Working Side by Side: Balancing Love and Business
The other night, Yenile and I were just lying in bed, chatting about our day – something we do a lot. And guess what came up? The question we get at least once a week: “How do you handle being married and running a business together?” This question is usually followed up with a comment along the lines of, “If I worked with my spouse all day, we’d probably drive each other crazy!”
We got to talking about the last nine years – the good, the bad, and everything in between. It got me thinking, maybe our guests would like to hear our story? Now, Yenile’s a bit more private when it comes to our life outside of work, but after some back and forth, she agreed that it might be fun to let our Deering Dental family see what goes on behind the scenes. So I wrote down a few questions and we conducted an interview of ourselves to share with you.
So here it is, a real talk based on that chat we had in bed. We hope by sharing our story, you’ll see how working together has actually made our bond even stronger – and get a sense of the passion we bring to our practice every day.
Hope you enjoy, and thanks for letting us share a bit of our world with you.
What made you guys think of starting Deering Dental together?
Dr. Pinto: Honestly, I was just tired. The places I worked at didn’t match what I wanted for my patients. The way people were treated, both the patients and the team, it was just about maximizing insurance payouts and profits instead of doing what was best for the patient. But it was Peter, seeing me come home upset day after day, who suggested we do something about it.
Peter: Yeah, I saw how much she cared and thought, “Why not make our own place? You do the dental stuff, I’ll handle the business side.”
Dr. Pinto: And just like that, with Peter backing me, Deering Dental started becoming more than just a dream. We wanted a place where the patient truly came first.
Peter: We put in a lot of hours researching, interviewing everyone we could about what they didn’t like about going to the dentist and then working on solutions to each issue. Yenile was clear she didn’t want to cut corners on care, and I was on board with that. My job was to figure out how to make it work as a business.
You two work and live together. How do you not drive each other crazy?
Dr. Pinto: We have our moments! But really, we balance each other out. And even though we’re in the same building, Peter’s office, his “dungeon”, gives us some space.
Peter: From the start, we decided on our roles. Yenile is the dental expert, and I focus on the business. We trust each other to handle our parts, and I think that’s why it works.
Dr. Pinto: It’s true. If you work with your spouse I recommend having boundaries. We talk, we listen, and most importantly, we respect each other’s space and decisions.
Peter: And, honestly, being married helps. We’ve learned how to work through disagreements in our personal life, and it carries over to the business.
But you must have disagreements. How do you handle those?
Dr. Pinto: We do, like any team. When we disagree, we talk it out, weigh the pros and cons, and usually find a middle ground. Sometimes, one of us feels really strongly about something and we let that person take the lead. We call it the, “It’s important to me card”. There’s no formal limit to it, but we’re careful not to play that card often.
Peter: When used sparingly, the, “It’s important to me card” is a great tool you can use. Like when Yenile wanted to go all-in on Biomimetic dentistry. I won’t lie, the numbers were tough initially, but she believed it was best for our guests and after diving into the scientific research I had to agree with her.
Dr. Pinto: It was so so much better than everything I had been taught in school, that I just couldn’t back down. It was too important. So I used my card and we had to figure out how to make it work.
Dr. Pinto: And that trust? It’s at the heart of everything we do at Deering Dental.
What were some bumps in the road when you started Deering Dental, and how’d you get past them?
Dr. Pinto: Well, we’ve seen a lot, haven’t we? From dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Irma that literally destroyed the office, to all the craziness with COVID. And don’t get me started on the insurance stuff. But we’re both problem-solvers, so we always found a way through.
Peter: You’re right. My time as a firefighter taught me a lot about handling emergencies. But every issue was different. Like after the hurricane, we were working out of whatever space we could find. We always just talked it out, did our homework, and made a plan. There were a few times when we weren’t sure things would work out, but we never gave up, plus you’ve always trusted me during those SHTF moments to McGyver our way out of it.
What might surprise people about what goes on behind the scenes at Deering Dental?
Peter: Some folks might think I’m just in the background, but I’ve been in the thick of things.
Dr. Pinto: Totally. People might not know that Peter used to be right at the front desk. He’s been our rock. Even if he’s not as visible now, he’s still everywhere in the practice.
Peter: Thanks, Yenile. I always just tried to be there, supporting her ideas and making sure we show our real selves, whether it’s on social media or in our ads.
Dr. Pinto: And let’s not forget your awesome ideas. Like how you made us all start referring to everyone as our guests instead of patients, the amenities menu or the special way we greet everyone. Peter has some hospitality experience and thought we should treat our guests like they’re at a fancy restaurant, and it’s been a hit. When your spouse has life experiences you don’t, it can be a real asset. Peter’s eye for service and attention to detail has been a big help.
How has working together affected your personal lives?
Dr. Pinto: We learned early on that we needed to switch off from work at home.
Peter: Absolutely. When you work with your spouse, business manages to sneak it’s way into everything, so you have to have boundaries before it consumes your entire relationship. I remember setting the “10 O’clock rule” – no more business talk after 10pm. It was super important before we had our kids and were always buzzing with energy. The work talk never stopped and Yenile was starting to feel too much like my business partner and not enough like my wife.
Dr. Pinto: I’m so glad we did that. And as our family has grown, we’ve figured out how to juggle everything. As the dentists I don’t have as much flexibility, so Peter taking a more behind the scenes role has allowed him to take care of a lot at home.
Peter: I’ve gotten into the groove of balancing work and handling things at home, school pick-up and drop-off, a million other things and just making sure everything runs smoothly.
Dr. Pinto: It’s like a dance we’ve been doing together. Our dental practice feels like part of our family. We always want to make our patients feel like they’re family too.
Peter: Working together, going through the good and the bad, has made us stronger as a couple. It’s all about keeping our connection strong, talking things out, and being there for each other.
Got any tips for other couples thinking about working together?
Peter: We took this test, the Kolbe test. It really helped us see where each of us shines. Once you know how you both work best, you can divvy up tasks better. My wife would agree it was a game changer for us.
Dr. Pinto: Communication is everything. Make sure you’re both on the same page about what you want. And keep talking, about work stuff and personal stuff. We’ve learned that most of our disagreements over the years have stemmed from poor communication and what Peter likes to call, “Unspoken expectations”.
Peter: Remember to keep the romance alive too. We set rules like the “10 O’clock” one, and they help. At the end of the day, the love you share will reflect in your business. If you work with your spouse your personal relationship is the core that everything else is built on, so you have to take that relationship seriously and always work on it, because if things are not right at home your business will suffer as well.
Dr. Pinto: Absolutely, and don’t get so wrapped up in work that you forget why you started this journey together. Regular dates, quality time, and just respecting each other have made all the difference for us. It’s all about protecting that bond.