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Chicago’s Pediatric Dentist for The Pros – Episode 168

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Meet Dr. Grace Yum, mom, pedodontist, and multiple practice owner. Learn about her unique path to success, and what it is like to provide care for the children of professional athletes.

Reese’s special guest on this episode of Dentist Money™ is Dr. Grace Yum. Recorded at Voices of Dentistry 2019, this interview follows Dr. Yum’s journey from hygienist to owner of two lucrative practices in Chicago.

She explains the career strategy she took as an associate, and how it eventually prepared her to start two practices from the ground up. Plus, you’ll enjoy hearing about her work with the Blackhawks and Cubs, and her ideas about practicing dentistry with a growing family.

Podcast Transcript:

Reese Harper: Welcome to the Dentist Money Show. I’m your host, Reese Harper, here with a special episode with Dr. Grace Yum. Grace was a really interesting person that I learned about a few months ago and saw the success that she was having as a mother and a dentist that’s running a very successful practice in Chicago, and I thought, “You know, I want to figure out what makes Grace tick.” I want to figure out what she went through as both a start-up owner and a dentist that’s had some challenges in her career that she overcame and was able to get to a point that she’s got a very enviable and successful practice at this point.

Reese Harper: Make sure and visit us at and check out our education library. You’ll find a lot of videos, podcasts, and new articles that we’re releasing every week. Also when you go to the website, don’t forget to book a free consultation clicking the Book Free Consultation button, where you’ll be paired with one of our dental specific financial advisors on a day that works for you. We book appointments on off days, lunches, even on some Saturdays. Just check out the calendar and find a time that’s convenient.

Reese Harper: Call us anytime at 833-DDSPLAN. You can also text us at the same number. Don’t forget to submit your financial questions on our free Facebook group at We take the questions from the Facebook group and use them in the podcast. Thanks again for listening and enjoy the show.

Speaker: Consult an advisor or conduct your own due diligence when making financial decisions. General principles discussed during this program do not constitute personal advice. This program is furnished by Dentist Advisors, a registered investment advisor.
This is Dentist Money. Now here’s your host, Reese Harper.

Reese Harper: Welcome to the Dentist Money show, where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I’m your host, Reese Harper, here with a special guest who I’m very excited to have. I had my staff dig up one of the best female dentists that they could find that would be able to offer some unique perspective to women in dentistry. I’d like to welcome Dr. Grace Yum to the program. Grace, thank you for joining me.

Grace Yum: Thank you so much for having me, Reese! I hope that I can be the best female dentist on your show.

Reese Harper: Yeah, you’re going to be great and we’re going to have some plenty of loud noise behind us for the next few minutes because we’re recording live from the Voices of Dentistry show floor. And Grace, tell everyone a little bit about how you got into dentistry and ended up in Chicago, kind of a little bit of background for anyone who doesn’t know you.

Grace Yum: Absolutely. So I’m a native of Chicago, born and raised. [Shibe] area, we just left six degree weather, thank God. Here in Arizona without my sleeping bag coat, and I just kind of landed in dentistry because I was a dental assistant. I went to college at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and I needed a part-time job so I got roped into assisting, and I was an orthodontic dental assistant for a really, really long time. I was actually a communications major.

Reese Harper: Nice. I love communications majors.

Grace Yum: Did not major in science, so yeah.

Reese Harper: That probably helped you a lot in your career I’m guessing, though, in a unique way. At least to differentiate and build some skills that are uncommon for a lot of dentists to have.

Grace Yum: Right. So a lot of dentists tend to be introverted.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Grace Yum: And I have more of an extroverted personality, and communication because that was something that was like my jam. When I applied to dentistry people were like, “Hey, you’re different,” and I took all the basic science courses and believe me, I was not a science major. I was not getting straight A’s in science but I definitely had a lot of skill sets being in dental practices as an assistant and being chairside.

Reese Harper: So were you thinking like journalism…

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: …PR, is that where you were headed?

Grace Yum: So I really wanted to go into broadcasting, journalism, but I really loved the idea of dentistry because I worked for a lot of women and they had great schedules, great lives, could raise their kids, and plan and be at their schools, going to the Christmas party or the Valentines party, while balancing all of that and I felt that as a news reporter or journalism, it’s like you have to go when the news hits. There is no timing.

