Dr. James Heaton: Smiling Your Best with Smiles of Chandler

Have you ever wondered if starting your own company was the best route?

Dr. James Heaton is the Founder of Smiles of Chandler, a leading dental care provider in Arizona.  

Dr. Heaton prides himself on providing excellent treatment to his patients in a comfortable atmosphere. He is an expert in dental knowledge, having received a bachelor’s degree in Advanced Radiologic Sciences from Weber State University and a Dental Surgery doctorate from Ohio State University. Dr. Heaton has received multiple awards, including one for his research in dental esthetics. 

Smiles of Chandler has over 30 years of experience and their practice utilizes the latest in modern dental technology. The highly trained team of dental professionals ensure that the customer is getting the best dental care possible. 

“We’re confident our highly trained, family-friendly doctors will put you and yours at ease and provide the quality care you deserve. You’re in good hands at Smiles of Chandler.” – Dr. James Heaton 

Learn more about how the team at Smiles of Chandler create beautiful smiles by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on  Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to the thoughtful entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of upmyinfluence.com, where we turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. So we believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. Even you stick around to the end of this show, where I'll share info on how you could be our next guest, three times a week, five to 15 minutes each learn from successful business owners and professionals. It's time to get inspired. Let's go. All right, Dr. James Heaton, you are the founder of Smiles of Chandler and- and I don't know if I'd say is it is it Chandler with a hard C or a soft, soft at like an S Chandler.

somewhere in the middle? Chandler

Chandler. Awesome. Well, so I'm really excited to have you on because you founded your own dentistry practice, got your own office. And so I would imagine that there's a lot of other professionals, not necessarily in dentistry, but maybe they're already working with another practice. And they'd love to be able to expand out on their own, you know, whether they're in chiro care or doctor or health care provider or any other professional. And so I'd love to learn what that process was for you. So when did you- when did- when did you finish schooling?

In 2011.

2011. Okay, so, so roughly about eight years ago, so. So you kind of made the migration fairly quick. I think. I don't know what's what's normal for a dentist?

Yeah, I think I did make it fairly quick. I think most dentists who want to own their own practice, I think they make that transition within the first four to five years, somewhere in there.

Oh, my gosh. So what did you- so, get out of school? What do you do then? Were you working? You were working with another group?

Yeah. So I, I tried to get some tutelage basically, under some dentists, I, I kind of looked for dentists that I knew ran successful practices, and did the type of dentistry I wanted to do. I graduated dental school, and it wasn't lost on me that I didn't know what I needed to know. You don't learn how to run a business and dental school, and I didn't have an MBA or anything. And so I got to know some guys that couple days a week at two different places who I knew ran very successful businesses. And I learned a lot. Fortunately, they were super cool cats, and they were willing to kind of just open up to me and say, here, here's how I'm doing it. This is work. This hasn't worked. And that was that was huge for me truthfully.

Wow. And so, you know, obviously, I think a lot of people get into dentistry, and they want to learn the skills of being a good service provider. But, you know, outside of that, I mean, honestly, if we want to, you know, if your goal is to have a thriving practice, you know, marketing, branding, advertising, attracting new clients is, that's some pretty valuable skill. And you know, what a better way to learn that then to identify, well, I don't necessarily want to work with the best dentist in the area. I mean, that's good. But what I really want to know is like, you know, who's built the baguette, you know, who's built, built the business that I want to emulate or exceed? And so I guess it sounds like that was kind of a lot of your intention.

Yeah, that's totally it. So I knew that I could develop the clinical skills I needed. But if I didn't know how to make people aware of it, that I was a great dentist, then it wasn't gonna do any good. If I'm sitting in my office waiting for somebody to walk to the door, that was going to get me anywhere. So I wanted to learn the business skills, the marketing side of things as quickly as possible.

And what were some of the things you learned initially that you're like,

Oh, um, I think, you know, just learning about,

honestly, Josh, come out of dental school, you know, anything. So even just learning how to read a p&l on a balance sheet was like, Oh, that's what that looks, you know, and then

learning just the different methods of marketing.

