Dr. Bernard Avendanio likes to begin his mornings with meditation and a reading of his ten personal values. A daily reminder of his lifelong pledge to serve others, lead with integrity, and make his family proud.
Born with medicine and a passion for education in his veins, Dr. Avendanio began his career long before dental school. His mother was a teacher, and his father, a physician. The journey to dentistry felt like a natural emergence of these two legacies. He graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1996. In 1998, he became a small business owner with the purchase of his first dental practice.
“The greatest thing about owning your own practice is that you feel all the highs, but that’s also the biggest struggle because you feel all the lows too. It’s a rollercoaster.”
In 2014 Dr. Avendanio acquired his second location. While the growth was exciting, the day-to-day management had become daunting. Every achievement was met with a greater or equal challenge. A new associate meant more staff, more space, and more equipment. More staff entailed more training, more systems, and fewer days away from the office. As a practice owner, expecting to leave the office and turn your phone off isn’t just unrealistic, it’s foolish in today’s modern society. With a wife and young daughter at home, the balance of business and leisure, or “work-life harmony,” as Dr. Avendanio calls it, had lost its equilibrium.
“I spent so much time quantifying what happened at the beginning of the year and setting goals for the end of the year, that I was no longer able to just live in the moment. You’ve got to be able to enjoy the moment.”
In time, the cracks began to show. The efforts Dr. Avendanio was making on processes outside of patient care were fruitless as he realized his growth was now limited by his own capacity.
“I’d rather spend my time mastering the skills I do well, than working on getting better at things I can only aspire to do at a mediocre level. There are some guys out there that are great at the business side of things, but I learned that the biggest thing holding me back was myself.”
Though countless direct mail pieces had been sent, it wasn’t until Dr. Avendanio spoke with one of his patients about Apex Dental Partners that he decided to reach out directly to our co-founder David Lohmann. As the husband of a dentist, David could understand Dr. Avendanio’s struggles all too well. In their conversation, David spoke of Apex’s foundation, history and mission for the future. But it wasn’t until David mentioned the core values of Apex that Dr. Avendanio began to hear the echoes of his own daily mantra with an emphasis on integrity, excellence, and service to others.
“I’ve spoken to many dentists about Apex and I tell them it’s a selfish decision to make, but you need to be selfish. It has to feel right.”
When considering a partnership, it’s important to take into account the services and resources that will be provided to you. And, for the qualities that can’t always be evidenced by data, Dr. Avendanio recommends asking yourself these three simple questions:
- Do I like this group?
- Will the resources they offer help me specifically?
- Can I trust this partnership?
After 19 years as a practice owner, Dr. Avendanio partnered with Apex in June 2017. Two moments stood out in his mind as immediate confirmation that he’d made the right decision. The first was at the end of the first payroll cycle. Usually, Dr. Avendanio would make a habit of checking the practice bank account to ensure his team’s paychecks would clear– just in case. A weight was lifted as he realized this was no longer his responsibility alone.
The second moment was shortly after onboarding when Matt Hale, Apex co-founder, showed up to the office in jeans and a toolbelt to install the newest piece of tech equipment. While the Apex support staff has grown considerably since 2017 to now include a full in-house IT team, this anecdote remains true, as Dr. Avendanio still firmly believes that the selfless service of Apex has led directly to his success.
“To this day, the people of Apex still treat me as if I was the only doctor they partnered with. I see it with Matt, David, the marketing and HR teams, and everyone; there’s so much Apex does better than I ever could do alone. I have no idea what our website looks like, but I don’t need to! I can focus on my patients and the things I love doing, like being a great dentist.”
No longer limited, Dr. Avendanio witnessed growth surpassing his wildest expectations. From 2016 to 2021, Dr. Avendanio has had a 270% increase in new patients, leading to the second expansion that will now be made to his practice to accommodate the growth of the past five years. And though his revenue has more than tripled from 2017 to 2021 alone, Dr. Avendanio appreciates that the budgets, construction plans, and permits for this new buildout are no longer his burden.
“Apex preserves the legacy of the dentist. I can work at this practice I built for as long as I choose to stay here. I don’t have to worry about our goals anymore – I mean, I know there are certain production numbers we want to hit and things like that but I know we’ll get there. I’m enjoying living in the moment again. And I plan to keep going.”