Hi! I’m Dr. Kenneth Magid, DDS FICD, the Founder of Advanced Dentistry of Westchester, a top cosmetic dental practice in Westchester County, New York. I’m a celebrity cosmetic dentist and have practiced dentistry for over 50 years. At NYU College of Dentistry, I’m the Director of Pre-Doctoral Laser Dentistry and the Assistant Director of Honors Esthetics.
I have been recognized internationally for my contribution to dentistry through induction to The International College of Dentists and selection for Fellowship in The American College of Dentists.
I created the drill illumination system as well as one of the first composite curing lights ever used for bleaching teeth. I also helped bring digital X-Ray to the USA from France and guided them through the FDA.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
As a child, I was born in the Bronx and raised in Queens and was very unsophisticated. I went to dental school, did a residency, and spent two years in the Navy. When I got out, I worked for somebody else and that lasted about a week.
I decided I wanted to launch my dental practice. I put out feelers with dental supply reps who would look for locations to help you find an area to set up a practice. The person I worked with gave me a location in Westchester County, New York. I knew nothing about the area and I had no relatives here.
I opened a practice in an apartment building that we converted and restructured into a dental office. I knew that I wanted to practice a higher level of dentistry. I didn’t know about business.
When you go to dental school, they teach you to do dentistry as if it was a hobby. They teach you nothing about business, marketing, sales, or practice management. I opened my doors, built a practice (facility), and had no money.
For the first year, the office was set up with three treatment rooms. We equipped one treatment room and I lived in the second one on a pullout couch and that was how I lived. I opened a practice in a town and knew nobody. I said to my uncle who was my mentor at the time- I couldn’t open my practice if I worked for somebody else because I didn’t know how to send out bills.
He said to me, can you send out one bill? I said yes. He said, “How many do you think you will have in the first month? The second month you will do four and you will figure it out.”
At some point, I had a consultant who used to help doctors set up the books. They helped with things like:
How do you bill a patient and do a recall system? As soon as I had a few dollars, I hired a consultant. The first thing he said to me was - you have to set goals.
A report without action/ execution is time wasted. For the report or analytics to be meaningful, you have to be willing to act on what you read.
Goal #1: I want to move out of the office and have someone else wash the floor.
He said, “No, you need something more concrete.”
I had nothing and was unsophisticated.
Success takes time & drive
I have an enormous drive. I continue building the practice. I joined clubs. I ran an Explorer Scout group out of my office. I joined local organizations. I met people and I built a reputation based upon the fact that I was doing excellent dentistry and more sophisticated dentistry than was common in the town I was in. I was more sophisticated than people had seen. I built a reputation for excellence.
Validate the growth of the practice.
Ultimately, that is what validates it. Referrals. People send other people to your practice and say- you have to go to him. Back in the day, advertising didn’t exist. We were allowed a white sign with two-inch black letters announcing our name of the practice and that was it.
I had magnets made that said we cater to cowards- that was popular then. People still refer to it now- the little man hiding behind the chair. I still have patients today that were my patients over 51 years ago. I treat four generations of patients.
A few years after opening the practice in Westchester County, I became friends with a fellow who was an engineer. My passion for innovation caused me to look at devices that would improve dentistry and together we started a company to design, patent, and manufacture those devices. One of the inventions was one of the first lights used to cure composite dental materials, which is the basis for all cosmetic dentistry.
As a pioneer in the cosmetic imaging software system in dentistry, I have always championed growth and innovation. I brought the first computerized cosmetic preview system to dentistry from plastic surgery and helped bring digital X-rays to The United States.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Our practice is modern, innovative, and cutting-edge. My practice built a reputation based on providing high-tech, high-touch dentistry services.
Productizing a service is a race to the bottom. I don’t do that. When you try to compete based on product and price, it’s a race to the bottom. What I have done is our tagline & mission statement- Advanced Dentistry of Westchester. High tech/ high touch. Patients have said to us that it is the Jetsons meets Cheers.
You need to be personally invested in what you are building. When you stand to lose everything, you also stand to gain everything, too.
We have built a reputation based upon practicing caring dentistry using the technology available to 2 percent of the dentists in the world. It’s available to others but this isn’t couch potato dentistry. It has been my mission to constantly add new technology that changes the practice of dentistry and makes it better. You have to be willing to do that. It is a significant financial commitment and commitment to the effort. It takes training.
You can’t do what you have always done. You always have to strive for more.
It took 52 years to get to where I am now. I’m not who I was then.
What changed? Everything.
You grow, you mature, you learn, and ideally, you never stop learning. Many practitioners say - why can’t I do the same thing I’ve always done? What can I do next?
When you become complacent you die. Everything grows or dies. If you become complacent in a dental practice or a relationship, you die. You go backward.
