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Smiles Change Lives: How Giving More to Your Community Can Grow Your Practice with Dr. Dustin Burleson

Randy Feldman

Dr. Dustin Burleson is a speaker, teacher, author, and business strategist for over 3,000 orthodontists located across 32 countries. He writes and edits 5 newsletters monthly and is the Director of the Leo H. Rheam Foundation for Cleft and Craniofacial Orthodontics. 

He also operates large multi-doctor, multi-clinic orthodontic and pediatric dental practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He's a champion of the private practitioner and has a long track record of helping orthodontists transform their practices and leave a strong legacy for their families, employees, communities, and the orthodontic profession. His marketing campaigns have generated over $425 million in revenue for his clients and privately held practices. 

Dr. Burleson has worked extensively with the prestigious Disney Institute, Ritz Carlton Leadership Development Center, and the Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School. He has been invited to speak throughout the world and has shared the stage with celebrities, athletes, and business leaders who mirror his passion to help people live healthier, happier lives. 

He's been featured on Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNBC, the Kansas City Star, Parents Magazine, and Family Fun. He is a 2 time Inc. 500 honoree, recognized for building one of the most successful orthodontic practices in North America. Dr. Burleson’s latest Amazon best-selling book, Smiles Change Lives: The Smart Orthodontist’s Guide to Building a Purpose-Driven Practice is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold.

Here's a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • The importance of giving back and supporting the community
  • Dr. Burleson talks about the Smiles Change Lives program and the number of cases donated in a year
  • Why Blair Feldman decided to partner with the Smiles Change Lives program
  • How the program helps orthodontics and their private practices
  • Giving generously to one charity versus giving little to many charities 
  • How Dr. Burleson's book touches on the concepts of scarcity and capacity and why the book was written
  • The impact Smiles Change Lives has had on Dr. Burleson's team
  • How orthodontics can prepare their practices to join the Smiles Change Lives program
  • Dr. Burleson talks about his business superpower, how he likes to read his books, and his current passion

In this episode...

A smile is something beautiful that every person is entitled to. For kids with less-than-perfect teeth, smiling can instead lead to teasing from other kids and an effect on their self-esteem. Not only that but not every parent can afford orthodontic treatment for their kids. In this perfect storm, affected kids may avoid smiling and often shy away from spending time with their friends.

To support these parents and their kids, the Smiles Change Lives program was started by Tom Brown and his mother Virginia Brown in 1997. Virginia grew up with these anxieties about her teeth, but after treatment positively impacted her life, she decided to pay it forward.

In this week's episode of the In Your Face Podcast podcast, co-hosts Craig Weiss and Blair Feldman are joined by Dr. Dustin Burleson to talk about the benefits of giving back a smile to a child. Dr. Burleson explains how the Smiles Change Lives program works, how they help orthodontics and their practices, and his reasons for writing a book by the same name.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by Mouthguard Club and Retainer Club. Both services help drive new patients, reactivations, and referrals to your orthodontic office. Mouthguard club provides personalized custom mouthguards that are perfectly fitted to your teeth. You can fully customize the design and even put your team logo on it.

Retainer Club is the easiest way for orthodontists to provide their patients with perfectly fitting retainers at a great price, while also sending you a steady stream of new patients in your office who are actively interested in getting treatment. Over 1000 patients already love Retainer Club and it's easy to use online services to regularly order and replace the retainers without the need to bother their offices. 

Orthodontists love Retainer Club because they feel confident that the smiles they created are being maintained for life and that their long term fans continue to refer new patients to their offices. To learn more about becoming a Retainer Club partner and to bring in more patients go to

Episode Transcript:

Intro  0:09 

What happens when a successful entrepreneur who built a billion dollar company and a veteran orthodontic specialist team up to share their stories of entrepreneurship and experiences and building a thriving business? You get the in In Your Face Podcast. Learn how to survive and thrive in today's ultra competitive market. Now, let's start the show.

Blair Feldman  0:39  

Blair Feldman here.

Craig Weiss  0:41  

And Craig Weiss here. And we are the co-hosts of the In Your FacePodcast, where we discuss stories and building a thriving business in today's competitive marketplace. Blair has a very impressive background as a practicing orthodontist for more than 20 years, and he was the team orthodontist for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Suns for three seasons.