And trying to, you know, keep up with the digital age was huge. I mean, marketing is different for me today than it was a year ago, honestly. And so, I'm just learning to where to go, what resources podcasts honestly have been huge for me is just listening to podcasts and hearing people who are willing to share and open up about what they've done. So

yeah. So I wonder then, if there's any awkwardness, if you're looking at a practice, and you're like, Well, look, honestly, I want to learn all your best practices, and then I'm probably going to go independent, or, you know, did you have that conversation at the beginning? Or do you just kind of like, you know, let's, let's work together and see where it goes? And?

Yeah, you do. Typically, there's kind of a an expectation of, I think it's okay to go in and say, hey, look, I don't know, I think you're amazing, I'd like to learn how you do what you do, and I'm willing to commit to you for a year and then you know, has kind of a handshake, basically, that you'll actually stay that long or two years, whatever it is. And sometimes, if they're really great associate, you can offer them, you know, partial ownership, or you can offer them, you know, maybe a little higher percentage on their production or whatever, to try to keep them around.

And I would imagine that, that marketing as as if your health care professional or dentistry has really changed. I know what what I understand about consumer behavior, and how consumers make decisions today, way different than how we were doing that 10 years ago. Yeah, I here's my impression. And and, you know, let me know what what your observations are. But it seems to me that when someone is in the market for a new dentist, they may Google but honestly, I see most people just hitting up social media. And they get together and maybe it's a Facebook group, or maybe they're somehow connecting with other friends in the area on social. And they're like, who really loves their dentist? Yeah, that seems I you know, again, I might have a, you know, kind of a unique worldview, just because I am very, very, you know, social media minded. But I see so much. people asking for recommendations for local businesses. And that is where the advice is given. And I've done this where I don't even ask the question, I just go into a group and I say, search for existing conversation. I don't need to get Yeah, I don't need to restart that conversation. But you know, I think this is really good, because it turns the area of being a professional service provider, it becomes a true meritocracy. I think that, you know, providing a great quality service, you know, fair pricing, a great user experience. And, and we'll get into branding in just a minute. I think that's a big part of it, as well. But I love that because, you know, if you're a crook, you're not going to last in business very long. Or, you know, you're, you're truly not good at the skills of have the clinical skills, right. You're not gonna you're not going to survive long. Yeah, you can't. You can't get beyond good advertising for too long. If you if you have bad service today. Those reviews really mean it. mean a big. They mean a lot.

Yeah. Yeah, no doubt. You know, it's interesting. You said, a lot of people, they move into a new area, or they just want to go to a new dentist, and you said they'll jump online and see who their friends recommend. Maybe might jump online and see who people they don't even know but they follow on social media recommends, you know what I mean? Or maybe they're Yes, for sure for that, but somebody just makes a comment. That's seems to be happening more and more and more. And that's changed so quickly. Just two years ago, Josh, I felt like the majority of my patients came from Google and Yelp, just people online reading reviews, or they did a search for me, you know, Chandler, Arizona dentist. That seems to be going down month to month a month and the people who walk in and say, Hey, you know, I follow this girl on social media and I saw her she got whitening in your office or veneers in your office or you know, she just posted that she was visiting here. And that seems to be going up so that does seem to be the trend for sure.

Doctor, share your your website real quick. So just so people because what I'm going to transition now and I want to talk about branding and social media, yeah. So you maybe share some of your social media handles your favorite ones. I know Instagram, you're really big on and then of course your website as well.

Yeah, absolutely. So Instagram. Less than a year even I started putting some of my before and after pictures. I like to do a lot of cosmetic dentistry specifically veneers at Dr. James Heaton, real simple at Dr. James Heaton for Instagram. My website is SmilesofChandler.com. So super simple.

Great. And of course, if you go to SmilesofChandler.com, that it'll have links to all your social right as well. But especially the person who's listening is conversation, make sure you check out check out Dr. Heaton's Instagram page, so you can see exactly what he's doing. And why is Instagram. I mean, obviously, you're in a very visual. Nice, where, you know, people have I mean, the before and after, it's, it's a visual thing that, you know, I can't just say, you know, you know, the sound of my voice, you know, I went to this dentist, and it was a great experience. See, and meanwhile, they're just listening, like, however, a visual platform like Instagram. It's like you can't argue with with what you're seeing there. And especially if you have people that I think are respected, like, you know, if I'm following someone on Instagram, they've got 20,000 followers. It must be because they're used to sharing good quality stuff. And, you know, an endorsement from a local influencer can really drive a lot of activity today.

