The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice Of The DSO Industry – Episode 61

John Sheldon, Chief Marketing Officer and Andrew Floyd, Vice President of Customer Acquisition & Growth from Smile Direct Club Talk Consumerization in Healthcare & Marketing Hacks. They both join Bill Neumann of Group Dentistry and provide a sneak peek of what they will both be discussing at the Dykema DSO Conference.

In this podcast John and Andrews discuss consumerization in healthcare, digital marketing hacks, Smile Direct Club myth busting, direct to consumer customer insights, patient loyalty and SDC’s new Partner Network.

If you are going to be at the Dykema event make sure you attend Consumerization of Healthcare – A Panel Discussion featuring John Sheldon, Steve Bilt and Zachary Hoard.

Andrew Floyd will present in a breakout session entitled Digital Marketing Hacks To Drive Patient Acquisition.

If you can not attend the Dykema conference please reach out to Chris Thompson – [email protected]

If you like our podcast, please give us a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review on iTunes http://apple.co/2Nejsfa

Our podcast series brings you dental support and emerging dental group practice analysis, conversation, trends, news and events. Listen to leaders in the DSO and emerging dental group space talk about their challenges, successes, and the future of group dentistry. The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice of the DSO Industry has listeners across North & South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. If you like our show, tell a friend or a colleague.

Choose your favorite listening app below and subscribe today so you don’t miss an episode! Full transcript is also provided below. 

Full Transcript:

Bill Neumann:

I would like welcome everyone To the Group Dentistry. Now show, I’m Bill Neumann and as always, we have great guests on the show. First off, thanks everybody for listening in today, without an audience we couldn’t do this. And of course, without great guests, there wouldn’t be any audience. So we have two wonderful guests here today, and actually some of you are going to get a chance to hear them speak in person. If you’re getting this audio podcast before the Dykema DSO event, which is the end of July, then you’ll actually, hopefully if you’re going to be there, get the chance to hear these two gentlemen speak. We have Andrew Floyd who is the VP of customer acquisition and growth at Smile Direct Club with us today. And we also have John Sheldon, who is the chief marketing officer also at Smile Direct Club today. So first off, both of you, thanks for being here.

Andrew Floyd:

Thank you.

John Sheldon:

Thank you.

Bill Neumann:

Great and interestingly enough, both of you have different roles that you’re going to be playing at the Dykema DSO Conference. You’re going to be speaking at different panel discussions. One of them is actually called the consumerization of healthcare and that’s where John is going to be speaking on a panel discussion. And then we also have Andrew who looks like Andrew’s going to be doing a breakout session. And that looks like that is going to be marketing hacks to grow patient acquisition. Well before we get into that and some of the details of that, both those discussions. Andrew, could you give us a little bit of your background? You’re the VP of customer acquisition and growth at Smile Direct Club. Can you give us a brief bio?

Andrew Floyd:

Sure. Thank you first and foremost. I’ve been with Smile Direct Club for roughly 10 months now. I’m relatively new, but I joined by way of Walmart where I spent the last 10 years of my career. Prior to that, I was with agencies leading anything from CPG to financial services marketing, but really cut my teeth in terms of performance and digital and so excited to be a part of the team and excited to contribute to the Dykema conference.

Bill Neumann:

Thanks Andrew. And John Sheldon is the chief marketing officer at Smile Direct Club. John, can you give us a brief bio on yourself?

John Sheldon:

Yeah. I’ve been with the company for three years. Before that, I have had pretty expensive experience in working with companies doing digital transformation or being and around kind of the e-commerce space for over 25 years. And so whether that’s been on the agency side or the client side, I’ve worked for MasterCard. I’ve worked for eBay, really helping both big companies and a bunch of startup companies to get off the ground as well as big companies that needed to launch their digital businesses. The thing I love most about Smile Direct Club has been just how quickly the company has grown and been able to help them as we’ve continue to grow this, not only in the US but in 13 other countries.

Bill Neumann:

And maybe what we should do, I think and probably most of the audience knows who Smile Direct Club is, but I do think it would be worthwhile. John, if you don’t mind to maybe just touch on the business a little bit of background and then we’ll get into what you both will be doing, both you and Andrew will be doing at the Dykema meeting from the standpoint of providing important content there, but just a little background on Smile Direct Club, if you don’t mind.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. Great. Smile direct club is a relatively young company, seven years old from the time that the first email was sent, it was like, “Hey, do you think anybody would do this?” And the company is really created to help people understand the life-changing potential of having a smile that they love. And so what we’ve done, we launched originally in the direct to consumer teeth straightening business, always doctor directed of course, and work to grow that piece of the business. And now we’ve grown that up and are working in multiple ways for people to get started in the business, whether that’s an impression kit to get the initial impressions visiting one of our smile shops or starting at one of our partner network locations, which we started building that partner network last year. You have a 1500 locations up.