Reese Harper: So was that a big driver for you? When you were looking at a career, were you going, “Look, I think I want to have a family one day and I want to have a career that kind of lets me balance that stuff.” Was that part of the logic?

Grace Yum: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But you know, assisting for these doctors, they totally were like, “Look, you could do this. You know how to do hands on. This is something that’ll suit your personality and the patients love you.” I was having patients come see me, looking for me, even though I was a dental assistant, so I really loved it. And I did take a gap year. So after college, I didn’t go straight to dental school. I worked at a consultancy firm and then I was like, “This sucks.”

Reese Harper: What kind of consulting were you doing? Or what kind of consulting firm was it?

Grace Yum: So I was working for a small consultant who he was one of the division leaders for Anderson Consulting, like in their global center.

Reese Harper: Okay, was it like business consulting?

Grace Yum: So it was business and it was basically on forming cultures and he would do personality testing, kind of like profile-

Reese Harper: Profiling strengths and weaknesses, leadership.

Grace Yum: Yes, yes. So that was kind of what I worked under.

Reese Harper: And what did you dislike about, we’ll just say that, what that career path looked like?

Grace Yum: Oh my God, it was like endless hours.

Reese Harper: Okay.

Grace Yum: You never went home.

Reese Harper: Like 80 hour weeks, it was never done.

Grace Yum: Yeah, you were there until 11:00, midnight and back there at six in the morning. It was just brutal.

Reese Harper: That makes sense.

Grace Yum: And so I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to dental school.”

Reese Harper: And that kind of helped you make the decision after having that experience.

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: Because you hadn’t made really the decision until that point in time.

Grace Yum: No. Right, right.

Reese Harper: When you applied to dental school, how many schools did you apply to? What was that like? Do you remember the moment? Stressful, was it like-

Grace Yum: Oh totally. So I’m that person, I’m a little wackadoo. I don’t apply to like 20 thousand schools. I visited two schools.

Reese Harper: Okay.

Grace Yum: I visited Case Western and I visited Maryland, and I really, really liked both. I did my research. I really liked both. When I walked into Maryland, I just had that feeling of, “I need to be here. This is it. I got to go here. And whatever it takes, get her done.” So I applied, interviewed. I was like, “I have to come here. You have to let me in.”

Reese Harper: Interesting.

Grace Yum: And so then the whole process became very clear and the interview process was clear. It was just a great fit, and I think that… Even to this day, I’ve been out of school for 15 years. I’m still in touch with the Dean and a lot of my professors, so I’m consistently in touch with all of the even like my school faculty.

Reese Harper: Are you kind of a big believer in… I’m just curious. This is kind of getting into karma, faith sets, beliefs. Do you feel like when you kind of said, “When I got there I just felt like this is where I’m supposed to be.” How would you describe that? I mean, do you have kind of this idea that someone’s life path is kind of set in a way that they can find and discover, or is it like you could have been happy at any school, you would have made the best of anything? How do you view that?

Grace Yum: Yeah. No, that’s a good question.

Reese Harper: This is about a Grace philosophy question more than it’s about pragmatic.

Grace Yum: Yeah. No, I think it’s know thyself and where you think you’re going to fit in and a little bit of serendipity. You form your own luck. You work hard and you form your own luck. It’s a little bit of both, right?

Reese Harper: Both, yeah.

Grace Yum: So for me, I did all the research. When I walked in, it was like this is what I was looking for. I wanted X, Y, Z and that’s where it was.

Reese Harper: That’s awesome.

Grace Yum: So it was kind of like, “Okay, well if you’re strategic about it and you plan in advance and you really know your own self, you set forth a more successful path.”

Reese Harper: Awesome. Well jumping back just a little bit, I don’t want to get too far ahead, when did you know I want to be in private practice versus work for someone? Did you take an associate position out of school, did you-

Grace Yum: Oh sure. I took a lot of associate positions out of dental school, but that was what I wanted. I wanted to learn from several different doctors. Fee for service, insurance based, blue collar. I never did Medicaid, that was the one area I never went in, but I even moved to California. I got my California license. My husband and I moved to California. We stayed there for six months to test it out, worked there part-time.

