Jatin Desai explains how selling to Dentex removed the pressures of running a practice but left him free to concentrate on the details
I started Gipsy Lane 35 years ago now. These days, we’re a six-
surgery restorative referral practice, but it was tiny when we first opened: a
squat in a small bungalow, which I gradually expanded and extended until
eventually we took it all down and constructed a purpose-built practice on the
In that time, we’ve grown to have eight dentists working out of the
practice along with a much larger support team. It’s become a nice big practice
over the years! I sold to Dentex early in 2018.We’ve been part of the group for
a good year and a half, and at this point I’m really pleased with my decision.I
can go away on holiday now; I can do things without always worrying about the
Reducing The Pressure
Why did I sell? There were a few reasons. When you turn 60 you
suddenly realise that you need to start making plans, so that played a part. I
wanted time to plan my transition. My practice is limited to implants these
days. The cases have become more and more complex and I know I can’t do it
forever – yet I didn’t want to just work flat out until the bitter end and then
Furthermore, the practice has grown. We’d worked really hard over
the four years before the sale to grow the brand and build referrals. The
practice was doing as well as it ever had done, and to continue at that pace
felt like a lot of pressure. The time had come when I wanted to reduce that
pressure, and selling it while retaining clinical control for a number of years
seemed like the right idea. I looked at lots of options for the sale, but I
didn’t want to become a faceless number in whatever organisation I joined.
Dentex felt different. When they first approached me, I was really
attracted to the idea of running other practices in the area and building
something bigger – my natural impulse was to take that on. I wish Dentex had
come along ten years ago, because I would have done that straight away.
I know Dentex help some dentists build a group of practices. That
would have given me a buzz, brought me more referrals, and I’m sure, given me a
tidy sum at the end.
A Winning Formula
I realised that the time wasn’t right for me to be building a new
network, so I became a partner instead. My practice would join Dentex, but my
brand wouldn’t change, the name wouldn’t change – nobody would know I’d sold,
in a sense. I would carry on running it, essentially. I like that. I’ve worked
here for 35 years. My biggest fear was selling to someone and a junior manager
telling me what to do in my own practice.
Dentex felt like the answer: totally giving up wasn’t right for
me. I felt like I had a winning formula, and that Dentex wouldn’t try to fix
something that wasn’t broken. The fact that nothing would change in the
practice was a big attraction, and I’m glad to say that promise has been kept.
They’re supporting my manager very well, and I’m still looking
after the practice. I care for the little things; and I like doing that. The
team responded really well. You hear stories about how corporates can behave
but it became apparent that Dentex didn’t operate like that, so to be honest,
the team didn’t bat an eyelid.
We introduced the idea early on in the process: I was quite
upfront with the team once we’d decided to sell. Dentex actually came into the
practice to meet with the team two
or three times, and the team knew I wasn’t going to sell and
disappear. Plus, as things went on, they could see that nothing was changing –
the brand stayed the same, the uniforms stayed the same – and that was very
Care and Attention
The practice belongs to Dentex, though I still have equity in it.
That’s not the only reason for my vested interest – I simply still care about
the practice very much. I think that’s the big thing for me. The care is still
there but the worry is not. If I’d sold it to someone else I might have ended
up feeling differently. If I’d stopped caring, that would have been bad for
everyone concerned. This way I still care about the practice – I’m just freed
from that anxiety.
If the biggest worry for most dentists these days is things like
the CQC, I can safely say that Dentex has taken all that away, which is
fantastic. They’re doing it very well, which is very reassuring.
We’re still marketing in much the same way that we used to, but
Dentex have added to and fine-tuned it, which has been really useful.
While the big things haven’t changed, you have a safety net, and a
feeling that someone is there, looking after things behind the scenes. If
something goes wrong, the practice manager doesn’t call me: she calls Dentex,
and they’re very quick at fixing everything. Our numbers have actually been
good since we partnered. I actually thought we’d peaked, but things have gone
up by about 15%.
One thing we’ve always done in this practice is try to bring in
new ideas and push ourselves forward.
Things have been going so well recently that we’ve not felt the
need to do that over the last year or so. That said, there are always new
things to investigate. Dentistry is transforming all the time and I think it
might be time for us to start pushing things again… just for fun!
The pleasure is still there, but I’m changing the way I look at my
work. I’m beginning to take more time off and I’m enjoying that. I’ve realised
that there’s more to life than working really hard fixing peoples’ teeth.