March 2, 2021 7 min read
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Emmet Scott and dentist Chad Evans believe if you want to be successful, you have to experience your business through your customer’s vantage point. They created Community Dental Partners and Smile Magic Dentistry and Braces to revolutionize the patient experience within healthcare.
Through Community Dental Partners, they help dentists who previously only had two options: grind it out day after day and hold on until it’s time to retire or partner with corporate dental and run the risk of losing individuality and freedom. By combining Scott’s business acumen with Dr. Evans’ clinical background, the childhood friends revolved their business model around the idea that dentists have two minds. The first mind is the clinical mind and it concerns all the activities dentists have learned in school. The second mindset deals with the business mind, which focuses on everything from staff management to an exit strategy.
In addition to partnering with dentists and dental practices in underserved areas, Scott hosts a podcast called DSO Secrets, and the two run www.MySmileMagic.com, which they call “a Chuck-E.-Cheese-like dental practice for kids.” The two sat down with Jessica Abo to share how they have created their business and how you can better serve your customers.
Let’s start by going back to the beginning. How do you know each other, and what made you want to go into business together?
Dr. Chad Evans: This is one of those stories where we actually grew up together. At two years old, our parents moved next door to each other. My dad and his mom knew each other from high school. Starting at two years old, we became best friends.
Emmet Scott: At nine years old, I moved away, and I said, “Don’t worry, buddy. Someday I’ll come back.” And of course, then life went on. 10 years ago or so we crossed paths again. Dr. Evans reached out and said, ‘I’m going to open my first dental practice, and I’d really love some help.’ At the time, I was hosting a radio show and doing some consulting around scaling businesses and looked at the opportunity and his vision.
Dr. Evans: My dad was actually a lab technician, which means he makes crowns and bridges. At 11 years old, I went to work with him. He ignored all the child labor laws, and I went to work at that and became a pretty good lab technician. Eventually I went to dental school, but that experience and the time that I spent in the dental space gave me a lot of exposure and experience within the industry. I saw just so many different opportunities, so many different areas where I felt like the industry and the way dental offices are traditionally designed and the way they traditionally operate just wasn’t quite meeting the patient’s needs.
Scott: What made Dr. Evans unique is he wanted to serve patients a lot of clinicians and a lot of doctors don’t want to serve. He served a two-year mission in Chile. He was fluent in Spanish. He has seven kids. He said, “Hey, I want to help in the pediatric market underserved. I don’t care if it’s Medicaid, whatever.” And then we all looked at each other. I have five kids, and we said, “Well, what do kids really like?” It’s not the dentist in case you were wondering.
We said, “They like Disneyland. They liked Chuck E. Cheese. They like those types of experiences. What if you brought that into dentistry? What would that look like?”
Dr. Evans: Traditionally, moms are dragging crying children into the dental office, and I wanted the opposite. I wanted moms to have to drag their crying children out of the dental office because they didn’t want to leave.
Scott: We’ve designed the whole practice as if you were going through a story around Charlie the Chipmunk. We actually made the kids part of the experience. We call them back as prince or princess. We gave them gold coins along the way. As they finished their X-ray, they got a gold coin. As they finished their exam, they got a gold coin. And then at the end, they sat on a little throne and for their bravery in dentistry, we crown them as King or Queen of Smile Magic. They got a balloon, they got a sticker. Mom gets a sticker, because she’s always a little freaking out. And then we ask them if they have any money, they have their gold coins, they spend their gold coins. They of course get an electric toothbrush of some kind, right? And they’re going, “Mom, when do I get to come back?”
You’ve been at this for more than a decade. Can you walk me through the growth you have seen over the years?
Scott: We started supporting this dental practice, Smile Magic, that we created. Then along came a group of practices that needed support in underserved, rural towns. We set up Community Dental Partners as a dental support organization that would support any dental practice in underserved areas.
Dr. Evans: As we started having success and word was getting out, we had dentists approaching us that said, “I want to offer that kind of experience to my patient. I want to be able to do that. What do I have to do? Can you support us so that I can do that now?”
Scott: We went from one practice to supporting 60 practices, and I think we’ll have 250,000 or more patient visits this year in Texas.
Dr. Evans, what advice do you have for someone who is trying to put their patient or customer first? And they aren’t sure if they are doing a great job at doing that?
Dr. Evans: One of the things I always do myself, I put myself in their shoes and I ask myself if I were the patient, how would I want to be treated? What hours would I want to have availability? What days would I want to be able to come in? All those things that you would naturally ask yourself if you were in the other position. If you can answer honestly that you are providing care and service in a way that you would enjoy as the customer, then I think you’re probably doing it right.
What do you want to say to the entrepreneurs out there who have a product or are offering a service that might not be that sexy? You’re disrupting the dental industry, and most of the time when people are thinking about going to the dentist, they’re not running to the dentist by any means, let alone having children running to the dentist.
Scott: Our field is the one that has idioms, like, “Oh man, it’s like getting a root canal” or “it’s like pulling teeth.” If you’re feeling concerned about your industry, I understand. What I would say is focus on the customer. What are they most interested in? What’s the benefit? All of us can understand that oral health care is critical, that having bacteria in your mouth that transfers to somebody else is not something we want happening. If you can create parallel experiences that the customer really loves, then you can bring them your product and the benefits of your product.
Where do you hope to go from here?
Scott: We’ve launched National Dental Partners. And now we’re reaching out to more dentists who are looking for this level of support. We know that there are entrepreneur clinicians who say, “We can do this better”, and maybe they don’t want Charlie the Chipmunk in their office. They’re serving different patient avatars, and they need a support team to do that.