To Be Successful, Find the Right “Niche”
With a physician for a father, two uncles in dentistry, and no less than 10 relatives in nursing or orthopaedic surgery, you could say that a flair for health-care runs in Daniel Klauer’s family. While Dr. Klauer is one of the nation’s leading authorities on sleep apnea and TMD, he wasn’t always so sure about which health-care path to pursue, until it came time for a routine cleaning. He petitioned to shadow his family dentist, which would ignite his passion for dentistry.
Graduating dental school in 2010, Dr. Klauer launched his career as a general dentist. This enabled him to experience a little bit of everything in the realm of teeth. However, he had yet to discover the exact niche that made him tick—until he happened upon one particular procedure, and immediately knew he’d found it. “I took my first craniofacial and sleep medicine course in January 2013 and got hooked,” he recalls. “In June of 2013 I closed down seeing general dentist patients and [exclusively began seeing] pain and sleep patients. In a six-month time frame, I educated myself as fast and as best as I could, limited my practice to learn more, and kept going.” Limiting an already thriving practice is not an easy thing to do, especially when you have a growing family to support. “I was basically hitting the brakes on what I was working toward for eight years to start something completely fresh,” says Dr. Klauer. “It was definitely a feeling of butterflies, wondering if this is really going to pan out like I anticipated and be the right move.” In just one year, he devoted over 100 days to training and immersing himself in his newfound passion.
Carving out your niche is the most powerful way to make focused impact.
This meant over 100 days away from the office and his family—a true investment. “It was the right timing with my current career,” he says. “If I had been a senior doctor with an already established 20-year career, it would’ve been much more challenging.” Ever the sought-after lecturer, he now gets to speak to both the medical and dental communities—providing literature, collaboration, and insight on this increasingly popular specialty. In five years, Dr. Klauer’s practice, the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Northern Indiana, has grown from a single employee to a staff of 14. The growth in team members required Dr. Klauer to take a step back, and truly focus on what he wanted his practice’s culture to look like. “In my journey, I identified mentors who pushed me to be better clinically and professionally,” he says. “I surrounded myself with good coaches who knew what it meant to develop a team, set core values for my practice, and a core focus.”
One can craft core values and determine a core focus for their team, but in Dr. Klauer’s eyes, if the business owner can’t articulate and enforce them, they won’t get their employees on board. For his team, Dr. Klauer demands open, honest, and transparent communication. He believes if your employees are open and honest, there shouldn’t be a problem that you can’t solve or gradually work through. At the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Northern Indiana, Dr. Klauer’s job, in part, is to keep a pulse on the practice, to ensure operations are running smoothly, with a healthy and positive team dynamic. In his debut book, Achieve Your Victory, Dr. Klauer hopes to embolden readers who suffer from TMD/TMJ and sleep apnea symptoms to seek out help. He outlines everything patients need to know about what they’re experiencing, why they’re experiencing it, and how to overcome it.
Thus far, one of Dr. Klauer’s greatest victories has been the development of a niche where he feels he can add tremendous value to his community. The rapid growth of the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Northern Indiana speaks to the firm’s merit and allure with clientele, recalling the popular Field of Dreams phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” And they did indeed. “We were working out of three treatment rooms in 2016, and we doubled the space thinking it would take us a couple of years to grow into it. It only took us three months to grow into that space, and now we’re going into the space that’s next door; we didn’t realize we needed that much space or staff. Everything really took off,” Dr. Klauer reflects. Beyond a mere business endeavor, the centre has emerged as a veritable passion project. Having alleviated the pain and frustration of countless patients, his story illustrates that carving out your niche is perhaps the single most powerful way to make an impact.