CLIENT STORIES

Dr. Tim and Tosca Smith, Purcellville Dental, Purcellville, VA

Across the board, Four Quadrants has exceeded almost every expectation on just about every level. The good thing now is we’re at a point where we’ve stuck with Four Quadrants, and we’re going to stick with them for the long- term.

 

Dr. Tim & Tosca Smith

In their first visit, Tim and Tosca share some background about their practice and initial results and how Four Quadrants found money in the practice that had been sitting there all along and made Tim a man with a plan once again.

 

FOUR QUADRANTS CLIENT SPOTLIGHT

Tim Smith, DDS, was a man with a plan. For the first ten years of his career as a Dentist, he and his numbers- savvy wife Tosca built a solid dental practice with a loyal client base. He calculated that if he was able to scrimp and save $30,000 a year he’d have “enough to retire.” Accumulating that $30,000 each year seemed achievable at first, but as the practice matured and his children became older, it seemed like squeezing blood from a turnip. Despite Tosca’s financial acumen, Tim’s anxiety drove him into Quickbooks every day to look for more to squeeze and to make sure there wasn’t something they were missing.

The Smiths turned to Four Quadrants for help with money. What they received almost instantly, was something they didn’t expect - a release of their financial stress burden. All those feverish forays into Quickbooks, all those sleepless nights worrying, soon became an image in their rear-view mirror.

In the 4 years they’ve been with Four Quadrants, the Smiths have saved as much as they would have in 14 years on their own. And that’s without increasing production or making sacrifices that detracts from the lifestyle they enjoy. And they’re on track to be multi-millionaires by retirement.

Tim and Tosca recently stopped by the Four Quadrants offices for their annual review and agreed to appear on video for the second time since they’ve been a client here.

In their first visit they shared some background about their practice and initial results. During this visit they shared how the firm found money in the practice that had been sitting there all along and made Tim a man with a plan once again.

The first question I had for you guys is how long have you been a Four Quadrants client and how would you describe your practice as a dentist to a fellow dentist?

Dr. Tim Smith - We’ve been clients with Four Quadrants for four years now. I’m a general practitioner. I have a general dental practice, full scope practice, nothing particularly fancy. I see children. I see families. I see old people.

I do a lot of implant dentistry, which has been a nice addition as far as income for the practice and helping the practice grow, but for the most part, I do bread and butter dentistry just like everybody else.

What was going on financially in your practice that brought you to us initially?

Dr. Tim Smith - We had been in practice for a little over ten years at that point. The practice was doing pretty well from a production end of things, but I knew that there were lots of things that I wasn’t doing properly, just long-term.

I would stress over financial decisions. Everything was personal, gut-wrenching kind of things. There was a lot of that.

I knew the practice was making money, but I didn’t know where it was going essentially. I didn’t feel like I had anything. Concerns about retirement, I knew that I did not have a solid retirement plan. It was having that insecurity of not knowing what to do. Fear of making bad decisions was a big thing. I felt like I needed someone to give me some guidance and direction.

Tosca? Anything you want to add to that?

Tosca Smith - We knew that we were doing a lot of things right. We weren’t quite sure how we could do them better. For as hard as he, in particular, was working, we wanted to know that there was something not just month-to-month but year-after-year in retirement and not sure where to make those investments.

Those were the most important things, I think, just making sure that the blood, sweat, and tears on a day-to-day basis would pay off in years to come. The stress of making decisions that you thought were long-term would actually paralyze us into not making a decision at all. That’s where Four Quadrants has been fantastic.

They take the stress away. They’re professionals. You see the statements. You see the growth. It’s really painless, because we don’t feel it at home, personally in our financial life. The cash flow is fantastic. Every year it’s gotten easier and easier to trust them with all those things in our practice.

Dr. Tim Smith - It feels like we’re really not doing anything, which is the weird thing.

Other than being an awesome dentist.

Dr. Tim Smith - I’ve always done that. That’s for granted. Literally, since we’ve come aboard, it’s not like we’ve made any radical changes. Four Quadrants didn’t say, “You need to produce more, do this, or incorporate that.” They just took what we already had and organized it in a way and helped us to make some smart decisions and allocations. Things have been growing ever since.

Tosca Smith - They stopped us from making bad decisions. Most importantly, that’s the start of it. “OK, come to us when you’re thinking of something, and we’ll help you decide whether it’s good or bad, numbers and otherwise.”

You guys are a good example of clients who have been with us long enough to start seeing some of those early projections we made for you become true. In the four years you’ve been working with us you’ve saved as much as you would have saved in 14 years on your own.

Tosca Smith - That’s astounding in itself.

It’s like a 300 percent savings increase. How does that kind of performance match up with expectations?

Dr. Tim Smith - I’m a natural-born skeptic. Coming into this, Four Quadrants laid out these concepts. You think, “OK, we’ll give this a try. Sounds good.” Across the board, Four Quadrants has exceeded almost every expectation on just about every level. The good thing now is we’re at a point where we’ve stuck with Four Quadrants, and we’re going to stick with them for the long-term.