John Sheldon:

And actually our company has grown to the point now where we have well over a million folks, who’ve kind of completed treatment with us. And so have been a really big part of a lot of those folks lives and beginnings of their transformations. And last year, additionally, as part of our focus on helping little smiles, we actually launched a products’ business started in Walmart, where we have whitening toothbrush, water flosser, other oral care products as well. And those have grown very significantly over the last year and are challenging some of the industry leaders.

Bill Neumann:

Really, cool. And so only seven years old and already a million cases completed.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. It’s been great. And then the business model is one that frankly has benefited somewhat with people’s comfort now with Telehealth. And we’ve always had a virtual model as part of the treatment and in a world where people couldn’t or didn’t want to go to a place and open their mouth, having a virtual treatment option. And when we’re 24/7 support is… Was a really good one for people and so the businesses continued to stay robust.

Bill Neumann:

Excellent. So let’s talk a little bit about the conference coming up next week. And again depending on when you’re listening to this podcast that may have already passed, you may grab this podcast right before it starts. You may not be attending the conference, but regardless, we’re going to give you a little bit of flavor for what both John and Andrew are speaking about at the conference. And if you are going to be there and you do listen to this before you get there, stop by and make sure that you listen in. First one is going to be John Sheldon, and he’s going to be on the panel discussion. It’s consumerization of healthcare. And that’s actually going… You’re going to be there with Steve Bill as well who’s the CEO of Smile Brands. So let’s talk a little bit about what that’s going to… What you’re going to discuss there? And give us as much as you’re willing to share right now. I know you want to hold some back for the meeting

John Sheldon:

I’ll hold a little back for the conference, but I’m super excited to share the stage with Steve Bill. He’s a spectacular leader for Smile Brands and really what he and I are both going to be talking about is how, Smile Direct Club and Smile Brands are really focused on how we put the customer first in the process. The different techniques that we utilize to listen to what the consumer is looking for in their inner dental care and how we have shifted what that customer experience looks like to kind of meet those needs versus just simply catering to what the doctor wants. [inaudible 00:07:47] also very important.

John Sheldon:

Again, both of us believe strongly in having the medical professionals as part of the process, but we’ve added a lot more to the customer experience side of the equation. And we’re going to talk somewhat about that. And it’s in line frankly, with the kinds of shifts that we’re seeing in a number of different industries, right? Whether it’s in IT with people bringing, BYOD products into the corporate networks or our food where consumers are really demanding much greater transparency on ingredients and knowing where their food comes from. So It’s taking what’s happening in other industries and bringing it straight into the world of dentistry and teeth straightening.

Bill Neumann:

Excellent, good stuff. So that’ll actually be the first panel discussion. It looks like that starts on Thursday, so that’ll be one in the afternoon. And then actually right after that, it looks like we have Andrew Floyd and he actually is going to have a breakout session pretty much right after lunch it looks like and that’s going to be digital marketing hacks to drive patient acquisition. So Andrew, you might touch on a couple of things you’re going to discuss in that breakout session.

Andrew Floyd:

Yeah. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun Bill. We’re going to… I’m hosting an interactive breakout session. The focus is tips or hacks for incremental patient acquisition and the background here is that I have two little seven year old boys. And to be honest with you, they’re teeth are like chocolate chips, and they’re on a steady regimen of PreviDent 5,000. And we just recently moved from Bentonville, Arkansas to St. Louis, Missouri. And so in my quest to find a new dentist, I’ve noticed a lot of opportunities. And so I sat down and said, I want to document all of these different digital opportunities, but I want to put some rules around it. I want to give nuggets for the attendees.

Andrew Floyd:

And the rules are really basic. One is I want to make sure that everybody gets something of value. Whether you have a marketing team or you don’t have a marketing team, I’m going to give you a tip or a nugget you can take home. They have to be simple to implement. You have a day job. You don’t need to be a tech expert. They can’t cost a ton of money. I’ve been joking that these are incremental patient acquisition on a floss string budget. They can’t be time-consuming. And we’re going to leave you with something you can take back by way of either article links, videos, the tutorials, so that you can put some of these nuggets into practice right away. Should be a really good breakout event.