I love what I do- otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. I don’t have to do this anymore. I’m constantly learning. I’m constantly changing and growing. I love the practice of dentistry. I love treating people and the response I get when I do a cosmetic makeover and full mouth reconstruction. If you do it well and it's appreciated – there is no greater feeling in the world than changing someone’s life and confidence level when they see their new smile.
It may surprise you to learn that I am not a social person other than treating my patients.
- Real Estate
- Legal fees
- Marketing/ Advertising
I have three patents. I always want to do the latest, greatest things that improve the practice of dentistry. The very first dental bleaching light was based on my patent. The light in the dental drill. The light in the device we use for sterilizing and disinfecting the dental drill.
I innovated and patented many products in dentistry that are still used today. I invented the Kinetic “Sunlight” curing system- one of the first visible curing lights. I also manufactured curing guns sold by many companies including Teledyne, SS White, Den-Mat, and Henry Schein.
I am the Inventor and Patent holder on handpiece illumination systems. This is licensed or manufactured optics for companies such as Midwest, Adec, Schein, Marus, DCI, Pelton and Crane, Proma, Star, Sabra, and Kinetic Instruments. I also manufactured one of the original devices for diagnostic transillumination and wrote the technique manual widely used to teach the technique to dentists. I did this for 20 years and the business still exists.
Describe the process of launching the business (practice).
I started the practice over 52 years ago. It grew organically. I went from 1 to 3 to 10 patients. Today, we have over 5,000 patients.
You can get all kinds of reports on churn and patient acquisition, but ultimately, it comes down to what you will do with it. If I find out the churn rate- how will I change it? A report without action/ execution is time wasted. For the report or analytics to be meaningful, you have to be willing to act on what you read.
We don’t lose many patients- we don’t have a leaky bucket. People who move away very often come back. Today, we have patients from all over the world including Saudi Arabia, Florida, Spain, and California.
Startup Costs: Starting a dental practice in the early days cost me $50,000. This included setting up the facility and equipping it with the necessary technology.
Initially, I had a loan. The initial loan was 50k. That was 50 years ago. Today, it would be half a million dollars.
I should have researched the building I set up in which we are no longer in. In hindsight, it would have been good to have researched it more. In reality, I wasn’t sophisticated enough as an early entrepreneur to do that. In retrospect, I would have done something different.
I own part of the building the practice is in. I built the building I am in now. I had too much invested in building it. This is important for entrepreneurs to understand- you need to be personally invested in what you are building. When you stand to lose everything, you also stand to gain everything, too.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
New patient acquisition growth strategy
Increasing Traffic and Sales: Social media marketing, print advertising, sponsored cosmetic makeovers, reputation building, referrals, and personal relationships are all effective methods for increasing traffic and sales. Additionally, providing patients with pain-free dental care and giving them smiles they never thought possible is the best word-of-mouth marketing.
One of the best aphorisms I’ve heard from Tom Orent:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been, and you will always have what you have always had.”
This quote is an important reminder for aspiring founders to constantly change and grow for their businesses to thrive.
Constant change is critical because everything is always changing. If you don’t change, you will get left behind. Unfortunately, that is how practitioners got stuck in insurance-based practices they hate. Then they go corporate because they never change.
Today we do:
- Social media marketing
- Print advertising in regional magazines
- Sponsored cosmetic makeovers
- Charity & local community partnerships
Creating our online presence is a critical component:
Our online presence is important when new patients are looking us up online. One thing I will say is this. I do not have the newest and flashiest website. And guess what? My patients still return, and I haven’t lost patients because of it. The moral of the story is that the way I practice dentistry ultimately impacts whether I retain patients – not the latest landing page online. Today, dental entrepreneurs are incredible with technology and social media.
However, the “soft skills” of dentistry and the hard skills of the craft must be your top priority. I am not on TikTok and I still have patients. I do not have a podcast. I still have patients. I don’t do daily Instagram reels - I still have patients.
I only mention this to say that you have to choose where your attention goes. You only have so many hours in the day. When you are first starting out, your priority has to be on the practice of dentistry and the excellence of your craft. If you master the craft, the rest will follow. This is not to say that you should ever be complacent- you should not. But finding the right balance of marketing and time on your craft is important and a personal decision.
Most of our patient growth is word of mouth and based on reputation and personal relationships. Now I have my partner and daughter (Dr. Sabrina Magid-Katz) who brings in people because she knows people. People love when they see her so we have that advantage. She brings in a whole different love of people.
My Launch Strategy: I initially used phone books and signs to advertise his practice before Ralph Nader later pushed to change the law and allow medical practitioners to advertise. He then started advertising in Westchester Magazine and WAG Magazine and sponsoring cosmetic makeovers.