Blair Feldman  0:59  

And Craig has scaled up a consumer business to over a billion dollar valuation. And now together we help orthodontists to grow their practices. This episode is brought to you by Retainer Club, the easiest way for orthodontists to bring online services into their practice. Retainer Club provides their patients with perfectly fitting retainers at a great price while freeing up your valuable schedule from retainer appointments that take time, use PP, and frankly, they annoy your patients. Retainer Club also sends a steady stream of new patients who are actively interested in getting treatment into your office. Over 1800 patients love Retainer Club, and orthodontists have the confidence that the smiles they created are being protected and maintained. Free up your schedule from retainer appointments and focus on profitable treatment, while ensuring your patients have straight teeth for life. To learn more about becoming a provider, go to

Craig Weiss  1:52  

Today our guest is Dr. Dustin burlison. Dr. burlison is a speaker, teacher, author and business strategist for over 3000 orthodontist located across 32 countries. He writes and edits five newsletters monthly is the director of the foundation for cleft and craniofacial orthodontics and operates large multi doctor multi clinic orthodontic and pediatric dental practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He's a champion of the private practitioner and has a long track record of helping orthodontists transform their practices and leave a strong legacy for their families, employees, communities and the orthodontic profession. His marketing campaigns have generated over 420 $5 million in revenue for his clients and privately held practices. Dr. burlison has worked extensively with the prestigious Disney Institute, Ritz Carlton Leadership Development Center and Institute Coaching Institute of coaching at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Burleson has been invited to speak throughout the world and has shared the stage with celebrities, athletes and business leaders who mirror his passion to help more people live healthier, happier lives. He's been featured on Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNBC, the Kansas City Star, parents magazine and family fun. He is a two time Inc 500 honoree recognized for building one of the most successful orthodontic practices in North America. His latest Amazon selling best selling book Smiles Change Lives. The Smart orthodontists guide to build a building a purpose driven practice is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and wherever fine books are sold. In Your Face Podcast listeners can learn more at burlison Dr. Burleson Welcome to the show.

Dr Dustin Burleson  3:30  

Hey, thanks for having me. Sounds like we gave you the short bio, they're

Blair Feldman  3:35  

gonna we cut out the last few pages and just tried to summarize,

Dr Dustin Burleson  3:39  

who wrote that my mother

Blair Feldman  3:42  

does Glad to be here. I'm so excited to have you here. I've known you for many years and I've had the privilege I feel like on my end of being one of your coaching clients, I always used to say I felt like I got an NBA when I used to come out to Kansas City and visit you but one of the things that I really gravitated towards the most was how you really shared with the doctors and the mastermind groups that we were in the importance of giving back and that's kind of what I wanted to focus on a little bit today. You were the one who got my office's involved in Smiles Change Lives we really committed to it. I felt like it did so much for my offices. And you know we subsequently got the the genie award from smile change vibes. We're excited to get that. But if you could just talk to our listeners you really the question you know, that comes up that I hear a lot is you know why give back Why Smiles Change Lives if you could share a little bit about that. And I know you just do such a great job of getting people excited about that concept.

Dr Dustin Burleson  4:42  

Yeah, I'm gonna first I'm going to encourage everyone to stop saying give back right that makes it sound like we stole it in the first place. You know? We raped and pillaged and made a billion dollars and we and we gave a little bit of a back instead, you know Right, but instead, you know, why not? Why not set out your business from the very beginning? With a really compelling sense of purpose? Like why, you know, Simon Sinek, his famous book Start With Why what, why do you exist, and make it a point to support your community. So instead of giving a little bit back, build the whole damn thing around everyone in orbit, in your business, thriving and smile, change lives, this is like the first nonprofit that I met, that really gets it right they and they do things that are controversial, like really controversial in the nonprofit world. So if you think about, you know, the average nonprofit, and we support a lot of those, so I'm not here to, to name names, and, you know, to be little other nonprofits, but, you know, they typically revolve around large events that ask donors for money. And Tom Brown and his mother, Virginia Brown, who started the foundation back in 1997, a year before I went off to dental school, that that company, that organization was formed, from the very beginning to be self sustaining, and to give people a hand up and not a handout. And so they actually ask, you know, everyone would like gasp, you know, they actually asked the participants in the program, who are in need, they have lost their jobs, or a lot of them are immigrants working several jobs, trying to trying to make it, you know, ends meet and this country, and they asked him to pay $650 for treatment, which is a lot for those families. And Tom had the theory and he was right, that if we ask them, to have skin in the game, that there'll be better patience for us. And if we go after a segment of the market, that really needs our help, right, I teach clients smile, change lives aren't poor kids and poor kids and most states have safety nets, they have Medicaid, they have, you know, some sort of state or city program, and Smiles is helping the kids that, you know, are at the federal poverty level, but, but also, you know, parents are trying to make it work. And so I just love their, you know, their differentiator from the very beginning. And so it really meshed well with ours, and that, you know, our mission is to serve others. That's it, right? It's three words. Simple and, and Smiles has helped us do that. So we've really attached our, our wagon, so to speak, hitched our wagon to their star, they're just in there a phenomenal organization. And it's been great.

