Dr. Jeanne Salcetti's father defined his dental career with a passion for his profession. His strong belief in what he was doing ignited his daughter's desire to carve out a career in the field as well.
Salcetti, who grew up in Bethesda, Md., started with a degree in dental hygiene and a minor in education from the University of Maryland. While working as a hygienist, she also taught dental hygiene part time at the university and was offered a full-time job in the department of periodontics.
In 1995, Salcetti earned her periodontal degree in North Carolina and moved with her family to Colorado Springs to start her practice.
Question: Can you describe your business?
Answer: I am a periodontist - a dentist who has gained additional graduate training to become a surgical specialist, treating gum disease, loss of teeth, dental implants and rebuilding missing bone. My role is to help save teeth, but in cases where there is advanced disease, or the tooth is not savable, I'll remove the tooth and rebuild the foundation.
Q: What is the fastest growing part of your business?
A: Using my laser to help treat moderate to advanced gum disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 47 percent of Americans over the age of 30 suffer from mild to severe periodontitis, and over 70 percent of people over the age of 65 suffer from periodontal disease. This is important because the link between periodontal and heart disease is huge.
Q: How did the recession affect you?
A: I've been in business for 20 years and it didn't really hit me in 2008 and 2009. Those were pretty strong years. It started to affect me more in 2011 and 2012. I think it's because my practice is referral-based, so I rely on general family dentists to send me patients. When the recession hit, these general practices began to take on the specialty services. They were able to do this by taking weekend warrior training, but it was minimal and we've seen the greatest fallout where many general dentists are placing dental implants in patients' jaws with very little understanding as to the biology or to the position based on the anatomical structure. So my practice has increased in these patients where implants have failed.
Q: How do you tackle the challenges of running a business?
A: We don't get any business training in grad school, so I've surrounded myself with individuals who can help me learn about my business and how to manage it better. I've been a member of Vistage for seven years. Vistage is a peer advisory group for CEOs and other business professionals. This has singlehandedly helped me understand managing the business, managing my employees, looking at the key performance indicators in terms of tracking the metrics of business and allocating those measures to a dental practice. My business is uniquely different from other businesses out there so I have also used a practice consultant for 15 years to help me. Having a dental practice is like having your own small hospital-based clinic so it's very important to understand the business side of it.
Q: What advice would you offer other entrepreneurs?
A: Do your homework and make sure where you decide to launch your business, and that it's in an area where you can thrive. For dentistry, it's not easy setting up shop in a town where there are 15 other periodontists; there may not be a big enough patient base. Do a business plan and make sure you look at all the elements to start a business, and then start small and allow your business to grow. Many times, individuals take on way too much debt and their income can't sustain their debt service.
Q: Do you have a personal formula for success?
A: Always maintain an optimistic attitude. When there are employees that look to you as the leader, you have to set the example and encourage your employees to do the best and be the best they can be because that's directly reflected on your patients.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Colorado Springs business climate?
A: I am so excited about so many things. With the City for Champions, I am excited we've gotten the funding for that, and we need some more Springs folks to be on board with that. I'm excited about the Sierra Nevada group coming to town and building this huge facility to bring in jobs for folks in the aeronautical and engineering fields. Colorado is a cool place to live and I think Colorado Springs is a huge part of that, considering the industry we've landed. I'm looking forward to seeing where our city goes in the next 10 years.
Edited for space and clarity.