Bill Neumann:

Yeah. It sounds great. I mean, I can kind of look back at what with some of the pin points are of DSOs and solo practitioners as well, right? It doesn’t matter if you have one location or you have a thousand, patient acquisition and then retention is probably right up there as well. What can you do to keep the patients happy? Right. Keep them coming back. And how do you find more patients? And then I think it really ties in Andrew what you’re going to be speaking about with the consumerization of healthcare and really what John’s going to be talking about with Steve bell. I mean, John do you see kind of, based on your experience, I mean, is where is dentistry compared to maybe some other healthcare verticals when it comes to consumerization? Where does the industry stand?

John Sheldon:

Yeah. I think on the whole, there’s a lot of opportunity, Bill. I think you take a look at some of the different parts of the business in the places that have done the best are the ones that are really the more elective in nature, where they’ve really had to pull in better consumer experiences, and better ways of marketing and took them to their customers to enable themselves to drive the demand that’s necessary and the places where there are a little bit more kind of mandatory come in every six months salon have lagged a little bit.

John Sheldon:

And by the way, the most successful doctors with the most full practices often think to themselves, I don’t have to do this. I’ve got a full schedule. I don’t have to worry about it. And then it’s really the young and hungry dentists growing in the industry who are saying, “I got to figure out how to grow my practice.” And so those are the folks that are really kind of pioneering the consumerization within dentistry and also obviously great DSOs like Smile Brands, that are really helping bring that to dozens, hundreds of offices sometimes at the same time.

Bill Neumann:

Excellent. And Andrew, I know you kind of in your breakout session, you’re going to be talking about your journey, trying to find a new dentist. What are your thoughts on… Do you see consumerization with some of the dentists that you were vetting out as you started to try and find somebody to work with?

Andrew Floyd:

I think there are a litany of different opportunities in this space, whether that be through just leaning into local community opportunities or there’s paid opportunities to drive incremental net patient acquisition. I think that there’s something for everybody, regardless of where you are in terms of maturity with marketing or where you are in your maturity with your business.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. And Bill, if I could just jump in, add to Andrew’s. As we’ve been growing out our partner network, and we’ve got over 1500 locations now in that partner network, I mean, it’s the thing we hear most from the partners is, how can we market Smile, Direct Club? How can we create an end-to-end experience as cohesively as you guys have done. And so really I’m super excited that Andrew was going to be able to kind of take a lot of the tips and tricks from our own business and share that with the audience.

Bill Neumann:

That’s a great point and actually kind of leads into this next topic, which is really Smile Direct Club and maybe some of the myths surrounding the organization, you have this partner network now and there is probably a little bit of hesitation from some of the practices or DSO initially. So let’s, let’s get that all out there and talk a little bit about some of the myths that clinicians have and even DSO still have.

John Sheldon:

Sure. Let’s do it.

Bill Neumann:

All right. Well, you want to start off John, let’s just… Talk to me a little bit about what you’ve heard in the past and maybe what’s true and what’s not true.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. Let’s dispel a myth right out of the gate. I mentioned it right up front, but it comes back over and over again sometimes from some of the industry associations often from dentists who have a mistaken impression about the business they say there are no doctors involved and this is DIY orthodontics. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have hundreds of state licensed dentist and orthodontist. Every customer is given a person licensed in their state. Who’s responsible for their treatment on an end-to-end basis. Every Smile Direct Club doctor has five plus years of clear liner experience. We may have some of the most experienced doctors in the industry. And so that teledentistry platform that we utilize allows for that bi-directional communication from the customer to the dental team, including to their doctor.

Bill Neumann:

Andrew, I don’t Know if you want to chime in a little bit there with anything that you would like to dispel, or maybe just any misinformation or misunderstandings that the industry might have.

Andrew Floyd:

Yeah. I think an interesting one is that we’re less expensive. As a less expensive aligner, we must be lower quality, which is, that simply isn’t true. There are a few ways that we save money and we sell you these affordable lighters simply by cutting out the middlemen. We handle everything in house. It reduces our overall cost, the cost of that we can sell to you. And because there’s no dentist or orthodontist who marks them up to make a profit, we can send them directly to you cut out shipping costs and those savings are spread across our members.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. The dentists are part of our network and we obviously pay them for the work that they’re doing, but they’re not reselling them, what is often a three times markup in the industry.

