• Warren Bobinski

Life is 10% what happens to you, 90% how you react.

“Positive thinking is powerful thinking. If you want happiness, fulfillment, success and inner peace, start thinking you have the power to achieve those things. Focus on the bright side of life and expect positive results. ”

– Germany Kent




The night before PDC, Karen and I were spending time with our daughter Sarah and our grandbabies.


Sarah, who is still involved in the dental industry (and recently met Brian Adams!) moved to Vancouver with the family almost two years ago. The PDC is a GREAT reason to take an extra few days to visit not only our daughter and grandbabies, but Karens family and about a dozen very close friends (the kind that you have cried with, celebrated with, and really love to be around).


The night before PDC, as COVID was taking it’s grip on the world, I remember saying….”maybe this isn’t the best time for a meeting of this magnitude….” “imagine if….”


At the actual conference, we practically bathed in hand sanitizer – and the odds were about 70/30 you might actually shake somebodies hands still and then judiciously lather on more Isagel. No masks…yet. All went well at the conference – until the Sunday. Some people were identified as having been in Germany, and may have been present on the show room floors and celebrations. Although there was no evidence of issues yet – by Wednesday of that following week we were asked by our company to stay at home for at least two weeks…..we got tested, and were cleared and looked forward to getting out again – but after that self isolation, EVERYONE was “locked down”.


Ugh.


10% is what happens to you….


During the lockdown – endless ZOOM meetings began. There was a lot of ground to cover to help out the many businesses that got locked down, including ours. Business reversed as orders were cancelled and returned. Businesses needed to conserve cash flow. Many reps had to rely on a base “draw” to pay bills. Other reps in our business were let go with the hopes to return down the line.


90% of life is about how you react. I am not always sunshine and roses. There were mornings that I woke up and cried. But it was cleansing. It wasn’t crying for myself – it was crying for the people I love that had to stop working and let people go for the first time ever in history, and not knowing where this would land. Crying for my family that got laid off, for family that got shut in and crying from missing the get togethers at our house. Hugging them. Trying to be an optimist and fixer in the toughest times is a grind. You put on your good face and try to shine a light – but your heart is breaking. I published several optimistic blogs. Started searching for ways for our business to not only survive – but thrive.


Most everyone has come out at least “ok”. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have a few battle scars, and the plastic jail walls are deteriorating….were they actually the right answer? Will they continue to hang and droop for the next year – or will we realize that it didn’t really change much except our own perception of trying to do something….anything….to get through another day. To get back to work and feel accomplished at the end of the day.


How do you feel about it today? What are you doing about it?


90% is how you react.


When times are good, we have a tendency to take it for granted. Things will always be good. We don’t always realize how good we have it until something dramatic happens to us! Then you look back nostalgically yearning for those good times. You see the Facebook timeline of your holiday, the family get together. The night out with friends. The concert. Heading to the gym, or to hockey – often more about the people in the classes or at the rink rather than the actual competitive sport. We NEED that.


It’s a blessing, and again. 90% of life is how you react. Not only in the good times – but in the challenging times. Every problem has a solution. Sometimes it’s complicated. It often begins with this….


Counting your blessings.


There is a recent article in Oral Health by Michael Carbash – “Are dentists getting the short end of the stick” and it starts

Of late, dentist owner/operators have been getting the short end of the stick. Poor public perception. Negative media attention. Threats of public health units shutting offices down and warning patients to get tested. Costly changes in tax and employment laws. Difficulty finding and keeping skilled labour. Increased scrutiny from insurance companies. Higher operating costs. More competition. And now, the COVID-19 pandemic.


I bet this article is getting a TON of traction! It’s so negative! The article points out this is all recent. This 37 year old dog (and many of you reading this) would not say you have lived through the “golden years” of dentistry. Many of us WERE around in the HIV days. Before gloves and masks and sterilizing handpieces was ever a thing. When needles really were huge and did hurt and techniques were quite different. When 40% of the population only saw a dentist “when it hurt” and didn’t come for regular care.


