The Alimond Show

Joanna Claustro of Joanna Claustro DMD & Associates

November 14, 2023 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Joanna Claustro of Joanna Claustro DMD & Associates
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How often do you think about what your dental practice smells like? Our guest, a seasoned dentist and marketer, will introduce you to a whole new dimension of brand recognition - olfactory branding. Join us as we explore the fascinating evolution of her dental practice, from its inception to the intentional design of her welcoming office space brimming with natural light. Discover her exciting journey towards creating a signature scent for her practice that she believes will anchor positive patient experiences and loyalty. 

Imagine swapping a career in marketing for dentistry at the age of 25. That's exactly what our guest did, taking two years to get into dental school and emerging not just as a dentist but also a wife and mother. Her unique career trajectory makes for an inspiring tale of resilience, lifelong learning, and seeking fulfilment in unexpected places. Hear how she balanced her career and motherhood, and the role mentors played in her journey. 

Finally, we delve into marketing from a totally authentic standpoint, with her unique upbringing and diverse interests setting the stage. With experiences in boarding school and screenwriting influencing her marketing strategies, she's formulated a unique approach that emphasizes empathy and strong relationships with her team and patients. Hear her perspective on why it's essential to show yourself grace in our pursuit of perfection. This is an episode packed with eye-opening insights into finding your path, authentic marketing, and the importance of self-compassion in not just business, but life. Tune in for a truly enriching conversation that promises to leave you enlightened.

Speaker 1:

How long ago did you open your practice? Because I know Nova Plastic. They're in a newer building.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, so I purchased my practice November 2013. So I'm about to have my 10-year anniversary and I was there in the original space for five years before moving to the one in One, loudoun. Ok, so it was a complete build out, ok.

Speaker 1:

How the hell was that fun?

Speaker 2:

It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I did it that way, because I really got to know or get a sense of who I was as a practitioner and get a better sense of what my brand was if I had done it from straight up. Yeah, Like started in my new building space. I was a different practitioner when I purchased.

Speaker 1:

What do you mean by that? Were you kind of like a?

Speaker 2:

Well, you know I was more fresh out of school and just different life experiences. I wasn't a mom yet. I had all of the new dentist, bright eye, great ideas, all of the heart and soul, but not the experience behind it. And when you go through all the hard stuff, it shapes you, it makes you stronger, it makes you more defined and confident in who you are and who you want to be, and also more plastic in a way, in that you can be like you have molded yourself to fit the frame of challenges, that you can come across as a business owner. Dynamic, I guess, is that it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that helps me. So when I built my new space in one loud end right there in the office park, I really chose it purposely because there's a lot of windows and I wanted to bring a lot of light into it. You know, I think when you are such a relationship-based practice and business like I am, or my team and I have, are you realize that a lot of people can often be close to in and that oftentimes like we just need a little bit more sunlight to come into our lives and I just wanted that to permeate it. So it feels light, it feels airy, and that's what we bring myself and my team to dentistry. Like what? Like that doesn't make any sense. Dentistry is scary. Dentistry are weird smells, weird sounds, really anxiety. Laughing, guess that's not so funny. Laughing, guess Not so funny Hard to work around as a dentist, so it's just haven't been able to go through at least four or five years of practice and growing professionally, clinically. Personally, in my original space, which was like dark in a basement and just didn't exude me Like I paid attention a lot more to how a space can lend to a feeling, a feeling of trust and comfort and safety, which is important when you are choosing a dentist or a health care practitioner or anywhere where you are going to be laid back and pretty vulnerable. For a lot of people it's a vulnerable space. You're laying there with your mouth open Mouth open and, like a lot of people have had, like super traumatic experiences in dentistry, right, that fear of being judged, that the embarrassment if you haven't been great with it, or just knowing that our mouths and our teeth can tell stories and health histories. We care for patients with cancer, who have been in car accidents, who have had health issues and eating disorders, and a lot of those show up in our mouths and a lot of people come with all of these vulnerabilities and it's really important that it was really important to me that I created a space that was home for patients because it reflected us. If I had a space that was really clinical, very sterile because a lot of places can be sterile it's super modern, then that's it. But you also don't wanna be like, hey, you've just rolled up and this is my living room. You don't wanna be that either. So it was a fun type of thing.

