond their means, but this is any business in life. It happens to everyone, but it seems like dentists either get it or don’t. If they don’t get it, they can survive. I see guys survive 10, 15, 20 years on a shoestring, but it doesn’t need to be that way. It’s so easy if you can just get your structure in place, and take a couple of CE courses and practice management, and just get your systems down. It’s just like you’re cutting your preps, using the same couple of burrs, and your impressions, your using a double cord, and you’re using the same [inaudible 00:26:12] gum. You just get it down when it works, and then do it over and over and over. Shaun Keating: It’s like the Gladwell thing that he said way back, “To master anything, it takes about 10,000 hours.” You figure, that’s several years of 40 hour weeks, but you can master this, especially if you put your mind into and your heart into it. I feel for some of these dentists. They get all the CE and all this other stuff, but not the management part. It’s like, dude. Or bring people in, at least, and let them do it for you. You won’t make as much as in the day, but you’ll sleep better. People say they can’t afford it. You can’t afford not to. It’s the most important thing, I think, running a business. I know this from my lab, and that’s why I got people that can count and do all the number stuff. I’m not good at that. I’m not a sharpened … I’m not as smart as you, man! You’re a smart one, here. I’m looking at all this stuff. Shaun Keating: One of the things you like to focus on with your patients is relieving dental anxiety. You focus on patients that have dental-related anxiety. What are you doing to relieve anxiety for your patients? Tell me a little bit about that, if you could. Dr. Joyce Kahng: One of the things that I’ve done … I mean, this seems very simple, but I just take my time with them, and I listen to them, and I let them know that I’m listening. I think that’s one of the biggest things. Shaun Keating: Absolutely. That’s good for marriage, also. You gotta listen. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Yeah, it makes all the difference. I think part of that is when we’re running a practice, and this is also part of the business, our time is money. A lot of times, you don’t create enough time to sit down and listen to somebody. If I know somebody has anxiety, I may schedule another appointment where I could just talk to them about their treatment. The thing I think has made a really big difference in my practice is the fact that I’ve kept it very small and cozy, on purpose. There are days when I have hygiene, and those days where I’m a bit more crazy, and I purposely will schedule patients with anxiety on the days I don’t have hygiene. Because basically, it’s just myself working in the office, and just going one at a time. So it’s a very calm atmosphere. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s hard to have that atmosphere in a dental practice setting, because we are hiring all these providers who want to get as many patients in and out as possible, and increase our production. But there’s something very nice about having an environment where everyone knows their job. I don’t even talk to the assistant. The assistant’s just handing me things. They know that we got this, we got this. They’re walking in and out, I’m not distracted by going through the hygiene check, it comes back. But I think it also comes down to smells. The office doesn’t smell like a dental office. It’s soothing. Dr. Joyce Kahng: One thing that I do have that helps a lot of people is for their fear of needles, I have the STA of the wand, and anesthetic unit. It’s like the best thing I ever purchased. Shaun Keating: Oh, man. I’ll attest to that. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It does not hurt! Shaun Keating: It’s amazing. Dr. Hornbrook, he used to be my clinical director here, and we’d do all these over-the-shoulder programs, working all our technicians. He introduced me to the wand years ago. He put it on me, and we did some work. Unbelievable, man! That is just the neatest thing. You just kinda put it there, and it gives you dose or something. It’s just so, that’s just amazing, that wand. Dr. Joyce Kahng: You really don’t feel it! Shaun Keating: You don’t feel a damn thing. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s crazy. Shaun Keating: Next thing you know, they’re grinding on you. I love the way a doctor can hide the shot, and they’ll sneak it up in there. But wiggle the lip, and all that, and you’re still gonna feel it, and it’s just anxiety thinking about that long-ass freaking needle, man! It scares the heck out of me! But that wand, what a major, major breakthrough. I think every dentist should be doing that thing, man. That is so cool. That is a game-changer. I’m surprised more guys don’t do it. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s expensive. Shaun Keating: Yeah, maybe that’s why. I find my dentists are pretty affordable. