Company: Smile Brands, Irvine, CA USA
Category: ;People-Focused CEO of the Year
Smile Brands Inc. is one of the largest providers of services to dental groups in the U.S. with approximately 400 affiliated practices. The organization is driven by its mission of delivering Smiles for Everyone® which is not a marketing slogan, but the guiding principal for how we interact with employees, affiliated providers, patients, suppliers and our communities. A change in ownership from 2011 until late 2016 caused th business to lose sight of its mission resulting in high employee turnover and a diminished patient experience.
In late 2016, co-founder and CEO, Steven C. Bilt, returned to Smile Brands to lead a turnaround that started with reestablishing the culture.
As we approach the two-year anniversary of Bilt’s return, the cultural shift is palpable. Employees across the country happily don their Smiles for Everyone wristbands, over 25% participate in employer-sponsored volunteer activities and our Glassdoor rating has soared to 4.5 stars with 92% saying they would recommend Smile Brands as an employer. Steve led this transformation via the following strategies:
1. Re-introduced and reinforced the mission
Previous owners walked away from Smiles for Everyone and replaced it with a “corporate speak” mission statement. Upon his return, Bilt interviewed hundreds of employees and learned that they lamented the loss of their mission-driven culture, prompting him to take rapid steps to rebuild it. All employees received new blue wristbands and refresher training on the mission. Cultural Calendars were created to encourage monthly team discussions on our culture and service model. And we introduced Celebrate. Everyday. Miracles.™, bi-weekly sessions where teams gather and acknowledge employees and patients who’ve helped us achieve our mission.
2. Improved business support processes
The organization’s success is founded on the ability of affiliated practices to make quality dental care easy and affordable. Since early 2017, Bilt and his team introduced numerous tools and processes to simplify administration for the practices, so they can focus on patients vs. paperwork. Some key improvements include:
· Expanded recruiting team reduced time-to-hire significantly despite highly competitive dental industry labor market
· Improved billing systems reduced bad debt expense by 50% and saved practice staff significant time in processing claims
· IT developed a simplified appointment scheduling tool that saves time and eliminates patient scheduling errors
· Improved marketing driving consistently strong patient flow into practices
3. Expanded clinical training to keep providers up-to-date
Dentistry is evolving rapidly based on new technologies and digital capabilities. Smile Brands has invested heavily in digital scanning equipment and training to keep affiliated providers on the forefront in areas such as dental implants and clear aligner orthodontic therapy.
4. Relaunched the Smiles for Everyone Foundation and expanded Employee Engagement Teams
Steve reinforced our commitment to community by relaunching the Smiles for Everyone Foundation that provides free dental care to those in need. In 2017 the Foundation also led our disaster relief effort, raising $100K for employees impacted by hurricanes. In 2018, over 800 employees will participate in nearly 30 Foundation events at worldwide. Many more will participate in company-sponsored events organized by our Engagement Teams, such as food drives and toy collections.
5. Strengthened Internal Communications
The majority of practice teammates cannot regularly access company email during business hours. We have expanded use of video and face-to-face communications to be sure that all employees are receiving company communication with maximum convenience and impact. Some programs launched in the past year include:
· Coffee with Crim video series featuring Dr. Robert Crim, Chief Dental Officer
· Annual Leadership Meeting live video feed
· Engage. Retain. Grow. Meetings – Monthly conversations with providers to determine what steps we can take to help them reach their personal and financial goals
· Launching smart phone-based enterprise social media application for improved information access and Collaboration
Rebuilding the culture has paid off with employees, patients and the bottom line. Here’s a summary of successes since Bilt’s return:
· Google rating increased from 2.6 to 4.4 stars
· Revenue up 8% in 2018 YTD
· Operating cash flow improved by $40M in 2017
· Full-time dentist turnover is down 30% vs. pre-acquisition levels
· Glassdoor rating improved from 2.2 to 4.5
· Bad debt expense is down 50%
· Completed 10+ new affiliation partnerships
- Company of the Year & Most Customer Friendly Company of the Year – Best in Biz Silver Award
- Best Places to Work – Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award (Ranked 43/100)
- Large Company of the Year – Silver Stevie Award
- Executive of the Year – Gold Stevie Award
- 2018 Top CEO - Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award (Ranked 12/100)
- 2018 Best CEOs – CEOWorld Magazine (Ranked 35/102)