Speaker 1:

You know it's funny because right when you walked in, will was like you smell good. Yes, you're like awesome, because I'm working on that for my brand. Yes, and I've never heard that before. In terms of the smell concept aspect of a brand yes, Explain a little bit more on that.

Speaker 2:

Well, if you can think about how the olfactory senses can play such a role in memory, in comfort. You know we all do things with aromatherapy, we all. You know I'm really big into essential oils, you know, big shout out to my doTERRA peeps there. But it can help heighten an experience. You could also create more anxiety. So for me I wanted to work on okay, like, what is it? What's part of the experience when patients walk into the practice? Also, for me I wanna be like okay, how do I smell? Like that sounds weird but don't smell me. But like, when I walk into the room, like if I can have some sort of hint of like a sense, like a signature sense, so to speak. That is comforting, that might invoke a memory of a warm time, a comforting time, you know, rather than just smelling like tooth dust or hand sanitizer, tooth dust I mean, what does tooth dust? Or, you know, chemicals that we work with and just sweat like it's so hard being a dentist, you're just constantly bent over and you're intense. It's a really intense space like kind of like hunched over people all day. So to be able to say, okay, like, how do I combat that Right, like beyond smelling like old spice or like super fresh water, you know, like just having an obviously nothing overpowering. But it's kind of been this journey that I've been going on for the past few months of trying to find a signature scent.

Speaker 1:

Did somebody say not this, or did you just think of it like as you were?

Speaker 2:

You know, I will have to give the credit to a couple of patients of mine. You know. I noticed like whenever they come in, they're like oh my gosh, I know Elsie's coming in, you know, or so, and so is coming in. That got me thinking like that's such a positive reaction and like what's it like if you have someone walks into an earth root and they smell someone else's like that and you're like you know what this reminds me of. It's like Dr Klaus Stroh, she's so amazing.

Speaker 1:

Her skin is great and so is her smile. I mean love her so much.

Speaker 2:

I should check in. When was the last time I've been to the dentist? Have I written my five star?

Speaker 1:

review yet oh my gosh.

Speaker 2:

So those are the things that I'm just all those little bits and pieces. We think brands are logos and colors, but it can extend so much more than that. As you know, like you work with so many different business owners or you know teams, and the brand goes beyond just the logo. Right, like, even for me, like am I, should I read too much? Should I do it? I was like no, like our brand is an emotion. It's a feeling that patients leave with after being under our care and you know I love.

Speaker 1:

And, by the way, you can put your drink down wherever it's just gonna cry if it's bothering you. I love that because when I am explaining for the first time or the second time to new team members, we'll ask questions like oh, what should we say? What should I do? And I'm like here. This is what it comes down to. It comes down to when our clients come up the stairs. This is how they are feeling. They're feeling tired. They just came up two flights of stairs, their arms are full of clothes. They don't feel comfortable. They don't want to be here. More than likely, they're doing it because they have to. They're out of breath when they hit that door. So what they need to feel is reassured, not embarrassed, because they're out of breath, comforted and that they're at the right place. So, as they're coming up the stairs, we need to be greeting them by name. So they're like oh, thank god, this is the right place, I'm not in the wrong place, I just came up these stairs. So, always approaching every relationship or every experience, especially for the first time, in the mindset of how do I want them to feel? And then you can walk backwards from there. It sounds like that's what you do.

Speaker 2:

I want them to feel a certain way, so I'm going to hit all the senses and all of the touch points of this experience to reaffirm that emotion, emotion, yeah, like the feeling they moved people to do that because that's when you can have it helps bridge the gap between just like for trust right on first meeting or second year, third year, well, hundredth meeting, like trust when you sense, sense it right, it's not just like hello, yeah, I'm at Joanna Cluster DMD. I have all these extra letters to behind my name like that doesn't do anything. Like really the credentials or the credentials, my experience, I can talk about them. I talk about how much I I've done CE and studied and you know, teach and all that. But for a lot of patients that doesn't matter. But if you can invoke that sense of trust, that's, that's awesome, because there's so many people that come with trust shattered in the past for various various reasons 100%.

