The team at Smileworks Liverpool reveal how their airline themed practice enhances patient experience and delivers them great results.

Here at Smileworks Liverpool we believe that everyone deserves the right to feel good when they smile. So, we’ve brought together some of the most talented people in Europe and created one of Liverpool’s most popular dental practices.

Smileworks was founded by Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann, a dentist whose interests include orthodontics and facial aesthetics. MJ loves dentistry and recently completed her MSc in aesthetic medicine at QMUL with distinction and is part-way through her MClinDent in orthodontics at BPP.

The idea for Smileworks was conceived on a Virgin Atlantic flight to Miami in 2013. Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann and her now fiancée Ed Challinor were discussing everything that was wrong with the dental industry, from shoddy practices to poor patient care. They likened dental work to flying and agreed that it’s something you have to do to get from A to B, and the choice of airline can make the flight an absolute joy or a complete nightmare.

Dr Rowland-Warmann grew up in Germany where private dentistry is a very serious business. She’s always defined her ambitions just as much in terms of what she is for as what she is against. And everything we’ve built at Smileworks is measured against those lofty European ideals.

MJ says: ‘You can go to a private practice in the UK and it’s basically someone’s house with carpets on the floor and the dentist’s wife sitting on reception. This is my nightmare and everything we do is trying to move the patient experience in a truly new and exciting direction.’

It’s all in the detail

It was on this auspicious flight that we dreamed of Smileworks – a practice where patients would be excited to come and take part in an immersive experience. We decided to theme the practice on an airline (because you get the best service at 34,000ft) and put down a deposit on a lease in Liverpool One, a suitably prestigious address in the centre of Liverpool.

‘It’s important to create a beautiful working environment for a number of reasons. Firstly, as entrepreneurs, we’re going to be in the office for more than 80 hours a week, so it needs to make us feel great. Also we wanted to provide the very best to patients. A patient experience and technical dentistry like nothing they’d seen before,’ MJ continues.

The ‘spa’ practice was great 10 or 20 years ago but it’s getting tired now. We wanted something on a totally different level.

Dentistry is a mixture of art and science and we wanted the practice to be a beautiful and functional work of art. The first thing patients see is the twin Jet-desks. These are manufactured by Gareth Price at Scroller Metalwork. We bought a pair of Tornado F3 airbrakes from an aviation business and had Gaz fashion two matching desks that would be the centrepiece of the office.

It’s important to show patients that we care about detail and will stop at nothing to create the very best results for them. Patients don’t know how good our dentists are so we need to show them quality, artistry and flair at every stage of their experience. Just having a fish tank and a few comfy chairs won’t cut it in 2017.

Topgrading talent acquisition

Everything from the waiting room to the uniforms has been designed precisely and without sparing any detail. Our uniforms are custom designed and tailored for each member of staff by Oksana Anilionyte, a designer from the Royal College of Fashion. After designing our uniforms, she went on to work with MIT on futuristic nano-fabrics for use in sports and the military.

But it’s not just patients we want to impress. One of the most beneficial aspects is the talent that we can get our hands on now that we have literally the most beautiful practice in the UK. The best dentists want to work in a calm, technologically advanced and creative workspace – and Smileworks screams all of those things. Our practice has helped us get the pick of the talent in the north west and we have dozens of applications a week from dentists, therapists and support staff and are able to be extremely picky about who we take on.

Ed follows the Topgrading talent acquisition methodology to the letter and we only hire the top 10% of talent at any given salary level. These are the A-players.

Ed says: ‘Although many have heard the expression A-player, few actually know where it comes from and even fewer follow the top grading methodology that was developed by researchers to hire and train the top performing members of any given workforce.’

Patient journey

The practice is brimming with technology and we take workflows and the patient journey very seriously here. The patient journey is a finely choreographed and executed system that maximises each stage of treatment for the patient and for the practice to create unrivalled efficiency. Patients want complete care and we’re not doing our jobs if we’re not offering them the very highest levels of care. Whether they accept full treatment is another story, but we like to think that we are never selling our patients short.

The practice has a great atmosphere and this is reflected in our reviews and feedback. We look after our staff very well and our staff look after our patients. The research shows that patients are much less impressed with technology in a practice and more concerned with whether they are going to be looked after. So we don’t really market our technology. Many dentists scream about their fancy scanners but really what patients want is to be looked after in a caring environment. Technology is here to help us, it doesn’t give us a competitive edge though. That’s done with customer service, workflows and the effortless service that advanced technology can help deliver.

Best in class marketing

Marketing is another area that Smileworks excels at. Ed Challinor is the one-man marketing department and following a foundational education in law and business he decided to turn his hand to marketing for Smileworks:

‘I love marketing. It’s pure science and art. I love that one day I can be using my creativity and the next using pure analytical skills to cut through the numbers and get the results,’ Ed comments.

Smileworks acquires over 70 new patients a month and our cost of acquisition efficiency has caught the attention of industry leading digital marketers. Ed learned digital with Ryan Deiss and Russ Hanneberry on the very first ‘Certification in Digital Marketing’ beta back in 2015. He’s since become an expert in search, Facebook, PPC and direct response. His industry-leading ideas have been featured by the Utah-based monsters of PPC, Disruptive Advertising, and also by Virgin.com Entrepreneurs.

Ed takes his learning very seriously and his CPD output and professional dedication matches the dentists and specialists working here at Smileworks. Since Smileworks has opened Ed has spent over £50,000 on paid media, run 900 A/B tests and built audiences of hundreds of thousands of users.

‘We don’t use agencies much anymore because the results that even the top tier agencies can produce are no match for what we can do internally,’ Ed continued.

Our super-geeky digital marketing suite includes:

  • Leadpages –WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) landing page generator
  • SEM Rush – the ultimate competitor intelligence software
  • Hotjar – user experience/testing platform
  • VWO – webpage split testing software
  • SEO profiler – SEO position tracker
  • Ad Espresso – Facebook testing platform
  • Google Analytics – a must have for any optimisation geeks out there
  • Search console – formerly webmaster tools.

In only a short three years since we opened our doors, Smileworks has shot from zero to being a prominent force in dentistry with the finest talent, best in class marketing and a customer journey that delights patients.

At Smileworks we have a 25% referral rate. So one in four patients refer a friend or family member.

Even this process is finely managed and our systems and processes for gaining customer referrals are based squarely on best practice foundations and tested and tailored to suit our patients.


For more information, visit www.smileworksliverpool.co.uk.