Ep 107: Lessons from 1000+ Dental Offices with Jim Philhower

Jim Philhower was the Director of Sales & Leadership at Henry Shein for decades. He helped develop and lead the sales team and worked with dentists around the country to create better results in their practices. Jim has been in over 1000 practices across the US and has intricately studied what works in the dental business.

We’re thrilled to announce that Jim Philhower has joined us at The Team Training Institute and will be speaking at our Champions of Dentistry Summit coming up in April.

In today’s episode of The Double Your Production Podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs are sitting down with Jim to talk about some of the key lessons he’s learned throughout his career in dentistry and to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the content he’ll be sharing at this year’s Summit.

Jim’s got an incredible wealth of knowledge in the dental industry and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome him to the TTI family. 

We hope you’ll join us at our upcoming dental conference, the Champions of Dentistry Summit hosted this year in Orlando, FL. Learn more and register to join us at http://www.championsofdentistry.com 


Or, watch the episode:

We only host the Summit once a year, so if you haven’t joined us for this event before, now is the time to register. We’ve got an incredible group of dental experts joining us, we’ve got solution-packed sessions planned, and the most successful dentists from around the country will be gathered in one room sharing ideas and building a bigger future for themselves and their teams.

We hope to see you there! Click here to register: http://www.championsofdentistry.com 

Welcome to the Double Your Production podcast with the Team Training Institute, the one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it, who are in the trenches, who know exactly what you are going through. Now, your leaders, the stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs.

Dr. John Meis:
Hey everybody, welcome to this episode of The Double Your Production Podcast. I'm Dr. John Meis with my partner Wendy Briggs. And Wendy, we've got a guest with us today.

Wendy Briggs:
We do. I am so excited about today's episode. It's going to be an amazing, amazing conversation.

Jim Philhower:
Hi, Dr. Meis and Wendy. Nice to be on the podcast with you. And I'm looking very forward to our conversation. Thank you for the invitation.

Dr. John Meis:
Very good.

Wendy Briggs:

Dr. John Meis:
So Wendy and I met Jim some time ago. Roughly 12 years ago? Something like that. And Jim's-

Jim Philhower:
It's about right [inaudible 00:00:45] years ago.

Dr. John Meis:
Yeah. Jim is a lifer in dentistry. He has worked in various positions with various companies supporting dentists and their teams and has a tremendous amount of experience and a tremendous amount of knowledge. He is one of those people that is very observant and because he has been in probably a thousand practices, he has seen the good and the bad and the ugly. Because he is so good at observing, he's been able to see the things that make practices excel and he's seen the things that make practices not reach their potential.
We met Jim when he was working at Henry Shine. He was the Director of Sales and Leadership Development there. Wendy and I were part of their team for a while as outside partners and helping to help their people develop their skills, their communication skills, and working with dentists. So that is how we met.
And Wendy and I are so fortunate because Jim has joined the TTI team and he brings such a wealth of knowledge and experience that we are so excited to have you on board, Jim.

Jim Philhower:
Well, thanks, Dr. Meis. I'm very, very excited to be here. Very excited. And it was... You're right, it was about 10 to 12 years ago and, at the time, I was part of running our advanced continuing education courses that we ran for our, at the time, 1200 sales representatives throughout the United States.
It was on the business of dentistry. We weren't trying to make all of our dental sales reps consultants, but we certainly wanted to be more consultative and Team Training Institute was an integral part of that. It was a lot of fun.

Dr. John Meis:
It was a lot of fun. And we met an awful lot of really fantastic people and your area of the company was so well organized and just a well-oiled machine; it was always a pleasure to work with you.
So this episode is the beginning of our Pre-Summit Series. Every year the Team Training Institute has our Champions of Dentistry summit. It's a big meeting with lots of speakers, with lots of fun, with lots of information, and Jim is going to be one of our speakers.
So the next few podcasts are going to be introducing some of the speakers and content people there. You will get an idea when you hear the quality of people that are going to be speaking at our summit, why it would be really important to be there if you have a bigger future in mind for your practice, for yourself, and for your team.

