The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice Of The DSO Industry – Episode 156

Nicolle Campion, President, and Tina Punton, Clinical Efficiency Consultant at Zirc Dental Products, join the Group Dentistry Now Show.

Nicolle and Tina discuss:

  • What Color Method is
  • Common issues DSOs have with clinical workflow
  • Organic growth solutions
  • ROI for Color Method
  • Onboarding & Recruiting
  • Hygiene revenue growth
  • Much more

To find out more about Color Method visit –

To discover other products and solutions from Zirc Dental Products visit –

To contact Tina Punton email her –
To contact Nicolle Campion email her –

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Full Transcript:

Bill Neumann: Welcome everyone to the Group Dentistry Now show. I’m Bill Neumann. And as always, we appreciate you listening in today, or you may be watching us on YouTube, but without a great audience like you, we wouldn’t have great guests like the next two that we have on today. And we’re going to talk about office efficiency, team productivity, clinical workflow. So really interesting conversation wrapped around this. We have a returning guest to the show and a new guest to the show. So we have Tina Punton She’s an RDH. She has 25 years of experience. She is a clinical efficiency consultant at Zirc Dental Products. So first off, Tina, thanks for coming back to the show. We appreciate it.

Tina Punton: My pleasure, Bill. Thank you so much for having us.

Bill Neumann: And we also have, for the first time, Nicolle Campion. She’s the president of Zirc Dental Products. So, Nicolle, thanks for joining us today. Yeah, excited. And Nicolle has eight years in as the president of the company and 23 years of experience at Zirc. So, Tina, why don’t we start with you, a little bit of your background, if you don’t mind, and what you do for Zirc.

Tina Punton: Sure. I’m happy to elaborate a little bit. Thank you again for having us, though. I practiced dental hygiene for over 20 years and so when that opportunity came and I needed to make a shift, I was very passionate about being able to find a company that was really looking to have solutions for team members that would help them not only elevate themselves personally and professionally, but also to reduce some of that, what I called when I practiced, silent stress. I think, you know, dentistry is an interesting industry, right? There’s so many different pieces to it. And ultimately, I think, You know, at the foundation and the core is really all about the team and the clinicians. So I just enjoy having that opportunity to provide solutions to them now because I’ve walked in their shoes and I know what it can be like.

Bill Neumann: Thanks, Tina. Nicolle, a little bit about your background. You’ve had several roles at Zirc. And then would you mind telling the audience that may not know much about Zirc a little bit about product line history of the company?

Nicolle Campion: Sure. Yeah, definitely. Zirc was established back in 1968 by my father, so we’ve been around for quite some time. When we started, we started with making a brace of strips that contained zirconium silicate. That’s where our name comes from, Zirc. We did that for a few years. That was eventually sold off to another business. And then we got into plastics, injection molding, and developing a color code system that was used to increase efficiencies in the dental practice, in particular when four-handed dentistry started. Since then, we have continued to build the line of our organizational items, and then we have added products that center around isolation. We have a fantastic mouth mirror line, among a lot of other items, such as denture retainer boxes. A few years ago, we launched a consulting side of our business. This has been extremely rewarding work. You’ll get to hear Tina talk a little bit about that, where we can really help dental teams excel through process. So we’re excited to share a little bit about that.

Bill Neumann: That’s great. Thanks, Nicolle. So Zirc’s doing a lot right now. The consulting side of the business is really interesting, and it’d be great to understand why, because when you think about a product company, you don’t necessarily think about consulting. So there is obviously a need that you both saw. Talk a little, if you want to talk a little bit about that throughout the podcast, that will be great. But let’s talk about Color Method and what what is Color Method and really how does that lend itself to clinical workflow?

Tina Punton: Sure, I’d be happy to kind of step in here, Bill. You know, so as Nicolle had talked about, you know, we had seen her father had seen this need so early on in dentistry, right? A solution for team members to be able to communicate better, to help minimize some of the frustrations that were happening between the doctor and team members. And so Color Method really is just a methodology. It’s kind of a set of principles really that help improve like clinical workflow in the dental practice. And we take a framework and we add color to it from products that we have in our line. And it’s really aimed at creating kind of that ultimate clinical efficiency by reducing waste, and also helping to improve staff training. But really, ultimately, it’s elevating that patient experience. We know how important that is, and that’s where the heart of the clinicians and the providers lie. So we’re just happy to be able to help them start to look at their different processes through a little bit of a different lens.