Speaker 1:

And I also say like, sometimes people will make decisions. Most times, people make decisions and they don't really know why they make the decisions. Right, I just like that brand, I just like this person. Well, what do you like them? I don't know. There's just something about them that just really draws me in and it's not because of how many CE classes you took or how many licenses you have. I mean that stuff is important, but that's like borderline baseline, like you've got to start. Yeah, well, I was not. That was not tour 2. That's not why somebody chooses you or works with you yeah, that's the foundation. That's the foundation you have to have that yeah, to even have that opportunity, chance, because from there it's like, yeah, how did you make them feel? Were you listening? Did they? Did you walk into the room and they were like right there I can relax.

Speaker 2:

I can't online or I'm not quite relaxed yet, but I'm here, I know that I'm in good hands. That right there it's so.

Speaker 1:

How did you like? Obviously you started your practice. Can you bring me way back to what made you decide to go into dentistry yes industry.

Speaker 2:

Oh my gosh, that's like a million years ago, it actually wasn't um, so for me, a lot of people. They grow up, you know, they're like in elementary school or high school. They're like, oh, I want to be a doctor, I want to be a dentist. You know how my dentist made me feel that's not the case. Like I grew up, I went to the dentist. I threw up in that little like chit thing that looked like toilet bowl next to it, because I hated the toothpaste grit. You know, I didn't have great experiences. Um, both of my parents are physicians, so like they're had a lot of pressure being like you've got to go into the medical field, you got to do this, you got to do this and of course I'm like I'm gonna rebel against this, I'm not gonna do that, I don't want to. I don't want to do that, I'm right. Screenplays I want to write screenplays or you know, do not that. So when I went to college, I went away to college and decided to study computer science. It was like the late 90s, so it was like super techie, great field still is a great field, right. But I mostly did that because I wanted to be in class with a cute boy, now married to him. So not a complete waste of time. Wonderful I agree with that, Not so complete but, I also did minors in English and business and my parents are like doctor and I'm like no. So I graduated, I worked in marketing and graphics design for a few years and then it wasn't until I was visiting my sister and her husband, who was in dental school. At the time I was like this is really rad. Scrubs was a big show. At the time I was like sneak, everyone walks around, they wear scrubs. It's like you're in school with your best friends all the time. And then I was like I could do this. I'm down for that. I love helping people. You know people pleaser. My personality seemed like a good fit. I'm artistic. I made jewelry. I thought that was enough to do. You know hand skills. So I was like, let me give it a try. So I basically at this point I was 24, 25 when I decided. But because I didn't study, do pre-med or anything like that, I basically had to take all of my prerequisites again. So I didn't enter dental school until I was 27.

Speaker 1:

So you were 25, you took prerequisites. Did you do that local or yes, mostly at George Mason.

Speaker 2:

George Mason, yeah. So two years, two years, did all of that work to your end. The entrance exam, the entrance exam, yes, 27. 26, 26, 27-ish. Taking all that at the time I was like I'm so old, yeah, oh God, but I do, I do, and you know, got in and it was a blast. It was kind of nice going later in life, right, because you had a taste of the workforce and you're like, wow, school was way more fun and I also had a sense of school's great. I want to do really, really well, but I'm not cutting to be the top of my class, I want to enjoy it. I want to kind of protect my mental space and health, you know, and not burn myself out and really focus on the parts of dentistry that I enjoy and understand that, like I'm not going to learn everything here in dental school, I'm going to have to depend on great mentors. Because my parents were our physicians, I knew that there was always the opportunity for continuing education. It's where I realized I'm a junkie for learning. I love learning, I love challenging myself and it's like, oh, just do it, you know, and it was great. So I think if I had gone into any sort of professional program or grad school program straight out of college. It wouldn't have been the right move for me because I didn't really know what was really my true passion or strengths and, like you, still don't know, I'm still learning. But I think when you're, you know for me, when I was right out of that I didn't know. Yeah, I wanted to just hang out and I that was fun too.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so how many years was it? So you're, so it's a four year program.

