Fresh from the opening of her brand new squat practice, Martina Hodgson chats with Prav and Payman about the rationale behind opening a squat after years of successful ownership with Wakefield’s The Dental Studio.
Martina also talks about her insatiable drive and ambition, being an Invisalign Diamond provider and why she teamed up with Andrea Ubhi to start the Inspiring Women in Dentistry event.
In This Episode
02.04 – Backstory
05.42 – The squat and practice ownership
13.03 – Leadership style
18.27 – Hiring and firing
23.53 – Practice structure and patient journey
37.37 – Invisalign Vs?
47.45 – A controversial offer
52.06 – The Dental Architect
59.10 – Sinking moments and project management
01.04.39 – Creative
01.06.56 – Black box thinking
01.11.02 – Mistakes and weaknesses
01.12.54 – Women and motherhood in dentistry
01.19.08 – Plans, confidence and inspiration
01.23.55 – Finally, a black box thought
01.28.37 – Last days and legacy
01.32.00 – Fantasy dinner party
About Martina Hodgson
Dr Martina Hodgson owns Wakefield-based The Dental Studio and The Dental Architect in Leeds.
She is a Diamond Invisalign provider, a speaker for Invisalign and Aligner Consulting and a key opinion leader for Dental Monitoring.
Martina was listed in Dentistry’s Top 50, 2021. She sits on the editorial advisory board of the
Private Dentistry Journal Editorial and is a prolific contributor to the general and dental press.
Martina is the co-founder of Inspiring Women in Dentistry organisation with Andrea Ubhi.
[00:00:00] Does it get any easier for you?
[00:00:01] Martina It might sound bit harsh, but yes, it does get easier. And you know why? It’s because I now know you do no one any favours by having people on your team that are disruptive, that do not work hard or lazy. And you soon realised when you get rid of those people swiftly, what a favour you’ve done for your team, because afterwards no one wants to recommend to you that you should fire someone. But when you’ve done it, suddenly all the stories come out, all the reasons why you should fire them, come out and you realise that you’ve actually done your team a massive favour because when you have people like that on your team, it frustrates those really, really good team members and you don’t allow them to do their job properly and you’re hurting your team by allowing that behaviour within your team. So I’m actually really quick to fire now.
[00:00:59] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.
[00:01:17] It gives me great pleasure to welcome Martina Hodgson onto the podcast. Martina is a multi award winning, multi practise owning now that she’s just opened her her squat very publicly on on Facebook. Having having everyone watch your opening. Martina Inspiring women in dentistry a lecturer really quite an inspirational person. I mean, I met you, Martina, the first time the minimalist conference and I want to think and just watching you over the last four years, how far you’ve come in that period. And I know it’s one of those iceberg kind of things that you’ve been working at it for years and years and years. But it’s great to have you on the show. Thanks. Thanks for doing this.
[00:02:00] Thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited to be on.
[00:02:04] So we normally start with you kind of backstory. Where were you born? What kind of kid were you? Why did you choose dentistry?
[00:02:14] And so I was born in Colchester, in Essex. I’m a six girl and I think as a child I would say I was very I was quite driven as a child. I was very conscientious and I worked incredibly hard at school. I wanted to do really, really well. But I come from a very, very normal background. My, my mum was a housewife and my dad was an engineer for BT his whole life. And so I was the first one in my family to go to university and I decided I wanted to be a dentist. When I was about 13, I had braces and I actually really thought the whole experience was really, really interesting, really loved going to the dentist and decided that I was either going to be a dentist or a violinist because I play the violin. And so I think I got to the point where I was applying to dental school and to university and kind of weighed up the pros and cons of each and decided that dentistry was probably a more sensible career. And that’s the way that I went. So so that’s me in a nutshell, really. It was it was just kind of I’ve always been very independent, wanted to make my own way in life with a little help from other people as possible, which isn’t a very good idea. And, and that was, that was me really so quite focussed from quite early. I knew what I wanted to do and just I suppose that is me really just I get an idea in my head and then just go for it.
[00:03:51] Are you the oldest? I am. Have you? How many siblings we go by?
[00:03:57] Younger brother.
[00:03:58] So this thing about independence and doing your own thing. Where do you see that? When, when? When was the first sign of that? Why? Why are you that, Kat?
[00:04:08] Why? Why am I like that? Yeah, I asked myself this question. I’ve never had therapy.
[00:04:15] To start right here.
[00:04:17] I do know. I just know it’s going to come to me right now. It’s quite nice, actually. I just think it’s in me. I think it was from day one. I’ve always been like that. I just think it’s in me a lot of the time. I wish it wasn’t. It’s got its plus points, but it’s got big negatives as well. Being so driven, it’s I actually think it’s an affliction, to be honest.
[00:04:45] What are the downsides to being so driven?
[00:04:48] Martin I’m so single minded that everything else falls by the wayside, including a family, which sometimes which isn’t good because I. Just a lot. I get so engrossed in what I do and I love doing what I do so much and I want to achieve all these amazing things that like pop in my head because for fun, just because, like, I don’t even know why I do it. I just have this innate drive that is getting worse. And you said over like the last four years, I seem to have kind of really come from nowhere. And I think that when I hit 40, it was a watershed moment for me. I think as a woman, my confidence kind of came into its own, and that’s when I think my true potential started to to flourish.
[00:05:42] Have you got an addictive personality, Martina? Are you one of these people who sort of like all or nothing I’m going tunnel vision into this thing or.
[00:05:51] I wouldn’t say I have an addictive personality. No, I wouldn’t, actually. I’m quite I can do everything in moderation. But I think when it comes to work or achievements, I think it’s almost like I find it fun to come up with these stupid ideas and then follow them through, like opening a squat practise.
[00:06:13] Would you say Martina would say you’re better at the ideas or or the following them through the operation?
[00:06:19] To be honest.
[00:06:20] Because it’s rare to have both, you know.
[00:06:22] I think it is I am an ideas person, but I very much follow through such a thing. Yeah. And I think I start like things like opening a squad. Like the idea came to me and you know, for me while I can tell that story of how it started. But once I start going on something, you get to a point where there’s no backing out as much as you want to. You’re in too deep and you have no choice sometimes, but just to keep going and going for that goal that you have in your head.
[00:06:51] So let’s just let’s fast forward to the squat quickly, because it’s so recent, because it was last week that you opened it. What was the thinking behind a squat when when you, you know, you shown your successful at the other way of doing things. Well I guess you bought the other practise right? You bought part of it and then.
[00:07:13] Yes, yes. What happened with. So I came up to so I studied in Leeds, I qualified in 2001. Yeah. And then I went back down south for four years and I was living in London, working in London and I met my husband who is from Leeds and he, he said to me when we met I would like to go back up and live in Leeds. And I said, well that’s cool, I really like Leeds, I know lots of people up there. I’m up for it. So we got engaged, we moved up to Leeds and I went for this interview for an associate. So I was a young associate, you know, quite newly qualified. And I went to this interview in this village in Wakefield, and it was a couple of terraced houses not together in a working class coal mining village in the Triangle in Yorkshire. And I loved it. It had this lovely vibe about it as a lovely family practise. It was a private practise and I’d never worked in a private practise before. And the next day I had an interview booked at There used to be an optical express, you remember they used to do dentists and it was next to Harvey Nichols in Leeds, which was the only Harvey Nichols outside London at the time. So it was very glamorous and exciting and I had an interview booked there and the guy at the practise in Wakefield who offered me the job, I said, Well, can I let you know tomorrow? Because I’ve got another interview tomorrow and I really wanted this job.
[00:08:40] It’s like 90 grand a year working next to Harvey Nichols. And he said, Why do you want to go and work for another corporate? And I went, I don’t, actually. So I took the job. And then after a couple of years, there was two partners that a man and a woman and he belly ate at me for two years to buy him out. And I had no aspirations ever before this to be part designer. I was quite happy being an associate, but he banged on at me to buy him out, so I bought him out. And when I look back now the of money that I borrowed from the bank, just, you know, at the time it was so much money to me. And now I look back and I was like, I got a bargain there. And then I had so I had a business partner, a woman for about 12, 12 or so years, and then she retired. So I bought her out. So it’s a very organic kind of process into practise ownership and it was a really nice way to practise ownership. And I’ve been there 17 years now and I think it’s in my heart and soul that places that some of the staff are still there that were there at the beginning.
[00:09:46] How many years, how many years have you been the sole owner?
[00:09:49] I think about four or five years now.
[00:09:51] 35 years. Did you make big changes?
[00:09:54] Yeah, massive.
[00:09:55] So. So was that something that you were. You were having some issues, the wrong word, but. You weren’t you weren’t having similar direction of thought with your partner.