We’re starting to see those things actually come into play. There’s this compounding effect that’s taking place. The first couple years you’re like, “Oh yeah, we saved a bunch more than we did last year,” but you don’t see the big picture just yet.

Now we’re reaching that threshold where things are really starting to accumulate, and it’s becoming real. That’s really nice. I’m very pleasantly, not surprised, but I’m pleased with how things are, for sure.

Tosca Smith - They have definitely surpassed expectations, even the ones that they set for themselves. They could have even gone higher, but you don’t want to put the pie in the sky so fast.

Dr. Tim Smith - Getting back to how much we’ve saved and how the practice was prior, we saved $30,000 the year before we came here. Now we saved $142,000 last year. Before I started with Four Quadrants, I would listen to some retirement planners and look at these charts. By this age, you need to have this many millions in retirement.

I’m looking at this $30,000 a year and doing the math on this. There’s no way that’s going to happen, and it wouldn’t have happened. They have structured things in such a way that it’s going to happen, which is great.

That’s why it’s fun to have these conversations, especially knowing what you guys said last year. What’s changed in your life since becoming a client here?

Dr. Tim Smith - The stress level with all things financial across the board is almost nonexistent. Of course, we’re all concerned about money and such, but it’s nowhere near what it was. I have a sense of peace and security. I know we’re on the right path. That’s huge in terms of reducing the overall level of worry about things financially. That’s the biggest piece, I’d say, for me.

Tosca Smith - You sleep better at night knowing what we have, what we’ve built, and it’s being managed in great hands.

We work less, in a way, what I did in terms of managing the accounts, the books, they’re able to do. Obviously, that’s less time I have to spend in the office.

Dr. Tim Smith - Yeah, I was bragging earlier saying I haven’t even looked at QuickBooks in three years. I don’t even know how to get into QuickBooks anymore. Before Four Quadrants, every day I was on QuickBooks checking this and looking at that. I just know now that it’s being taken care of.

Four Quadrants does such a great job of providing me with reports and metrics. It’s all there every month. That’s what I need to see. I don’t need to worry about the day-to-day churning of our bank account because I’m secure that it’s there. Fortunately, I have a really good partner here who’s able to help share that load and take a lot of it off of me as well.

Tosca Smith - We have an overall higher quality of life day-to-day because it’s less stress. We have more money that we can do the things that we enjoy doing outside of work. How do you put a price on that?

Dr. Tim Smith - One thing I would say to any potential client who is looking at this, when Four Quadrants comes and says, “We’re going to help you save this much more in a given year,” the thing about it is we haven’t had to skimp on anything. We’re not scrimping and saving, taking from this to save for that.

For clients that they’re looking for it, it’s all there in your practice and your life. They help you find a way to allocate it and save in such a way that it almost feels effortless. It really works.

When you’re saying it’s all there, you’re saying that the money is there in the practice; we just help unlock it?

Dr. Tim Smith - Exactly.

Tosca Smith - You put structure around it. That’s what they do.

Let’s go back to what was the best news in the meeting you heard today?

Dr. Tim Smith - Probably the big-picture, end-game retirement number was more than I actually expected to hear. They’re talking about essentially more than doubling what we would have done on our own, which is great. To think that we could amass that amount of money in the next ten years is just phenomenal. It blows our mind. That’s a big thing.

The other thing is just realizing that a lot of our debts are falling off because Four Quadrants was able to restructure a lot of my debt early on with great rates and favorable terms. Those things are getting paid off. In the next year or two, a lot of that is going to be gone, so that’s more money we can actually put into savings as well.

Without Four Quadrants, I wouldn’t be there with that. My debt structure was nowhere near as good as it is now. They’re directly responsible for making that good.

Tosca Smith - What they’ve helped us do in four years would have taken us 14 years on our own, the trajectory we were on. Most likely, it would not have happened. We’ve been able to save like half a million dollars in the time we’ve been with them alone. That’s amazing.

Dr. Tim Smith - It’s not only just the dollar value. It’s the lack of stress that came with that. I’m not having to make those actual decisions of where do I put this money, what’s the smart thing to do with this money. Brogan and his team do that for us, and we’re seeing great returns on that. It’s the effortlessness by which it’s actually happening. The money is one thing, but for me, it’s not having to worry about it.

Tosca Smith - It’s hard to quantify that.

Dr. Tim Smith - It’s a priceless kind of thing.

Tosca Smith - How much stress does that take away? It could add years to our lives. [laughs]

We understand people are skeptical. Even when you hired us, you were skeptical.

Dr. Tim Smith - Of course, you should be skeptical.

When you retire, you have to think of your legacy. How have we been helping you to prepare for possibly bringing on an associate in that time?