Bill Neumann:

Yeah. Great points. I mean, you’ve got some… Smile, Direct Club has some great brand equity with the consumers, right? Lets talk a little bit about that. I mean, you started off direct to consumer, so tell me a little bit about that brand equity. What was it like in a building the brand? And then I’m kind of curious is there any significant data that you can share from the customer perspective that might be able to help out these DSOs and emerging groups that maybe aren’t quite as tied to that direct to consumer right? There’s… I always kind of look at it, you’ve got old-school dental practices look at the patient right? But they don’t treat them like a consumer. It’s almost like a different thing if we deliver. Great quality dental care and we’re taking care of the patient, but the patient now wants everything, right? They want that consumer like experience, which means GI, we expect great patient care and we also want it conveniently. And we want to be in a great space and we want to have tele dentistry and have solutions that make things easier.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. I mean, building… The first part starts right at the beginning of how people come to know our brand, where obviously we’ve done a really nice job with our branding and creating that consistently and being really all about helping people understand the intrinsic value that a smile brings to them so that they can go impact the parts of the world that they want to impact. And we message that pretty broadly, but we do that in a way that’s convenient, obviously costs 60% less and frankly make it accessible in a way that’s never been done before. There are 60% of the counties in the United States do not have an orthodontist in the county. We service all those people, so by providing that access to care at an affordable price, in a way that’s really convenient, that really meeting of your three really big consumer needs right out of the gate there.

John Sheldon:

And then the second piece becomes with the way that we now let consumers start any way they want right? We started the business with the impression kit that we would mail to them for people who wanted to do that at home, then we introduced the shops and have hundred plus shops in the market where people can come in and get an apple store, like experience with a smile guy who can kind of help them understand what the journey is going to be like. Good news is in the pandemic when those shops that have closed down, we had the kits, right? And so people switched back to those kits and did that. And then huge agility in our business to be able to swap back and forth between those two.

John Sheldon:

And now third, what we’ve opened up is the ability to go to your own dentist, right? At Smile Brands when you don’t want to any one of the DSOs or the individual doctor’s offices that we’ve now turned on with the partner network. So just meeting them where they are, helping them get connected to the journey of teeth straightening in a way that they want. And then the good news on the backend, the consumers respond and [inaudible 00:19:27] once you hit some of the statistics on all the different ways that consumers after they get through treatment, how beneficial it is on a broad basis.

Andrew Floyd:

Yeah. What I know is it’s so rewarding to be a part of Smile Direct Club, because we know that we’re having a life-changing impact on our members. The truth is that seven in 10 members once hid their smile before Smile Direct Club. Now after Smile, Direct Club, only one in 10 do so. The majority of people said that they smile a lot more after their treatments. And one third of respondents believe that their smile is actually worth a week of vacation or a weekend getaway. What I think is really interesting is that one in eight of our members said that they’ve lost weight as a result of our treatment and one in seven, said that they go to the dentist more regularly. We’re not just having a benefit on oral healthcare, we’re having a benefit on overall wellbeing.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. Just to piggyback on those points from Andrew. This is where I think we feel really aligned with dentists, right? We both have the oral health of our patients in mind. And so the fact that, they’re more likely to floss, they’re more likely to go to the dentist. They’re more likely to take care of their smiles in general is right in line with some of the key things that we know are important to the dentists in our partner network or beyond.

Bill Neumann:

John, you mentioned earlier in the podcast that the partner network is relatively new for Smile Direct Club. What consumer insight really drove Smile Direct Club to say, “Hey, we need to create this partner network.” And then let’s talk a little bit about what does it look like from the DSO, the emerging group, the partners perspective.

John Sheldon:

Yeah. Great question. The key insight is one that’s not that surprising, which is some people will really want to talk to their own dentist about [inaudible 00:21:21] how to treat and get to the smile they love before they begin a treatment or somebody that they’re already working with, someone they know and that they trust. And so by turning on, all these locations that enables them to be able to go do that. And there’s some people by the way, who don’t have a dental home today, but we want to talk face-to-face with a dentist in their neighborhood as opposed to, our shops are often in center cities, that kind of thing, but we want to talk to a dentist in their neighborhood about it before they begin the treatment plans. And so that’s really what we’ve done by flipping on these locations has made that really easy for them, but we’ve also made it really easy for those dentists because they’re likely not experts in clear aligner therapy, per se.

John Sheldon:

Although we educate them a lot on it as we turn their offices on. And really what we work with them on is how to have either themselves or their hygienists do the scans for the customer, which is kind of really after their checkup is really the key before they get started in looking at a treatment plan. And so all the dentist really needs to do is do a little bit of education, answer the questions of the consumer, make sure that their mouths are healthy, get the scan, and then it’s over to us. And we take it from there. And obviously as appropriate that relationship is one that helps grow their business in a number of ways. We can send them leads of people who are looking for dental homes as well. And so it’s a really great way for a dentist to grow their business. And it’s one that it can be economically beneficial for them as well.

