20 min readThe Jameson Files 113: Growing a Multi-Disciplinary Dental Practice as a Husband and Wife Team

Carrie Webber, Owner, The Jameson Group

Carrie Webber (00:12): Welcome back to the Jameson files. I’m Carrie Webber. And I’m your host. I’m so glad that you’re joining us again, to learn more about the world of dentistry and how you can further improve your pursuit of your ideal practicing life. I am so honored to be joined in this session with Dr. George and Jennifer Meadows of Florida, and they have an incredible practice that is growing in many ways, not just in, in the growth of the practice in general, but in the ways that you focus and, and your areas of focus and of specialty, and, you’re a well-respected practice leaders in what you’re doing, and we are just overjoyed to be able to work with you.

And I think it’s a great opportunity for pediatric practices, general practices, ortho practices, all alike to hear what it is that you’re doing. That’s so special in your practice today. So thank you for joining me. Thank you for having us. Thank you. I want to start first though. I always love to hear the story of what led you to dentistry in general. And what’s your story? What’s the story about dentistry for you? how you got started and how you found yourself where you are today?

Dr. Meadows (01:24): Yeah, I, grew up in a small town in North Carolina. don’t have any family members that were in dentistry, or any medical profession for that matter. my mother runs a daycare for our local church there. so I always enjoyed working with kids and I had a good relationship with my local dentist growing up. So, I quite honestly always thought he had a nice car and had a nice house. So, I asked my mom, how do I get into that? And then, he let me come into his office a few times as a teenager, you know? And, I just kinda took off from there. I, you know, my parents kinda just set together a plan like, okay, if you want to do this, then you have to go to college, think about this type of major, you know, biology, whatnot, you know? And, and that’s where it went. I mean, like we talked about earlier today, setting goals. So I have been setting goals for a long time since I was a teenager. And, and, you know, obviously, several years later, I think at that point, you don’t realize how long it’s going to take to become a dentist, but, but you get there. And, and, and, and I enjoy kids. So that’s what kind of led me down the path after dental school to go into pediatric dentistry.

Carrie Webber (02:34): And from there, you you’re, you have a pretty amazing, a special practice in my opinion, where you started in pediatric, but now it’s expanded into some multi-specialty focus where you have other specialists that have joined with you general practitioner and so on, and, and really, broadening the service that your patients and your patient, can experience for a lifetime. So what led you to decide to diversify in that way in your practice?

Dr. Meadows (03:09): Well, I enjoy what I do as far as pediatric scope, but I’m not too big on adults. but I think what, what ha how it transpired over time, the office I bought into, was a pediatric dentistry. They dabbled a little bit in orthodontics, you know, at the time, this was back in 2007 when I finished my residency. I guess parents liked the way I interacted with their children and, you know, over the course of just, you know, some conversations like, Oh, I wish you could see me. Do you see adults? And, you know, I’m like politely, no, I don’t do adults. And I never will. That started to expand and I branched off on my own in 2011, and then we started to what made sense at first was orthodontics, you know, adding in a better component with orthodontics because we had such a built in base of pediatric patients.

Dr. Meadows (04:03): Right. So, basically we added orthodontics, more full time into our office, you know, or at least right now it’s about three days a week, in 2012. Okay. And the same kind of questions kept rising up over time. So we had the opportunity to expand our office in 2015 and during that expansion, we decided to add in general dentistry and, it’s from there that started from scratch. And now our general dentist is full time and, you know, four days a week and, you know, doing her thing. So,

Carrie Webber (04:37): So it really, all of that occurred almost organically based on demand and request of your existing patient family. Yes. And so it was really an answer to the call from them like, Oh, could you do, could you do this, could you do this? Did you ever, I mean, did you envision that that would ever be the case for you when you were really kind of getting started? Did you ever sit down and, and say, Oh, you know, wouldn’t it be great if someday we did all these things or did it really happen in that organic way?

Dr. Meadows (05:14): My dream was always to have a large practice, you know, I, I enjoy taking care of people. I enjoy taking care of our team. so that kind of started to transpire over time with the growth, adding those components and it just made sense. And I didn’t at the, you know, when it first started back in 2007 or so, or even earlier when I started dental school in 99, I didn’t know what that would look like, but, as I started to talk to people, I started to get more knowledge of the industry. Then I felt like that was the direction we needed to go to, to start to live out what I wanted as far as the large practice looks.

