After my wife and I sold the practice we’d owned for decades to an associate, we found ourselves at loose ends. Selling was the right decision and we both knew it, but the afterlife wasn’t as easy as either of us thought it would be. It didn’t take us long to discover that we couldn’t have what we wanted, much less accomplish everything we still wanted to accomplish and be retired. We decided to come out for the “How to Dream in Color Workshop” [at Sterling] to take a good look at the future we wanted to build.
Away from home, we got the chance to focus on what we’d really like to do with the rest of our lives, our Ideal Scene with no compromises. We looked at all the kinds of things we wanted to do and everything we wanted to have, and how we could gain the free time and financial flexibility we’d need to do it all, Simply put we did that workshop to reactivate our lives, and it worked.
One thing I soon realized was that if we didn’t really look at our ideal, figure out exactly what that was, we could end up trying to live someone else’s dream rather than our own. I rediscovered something I’d always known, that I truly enjoy helping people and I’m very good at it. I still enjoyed that whole process of dentistry, of helping create the brightest smiles possible and I wanted to continue doing that, only more so. I wanted to make the best possible use of my thirty-plus years of extensive training in every area of the profession, and fully utilize my hard-won skills and be very successful at this adventure without having to be there all the time. What I really wanted was to build a dream practice, my dream practice.
This dream would include having multiple state-of-the-art practices where, as a senior dentist, I would do only the most comprehensive cosmetic and neuromuscular cases-and let one of my associate dentists practice everyday dentistry. My wife, Julia, would continue as senior executive over our first new office and every office we’d acquire after that while trained office managers would handle day-to-day operations.
Since she’s an artist, Julia would also oversee all of our promotional and marketing actions from interior design to websites, newsletters to brochures, our stationery and signs, as well as community newspaper articles and any other ideas we’d invent.
We crystallized our dreams at the workshop and during that weeklong eye-opener, organized every tool we’d need to make them real.
Here’s how our new life rolled out. We did the “How to Dream in Color Workshop” in May. Within six months we’d bought a practice and gone to work renovating it with plans for everything from our new, “Wow. This is great” entrance to every operatory and closet. We brought in $200,000 of new, state-of-the-art equipment, everything from a panographic x-ray – which is faster, more precise and safer for the patients, cutting x-ray exposure in half – to special color-matching lights.
Since our dream life included living in the community we wanted to serve, our new location, Wilton, Connecticut couldn’t have suited better. Nestled in the picturesque Norwalk River Valley, it’s a hilly, wooded, historic, rural New England town – founded in 1726. The population is highly educated, relatively affluent and mobile with many commuters taking the hour and fifteen minute trip from New York City. Our office is on the second floor of an immaculately clean, very upscale, red brick colonial building with beautiful white molding around the doors and windows. There’s even an elevator which is very important to us.
Every aspect of our new practice is designed to instill confidence that we deliver only the finest, most up-to-date cosmetic and preventative dentistry in the area. In a few weeks, we will probably take over the office next door and expand our space about one and a half times. We’ve got a staff of four. We’re already interviewing potential associate dentists and in three or four months – or sooner – we’ll be ready to hire the perfect one. With more public relations and promotion going out, we’ll have a constant influx of people. We got seventeen new patients last week alone.
We began the workshop at loose ends. Six months later we’re off and running toward the future.
Van Strait, DDS