Craig Weiss  7:44  

And and, you know, I think I'm sure a lot of our listeners who are or other orthodontists might be thinking to themselves, like, okay, I can get behind that, and maybe, you know, kind of donate like maybe one or two cases a year. And I'd love for you to kind of respond to that is one or two cases a year enough? Like what are your thoughts on, you know, how many cases to donate? And the response that might be? Oh, well, gosh, I don't have time to do more than that.

Dr Dustin Burleson  8:10  

Yeah, I mean, well, so if you only think there are one or two kids in your community, that needs your help. And sure, you know, if you think that you should put a finite limit on how many people you helped, and sure, but you know, we went to school for a long time. Why would we want to limit the number of people we can help? And, you know, I'm not shy about sharing why I like Smiles Change Lives, you know, like, I like Smiles Change Lives, because we take hundreds of them, by the way. So as many as they'll send to us we will take and it started two years ago, and I didn't ask permission to do it. I thought, well, I'll ask forgiveness. If Tom gets pissed off at me. For orthodontic Health Month, we're going to match every kid who starts treatment in our practices, we're going to match a free case, right? And we usually start right around 200 cases a month in our business. And we were called Smiles and said, hey, how many people are on your waiting list. And they gave us some like astronomical number. And by the way, at that time, we were doing the status quo. We were taking one or two kids per year, because that's what everyone else was doing. And we didn't know how many kids were on the waiting list. And they, I mean, something just insane. It was like 160 200 something ridiculous. And I said just send them all to us. And there was a long silence on the phone. Could you repeat, and I said, you just send them all to us. Right? So the clinic I'm sitting on here are our flagship offices 22 chairs, so we have more than enough to, you know, facility and capacity to see some kids and you know, for it, and it's okay, I'm gonna say this. You know, I hope I don't offend anyone too much. But the reason I teach is not because I'm perfect. I'm the least perfect person that's listening to this. I have made every mistake in the book. You know, I've had more scrapes and bruises and scar tissue than than most. And the reason is because I make decisions really fast. And so you know, I'm not saying that, you know, you should have time and you shouldn't no one wants to be preached to on how they should spend their free time. What I'm not shy about sharing is that when we took those hundred and 60, some odd kids, and we've got a commitment and my business by the way to treat 10,000 of them before I die, oh, how the hell we're going to do it, but we're figuring it out. So we found that those hundreds of kids, instead of taking one or two, we found that we had hundreds of kids telling their friends and family about how great our practice was. And we had hundreds of parents telling their co workers remembered. These aren't poor kids, they're sitting next to your kids at school, by the way, and they're telling everyone how great it is that they're getting their child orthodontic treatment, through Smiles Change Lives in our practice. So, you know, Blair knows that we've shared this, you know, they become our kind of marketing department. I heard they're kind of a full time marketing staff talking about our office. And so, you know, that's, I'm not shy about saying that's one of the big reasons we do it is we're helping people who number one really needed these kids are usually really severe and their discrepancy index or you know what their malocclusion is. And so these aren't mild, you know, crowding class one cases, there are a lot of extraction cases a lot of lipping competence, a lot of really severe, you know, severe overjet. And you really do change their life. And we've found that someone who you can change their life, they become an advocate, they become a raving fan for your practice for a long, long time. So, you know, that's kind of how we selfishly said, Let's take as many as we can, and you know, I'm okay with that. I have no problems, saying that we went to I think any relationship should be win win win, I don't think there should be one where it's where it's lopsided. And, you know, think back to all the pro bono cases you've done. We work with, obviously, a lot of orthodontist and a lot of dentists, pearls and seminars, we also work with a lot of attorneys, chiropractors, audiologists, plastic surgeons, you know, every time I asked them, What was it like, when you when you would give away a free case, you would take on a case pro bono, they would all say, Oh, it was awful. Like they stopped showing up. They didn't appreciate it, they actually turned into horrible client. And the reason is, there's no skin in the game. Right? I mean, like, think about the last rental car? Did you take it and wash it and wax it before you returned it? Or did you return it with like, your water bottle in the in the back and like, you know, your receipt still and the seat in the front seat? You know, if there's skin in the game, we've found there's been a better a better compliance, and certainly better refer ability. So, you know, we're thrilled with that aspect of it.

