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696: Planning for the Unexpected – Dr. Wayne Kerr

You plan for work, and you plan your vacations. But do you plan for the unexpected? Anything can happen at any time, and you need to be prepared! To help you think and plan for those unforeseen events, Kirk Behrendt brings in Dr. Wayne Kerr to share a framework that will protect you in future disruptions. Don't ever be caught off guard! To learn how to protect your practice, your loved ones, and your team, listen to Episode 696 of The Best Practices Show!

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Main Takeaways:

Practice fiscal sanity.

Write a contingency plan.

Identify your cash reserves.

Build team loyalty year-round.

Have your personal affairs in order.

Understand your business and cash flow.

Be insured — and make sure you have enough.

Evaluate your work-life balance and overall wellness.


“It's been said that wisdom comes from experience, and we gained invaluable experience through a horrid situation that no one saw coming. I think as practices overcame challenges, they were innovative — dentists are. Entrepreneurs are. They develop solutions to overcome those problems. And I think that we think, ‘Okay. Well, that's done. That's gone. That's in the rearview mirror.’ But what about tomorrow? How can we do something today that better positions our practice in the event of some future disruption? How can we better weather the next storm, whether it be a weather catastrophe, a tornado, a flood, a fire, whatever? I think it's important to learn from the lessons of the past and put together a contingency plan to protect our practices from any future disruption.” (4:43—5:43) -Dr. Kerr

“Any small business must practice fiscal sanity. If any business or dental practice is burdened by heavy debt or has marginal cash flow, or the cash flow is sporadic and uncertain and isn't tracked and planned for, that practice is in trouble and it's less likely to survive a future disruption than a practice would with a more sound financial platform.” (6:04—6:35) -Dr. Kerr

“It's important that we live within our means. When we spend more than we make, we put the safety and security of our families at risk, and we don't want to do that.” (6:35—6:46) -Dr. Kerr

“We have to stop chasing those shiny objects that we always want, never need, and most of the time we can't afford. Take a struggling practice, for example. If your practice is in a marginal cash flow, that's not the time that you invest in a 3D cone beam. You do that when you have the cash flow that enables you to do that. You have to exercise fiscal sanity.” (7:02—7:24) -Dr. Kerr

“Tomorrow is not promised, right? So, we need to protect our loved ones by having our personal affairs in order, have our living will and power of attorney current and updated, and make sure that our family knows important things about the practice and our personal lives — the family finances, personal financial statement, where the bank is, where the safety deposit box is, who is able to get into it, where is the key — things like that. You want to protect your loved ones by always having your personal affairs in order.” (7:36—8:13) -Dr. Kerr

“Very simply, a will tells basically who gets your stuff and who raises your children — if you have children under the age of maturity. You want to protect your loved ones by having those documents in place. The last thing any single parent wants is for the state to raise their children in foster care because they didn't name someone to do that in their absence.” (10:33—10:53) -Dr. Kerr

“If you look at the classic stages of business, survival is all about cash flow. You hope to make enough money today to be open tomorrow. You hope to make enough money this week to be open next week. You hope to make enough money this month to be open next month. Trust me, I've been there. Every early starting business goes through survival, and that is when you really have to understand your cash flow. But when you get into growth — which is, to me, the most exciting stage of business — now, as your business is growing, you're having to add capacity to the point where you finally reach your vision. And when you add capacity to increase the volume of your business, you're taking some financial risks. Now, at this point in your business career, you've got a positive cash flow and you're banking some of it. So, now you've got the cash flow. That means you can take on a bank loan and add that $75,000 operatory, or whatever it might be. But again, fiscal sanity.” (11:03—12:06) -Dr. Kerr

“The one metric that I think everyone has to know is your break-even point. You have to know at the end of every day when you look at your end of the day sheet, ‘Did I make enough money today and put it in the bank that I'll be open again tomorrow and I can feed my thing?’ At the end of every day, you have to know you met your financial goals. If you don't know that, you're working blind and you're open to absolute catastrophe.” (13:05—13:33) Dr. Kerr

“One out of three practitioners are currently looking for a chairside assistant, a hygienist, or both because we lost a lot of wonderful teammates as a result of the pandemic. And I think my point about positioning your practice to better withstand a future disruption includes building team loyalty, establishing the kind of practice culture where your employees never want to leave you for some other opportunity. I think that's so important that you continue to invest in your employees year-round, that you provide them with continuing education for personal and professional growth — which obviously benefits the practice — and invest in their future by contributing to their retirement plan. Give them reasons to stay.” (16:47—17:36) -Dr. Kerr