Reese Harper: What city?

Grace Yum: We were in Newport Beach, and then we realized it wasn’t for us and we came back home to Chicago, and then I started my own practice. And during that four years, it was my clinical building. It was like, okay, I could do a stainless steel crown blindfolded. It was building up my clinical skills but also taking on mentors that I’d be watching in their practices like what’s working for them? What’s not working for them? I took that all in. One of the owners, the senior doctor, was like, “You’re the first associate that I’ve had that acts like an owner.” And I was just like, “Well, I’m going to be here and I’m going to learn under your belt and I’m going to take it all in because this is free learning.”

Reese Harper: Yeah. So I don’t want to skip over that part because I think that was pretty critical. You moved to California, right?

Grace Yum: Yeah.

Reese Harper: How long were you there?

Grace Yum: Six months.

Reese Harper: So everyone has choices about where they like to live and cultures and people and work environment. It all plays a factor.

Grace Yum: Yeah.

Reese Harper: But what about that was… You wouldn’t have moved to California if you thought you were going to turn around and move back in a few months.

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: What about that experience was eye opening to you? You’re from Chicago. You moved to Newport. What was the experience like?

Grace Yum: My sister at the time was living in Laguna Beach and I wanted to live closer to her.

Reese Harper: Experience that.

Grace Yum: Experience. And I wanted to be in warm weather. And I don’t like to be a regretful person. I don’t want to be like would have, should have, could have. So it’s kind of like if the opportunity presents itself, go for it and if it’s not for you, then turn around. So that’s what we did. My husband and I were like, “Okay, everybody here’s retired or a trust fund baby.”

Reese Harper: “We’re struggling to relate.”

Grace Yum: Yeah. We were just like, “Nobody’s working. [inaudible] out to lunch, breakfast, and dinner, and we’re just trucking away, so we don’t belong here.”

Reese Harper: That’s interesting.

Grace Yum: And then we also realized that we’re city people. We like city life, so we’re like, “We’ve got to go back.”

Reese Harper: Yeah, that’s a little bit more casual kind of environment for sure.

Grace Yum: Totally. So we’re just like, “Okay, well we definitely aren’t beach bums and we’re not in real estate, and…” Yeah.

Reese Harper: “And we’ve got to work for our own living too, so yeah…”

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: That’s really interesting. Okay, so you came back to Chicago, and then what? Then you had that associate position. You were shadowing. That was happening in Chicago or that was California?

Grace Yum: That was all before California.

Reese Harper: Oh, okay.

Grace Yum: So I did four years of it. And then when I moved back that’s when I decided I was going to do a scratch build new construction. My husband and I drove around looking for space. It was dead of winter, February, snowing.

Reese Harper: Holy cow.

Grace Yum: And we saw a condo building and the first floor was commercial and they were just building it. And we walked in and we said, “Is anyone leasing your space?” And they’re like, “No.” And all I saw were steel beams and I said, “Well, okay. Well, I want this space.” And that’s what we did.

Reese Harper: Interesting. So was your husband working full time at the time as well? What was the dynamic there?

Grace Yum: Yeah, so my husband also launched his business. He is an attorney but no longer practicing. We call him kind of like a retired attorney, but not really, but he does mergers and acquisitions. In fact, he calls himself a recovering attorney.

Reese Harper: Okay.

Grace Yum: So he does global merging.

Reese Harper: Was he doing it at the time right when you moved back?

Grace Yum: So he was doing strategy consulting at the time. And so then I was going to do my own thing and it was kind of nerve wracking a little bit. But I was excited and we had no money, but it’s like, “We have no kids so this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to go for it.” And you know what, it was like guns ablazing and I’m just going to do it.

Reese Harper: So the scratch start. He was doing a little bit of consulting work.

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: But you guys weren’t in a situation where you had a ton of liquidity in cash.

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: This was something you had to finance your way through, right?

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: Which is good, it’s like the American dream story here.

Grace Yum: Yeah.

