A dental success story

on 1st April 2019

We speak to Shakir and Nafisa Mughal about their path to creating two successful dental practices in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

After qualifying we both embarked on a journey of learning and improvement, which we continue to do. We both heavily invested in postgraduate dental education, to better, improve and gain new skills, which we are continually applying in clinical practice. We are both big believers in not running before you can walk and were not interested in being practice owners anytime soon. Instead we committed to providing the best care we could for our patients.

After getting married in 2010, we decided the time had come to take the next step and start looking to purchase a dental practice – we both wanted to be more in control of our future careers. It wasn’t too long after that our first practice was purchased in 2011 in Hitchin. The practice ticked all our boxes, it was a busy profitable mixed NHS/private practice in a great high street location and had a lot of untapped potential – it didn’t even have a website or signage outside the front door! Also, at that time it was only offering general dentistry and with our newly gained skills we knew we could offer a lot more treatments alongside general dentistry.

Bucklersbury Dental Studio

Once we had settled into the practice, we then began the exciting task of developing a new name and branding, followed by a website and social media marketing plans.

Choosing the branding was an important task that we didn’t take lightly. We wanted a modern name for the practice to highlight the new ‘cosmetic based treatments’ that we wanted to provide, but at the same time we didn’t want to lose the identity of the practice, as it had been well established for over 15 years.

After much deliberation and feedback from the staff, patients and the previous principal, we changed the name from Bucklersbury Dental Practice to Bucklersbury Dental Studio. We also developed a brand-new website and had a studio makeover, including a new colour scheme, new flooring and new patient seating.

The colour scheme was another important decision, we didn’t want anything too clinical and wanted to go for a modern colour, but still with an element of warmth and cosiness to it, to make the reception area look homely and inviting. We were helped with the colour scheme by Tina Wixon, our regional support manager from Practice Plan. Our logo was designed by a graphic designer who we knew through one of our hygienists. Again, we wanted a modern logo that tied in with our colour scheme to signal a new era for the practice.

Growing the practice

Our next big task was to begin the marketing process. Since the practice was already busy and had a loyal patient base, we initially focused on these loyal patients to promote the new treatments being provided. Over for the first few years we focused mainly on internal marketing, by advertising the new services that we were now providing through the use of posters, leaflets and a slideshow presentation on a digital photo screen. Practice Plan helped us design our posters and leaflets.

Alongside general dentistry we started to offer to our existing patients:

  • Orthodontics
  • Facial aesthetics
  • Whitening procedures
  • Implant dentistry.

We then began focusing on attracting new patients via an external marketing campaign, which we continue to do so. Word of mouth advertising has always been our biggest external marketing tool and continues to be, however, in the modern world, we needed to ensure we were current and up to date. This has involved re-designing and launching several new websites and working on Google reviews, social media blogs and posts. We are now on our third website and constantly maintain this website and use search engine optimisation to ensure are rankings are high.

We have a great local marketing company, which helps us with all our external marketing for both our studios.

Adding a second practice

Our second studio came about purely from getting bored being in the same room five days a week, surrounded by the same four walls! Prior to being practice owners, both of us were accustomed to working in several practices and enjoyed the concept of being in different environments on different days.

Once we had established ourselves at Bucklersbury we began the search for our second practice and we soon came across another practice, very similar to Bucklersbury Dental Studio, but this time it was located in Buckinghamshire. In 2014 we purchased White House Dental Practice and immediately re-branded it to White House Dental Studio.

The process of re branding and renovating White House was fairly straightforward, we replicated what we had done at Bucklersbury and already had the contacts in place to execute this in a quick time frame. Our marketing plan was also very similar to Bucklersbury.

Building a dream team

Staff recruitment and management are in our opinion the most crucial factor in running a dental practice. A great team can drive your business forward very quickly, but a bad team can do the opposite very quickly!

We have always tried to recruit team members either from referrals or from practices where we have worked in the past. This method ensures you know what you are getting!

After acquiring a practice, under TUPE legislation you must keep the already employed team members, some of which may be great and some not so much! We had the same situation in both practices. What we noticed was that during the process of changing the practices, in terms of the way they are run and managed and the philosophy of the practice, the good team members stayed and the others drifted away.

The team naturally seemed to evolve with the practice and we managed to replace the departing team with new members that have worked with us in the past or have been recommended to us. To this day, staff recruitment and management are the most challenging aspects of the business. But if you get it right, it makes all the difference. Having a dream team in your business provides you with an opportunity of no limits!