“Lead and work with integrity, for heaven's sakes. Treat your employees with courtesy and respect. Value their contributions. Recognize them for their contributions. It's been said that once you meet the financial and security needs of an employee, what they most crave is recognition. So, appreciate and recognize them for what they're doing. Embrace open communication and delegate appropriately. But the bottom line is, value your employees on a daily basis. Never take them for granted and build that kind of practice where in spite of what disruption might come, they're loyal to that practice and to you.” (17:44—18:24) -Dr. Kerr

“[Writing a contingency plan] is a great team meeting event, and it's not something that you do in an hour. You do this over a period of time. But again, look at the issues that you faced, the challenges brought on by the uncertainty of the day-to-day business in the early pandemic. How did you overcome those problems? What did you put in place? What solutions worked for you? And then, build on that. How can you better prepare your practice to withstand a future disruption? And I think, number one, clearly, you have to recover your data. Fortunately, that's so easy to do today. It wasn't so much in my early days. I mean, I backed up my data on a floppy disk for a while. Some listeners don't even know what that is. Today, we've got the remote servers we call the cloud. But without being able to recover your data following a flood or a fire or some other disruption, your practice is gone. So, that's number one.” (20:09—21:06) -Dr. Kerr

“Three of my very close friends died suddenly. Their spouses were professionals in their own right. None of them had any knowledge of their husbands’ practices, and they were left in a very, very bad place. As we mentioned earlier, it's hard enough to lose your loved one, your spouse. But while you're going through that horrible process of planning a funeral, you're suddenly faced with transitioning a dental practice you know nothing about. So, I think every spouse or significant other needs a working knowledge of the practice. They need to have software training, know how to download key reports, have user access and passwords. They need to know the names of the employees and the people that work there and what they do — things like that. The spouse has to have some basic knowledge. By the way, the spouse absolutely has to have access to the practice checkbook. That is so important that the account be joint.” (21:08—22:10) -Dr. Kerr

“It's important that all of us, post pandemic, regardless of whether we're the head bottle washer or a brand-new employee, pause from time to time and evaluate the quality of our lives and our contentment with our work-life balance. I'm very concerned that some dentists who are short-staffed right now that are working too hard and longer hours might burn out, and I don't want that to happen to them. So, taking time to evaluate your quality of life and your overall wellness is so important.” (25:39—26:18) -Dr. Kerr

“As our amazing inspirational speaker Zig Ziglar once said — and I believe in this wholeheartedly — it's important that we learn from the past without living there, that we live and grow in the present, and more than ever, we look to the future with hope and optimism.” (27:25—27:46) -Dr. Kerr


0:00 Introduction.

2:04 Dr. Kerr’s background.

4:27 Why it’s important to plan for the unexpected.

5:53 Practice fiscal sanity.

7:27 Have your personal affairs in order.

10:57 Understand your business and your cash flow.

12:51 Know your break-even point.

14:31 Be insured enough.

16:38 Build team loyalty year-round.

20:01 Write a contingency plan.

25:23 Evaluate your work-life balance and wellness.

28:14 More about Dr. Kerr and how to get in touch.

Dr. Wayne Kerr Bio:

Now retired from a highly successful thirty-five-year career, Dr. Wayne Kerr has been recognized by state and local organizations as Dentist, Citizen, Professional, and Small-Business Person of the Year. Additionally, he earned Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry and was honored in 2011 with its presentation of the Life-Long Learning and Service Recognition Award. He is a member of the Hinman Dental Society and an Honored Fellow of the Georgia Dental Association.

A highly regarded speaker on the international stage, Dr. Kerr is also the author of Ten Tips to the Top: A Primer for the Successful Dental Practice, and multiple books of inspiration, including When Life Needs a Sticky Note! and Wear it on a Tuesday….

Kirk Behrendt

Kirk Behrendt is a renowned consultant and speaker in the dental industry, known for his expertise in helping dentists create better practices and better lives. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Kirk has dedicated his professional life to optimizing the best systems and practices in dentistry. Kirk has been a featured speaker at every major dental meeting in the United States. His company, ACT Dental, has consistently been ranked as one of the top dental consultants in Dentistry Today's annual rankings for the past 10 years. In addition, ACT Dental was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by Inc Magazine, appearing on their Inc 5000 list. Kirk's motivational skills are widely recognized in the dental industry. Dr. Peter Dawson of The Dawson Academy has referred to Kirk as "THE best motivator I have ever heard." Kirk has also assembled a trusted team of advisor experts who work with dentists to customize individual solutions that meet their unique needs. When he's not motivating dentists and their teams, Kirk enjoys coaching his children's sports teams and spending time with his amazing wife, Sarah, and their four children, Kinzie, Lily, Zoe, and Bo.