Reese Harper: You’re just broke and starting it from nothing.

Grace Yum: Totally.

Reese Harper: So you went and did you get any startup consulting or did you-

Grace Yum: Oh, I got a story for you.

Reese Harper: Okay, all right.

Grace Yum: So I thought I needed a consultant so I called a consultant, and he didn’t know that my husband was listening on the other line. He just thought it was me, and he’s asking me all these questions and the one question he asked, I remember, he was like, “Well, how much money do you want to make? What’s your goal?” And I said, “I want to be a million dollar practice. I want to produce a million dollars.” And he was like, “Well, the number of chairs that you’re going to have in your office and the square footage of your office, you’re not going to ever get get to a million dollars.” And I was like, “What?” I was like, “Excuse me?” So I got off the phone very kind of like, “Hmm…” He was like a Debbie Downer and I’m like, “This is not the right person.”

Reese Harper: Was this a fairly reputable person that you could trust?

Grace Yum: Oh, totally.

Reese Harper: On the surface..

Grace Yum: Right., right. It was a reputable person and that person’s still consulting. And I said, “Okay. Well, no thank you. I’m going to just do my own thing and go for it.” My second year in practice by myself solo, I produced over a million dollars of dentistry by myself.

Reese Harper: That’s interesting. How many operatories was it?

Grace Yum: So I had two chairs and I had plumbed out three.

Reese Harper: That’s so cool. And how many square feet was the office?

Grace Yum: 2300 square feet.

Reese Harper: 2300 square feet and two ops?

Grace Yum: Two ops.

Reese Harper: So how was it organized? Because that seems like a reasonable sized office to have two ops in.

Grace Yum: Right, so you got your [crosstalk]

Reese Harper: Yeah, you had extra room.

Grace Yum: I had a little bay area that I didn’t have the money to put chairs in, so I put two dental chairs in each op and I worked my butt off and you know that? If that meant working every Saturday, I worked every Saturday. I worked six days.

Reese Harper: Good for you.

Grace Yum: And I was like, “I’m not going to let anybody tell me something that I cannot do.”

Reese Harper: Interesting. So tell me a little bit about the layout of that first office. Do you still have it today?

Grace Yum: Yep, it’ll be 10 years this August.

Reese Harper: So how many ops are in there now, still…

Grace Yum: So two private ops and three in the hygiene bay.

Reese Harper: Okay, nice. So you have a waiting room, you have two private ops, you have three in the hygiene bay, and then do you have a private office in there for yourself at all?

Grace Yum: Yep, a small little break room and a private office for myself which now I wish was bigger because we’re like sardines in there with other doctors. Yeah.

Reese Harper: I don’t know if it’s comfortable to share this, but can you let us know. If you’ve shared this before, I’ll ask you to share it again. If not, then that’s okay. But I’m just curious what you’re producing out of a space like that right now. Is that something you can share?

Grace Yum: Yeah. So I’ve significantly cut back and I opened up a satellite office, but I only now see patients in that practice two days a week and then I hire part-timers. And so that practice is at one nine right now.

Reese Harper: Wow. You’re there two days a week.

Grace Yum: Yeah.

Reese Harper: But is the practice open more than that? I didn’t catch that.

Grace Yum: Yeah, yeah. So the practice is open like five days.

Reese Harper: Okay, and what days are you open in that location?

Grace Yum: So Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and then alternating Fridays and Saturdays.

Reese Harper: Oh, nice. Okay. Do you find that Saturdays in your market is a good time for production?

Grace Yum: It’s a great time. I’m a pedodontist. The analogy that I make is if you’re a bar owner, why wouldn’t you open Friday, Saturday night?

Reese Harper: Yeah, only usually the answer that most people give is if you’re not wanting to work very hard, so yeah.

Grace Yum: Right, and that’s a problem.

Reese Harper: Yeah, and so I think that’s a challenge for a lot of… A lot of dentists might want the lifestyle more than they want the income sometimes, and so you’ve got to make that trade off, I guess. It’s tough with kids, sometimes, to work Saturdays though and all that, right?

Grace Yum: Well, guess what? I’m 43 and my children are ages four and six. And January 2019 in the new year, just now, I just stopped working Saturdays.