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s expensive, and the overhead per procedure goes up, because those syringes cost so much. In the end, for me, it’s worth it. My practice has been syringe-less ever since I took over. I think patients really, really, really appreciate that, whether they have fear or they don’t. Shaun Keating: Oh, yeah they do. And it’s unheard of. God, I would market the heck out of that. I think you are, you’re really pushing on the socials. Heck, I think your Instagram, you’re approaching 20 thousand people on Instagram, man. That’s so cool. It’s pretty close, it’s getting up there. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I’m at around 15. Shaun Keating: Well 15+, 16, you roll it over, man. You’re almost at 20. I keep saying, “I’m almost at 30.” I’ve been at 27 or so for a while. But no, especially all the people out there. You got such a bright practice. We’ll put some of our info on our show notes just to show it. And for you to be recognized, too. One of America’s top 40 dentists under 40, that’s a real deal. I mean, that’s a neat thing. There’s only a certain amount of people under 40 in the dental world, and you were picked for one of them. That just goes to show ya. Tell me a little bit on your practice, how are you driving people to your practice? Is it mostly socials, like Facebook and Instagram and all that? Are you doing any mailers? What are you doing to drive patients to your practice? Dr. Joyce Kahng: I do occasional mailers, once a month, just to the neighborhood right around me, this very small radius. I find that those work really well because my practice is not in a big complex. It’s actually in a medical plaza in the middle of a neighborhood. It’s very hard to find. The specks may not be that great. But I love that’s small and hidden. It’s like a hidden gem. I do some Yelp occasionally. I have a love/hate with Yelp. I think it’s horrible, but in many ways, I found that many patients are finding us through Yelp, so I just ended up signing up. Especially when I took on an associate, I decided I need to put my money where patients find us. Shaun Keating: Absolutely. Dr. Joyce Kahng: What else do I do? Otherwise, it’s just word of mouth. The biggest thing that has been a game-changer for my practice is my social media, and I don’t spend any money doing ads for social media. I just post. I would say that it costs money to sometimes get good content. So for me, I have professional photography taken, and that’s about the extent. And also, my time. It’s really driven a lot of patients to my practice. I always say, if you were to include just the patients that come to me through Instagram plus all the patients that they refer to me, it’s around 70 to 75% of my new patient base comes through social media. Shaun Keating: That’s so awesome. Most of my dentists, when we talk about it, at the end of the day they’re not really into spending money on marketing. Some of them are trying to do the social media, but not like you are. Still, 90% average, most of the practices are referrals from existing patients. They’re your best customers. I mean, they’re your best platform for your dental practices. Take care of your patients, treat them well, do them good, and just let them know. Get some kind of program where, “Please let us know if you have any friends or anything you can refer. We’d really appreciate it.” It’s just comes so far. Shaun Keating: Same with me and my company. I spent all sorts of money on marketing, but the most I get is from my dentists. If they give a referral of a peer, to one, two, or three, or whatever, they’ll do it. That dentist will actually take our call or maybe look at something from us, saying, “Dr. Kahng said, ‘Hey, Shaun Keating has a great lab. You should try it.'” It goes really far, so word of mouth with your existing people and patients, it’s always gonna be king. And it’s free. All you gotta do is just do the right thing. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s free! Shaun Keating: Exactly. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It’s free. And the social media, people don’t realize that that intertwines so much with your word of mouth. That plus your word of mouth is going to be the golden ticket for you, because your social media is your business card. You don’t need business cards anymore. That’s your business card. Let’s say that I fabricated this 70% number, but a lot of them do find me through Instagram, and the way that I calculate it is they tell me, “I found you through Instagram.” Then later on, we’ll find out it’s actually through a person. So it is word of mouth, but they found my Instagram because my patient told them, “Hey, you should go to my dentist. She’s a really good dentist.” And then they’ll look me up, and then they will read through and see if they like me. I’m really floating at the top of their feed if I post every single day. It may not be that they’re gonna call me tomorrow, but when it comes time to switching dentists or finding a dentist, I’m gonna be at the top of their mind. Shaun Keating: Yeah, it’s so true. My social media guy right here, Trey, is nodding his head up and down. It’s weird, even with us, we do a lot of mailers each month. We’ve got 150,000 dentists to work with in the United States, so we shoot out a different state, share several states each month. I mean we send out quite a bit. In it, 99% of it all gets thrown away. But anyways, we had it to where, it’s been happening recently quite a few times, where a dentist said that they have heard, they have seen our letters in the past, but