Blair Feldman  12:52  

Yeah. There was more. I mean, there's, there's a couple big parts that made it my favorite, you know, pro bono, obviously, it's pro bono and the orthodontic side organization, I think, you know, the skin in the game is one part of it. But I think there's something that smile change lives does in their vetting process and how they communicate to these patients, that what they're getting has a 567 thousand dollar value. And I felt like the patients that I treated from Smiles, always were so much more appreciative, they showed up to their appointments, they were thanking my staff. And you know, when it came time for retainer club, to choose a partner in this room, somebody that, you know, we could ask our partner orthodontist to partner up with it was a no brainer, because we really felt like you're not only going to give to this organization, but they're going to support you in return. I mean, you made that comment that there, you're like, your marketing department. And I think, you know, for orthodontist, they get involved and they start, you know, working with the team over there, they start to experience, you know, oh, there was a press release, put out my behalf, you know, oh, they, you know, they they put my name into someone who just, it just popped in, and all of a sudden you start getting this reputation, that you're the office in the community that does well, and like I was saying, when when I was talking with Craig, when Craig was you know, we were talking about this kind of idea of bringing, you know, some some pro bono work in and a component of this into retainer club. It was really a no brainer, Smiles Change Lives was really where we felt like we could best service, you know, the communities and also best service, you know, our partner orthodontist. I mean, how, how would you explain to an orthodontist that's not using or that's not working with machines? Like how would you explain to them how they they do well, for you in the PR department and what it's done for your practice?

Dr Dustin Burleson  14:37  

Yeah, I mean, so you know, if you've seen me on television, or you've been to our website, and you've seen a clip of me, you know, being interviewed or one time at baking a cake or something for National Health Month I was, I was in an apron ship, pretending to know what the hell I was doing baking a cake, but it's not even done cooking segments, all of those PR segments. Those were all brought to us by Smiles Change Lives. So when you go and try to say something nice about yourself, right? It is not received in the same light, or it's not received in the same quantity there aren't, there aren't going to be multiple news outlets, in other words that come and knock on your door and tell tell us about your new laser. Tell us about your new comb beam. Right. But when when you when you can, when you treat a couple hundred kids and you know, and clear out a waiting list of a nonprofit. And you know, maybe you have one of those kids go on to, to do something really cool National Honors or through some charity that they that they go pay it forward, then you do get that and I think it's Richard Branson, or Warren Buffett or someone, you know, 1000 times smarter than me that said he'd rather have, you know, one good PR article than he would have 10 front page advertisements, you know, it's just, you know, it's a really powerful thing. And so yeah, Smiles has been an instrument. Now, not just instrumental. It's been like 99.99% of our positive PR has been through Smiles Change Lives.

Craig Weiss  16:02  

That's awesome. I, I'm curious, you've touched on a few different things. And I think one of the things that that is an interesting insight is this idea of you, you've kind of, you've kind of gone all in, right. And I think when most people think about charity, they think okay, well, you know, I'll give a little bit here. And I'll give a little bit there. And and I think, you know, I'm curious, you know, you know, there's sort of two schools of thought, right? Maybe I'll give a little to lots of charities, or maybe I'll give a lot to one or two. And and I'm curious to kind of get your view on why you think maybe the ladders is a better approach than the former.

Dr Dustin Burleson  16:42  

It is absolutely better. And in the reason is you can actually make a difference. And so I'll share a story we I used to sit on the, the dental schools committee for like, donations, and I found like in church, when you volunteer for something, or in synagogue, or like, Hey, I'll, I have a suggestion. They're like, congratulations, you're the new committee chair. I have I donated a bunch of money. And they're like, well, he must know something about, you know, philanthropy. So they put me on a committee, I was like, you know, no good deed goes unpunished. So sometimes, when you write a big check, you get asked to come help with that. And so what what happened in 2008 2009, you know, really impacted pretty much every investor in that they rapidly saw, even if you are well diversified, you rapidly saw a good chunk of your net worth vanish after the financial collapse. And so we totally retooled incorrectly, we found out and that's why I want to share the story, that the top giving level at that time was $100,000. And we got rid of it because we assumed and act, no one during this financial meltdown of his right at the time of this like this, this, you know, money raising drive was when all this was was hitting the fan. And one of our biggest donors didn't donate at all, which we thought confirmed this, you know, suspicion of ours that no one was going to be donating. And so we call them and we say, Hey, you know, we just want to reach out and just make sure that, you know, we were thinking of you and you've always been so generous in the past. I mean, this guy, literally, this was his foundation was donating $100,000 a year. He said, No, would you consider donating 10? And he said, No, when I saw I listened, I totally understand. He said, No, no, let me tell you why. He said, I don't think 10 will do any good. And there was just a pause. And I said, well, would you give 100? He said, Yes, I would give 100. He's like, you know, you didn't ask and so I'm glad you called to ask. And so we got 100 out of the donor, I think, you know, when we teach clients, it's better to give 25 grand to one charity than 2500 to 10. And, you know, if you've ever run a charity, like, like we do you understand that and that you're constantly in a mode, most charities outside of Smiles constantly in the fundraising mode. And when you can take your energy and put it towards the beneficiaries of your charity, that is a good use of your time. And so I think if they, if, if they were honest, and you ask the leaders of most organizations that really are about serving, the greater good, you know, some are about serving the board. And I would encourage you to stay away from those nonprofits. You know, all the board members make a really good salary and you know, like 2% of the donations actually find the way to the kids. That's not the case with Smiles, all of it, you know, goes to the kids and so what we found is if if Smiles can spend more time focused on those kids focus on the relationship with the orthodontist, then right the the mission is achieved. to a greater degree the vision is fulfilled quicker and that's that's really how we've lived our lives. So, you know, we've picked a handful of things through the Burleson community fund that we support, and we support them really, really well. Right. And, you know, from an egotistical standpoint, it's fun to see our logo next to billion dollar companies for like our local school district, like we're one of their biggest supporters. And we're a teeny tiny company. But this is because we, we set out the business to the earlier point from the very beginning, we said, we're going to serve others, we're going to support our community, we're going to advance our profession, that's what we do in this business. And so 10% of this thing, since its inception, almost 15 years ago, has gone back into the community. And you know, that's, we'll talk about it in a little bit, you know, it's really helped us attract good employees, it's really helped us with PR, it's really helped attract certain parents to the business who are influential. Right, if if you know, your kids are going to get braces, for example, wouldn't you rather spend it with the one place in town that, you know, was doing good in the community? Right, that's, that's been our that's kind of been our linchpin. And so yeah, I think you should give back.