Reese Harper: Yeah, so you’ve kind of hit that point where even you made that trade off, but you earned it, right?

Grace Yum: Right, yeah.

Reese Harper: You worked really hard to earn that. So when did you decide to open a second location? So on this first one, we get to a million dollars of production. We’re doing great. What was the itch to scratch to open another location?

Grace Yum: So the reason being was that being in the city, a lot of families after having their second child they need more space or they want free schools that are really good, like public schools, and in the city it’s not that way. So then the natural progression is that they move to the suburbs and they get a bigger house, a bigger yard, nice awesome public schools, and I was losing my patients every summer. Like 30 families have migrated.

Reese Harper: Smart.

Grace Yum: And I was just tracking where they were going and then my… Four years ago, I was pregnant with my son. I rented a dental office, small dental office, and I did a pilot during my year of pregnancy and I went up twice a month.

Reese Harper: Wow.

Grace Yum: And I wanted to see if my suburban patients would stick with me. So I did that for a year and they’re like, “When are you opening your office?” And I was like, “Okay, let’s do it.”

Reese Harper: That’s awesome.

Grace Yum: So office number two, that was when my second baby was born and that practice, I purposefully made it an associate run practice, so I’m there one day a week.

Reese Harper: I want to back up just a little bit to what we were talking about before with… Because we went from opening that location to where we now have two kids and you’re doing awesome. But the decision about, I’m curious how the transition from your first child went. The pregnancy, the first child, this is a pretty major time for people to either make a decision to stay in dentistry, leave the career. This is a lot of different choices. I imagine you went through a lot of emotions during that time that weren’t… I don’t want to assume that you knew exactly what your life was going to shake out like when you went into it. Maybe you did, because you seem like a pretty deliberately planned person, but I think a lot of people would be able to relate to that decision making process that maybe affected you during that time.

Grace Yum: Excellent question. So I was one of those people that when I was younger, like you said, deliberate. I was like, “I’m going to be married at 28 and I’m going to have my first kid when I’m 29.” Oh well, guess what? No matter how deliberate you are, you can’t just find someone to marry you.

Reese Harper: Yeah, [crosstalk] time.

Grace Yum: So I didn’t meet my husband until I was 31, got married at 32, and we met on and my mother picked him.

Reese Harper: That is so cool.

Grace Yum: And it’s hilarious. So needless to say that, no matter what, you just can’t control that, right? And what I could control was having a practice and I just poured my heart and soul into it, and being in pedo I didn’t have a biological clock. I was treating kids all day, every day, and I was like, “I don’t need a kid.” And then when I hit 36, I looked at my husband and I was like, “We’re not getting any younger. We need to have a kid.” He’s like, “I’ll buy you a dog.”

Reese Harper: Yeah, make it a cat.

Grace Yum: I was like, “No, no, no. I think we really need to have a kid.” He’s like, “Okay.” So I had a kid, but having built my practice for four years, it was running itself. And my description of having a business to me is that it needs to run without me. It cannot just be me and it can’t just be about me. It needs to run on its own, be its own practice. You don’t see the CEO of Subway making sandwiches every day, right?

Reese Harper: Only when we wants to.

Grace Yum: Only when he wants to.

Reese Harper: On meatball Mondays when he has…

Grace Yum: So that was my thinking. So when I was pregnant I was ready to have my child and I was like, “I’m never doing this again. Pregnancy sucks. Those women who say they love it are liars,” and sure enough, after the baby was born we were like, “Oh my God, she can’t be alone in the world and she can’t just deal with us when we’re old and crazy,” so we decided to go for another.

Reese Harper: So tell me about… So practice number two happened when in this timeline?

Grace Yum: So it happened like, let’s see, in 2014.

Reese Harper: In the kids timeline, where was it?

Grace Yum: So 2009 is when I launched the first practice. Like 2008, 2009. And then 2012 my daughter came along, and then 2014…

Reese Harper: Second.

Grace Yum: …is the second and my son was born the same year.

Reese Harper: Same year.

Grace Yum: Yeah. So needless to say, it was crazy.