[00:10:04] Because she was a completely different generation of dentist. And I had all these ideas, but they were all quashed and I wasn’t allowed to express myself. And I think the first six months of full practise ownership, I, I think I had anxiety, but I didn’t know it because I didn’t know how to be a leader. And it was suddenly the spotlight on me. And I used to get like these palpitations. I remember like, just sat watching TV, and I was like, I’ve never had this before. And it was because of this sudden burden on my shoulders of of being the leader. And I’m the only one responsible for these people and for these patients. And so I had to start to learn what being a leader meant. And so that was an incredible that has been an incredible journey for me. And it’s not anything that you ever stopped trying to learn how to be a leader. But my watershed moment in that I think we’re going off course the topic here. But I think my watershed moment for me as a leader was lockdown, the first lockdown when we got flung into shutting our practises. In fact, I shut my practise a day before we were told to. I made that decision and suddenly I had to start making very hard decisions very quickly for the good of my team and for the good of my patients. And there was a lot of people have very different ideas about what I should be doing. So very prominent dentists, people that I look up to and respect were telling me to sack staff. This was before furlough came out.
[00:11:40] They were saying, you’ve got to you’ve got to get rid of. You’ve got to shed, you’ve got to shed. You’ve got to keep your head above water. You’ll go under. And I suddenly started believing in myself and being true to myself. And I was like, No, I don’t want to do this. And I remember standing in front of them the day I closed the practise and saying, I’m making a promise to them. And I said I would never I’d never heard of it before. And I promised them all their jobs, and I promised I would keep the business going. And I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew that I had to and that I would. And then Rishi came out and announced furlough, and I think I nearly cried that Friday. You will remember all nodding. It was a Friday evening, and I think I burst into tears because it was like, Oh, I’m going to be okay. It’s going to be all right. And I think then I learnt the true meaning of leadership. And to me the true meaning of leadership is being true to yourself and your own values and being authentic. And when you when you understand that and that clicked in my head, like I literally felt the penny drop in my head then. It’s easy after that because you’re just being authentic to yourself. And I have to remind myself time and time again to listen to my own instincts and my own heart on that subject of leadership. But we did go off track there. Sorry.
[00:13:01] No, no, that was.
[00:13:03] My leader. What kind of a boss are you? If your team were to describe you as a boss, what do you think they they’d say about you?
[00:13:12] I think they’d say, I’m infuriating. I think they would say, let’s keep up with I think I’m fair. I think I’m loyal. I think I make decisions for the good of all of the team. And sometimes it can be hard decisions, but then you realise afterwards that you did everybody a favour. I think I’m a very supportive boss. I love to push my team. I love to see them grow. I love to get them on courses. I love to progress them as far as they will let me. I’d say there’s people that want to be like that will really flourish with me.
[00:13:56] But when you said.
[00:13:56] It may sound really annoying as well.
[00:13:58] When you said that being a leader is being true to yourself, that implies a set of sort of. Basic principles that that you run your business by. What would you say those basic principles are? I mean, would you say that they’re different for you than they are for the next day? They should. They should be. But what would you say they are? I mean, if a situation presents itself that hasn’t presented itself before, like like lockdown, often the thing to do is to go back to your basic principles and check against those. What would you say yours are?
[00:14:35] This really is like therapy, because these are the sort of questions which you never even ask yourself. And I think that I would always. First and foremost, my team and my priority. Financial gain has never been. Anything I’m particularly interested in. And I know that sounds strange for a business owner. But the less I worry about the money and more I worry about my team and my patients and providing a good experience for my team and my patients and giving them the best that I can possibly give the more financial gain by REAP as a result. And I see too many practise owners focussing on their profit and their bottom line and not focussing on the really important things that I think are really important, which is looking after your team and looking after your patients.
[00:15:37] So what is the experience of working for Martina? I mean. How does it differ to working at the next place?
[00:15:45] I mean, I don’t know of any maximum practise, like most of my life and. I hope I’m fair and I hope I’m supportive and I maybe I’m not always present because I spread myself too thin.
[00:16:00] Let me give you an example, MARTIN Let me give you an example, because I like to think I’m a real touchy feely boss. Yeah. And generally, whenever someone asks a question, which is outside of the norm, can I take another half a day off because my mom is sick or something? One of these. My my general answer is always yes. Sure. But. Sure. And the experience I want to provide to my team is one of family experience.
[00:16:26] But my partner, he’s very clear on this idea of fairness. And he’s very like consumed by fairness. He’s like, well, you told that person they can have half a day off. What if 43 of them, there’s 43 people in there? What if 43 of them ask for half a day off? And he’s very much into policies. You know, what is and what isn’t and the rules and regulations and all of that. And I guess between us we get an answer. But, you know, for me, one of the benefits of a small business, one of the few benefits of a small business is that flexibility of being able to let people, you know, do things slightly, ask a question of the boss, something you couldn’t do at Microsoft. But but where do you sit on that? I mean, because it’s difficult. Someone asks something. Maybe it’s the course they want to go on. Maybe it’s a holiday, maybe whatever it is. And you and you want to give that person the thing. But the implication then becomes favouritism on the staff. With the staff. Did you have to juggle that?
[00:17:25] I think you’re right. And I am probably that person whose instinct would be to go. Yeah, of course. But then there’s people around me in my management team who are on the ground, who are working with the nurses day by day and working with the receptionist, and they will soon bring me back down to. That’s not fair, because if you do that for her, you’ve got to do it for everybody else. And they’re right, actually. And you’re not doing your whole team a favour by, you know, the ones that have got the, you know, the courage to come to you and ask these things. Yeah. You know, some of us might not want to ask you that. And you aren’t doing your team a favour really by working in that style. And I think you do have to. And the bigger your team becomes, the more you have to kind of stick to your rules. And that doesn’t rules are there to be bent and broken like we know that and no one’s going to blame you for extenuating circumstances. But I think in general, you have to try and be fair. I do think that.
[00:18:27] Due to the hiring and firing Martina.
[00:18:32] Sometimes it’s becoming less and less. So I like to I think it’s really nice. You know, as my team grows, as my management team grows, I’m quite happy they know me, they know the kind of people I want on my team. So I’m quite happy for them to hire, unless it’s obviously a really very individual role or quite senior role. I would be happy for them to hire a nurse and they do regularly without me even meeting the nurse. However, when it comes to firing, I don’t think it’s fair to get your team to do that and I always think I should be there. At least I should be there when someone’s fired.
[00:19:15] Does it get any easier for you, Martina?
[00:19:19] It might sound be harsh, but yes, it does get easier. And to know why, it’s because I now know you do no one any favours by having people on your team that are disruptive that, you know, work hard or lazy, that the and you soon realise when you get rid of those people swiftly, what a favour you’ve done for your team. Because afterwards no one wants to recommend to you that you should fire someone, but when you’ve done it, suddenly all the stories come out, all the reasons why you should have them come out, and you realise that you’ve actually done your team a massive favour, because when you have people like that on your team, it frustrates those really, really good team members and you don’t allow them to do their job properly and you’re hurting your team by allowing that behaviour within your team. So I’m actually really quick to fire now.
[00:20:15] If you have you ever hired someone and then maybe like this has happened to me quite a few times, I’ve hired someone in I thought shit like three or four days in. Right. And you think they’re not quite right but I’m still going to give them a chance. Right. And then a little bit later, maybe a week or two later, you realise, right, this person’s got a goal. And then you say to yourself, Well I’ve got give until the end of the month, it’s only fair, give them a month and then it drags on a little bit. Have you ever been in that situation where you’ve had somebody in the business where you think, I’ve got to let them go? But but the nerves and the anxiety of building up to letting them go, how are you going to let go? What conversation are you going to have with? Because I find that’s that for me, it’s been one of the hardest parts of running a business. A finding the right people. But once but then you. Sometimes I find.
[00:21:03] People and they turn up at work. Then the person you interviewed, you’re like, yeah, sorry. The same person. Very. I mean, I had this quite recently. Now I am quite you can tell, you know, at that point, if they’re not going to work hard on week one and try and impress you what they’re going to be doing it in and everyone can see it like everyone will come to you or they won’t necessarily come to me or that comes to my manager. And you know, if all your staff are complaining about a new employee, it’s not going to work. Just get rid, do everyone a favour, let them move on.
[00:21:42] But let’s say it’s not that all your staff are complaining, but sometimes we’ve all got this spidey sense, haven’t we? This, this, this feeling inside us where you got tells you maybe they’re not right. But but everyone’s saying give them a chance. Have you ever been in that situation?
[00:21:58] I think that my team are better than me at knowing whether someone’s right for the practise or not. To be honest, they’ll tell me before I even spell it sometimes.
[00:22:09] So when it comes to hiring, what are you looking for? What? What do I need to be to work for you? Who do I need to be?
[00:22:18] Well, what’s that saying? Hire on. Is it aptitude? Or you can teach anyone with the right attitude and personality. Anything. I would hire an attitude any day over qualifications, you know, skill, you know, their CV. I think if you’ve got the right person with the right attitude, it’s absolutely worth its weight in gold, to be honest. And it’s much it’s very hard to find those people, I have to say.
[00:22:50] And how do you tease that out during an interview process? Attitude Have you got any specific questions or tasks or anything that you.