Bill Neumann: So as we take a look at, you know, maybe the reasons why Color Method exists, there are some stressors, some issues that you see DSOs struggling with, and really that it’s related to clinical workflow. And why don’t you talk a little bit about what those are, those stressors, those issues that you’ve run into as you’re working with these DSO clients?

Tina Punton: Yeah. I’ll step in here again, and Nicolle can certainly join us too, but I think it’s really important for organizations to understand that the way they’ve always done things, although they’re not wrong, it might not be in their best interest, right? And it’s probably impacting their profitability. And what I’m talking about really is kind of the core or the foundation of some of their processes and or systems. You know, we know that systems yield success. And oftentimes, you know, as DSOs are looking to grow, they’re looking to onboard different aspects within their operations that might help to elevate their team. And oftentimes they’re thinking about technology. But they don’t know what they don’t know. And oftentimes, because there are clinical inefficiencies that are happening in the practice, those team members are not allowed to feel and elevate themselves to a different level because they’re stressed about the simple processes that are happening still. We call some of these things legacy errors, right? No one is really stepping back to take a bigger picture or a view of what’s happening at ground level as far as, you know, how their instruments and materials are moving. Dentistry is tricky, right? Of all of the industries, we probably have one of the highest abundance of required instruments and materials that are needed. And then add on top of it, right, the diversity within that instrumentation and materials. And so when we have all of that instrumentation and materials, Oftentimes teams fall into those habits that I was referring to of legacy errors where, you know, they’re just storing things in certain places because that’s what they know has worked best for them. And although it’s not wrong, we certainly think that they can elevate that and we can help them to excel if we look at it a little bit differently and look to how we can optimize some of those things.

Bill Neumann: Cole, do you want to add anything to that?

Nicolle Campion: Yeah. Yeah. Actually, just adding on to talking about the silent stress that Tina talked about, dental teams, their day is run by the clock. That in itself is stressful. And serving patients, dealing with anxieties that patients have, the last thing that they need to be stressed out about is disorganization or not being able to locate an instrument or a material. or miscommunication amongst team members. So we really work, you know, with team members to have smooth operations so that they don’t need to be stressed about that day-to-day and they can focus more on patience.

Bill Neumann: Let’s talk a little bit about the impact that you’re seeing with this lean clinical workflow. Tina, you’re working with these DSOs every day, so you implement this workflow. What do the results look like?

Tina Punton: Yeah, good question. I think the biggest impact really, Bill, is what it’s doing for their team and for their culture. You know, dentistry is stressful, and we want to make sure that we are helping provide them with the tools and solutions so that at the end of the day, they can go home, be with their family and friends, and really relieve some of that stress that they’re experiencing. You know, we’re also helping them to figure out better efficiencies so that they can lower overhead. You know, to be a successful dental practice now, we have to start thinking outside the box, right? You know, we can’t always just continue on that same path. And really, we’re seeing that many times it’s that foundation, it’s those clinical processes that we might not have buttoned up yet. And so, if we want to improve their operational metrics and their KPIs, like give them tools and resources so that every single team member can then understand the function and the process that that patient is going through. For me, I mean, I can relate it back to in my career, right? I mean, I might not have been the best team member when I first started because as a hygienist, I didn’t always know the tools and the materials that were needed on the assistant and the doctor side. You know, so instead of me waiting for an exam and sitting there, you know, maybe I could have taken that opportunity to understand by using a system that’s color-coded. I could have identified that their next patient that’s here, waiting in the waiting room, is here to have a crown today. And within their clinical system, they’ve identified each process that they, or procedure, excuse me, that they offer in a color. So now I am empowered to go ahead and if they’ve identified that that crown is in the color of neon orange, I could have gone ahead, I could have gone into central sterilization, grabbed all the instrumentation that’s all ready to go and set. I could have grabbed materials that are in a procedure tub because these are all things that have been preselected by the team. So now I can grab and bring those in, and I can help. I can play a more important role to the success of that patient’s experience. And I am a better team member, right? I now can go ahead and help when there is stress going on. When there’s a problem within the day, any team member can gain the confidence and say, you know what, I don’t have to know the instruments that are in this tray setup, and I don’t have to know the materials that are in a procedure tub, but I can bring those in with confidence and know that that’s what they’re going to need. So, it’s really impacting for me. I think the biggest part is their inventory management system. Because when they’ve already selected the materials that they’re using for each procedure, we are able to significantly reduce that amount of inventory and waste. So I think that’s probably the biggest asset and things that I’m seeing for the team members. You know, they now can all understand whether they had clinical experience or not, they can elevate their culture because they’re all playing a role in that experience.

