‘I think that one of the main keys to launching a new practice successfully is to have suppliers and contractors who not only share your vision but your passion for it too.’
David Guppy and his wife, Helen, had been looking for the right place to open a practice in their hometown of Monmouth for the best part of four years. They had got to the point of almost giving up.
Then one summer evening, when they were out together for an evening run beside the river Wye, they spotted it. A building that ticked the box that had potential clearly written alongside it. The pace of their run increased as they hurried back home to share their thoughts and their relief that the frustrating search could, at last, be over.
‘Ideally I wanted to find a new build site, but nothing that met our criteria was available,’ recalls David, ‘and I did not want to try and shoe-horn a practice into a place that didn’t fully meet those criteria. I knew that the late Victorian building we saw that evening would need a lot of work doing, but, done well, it would not require me to compromise with what I had in mind.’
Here’s the plan
In many ways that four-year search had helped David and Helen refine their plans. David, who had done his postgraduate training at Guy’s and then practised in London and Cardiff, wanted to set up nearer home. Helen, an experienced practice manager, shared the same aspiration. Together they had carefully detailed what they had in mind and stage one was to see if the property (in the Monmouth district of Mayhill) met most, if not all, of their criteria.
‘I would advise anyone thinking of setting up a new practice to have a very clear picture in place of what they ultimately want to achieve,’ says Helen. ‘If you fail to do this you can easily end up with a practice that, whilst it may meet all the requirements of feasibility and viability, is not actually what you want.’
The main considerations that The Mayhill practice had to meet were:
- Situated in Monmouth (voted the third most attractive place to live in the UK in a recent Sunday Times article and David and Helen live there; so that was easy)
- Easy access and car parking
- Potential for growth
- Attractive to the market sector(s) being targeted (private treatment including referral)
- Generally stress-free and relaxed environment
- Capable of being developed within budget restrictions but without resorting to cutting corners
- Energy efficient
- Viable within a business plan that would make providing finance an attractive proposition to funder(s).
Mayhill more than fitted the bill. The building (after the inevitable to-ings and fro-ings) was purchased and David and Helen began the search for the right designers and builders. The first stage plan would be to have two surgeries with one best practice local decontamination unit (LDU). The plans would also need to take account of the need for a staff rest area and kitchen facilities, offices, training and presentation area and eventually the addition of a third surgery.
They did their research. They asked around. They talked to people at trade shows. They looked at other practices. They agreed what they liked and what they didn’t like. They listened to what they were told and the shortlist got shorter.
Choosing the right people
A number of designers impressed David and Helen and Roger Gullidge was particularly helpful with the advice and guidance he provided. But some key factors made them choose Paterson Dental. They liked the fact that Paterson not only had an expert design team, but could offer a real depth of understanding of dental protocol and procedures. This expertise was immediately apparent in the siting of, and access to, the LDU for the two surgeries that would constitute part of the first stage development and the third surgery that would be installed later.
‘The knowledge of the Paterson team really convinced me that we had made the right decision,’ believes David, ‘and their enthusiasm and passion for the project were both reassuring and motivating. When you take on something like this you need people who will give you sound advice on every detail, have a real flair and feel for colour co-ordination and have the experience to steer you on the right course.’
Keeping on the right course was why David and Helen also committed themselves to Paterson for the cabinetry and the building work. Helen picks up the story: ‘David and I had funding in place (thanks in no small part to a very helpful RBS), but we were not prepared to go over our budget. We discussed this with the Paterson project management team and they promised us that there would be no nasty surprises. They more than kept to their word. The only surprises were pleasant ones!’
What Paterson Dental really understood was the way David likes to work. His approach to his implant and endo work is painstakingly thorough and he refuses to take short cuts. He has seen too many implant failures and inadequately cleansed root canals to think there is any other way to do dentistry other than with care. David has a team that firmly buys into this philosophy. It includes Justin Evans (consultant orthodontist), Nirmal Patel (oral surgeon), Cameron Currie (cosmetic and general practice) and three hygienists, Chris, Jennie and Katherine. What Paterson has achieved is to create a practice that allows all these disciplines to work without compromise in an environment that is both practical and relaxing.
Choosing the right equipment
David would not be rushed into choosing equipment. Over the years he has worked with a vast range of products from a vast range of manufacturers and has, by his own admission, become exceptionally demanding. The chairs in his surgery have to offer the patient more than simply a place to lie whilst treatment is administered. They have to provide comfort and aid relaxation.
And, of course, they have to suit the way the dentist(s) work.
When David saw the Elevance chair, manufactured by Midmark in the States, he knew he would look no further. ‘It is, quite simply, the most comfortable chair available in the UK,’ is his view, ‘and with its unique heat and massage it gives the patient a whole new dimension in relaxation. Should the need arise it will also accommodate up to 32 stone in weight.’
Helen who, in addition to keeping close tabs on budget, has a keen awareness of patient perception, endorses David’s views. ‘I was pleasantly surprised at the cost of the Elevance unit,’ she says, ‘it came in at no more than units decidedly inferior in quality and patients, particularly when they come in for long procedures, have noticed and commented on its quite outstanding comfort.’
The Mayhill has also invested in class B, HTM-01-05 compliant, steam sterilisers and Progeny panoramic and intra-oral imaging equipment from Midmark. David was reassured by the American ‘pedigree’ and build-quality of the products and the company’s evident care for its customers: ‘As with Paterson, nothing seems to be too much trouble for Midmark. I like the fact that one supplier provides all these equipment lines and backs everything up with first-class technical support and training. They’re a breath of fresh air.’
The Mayhill practice opened in January 2013 and has already established a reputation with patients and referring colleagues. And there’s no need to ask why.
To find out more information please visit www.midmark.com, telephone 01252 360940 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.