Carrie Webber (05:51): Yeah. And did you see exponential growth as you started adding these different, how did, how did that, those kind of growing pains, how did, how did, how did that feel as you were adding these in the practice was growing in those different respects?

Dr. Meadows (06:06): It’s difficult.

Jennifer Meadows (06:11): I think, yeah, I’ll add to that. I think the growth with the orthodontics was pretty natural. the coding is not, there’s not that many codes. It’s not that drastic of a difference between caring for, I mean, obviously the, the, what you do is different, but it’s children, for the most part, you get some adults who want it, you know, it’s not a huge code difference, reimbursement issues aren’t as great. But I think the biggest difference was the adult side was definitely a learning curve because totally different codes, as far as, you know, totally different dentistry that you’re doing much more in depth. so a big learning curve, a huge learning curve for us that you all had to trudge through. Yes, yes, yes. And, you know, we taught, it said over and over and over again that, change is always difficult, but also, you know, when you’re struggling, it’s hard, but it’s also difficult when you do experience growth, especially if you’re not prepared for it, or if, you know, whatever that may be, if you don’t have the things in place to support that type of growth. Did you experience that or was it, did it all kind of build naturally and comfortably for you.

Dr. Meadows (07:23): No. It was uncomfortable at times. you know, we went through some, some really bad financial struggles, you know, at times. That first year, I think of our general dentist, I mean, they didn’t produce a ton of… I mean, there was just not a lot of monetary means to continue to support it. But, we brought on Jameson in 2016, because our Henry Schein rep, that we were using at the time she’s moved on, but the great lady, she, recognized that we had something there. We just didn’t know how to focus on it and how to develop it. Or orthodontics was developing fine. Pediatric new patients were coming in. So we were doing our, you know, we’d added a doctorate on pediatrics. but, the general side was difficult and we had a good doctor with us. We know it was just a matter of figuring out how to make that, that team and that system run. And that’s where Jameson helped us out a lot.

Carrie Webber (08:26): So there was a little bit of uncharted territory there that might’ve been a little unexpected that you thought, Oh, wow, there are, this was the, this was a little slower of a climb than we had.

Dr. Meadows (08:36): Yes. Because obviously you’re trained to be a general dentist, but when you haven’t done that for 10 years, then to add it into your practice and you’re not the one that actually provides the care and that’s a whole different thing too. Right. That’s extremely difficult because I’m looking at it going, I don’t know what kind of lab. I don’t know what kind of code this should be a, you know, so it’s, it’s very different.

Carrie Webber (09:00): And partnering with other dentists within, within your practice, your business. how have you been able to manage with your team with the, with the other practice leaders, with each other to really stay clear and focused and in alignment of what you’re all about in the practices and where you’re going, and, and kind of your, why behind what you’re developing and what you’re working on there. How do you do that?

Dr. Meadows (09:26): I think you touched on a good point earlier today when we were talking, you were delivering a seminar and we, I, I always do goals. So in doing that, I had written down things like, what I wanted a mission to be, what I want our values to be. This was back in the early 2000’s, but I never shared it with anybody. So when I got ahold of Brenda at Jameson, she was like, you really need to share this. This is something special. That’s from your heart and your team. If they catch it, they’ll go with you. And that’s when I shared that, you know, back in 2016 and we started to publicize it, then that’s when we found out who was ready to take that move with us and who wasn’t, you know, because we, obviously, we moved on with, some, some of our team members that are not with us any longer. We have good doctors that have stayed with us and believe in what we want to do. so it’s, it’s worked out having that, that direction.

Carrie Webber (10:25): Yeah. And I think that’s interesting that you would say that because, a lot of times we just think, well, I’ve written it down. We can get there. But the frustration is when nobody really understands where we’re going together and what’s important to you and to see that it made a difference for you. Sometimes you lost people, but some, but the people that as I love how you said, as Brenda said, CA caught it really we’re ready to get on board. Did you feel that too?

Jennifer Meadows (10:53): Oh, absolutely. I would. I’m going back to when we established the adult practice, I wished that we had been integrated with Jameson in the beginning. You know, you always have that hindsight that’s 20/20. So if I would just say to anyone who’s considering that to partner with Jameson is obviously the best, but have that partnership of a management team that can help you because you don’t know all the answers and they can help you see some of the problems that you might encounter before they happen.

