Dental franchising group looking for ambitious dentists to take on new practices

A national dental franchising group is calling for ambitious dentists to take on new practices after accountants and business advisers UNW helped it secure substantial external investment.

Fast-expanding Dentist Direct is on the look out for associates and practice owners to join its business after experts in Newcastle’s UNW Dental Business Unit helped it secure ‘a potentially unlimited credit line’ from Yorkshire Bank to fund future acquisitions.

Meanwhile, UNW’s corporate finance team worked with NEL fund managers to bring in a £400,000 cash injection to the business from the Finance for Business North East Growth Fund.

The finance package will allow Durham-headquartered Dentist Direct to speed up its roll out by helping more associates to take on their first practice and existing owners wishing to benefit from extensive back office support.

Dentist Direct, whose company strap line is ‘the dentist for people who don’t like dentist’, was formed two years ago after carrying out market research into what patients said they want from their dental practice.

The research found that patients wanted exceptional customer service, convenient car parking, extended opening hours, no drills or injections, and a pleasant ambiance. These all rated alongside cost, clinical excellence and a full range of treatments available without referral.

Dentist Direct chief executive Craig Huntingdon said: ‘Our aim was to respond to what patients told us they really wanted to see in terms of facilities, access and treatment.

‘We’ve invested in the latest technology including hard tissue lasers and, as a result, have managed to significantly lower the use of needles and drills.

‘In addition, we provide easy car parking and offer comfortable, modern environments in which people can enjoy complimentary refreshments and wifi.

‘The franchised practices have all grown extremely quickly, which suggests that both patients and dentists recognise the quality of our approach and the investments we’ve made in each practice are working as well as we’d expected.

‘This latest investment means we are now in a position to push the business on to the next level and we look forward to welcoming many more practices and associates into the group.’

UNW Dental Business Unit partner Alan Suggett said: ‘Dentist Direct has a substantially different offering to the traditional dentistry market model and is comparable with corporate franchise models such as Vets 4 Pets, which has had considerable success setting up from scratch on prominent arterial roads with good parking and lots of passing trade.

‘For this finance package we were able to draft in our corporate finance team to secure some good, strong working capital via NEL to run alongside a potentially unlimited credit line from Yorkshire Bank to fund future acquisitions, which is particularly exciting.

‘This really does mean that the sky is the limit for growing this business and we look forward to working with the Dentist Direct management team as they leverage the growth potential.’

Dentist Direct’s franchising operations have grown steadily, with five practices under management and many more under consideration.

The firm has identified more than 400 potential locations across the UK for Dentist Direct branded practices, based on demographic and competitor analysis.

These may take the form of acquisitions, franchises or squats and a number of development partners have already started discussions.

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