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Inspiring Conversations with Sandy Baird of Baird Dental Business Concepts

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandy Baird.

Hi Sandy, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
It all started when I fell in love with a dental student. Little did I know I would also fall in love with his profession, and it would become my life career. After my husband, Bruce, finished dental school and four years in the Army, we moved back to where he grew up and I went to college, Sewanee, Tennessee. We set up his private dental practice in 1981 when interest rates were 21% and brokered a partnership, I would manage the business and he the clinical department. At the time, dental schools offered virtually zero training on how to run a successful business, and, being a Forestry major, I had little to no knowledge, either. In other words, we were clueless and it didn’t take long for us to figure that out. To combat our business ignorance, I started reading articles and attending seminars. Practice management in the ’80s was in its infancy, so finding these resources was a challenge. One source was our dental friends, who, turned out were asking the exact questions and dealing with similar conundrums in their practices. We helped each other as much as possible, but there were few established best practices and parameters. Essentially, it was from trial and error that we learned.

After twenty years or so of learning, sharing, trial, and error, we were more confident in our practice management skills. This is when I decided that teaching practice management to other practices and teams was what I ultimately wanted to do. I had walked in the shoes of every role in the practice possible. I knew first-hand the stresses and anxieties of ownership. I knew how much it cost dentists to spend clinical time or precious personal time doing management duties. But I wanted more than 30 years of practice experience under my dental knowledge belt so decided to get my Master’s in Business.

The graduate program was a great experience. I learned best practices as well as the fundamentals of marketing, human resources, financial management, leadership, business plans, economics, and more. I was able to put into use many of the things I was learning. I was also pleased to learn that many of the processes we had incorporated into our practice were consistent with best practices.

I finished my master’s in 2005 and established Baird Dental Business Concepts with a burning desire to help dentists and their teams reduce operational inefficiencies and work stress while increasing teamwork and profits. For the last 15 years, it has been an honor to work with many amazing teams and practices as well as speak to groups of dentists, dental team members, and other interested parties.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Running a business, no matter how small, is never an easy road. I had the experience and the knowledge, but not many knew it. Building my reputation and referral base was and will be an ever-going challenge. The dental industry consists of small to medium individual businesses. There are few occasions when they come together, and they have little time to spend on social media or in meetings. Thanks to gracious referrals and marketing virtual assistants, I am making progress in this area. The other consistent challenge is overcoming the anxieties some dentists and dental employees have about working with a practice management “consultant.” Employees often fear being fired or are skeptical of change. Dentists worry that they would lose control, look ignorant, or don’t understand the value of improving the business aspect of their practices. I am always conscious of these and other perceptions and address them at the onset of any working relationship.

I try very hard to emphasize that my role as a consultant or coach is to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a practice as well as bring proven best practices to the entire team and help them find ways to utilize these best practices to improve their practice’s work culture, customer service, teamwork, communication, and operations. I know every practice is unique and that operating systems must be adapted to those differences. I firmly believe that truly engaged and motivated team members can be transformative to a practice, so I strive to empower each team member as well as the doctor. I know that bringing new information, opportunities, and positive energy into practices proves to propel them from the state of simply surviving as a business to one that is vigorously thriving.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Baird Dental Business Concepts?
What I feel is important to know about my business is that I am only accountable to my clients. I am not distracted or incentivized by another entity’s requirements or authority. This allows me to be more objective and reactive to my clients and their needs as well as individualize my services, fees, and offerings. I have walked in the shoes of a dental practice employee, owner, and coach as well as that of a dental spouse. I believe all these factors to be advantageous to any dental practice.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
There are many aspects of my work that make me incredibly happy. Helping practices grow, be more productive, and realize more rewards is number one. Reducing stress, anxiety, and conflict in a practice is another as well as energizing others with new information and more efficient ways of doing their jobs. Essentially, creating a healthier work culture that makes everyone involved, team, doctor, and patients happier in their practices.

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