Craig Weiss  21:05  

You know, it's, it's a great, it's a great answer, and you touched on a lot of things there. And a couple of them, you know, resonated with me personally, in a few different ways. You know, one is, I can say, you know, for retainer club, you know, a couple things. One is, you know, I definitely agree that, you know, like you referenced Simon Sinek can Start With Why this idea of having a purpose driven business is so important, because I do think that, at the end of the day, it's very hard to attract the best talent with, we just really want to make a lot of money. And it's hard to kind of stay motivated personally, if that's just the only thing that gets you going, but wanting to make a difference and making an impact in the community, it just makes everyone feel better. And I do think you attract the best talent. The other piece, too, that I think is really interesting, because you mentioned it in reference to charities. But I think it applies, you know, of course, to your own business, as well, like, I can tell you, you know, Blair, and I started, you know, retainer club, gosh, you know, three or four years ago now, and I felt for a long time that, you know, I was spending 90% of my time, you know, kind of on fundraising. And, you know, we were fortunate in the midst of this pandemic, to become venture backed. And, and, you know, they, they wrote us a big check, and, and I realized overnight, like, Oh my gosh, like, that 90% of my time that I was spending on fundraising is now unlocked. And I can use that to grow my business instead of, you know, dialing for dollars every day. And it's so true when you talk about writing the bigger check to that charity, because if they're just dialing for dollars every day, they're not doing the good work that they set out to do. And I think it's a really, it's a really valid point. And I, it raises this question, I've talked about scarcity before, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on, you know, sort of the concept that you discuss of scarcity in your book.

Dr Dustin Burleson  23:02  

And a lot of this comes from leaders that are a lot smarter than I am, you know, we go way back to like, Norman Vincent Peale, and Edward Kramer and Earl Nightingale, you know, and then my mentor, Dan Kennedy, you know, they've all echoed that the universe really doesn't care how much you ask of it. Excuse me. I mean, there's, there's a lot to think there's a finite amount of patients they can see. And there's a fallacy in our profession, that high volume equals poor quality, despite the fact that Disney, you know, pre COVID sees 50,000 guests a day, and I think does a pretty darn good level, you know, that's more patients and posts towards constancy in five lifetimes. And so we have this, you know, preset notion or kind of status quo bias of what other orthodontists do. And we start to think Well, okay, so that's what we do. So I open a practice of kinda looks like this. And I hire assistants that kind of act like this. And I do marketing that kind of looks like this. And I take one or two smile, change lives can you know, and that's, there's nothing wrong with that. But you know, the universe doesn't really care if you find a way to treat 10,000 of them before you die. The universe doesn't care at all. I mean, there's so much moving in this world that if you say I want to do it, and you attach the congruent behavior, with that state of objective, pretty much you can do it. I mean, look at Jeff Bezos. People thought he was crazy in 1997. When he said, we're going to reinvest every penny, into the experience. We're going to reinvest in providing something that's irresistible. We're going to sell everything to everyone. And he's pretty much there. Like I was looking at how many Amazon packages come to my house every day groceries. Right. Amazon helps me publish my books. we advertise them on Amazon. I mean, it's unbelievable.