[00:22:59] I think it’s just so like I say it. I think people can be very different in interviews and I’m seeing a lot of this at the moment that they’re coming across amazing in interviews and they’re answering all the questions correctly and you’re thinking, wow. And then they turn up at work and they’re lazy and you’re like, Where did that person go? So I’m starting to think that we should be definitely doing trial days with people. But yeah, I mean, you’ve got the standard set of interview questions that you can download from anywhere, but at the end of the day, it’s the gut feeling for me and I know, you know, you know, within seconds I think whether you’ve got a winner or not, you’re not always right. I Yeah.
[00:23:49] I’ve been wrong loads of times.
[00:23:53] What’s the structure of the Dental studio? So when you say senior management, what have you, what have you got? The the non-clinical team, who are they?
[00:24:02] Well, because I’ve just opened a second practise, I now have an operations manager, so he works across both sites. So below me it’s the operations manager. And then I’ve just promoted my head nurse at the Wakefield Practise to practise manager. So she’s in training. So my operations manager is going to be working closely with her. And then we have like a management team, so we would have head nurse, your practise manager, you had receptionist and you had TKO. We have a meeting every week. On Monday morning we’ll go to the local coffee shop and we just look at our heads together and they kind of report back and any like feedback and you know, we knock ideas around and problems and that’s really great because as you grow, you need to have those key people in charge of each of their departments. Even if there’s only two receptionists, you need a head, one, I think, who just wants to keep everything ticking over because the more you grow, the more you have to step away and you have to let that control girl go to other people. And if you’ve got people that you really, really trust, which I do, my management team, I really, really trust them that they have the best interests of the practise at heart, then it’s very much easier to step away and let them do the day to day running of that practise. And so that’s that structure is well in place in Wakefield and Leeds. We have a similar structure that we don’t yet have that practise manager in place. But eventually, you know, we have that pathway, that career pathway, but we do have a head nurse, we have the head TKO works across both sites and we have a head receptionist as well.
[00:25:40] What about as a dentist? How do you come across? I mean, I know most of your work is clear, aligner now. Is that right?
[00:25:49] Yeah, but for a very long time I was just a general dentist. I had a demo panellist two years ago. Same panellist for 17 years. So how do I come across to my patients as a dentist?
[00:26:01] Yeah, I think I do. One thing I’ve realised is that many dentists actually have totally different styles, you know. There’s some very relaxed ones and then there’s some very formal ones. What’s what’s your what’s your sort of the USP of of Martino. If I come to you for a for a consult.
[00:26:19] Yeah, well, we have some banter, definitely all about having fun, but being professional at the same time. You might. Those two things aren’t exclusive to me. Yeah. And I try and instil that in all of my team. You know, I want patients to come and have a nice time and be comfortable and relaxed. I’m a quick worker, as most principals are. I work very quickly, but I think you can work very quickly to a high standard and be efficient and be fun and have fun. Make your patients relax because but that comes with years of experience. That becomes knowing your trade so that you’re not even thinking about how you’re doing that treatment plan. You’re just doing it at the same time as listening to a dirty joke or something. You know, I mean, it just it takes a long time, I think, to achieve that where you can get that balance right. But yeah, I think if you came to see me for a consultation, you’d have fun and you’d come away with a great treatment plan and feeling really confident that you were going to get the outcome that you wanted. And that just comes again from 20 years.
[00:27:25] How do you how do you how do you get it across to them that you are, Martina? I mean, at the end of the day, the patient’s a patient and they walk in and they don’t know your level of experience. Do you make that clear?
[00:27:38] I don’t think I need to. I think they can tell from my demeanour.
[00:27:46] Do you know what you’re talking about?
[00:27:47] Confident with the work I’m carrying out and that is just 20 years of experience. I wouldn’t have been that person at 23. Yeah.
[00:27:58] And how does the TKO beat work? I mean, what at what point is the TKO? Does the TKO do the initial consult?
[00:28:07] Yeah. So we our patient journey say for example, with Invisalign, we have a new patient coordinator. So she will be the person that deals with the leads that come in. So we would be running Facebook ads, Google ads, you know, interested people coming from social media. And she will be the person initially to to speak to those patients, to build that initial rapport, to give them those basic facts about Invisalign, and to qualify that patient and start that consent process for that patient. And her role is to book that patient in with the treatment coordinator. So she works very closely with the treatment coordinator. She’ll take a £20 refundable deposit. So that agreement with a TKO and then the TKO will run that consultation with the patient, where she’ll go into more detail about what Invisalign is, how it works. We use a software called Smile Mate, and every patient that’s booked in with a TKO is sent this link. Or it’s actually a whole the whole process is automated now, actually, but they’ll get sent a link where they can upload their photographs onto Imamate and it will use artificial intelligence to generate an oral health report for them, which is fine, that’s great. But more importantly, I review all the photographs that come in and I will then make a note to my TKO and I will tell on the notes. It will. It will tell her, is it a light case? Is it a full case? How long do I expect it to take? Can I see tooth? Where do they get any composite? So if they got missing teeth, have they got baby teeth? Are they suitable for Invisalign and the ones you know, the odd case that looked like they’ve come from a different partner or something.
[00:29:57] I’ll send them to my mate. Up the road is a specialist. She loves mix so. But it’s good because they don’t even have to come in and waste that appointment and waste that time. So we filter out the ones that aren’t suitable, which is very rare. But so by the time that patient comes to that treatment coordinator consultation, they’ve left knowing how long are they suitable, how long is it going to take, how much is it going to cost me and all our USBs as well to go along? So they leave that consultation ready to go. So they the next step would be to book in for the assessment with the dentist. And by the time they’ve looked at that point with the dentist and paid £100 deposit for that, they’re good to go. They’re ready. It’s not a question we can’t even ask in surgery. Do you want to go ahead? It’s more of like decided already. So it’s it’s a process that has taken years, a lot of hard work, a lot of refinement and tweaking. That process never ends. We always trying to perfect our patient journey, and it’s something I’m very, very proud of and it works for us really, really well.
[00:31:03] Martina, do you know the front end of this game? Obviously you’re generating lots of enquiries through your marketing campaigns. What’s the qualification process that happens before they get in with a TKO? Because if we let everyone in with the TKO who enquired Utico would be busy with a lot of tire kickers or kickers as I as I tend to call them. But I call them shit kickers. Yeah. And you know, I guess for me, certainly in my team it’s the lead ninja who’s, who’s definitely the most talented person in the team because they.
[00:31:42] Believe in it for sure. It’s the new patient coordinator. That’s her job. Yeah. And we had a management meeting this morning and our TKO, I think in the last two weeks it converted and it was 18 out of 21 of her consoles.
[00:31:57] Yeah, but that is testimony to our lead ninja and the job that she is doing qualifying those patients because that’s an incredible conversion rate.
[00:32:07] So can you share with us what it is? What are the sort of what you need to do to earn an appointment with your TCL? That’s what I always say, is that for you to step into my practise and have an appointment with a TKO or a dentist, you’ve got to earn it as a patient. Do you have some criteria that they need to meet before they I mean, that 20 quid or 30 quid deposit, whatever it is that that’s incidental, it doesn’t really matter. But what boxes do they have to tick to get through the door?
[00:32:37] Firstly, you’ve got to find out, is it actually Invisalign they want or need because half of them think it’s an implant or a veneer or they’re going to get full set crowns. So they need to understand, is that consent process really starting, isn’t it? It’s understanding what is Invisalign, it’s understanding their kind of key questions that they want answering. Is it her? How long does it take? What does it look like? Can I leave my life normally? And it’s, you know, where do you live? Can you get here? Do you know where we are? How old are you? We don’t treat patients under 18. Have you had braces before? Have you got braces now? You know, it’s all these things. But I find it interesting the way that you put the question across, which was what? How do you earn the right to come and see my Mitsuko? It’s an interesting.
[00:33:26] You didn’t actually say that to you. Who? Me, not you in the practise. Don’t say.
[00:33:32] No. But that’s what that’s what I do as part of our training. So I always say to my team that they need to earn a place in the practise. Right? So we have I have minimum criteria that they need to hit. And Martina, obviously you’ve got all your ups there, but no one should be, like I say, the most expensive part of a patient stepping into your practise is someone walking through the door, not having a clue what they’re there for and not having a Scooby Doo of a price range. Yeah, I don’t believe in this whole. You can sell them the value when they walk through the door. Like if they think they can walk in your practise and get their teeth straightened for 750 quid, you’re wasting their time. You’re wasting your time, you’re wasting everyone’s time. So I just sort of say, in order for somebody to earn a place in my practise, they need to know where the star in price is. And it needs to be realistic. We need a little bit of history behind them, their motivations when they’re looking to get started.
[00:34:35] Is this something they’re just looking into in the future as it’s something they’re motivated to get started with fairly soon? What do they know about the treatment? And then they shouldn’t step into the practise without knowing. You’ve got 20 years experience, you’ve straightened so many sets of teeth, you’ve got a gallery of X, Y and Z. We’ve got over 200 Google reviews with five stars, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So like I say, successful phone call is when all of those have been hit by our lead ninja. And if they still say at that point, I don’t want a book, fantastic, you’ve done a great job because you’ve just pushed someone away, was going to come in and waste our time and then vice versa. So yeah, I kind of like flip it on its head that you may never have thought about it like that, but your process must be pretty slick for your SEO to be converting 18 out of 21 patient. So you’re leading in just definitely doing something right and qualify in the patients that were coming through.
