July 27, 2021
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A new book by Mike Kim, “You are the Brand” discusses principles of how to improve yourself, build your expertise, authority, and communications.

He asks the reader to ask themselves 3 questions.

1. What pisses you off?
2. What breaks your heart?
3. What’s the big problem you are trying to solve?

The answer to these questions enables one to build their brand. It’s a simple Venn diagram, with the intersection of these three being your strongest message.

Here’s how I built a practice that answered these questions and created the BRAND known as Manhattan Dental Health:
1. Seeing people not get the personal, service and attention that we   would want if we or someone we loved and cared about were a patient, PISSES us off!
2. It breaks our heart to see people blindly trusting doctors and winding up not getting long-lasting results, while spending a lot of time, effort, and money.
3. The practice connects the dots between oral health and overall health, wellness, and happiness.

HOW we set about resolving 1 and 2 while accomplishing #3 were the keys to our success. The reputation was: Personal, concierge-style, expensive service that gives great, long-lasting results. This was communicated and fostered by a robust internal and physician-focused marketing system.

The focus was always outwards, “WE” rather than inwards, “I”. Authority was built via teaching at an Ivy League University, writing books, special reports, giving lectures, and awards was promoted via emails and newsletters as benefitting the patients. Celebrities solidified the message and helped communicate an extraordinary level of care, service, and value.

Relationships were built and solidified via similar methods as well as via personalized notes sent to every patient from Team members (not the Doctor).

There’s a real challenge in building a business that relies on YOU. And often that’s not a problem, until it is.

• Until your patients don’t want to see anyone else.
• Until YOU become tethered to the practice.
• Until you want to take on an Associate.
• Until you want to sell.

In fact, a practice that has built its brand around an individual doc is less valuable than one that has a non-human, “WE” face.


Simple. The personally branded practice is less transferable. And transferability is a HUGE factor in practice valuation. Or at least it should be.

How often have we seen a famous doctor’s practice sold to a junior doctor who can’t hold onto patients once the founding doctor leaves the practice?

That’s part of the rationale for dental practices selling for a fraction of their gross rather than 100% or more!

On the flip side, a practice that can retain nearly 100% of its patient base, and has a clear growth and/or expansion pathway, can be valued at higher multiples of EBIDTA.

Corporations know this formula. They know that most dental practices have inadequate systems and crappy marketing. They know that once they take over, install reliable, predictable systems and effective marketing, growth will skyrocket. And they tie up the seller to stay around to assure transferability because they know that most dentists have built a brand around themselves. They have to undo that, and it takes time (and costs money).

So, while I agree with Mike Kim about investing in yourself, I think there is danger in making the BRAND of the practice all about YOU.

A better option for your business is to make the BRAND all about its unique value proposition or UVP. When your Brand is known for service, care, or results, it can be attractive to anyone and not because of any one individual.

This is the problem most dentists make. They make their practices all about THEM. Just look at some practice names and websites. Many contain the Doctor’s name. Most put the Doctor’s picture front and center. That can result in a branding challenge unless you’re transitioning to progeny, or your name is Dr. Oz!

The Cleveland Clinic, The Mayo Clinic and even Aspen Dental have built a brand that has nothing to do with individual doctors. People go to the NAME because it represents something. It’s taken for granted and assumed that the doctors will live up to the brand’s promise.

Building with the end-result in mind sounds logical and simple. It’s not. No one learned that technique in Dental School.

That’s why I just wrote the Transitions Checklist, meant to help stimulate thought and organize activities that will result in a smoother transition process, a greater return on your efforts and a better outcome. It’s appropriate for any stage of practice. It’s never too soon to plan for success.

To your excellent success and happy endings,


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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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