The Dental Directory began life as the Billericay Dental Supply Company in 1971, when my father Gordon Mills, who remains the chairman to this day, founded it.
Created as a mail order service, the company began sending out specialist representatives into dental surgeries in 1988.
We changed the name of the business to The Dental Directory to reflect the fact that we were a nationwide business because we had expanded so much in that first eight years.
We chose the name because we offered a directory of products to our dental customers, making it easy for them to order their supplies whenever they were needed.
In the early 1990s, we used focus group market research to help us really home in on what our customers wanted and we discovered that the majority of our customers were after independent product advice from professional sales staff.
People were concerned that by taking advice from just one manufacturing company, they were getting a biased opinion of the products, so we gave them a way to get a balanced view of what was available to them from field based experts with relevant product knowledge.
From the positive feedback we received we realised that a customer focussed approach was the best way to go about running the business and this is how we’ve done things ever since. We’re at a considerable advantage in this instance because The Dental Directory is a family-run business and that’s how it works: like a family. Every member of our staff goes above and beyond for our customers wherever necessary.
Over the past 40 years we’ve seen a lot of changes in dentistry: an increase in the number of private practices, a significant expansion the types of treatments and services available, major technological developments and new regulatory obligations.
Through it all we’ve managed to stay ahead of the game and provide a high standard of customer care because we have no outside shareholders and no dividends to pay.
This means that we can react quickly to any changes in the dental market and can keep reinvesting in the business.
In the last four years alone we’ve invested over £4.5 million and installed a fully automated warehouse. Our stock holding capacity is around £17m at any one time and because of this we’ve been able to virtually eliminate back orders, which means that we now have an outstanding record for next day delivery, offered free to our clients.
We pride ourselves on being good, not just to our customers, but also to our staff and we have excellent staff retention because of this. We have many employees who have been with us for ten, fifteen and even twenty years and we feel that this is essential to the smooth running of the business because it means we always have experienced and happy staff who pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm to the customers.
Taking care of your staff is the first step in creating a successful business because, by treating them equally and fairly, you create a company run on teamwork and co-operation. We strive to constantly improve our services for our customers and the combined experience of our staff serves to streamline this process.
Recently, we decided that, in our quest to ‘give something back’ to the industry that has been so kind to us, we would fund The Dental Directory Chair in Primary Dental Care at Warwick University Medical School.
I think that this is the first new dental chair in over four decades and we are supporting it because we believe wholeheartedly in the development of research projects aimed at improving the lot of primary dental care providers, our main customers. In addition to this we support a number of dental charities including the AOG Charitable Trust and we make a point of funding newsletters, meetings and individuals engaged in research or charitable projects.
I feel very strongly that it is our commitment to customer care and our insistence on remaining a ‘family’ business in the face of corporate competition that has helped us prosper over the past four decades. Our staff and our customers understand that we really do care about their welfare and it is this that keeps us thriving in the face of change.
For more information simply contact your local Dental Directory Business Consultant, call 0800 585 586 or visit www.dental-directory.co.uk.