they have a lab. They don’t really need us. But they’ve had patients come in and said, “Have you ever heard of Keating Dental Lab?” Shaun Keating: I can’t go and market to patients, to the public, because I can only work with dentists. It’s the legal thing or whatever. It’s something that today, my sales dude comes and goes, “Shaun, you won’t believe it. We got another doctor that called us and said they kept a letter from several months back.” Just for an offer, but they kept that letter, put it in the top of the drawer, and they’ve seen others since, but the doctor kept that one. But a patient was in the chair this morning, and they said, “Have you ever heard of Keating? They do really good.” It could have been through Instagram or whatever it was, but they saw us. It’s happened quite a few different times through the years. Shaun Keating: So I always say, “Oh I can’t market to the people.” But it kinda does trickle down. If you do enough things in the different areas, when it comes time, they might say, “Hey, yeah, I would like to use this lab if you could do it.” And sure enough, the doctor said, “Send us a doctor kit. I’ll give you a shot.” It’s kinda cool. Shaun Keating: A lot of dentists go, “It doesn’t work,” and this and that. I just think there’s a lot of things you do that it all works out. You can’t just do one thing. You have different platforms, and the Yelps, and on and on with the different Facebook groups, and this and that. They might see you over here one time, and over here, but I think it all adds up. Just all those, going to conventions. We do print ads. We do it all. It’s kinda hard to say. We try to track everything, but I think more so than that obviously is word of mouth with your existing patients. Other than that, social media is trying to find the crack, crack it in a way. Heck, we even got patients telling doctors out there. I wanna just market to the patients, ’cause there’s millions of those guys. Then I can just have them bug the heck out of their dentist, saying, “Send it over to Keating man, they do all the Hollywood smiles. Come on now!” But no. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Yeah, it’s definitely an ecosystem when it comes to marketing. It’s not just one thing. You have to do a whole plan. Shaun Keating: Oh absolutely. We’ll try to wrap this up. I want to just ask you a couple more questions. Tell me how you got in to be a professor over at USC. Tell me a little bit about that, and tell me how many days a week. Tell me what it consists of, if you could. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I actually became a professor kind of by accident. I have my practice, and I have Thursdays off. So it was Monday through Wednesday, and Friday at the practice, and Thursday I always had off. I would volunteer as an adjunct faculty on Thursdays. Then I was there since 2014, and a few years later, they had a position open for assistant clinical professor. I didn’t really know about the position. It wasn’t on my radar. I think the day before the position was about to close, or the application process was about to close, the clinical director, Dr. Eddie Sheh, came up to me and he’s like, “Hey, did you know that there’s an opening? I’ve never seen an opening here for the many years that I’ve worked here. You should totally apply.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: I was like, “Dr. Sheh, I have a job. I have a practice, I don’t have time for this.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: He’s like, “Why don’t you just apply and see, because who knows, maybe you’ll get it. You might as well just try.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: I was like, “Okay, okay, okay.” Then I just applied, and it’s not an easy thing. You have to get letters of recommendation. He was like, “I’ll write you a letter of recommendation.” And I applied. I didn’t know what was gonna happen. I didn’t even particularly care what happened. I just was going to work every single day, and they called me for an interview, and I was like, “Okay.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: So I went to the interview. I thought it was gonna be very easy to interview because I’ve been working there. They know who I am. But I walked in there, they asked me some really hard questions. A few people, I knew them, but they were so serious. I was like, “Oh my gosh. This is a very serious thing. They take this very seriously.” I finished up all of the interviews. It was not just one, it was a couple interviews. Then I went home, and I was telling my husband, I was like, “I don’t think I did very well on those interviews.” It’s been a long time since I’ve interviewed for a job. Dr. Joyce Kahng: It was a while, it was like a month later, they made a decision. Somebody else had already been chosen, but I knew there was two positions. They told me that I was chosen for the other one, and I went into this- Shaun Keating: Yee-haw! Dr. Joyce Kahng: … freak-out, panic mode. Shaun Keating: I don’t want it! Dr. Joyce Kahng: I was excited because I had interviewed for it, and I did kind of want to see where it went, but I was freaking out because now I have this crazy decision to make. I was telling my husband, “What do I do? What do I do? I have a practice, I have a practice.” My husband was like, “Do what you wanna do. Do you want to see where this takes you? Do you want to see if you like teaching? ‘Cause the problem is, you don’t know whether you’re gonna like teaching. It’s totally different.