The Importance of The Paragon Program™ by Ken Runkle

Is there one key factor that you have noticed about people being involved in The Paragon Program™?

Ken Runkle: Dentists need to understand The Paragon Program™ and how important their involvement is to their success. It’s a community of dentists who want their practice to get better and better, year after year.

Having said that, we also understand that dentists go through phases in their life too.

We have some Paragon clients who have been with us for over 30 years. We have worked for them before some of their children were born. We have watched those same children go from kindergarten to college. In a few cases, those sons and daughters went to dental school, and we are working with them now.

Sometimes, our doctors have his or her foot on the gas regarding the growth of their practice, or in certain phases, they may take their foot off the gas for a certain period of time.

We understand these phases come and go. The only thing I don’t suggest is for anyone to drop out of Paragon or “take a year or two off of Paragon.”

Can you explain why?

Ken Runkle: Because some of the time, they never come back.  Other times, when they do come back, they have fallen behind from where they were and now, we must start all over again.  In a few cases, it is as if they started their dental practice from scratch again.

That seems a little discouraging.

Ken Runkle: Sure. After all, we realize how far ahead they would have been if they had just stayed in Paragon and taken their foot off the gas a little bit.

Why would someone want to pay the Paragon fee if they know they are going to have their foot off the gas in The Paragon Program™?

Ken Runkle: Because our resource base is so huge and the support from the Paragon dental community is so deep and wide, you really don’t know what you will miss until you get out of it.

The fact of the matter is that we have plugged our client base so deeply into the 7% Solution – that’s when a practice always grows by 7% every year! – that we have been able to keep some practices going when I believe they would have otherwise blown up.

Let me tell you a story….

At the beginning of Paragon, we had a client go through a catastrophic incident in his family. Everyone would agree the incident was truly catastrophic. Because I didn’t know any better at the time, when he asked if he could get out of Paragon, I quickly agreed for his sake. Later, I found out his practice went down the tubes, and he left private practice. I didn’t keep track of his life personally, but I know it was a terrible situation that we allowed to get worse because I thought I was being compassionate.

Since then, I’ve had clients be in equally catastrophic incidents, but I have personally pushed them to stay in The Paragon Program™.

In every case, the practice came out of the catastrophic incident better than it was before. Of course, I would never want to take all the credit for that, but I like to think we had a little bit to do with those practices’ success.

That makes sense.

Ken Runkle: On three occasions, I’ve had dentists tell me that they were five years from retirement. (This was before the recent dental supply and wage inflation.)

In one case, I told the dentist he should get out of Paragon.  I was wrong. In the other two cases, I suggested strongly to the dentists that they stay in Paragon.

In the case of the dentist who got out of Paragon, he sold his practice for the value of the equipment. That’s a really bad deal!

On the other hand, the other two dentists retired very well. In the case of one dentist, he told me at his retirement party that he was seven years older than he had been telling everyone. (I guess I should have done the math when he told some of his stories and figured it out, but I was surprised.) The point is that just keeping his practice going for those extra five years was a win for him. I was very proud of both.

Paragon seems to believe when a dentist joins Paragon, they should stay in Paragon for their entire career.

Ken Runkle: Yes, and I also think a dentist should not retire until you know you have enough. For a lot of my clients, when they have had a bad week in their dental practice and they tell me they are ready to retire because “they have just had enough of this dental practice,” I always remind them they can’t retire until they know they “have enough.”

Have you seen a change over the years with the age of dentists retiring?

Ken Runkle: Of course. Let me tell you about what we call the Rule of Nine.  With people coming out of dental school and wanting to practice in private practices and with air travel being the way it is, I routinely see older dentists work nine days per month for six months a year and 12-16 days per month the other six months of the year. This extends their career for five years.

Let’s face it, dentistry is hard work physically. You must really take care of your body and you have to pace yourself with time spent at the chair. Having said that, if you need to work that extra 5-7 years to fill out your retirement and financial independence portfolio – “financial independence always means being able to retire with no decrease in your lifestyle of any nature!” – you need to have a plan to help you get through your years at the chair or with the ownership of the practice.

Let’s talk about what The Paragon Program™ entails:

• Paragon consultant meetings are with the dentist or dentist and staff. In many cases, it is in-office consultations.  In other cases, it may be by Zoom.

• Paragon always hosts Excelleration Meetings throughout the country. They are hosted by me – Ken Runkle, Paragon’s President.  They involve practice development, leadership development and personal development within a community of dentists. The Ohio Excelleration Meetings are always live-streamed, which means that they are live and recorded so that you can see them when it’s best in your schedule. Paragon recommends doctors attend at least 2-3 Excelleration Meetings per year.

• Paragon Academies are set up for staff training. The Academies are staff training workshops for the staff and dentist.

• Paragon Study Clubs are local study clubs that meet in-person or by Zoom.  They involve transparency as well as honesty.  We expect our clients to bring a pearl which can be a practice management or clinical idea that has been implemented in the practice. The emphasis in study clubs is to be a giver and share information so that the overall dental community gets better.

• All of the events include introductions to Paragon Event Patrons, which includes understanding and access to their products and services.

• The Paragon Success Network is four meetings throughout the year:

Winter Retreat- we host in February in a warm climate for dentists and their spouse.  In the past we have met in the Caribbean, and recently, we have been meeting in Palm Springs, CA.  The meetings are held from 8:00 AM – 12:00 Noon.

Longboat Key National Study Club is held the third week of June for dentists, spouses and staff.  The meetings are from 8:00 AM – 12:00 Noon.

Fall National or International Study Club is held the first week of September for dentists and spouses. The meetings are from 8:00 AM – 12:00 Noon.  This year we will be hosing our 10th International Study Club in Norway.  On off years, we have hosted in the western part of the United States.

The Year End Review, traditionally, we host the Thursday and Friday after the Thanksgiving weekend with all day meetings. This meeting involves numerous national speakers and tends to be a highlight of our year.  Although this meeting is usually a dentist and spouse only meeting, occasionally it will include an invitation to dentist’s staff.  This year, the Year End Review will involve dentists, spouses and staff.

It sounds to us that there is much to get involved with at The Paragon Program™.

Ken Runkle: That’s true. We never know what is going to impact someone for their practice growth and success.  For some people, it will be the Success Network.  For others, it will be a local study club, the Academies or in-office consultations.  The key is that we have enough for everyone so that we can make sure every practice becomes as successful as the dentist wants it to be.

Go for it!

Ken Runkle
Founder & President