Initially, I advertised in the phone books by placing local ads. Next, I put a sign out front. Then it was WAG Magazine and we sponsored cosmetic dentistry makeovers.
Marketing/ Traffic efforts:
- Social Media
- Facebook ads
- Google ads
- Print Ads
- Email marketing/ newsletter
- Networking/ Local charity involvement
We get patients and referrals from it. We get patients who say I saw you in this magazine, or I saw you on TV.
If you have no patients to treat, then who are you marketing to?
You need to have patients to market your services to. A big mistake I see is that people focus on marketing before they focus on what they are marketing.
Social media also allows dentists to market practices economically.
Social media is a great way for our practice to communicate with both current patients and prospective patients. We use social media to show cosmetic makeovers we have accomplished.
We also use it to communicate with a frightened patient that hasn’t been to a state-of-the-art dental practice to understand that implants can be done computer guided without opening up the tissues, completely safely, and with no pain or healing time.
Social media enables us to show our side and have patients and prospective patients see us as whole people and allows them to determine whether we are the type of dentist they would like to trust.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Companies are using AI to “evaluate x-rays for needed treatment”. The truth is they are using AI in some cases to convince a patient to do the unnecessary treatment.
For example, companies are convincing dentists to use this technology to measure bone loss and the need for periodontal treatment. The AI shows measurements of periodontal conditions that cannot exist in nature.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The practice is profitable and thriving.
Social media following: Our Westchester County dental practice has thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram. In dentistry, one of the most important measures of success is the continuous growth of positive patient reviews. On Google, we have over 250 reviews.
Customer lifetime value: My retention rate is over 90 percent. People move, die, or leave the practice, but for the most part, we don’t lose patients.
Growth & Low Churn: Dr. Magid’s practice has grown organically over the past fifty-two years, now having over 5,000 patients on record with very little churn rate. Patients have come from as far away as Saudi Arabia, Florida, California, Spain, and New Jersey.
YoY growth financially.
When Covid hit, we grew 30% over the past three years. It used to be that people worked 5 days a week in Manhattan so they went to dentists there. People stopped going to dentists in Manhattan and started seeing more dentists in the suburbs. We saw tremendous growth in the practice post-Covid. We have retained the new patients.
1971: Started the practice 0 patients
2023: Over 5,000 patients
Our patients come from brick & mortar.
Plans to expand to new products/audiences/regions.
We added additional services including:
We expanded by adding an associate dentist. I would like to expand by adding another day with additional staffing.
It will continue even after I am not there.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
If I were a different person when I built it, I may have put it in a different town.
Being a successful dental practitioner not on insurance panels demands that I provide a higher level of dental service than a patient can get in those offices and I have to market that difference to my patients.
The way I practice requires that I constantly evolve on the clinical side with new, better, and more sophisticated treatment, and on the marketing side, by effectively using social media to get my message out.
The best decision I ever made was when my daughter joined the practice as my partner. As a father, having my daughter join me in the practice is a great feeling of pride. Seeing the professional and doctor she has become – I am very proud of that and whatever influence I have had makes me feel good.
Continue moving the practice into advanced technologies and the best decision I have made other than Sabrina (my daughter) is to teach. In the area of dentistry, I teach at NYUCD, you have to stay on the cutting edge and at the very top of your game. If you want to know if you understand something, teach it.
If you can’t teach it, you don’t understand it. I have learned more and my professional skills have improved more through teaching than any other single factor.
I don’t ask anyone to do anything that I haven’t already done myself.
I will not do a procedure unless I do it at the highest level. If I think a specialist will do it better I won’t do it.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Google Business profile
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
· 7 Habits of Highly Successful People
· The pursuit of Wow
· Monkey management
· Who moved my cheese?
· 7-minute manager
I have written chapters in three textbooks and multiple articles in dental journals on cosmetic dentistry and dental technology.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Growth Recommendations for Aspiring Founders: Constant change is critical to achieving success. Without changing to adapt to new technology, dental practitioners can become stuck in practices they don't enjoy working in. This will have a ripple effect on the decline of the practice.
Find a mentor. You don’t know what you don’t know. A mentor who can guide you and teach you will propel you forward. Find a mentor and also become a mentor.
Do not be afraid of new technology. Constant education and familiarization are critical. Invest the time to learn the equipment and systems to stay ahead of the curve.
Inspirational words of wisdom:
Every day I want to be better.
Not better than someone else…better than I was yesterday.
I constantly ask myself, “How can I make the patient experience better and the treatment better?”
I look forward to meeting new clinical challenges.
What keeps me going is incorporating the next great technology or learning the next great technique that revolutionizes dentistry.
Make sure you are going to love what you do, and if you do you will never work a day.
To me, success is completing an amazing cosmetic makeover and changing the lives of the patient.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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