Yeah, it can be extremely impactful to get an endorsement from a from an from a social media influencer. And the beauty of that is most of them have kind of a have a reputation to pulled their followers follow them because they like what they recommend. So if they recommend a dentist that, you know, works in an office as a total dump, and the his, his staff is kind of rude. They would never do that. So, you know, there actually is some something to that. Yeah,

yeah, for sure. Yeah, no, I think that's one thing that you learn really quick as you start to grow in influence is, you know, there are going to be brands that will throw money at you. And if you promote a bad brand with a bad your, your audience is going to crucify I mean, it's it is by don't do it, I'm just I'm going to talk to other kind of junior influencers, resist the urge. It's right, don't do it. You're not going to be an influencer for long if you lose your integrity. So um, so I would imagine then, what have what's been some of the day? I mean, have you had you've had some, obviously bad some influencers in the chair? What does that experience like, as a, as a business owner to work with an influencer? And like, how much can you ask for in terms of like, you know, hey, so you're going to say nice things about us? Right? Like, what is that conversation? Like when you're when you're working with someone who's got a decent audience?

Yeah. You know, that's a great question, Josh. So I'm reaching out to influencers on social media all the time. And I try not to ask for anything to tell the truth. And yeah, just I try to offer I offer whatever, I try to figure out what it is their need is, and offer ways I can help them, and then just allow them to reciprocate. And that's been really effective for me. So I don't really ever ask, say, Hey, will you do a post about me today? It's more like, yeah, oh, hey, I would love to do some whitening for you. Whether it's trays or in house whitening, and most of time, they love that they come on in, and we make sure we give them the, you know, thorough VIP exclusive while they're there. And then we don't have to ask, they just, you know, they reciprocate.

Yeah, what what you just went through, I hope that the person is listening to us, they want to do more work with influencers, obviously, you know, it's all my influence. We do a lot of work in this space. Right. And I didn't prompt you to say what you said, but I'm going to tell you that what you said, is textbook perfect. once in a great while, you you'll get an influencer who doesn't really reciprocate at the level you hope it's very rare. And, you know, you know, and honestly, those those people don't they don't get repeat business for sure. Right. But as an influencer, I you know, we've had the opportunity in Orlando, there's a lot of like, fun things I've done with my family and friends. Like, I feel like it you know, if I get an invite, you know, and again, I'm not a mega influencer. I'm a micro influencer. But, you know, if I get an invite to go to medieval times, for example, like I really, really want to over deliver as an influencer. And the reason why is because I want more opportunities like that. And so I really look at it like, you know, I have an obligation to, you know, give, give that brand, that company, I'm working with way more value than what they're giving me. And if I do a really good job, I'm going to get a lot more opportunities. So it's a really great win win. So again, for the micro macro influencers kind of list celebrities, you know, what you're doing? I hope I did, you know, but your micro macro influencers that are kind of on your way up? I think there's some really, really great learnings in this conversation here. Absolutely. And, and DGU. So in terms of like, how do you calculate ROI? How can you measure that? I know that that's something that other business owners are a little concerned with? Like, okay, I mean, I know we're getting the visibility, but are we getting? Like, how do we know where these people are coming from? Is it working? Like, what have you thought about in that regard?

Yeah, I'm, honestly, Josh, it's the least expensive marketing I do. You don't mean so to have an influencer come in and get a cleaning and get some whitening trays cost me very little. And if she posts about my office, usually just the story for it's worth, there's a big difference when a story in a static post on Instagram, but usually just a story, but you know, if they have even just 10,000 followers, and 10% of their audience feels, sees that and their local person. Yeah, that's 1000 eyeballs. And it costs me you know, 100 bucks. It's the it's the least expensive marketing I do and seeming to be most effective. So I'm not losing a sweat over it. I'm excited about it.