Speaker 2:

Four year program. I got married during that period of time and then worked for a few years in Boston. I went to Tufts in Boston for dental school and thought we would live there forever because it's so charming and cute and historical. But it snows a lot. So we decided to come back down here and I worked for some great doctors in the area. Had was a lot closer to my brother-in-law, dr Mark Jeffries, who is local here in Herndon.

Speaker 1:

And he's the same one that inspired you to go into school.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, and so very thankful for him and for me, learning from his successes and hardships as an owner and still do, and the rest is history. I was like oh, I want to work for anyone, I want to work for myself again. I can do everything better than everybody else. And then you're like oh my God, that's so hard.

Speaker 1:

Well, when did you become a parent?

Speaker 2:

And then I became a mom in 2017. So I'm very career focused. I have been with my now husband since 1998. And I'm a lead. I worked together just like a nice single income, no give.

Speaker 1:

So you had a 10 year anniversary and a 25. Double the number of days. Yes, anniversary coming up. 10 year anniversary for school. 10 year anniversary for school.

Speaker 2:

No, for your business. Oh, for practice, yes, 25 year anniversary of dating or being with this thing for a long time Awesome, I know. Do we meet when we were zero, right? Yes, no, so it's fun. Thanks for bringing me all this down. But the challenges of being a mom, as we all know, or do you have?

Speaker 1:

I have three you have three Holy cow how?

Speaker 2:

you do it, I was like one that's good, I mean, hudson is the cutest. Follow me online. He is amazing, it is amazing, but it's so hard, right, and I had him when I was 37. And you know, it's nothing more fun than getting that piece of paper at the hospital and you're like, excuse me, under pre-existing conditions, what is AMA? I'm like the advanced maternal age, wow, wow, yeah, I'm saying, I'm saying it's not nice, it's not nice, but it is what it is and yeah, like I, it worked out, all of it's worked out for me and my schedule, even wrapping my head around everything.

Speaker 1:

So if you had him near 37, there's no way you don't look any older than 37. I know. So he must be like a year, yes.

Speaker 2:

Just turned six. He just lost his first tooth. Oh sweet thing, I know. Does the tooth area come to your house? How are you the tooth fairy? She did, she comes. I am not the tooth fairy, she's a real bee. No, it's, it's fun. He just lost it last week while we were overseas. So we were visiting Tangier, morocco, for the day and we were in the CASBA and he jumped up and hit his head and out came his tooth. So the tooth fairy visited in. Morocco. She visited us while we were staying in Spain, so overnight came to us in Spain, so he has some yearos. I like that he has to use.

Speaker 1:

There we go, yeah, or save, or save.

Speaker 2:

That's right, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Very cool. So tell me a little bit about marketing for you. Yes, are you seeing marketing specifically for small business owners in our area? Because we are in such a I believe, such a sheltered business area in terms of like, when bad things happen in the world, we don't really get affected the way that a lot of other parts of the country get affected, right, but nonetheless it still affects us, right? So how are you looking at marketing for your practice, for your patients, over the next now to the next five, ten years?

Speaker 2:

You know it's. It's funniest, since I had a marketing background beforehand and I first set out to be a business owner here. In all my practice in Loudoun County I was like I'm going to have to depend on magazines because that's what I did, like I did advertising for magazines. I have to have all of these glossy pamphlets that I hang out and I have to do all of these things. But that doesn't necessarily wasn't really resonating. It helps me in the beginning to have all that, because you have to establish your brand, and now I think there is a lot stronger value in being present in social media being present online. But you do such a good job, thank you, but doing it genuinely. So a lot of people are like, oh my gosh, who does your social media marketing? Who does that? Like me? Me, I do it Like in the middle of the night, wake up and then, sunday at 2 am, my team's like what are you doing? Why did you post at 2 am? I was like because that's when I was awake, but just genuinely being me and so for other business owners, be yourself with your team and with your audience of perspective.

Speaker 1:

What does that mean? Be yourself, Because that's such a we're not in the same we are in the same.