[00:35:33] Definitely. And it’s you know, it’s an educational process for that patient. You know, it’s important. It’s our duty to educate them on price, on time, on what is Invisalign? What does it look like to take it out? You know, that’s her job. They should be coming in with all the basic facts. And why? Why are they picking us? They should know why they’re picking us. And you have your list of USBs, say, like you reeled off, you know, here’s my USP.
[00:36:02] So, Martina, can you see I’ve got a gut here. I’ve got.
[00:36:07] Yeah. I’ve got my glasses on. You need an implant?
[00:36:10] I’m in. No, no, no. Definitely not an implant. But I’m interested in getting my teeth straightened with you. Why should I come to see you?
[00:36:18] No, I. No, no, no, I don’t. Whatever. You want me to tell this to my. Now I’m going to do that.
[00:36:27] You’re going to just sell yourself.
[00:36:29] To selling myself? I don’t mind other people selling me. I’m not selling myself.
[00:36:34] How would you? How would you. How would your team sell you? What would they be? What would they say?
[00:36:40] That’s why you’re going through press practise training programme.
[00:36:47] It’s pretty. It’s pretty neat. I said, I’ve got some receptionists out there.
[00:36:56] It’s nice. It’s nice when you can start two boxes and it takes a long time to earn all these USBs that you can start telling your patients that we’re a diamond provider and a top provider in Leeds and Invisalign Diploma with Dentistry Top 50, all these, you know, awards, blah, blah, blah. It’s all, you know, it’s all just guessing, isn’t it?
[00:37:22] It’s a lot easier for somebody else to. I was going to say I’m low. You’re very.
[00:37:26] Uncomfortable. This conversation you said at the beginning, is there anything you don’t want to talk about?
[00:37:32] Let’s let let’s move on. Let’s move on.
[00:37:37] Martina, there’s been quite a lot of talk about Invisalign as as a as a partner and people saying, you know, we’re working for them and you’re making the brand stronger than your own brand. You must know what I’m talking about. Yeah. Do you how often do you look at alternatives to Invisalign or are you just, like, completely head? I’m not not I’m planning to bring out an alternative, but there are loads of alternatives these days. Yeah. How often do you look at those or have you not? Are you single mindedly behind.
[00:38:11] Because that other people do that? So people that I respect, people that know what they’re doing. If they want to try Karolina Systems, I’ll ask them about how do they get. They will go back to Invisalign though. So to me that says it all. The big, well respected orthodontists, they mainly use Invisalign and there is a reason for that.
[00:38:33] But do you think that reason is the way it works, or do you think the reason is the brand, or what do you think the reason is?
[00:38:39] No, I wouldn’t use Invisalign just for the brand. I don’t think I need to. I don’t think it’s it’s just a name that’s become a household name that people use to refer to clearer lines. They, they’ll, they’ll ring any practise and ask for Invisalign but they don’t really care. I don’t think if they’re getting Invisalign or not as long as what the, what they’re saying is they want clear aligners provided by a professional dentist and.
[00:39:06] You know what I mean, that if you walk into Harvey Nichols and you want to buy a coat, there’ll be a kind goose coat there. And there’s a reason why they’re stocking Canada goose and not the number to whoever the hell that is. You know, there’s people walking in saying, I want to use.
[00:39:21] Yeah, I suppose. I mean, it’s a massive brand name now, but that doesn’t really sway me as the reason to use it. I think there would be loads of other ways you could market clear aligners without having to use the word invisalign and still do really, really well. I use Invisalign because I believe in it as a product. I think it’s predictable. I know how to use the system, I’m comfortable with it and that’s why I use Invisalign, because I know I’m going to get the results. I know the research that they put into it, the continuum of development that’s more important to me than the brand name. Maybe, maybe someone who’s like a young associate that maybe doesn’t have much of a profile, maybe it might be important to someone like that. I don’t know. I don’t know.
[00:40:10] I mean, Prav you work with a bunch of different aligner companies with is, right?
[00:40:18] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, look, I work with a lot of clients who are top invisalign providers. I work with Claire. Correct. Directly. Sure. Smart, sure. Smiles SPARC who’ve been around been around for a long time. I mean, you know, I’m not the guy to ask, you know, which one’s better than than the other and all the rest of it. Obviously Invisalign, they’ve got more volume behind and more research and much bigger company. Right. And I’m not a clinician, so I can’t really comment on that. But you know, you speak to various people out there, they have their reasons for using, let’s say, Invisalign or not or having an alternative, whether it’s a business reason, whether it’s a clinical reason or whatnot. Some people are looking for, you know, I speak to some practises or a top Invisalign. Eighties, but then look at it from a profitability point of view, say, well, they’ve hit this status and now they’re going to move over to, let’s say, spark or clear. Correct as a share of wallet because they know their lap fee is going to be less with that. And they still believe clinically they can get the same or similar result. Right. So there’s loads of different ways in which people, I guess, mix it up. I don’t think anyone can deny that, you know, a Invisalign is the market leader and the number one brand out there. However, I do feel that Invisalign is becoming commoditized in the industry. You only need to flick your Facebook up, open on your phone, wherever, whichever city you’re working in, and you get bombarded with Invisalign ads. And it’s a combination of roll up fee free consultation, will throw in some retainers, will throw in a bit of free whitening, and we’ll do a bit of free composite edge bonding while we’re at it, all combinations and permutations of that.
[00:42:05] And what I feel is that with that type of marketing, what we’re what we’re seeing is almost like it being commoditised, commoditized, like whether you go to get a tin of Heinz baked beans from Waitrose, Tesco’s or Morrisons, it’s the same tin of Heinz baked beans. And people are not looking at Invisalign, for example, based on the fact that you’ve got 20 years experience, you’ve got awards, you’ve got you’re a diamond, whatever that is, right, is patients are just looking at Invisalign like a product they can buy off the shelf rather than the skill that sits behind it, the treatment planning, the the ability to know what to do when things go wrong, whether it’s refinements, adjustments and all of that sort of thing. And, you know, that’s my problem at the moment with, with the marketing of Invisalign at the moment is everyone’s getting on that bandwagon, everyone’s doing an open day, everyone’s got a Invisalign offer. And whether it’s tooth whitening worth £300 or tooth whitening worth for 50 or retainers worth 300, or whether you’re talking about varied retainers or fixed retainers, blah, blah, blah, it’s a combination of that. And I know recently, Martina, you’ve got a little bit of stick online. I think there was a post that went up and then was deleted because you’re opening Invisalign off, right? So I guess first of all, let me know your thoughts and how you feel about Invisalign as a commodity and then just tell us about your opening offer and the generation of cash flow for your new business. And and just give us a bit more insight into this.
[00:43:42] And I agree with you, so to an extent on it being seen as a commodity. But I think that you underestimate the IQ of some of a lot of our patients. Maybe I particularly attract those with a high IQ, I don’t know. But I do think that people search me now and and I do think a lot of people do their research. And there will always be patients who just want the cheapest treatment, who just don’t really understand what it is and the skill behind it. The same as for composite bonding, it drives me up the wall. The DMS, I get saying, what’s your price for composite bonding? Because I’m shopping around and I’m looking at prices and I’ve still you’ve got a way of like me explaining to them that not all composite bonding is the same. Please tell me without sounding like I’m trying to like push them to sell it because I’m not. But I just want these people to realise that not all composite bonding is the same and they think there is a cohort of patients who think that all dentists have the same level of skill and experience and everything is the same.
[00:44:59] Like we’re robots and it’s not true. And don’t ask me to do a root canal and don’t ask me to do a surgical extraction because it’s not going to happen. It’s going to be a screw up, it’s going to be a massive screw up. And the dentist down the road is much better off doing it than me. Right. But I am better at doing clear aligners. And some will do their research and some will specifically say, I’ve looked on your Instagram, I’ve seen the work that you do, and they will come to you and they will find you. And they’re the best kind of patients, obviously, that we like. But it does frighten me when I see the level of skill of some of the dentists that are providing Invisalign. It frightens me a lot is that they don’t have the support. They are blindly going into some of these treatments and I think it honestly gives me the heebie jeebies and they might be charging more than me, but that’s fine. So that’s how I feel about that.
[00:46:00] Regarding that, do you think this this Invisalign should spend a bit more time and a bit. More skill and effort on treatment planning.
[00:46:09] I think at the end of the day in educating.
[00:46:14] Know well you know that clean check that comes back.
[00:46:16] You see they should be responsible for the treatment. No, not not legally.
[00:46:20] But, you know, nowadays people are saying, well, look, the clean check that comes back from Invisalign, you can pretty much ignore. And you have to do your own do your own treatment plan. And then there’s a bunch of people outsourcing that.
[00:46:31] Yes. Yeah. No, no, I do my own. But I think the clinician should be responsible.