Bill Neumann:

Excellent. [inaudible 00:23:05] a lead-generation would certainly be a plus for any group. That’s good, but lets kind of finish things up here and then I want to make sure that we kind of review again, when you’ll be speaking at the Dykema meeting, if people happen to miss that, of course we’ll drop your contact information in the podcast notes, so people can reach out and find out more about Smile Direct Club from a partner network perspective. Let’s talk a little bit about patient loyalty. Talk about building that. And again I know, I think Andrew’s going to talk a little bit about some of that. I’m sure you both talk about that at the Dykema meeting, but how does… How do you do that? And then what does Smile Direct Club from a referral standpoint kind of, how do you look at that?

John Sheldon:

Yeah. I mean, referrals are exceedingly important to our business, right? Oh, word of mouth is as important as ever and actually in today’s world, it actually has a disproportionate impact because the one that many of online reviews and so on. And so we’re super excited that our shops have a 4.9 average review on Google. And so it’s just… Getting that referral, getting that word of mouth is… Has helped build the trust in… We are a relatively new model. As I mentioned in the beginning, we’re a fairly young business, but the good news is the results that people get. And the fact that we guarantee those results with our lifetime smile guarantee allow customers to have confidence that we’re going to stay with them until they kind of get the results that they’re looking for.

John Sheldon:

And that’s what they go and tell their friends, their family, and others who probably have been thinking some of the same things quietly to themselves about that one tooth that won’t move or I don’t like my gap, or I’ve got a lot of crowding in my bottom where I really should have worn my retainer. Any of those kinds of elements and so that that word of mouth can often kicks off the conversation that helps us. But again the other part of it is that loyalty is staying in the… We want customers to stay in their retainer and stay and so on and so your clear liner retainers are replaced every six months. And so we want to make sure that they stay with that process for years and years so they don’t end up becoming customers again in five years because their teeth have slid forward or move back.

John Sheldon:

And so that retention component is really essential. And obviously we want that to be the doorway, to a relationship with us more broadly in the oral care space. People who straighten their teeth are much more likely to whiten, people who are looking to move up from standard brushes to electric toothbrushes tend to have significantly better oral health. And so trying to work with them kind of… I’m just thinking more expansively about their end-to-end oral care. You all part of that loyalty?

Bill Neumann:

Excellent, Andrew, anything you’d like to add?

Andrew Floyd:

I think referral is so unbelievably important and reviews are so unbelievably important. And so as a business, the easier we make it, the more seamless we make it, the more enjoyable we can make it. And that creates irrational brand love. And we believe that we’re changing people’s lives through the power of a smile. And we believe we have a transformative product and a transformative company.

Bill Neumann:

That’s great Andrew. I want to go back to one thing that John mentioned because he did another myth bust there when you talked about the ratings that [inaudible 00:26:37] what was it? 4.9, is that what you’d say?

Andrew Floyd:

4.9 average, Yeah.

Bill Neumann:

I mean that doesn’t say at all there, and that’s great. Listen, let’s just wrap things up here. What I want to do is first off, thank you, John and Andrew for taking some time out of your day, telling us all… Everything you’re going to give everybody a little bit of a sneak peek at what you’re going to talk about at the Dykema and DSO conference. It sounds like it’s going to be a huge event. I think the last I heard they’re going to be about 1100 attendees there. So no pressure guys, just throwing that out there, but that’s… It’s next Thursday.

Bill Neumann:

And again, it depends on when you’re listening to this, but they’re both going to be speaking. There is the consumerization of healthcare, that’s the panel discussion. That’d be John Sheldon and Steve Bill. And then we’ve got the breakout session right after that really and that is going to be digital marketing hacks to drive patient acquisition and Andrew, Floyd’s going to be solo on that one and then actually later on that night is I think you guys are sponsoring a reception and… Or co-sponsoring it.

Bill Neumann:

It looks like there’s going to be fireworks in some 80s band. Sounds like a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it. And if you can attend or you’re not able to attend, then certainly you got a sneak peek here. You can reach out, we’ll drop John’s contact information and Andrew’s contact information in the show notes. Chris Thompson handles the partner networks. You can reach out to Chris, we’ll have his contact info in the show notes as well. So with that, I’d just like to thank again Andrew Floyd who is the VP of customer acquisition and growth at Smile Direct Club and John Sheldon, who is the chief marketing officer at Smile Direct Club for being here today. Thanks guys.

John Sheldon:

Thanks so much Bill.

Bill Neumann:

Hope to see everybody at the Dykema meeting until next time, I’m Bill Neumann. And this is the Group Dentistry Now Show

 

 

Facebooktwitterlinkedin