Tosca Smith - How have they not helped us to prepare for that would be almost the better, shorter question.

Dr. Tim Smith: Seriously, they’ve done so many things. Just the retirement aspect from a personal side, as far as our personal assets and having adequate funds for retirement is one thing. On the practice end of things with regard to transitioning, associateship, so on and so forth, we have a plan in place. It’s a long-term plan.

The thing I really like about Four Quadrants is what they’ve done is they have certain parameters that are pretty objective as to when your practice is ready to bring on an associate, the terms by which you do that. How do you transition? How do you make the sale? All of those things are things we’ve discussed in the long-term. We’re working through that now.

Again, just knowing that we have that plan in place, I have to paint by numbers and fill in the blanks until I get there.

Tosca Smith - Very achievable goals.

Dr. Tim Smith - Yes, very achievable goals. That’s a huge thing. I made a big mistake about five years ago of bringing on an associate into my practice. It turned out that it was way too soon to do that. Unfortunately, it was a disaster, but I learned a lot from that. At that time I had no guidance or advice.

I was thinking, “You know, it would be cool to have an associate,” but I didn’t really know what I was doing. [laughs] Having made that mistake, and I think it’s important to make mistakes and we learn from it, but then to turn around and have a group like Four Quadrants advise me after the fact, it makes me really value what they do because I’ve been there and made some mistakes without them.

We were joking earlier, but the one thing that Four Quadrants will do for you is they will help you from making poor decisions, making those giant mistakes that can really hurt you. One mistake can undo so many years of growth. Just by not making mistakes and making smart decisions in the future ensures growth as long as you keep doing what you do.

Tosca Smith - It’s a very attainable goal. Ten years retirement, it’s not something we laugh at anymore.

Dr. Tim Smith - I still don’t quite believe that one. [laughs] Tosca Smith: I don’t think you really want to retire in ten years fully.

Dr. Tim Smith - I want to be able to retire in ten years.

Tosca Smith - If he wants to, yes, then we can.

Dr. Tim Smith - The beauty is we’ve got all these great retirement numbers. I know, with the plan that we have in place, that we’re going to be fine for retirement. What it gives me is the choice to retire or not. Maybe I want to continue practicing past 60 and work a day or two a week.

We can make enough money working a day or two a week to support retirement and never hardly touch the assets we’ve grown over the years. It gives me flexibility. It gives me options. I don’t want to be the guy at the end of his career who realizes that I can’t retire. Then suddenly you’re trapped doing something you don’t want to do. It’s having that freedom, flexibility, and security.

We had a client who started with us young looking into to future saying “With these numbers, I can be ready to retire when I’m 55. I can practice dentistry for the last ten years just for fun.”

Dr. Tim Smith - Yes, that’s a great point. Most dentists actually love doing dentistry. When you can just purely do that and you don’t have all the other pressures that wear on you, it is actually a very enjoyable thing to do. When you get into the throes of your practice day-to-day with all the stresses that come along with it...

Tosca Smith - The business, the finance.

Dr. Tim Smith - You just lose that. The thought of actually being able to retire yet maybe still practice at some level on my own terms, or maybe it’s doing something on a volunteer basis. All kinds of other things you can do that bring the fun back into it. It would be great.

Why have you chosen to continue working with us each year?

Dr. Tim Smith - First I’d say don’t mess with success. It’s working, and it’s working very well. We’ve come along this far. Like I said earlier, we’re starting to see some fruition of some of the efforts we’ve put into with the savings. I want to keep it going. I want to see it through to the end because we have a great plan in place.

I feel like if we were to stop working with Four Quadrants now, I don’t think that plan is just going to automatically happen on its own.

But it’s not on autopilot. It still requires active management. Four Quadrants is very hands-on, and they are actively managing. They are working on a plan, and we know that. Without them, I don’t think it would happen. I’ll definitely keep coming back for that reason, the main reason.

Secondly, we have a great relationship. In my practice, I believe relationships are what build my practice. We have a great relationship with everyone here. They’re like a 24/7 concierge service. Literally; phone call, email, they are always on it. They respond.

Tosca Smith - Always fast responses.

Dr. Tim Smith - I feel like they’ve got my back. I feel like they have our interest in mind. It’s a no-pressure thing. I know that they’re going to be there for us.

Tosca Smith - It’s like having the A-Team behind you, knowing that whatever you need, they’re going to be there to answer your questions, help you. Why wouldn’t you want that? Why wouldn’t you want to continue that?

They’re excellent in every capacity from the first meeting we ever had with them and I thought, “Oh, this might be too good to be true.” They’ve really held up their end of the bargain plus so much more.

Dr. Tim Smith - I’ll add also that, I think for a lot of dentists, we tend to...Dentists don’t want sometimes to admit or face up to situations. We all face the same problems in practice. If you’re struggling with things financially, I tell people all the time, call these guys. It’s great. Just give them a phone call and see if it works for you.

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