Carrie Webber (11:28): So instead of, you know, putting the cart before the horse or, you know, be proactive rather than reactive. And, I think for us, I think it’s important. We keep it fresh by having our we’re committed to having our Brenda come every three months and working with our team. Cause we know how important it is. We close the office two days, three times a year and just commit to our team members so that they’re all on the same page. And I think that’s really how we’ve been able to get everybody to remain consistent and congruent.

Dr. Meadows (12:04): Yes. I mean, it was very similar to what we talked about earlier is that if they didn’t buy into that, then they either weeded themselves out of the practice. Or we had to eventually have a conversation saying, Hey, you know, this is not working for you or I and we need to move forward in our direction, not your direction.

Carrie Webber (12:21): You know, there’s a great book by a woman. Her name is Sheryl Batchelder, it’s called dare to serve. And it, she talks about what is your daring destination and have you shared that with everyone and are you focused and going in that direction. And, I think that’s exactly what, you’re the picture you’re painting here. You’ve created a very daring destination, a vision for the practice and shared that very vulnerably with everybody. And then you become very focused and spending time and committed, prioritize time working on the practice, not just in it and the team that wants to develop and want to grow and want to be a part of something of a daring destination. We’ll go with that and appreciate that and grow from it. But they do that often, if someone’s not on board for where you’re going, they often will weed themselves out. When you fully commit, when the leaders fully commit to making those shifts and focusing and working on it, people either stay or they see this isn’t, this isn’t right for me, right. That consistency from the leaders of this train is leaving the station and we’re not slowing down.

Dr. Meadows (13:29): Yeah. And I had to work on my skills as a leader because I had, like I said, I’d had some failures, back in the early, the first partnership I had. And then I had another partnership that didn’t work out. so I, you know, I felt like there were some things I failed in and those two partnerships. So I needed to be better as far as how I take this forward. And, and, and that’s part of what I do with on a personal level and, you know, on a practice level, you know, to develop our team too,

Carrie Webber (13:56): Just really, you never finished working on your own self and your skills as a leader or a business owner. and I think that’s great that you recognize that. How has this journey been for you, Jennifer in the practice and the growth and everything that you all have taken on?

Jennifer Meadows (14:13): Well, I kind of finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I worked for over 10 years as a physical therapist. That’s what I’m trained in. And, I’d love my job. I’d love to work with people, but I always felt like there was something else I was supposed to be doing. And I never knew what that was. I never thought it would be managing a dental office ever. not because I wasn’t interested, but I just didn’t think, I mean, I’ve heard of many husband-wife, you know, duos, where it just didn’t work out, with animosity towards the wife, as the office manager, things like that.

Jennifer Meadows (14:51): He had, you know, a system in place at the time. I was like, Oh, I don’t think I’ll be needed, but then you never know what the Lord has in store, what presents itself. And so, it, the opportunity presented itself, it really, it didn’t feel like an opportunity at the time. It was a great trial that we went through. But, I was excited to do it. I’ve grown tremendously in these past four years. It’s been a really fun adventure. I love it. I wouldn’t change it for anything. This is I’m in it with him, you know, this is where I feel like I’m supposed to be. So, it’s been, I don’t know, it’s brought us closer together as a couple, for sure. Yes.

Carrie Webber (15:35): I love that. You know, I work with my husband and I love it. I love it.

Carrie Webber (15:41): It does. It’s not, it’s, it’s not a thing to be, to discourage. I mean, it can work very well. It does take a great deal of intention and I love that you have found your place in your identity in it. And I think that there’s a lot to that in terms of, and I think you earn your place in the team and the respect by the, you know, the initiative that you take and you, you’ve obviously proven yourself and your worth in that. for a lot of people that might be listening, they may be in the same situation as you all in terms of working together, or they may be considering that daring destination for themselves and they’re practicing life and shifting gears, but they really, maybe it’s scary or maybe they don’t know how to begin or how to do that. Well, what kind of advice would you give for those that might be considering taking a new step in their professional path in the ways that you have?