Wendy Briggs:
Yeah. Interestingly enough, Dr. John and Jim both, we had invited Jim Philhower to be one of our speakers before he joined the TTI team. We are so excited to give you a little glimpse into what's coming your way if you're planning on attending the summit.
Again, Jim, you've spoken a lot in your career, right? We have shared the stage many times with you as we were speaking to dentists and their teams all across North America really. And so we had invited you to speak and share some of your insights with our members at our summit. Our summit theme this year is on unlocking the magic in your practice. And so interestingly enough, as things would have it, as we started that conversation about having you speak at our summit, then we had a deeper conversation about what would it look like if you joined our team.
So I want our listeners to know that we had already invited Jim to speak at our summit before he joined the team, but we are even more delighted that now you'll get to hear more of Jim as we go forward, certainly. But because the theme of the summit really is on all things patient experience, how we can be more connected with our patients, and how we can deliver a remarkable experience day in and day out, I think your topic that you're going to be sharing with us at the summit fits right in with that and people are going to be delighted to hear more from you.

Jim Philhower:
Well, I appreciate that Wendy, and I am very grateful for the speaking events prior to the offer prior to me joining TTI as a team member and now certainly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful team and it's a wonderful culture; that's for sure, absolutely. And I'm excited about my opportunity to deliver our topic of: Is that the best you can do? Life lessons of hope and inspiration.
There are a lot of things that I could talk about on the business of dentistry and increasing profitability and lowering overhead and reducing PPU reduction, internal marketing, and all those things. But at the end of the day, moving forward as servant leadership, as the opportunity to serve other people a little better, extending more gratitude and being grateful are life lessons that we can all do a little bit better on.
A great deal of that and where that comes from was life lessons for my son. Cole, my son, and only child graduated from high school here in Wisconsin on June 2014. Cole tragically was killed in a car accident two and a half years after that. It was more than devastating to myself, and certainly his mother. We were incredibly bonded.
I've lived vicariously through Cole; there's no doubt about that. You can find some spots in your life where you don't know. It can be a pretty dark, dark spot. And it certainly was for me for a long period of time. You can make some choices in life. What are you going to do? Are you going to move forward or not? Are you going to move forward? What is that going to look like? So the title of Cole's book, Is that the Best You Can Do? Which just simply comes from the fact that for discipline that's all I ever had to do to Cole and would say, "Is that all you could do? Is that the best you got?"
Sometimes I was just teasing him because he forgot to take the laundry out of the dryer. Other times I was serious about that. And that's the title of Cole's book. And it just comes down to life lessons, like I said, of hope and inspiration. It's about being a servant leader. It's about giving back. It's not what you can take in life, it's what you can give. It's about being a good teammate. It's about being a part of a team. It's about being part of something bigger than yourself, all of which applies to certainly our personal lives and our dental practices for sure.

Dr. John Meis:
Absolutely. We always talk about dentistry as a team sport, and that's why we have team in the name of our company. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do that. I think it's one of the things that differentiates our company from others that serve the dental industry in a similar way, is that we really focus on the entire team: doctors, hygienists, assistants, and business assistants. Whatever the role is, we want to see all those people develop.
Often if you just focus on the doctor, the doctor has the heavy lifting to try to bring that back to the team, and they get all kinds of resistance from the team, but if the team is part of the process, it just goes so much faster, so much easier, and the end result is so much better.
When you talk about teamwork, tell us some of the lessons on that, that really have stood out to you in your experiences, both with your son and his experiences, but also what you've seen in our industry.

Jim Philhower:
Well, I would agree, Dr. John a hundred percent. In fact, I like to say that collectively in all the offices I've been in, and you're right, I've been in more than a thousand dental offices without any exaggeration that I have had the privilege of being in. Collectively, the team has more impact collectively on the patient experience and the experience of the practice than the doctor does. It is amazing. And most offices don't. I think one of the biggest mistakes for that team building and the leadership part of it is the dentist doesn't take, or the owner doesn't take as much time as they could in terms of developing the team around what that looks like.
I think that goes back to servant leadership. It goes back to the leader being a part of the team and character and it's the deuce ratio, right?
You do what you say you're going to do. Do you follow through? Do you stay committed to your commitments? Because the team will be committed to your commitments and what you do and what you show and how that looks like. Whether it's showing up on time to your morning huddles and making sure the monthly team meetings are organized. You don't have to run them and lead them all, but you certainly need to be there and be a part of it.
It doesn't take much, just a little bit of effort and a conscious thought process in what you're doing, but it works in our professional lives and it certainly works in our personal lives as well.