Speaker 2:

I don't know. I feel like this You're like this, like okay. So for me, I think people think dentists You're like okay, white coats has to be very professional. Can't say certain things, don't cross the line with certain conversations. You are professional, you are separate from them, you're patient, there's you and there's space. You don't cross the line, but then you're. I feel like that would force me to feel like a robot. I'm a human, I'm a human treating humans and I have human stories and they have human stories, not robot stories, not robot stories, you know. So I think, when it comes to marketing, you have to find a way to share a piece of yourself, a piece of your why, a piece of who you are at home. I know people are like privacy. It's like that's fine. I'll not to show all of my things. I show a lot of my line, but for me, I think, because it helps me be more relatable, it helps me reach out to the group of patients, clients, people who need to be cared for emotionally as well as physically, because I know that's my strong point. I know that's where I can really help patients feel more comfortable. So when I'm online and telling a story or sharing a photo, I try to capture that like the essence of who I am and what that feeling is Right, like I don't think if you hire and I'm not saying don't hire a professional, but I think when you are working with someone or building a portfolio of posts, really think about what is it that you're saying? Right, everyone's going to say floss your teeth. Right, but how is flossing your teeth impactful to them? In a way? How has sharing that, your journey as a dentist and your experience make you feel as a person, as a dentist, to see patients succeed Like, share that.

Speaker 1:

Like share your joy and happiness as much as just the patient's joy and happiness Do you think it's because you have a marketing background that you're able to do this so easily. I think just because.

Speaker 2:

I'm Filipino. No, I don't know, I don't know, right? I try to think of that, but I think it's just a collection of my life events, right? I grew up in a small town in South West Virginia. I was one of a very few minorities.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so you were the only one who grew up here really Surprisingly.

Speaker 2:

No, there was a collection of us, but in the greater scheme of the population we were a true minority. And then I came up here to Northern Virginia for high school. I went to boarding school at the Meteoros School here in McLean and met so many different young women from all different cultures and backgrounds and it was amazing and at that stage I was really quiet, sheltered, I'm like from a small town and suddenly in big, even then back in the 90s, a big old metropolitan, you know DC area. You had to think a little bit quicker on your feet. I learned how to read people a little bit more, because when you're living in a dorm full of teenage girls, it's kind of like a little bit of like being on the front lines of some terrifying hormonal just thing Like you think me, girls and all the things we go through, and it's all at once and there's no moderator and you don't have like parents right away or like the comfort of like your family there, right of escaping. So it kind of prepares you to have a little bit of thicker skin but empathetic heart and an open mindness and curiosity. So I think from that and that's when I want to be a screenplay writer. So I think it just you had a lot of stories, just a lot of stories. I think you hear a lot of stories right when you're living in a dorm full of young girls, women. So I think I just gained an appreciation for story storytelling right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Then, and the power of invoking emotion through storytelling or arts or dance, and whatever it may be.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so you're running your first screenplay now. Not really, not that I know of, no, but let's pretend like you are Right, without you thinking through it too much. What would that story be? I mean about anything.

Speaker 2:

Oh my gosh. To be honest, it would be a spring play about me being this amazing travel writer and I just have to go around and I discover myself and help raise women up through travel and shared experiences and needing women from all over the world.

Speaker 1:

What does?

Speaker 2:

it come? I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, because I'm still discovering I don't know. Oh gosh, that's fun, that is fun and honestly, I, just I, I joke with my husband. I was like you know, let's just when we were I'm working so hard now I'm working so I can wander, right, I'm working so we could just travel the world, I wonder, I like to wander, I like to wander I like to wander, I like to wander. Okay, I'm going to wander. Right, that's awesome Spread spreading smiles across the globe you know, through amazing dentistry you wander, the girls wander travel.

Speaker 1:

Okay, guys, all right. Yeah, I'm not a professional.

Speaker 2:

No right.

Speaker 1:

No, we'll say no. Okay, Looking into the future, where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Because you're told me that you're. You're building your marketing and everything through storytelling, through authentic connections with your audience and with your client or patients alike. Yes, but in terms of 10 years out, yeah, what is your practice? What does your life look like? Um?

