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Episode #481: How To Do Profitable Non-Selling Dentistry, with Dr. Pat Lillis

the best practices show podcast Oct 05, 2022


You don't need to be pushy to be profitable. And to help you get more yeses without the hard sell to patients, Kirk Behrendt brings back Dr. Pat Lillis to share his secret formula to profitable procedures in a non-selling manner. With predictability and a strong team culture, you can increase production without increasing your workdays! To learn more about profitable, non-selling dentistry, listen to Episode 481 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Main Takeaways:

  • Start with a vision.
  • Predictability is the key.
  • Don't sell dentistry to patients.
  • Master the posterior restoration.
  • Cultivate your team and your culture.
  • Educate your patients, then back away.


  • “Without vision, it’s almost like we waste a lot of time in dentistry. And we only have so many years and hours and days at the chair. So, I think it starts back to vision.” (4:41—4:53)
  • “The holy grail of dentistry, to me, is efficiency, predictability, and time.” (6:54—6:59)
  • “When you're doing your procedures, you should take a stopwatch and you should be able to time that down to the minute of when you're going to start and when you're going to stop. And if that is not predictable, then it’s time to start looking at that procedure, if it’s really a good idea to keep in your armamentarium and your practice. Now, if it gets you out of bed in the morning and you love it, great. Go for it. But it’s really homing in that predictability. But the posterior crown, the posterior implant crown, the full-mouth reconstruction can be as well. As long as you can predictably know where you're going to end up before you start, that's the holy grail of dentistry. That's how you become profitable.” (7:37—8:17)
  • “For me, in my hands, it just wasn't efficient. It’s more efficient to do the same four or five procedures — which I love to do anyway. I know when I'm going to start and when I'm going to stop. That, to us, is we just turn and burn. So, you go from one crown preparation to the next crown preparation, to the next one, to the operative procedure. You pre-block your schedule out where you're just going to do crowns and major stuff in the morning. Then, you're going to do operative dentistry in the afternoon, sprinkled in with exams pre-booked out. That, to us, has been a very, very efficient model. And it took us from working four days a week all the way down to three days a week, and still producing the same numbers as we were when we were doing four days a week when we were doing a hodgepodge of dentistry.” (9:52—10:36)
  • “You can do an intraoral scan on a posterior implant crown in 10 minutes. And then, you can deliver that in another 10 minutes. So, that's about 20 minutes. Let's be conservative. Let's say it’s 30 minutes, total, chair time. There's no anesthetic, there's no packing core, and it’s all scanned. It’s crazy. But it gets glossed over and people don't realize it. And if you can master the posterior restoration, it’s a huge practice-builder. I cannot tell you how many patients come into the practice and say, ‘Yeah, I just left my other dentist because he put this crown in like four or five times, and it’s never fit really well. And it took him five times to do it, and I just lost confidence.’ That's a killer. And it was just a single restoration.” (11:44—12:29)
  • “If the case is planned out and it’s mapped out and it’s predictable, that's going to be a very profitable procedure for you. And it could be a single-tooth implant surgery for you. If you can do your implant surgery and you can bang it out, and you know exactly, down to the timeframe of how long it’s going to take you, go for it.” (13:01—13:20)
  • “Predictability is the key. Because if you can work seven hours in a predictable practice versus 14 hours in an unpredictable practice, that's huge. You can cut your time down. You can cut your workdays down. If you can home in on this, that's the key.” (13:22—13:39)
  • “Our rule in our practice is — and we’re all in the Midwest. I think it meets our culture here — we’re not pushy. And it’s amazing when you put that back on the patient and you just walk away, what they will do. They’ll do treatment. But when they feel that they're getting a hard sell, or they're being pushed, they will start to back away.” (15:12—15:33)
  • “I don't think we need to sell the dentistry. We just need to sell ourselves, that we’re confident to do what we’re doing. So, I think the biggest thing for us is educating, to show, teach, and then back away.” (15:38—15:51)
  • “The biggest thing you need is culture in your practice to do this. You need a team behind you that believes and shares in the vision that you have.” (21:50—21:59)
  • “It’s all about culture. It’s all about cultivating that culture. It’s all about vision and getting your team behind you. And the importance of the dental team is completely understated. I mean, they are key to a practice’s success.” (25:29—25:44)
  • “For me, I didn't enjoy endo. I didn't enjoy pediatric dentistry. I didn't enjoy these things, so I just picked the stuff that I really was passionate about. And then, I just went with it and tried to carve out my community.” (27:45—28:01)
  • “Why would I do it if I'm not good at it and I don't really enjoy it? And usually, if you don't enjoy something, you're not going to be very good at it.” (28:28—28:34)
  • “If you want to do fee-for-service dentistry, you have to have a really good command on clinical skills, and you've got to really be confident in what you're doing.” (29:49—29:59)
  • “Go to Spear, Pankey, Kois, Dawson. You're already in debt. What's another $50,000? Take the $50,000 and go spend it there, because they will teach you how to do the dentistry — if you want to do that. But I have friends in Kansas City that are fine not doing that, and they're fine doing PPO dentistry, and they're totally comfortable doing it, and they don't want to mess with the stuff that I see and that I get referred. So, they refer the cases to us. And it works. So, again, it’s back to the vision.” (30:20—30:50)
  • “You need a strong team. You need a team that has that vision, because your team, let's be honest, is the one that's going to field the majority of the insurance phone calls. They're going to endure most of the questions about insurance.” (31:03—31:17)
  • “Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do something.” (33:13—33:15)


  • 0:00 Introduction.
  • 2:22 Dr. Lillis’s background.
  • 3:15 Why having a vision is critical for your practice.
  • 6:20 Profitable procedures, explained.
  • 8:19 Why you need to time your procedures.
  • 10:39 Why posterior crowns and implants are glossed over.
  • 12:32 Why predictability is important.
  • 14:38 Non-selling, defined.
  • 17:44 Tell patients the truth and walk away.
  • 21:18 Cultivate your team culture.  
  • 26:46 Do what you enjoy.
  • 28:50 Advice for going out-of-network.
  • 32:29 Last thoughts on profitable non-selling dentistry.
  • 34:26 More about Dr. Lillis’s program and how to get in touch.

Dr. Pat Lillis Bio:

Dr. Patrick Lillis graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Biomedical Science. After graduation, he attended Creighton University School of Dentistry in Omaha, Nebraska, where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Upon completion of dental school, he did a two-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry in Kansas City, Missouri. This university-based residency program provided a heavy emphasis on implants and cosmetic and complex restorative dental modalities. His training provided him a unique opportunity to focus and treat extremely difficult dental complexities. He had the opportunity to work under some of the foremost leaders in implant, prosthodontic, and cosmetic dentistry in the Midwest.

Dr. Lillis is among an elite network of dentists from around the country who routinely work together to discuss the latest dental technology. In addition to running a practice, he holds the distinction of being a keynote speaker for several dental manufacturers. This allows him to lecture on such topics as dental implants and full-mouth rehabilitation utilizing esthetic and adhesive dentistry. Further, he has had the opportunity to speak at numerous study clubs and larger peer-reviewed meetings nationwide. He routinely carries out these complex dental procedures in his practice, both on patient and doctor referrals.

When Dr. Lillis isn’t running a full-time private practice, lecturing, and teaching, he loves spending time with his wife and two children. His hobbies include running, skiing, and golf.


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