Dr. Meadows (16:41): I mean, I would say it can work, because we know it works because it works for us, you know, cause my, my previous, conversations with other dentists or other professionals was “don’t work with your wife,” you know, it’s going to be a problem. And, I, we, obviously we talked about it, you know. We talked about what it would look like and what it would mean for our family. Because at the time when she started, our daughter was five. so, you know, just starting school. So it was a lot of dynamics with that. and we just put it together the way we want it to. And she’s a highly driven person. I mean, she has a doctorate in physical therapy, so I never questioned her ability to learn dentistry, you know, and I, I was, I wanted to help her. and it’s not like she’s always on me every day. I mean, she, we kind of just work it out to where she’ll approach me with certain things at certain times. And I, most of the time I don’t even see her at the office because she’s at the front office, doing her business.

Carrie Webber (17:46): Yeah. Right.

Jennifer Meadows (17:48): I would say, you just have to have a coach, you have to have a mentor. Brenda has been an invaluable resource as has Suzanne. and they have been such a wealth of knowledge. I feel I can go to them with anything, ask them any questions I have. I don’t feel like I’m in it alone. I don’t know all the answers I never will. I certainly didn’t know anything about dentistry when I started, but, they helped me learn, you know, and, I had another, another local coach too that helped me, but I, you just have to have people that surround yourself with people who know more than you do partner with somebody, find a coach and just utilize them.

Carrie Webber (18:35): You all, you obviously have the mindset of, of growth. you have that abundance mentality. What does that look like for your team? How does your team respond and, and what are, what are your intentional efforts when it comes to leading your team forward with you in the work that you’re doing?

Dr. Meadows (18:56): For me, that’s one of the most rewarding things is I, you know, I always envisioned having a practice where I could, you know, encourage my team, do things, do activities with my team, things of that sort. and after you have failures and some episodes that weren’t conducive for that type of activity, I was discouraged. but when we, when we really started to catch fire, as far as, okay, this is what we’re going to do, and we’re not stopping on this. then like today or nowadays, I guess I should say is we, we know we have rewards in place for our team. you know, we bring them to the conference, for the leadership cause we want to, I mean, I want their lives to be fulfilled too. I mean, it’s not just about us.

Dr. Meadows (19:43): I mean, they, I feel like if I don’t take the time to invest in them, you know, whether it’s us hanging out together to go to a, a bucks game or, us going, I go painting with them, a couple of times a year. and that’s, that’s a good time for me because I get to know them on a different level than us being in the office, being two feet from each other, which is, you know, it’s all, it could be hard work. It could be stressful at times it’s the kids are screaming. There’s people trying to get appointments on time. And being intentional about being there for our team, finding what their needs are and, and helping them to move their life forward so they can move with us and get them invested in what we’re doing is invaluable really.

Jennifer Meadows (20:27): Yeah. It’s really fun for us to get to know our team and how, you know, Kathy was saying, most employers think that monetary compensation is what motivates people. But, we have found that there’s things that our team wants to do, that they just don’t have the opportunity to do so being able to provide them with opportunities. We were able to reward one of our employees. She was with us for 10 years now. And so we treated her and her husband took a trip to Nashville. She had never been out on an airplane before. Oh my gosh. I know. And so we were like, this is your first airplane trip. You’re going to Nashville. It was, they had a blast. And, we brought her here to training this this time. They’re like, “Hey, it’s your second airplane ride!”

Carrie Webber (21:09): Those are the things that are going to be unforgettable. It’s fine. And I love that you take the time to connect with them in a way and try to find the ways that have the most meaning to them. And you’re really making meaning more than anything else with the people that you’re surrounding yourselves with.

Dr. Meadows (21:29): Yes. We, I mean, we asked them what, what kind of things they like? I mean, something simple, for instance, like their birthdays, Jennifer already knows three or four different of their favorite stores or restaurants. So we give them a gift card to do that in there. I mean, it’s just a matter of trying to get to know them and making them feel like, Hey, you’re a part of this with us. And we want to take this journey with you.

Carrie Webber (21:52): I love it. We think the world of you and think you’re doing amazing things in your practice, and you really are on a daring journey with some amazing people. So thank you for the privilege of, of knowing, even working with you and for sharing some of your story with the people listening to us today. We appreciate you both so much.

Dr. Meadows (22:13): Thank you.

Jennifer Meadows (22:14): Thank you for partnering with us because honestly we would not be where we are today without Jameson.

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