We ensure our staff are continually trained to a high standard and are given new opportunities to enhance their career. We pride ourselves on great customer service at both studios and consequently we focus heavily on this type of team training to ensure a fantastic patient journey.

Providing high quality dentistry

When you are providing high quality dentistry, the right materials can make all the difference. We ensure we keep up to date with the newest materials and techniques through our local reps and courses. With the increasing use of technology in dentistry, it seems like the future possibilities are exciting and endless.

At the studios we are fully digital and use the Itero scanner, which has revolutionised the way we work and certainly provides a certain wow factor to the patient. Although modern technology is expensive and a large investment, it can provide a big return as well and is worth considering.

Photography is another important part of high-quality dentistry and is something we would strongly recommend.

Looking forward into the future we have plans for expansion for both studios, as we are close to reaching maximum capacity at both studios. We have recently purchased a building next door to White House Dental Studio and have gained planning permission for the expansion into this building. Building works are set to begin towards the summer of 2019 for a brand-new reception area, third surgery, treatment coordinator room, facial aesthetic centre and training facility/lecture room.

Corporate social responsibility

Another part of the business that we have started to focus on recently is our corporate social responsibility (CSR). Both of us have always had a strong desire to not just only receive in life, but to also give and help the less fortunate. CSR is often overlooked by many businesses, not just in dentistry.

For the last year we have been working with Mark Topley, who has many years of experience working with Dentaid and Bridge2aid. Our CSR campaign involves getting our studios involved in more local and national charitable events and also attempting to recycle more and reduce our use of plastics.

Recently we have been raising funds for a local hospice and for a dental charity, Together Dental. We are very excited about the future and look forward to carrying on providing high quality dentistry in a positive and happy environment, whilst maintaining CSR as we constantly look to grow the business.

Looking to the future

Although we feel excited about the future, our profession currently stands at a juxtaposition. On the one hand the technology and materials available currently in dentistry are allowing the profession to provide the highest standard of care and more advanced treatments to more of the population. On the other hand, there seems to be a general level of doom and gloom within the profession from increasing litigation, pressures from NHS dentistry, rising business expenses and overheads, uncertainties with the future of NHS dentistry, lack of confidence from newly qualified graduates and what seems like more and more red tape each year.

With all of this going on we wanted to make a positive difference within the profession and came up with the idea of a book of stories, to help inspire our profession. We simply named the book Dental Success Stories.

This book contains 25 stories from some of the top experts in the dental world such as Dr Chris Orr, Dr Tif Qureshi, Dr Reena Wadia and Dr Nilesh Parmar. For each story we approached our experts and asked them to write it or tell it in their own words. All the stories are in their own voice and showcase their individual journeys of how they got to where they are. Not only have the experts provided us with their stories, they have also provided us with some incredible tips for success.

The book is aimed at young dental professionals and we hope to inspire the new generation of dentists, hygienists and therapists, whilst at the same time provide them with some invaluable tips that our experts have learned along the way.

We also thoroughly believe that one can achieve his/her maximum potential and most of the time the barrier is nothing more than self-doubt and lack of belief. In our book, our experts discuss how mindset played a key role in their huge achievements to date. From working in a surgery the size of a broom cupboard, to owning multiple practices, we aim to inspire and show the new generation of dental graduates that anything is possible.

For further information or to obtain a copy of Dental Success Stories, please go to www.dentalsuccessstories.co.uk. If you would like to email Shakir and Nafisa, please email dentalsuccessstories@gmail.com.

Dr Shakir Mughal qualified in 2005 from King’s College London. Soon after, he began a journey of postgraduate training leading him to courses all over the UK, Europe and USA. Shakir has a special interest in orthodontics and is a co-owner of two dental practices; Bucklersbury Dental Studio, based in Hitchin, Hertfordshire and White House Dental Studio, based in Winslow, Buckinghamshire. He also has a passion for human behaviour, mindset and psychology, leading him to become a student of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and co-author of Dental Success Stories.

Nafisa Mughal is a dental hygienist and qualified from the Eastman Dental Hospital in 2008. As well as being a partner at White House Dental Studio, she has a passion for facial aesthetics and has her own aesthetic business as well as speaking at dental hygiene conferences and providing training on facial aesthetics. She is a trainer for Botulinum Toxin Club and co-author of Dental Success Stories. Nafisa is also a keen advocate for empowering hygienists/therapists to reach their full potential and most recently won highly commended in the 2018 Phillips Shine On award.

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