[00:46:40] Because the Clinton is is responsible legally. But my point my point on it is Invisalign is by far the most expensive product. Right. It’s the product that’s been there the longest. It should one of the value ads of Invisalign should be that the treatment plans are done really well. Yeah.
[00:46:56] But it’s that technician who’s producing that clean check going to understand what’s going on with the bio type and gingival recession and bone levels and TMJ function and occlusal trauma and all these things that we take into consideration when we’re planning on our treatment plans, short routes, all these kind of things. They’re not they’re not there to do that, and that is our job.
[00:47:21] But I think these guys who are going off the rails, are you saying some of the bad treatments you’re seeing? I guess they’re guilty of trusting that technician.
[00:47:29] To prove like it’s. There you go click approve. Yeah.
[00:47:35] Just says yes. Let’s let’s talk about let’s talk about that thing. Let’s talk about that offer now.
[00:47:44] So we sidestep that.
[00:47:45] No. So what’s the offer? What was the offer? You might as well for people who don’t know the story, just just tell us go through what was the offer and why did you get. Stick over it.
[00:47:54] And the Alpha. I loved that I got sick over that, by the way. It made me so happy because I thought, I’m doing something right. I’m getting under people’s noses. This is great. The ulcer was ending Invisalign, so we had like four, four, two, four, nine five, including whitening and with errors and a hygiene. And the stick that I got was I wasn’t quite sure what their beef was other than it was like, how are we supposed to compete with this? And da da da. And I thought, well, how you can compete is you can work your absolute arse off for 20 years to get to the position where you are, you know, getting a nice big discount from Invisalign and people want to come and see you and you can still do that and make a really good profit. And by the way, you can spend years refining your patient journey and recruiting the right people, getting your lead ninja, getting your TSO, getting other dentists to come in. Oh, you can by the way, you can spend another few years training all the other dentists that you got to come and work for you to learn how to do Invisalign. And you can do a diploma and you can learn how to teach Invisalign. So when you can do all that, then you’ll be in a position I’m in to be able to offer Invisalign at two, four, nine, five and still make a profit.
[00:49:16] What’s the what was the profit do you mind sharing with us.
[00:49:19] If I break it down? I think it was I think it was it was over 1000 times profit still, I think.
[00:49:25] Oh, really?
[00:49:26] Yeah. This is it, you know. And it comes and sees, right? I’ve got a brand new squat practise and you bums on seats I’ve got mouths to feed and they seem to practise loads and loads.
[00:49:37] Loads of people, loads of people jump to your defence as well. Let’s be fair about it.
[00:49:41] Yeah, it was really nice. I loved that. You know what? That post didn’t upset me at all and I was quite pleased that I was creating a bit of a stir because it made me laugh.
[00:49:50] And and I guess if you do in a fixed price for four light and fold, you’re taken into account. There’s going to be a proportion of light where your margins are going to be higher and they’re going to be a proportion of four way imagine will be slightly less. And it all works out in the mix, right? So if you get more lights through the door, you’ll know more than anyone else what proportion are going to be lights versus full. Right. In terms.
[00:50:13] Of, you know, I have a business model that makes sense as well in terms of the way my set up was with my associates and the way that they get paid for the cases and the support that they have from assistant dentists and the support that we give them in terms of education and study clubs and support with the clean tech planning in house, everything’s in-house. And you know, I’m here as a mentor, as a teacher to these people, but I’m then able to attract those dentists that are willing to work for less of a wage. But in return, they’re getting experience, they’re learning the growing, they’re getting support. So I got myself into that unique position, which.
[00:50:54] Is that £1,000 is then split with your associate.
[00:50:58] No, that’s not my business model. That’s my profit.
[00:51:01] That’s your as the owners profit.
[00:51:03] Yeah. So they, they get paid on a case rate. Yeah. And then I have like we have levels of dentists, so we have like a level one dentist who does the IPR and the attachments. Then you have like a level two dentists who’ll be in charge of the case. They’ll do the, the planning. You know, they are they start the case and finish the case. They’ll do the refinements, all that. But they can refer to the level one, dentists, things like attachments, IPR, simple fillings, and those level one dentists are on a day rate. So the set up of the whole practise allows for me to be profitable from that case.
[00:51:39] And what’s in it for the level one dentist that he’ll eventually become a level two dentist? Is that the idea?
[00:51:44] Just a pathway to growth to learn, to grow, to become a good dentist? And that is the whole ethos behind my new practise. Is that really that whole education pathway that grows pathway for associates to come through and learn to be really, really good dentists with the support that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
[00:52:06] So let’s let’s talk about the squat, the Dental guy, the architect. The Dental architect. First question why did you decide to change brand? Why didn’t you say another one?
[00:52:17] Yeah, why didn’t I keep my. So the other practise is called the Dental Studio. It’s a completely different beast. And I obviously I did think about keeping the brand and having a sister practise, but it’s just not the same. Like it’s my wait for practise is Heart of Yorkshire, you know, farming community combe, old coal mining community families, very, very long term loyal patients. The dental architects is slap bang in the city centre is compared to Wakefield, which is a couple of terraced houses not together. It’s a beautiful grade two listed building, it’s an old leather warehouse and it’s just, you know, the whole demographic of our patients is different. It is office workers, it is students. It’s a younger kind of generation of patients. So the branding that I have for the dental studio just didn’t fit with what I wanted for here.
[00:53:25] And how long was it from when you said, Right, I’m going to do this to the day that you opened your doors?
[00:53:31] Do you think it was about 18 months, I think.
[00:53:35] And take us through some of the. For someone who’s never done a squat.
[00:53:39] Take us through that process.
[00:53:42] Well. I mean, how it came about was. My husband is a property investor and I don’t really take much notice of what he does for a living. But one day he invited me to come and look at a new property that boy needs. So I was like dragged along. And I walked in and I wasn’t looking for a second practise, something that had been on the back burner for maybe ten or so years but had kids. I never really made much of it. And I walked into this completely derelict building, which is on a really, really busy street and leads literally a minute’s walk to the train station. And I just it hit me like a ton of bricks that this was going to be this should be a beautiful dental practise. I’d just taken the grout. I was just going to have the ground floor. In the end, I ended up having a ground floor in the first floor. It’s a five story building. And really that was that was it. And I said, I have stupid ideas. And then I get in too deep and it’s too late to turn back. That’s what happened. But it was, I think to me when I reflect on why I did it, why, you know, why did I do it? I asked myself that question a lot. I think a lot of me did it just because I could. I knew what I wanted. I knew what I could do. I had the experience of running a practise. And I knew what I could create and I could see more important than all of that. It was that I saw the opportunity and I took it. And that’s what happened. And at the end of the day, I think this practise because it’s mine from very the roots of it I think it’s been an expression of me actually was I was quite sound quite deep but I think it’s my creative expression of my values, of what I’m about, the aesthetics of it.
[00:55:43] So is this your magnum opus? Like every dentist, every dentist has this dream of like this ideal practise, I think is this is this is this what it was for you?
[00:55:56] What did the name come from? Well, you know, when when I when I’m approached by either wannabe practise owners or people who are in that discovery phase, like, you know, there’s there’s every spa, studio, spa, studio, smile, spa, smile, practise, smile, clinic. All the names are gone, right? And so picking the name is you can go and then you go look at domain names and all the rest of it. It all goes through that process.
[00:56:26] You know. Well, picking the name is actually if I was to write a book on how to start a squat, I would say the first thing you need to do is pick a name, because until you pick a name, it holds up everything. You can’t do your branding. You can’t do your interior design until you’ve done your branding. You can’t design your final build until you’ve got your interior design. It’s like until you’ve got that name, nothing else can actually follow. Yeah. So the name is obviously one of the first things that I did. I had this really good branding consultant I work with. She’s called Car Abandon. She deliberately all the people that I’ve worked with throughout this whole project, apart from like very specific dental supplies, mentors that I’ve had have got nothing to do with dentistry. They’ve never done a dental practise before because I didn’t want it to be a cliché name, I didn’t want it to be a cliché brand. I wanted it to be very, very special and unique. And she, she we did have that whole kind of discovery process of a name. And in the end, I did spend a whole afternoon with her on this whole discovery process and the name and everything. But that name had been something that I’d already thought of before that process. And I’m glad, I’m glad I still went through the process with her to know that that was the right name, but it was my favourite name and a lot of people said they didn’t like it, they couldn’t spell it and all of that, and I just stuck with it. And it’s like one of those things where I was like, No, I’m going to go with my gut. I really like it and I’ve had so many compliments ever since on it. And the architect, the name architect kind of comes from the building itself, the beautiful building. But the fact that, you know, we we are the architects of smiles. So it was all kind of stuff really.
[00:58:15] And I think the branding and everything just flows beautifully when when you think of the name, just the logo, everything that you’ve seen in evolution on social media is your brand and your and your. We’ve all shared that. It’s almost like we’ve been on that journey with you, right? Because we’ve seen all the little steps and the little reels and the images and stuff like that, that, that, that whole brand has come to life. Yeah. And you right, you nail that name and everything else has followed after it and the brand is so suited to what you see.