Blair Feldman  24:54  

Yeah. That's awesome. I was just thinking, you know, you wrote this book. Miles change lives, you've written several other books, you know, that have been very helpful to organize. I'm curious if you could talk a little bit about about why you wrote the book. And there was something in the book, you just mentioned scarcity. There's also the topic of capacity, that sort of this, and a lot of a lot of the points you make that that really resonate with me on beliefs, you know, beliefs that I had, as North as capacity was one of them to that, you know, that I don't have any room to fit, you know, any more Smiles Change Lives faces, but you made some really compelling points, if you could talk about why you wrote the book and capacity. I think that would that would be really interesting.

Dr Dustin Burleson  25:32  

Yeah. So I mean, the book I wrote, because sleep is overrated, and I love staying up till two in the morning. Tom, Tom can agree, Tom Brown is our co author. And you know, probably six months after we thought it was done, we were still working on it. And so it was, you know, a good year and a half in the making. And the reason we wrote is we feel like there was still a lot to be told to orthodontist, and particularly their employees about why this organization exists. And, you know, you can go to their website, and you can talk to your friends about it. But we really wanted to capture what we're trying to do with Smiles Change Lives and how it can benefit the reader. And, you know, so I think we achieve that. And we mentioned, capacity is one of the chapters because it's the number one objection we get from orthodontist is that well, I'm just too busy. And I don't have enough time, right? Well, you know, again, you find time for the things that matter to you. And so we make the argument that once you understand how it can help you. And once you understand how it can grow your business through positive PR, through referrals, through attracting great employees, I want to touch on that because it'll help you with the capacity topics, I'll come back. But that the capacity myth in orthodontics is largely mental capacity. Right. And so by talking to a member of ours, he runs a $12 million business, very successful part of the country. He loves it. There's also a very competitive part of the country on how he does this. And he said, You know, when I was in the military, we saw 12 patients a day. And we thought we were busy. Like then I met Ron, Rob, and Ron was seeing 100 patients a day. And then you know, we built three locations, and that we see, you know, he's 3500 new patients a year, the guy is a monster practice. And that conversation we had about capacity is really about what not only you're trying to achieve in a market, but the people you've brought on board to help you achieve it. And if everyone in your business thinks we work eight to five, then yeah, I mean, there's a finite number of people you're going to put through that business. But you know, smiledirectclub, which is a dirty word, most orthodontists I happen to love, don't think they're the perfect solution for every patient, by the way, but I do think they're bringing awareness about orthotics. Now you can argue that the treatment isn't to a certain level, but that's orthodontist being orthodontist, what I'm trying to prove is, they've created a million patients about 10 times faster than Invisalign did it. So we should all be paying attention. And so if your capacity is something in your head, that's fine. And it's okay to say I want to see eight new patients a day. But we for the last two years have been seeing new patients anywhere in the schedule, because we don't think a mom needs to sit in a room for an hour with a treatment coordinator and have a dog and pony show even though I teach that whole process. And I've been teaching it for years. We're putting them anywhere. And we think dental assistants can talk to moms about what's next, if the process is simple. So we've changed the capacity myth, we used to think we would see 16 new patients a day. And currently our record is 38. In the office, we've shrunk the amount of time we've simplified the process, we've digitized all the paperwork. And now so we've changed the capacity. So if you mentally say, okay, maybe it is possible to see more than one or two smiles, kids per year, then everything seems to fall into alignment. The solution seemed to present themselves. And what's amazing in the chapter Tom, when I go through is we look at the average amount of time that your dental assistants are being underutilized. And in a restorative practice a average amount of time your dental hygienists are being underutilized. There's clearly capacity that we haven't quite figured out in dentistry. Most dentists work four days a week, right? There's nothing wrong with working four days a week dentistry is hard. But Friday is 20% of the week. Last time I check working Monday through Friday, you know, so there's an opportunity and ours there's opportunity locations, there's an opportunity in clinical efficiency, and we help clients with all those things, but it starts with what's going on in between your ears, right? It's a mental capacity.

Craig Weiss  29:47  

And when you say would you say Dr. Burleson that that the Smiles Change Lives partnership, like how is that impacted, for example, your staff, your team's, their motivation, their capacity as it were?

