Dr. Balsis - I would say absolutely, we can talk about things here that wouldn’t normally come up primarily because of the questions Four Quadrants asks us, and the perspective that Four Quadrants brings up stuff that we may not think about. Even items that we may not want to bring up with each other. Four Quadrants really gets you to talk about things we may not even know we need to talk about or we might feel uncomfortable or awkward to discuss.
It was a very beneficial meeting today.
Dr. Christy - We looked at the past, we looked at today, and now we need to look at where we want to go in the future. We talk about this stuff during the week. There are the days we work together, but we need to get with the people who are helping us financially and say “Here’s where we want to go,” then you guys listen to us and either go with it or present alternative options to say, “Well, you could do that, or you do this instead,” and then they tell us how to proceed once we make a choice. It’s nice to have marching orders for everybody.
Dr. Balsis - We work together three days a week, but we’ve had more time today talking together than we’ve had in the past year — at one sitting. It’s tough to talk about some items when you only have 10 or 15 minutes together at the office. When you have an hour or two here, its good.
Going back a few years to the on- boarding of you Eric as an associate - that’s a pretty heady time for someone who hadn’t been out of Dental school that long.
Dr. Balsis - When I came on board, Todd contacted me initially and said “This isn’t going happen unless you talk the Four Quadrants first,” and that’s one of the best things that ever happened to me. So it was a real easy process.
I was basically just out of school; I had worked a little. They really didn’t teach anything about business in Dental School and the one business class they teach us they showed us the textbook way to do something, but then the professors undercut the text and said: “It will never go that way.”
Well the way Four Quadrants did it was the way you were supposed to. It was the textbook definition of how it was supposed to go despite warnings that it would never be so smooth. It’s how an associate should buy into the practice and how they said it would work is how it actually did work. It was really good. We had our first meeting; Four Quadrants set up, “Here’s how things would work.” I would buy into the practice at this particular time, as long as the numbers made sense.
Dr. Christy - The transformation of the practice began from our first meeting. I had the backing of Four Quadrants where I can just work at trying to find the right person as an associate. It was working with the financials to make sure everything works out because one thing I’ve never wanted to do with Eric or any of our team members is overpromise and underperform. I want everything to be successful.
During the transition planning process we put together a partnership symposium meeting, this gave you a chance to weigh in on the transition and put everything on the table; anything you wanted to get off your chest. For example, Eric, when you came out of school you felt a lot of debt pressure. How did we help come up with a strategy to deal with the debt?
Dr. Balsis - As a new dentist, I definitely had debt. My wife is a doctor as well, and she had debt just coming out of school. There is a six-month grace period with student loans and I just started paying off student loans and we were not saving for retirement. We both were finally working and making money and we wanted to spend some money. We had freedom, we thought, and there was no emphasis on saving for retirement ever.
But being with Four Quadrants helped us get our priorities straight. We were not putting away any money and that would be a problem down the road. Four Quadrants showed us the way to pay down our debt faster and save a lot more for retirement, yet I didn’t have to do any more work and we were still living this new lifestyle. Again, working with Four Quadrants was the greatest decision I made.
Don’t get me wrong, working at Berrien Dental and working with Todd is great, but getting with Four Quadrants and getting our financial state of affairs in order . . . that’s one of the best things that could come out of our partnership in my view up to this point. Four Quadrants makes it so easy, I don’t have to do anything. Everything is straightforward and now I’m prepared for the future.
Dr. Christy - I didn’t want somebody I was going to practice with saddled with a lot of debt. I knew Four Quadrants could make sure that Eric, at a younger age, could get out of that debt sooner.
Once that burden of student loans is gone I know how much easier life is. Knowing that I had survived through that. There are more challenges at the later time too, but you never have the burden of that debt hanging over you. I had no problem recommending Four Quadrants to Eric, that they would help him. I had done it on my own and that’s the worst way. These guys could get help and avoid some of the pain and pitfalls I went through.
I told him Four Quadrants will jump in and not necessarily change your life but improve it greatly.
You both get along really well and seem to have a genuine friendship. Talk about how Four Quadrants has helped the communication between the both of you when you own spots in two different locations?
Dr. Balsis - I think Todd and I have a pretty good relationship. Part of that, honestly, comes from the fact that neither of us likes confrontation (laughs) but having said that . . . because of Four Quadrants, we know where we should be going. When there is an issue, Four Quadrants has served as an effective mediator and makes it really easy to sort through the issues. If we have a problem, I don’t have to confront Todd directly, we can talk about it with the guidance of Four Quadrants who has both of our best interests in mind.
Four Quadrants also brings up things that may become a problem before it actually is. Because of their vision we get it out on the table and talk about it as much as a year before it actually becomes one. Then we’ve avoided it. They bring forth and highlight some issues that maybe we didn’t even know were occurring; issues that we should have been talking about.
We did some of those things today; they were much easier to tackle because they hadn’t become a problem yet.
Dr. Christy - As Eric was saying, we’ve got that open communication between us and Four Quadrants. The same is true with their tax side. I like Four Quadrant’s proactive approach. I don’t like reactive; it never works well. Proactive and planning is what we get with Four Quadrants. Even today we talked about opportunities going forward where we can jump in. We actually want to plan the next two years or three years out and we can do that within our budgeting.
Managing cash flow is always tough and cumbersome in a partnership. How have we helped to provide clarity with cash flow management in a practice with two partners with two different locations?
Dr. Balsis - I take issue with your question, (laughs) because it’s actually not always tough managing cash flow with Four Quadrants. It’s not a problem at all. I was at a CE meeting talking about loans and investments and talking about student loan rates with a fellow Dentist and I said, “I don’t worry about this,” and he said, “Well what do you mean?”
I said, “Well I have people.” He responded, “Yeah I have a financial advisor too.” I asked him how much he’s saving and he said, “Well I’ve got about $30,000 in savings. Why? How much do you have?”
I said, “About $400,000.”
He kind of looked at me funny and he asked, “How do you save that much?”
I told him “Four Quadrants does it for me. You really need to call them. I probably live better than you do; I know you’re a good Dentist; I know you have a good partnership with your doctor; but you have two different accountants. That’s not a good strategy. And you don’t have anyone competent handling your investments.”
So if it’s student loans; mine are getting paid off faster. Investments? I didn’t have any, now I have a ton. Cash flow? It’s going well; we’re both getting raises this year. Had we not had Four Quadrants, would we be giving each other raises? No, probably not.
So to answer question, cash flow is not a problem because we have Four Quadrants.
Dr. Christy - Cash flow doesn’t get stressful, anymore. If we have something that goes wrong or is unexpected we’re able to take care of it. I haven’t had to take out that four letter word “loan” in the last couple years. “We haven’t had to do that. There are plenty of other stresses in Dentistry we all know that. But if you can manage cash flow and the issues that go along with it, it makes life a lot easier.