[00:58:51] I always felt, I think before as I was starting the project, I felt like the name was like a bit of a luxury to be worrying about the name. But looking back on it, it was so important to get that name nailed and be comfortable with it. Right at the very beginning, because if you change the name, then your branding changes and then everything else changes.
[00:59:10] And what’s been your lowest moment in this whole journey of launching the Dental architect? You said you. You said you found the building. And then you got into deep and then you thought, Right, I’m in now, so I might as well figure out whether I’m going to sink or swim. Were there any sinking moments during this journey?
[00:59:33] Yeah, there’s multiple sinking moments. That was the build is starting work before I even had the funding. So, you know, I said about, like, holding your nose. Oh, man, I held my nerve. I walked into that building site every day, not knowing how I was going to pay the builders. I was like, I’ll call this mine. So for a long time, I didn’t have the funding. I think my, my, my, my absolute lowest moment was a clash I had with one of my the people that I was that was providing me a service for the bills. And we had a very big clash. And I was literally ranting and raving down the phone to him and bawling my eyes out and crying. And because everything had just got so much and everything was being delayed and it was like day after day after day, a new kick in the teeth. And it really has been an exercise in getting kicked, knocked down and getting up again and just doing the same again. And it takes fucking so I don’t know if I’m allowed to sweat balls and it takes grit and I’m not picking myself off it. I’m just putting it out there so everybody knows.
[01:01:05] What’s in it. Give me a bit more detail. Go on. What happened.
[01:01:08] About this?
[01:01:11] Confrontation. Yeah, I don’t I don’t want to know because I don’t want to badmouth anybody in the industry.
[01:01:19] Don’t, don’t mention the name.
[01:01:21] Well, it’s like, I think if I tell you what it was about, I might give it away. It’s a company that I worked with, but it was just it was a big clash. And, you know, it was just it was it was about you can get over building problems and problems with the QC and staffing problems and all this kind of stuff. Funding problems. I can’t even think of the millions of things that held me back on a daily basis. But it’s that really it’s the relationships that you have along the way. And when that breaks down, that’s what really kicks you in the gut.
[01:02:00] Yeah. Is it a trust thing, Martin? It was. It was it that there was there was some kind of trust there that was broken or a promise that was made?
[01:02:08] I felt that that. I mean, there’s two sides to this story, but I felt like I’d been let down big style.
[01:02:15] Martin Are you the kind of person who works on a handshake or are you the kind of person who sets out the sort of the milestones of what’s going to happen? So if, for instance, for the sake of the argument, if you’re going to have a website, which would you say right by this date, I want this done by that date, I want that done, or are you more intuitive? And if you trust the person, let them get on with it.
[01:02:38] You have to have a timeline. When you when you’re building a practise, you have to have a timeline. And the timeline becomes I’ll tell you why. The reason I got upset with that person was because I was letting down other people and it was delaying the opening of the practise. And, you know, when you’re hiring associates, they need three months to you know, you need to give them three months notice. So you have to pick a date and you have to go with what you told within a day. You know, and what I got so upset about was, yeah, okay, the employees can’t start yet. That’s fine. I can pay them. I don’t care that I’m losing money and I’m, you know, handing the notes and they’ve left the job so I can pay them. But it’s so since you come on and I was just so gutted that these people had left their jobs and followed my stupid dream and believed in me and trusted me. And I felt like I was letting them down. And that’s why that is why I was so upset at that point, because I knew it was going to delay the opening. And I forgot your question. So so in terms of you have to have these timelines, if you do, you do you have to be quite organised. You have to plan in advance and you have to say, right, my landing page needs to be ready now because I need to start marketing now because my TCO needs to start doing virtual consultations now. So I need this, this, this, this and this in place before my TCO starts doing virtual consultations. And so you do have to.
[01:04:02] Be so how much how much ahead of time? How much ahead of opening were you doing virtual consultations?
[01:04:07] Well, in the end, we did. We were supposed to just do a month that we did six or seven weeks because we opened late, which was no bad thing because it meant we got more patients in the chair when we opened. But yeah, so we started running, so we started doing the consults. Now if I did it again, I probably would say six weeks before opening, and then we started running the ads a month before that. So my lead ninja, my new patient coordinator, was booking in with the CEO for the virtual consults for that month before.
[01:04:39] I mean, how involved do you get in the creative? For instance, they’re putting ads out on social. Yeah I help who comes up comes up with the words. Is that you.
[01:04:49] Yeah, I do. Yeah, I have I definitely have a lot of input.
[01:04:55] But then, you know, the process, how the process is where I mean privacy expert. Right. But the process where they try lots of different words and try lots of different pictures and split test.
[01:05:03] They can do that. I’m not that’s that’s for the professionals to do.
[01:05:07] So you give the basic tone of voice. Yeah.
[01:05:12] Yeah, I get it.
[01:05:13] I think because I think I’m a little bit I’m okay. Like, if I thought it was a bit crap at it, I wouldn’t do it. But yeah, like you say, I’m not going to be A and B testing the arts. That’s for the professionals to do.
[01:05:24] Yeah. And plus, it’s a reflection of you, right, that’s going out there.
[01:05:27] It’s my voice, isn’t it?
[01:05:30] Yeah, it’s. It’s got to be it’s got to be close. I mean, it’s interesting, because sometimes someone else can do your voice better than you. It’s interesting. Perhaps I’ve got a guy. He’s he’s.
[01:05:41] A podcast. I can’t remember the name of the guy. He’s he does loads of implants and stuff. It’s quite a young guy. And then you were talking about. No, no, it was it that one. No, you it was one of your podcasts about building a website and you have a guy that writes everything for you. Just crap. So it sounds.
[01:06:00] Amazing. Yeah. Yeah.
[01:06:02] Word ninja. I feel like everyone’s a ninja word. Ninja.
[01:06:08] Just that phrase.
[01:06:10] But this guy, Martin, this guy, for instance, when he’s writing, he’s writing copy for the owners website here. You can literally hear his voice onto he wrote it and write it, the particular thing that he’s written. But you can hear Ronan’s voice. It’s like you can hear it in Ronan’s accent and voice. And then when he’s writing copy for Enlighten, it’s not my voice. It’s enlightened voice comes over and it’s the same dude sitting there saying, Yeah, yeah, I guess that is a pro, right?
[01:06:40] It’s you. Sometimes other people can express you better than you can express it.
[01:06:46] Just just like right now. You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t sell yourself.
[01:06:53] Well, let’s stay on the dark side.
[01:06:56] What’s been. What’s been your darkest day in dentistry?
[01:07:00] Oh doc dentistry.
[01:07:04] If you want wrap it into your biggest mistake clinically or you’re the patient that that complained the loudest or caused you the most pain or any of those sort of things.
[01:07:13] Yeah. You instantly think of something when you say that. You think of that patient, don’t you? Yeah. I don’t think we did any. It was yeah, there was a really, really horrible patient and she complained about literally all the dentists in the practise. And she made me feel anxious for months. She was a lawyer.
[01:07:34] Oh, God.
[01:07:36] It was horrible, horrible, horrible. I haven’t had many, honestly. Oh, mistakes. A million. Of course. Of course. But you know what’s so important? You know, if you would tell young Dennis, what’s the most important thing you can do in your career? The most important learning point is to build those relationships with your patients, because when you do screw up, they’re a lot more forgiving if you’ve got a relationship with them. And of course, yeah, I made hundreds of mistakes. Yeah, but I haven’t had many dark days and I’m sure I’ve had a wonderful career. I love my career. And have you.
[01:08:12] Never had a member of staff let you down big time steal from you? Something like that?
[01:08:18] Not still, no. I mean, I’ve had just. Incompetent members of staff. And just looking back fondly. So. But no, I’ve never had. Yeah. I’ve been very lucky.
[01:08:37] I’m not buying it.
[01:08:39] Well, the gnomes have stolen from me.
[01:08:41] No, no, no. You’ve never had a dark day.
[01:08:43] I can’t. I would say this.
[01:08:46] How can you go 20 years without a dark day?
[01:08:48] No, not so dark days, I’m sure.
[01:08:50] Come on. What stands out? What stands out as dark days?
[01:08:54] Oh, I don’t know. Patience can be annoying and all that and horrible, but I think for me it’s the relationship with your team and I think that would be the thing that upset me the most is if I upset a team member or hurt a relationship with a team member or broken a relationship or done something wrong like that, that’s more important to me. I think with patients, you can you can get over it a little bit, I think.
[01:09:20] I feel like this dark story you’re not telling us honestly.
[01:09:24] I’ll think of one. Ask you is I’m sure.
[01:09:27] All right. All right. When it comes to you.
[01:09:31] I’m never I don’t want to say that I’ve not ever had been sued or anything because then I’m going to get sued. It’s about the way you do allegations, isn’t it? Yes. In dark days.
[01:09:42] It might not just be a patient thing, right, Martine? It might be something unrelated to patients, but it’s in dentistry, right? But I see dark waves manifesting themselves in two ways. Have you ever seen the movie Falling Down? Michael Douglas.