Reese Harper: So if you had to look back, if we had to just list a few really important take aways that got you to where you’re at from starting that first scratch start until now, if we had to go down some lessons, major takeaways that you learned that would really help someone else, what would those lessons and takeaways be?

Grace Yum: Lesson one, don’t be afraid. Just do it.

Reese Harper: Were you ever afraid?

Grace Yum: No, I wasn’t, but a lot of women are afraid and they hold back. So there’s never a good time. Everyone’s always looking for the right time to have a baby, to have a practice, whatever. It’s like, don’t overthink it. Just jump right in.

Reese Harper: What do you think they’re afraid of?

Grace Yum: I think they’re afraid of failure. They’re afraid of who’s going to manage. I think that if you are well thought out and planned in advance… Even for my pregnancies, I was at a Chinese restaurant at a table with a white paper on it and I wrote December to January and I circled the month I needed to be pregnant and I told my husband, “This is the month I need to deliver that baby.”

Reese Harper: Yeah, you [crosstalk]

Grace Yum: Yeah, so that’s my personality. But at the same time, I just want to tell everyone never think negatively. You should always try to be positive because there’s so many negative things in the world anyway, but you’re in control of you, right? You do you.

Reese Harper: What’s another thing that kind of comes to mind besides don’t be afraid?

Grace Yum: I would say is don’t think about what other people think about you, okay? It’s none of their business.

Reese Harper: Did that ever affect you? Did you ever go through a period of time where you thought about what other people thought about you, or are you just saying that you see most women doing that?

Grace Yum: I see most women doing that, but I would say that yeah, my parents are like, “What are you doing? You need to have a baby. Where’s the grandbaby?”

Reese Harper: What about other practices that you compare yourself against? Do you compare yourself in a way to other practices sometimes?

Grace Yum: Okay, so the thing is I never compare myself to any practice. What I do, and this my probably downside, is I am afraid of being behind and that might be a competitive thing. I’m always up in the middle of the night thinking what’s next best… What do I need to do to stay one step ahead of everybody else, because once you let your guard down you’re already behind. I don’t like being behind. So I’m up at night and I’m always thinking about what’s next, what’s next, what’s next?

Reese Harper: So when you think behind, you’re not necessarily worried about making less money than someone else. You’re thinking about technology. You’re thinking about your patient service. You’re thinking about the size of-

Grace Yum: Right. No, I’m thinking about what we’re offering, what we’re doing. I’m thinking about are-

Reese Harper: Are we as good as another practice?

Grace Yum: Right. And no, but I’m like, you know-

Reese Harper: Quality wise.

Grace Yum: Quality, like our reviews. My practice is known to be the doctors bring their kids here. The dentists bring their kids here. And we are fee for service so again, we’re at a different price point, but we’re treating Cubs players, Black Hawks players. I wanted to be, my vision, is that I’m going to be the preeminent pediatric practice in the Chicagoland area known for honesty, integrity, and trust and treating our patients like family and rolling out the red carpet for everyone that walks through that door. That is my vision.

Reese Harper: So that’s the standard that you’re holding yourself against.

Grace Yum: Right, right.

Reese Harper: And I think some people sometimes don’t compare themselves based on that type of a quality business, product first kind of mindset. The comparison they’re doing is, “I don’t have as much time off at that other person,” or, “I don’t make as much as that person,” or, “I don’t collect as much as that person,” which I think can kind of turn into a negative cycle. Those are all superficial things that you can’t really control sometimes, but you can control how much you care about your patients.

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: How much focus you put on their experience, right?

Grace Yum: Right.

Reese Harper: And where the service is at.

Grace Yum: What are you delivering and are you giving them value that they feel that the price they pay is worth that check or credit card, and they’re not going to fight you on it? So that is it, and we have had patients leave and say, “We’re going to go in-network because we can’t afford you.”

Reese Harper: Afford it, yeah.

Grace Yum: Six months later, they are back.

Reese Harper: So you didn’t start out probably fee for service. You probably started out with some PPOs.

Grace Yum: Nope, I started out fee for service right from the gate.

Reese Harper: Is that common for pedo in Chicago? Give me a sense for how common that is.

