Dallas practice makes sure patients and staff members feel at ease, helping it succeed in the dentist-saturated Metroplex
Story by Kevin Henry, Editor. Cover and story photos by Ingrid Williams
When you walk into the practice of Dr. Jim Filbeck in Dallas, you immediately get a sense of comfort. Whether it’s the fireplace across from the front entrance or the overall calm and happiness exuding from the staff ... well, to borrow a line from an old song, there’s a peaceful, easy feeling in the office.
That sense of calm didn’t come by accident. It’s all part of the design by Dr. Filbeck, who wanted to practice in a relaxing, inviting atmosphere.
“I wanted the waiting area to feel like a home,” said Dr. Filbeck, referring to the fireplace-adorned front room. “I never wanted the office to feel sterile, and a part of the warmth comes from the staff.”
And part of that staff is family, continuing a Filbeck tradition in the office. Dr. Filbeck’s father owned the practice before him, and his mother worked at the front desk. His sister, Paige Hillis, is currently the office manager for the practice.
“I started practicing 13 years ago with my dad. I’m really just picking up where he left off,” said the younger Dr. Filbeck, who bought the practice from his dad in 1998. “All of my family members have a great relationship. My dad taught me so much about dentistry, and my mom taught me how to treat people. Dad was a spectacular dentist and Mom was a people person. I’m really a mixture of the two. It was nothing but beneficial to have my parents involved in the practice when I first started.”
Beginning in his father’s practice, Dr. Filbeck worked some late hours (practicing from 1 to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday), but the somewhat strange hours paid big dividends.
“With the size of the practice, my dad could work in the morning and I could work in the evening and it worked out well for both of us,” Dr. Filbeck said. “By the time I purchased the practice, I had built my patient base, allowing me to work more regular hours and spend time with my growing family. Most of my patients were in the original patient base, and almost 100 percent of my new patients have come by word of mouth. I am very blessed because I know some people struggle to build up their patient base.”
Not only did Dr. Filbeck establish his patient base with the evening hours early in his career, he also hired LeAnn Rush, who has worked with him as his dental assistant since 1995. Much of what Dr. Filbeck enjoys about the office is echoed by Rush.
“This is a very ‘homey’ place where we try to treat our patients as well as we possibly can,” she said. “It’s important that we get to know our patients and take the time to visit with them. I love working with people and helping them feel at ease in a place where so many people get nervous. The qualities that I see in Dr. Filbeck and in this office are qualities that I have tried to find when I’ve looked for my own doctor.”
Among the high-ranking qualities of Dr. Filbeck is his leadership. He is quick to point out that “the buck stops with him” when there is a problem in the office, but he always wants his staff to keep him in the loop when an issue arises.
“Keeping the staff together is a very important part of having your patients feel comfortable in the practice,” Dr. Filbeck said. “We are blessed here that everyone on the staff is good friends with everyone else. I have always told my staff members that they don’t have to be best friends, but they must co-exist with each other. There have been times in the past when molding personalities together has not been easy, but I have always kept the lines of communication open between the staff and me.”
And those avenues of communication have been noticed and appreciated by the staff.
“Coming here and working with Dr. Filbeck has really made me appreciate my job,” Rush said. “He’s so easy to work with. Not every boss is like him. I think we work together very well. I think we’ve worked together long enough that I can read his mind sometimes. Before he even says he needs something, I can put the instrument in his hand.”
While communication helps keep the practice running smoothly, a recent makeover to the office has helped add to the facility’s comfort. Dr. Filbeck closed down the practice for two weeks around the Christmas holiday in order to completely modernize the office.
“The office was built in 1980 and we really hadn’t done much to it. When the work was done over Christmas, we took it down to the studs and started over,” Dr. Filbeck said. “We wanted some modern touches in the office and AIMES Construction and Remodeling (Grand Prairie, Texas) did a great job. We decided to go with A-dec in the operatories and things are so much more ergonomic now than they used to be. Everyone - the patients and the staff - has been very excited about the changes.”
Also playing a big role in the redesign of the office were Patterson Dental’s Ron Kitchens and Jeff Van Hess. Dr. Filbeck credits them with making the office’s transformation smooth and virtually stress-free.
“My advice to anyone who is looking to remodel his or her office is to find a reputable supply company and a reputable contractor,” Dr. Filbeck said. “Shutting down for only two weeks was a minor inconvenience compared to the horror stories from other offices who didn’t have those kinds of reputable people helping them. The people who we hired made all of the difference.”