Bill Neumann: Nicolle, anything you’d like to add to that?

Nicolle Campion: Not on that note, but I look forward to talking about team members and onboarding, being that Tina was touching on that.

Bill Neumann: And we are going to touch on that in a second, because there are some interesting things going on, especially with the issues with recruitment still and retention. Let’s focus on probably what seems to be top of mind, though, for DSOs. It’s been one of those buzzwords, I think, that we continue to hear, this focus on same-store growth or organic growth. So, Hal, the lean side of things, culture is great. A lot of the DSOs are focused on organic growth right now. So how does Color Method help with organic growth?

Nicolle Campion: Sure. Yeah, I can take that one. So look, growth in general is difficult for any business owner, and I can speak for myself here at Zirc. We as a team have to be intentional. We have to plan. We have to set our KPIs. We have to look at where we’re going to get that growth, whether that be from a possible partnership, acquisition, new product launches, new service offerings. But none of that is easy without good foundation, right? Like we here at our company, if we did not have good processes in place, workflow in place, lean practices in place, it makes growing difficult. So it’s making sure that you’ve set that good foundation. For DSOs in particular, I know historically acquiring and opening new practices has been the trend and it’s a great way to grow within the industry. We are seeing a lot of practices take a pause, which we think is fantastic because it’s going to allow them some time to focus on each individual practice, the business overall, and really the health of the business, the health of the team. And so in terms of an ROI, bottom line, when you’re organized and you have the right processes in place, It’s going to allow you to save time. It’s going to reduce costs. The team is going to be happier. They’re going to work better together. And then even from a scalability factor, you know, when the DSO is ready to start looking at scaling it again and growing, having these processes in place will help for smoother transition as they’re onboarding new practices and new team members. And then just overall improved customer experience. We do not want patients walking into practices having uncertainty, right? There is already a level of uncertainty when they walk in. They’re going to be having a procedure done. And if they see a stress team, if they see disorganization at chair side, on the counters, or even walking by central sterilization, that is only going to heighten that anxiety.

Bill Neumann: So we mentioned team quite a bit here, talked a little bit about culture. Let’s talk about the impact that Color Method has on the team.

Tina Punton: Sure, I’d be happy to step in here a little bit too. So I think really, as a clinician, this system really helps to encompass everything that I’m so strong and passionate about. And I believe that with us stepping in to help really teach and guide them when we’re on site with some of the teams, we’re able to show that it is going to help to elevate them as a whole unit. You know, I look back to the days, you know, where it was, there was division within a lot of different practices, right? It was, you know, this team, the, you know, assistant team, they are responsible for all of these duties. And, you know, this team, they’re just going to focus on X, Y, and Z. And so, I think that we really, with having a system and really methodically thinking through your foundation of your clinical processes, we can eliminate that. Like I said, it is difficult right now, right? They’re struggling with onboarding new team members, keeping new team members. Team members don’t want to work in chaos. And so being able to give them an environment where they can work together towards their common goal of serving their patients, and if they can do that all while not being stressed, I think that’s really kind of the overall win for them. We’re just looking to continue to help teams and DSOs navigate through some of this. You know, I think about it in the aspect of a solo practitioner, right? If they just have inefficiencies in certain areas, especially if we’re going to talk inventory management, right? And their supply spend, when they’re evaluating those measurements and assessing where they can perhaps have some cost savings. That’s one thing. But with these organizations, if we take and multiply that loss or inefficiency times three practices or times five practices, how about 40 practices? It is a significant impact that we’re making when we really focus in on the processes of their operation and the foundation. I think that’s pretty much, you know, when I look at the team as a whole, it just brings a lot of joy when we can partner and kind of walk alongside these dental teams to, I call it winning the dental day, right? Like they just, they can go through these processes together. They can work together as one unit. Whether there’s clinical experience or not, if we’re training on site, it’s very empowering when you can bring a new team member into your clinic, show them that you’ve invested the time to create a system that’s going to be very easy for them to onboard. You know, when I tempt, it’s you feel oftentimes like you’re a cook in someone else’s kitchen. And that’s a lot of that silent stress that we talked about earlier. You know, if you don’t know the processes and the systems that they have, you are constantly, you know, opening up doors and drawers and cabinets and going to different places to look for things. And all of that is inefficiencies of time. So, when we get to share our whole methodology with teams, it’s really like I get to watch that stress literally fall off their shoulder. You know, they’re looking at us like, wow, you know, this is what is going to impact my day the most. This is what’s going to allow me as a team member to cross train and have a better understanding of all that’s happening within our clinic. And it’s a win for the business as well because now, you know, we’re investing or we’re protecting our investment and we’re methodically thinking through where our spend is. So I get pretty passionate and excited about that part with the team.