[01:09:57] Walks into McDonald’s and it’s 5 minutes past breakfast time in the world. Give him his breakfast. Right. So he pulls out his machine gun, pulls out his machine gun and goes batshit crazy. Right. Because he can’t get breakfast. Right. So that’s one that’s one way of manifesting your dark day. And then the other. The other way I see is just crawling into a corner and crying and thinking, what’s the actual f? Why? Yeah. Can you relate to either of those moments, either a falling down moment or just burying yourself?
[01:10:31] I’m sure there’s many days I wanted to get my gun out and shoot everybody in the process. And all the patients and. So like you said online.
[01:10:51] No, no, no. Okay. Doesn’t matter. Let it. Let it. Let it. Let it marinate.
[01:10:55] Dark days that have been dark moments.
[01:10:57] Let it marinate.
[01:10:57] Let it let me.
[01:10:58] But let it marinate for a while. What’s your biggest weakness?
[01:11:02] You. I do know that I’m very good at making plans and things happening in my head and not telling anyone else about it. So like with my team, I would be, you know, I come up with all these ideas and all I have conversations and I’ll agree something with a team member and then not tell anyone else about it. Because I, you know, I just think that they can read my mind. I’m really moody, but I try work, I try and you know, you put on a show, don’t you? But at home, I’m really moody, very quick tempered.
[01:11:41] Really. I will ask for one, but keep going.
[01:11:44] I know I can keep going. Yeah, I think it’s really annoying to my team sometimes.
[01:11:51] What’s been your biggest mistake?
[01:11:55] In life or in life?
[01:12:03] I don’t really believe in mistakes. Or like grapes. I think everything in life should be a learning experience, but I do wish I’d had the confidence I have now. But when I see all these young dentists out there doing crazy, amazing stuff and achieving all these amazing things, and I think, oh, this I’d have that confidence 20 years ago. Imagine what I could have achieved.
[01:12:33] Yeah, I know what you mean. I interviewed a fourth year dental student for this show, and he’d figured some stuff out that I figured out last week pissed me off a little bit.
[01:12:48] I think that, like, these young dentists are so different to how.
[01:12:54] Yeah, but they’re big stress heads. They’re big stress heads. Well, I was going to go on to the empowering women in dentistry. Yeah. How did that come about? Was that was that kind of this thing that you found yourself? You found your confidence, then you wanted to share that with other women.
[01:13:12] So what happened was I went into this into Costa Coffee and Weatherby, where I live, and there was this. Amazonian glamorous women stood in front of me in the coffee cake, and I looked at her. I was like, Oh, it’s Andrea Eby and Andrea Eby. I’d always this top 50 dentistry failure, like every last 20 years it’s been coming out. I’ve been reading it, and she was always in it. And she was she was quite the trailblazer, you know, in terms of marketing and all this kind of thing. And I’d followed her for 20 years, never met her. And so I introduced myself. I said, Oh, hi, I’m a dentist. And we just hit it off and we got chatting and then we met up again and we sort of both female practises, owners of which obviously we are outnumbered by men in terms of practise ownership. It was it was a real delight to to speak to another female practise owner. And we both really enjoying our conversation and the way that we approach running. Our practises seem to be different from maybe the when the way that men do it. And we felt like there was this big need out there for women to come together in dentistry because we recognise this huge lack of confidence amongst women and this kind of imposter syndrome, this feeling that you’re never, you’re not what people think you are and you’re never going to achieve what people think you can and all this.
[01:14:44] And it’s huge. It’s a huge problem that I’ve always suffered from as well. And we just felt like it would be fun. It was like, Yeah, it’s just one of those stupid ideas. Again, it was like, Oh, wouldn’t it be fun if we just did a conference and got loads of women together and got some cool female speakers in and just tried to be a bit inspiring to women and tried to help other women in the way that we were helping each other and that Andrea was helping me and growing my confidence. And so we did. And so we started doing it and we got this really amazing response and through lockdown and everything, it was really incredible. So that’s how it came about, really. It was just seeing that kind of opportunity and seeing this thing that was missing.
[01:15:26] Who spoke at the conference.
[01:15:29] What we had. So we had mind Ninja Lady, we.
[01:15:35] Had Maro.
[01:15:38] Lawson. You have Sally Garneau. She was like our keynote speaker. That was amazing. She took us through that whole mindset of how she won gold at the Olympics, at the 100 metre hurdles. And that was crazy, like the way she rehearsed that in her mind thousands of times before she did that run. And she just every set, every step was rehearsed in her mind. And it’s that a whole kind of visualisation. And I think successful people do that a lot this visualisation of of what it is you want to achieve because you naturally think about your goal all the time. So inevitably it becomes something that’s going to happen. But yeah, we had some amazing speakers. It was a fun day.
[01:16:24] Would you say juggling motherhood and business ownership has been a challenge to you?
[01:16:32] Yeah. It’s a challenge because it’s a psychological challenge to me. I have huge working mother guilt and I have a massively supportive husband without whom I couldn’t do achieve what I have achieved. He’s very flexible in his job and he’s very willing to do a lot of the childcare. But every day I struggle with my guilt of not spending enough time with them or not being present enough. But this comes back to this, and I think I do, by the way, I do think I do spend a lot of time with them, but I’ll never stop feeling guilty. But then that drive side of me knows and my husband knows that if I was to give it all up, which, you know, I want to do every day sometimes, but if I was to give up doing what I’m doing, I would be miserable, depressed, very bored person.
[01:17:34] I was I was reading I was doing some research on you. And I came across some article in dentistry where he said, every Sunday I go to the spa and recharge Sunday evening. And I think it’s such an important thing because too many ladies in particular, I think I’m sure there’s some men like this too, but too many ladies in particular are sort of martyrs to the everything that they do, and that leaves nothing for them. And there is some there are some particularly sort of more, I call it enlightened or forward thinking people who realise that that there’s like if you’re not taken care of, you can’t take care of anyone else. When? How long? How long ago did you do that? He’s still doing that. He’s still going to do that.
[01:18:23] Excellent. Let’s go to something I like. I cook some more dinner. We’ve had a nice weekend, and then I just go off to the spa for 2 hours, and I just sit there and think about stuff, and it’s the only time I get headspace sit and think of. Unusually, I think about work, my next idea. But yeah, it’s just my headspace, really.
[01:18:44] And would you would you would you say more people should do more of that? I certainly think so. I mean, whatever.
[01:18:48] It is that gives you headspace, it might be fishing, it might be running.
[01:18:53] Whatever it is you need, you need that moment. Like I’m addicted to my phone, mainly because I just sit on there and actually probably don’t think for half an hour. Which is also good for you.
[01:19:08] Definitely. I think we’re coming near the end of our time. I do want to ask you about the future. Have you got plans? Are there going to be many more of these architectures? Are you going to start teaching this process? So. Oh, God, I bet it would work. I mean, if you put on a course on how to do a squat, I’m sure. I’m sure people would want to to check that out. But, you know, putting a course on, it’s hard work, too.
[01:19:35] Yeah. I mean, I’ve never been someone that has long term goals. Actually, I’m an opportunist, I think. And I like to grow organically and go where my whim takes me, whether it’s teaching or speaking or building a practise, whatever it is. I just like to be passionate about what I’m doing and enjoy what I’m doing. And so I don’t make long term plans. And, you know, you never say never right now I’m saying never, never again. I think I mean it, but I’m just going to carry on with that journey and spotting those opportunities and and going where those opportunities take me.
[01:20:24] And you said when when when you had the stick about the offer kind of made you happy. Which is kind of counterintuitive. A lot of people would have said, oh, that was horrible. But but but there’s sort of this mischievous side of you, I guess. Does that come from.
[01:20:44] Because I thought. Well. If people are sitting up and taking notice and getting annoyed by this. It must be because I’m doing something right.
[01:20:57] But why would you say that? I mean, a lot of people would say it must be because you’re doing something wrong.
[01:21:02] I don’t really care what other people think. Like, I just I do my own thing and I never really compete with other practises or, you know, I look at, I still look at what the practises are doing and stuff, but it’s my thing, it’s my practise. I’ve got no interest in competing with anyone else. All I want to do is fill my clinic. So I do really care what other people think about what I do as long as what I’m doing is ethical and I’m not hurting anybody and I’m giving these patients an amazing service, like it’s somebody I tell them, I’m like, This is incredible. You won’t get this anywhere else. I’m not just saying, you know, and you’ll get.
[01:21:43] What I mean. It’s clear that that’s the kind of person you are. But why?
[01:21:47] Gosh. It’s just the depth to me, isn’t it? So I.
[01:21:53] You know, you know this thing about women and confidence. A lot of women would would would be very scared about that that level of attention. I know why I’m saying women, but it’s true, right?
[01:22:07] And and and yet you you go on and you love it and you come out and say, yeah, I am doing it. And you go and set up the Women in Dentistry Empowerment Group. Why? Why? How did you become this cat? Like I want to do. I want to. I want to teach my daughter.