Dr Dustin Burleson  29:59  

Yeah. So, you know, if you ask your employees a fun little exercise, you know, you kind of have a team, by the way that that has a little enthusiasm. So you take some of my stuff and you're like, you pour it on a staff that like has a bad attitude or has an entitlement issue or doesn't show up to work on time. Like, don't take this idea. And sprinkle it on like bad soil, or it's not going to grow anything. If you I'm assuming you've got people you like to be around. And if you ask them this question, say, Hey, you know, I'm just curious level with me, what's the most expensive gift you bought in the last year? birthday? Christmas, holidays, Hanukkah, anything? Would you buy? Like I got my husband a new set of golf clubs? How much was that? Oh, shit. It's like 1500 bucks, right? So if you do this little exercise, what you're going to remind them is it every day in our business, because we see so many smiles, kids, every day, you get the chance to give someone a $7,000 or a $6,000 gift, depending on what your treatment fee is. When's the last time an employee you got to give anyone? A five or $6,000 gift? Well, not that often. And so when you give employees the opportunity to come to work, and be generous, and to see abundance, and to not cling to every dollar, you'll start to see employees who don't nickel and dime parents who are late on a bill, they try to help them out, right? They do like it was their brother or their sister. Well, your accounts overdue, we're gonna have to get that caught up before we can see your kid again, like, no, that's not how you would treat your brother. Right? Why don't you let them pay 20 bucks a week until they get to pay like when you do those things, and you see abundance and generosity in the world. And you find a way to help people say yes to you what you see in conjunction with that as a growing and thriving business. And those employees love when they see smiles, kids, because it reminds them. They did that like they're part of this. It's not just Dr. burlison, who's giving this treatment to kids. It's all of us. And particularly Craig with millennials. It's like the number one thing on their list. millennial employees, like really want to feel good about the business they work with. And I used to poopoo on millennials, and I used to give them a hard time and I'm as guilty as anyone. I'm making fun of millennials. Well, guess what? Right? The trains here, Millennials aren't going anywhere. And they're our employees. And they're the parents of our patients. And they see the world different. But man, they they're pretty cool. And I can tell you, they really have a different mindset, when it comes to how they go to work. And it's not about money. It's not about status. It's about respecting the company they're with and whether it aligns with their worldview. And so we've really attracted better employees because of Smiles. There's, there's no doubt.

Blair Feldman  32:54  

That's awesome. I feel like we've talked about a lot we talked about a lot of aspects of smile change lives. For some for an orthodontist who's thinking about this are interested. I mean, what do you recommend in terms of preparing your office getting started the process? I mean, what, how do they get going?

Dr Dustin Burleson  33:11  

Yeah, so I used to think years ago, you know, because I grew up in a small town. My grandfather owned an autoparts station, and my dad was a general dentist, and I watched small business owners, you know, relate with their employees and talk about, you know, I mean, listen, if you own a business, you've got employee problems, everyone's that. There's always one trying to quit, right? There's always one. You know, like, when we had one for years, like every time, a special needs patient would show up with a lot of special needs. I used to treat a lot of TMD a ton of kids, every time one of these kids would show up. She'd go missing, right? She's like watering the plants. She's checking on the copier to make sure there's enough paper in there. And we're like, hey, there's a bonding and tier seven, like what the hell like, you know, so we have these employees that are, you know, frustrating sometimes. And, like, I used to think, and I'm wrong, by the way, and, you know, most of you will be like, gosh, well, I would never think that way. But a lot of small business owners do they think, listen, I signed your paycheck. So you know, I'm never going to ask you to do something that's immoral, or unethical or illegal. So just do what I say and you know, get with the program. And that's just leading by authority, and it does not work. Ask me how I know. Right? Blair knows this. And it's and everyone asked me and they're like, is that a true story? It's true. The one cold day in 2009 nightmare scenario that the entire staff walked out, and I deserved it. Right? Because I was leading with this authoritative, you know, just do what I say. And we're all going to get through this. And the reality is, you know, people don't quit their jobs, people quit their bosses, and they quit me that day, and I deserved it. And what I found is if you instead of leading with this authoritative, like, do I say, if you'll just ask good questions, right, and you'll just lead by inspiration. Just by stimulating their curiosity, like let them come up with the idea, it'll take a little longer. It's going to take a lot as you say, Hey, guys. So I listened to this podcast with these two really smart guys Blair and Craig and they had this nut job Burleson on but he kind of know that conversation like that should just be issued in a memo. Hey, you got five more kids, we're gonna tree. So if you lead through inspiration, and let them come up with the idea on their own, then suddenly everything clicks. And so suddenly, it's the owner, leading from on top of the hill, but the owners down in the trenches with the front line, and they've decided together what they're going to do, and now there's buy in. So the first step is to get buy in. So you've got to go talk to the team and ask good questions. Don't say, hey, I want to do the smile thing. Here's what I'm doing. And does anyone have any questions? Instead, you say, Hey, I'm curious. Can anyone tell me what they think? our purposes here? I know we straighten teeth. But why do we exist as a business? And if there isn't a good answer, like the next question is like, how can we make it stronger? How can we inspire everyone who comes into this place? What could we do it? Maybe it's not smile? Doesn't I love smiles? Maybe it's March of Dimes. Maybe it's your Food Network. Maybe it's something to your church or synagogue. I don't know what it is. But something is going to inspire the people in your business. To see a bigger runway to see a vision and you got to ask them So start with getting buy in from your team ask me how I know man, I've done it the wrong way. And it's