Bill Neumann: Yeah, that’s great. And you really touched on, I mean, something that’s really important and still continues to impact the dental industry today. which is the recruiting and retention challenges that the industry still seems to have. Started COVID, maybe even pre-COVID, has continued on. And you talked a little bit about it from the perspective of somebody that might be temping. That seems to be a trend where we see more assistance. dental hygienists doing temp work, not familiar with the practice, the way they do things. Just talk a little bit more, if you don’t mind, Nicolle, Tina, about how Color Method helps with onboarding and recruiting, because still a critical issue in the industry.

Nicolle Campion: Yeah, well, we know data has continually shown that practices, that’s their biggest hurdle is onboarding new or recruiting team members, getting, we have a shortage. And now more than ever, it’s really important for practices to take a look at really what they’re offering, what is going to attract somebody to come to your practice versus the 15 or 20 others that they may be interviewing with. One of the DSOs that we work with had some fantastic feedback and they had implemented Color Method and they told us that they have started using this during their interview process. So when they have the candidate in, they tour them around and they specifically show them and talk about the Color Method system so that the candidate understands that they’re not going to step into chaos. They are coming into a practice that is organized, that has a system in place. And so that, you know, from a recruitment standpoint is a huge benefit. Tina already did a great job talking about what onboarding looks like, right? It’s very intimidating anytime a new team member starts at any business. But in particular, with a dental practice, when there are so many instruments and materials in, each practice operates differently. So, having Color Method simplifies it. They know where to go. They understand the system. They don’t have to ask as many questions. And they really can feel like part of the team on day one.

Bill Neumann: I think that’s some great points. And maybe I’ll take it a step further. If you’re at a big DSO and you’re acquiring practices, even within the DSO, they may be using different instruments and operating differently. So having that centralization where you can bring an assistant or a hygienist or a clinician from another practice within the DSO, and they can move over seamlessly, I think would be very important to, back to what Tina mentioned earlier, the culture.

Nicolle Campion: Yeah.

Tina Punton: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, too, the beauty of this system is that it is customizable, right? And so not every DSO chooses to provide care in the same way. You know, certain organizations are more focused on the autonomy for the doctors. They’re not going to come in and say you have to use X, Y, and Z instrumentation or armentarium when you’re doing this procedure. You know, that allows us to kind of start at that core level and really look at it a little bit more holistically, right? Like, let’s talk about what your goals are as an organization, how you want to grow, and how can we really simplify this for your team? You are going to be able to accelerate your growth. if the foundation is set. And I’m a firm, firm believer of that. It’s no different than, you know, building a house. We have to build on some clinical principles or a foundation that is solid so that every team member can play a vital role in that. So I think that it definitely is something that teams and DSOs should really you know, maybe pause and just kind of think about. And my team hears me talk about this all the time that, you know, life is about timing. Right. And so, you know, right now there are a lot of issues that they’re dealing with and maybe they have different aspects within their business that they’re looking to streamline. But I challenge them really to think about clinical efficiencies and processes as one of those those foundations, because You know, as a team member, when we get, you know, new technology that’s added to our plate, as much as we love to work with that and want to use that as a resource to educate our patients, If I am so focused on the silent stress of what’s happening in the day and living my life by the minutes and the seconds of our watch, they can’t truly invest and utilize that equipment to its full potential either. So take all of that away, reduce that stress, have that solid foundation, and allow that team to perform at their best.

Bill Neumann: As we start to wrap up this podcast, I wanted to ask a couple of questions. Final thoughts around Color Method, clinical efficiencies, and then if I’m a DSO listening to this today or maybe an emerging dental group, how do we get involved? How do they find out more?