Wendy Briggs:
Yeah, I love that, Jim. I love the title that you chose for your book to pay tribute to Cole and to share. As you mentioned... I can't imagine losing a child. I can't imagine what that must have been like. I do know that collectively the dental community mourned with you. We were heartbroken for you in that moment. I can remember that. I know we weren't super close; we worked together, but I remember shedding tears for you because it is such a heartbreaking thing to go through. Certainly, like you said, you have a choice in that moment. The fact that you've chosen to embrace the lessons and share his legacy with others, I think, is really commendable. I think some of the lessons that you've chosen, is that the best you can do, really motivates and inspires all of us to really reflect on our personal performance.
Now, we always talk about how dentistry should be fun. Dr. John mentions it's not fun in every moment of every day, and that's really when we have decisions to make too. Right? In those moments where it doesn't feel like a lot of fun, how are we going to show up? What are we going to do to lead our team forward? I think especially right now from my perspective being a hygienist in our climate, it's really, really challenging. We have hygienists that have chosen to maybe hold their doctors hostage or become very demanding because of the situation of the job market.
I just got a phone call this morning from one of our coaches that's saying, "Hey, this is becoming a real problem. Hygienists are deciding and making a choice not to be part of the team, but to separate themselves and ask for, we don't want to have to do one evening every six weeks. We don't want to have to show up for our team because we are in high demand right now, so we can get away with this bad behavior, if you will."
I think we always have those opportunities for decisions. So what I'd like to do real quick is have you maybe share an experience or a lesson where you've seen practices, take some of these lessons that you're talking about, these leadership lessons, and apply them for the positive.

Jim Philhower:
Good question, Wendy. I would say one thing too. To any team member, whether it's the hygienist or whether it's the office manager, but specifically to your point now about the hygienist, that won't hold you a good stead in your life. The world tends to give you back exactly what you put out. It does. If you're going to get ahead in life and not always monetarily getting ahead in life, but just to have to a... To Dr. John's point, there are not always going to be great days, but we're going to need to get through that as a team. Within that, I think service is a rent we pay for living on this earth. I really do. Within that servant leadership and giving back, things end up working out for you, whether it's monetarily, whether it's a team you're going to work for, and whether it's the gratification of that.
And so those lessons compound into the dental team and the leadership, the practice owners, primarily the doctors in a lot of cases, but in some others, other business owners of those practices need to be a part of that team and need to be a part of what they're doing. Those lessons hold true for the team and in our personal lives as well. The teams that are there, when that happens, it affects everything. Internal referrals, case acceptance, and the entire patient experience. I would tell you the thousand-plus dental offices that I've had the privilege of being in, there were times I walked into the office, whether it was in the front door, the lobby, into the reception room, I mean, or in the back door in the team entrance, there were offices that you walked into you just felt like it was home; it felt comfortable and the attitude for the team was right there.
And there were offices that you walked into and you could cut the tension with a knife. It was just there. What does that do to case acceptance? What does that do for internal patient referrals? It's crippling in many, many cases. And meanwhile then... And if I ask any dentists and the team members, "Who are your best new patients?" I don't get that out of my mouth without them saying a patient referral, from a top 20% patient, from another good patient. But we're crippling all that and the opportunities for that when we don't have a strong team and we don't work off that servant leadership model. It's a shame because with a little bit of massaging, it could easily be done. It just takes a little effort and the right team members.

Dr. John Meis:
In our high-impact dentist course, which is a course that teaches dentists how to become better leaders and how to become productive. Dentists who take the course, their productivity goes up anywhere from 15% to 25%, sometimes even more. But one of the key lessons there is that if we're going to have a team, we opt to play by the same rules. So I don't care if you're a hygienist or you're a dentist, or any other role on the team, we got to play by the same rules because we're on the same team.
It's such an important lesson because anytime someone feels like they're special or extraordinary or better than others, that's when teamwork starts to break down. When teamwork starts to break down, communication breaks down. When communication breaks down, ultimately, the end result is that the patient experience suffers. We've all been in someplace like you're talking about Jim, where you can tell the team is not getting along, there's friction between the team, and it's so uncomfortable.
We had an experience with our vet where that was the case. My wife was basically taking the dogs to the vet and she kind of was more tolerant about it. I went one time and I said, "That's it. We're going to change because that is"... Or I asked her if she would mind if we changed more accurately because I really felt like that kind of atmosphere was going to affect the care that they provide. And so it is really important that these teamwork things are worked out in a healthy way.