Craig Weiss  36:34  

it's Yeah, it's a great advice. I love the answer. So so you know, being sensitive to your time we, we like to kind of close out these interviews with what we call the lightning round questions. So they're short form quick, you know, short questions, short answers, but we'd like to ask the same ones that all of our guests, because it's fun to get the answers to compare them. So I'll start off, I'll kick us off, which is what you know, what would you consider to be your business superpower? What is the one thing that you feel that you know, you do better than most? I know you're you're you're good at calling out all the things that you do worse than most people but I'm going to flip the script on you and ask you to try to call out one thing that you think you're pretty darn good at

Dr Dustin Burleson  37:13  

taking action just making decisions.

Blair Feldman  37:16  

So we won't say like the TNA like taking action like your logo on your superhero two buttons make it an action

Dr Dustin Burleson  37:26  

I've done these lightning rounds before where I give like a three paragraph answer and they're like Dude, just one word.

Blair Feldman  37:34  

That's awesome. I believe it that's you so this we call this jokingly our political question. It's very get very rough on this one. If someone was to give you a book to read Do you audible or do you like the paper version? Are you like a hybrid hybrid? We call it chopping wood by the book listen to it on audio at 1.5 x you'll read so fast

Dr Dustin Burleson  37:57  

chopping wood yeah cuz listen your your your brain to go so much faster. Right? Then your eyes can keep up so your eyes will wander so your you can listen to shit so fast. Sorry, I curse sometimes. You if you get an if you get a visual cue to make your brain keep up with how fast you can listen to it. You can you can just cut through books so fast. Yeah. dupo happen wood. Capital. Awesome.

Craig Weiss  38:21  

And is there any Is there anything that you're you know, listening to reading or watching on TV? anything right now that's kind of really, you know, floating your boat, something that you'd recommend that you feel passionate about?

Dr Dustin Burleson  38:33  

I read a lot but I mean, I love PBS. I mean, so I'm, there's always some sort of a die. There was a great Andrew Wyeth documentary in the painter that was fantastic on this kind of, he was always finding he was never done until he thought it couldn't be done better. I just love that concept of like, there's always a little bit more you can do. And so that like kind of pursuit of perfection or that relentlessness is I think very orthodontic and very dental. So if you have the PBS documentary on Andrew Wyatt, go look it up. I love that stuff. I'm not a big podcast guy except for In Your Face Podcast. People ask me why I don't do a podcast like me and podcasts are easy to start and they are hard to maintain. So I hope you guys maintain it. But listen, any anything coming out of the Harvard Business press we have a relationship with those guys. They've always got great new authors and their books are based on data. So it's not just feel good, like stories and anecdote, but there's actual science man, I love the book called What's Your Problem by Thomas Waddell, Weddell sportmax, I got to interview him to do brilliant mind. And it's such a great problem solver, that if you get that book, it's actually like a workbook. You can actually put it to use and scribble in it. 

Blair Feldman  39:51  

It's called What's Your Problem? Oh, that's awesome. Well, I want to thank you Dustin for first of all being on the podcast and I want to thank you for introducing me way back when this milestone change lives. It's been such a positive part of our practice. And my hope is that whether you read Dustin's book, or you listen to this podcast, or you go call Melanie, over at Smiles Change Lives and ask, how can you get started? My hope is that some of you out there, you know, get your staff in line and get your staff to come up with this, like, it's their idea. And bring this into your practice, because I know, it'll, it'll bring you so much joy and pleasure, and it'll bring so much so many smiles to so many people in your community. So thanks so much for, for bringing this information to us on the podcast. I really, really, really appreciate it.

Dr Dustin Burleson  40:37  

Thank you guys. I have a lot of fun. Yeah.

Blair Feldman  40:40  

Looking to get a hold of you. We'll put links to burlison seminars, any other good links to get a hold of you.

Dr Dustin Burleson  40:47  

That's good. That's it? Do you find me there? Pretty much you'll find all my books and things you can there's a lot of stuff for free. You can find through that through that site.

Craig Weiss  40:56  

Fantastic. So much for being for being on the show.

Dr Dustin Burleson  40:59 

Okay, guys, appreciate it. Have a good night.

Outro  41:10  

Thanks for listening to the In Your Face Podcast with your hosts Craig Weiss and Blair Feldman. Be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web, and we'll see you next time.