Yeah. You know, it's, it's truly amazing. And, and, and to the person who doesn't quite believe this yet. I want you to think about, like how we're all consumers. And think about how you buy your stuff. Like you could draw past a pizza place, you could see 10 advertisements for a pizza place. And you're like, yeah, okay, I you know, but as soon as you have a friend or someone you follow, that is like posting these great photos of like them, like, Oh my gosh, try the pesto sauce. It's amazing. Like, that. I can tell you like myself. I know my wife, my kids. Like they, as soon as they see that personal recommendation from a real person. They're like, Oh, my gosh, we are so going there. Yeah, like my wife. Like she follows like the Try Guys on YouTube and so many other so many other influencers. Because it's fun, like in a good influencer, is not going to turn it into an infomercial, they're going to be very organic and authentic about their experience. And, you know, I've had that happen, like I did a hair restoration thing. And, you know, in my experience with that North Atlanta, hair restoration, Dr. Daniel Daniel, like, I sing his praises anytime I can. And I do it. I do it. My did it. I did it in the social media that I you know, that was intentional. And then, you know, now as an influencer, people ask my opinion on, you know, and again, I'd not say Roman influence. I'm a micro baby influencer. But I still have the opportunity to talk about that from time to time. And those are the kind of people you want, not only just doing those social media posts out of the gate, but also doing your word of mouth, you know, because they have that relationship with you now, you know, you get to a point where you have an 100 or so influencers that you've worked with, and they're all singing your praises from time to time is a really, really great position to be in.

Yeah, it's huge. And it's, it's more impactful than almost any other market you can pay for. Because the other types of marketing are staged. And they're, people expect them they know you paint you're paying for them. Yeah, but this, this is social proof. This is somebody who you value their input, you follow them, you buy the clothes, they wear you, you know, by the makeup they wear, and oh, they went to this cosmetic dentist, I trust them. I can see the pictures, they turned out amazing. And there, they say their experience was good. That is the absolute best marketing you can get. I know how people I know have people flying in not a ton, but people flying in to see me from other states, Josh. And imagine how many unbelievable cosmetic dentists, they fly right over to come to my office and see me. You know what I mean?

So yeah, for sure. So again, SmilesofChandler.com. So if you're anywhere in the country, you don't have to be in Phoenix, Arizona, or in the general or in the in the Chandler area, you know, people are now coming to see you because of your social media rage, and the reach of the influencers that are now have now worked with you-


Um, it's kind of exciting. You know, it's really, really interesting, you think about the average dentist experience, they generally don't have people flying in from other parts of the country to come to their offices, they're pretty much like, Oh, you know, I just have to advertise in my local backyard. And that's all I have to work with.


So you're opening up the market in a really, really great way. You know, one thing I wanted to mention, just in terms of helping people understand, you know, the difference between advertising traditional advertising. And, you know, either it's PR, or working with influencers, where it's much more native and organic and authentic, is that, you know, with advertising, you have super high control over the messaging. With working with influencers, you have a lot less control over what they say,


And so again, it's one of those things that you I think you just have to experiment with and see how it goes. But I'm with you. ROI is through the roof, you get higher control advertising, but you get much lower trust with ads, people just don't trust ads, because we're bombarded with them. And so we've all set up this filter, oh, that's an advertisement. I don't trust it. You know, it might be good for impressions, but that's about it. You know, with Savings Angel, that's what you know, we've done millions, millions of dollars worth of business and never done any advertising. Because I just felt like if I could get enough people to truly care about what I have to offer, then, you know, I don't have to sell it off. But you know, with, you know, again, with influencers, you have a lower control, much higher trust. And so and I think in an area where, you know, unless you want to just be completely commodities, I think dentistry particularly cosmetic dentistry, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. So I will say congratulations on your success. And again, you know, the person is listening to us. Very, very simple. Just go to SmilesofChandler.com, maybe sure to click through to- to Dr. Heaton's Instagram account. And again, what is your Instagram handle one more time?

It's at Dr. James Heaton.

And DR, right?

DR. Yep.

Sorry, Dr. DR, James Heaton on Instagram, so you can see exactly what Dr. Heaton is doing. And also influencers in the southwest area. Yeah, I would imagine they could probably reach out and connect with you if they have it. If they feel like they've got a decent audience, that might be a good fit. Right. I'm sure you'd entertain a message.

Right. I would love that. Yeah.

Awesome. Well, Dr. Heaton, I appreciate you. I'm a fan. I'm actually you know, and not sure if I'm actually flying out to see you myself. Because Listen, these- these pearly whites are you know, we'll pull out the little scale to see where I'm at. Now, I know I'm not yet at the level that I'd love to be. But I have a feeling after coming to visit you we can get closer to that point.

Absolutely. We'll take care of you.

That sounds great. Alright, so Dr. James Heaton again SmilesofChandler.com thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks so much, Josh.

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