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: I had a small taste of it, but just for it to be really a 50% or 60% position which is half the week, that’s a huge commitment. I had to organization my practice a different way, because I wouldn’t be there as much, so I had to hire an associate. There’s a lot of things to do in order to work at USC. Shaun Keating: Absolutely. Dr. Joyce Kahng: I decided in the end that I wanted to see what it would be like to work at a school, and be a professor, ’cause it’s nothing I had ever imagined myself being. I wanted to just see if I liked it. And if I liked it, then I would continue a year. That’s what I told my husband. If I liked it, then I would continue a year. And now it’s been a couple of years, and I’m still there. I had to make many changes to the practice in order for me to be there so many days. I hired that associate, I hired four days of hygiene, so that things could run a little bit more without me. Then the days that I’m at the practice, it’s scheduled so I’m bam-bam-bam-bam-bam, except for those few days where I’m without hygiene, and those are for the days when people who are having anxiety or fear come in. Shaun Keating: No kidding. Dr. Joyce Kahng: So it’s been major changes. It was scary at first to take a small practice and have to have new providers there, because there was some resistance with the patients. Also, it’s a lot more overhead than just me working. Shaun Keating: Absolutely. Dr. Joyce Kahng: The practice has caught up, and is doing quite well with everyone new. It’s actually been quite a blessing to the practice to be forced to grow so fast, and to rise to the occasion. Shaun Keating: That is so cool, man. I just think it’s the best thing you do, too. To get that under your belt at such a young age, that’ll come back in spades. I mean, it truly will. Heck, that maybe did something on the Top 40 Dentists Under 40. You never know. Being a clinical “ed junk” professor, whatever it’s called, I don’t even know how to say it, but it’s pretty awesome man. Well dang, what kind of advice can you give some of the newer dentists starting out? Some of the dos and don’ts. What would you say to some of the newer students coming out of dental school? Dr. Joyce Kahng: Whoa, that’s a good question. That’s actually a really hard question. Shaun Keating: Yeah it is. Dr. Joyce Kahng: ‘Cause everyone comes out of school with different abilities and different strengths. I would say, know your worth is one of the most important things. I say that because it’s not just to empower the new dentists. Like, “Hey, go get that job and fight for what you want.” It’s not just that. It’s a little bit of real talk. It’s a little bit of reflection on where you are in your career. So in the beginning, I wasn’t picky. I went out, I saw what was out there, and I learned. Come out of school thinking, “I’m a doctor now. I’m a dentist now. These are my standards.” But your worth in a situation where you’re associating is different than your worth in a situation where you’re practicing. If you’re associating, your worth is based on how much you can produce for that owner. Your worth as a dentist who works for yourself as a practice-owner is possibly different. For me, it’s the quality of my dentistry. So all these things change. You design your success, and be realistic about where you are, and always keep growing. Shaun Keating: That’s awesome. That is great, thought-out advice right there, man. Well heck, that’s kinda the end. This was supposed to be short and sweet, but man, you’re just very interesting, and that’s such a neat story. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Thank you. Shaun Keating: I look forward to seeing you in the future all over the Dentistry Today and ADA news, and everything else. I’ll say, “Hey, I had her on a podcast.” Dr. Joyce Kahng: Oh my gosh. Shaun Keating: Thanks so much, and God bless you and your family. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Yeah, this is fun. Thank you. Shaun Keating: Anything we can ever do for you, you got a big roundhouse for something you’re not sure, send it over to us. We’re right up the street. Hey, thank you so much. We really appreciate it, coming on the Dental Up Podcast. Again, if we can ever do anything for you, Dr. Kahng, let us know. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Thank you. It was really fun being on here today and talking with you, too. Shaun Keating: All right man. Well good one, and we’ll talk real soon. Dr. Joyce Kahng: Okay, thank you. Bye. Shaun Keating: Bye-bye. Host: Thanks for joining us on the Dental Up Podcast Show this week. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or search the Dental Up Podcast on iTunes for our weekly feed. Don’t forget to visit keatingdentallab.com/promo for exclusive offers. Keating Dental Lab is a full-service dental laboratory and we’re nationwide. We’d love for you send to us a case so we can show you the Keating difference. If you dig what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes, and we’ll be back next week.