[01:22:27] You can’t teach. You can’t teach it. I love having the drive that I have. But sometimes I wish you could just take it away. And I could just be. And I could just sit and I could just be. And I could not constantly want more and bigger and better. And I’ve had a wonderful life. I’ve had a wonderful childhood. I have wonderful, supportive parents. I’ve never had trauma in my life. I’m was going to say blessed to that word, but I am. And so there’s no kind of there’s no yearning in me for something that I’ve missed out on in life. It’s just a me. There’s no I don’t think there’s a secret to it.
[01:23:11] What about what about an inspiration? Did you have someone?
[01:23:15] Oh, I’m always inspired by people I love seeing. So like, I don’t know, I was seeing I got into Invisalign and then I was seeing like these, these speakers for Invisalign. So one day I was like, I’m to be Invisalign speaker. And that was, you know, in my head I wouldn’t do that. So then you just make it happen. You do what it takes, you take the steps and you make it happen. And I saw what they would do and I was like, What are they doing? How did they get there? I’m going to do that. So. Yeah. I’ve gone off again. I don’t know what we were talking about, but.
[01:23:55] Okay. Well, I still I still think you owe us a traumatic story.
[01:24:01] But I think of it. I miss you.
[01:24:06] I mean, I’ll tell you what. I’m going to start. Yeah, right. Oh, excellent. All right, here you go. Excellent. So I was born dysplasia. So it’s where your hips deformed and the. My finger was deformed and the peri acetabulum, which is the bone that goes around it. Right. And I didn’t really realise it was problem until I was in my early twenties. I was living in London and I was walking around and my hip kept falling out my hip socket. So I’d be walking along and I’d collapse. And for some reason I just thought, this is normal. Don’t know why. I just got too busy. I was like hanging with stuff, so and it really started to happen. It’s awful in London cause you have to walk everywhere, so it’s crippling. I became really crippled with it and I could hardly walk. So eventually I went to the doctor. They took an X-ray and like, Oh, he’s got hip dysplasia now. Oh, okay. Well, at least it’s a thing that I’ve got. And so I, I had to go through a lot of surgery and it was big, nasty surgery and I had quite a few of them and I had my hip, my femur. They cut it in two and they re angled it and then they stuck a pin in it. And then the first time I remember like three months later, I still couldn’t lift my own leg. And I had this horrendous limp and I remember my best friend coming to visit me. I was like, Look at me walking. I was so I was so pleased with myself. And she was like aghast. Look, she’s like, What’s it to you? Well, I was doing quite well.
[01:25:45] So I got to the doctor and he took the X-ray and the two parts of the femur were completely separate. And I’ve been trying to walk around on these broken legs for three months, so he had to then redo it. And then that really didn’t help my symptoms and I was still quite crippled with it and I couldn’t really walk, I couldn’t do it. And I was in constant, constant pain. And this went on for a couple of years and it really affected my life. And then I had the final surgery, which was the peri acetabulum, so it’s your hip bones. So they took a big chunk out of my hip bone and then re angled that and I was laid off in bed for three months and I was getting married. And I organised my whole wedding from back from my bed and my goal was to walk down the aisle without crutches. That was my goal. So I kind of even hired the band without hearing them. I did everything. The Internet hadn’t been around all that long, but I had a laptop and I did it all. And what was really interesting about that period of time for me was not only firstly finding out who my friends were, the people that were there to support me and my husband who supported me all the way through and my family and going through that crippling period of pain for three or four years, not knowing if I was going to be able to walk at the end of it or if I was going to be in a wheelchair. They were. Yeah. There you go. There’s some dark days for you.
[01:27:18] I forgot about that. That qualifies.
[01:27:22] But I got there and well, that was nearly 20 years ago now. And I can’t run and I can’t walk very far. But I can get on my bike and I can day to day I can get by and I’m not in pain. And every every day I am grateful for the body. I’m in the ability it has to get me from A to B and for me, you know, the opportunity that that gave me to be grateful for for every breath that I take, because we take our bodies for granted until something like that happens. And to go through that when you’re quite young and you’re out clubbing and all this kind of stuff and you can’t do it. It was really hard when you’re 23 now, but I’m forever grateful to that surgeon who who fixed me and it’s still working.
[01:28:17] What an inspirational story, Martina. Just the whole story. Not not this justice, but the whole thing. You seem you seem to carry stuff off with relative ease. And I don’t know, I guess it’s the way you put it over, because nothing, nothing significant is easy. As is never easy.
[01:28:35] Not all.
[01:28:37] Let’s. Let’s end it with the customary final questions.
[01:28:43] Martina. She stay on the planet. You’ve got your kids, your beloved ones around you who’ve been there, supported you, and you’ve got to give them three pieces of wisdom, parting pieces of wisdom for life. What would they be?
[01:29:03] So. The first piece of advice that I would give is. If you want to be successful, if you want to grow and you want to become a better person, I think you have to spend every single day out of your comfort zone. And that is why I do. And, you know, it’s not always a pleasant place to be, but very great fun things can come out of that. My second piece of advice, I think, is something that I we talked about earlier, and it is to be true to yourself and to learn to trust yourself and your own values and your own instincts and learn. And it’s a hard thing to learn, but to learn when to listen to other people and to when to when to listen to yourself. And if something doesn’t feel right and it’s not comfortable to you. Then it’s the right thing is is to do what is comfortable to you and how that you treat other people, the work that you do and and the people that you surround yourself with. And what would be my third piece of advice? I wish I could take this advice myself, but I would. Just to learn to be. Just to be. Sometimes. To sit and look around everything because it’s a wonderful, wonderful world. And I’m incredibly lucky. And sometimes I think I take it all for granted because I’m too busy trying to do more. Just be.
[01:30:54] Lovely. Lovely.
[01:30:56] Especially that last piece.
[01:30:57] That last piece. But and also what you said about comfort zone. It’s quite interesting that being comfortable outside of your comfort zone sort of it’s a cliche, but what you said about interesting things come from it. I think that’s a key point because you’re you’re bloody uncomfortable. Right. So that’s an uncomfortable thing. But then when you when you’re looking forward to the interesting things that are going to come from it, at least you’ve got you’ve got that and then interesting things always do come. I remember when me and I said, let’s do a podcast. It was bloody uncomfortable. But then once you’ve been out of your comfort zone a few times and then you know, some interesting stuff is going to go, you might not know what that stuff is yet, but some good stuff’s going to come from it, and that’s the best way of getting into that position.
[01:31:42] Exciting. Yeah. An exciting place to be and to say yes to things even though you don’t know how you’re going to achieve them or do them.
[01:31:50] Yeah. And they’re stopping and stopping and spending the roads is certainly. Yeah. So my final question. Fantasy dinner party.
[01:32:00] Three guests, dead or alive. Who would you invite?
[01:32:03] Right. My three guests. I would have Professor Brian Cox.
[01:32:12] I like him.
[01:32:13] I love him. I just could listen to him talk about black holes and dark matter. And I have no idea what he’s saying. Yeah, I could just. I could. I understand it at the time, but then if you ask me to repeat what he said, I would have no idea if I could listen to him. I would just love to listen to him talk all night about dark matter.
[01:32:37] Is such a cool dude. Used to be a pop star as well. Yeah.
[01:32:39] He was endearing. Yeah.
[01:32:42] He’s such a cool dude. I’ve seen him, like, twice live.
[01:32:45] Yeah, I speak to that pretty good.
[01:32:48] And my second guest would be, I think I just Tom Hanks because he’s my favourite actor and I just. I just love everything that he does. And I just think he’d be really, really interesting and I just think he’s got a really lovely way about him. So I’d have Tom Hanks. I don’t think my identify, I guess exciting. Really.
[01:33:12] What’s what’s your favourite Tom Hanks movie?
[01:33:15] I really like. Is it, Captain Ways? One way.
[01:33:23] So the desert islands. He’s on a desert island somewhere.
[01:33:26] Oh, no, not that one. That’s what with the ball, Wilson. What’s it called? That one.
[01:33:34] Captain Phillips. Captain Phillips. I really like that movie. He lands a plane on the Hudson River, doesn’t he?
[01:33:43] Well, that’s really good.
[01:33:44] Yes. Brilliant. And the third.
[01:33:46] Guest. And then my third guest. It would be Freddie Mercury because. Yeah. You know, you asked me, like, what am I, you know, you didn’t ask me regrets. I think one of my regrets is never having seen Freddie Mercury live. And I really, really wish I’d seen Freddie Mercury sing live. I know you can go see Queen now. It’s not Freddie, is it, to have been at Live Aid? Wouldn’t that have been a thing? I remember watching it at the time.
[01:34:17] Yeah, yeah. Incredible. Once that was.
[01:34:22] It’s been so nice to have you. And I know how busy you are. And the fact that you found time for us is really, really feels like a privilege. Thank. Thank you so much. Thank you.
[01:34:36] You would help me. Thank you. So I really feel like I’ve had a good therapy session.
[01:34:41] So many lessons in all of your loads to be loads. Thank you so much, Martina. Thanks for doing. Thanks for me.
[01:34:49] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav. Solanki.
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