Dr. Matt Leavitt, CEO of Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, is the rare combination of doctor and entrepreneur — twice over. Leavitt’s first major business venture was Medical Hair Restoration, which he grew into the second-largest hair restoration practice in the country.
After he merged his practice with major hair restoration group Bosley, Leavitt focused on expanding his dermatology practice and experienced rapid success. The company has 24 Central Florida locations spanning the Interstate 4 corridor, with plans to open two more by mid-2017. The company also is expanding its headquarters, adding 7,500 square feet and about a hundred new employees in Maitland.
Over the years, the company has recruited doctors and their families from all over the country to Central Florida. Leavitt cites the company’s sophisticated health care platform and dedication to opening a new practice wherever he sees a need as two of the reasons behind Advanced Dermatology’s success.
Here, Leavitt talks about the company’s history and how he juggles the delicate balance of business and medicine:
What got you interested in the dermatology business?
I came to Central Florida in 1989 out of my residency. I had always been an entrepreneur but wanted to be in medicine. My last year or so in residency, I had trained a lot on hair loss and hair surgery. At the same time I was starting this national hair practice, I had an idea to do a basic hubspoke model for dermatology.
Why did you decide to switch your focus from hair loss to dermatology?
I had always practiced dermatology, but I saw a need on the hair loss side. I actually lost my hair in college and was looking for a solution myself. I had the biggest fellowship in the country in hair surgery, but I was always building the dermatology side.
Do you think your company will keep growing?
We will continue to expand. We put offices where people need them and work hard to create access. My whole philosophy early on is still one I have today: Go where patients and referring doctors need you. Where dermatology doesn’t usually get patients in very quickly, we usually get patients in within four days.
When did your company begin to rapidly expand?
The company initially was a combination of medical hair restoration and advanced dermatology that started in 1989. We didn’t experience our record growth until around 2009-2010. That growth doubled the size of the company, and then doubled it again.
How do you manage both business and medicine?
Practicing medicine is a challenge, and it has become more challenging as different rules and regulations come into play. Most doctors are very poor business people — it’s hard to get that unique blend. They really have to concentrate on trusting somebody else to assist their practices with everything from health care laws to financial and the workflow of the day-to- day. We’re incredibly process-oriented. It’s all about trust. Our doctors have to be able to trust that we’re doing the right thing for them on the medicine part, but also from the business standpoint.
What keeps you up at night?
I would say I’m somebody who, from a planning standpoint, is always thinking about being one step ahead of the game. My saying is “happy but never satisfied.” Most people don’t like change, but I embrace it and am constantly evaluating what we do.
Do you have any advice for others in the industry?
I think we have a huge advantage because we have patient trust. Those roots have a huge advantage over a CEO who is business first, medicine second. In health care, it should be that way. If you have added expenses or have to make hard decisions, cut a cost or change a schedule where it’s not really in the patient’s best interest, don’t do it — that would just come back and ruin your reputation which is, in any business, a huge portion of success.
What keeps you coming to work in the morning?
I am passionate about what we are doing and the legacy we are going to create. A lot of doctors are burning out, but we want to be the place where they love going to work and enjoy it.
What do you do when you’re not running your company?
I’m an extreme skier, one of those guys who skis the cliffs and out of bounds. I do really crazy things I shouldn’t be doing. I’m pretty extreme on the sports side: rafting, hiking, climbing. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing as long as it’s outside.
What’s the best business advice you ever received?
I received it from my dad at an early age: There’s always going to be somebody smarter than you in the room and always somebody with a different skill set, but if you’re one of the smartest guys in the room and work harder than everybody else, you have a good chance of being successful.