Speaker 2:

I'm wondering. It is continuing to elevate patients' lives, um, through dentistry and also facial aesthetics. So I've incorporated facial aesthetics into my practice like non-invasive facial aesthetics. So you know the idea is for me I do a lot of cosmetic and rehabilitative, rehabilitative dentistry. Um, it's a big word, it is Especially when you're laying on and talking. So I do a lot of big cases where we can do veneers or full mouth rehabs, where we bring, give patients their smiles back, their functionality back. And a lot of our patients come to us saying you know, I have, I feel the, I feel aged, I feel weathered. It starts with the teeth looking more worn, broken down, old restorations beginning to fail and that weighs down on us. You know, I think, especially now after the pandemic, everyone sees themselves more Right and I think a lot of people are finding themselves using filters. I don't want people to filter themselves anymore and I think by helping people regain the confidence and feeling whole again through rehabilitative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry, I am able to just elevate their lives, give them radiance, give them the ability to be more present for their families. So we're not always worried about which filter I'm going to use, which lens are my. Is my family going to see me through today. Right, what lens am I trying to project out to the world, you know? Rolling back to social media, I want people to be authentic. I don't want them to to depend on filters to feel that way, right? So if I can give them a healthy smile, a naturally enhanced smile, I know people are like. I don't want to do veneers. It's great. I am returning people smiles. What time and where? And damage has taken away and with the facial aesthetics piece, you know, you bring the smile back to life. I think there's such an amazing opportunity to help frame that smile with healthy, radiance skin. There's so many of us in our forties who feel weathered. We, you know, but we still feel young, right, we're still living our best lives. Right, I'm dancing around to like in sync in my you know kitchen. I'm still in my mind going to clubs, but my skin makes me realize I'm not. But I have some amazing machines at my office that don't require any needles or, you know, injections and we can just help promote your own body, your own cells, your own fibroblasts to rebuild the collagen that we've lost, to retain the glow.

Speaker 1:

And so it's not just tea, it's skin, it's skin.

Speaker 2:

It's your whole face right, it's how we enter the room, it's what you do, it's what it's the portrait that we put forth for patients, right In real life. But in real life, but in IRL, in real life hashtag no filters. I love that. You're, you know so charmingly asked it left. You know how old I was, and then this could be more than 20. But I feel that I honestly, since using we do this one photo facial called the Clear Lift. It's pain free, it literally takes 15 minutes, but it just makes you feel radiant and, like I've been using paying better attention to my skincare process. So, look, I'm with skin scent, my outfits I've been working on because I've been scrubs all the time. But when you are beginning to enter that realm of your 40s and perimenopause and your hair is falling out and you're stressed out all the time because you're a business owner and a mom and a manager of a household and it's a regular old human being that weather can weigh on you. But when you take some small steps and allow yourself to invest in yourself, and then these things that are out there to help patients feel people, fellow humans, feel more at ease in their own skin, in their own body with their own smiles. Man, that is why I do what I do. It is why I do what I do and I love it and I get emotional about it. That's my brand. That's it. That's my brand. And what is it? The mission statement, my passion statement, is I want people to leave feeling radiant, whether it's they feel radiant because they just got over their fears or they got their skin done right and their smile on straight, they just got their dizzle lines on. I want people to feel radiant and care for it.

Speaker 1:

I love that. That's so beautiful. I'm going to put my face All right. So you just said all the things that I was going to ask you about, so I love it. In terms of, if you have one message for the world outside of just industry or outside of being a mom, what would that message be?

Speaker 2:

One message outside of dentistry, not being a mom Show yourself grace, show yourself grace. I think we are all very hard on ourselves and I think when you show yourself grace, you also give yourself room and permission to take care of yourself a little bit, to maybe invest the extra time to do your hair I could have invested about 10 more minutes, so I wasn't late today you will give yourself space to not feel guilty if you miss something of your kids or pull them out of school for 10 days to go on a trip. You say this is part of my human experience and it is hard days, failures it's all part of it. Show yourself grace. It's okay to not be perfect. It's okay to let that filter down and just be so. I think that's part of it. That's my message.

Speaker 1:

I love it. That's perfect. Thank you so much for being here. You were so welcome.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, this was fun, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

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