Rana Al-Falaki explains why she decided to join Dentex and how as part of the group she is working with Rahul Doshi to grow her practice ‘Al-Fa Perio Clinic’
The main reason I was looking to sell my practice was that I felt I couldn’t progress it any more. I had lots of ideas but as a practice principal no time to pursue them. At the same time I was well and truly saturated by the regulatory and administrative responsibilities and wanted to get back to dentistry.
I had lots of concerns about selling though. As a specialist practice, I really see Al-Fa Perio Clinic as unique and of course as my baby! I didn’t want someone to come in and turn it into a general practice. And as a specialist and being my own boss for so long, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being an employee again. It was a difficult decision to make.
I heard about Dentex through my agent, who had been exploring options for me to sell. He told me that they were different in that they partner with dentists and the best way for me to find out about them was to go and speak to them myself.
They were brilliant from the beginning, I met a very friendly team who explained how the Dentex model worked. I found it very attractive from two angles; being part of a larger group and having the protection of them overseeing the management side of things, which in turn enables me to just focus on dentistry. What makes it unique is that they offer partnership not a takeover. This means working alongside fellow dentists as partners, which for me working with someone like Rahul Doshi who understands clinical dentistry is invaluable. I always got the impression with other corporates that they didn’t have this kind of insight and everything would become about the numbers and generating profit. The idea of having someone clinical to look after you, share your vision and help you grow was very attractive.
The fact that Dentex would maintain the practice’s ethos and brand was great too – the practice would stay the same but be supported to become better.
As Dentex is relatively new, the idea of coming in early and having a part in shaping its future was also very attractive to me.
As my practice is a specialist perio practice – and there aren’t too many of those in the country – we are very unusual. Because we do no general dentistry at all we have so many referring dentists. They are happy to send patients here knowing they will get them back! I was afraid that in selling the practice would be fitted into a corporate model, add general dentistry and lose everything the business has been built on.
At the same time the work we do is so unique, using lasers for example, which is also an area of research for me – that’s one of the things I love about my dentistry and I wanted to be able to carry on doing that. My hope is that working as part of Dentex will enable me to carry on growing with the same passion I had before.
We are still quite new to the Dentex group, but we are already seeing benefits and have great plans in place for the future. Rahul was key and was on hand for me to talk to through the sale process. We worked together to tell the staff and he met with them all individually, there were no surprises for the team and everyone knew where they stood.
Even through the due diligence process Dentex was supporting me on the regulatory and admin side. It’s still early days for us but it’s a relief for me to have less stress. I’m doing the same clinical hours, however, previously my mind would be on other things and I would often stay at the practice until 8pm catching up on paperwork instead of being at home with my kids.
My quality of life has improved, and the situation is also better for my team – they have more support, dedicated training programmes being set up which is good news for them and for their careers in dentistry.
Our brand is very important to us, we have won multiple awards the last few years and have so many great relationships with our referring dentists – all this has been in the name of Al-Fa Perio, as has all my other work and lecturing – so to lose all that with a change of name would have been a real shame. It’s still my baby, and retaining the name helps me retain a sense of identity within the practice. I won’t be stepping back from things and saying, ’It’s not my problem, I’m just an associate.’
As we started to build up the relationship we talked about ideas to grow the practice and our vision for the future. We will be bringing implant dentistry in – something which I had wanted to do for a while but haven’t had a chance to work on. There has been no ‘taking over’, for me the dynamic is more of a partnership. I still have a voice with my team, it’s been great for the staff morale and we are all looking forward to the future.
For our patients and referring dentists nothing has changed. We have talked to all our referrers and they are happy, as far as the patients are concerned there are no worries from them that things will change.
BDS MFDRCS MClinDent MRDRCS
Rana has been on the UK specialist list in periodontics for over 10 years. She has worked in the hospital system in both undergraduate and postgraduate tuition, and as an associate specialist. Most of her time is now spent in specialist practice, as well as lecturing. Her practice, Al-Fa Perio Clinic, was established in 2004 and is based in Buckhurst Hill, Essex.