Grace Yum: I think the majority of us are like that. I would say three quarters of us are like that and maybe a quarter are not.

Reese Harper: Yeah. What do you think the people that are not that way end up going that way? What do you think? Is it a strategy that works? Is it just a difficult thing for people to bridge the gap sometimes?

Grace Yum: I’m not sure. I don’t know the answer to that.

Reese Harper: Yeah. You didn’t really have a mindset of it would help you market, though, or it would help you kind of get more patients?

Grace Yum: No, mm-mm (negative).

Reese Harper: It just wasn’t a choice that you really had to make.

Grace Yum: No, my strategy was be that good that people send you patients. Be that good that you are famous in your neighborhood.

Reese Harper: What do you look for in an associate?

Grace Yum: Oh my God, what do I not look for in an associate? Associates that are not afraid of work, okay? Honest, conscientious, not money hungry. Yeah, you need to make money to pay the bills, I get it, but not money, money, money, money. It’s like hey, do the best quality work and the money will come. I don’t want to redo a filling that you did last week.

Reese Harper: Yeah. Do you compensate them with a percentage of production? Is there any kind of bonus program? How do you financially look at compensation?

Grace Yum: They’re all part-timers and so we do straight percent of collections. We collect pretty much everything.

Reese Harper: What do you do to keep your culture where you want it? How do you build a culture?

Grace Yum: That’s the hardest, okay? It’s always like you take three steps forward and one step back, two steps forward and then one step back. It’s an ebb and flow. The culture is an ebb and flow. It’s always a work in progress. That is the number one difficult thing in my office is maintaining office culture and do not be afraid to fire someone. It is not worth having toxic people in the office. Cut them loose, let them go, because it will poison your well.

Reese Harper: That’s great advice. In pediatrics, one of the challenges is everyone wants to open their own office, right?

Grace Yum: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Reese Harper: How many of your associates own their own office and work part-time for you versus only work for you?

Grace Yum: Out of eight, only one, and he’s an orthodontist.

Reese Harper: Okay.

Grace Yum: Yeah.

Reese Harper: So everyone else only works for your practice.

Grace Yum: And they work part-time at maybe one other practice.

Reese Harper: One other practice, okay. Do you think there’s a personality type of someone that wants to be an associate and a personality type of someone who wants to be an owner, and do you try to identify that in advance at all in your hiring process?

Grace Yum: You know what, there are personality traits, and I think that the ones that I interview that come right out of the gate and say, “My goal is to have my own office.” Okay, well then it’s not going to work.

Reese Harper: Not going to be a good fit.

Grace Yum: Yeah, it’s not going to be a good fit.

Reese Harper: So you are trying to screen for that somewhat.

Grace Yum: So I will screen like okay, I’ve got someone who’s a stay at home mom and she’s like, “I just want to get a house, come two days a week.” Perfect, you’re in.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Grace Yum: Yeah.

Reese Harper: I’m just curious if it’s been a conscious choice male or female mix in your associates. Is there a branding?

Grace Yum: No, no, no.

Reese Harper: Is it whoever I find that I like?

Grace Yum: Well my philosophy’s diversity, so especially being in a practice and the city, if you walk into the waiting room you will see a Latino family, you will see a black family, you’ll see a Korean family, you’ll see a gay family, you’ll see a single parent family, you’ll see divorced families, you’ll see blended families. You will see every walk of life. And so I try to find doctors with every walk of life, and that’s my presentation.

Reese Harper: Critical, critical. Well thank you so much, Grace. You’ve given us so much good things to think about. I think we could go on for a long time doing this and we’ll have to do it again, but I’m want to let you, give you a chance to leave anyone with parting thoughts that you have to help them throughout this year. I’ll let you leave your parting thoughts.

Grace Yum: My parting thoughts of January 2019 is go and get it. Crush it! Go get it!

Reese Harper: Thank you so much, Grace.

Grace Yum: Thank you for having me.

Reese Harper: Look forward to having you back on the show again. We’ll talk to you soon.

Grace Yum: Awesome, thanks. Bye.

Reese Harper: Thanks again for listening, guys. I really hope that you enjoyed the show.

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