Maybe sensational headlines get more publicity because of social media. EVERY person and business faces this crap now a days. It’s not specific to dentistry. We just tend to notice it – and likely a lot more than the general public does! It’s our business after all – most of the people who come to see you still love you and trust you and will bring their babies to you for the rest of their lives.


Instead of recognizing this AMAZING business, and the opportunities – we can look at all the crap. It’s always existed! Do we consider all the small business owners right now that haven’t paid themselves for over a year and have decided to live off life savings, and take out another mortgage and sell assets just to keep the business open another month?


Many of these people aren’t complaining – they are too busy finding ways to survive. Thrive. It’s the percentage that actually take positive action and recognize that the world will forever be changing – you can’t stop that. You CAN be the change that you want to see in the world though. You CAN become a leader.


Grasping a little further into the article – and how we adapt, survive and thrive. You may look at the article as a specialist and be very upset that GP are now performing procedures that should be only performed by you, the specialist. Yet the leaders that adapt, survive and thrive recognized that times will continue to change. They find ways to TEACH and SHARE their knowledge so that we can drive down the costs of these procedures. Make them easier to afford, and more readily available. The more readily available they are – the more chances the costs associated will continue to drop and more people will benefit.


That’s a GOOD THING. It’s not the end of the business, it’s the beginning of something new. You are now offering implants, performing more complicated orthodontic work, helping with sleep and snoring issues, performing laser surgery without anesthetic on timid kids, and sending patients home the same day with a same day crown…and watch what is coming for dentures! How about Botox? What about Preventive care and lab testing? What is next in this exciting business - TONS of opportunities!


Competition….is this really a race to the bottom or is that just an excuse to give up?


The article cites the “economy of scale” that large corporations will enjoy compared to smaller practices. Perhaps. Yet these practices are NOT OWNED by an operator – these investors NEED to gain an economy of scale in order to have any type of profit. An owner operator of any business that is mostly about labour costs has a big advantage over “economy of scale” – most of these “input costs” are only relative to a few percentage points. LABOUR is the MAJOR cost – if you want to OWN a business where the principal star of the show, that makes or breaks the business and could walk away at any time is getting 30 – 50% of the revenue. The main focus of “corporate” type owners is PRODUCTION!


Yes, they can gain a few percentage points by reducing the cost of supplies in an office from 8% down to 5% (but it's not just a given, and it's not easy to start telling team members they may need to "watch what they are eating"). You can likely get pretty damn close to that if you want to start a bit of a diet and focus on your supply costs as well. The rent everyone is paying every month is still pretty significant. The “Deep Discounts” on equipment and supplies is not as significant as the other 80% of costs related SOLELY to labour and production.


You can blame the world for your out of control expenses and the declining margins on your business. The abundance of new competitors. Every time you turn around there is a new competitor fighting to gain that patient. Another clinic sells to the corp and now they get all these “benefits of scale”….is the grass really that much greener at any other business?


90% is how you react.


Death of a salesman

Every business has competition. We have 3 major suppliers in Canada and at least a dozen well established “direct” companies that sell quality competitive products. There are another 20+ “grey” companies and since the PPE crisis yet another 20 suppliers trying to hawk masks, gloves and disinfectants. It’s easy to pop online and pull up several “stores” to compare prices, and it will only get easier. There are buyers groups and even more important – there are large companies trying to change the entire distribution model of ALL retails (Amazon!).


The 3 major distributors don’t just worry about competing with each other, there is a chance that any major supplier might go to a company like Amazon for distribution. They could simply go direct to a buyers group or direct to large corporations (and they may need to in order to compete with smaller companies that sell similar products and sell direct).


No matter the business, the only guarantee we have in life is it will continue to change. As big as Amazon is – even Bezos says “One day Amazon will fail” – if you fear change and don’t invent the future…..that day just comes sooner.

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