Tina Punton: That’s a great question. So I do think really like I think as we’re circling back, we really are just talking about make sure that you’re thinking about this step, this process, or this system that you have as one of the foundations. And make sure that it’s easy to replicate right across your whole organization. We often hear teams say to us, Well, we’re organized, you know, like you can come into our practice and you can see that things are, you know, put here in drawers and they’re neatly organized. But it’s really more about that methodology of how and where things are stored so that team members are working more efficiently. with less inventory spend and things like that. And so I think if we want to encourage teams to, you know, keep doing research about this critical piece of your business, right, the benefits on improving lean clinical workflow are something that we certainly need to look at as one of the solutions to help teams. Also, you know, there are obstacles, but that’s what we’re here for. You know, our clinical and efficiency team has walked in their shoes. And so we’re going to go ahead and have them reach out to us. We offer that coaching service on multiple levels. And so, you know, we can really help to understand and give them recommendations based on what their needs really are. I always encourage just get the information, just have a call. talk about where you’re at now, maybe some of the pain points that you’re experiencing, or your overall organizational goals, because we’ll help map that out for you along the way.

Bill Neumann: So who should really reach out to you at the DSO? Who are the stakeholders here that should be reaching out to you?

Nicolle Campion: I can do something too. Really, anyone. Yeah. We see a wide variety. Sometimes it’s the practice owner. Sometimes it’s the clinical director. But oftentimes, it could be an assistant or a hygienist that’s driving it. I think the point is just anybody can step up and take on this role or this initiative.

Bill Neumann: Yeah. Great. OK. So if they want to reach out, how do they do so?

Tina Punton: I would encourage them to go ahead and check out our website at backslash Color Method. And then they can just book a call from there with one of our clinical and efficiency consultants. We’re happy to engage in those conversations, like Nicolle mentioned. Maybe it’s their clinical director. Maybe it’s the leader of their procurement. whoever that might be, just to elevate them and help them understand a little bit more about that process and system. Ultimately, you can also just, you know, pick up the phone and call me personally or email me at tinap at because I really would love that opportunity to just help provide them some solutions in the chaos that they’re dealing with.

Bill Neumann: That’s great. Thanks, Tita. And we will make sure we drop that URL in the show notes. And also, we have a couple of great articles that Zirc has written that are on our website about the Color Method. So we’ll make sure we drop those URLs so you can read up on Color Method as well. Nicolle, if there are any emerging dental groups or DSO business owners that maybe want to talk to you about business, I mean, how do they contact you, Nicolle?

Nicolle Campion: Yeah, email is Nicolle, N-I-C-O-L-L-E at, and just calling as well. Yeah. That’s great. I do have one more thing if I can end with something, because it’s very important, and we did not touch on it today. But we get asked oftentimes, when is the right time to reach out to us? In particular, when a practice is going through a change, so we’re looking at a remodel, perhaps the practice is putting in some new cabinetry or chairs. or they’re doing a de novo. We cannot stress enough that please get in touch with us as early as possible. On a de novo, we want to have a conversation with you before your floor plans are even complete, before you’ve selected furniture. This is the time that we can really look at your space and we can make recommendations about your floor plans. on how much room you will need for materials, instrumentation, whether you’re using cassette systems, tray systems, tub systems. But we want that conversation to take place as early as possible. So I just wanted to get that in there. We oftentimes get a panicked call that a practice is opening or reopening in two weeks, and they need help organizing. And while we still thrive in that environment, and always love to help, we really want to help on the front end so that we can make sure that the cabinetry they are putting in, in particular in central sterilization, which we consider to be the heart or the hub of the practice, that area needs to work well. That needs to be a well-oiled machine. And it’s difficult to do that if we haven’t allocated enough space for storage and organization.

Bill Neumann: That’s a great point. And with this pause in acquisitions or the slowdown in acquisitions, and even a lot of DSOs that had been traditionally buying practices that now may be doing de novos, make sure you get in touch with Tina and Nicolle ahead of time, probably alleviate a lot of issues. So, yeah, great point. Thank you both for being on the Group Dentistry Now Show. Really great conversation. Conversation we don’t really have a lot about something like this, relatively simple, that I think can really change and impact your team’s productivity and their well-being. So, we’ll drop the link to the Color Method page on the website. You’ll have their email addresses so you can get in touch with Tina and Nicolle. So thanks again for you both, Tina, for the second time being on the show and Nicolle for the first time.

Nicolle Campion: Yes, thanks so much, Bill. We had a lot of fun. We appreciate it.

Bill Neumann: And thank you everybody for listening in or watching us today on YouTube. Until next time, this is the Group Dentistry Now Show.