Wendy Briggs:
And I love what you said too, Jim, where you said basically it is a choice. We do choose how we show up. Sometimes I feel like there's so much groupthink in social media where they're like, "Oh". When somebody has a certain scenario, the responses are always like, "Get out of there. You deserve more than that." All of those types of comments. But your point is really the expression of what goes around comes around. It is true. It really is. If that's what you're putting out, then chances are you're shorting yourself at some point in the future, right?

Jim Philhower:
Oh, a hundred percent, Wendy. A hundred percent. I like to tell the audiences and people just in conversations like this, "It starts every day with you. It's the choices that you make. It's your attitude." And then barring some unforeseen circumstance, barring some catastrophic thing, barring you truly being sick or a relative or a close friend truly being sick, and barring those things, we choose our attitude each and every day. Each and every day. You choose your attitude, whether you're going to help or hinder, part of the problem, part of the solution. This sounds a little cliché, but clichés are true, right?
They're there because there is a meaning in the steps. It's not difficult really to do. It takes just as much energy to be a pain in the you know what than as it does to be nice. It takes just as much energy, either way, to be able to do that. I don't understand why people would say, "It's not my job," instead of, "How can I help?"
I mean, just get started and step in. We all have a part to play. We do. I'm sure there are plenty of doctors and team members here on this call that'll be watching the Super Bowl in two weeks, or they watched the playoffs this past summer-

Dr. John Meis:
Go Chiefs.

Jim Philhower:
And go... We'll talk about my beloved Bengals another time.

Dr. John Meis:
Oh, yeah. Sorry, Jim-

Jim Philhower:

Dr. John Meis:
I forgot you were a Bengals fan. Sorry. I wouldn't have rubbed it in if I had remembered. Sorry.

Jim Philhower:
Congratulations. I just wonder if the Chiefs paid those referees. That's all. Listen, it's all... No congratulations to the Chiefs. That's a big win. It'll be a great Super Bowl. But you know everybody... You can't always be Patrick Mahomes. You can't all be Andy Reids the head coach and the quarterback for the teams can't always be the owner of the teams. You can't have all that. We all have a part to play. What people don't see is the NFL teams have something called the practice squads, and they're the guys that don't make the 53-man rosters they're called.
Well, they play an integral part in the practice sessions every single week, in what goes on, and for those preparations for the games. Without that and without stepping in and being there to go, I mean, it's amazing what can end up happening in the preparation for it. So we all have a part to play.
We can't all be the CEO. We can't all be the senior executive of sales for a major corporation, but every part that everybody plays makes a huge difference in the outcome. That's what we're looking for. And I think that's something that the dentist could do a lot better at in terms of the outcome. Why are you doing what you do?
People go to work for money for a paycheck. Yes, of course, but they'll run through that wall behind you for a purpose; to be a part of something bigger than them. Some people might not be on the team. Maybe they won't be part of that team, but there are team members out there who would trade a few dollars an hour or more to be on a team and run through a wall for a purpose than there are who just trade time for money.

Dr. John Meis:
What a great message this is going to be and it's such a great opportunity for us to bring you to this audience and it's such an important message. And so, Jim, thank you so much for being on this episode. It was absolutely fantastic. For more information on the summit, you can go to ChampionsOfDentistrySummit.com, right, Wendy?

Wendy Briggs:
Just ChampionsOfDentistry.com

Dr. John Meis:
Okay. Very good. Champions Of Dentistry. The meeting is going to be in Orlando. It's going to be an amazing meeting, but you also can attend virtually for those of you who have a hard time traveling or a team size so big that it doesn't make sense; it's something you can do together as a team.
We look forward to seeing you at the summit. We also look forward to seeing you on the next episode of The Double Your Production Podcast. Thanks for being with us.

Wendy Briggs:
Thanks, everybody.

Jim Philhower:
Thanks, Dr. John. Thanks, Wendy.

Dr. John Meis:
Thanks, Jim.

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