It goes without saying that the last 18 months have been completely unforeseeable. When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, it forced all dental practices to close. Many people thought the pandemic would be the demise of dentistry itself – that these massive changes would mean practice values would collapse, and businesses would cease being viable.
At Dentex, we didn’t see it that way. In any crisis, what matters is how you manage the moment: after that, things tend to look after themselves.
So that’s what we did. We came up with a plan – we worked together, prepared our staff and set up protocols so when the announcement to reopen came, we could hit the ground running. From an operational level, it was good to see but what it really did was cement the community of the business.
Everything we speak about when we discuss Dentex’s culture really came together through the pandemic’s extraordinary circumstances. If you look at the business over the last year, the idea of company values has become the top thing that everyone talks about. It’s easy to discuss values before they’re tested, but when COVID-19 hit, our ethos was put into play in a stressed environment – and it delivered.
Our shareholders had faith too. We raised another £20m in June and July last year – which was early in the pandemic. That was a massive step, and a sign of how much trust the shareholders have in our management, and our business. I don’t think many healthcare companies raised that sort of money during theworst of the pandemic.
We supported that investment: we went out last summer very much on the front foot, believing in dentistry and our prospective future partners. As a result, we’ve come out a year later with incredible practices and growth well above expectations.
Our average practice size one year ago was about £950k. Today, our average practice size is
about £1.3m. This number doesn’t just show the size of those new acquisitions, but also the drive of many of our partners who have built practices from zero up to £5m in value in 10 or 20 years. Maintaining this current momentum, we’ll be heading to 100 practices by the autumn.
Having these practices choose to join Dentex is a huge positive. Many of these new additions came down to our partners talking to other people about how we managed the pandemic, and how we supported our practices during unprecedented times.
The key differential for us at Dentex is not about aggregating practices. When we started, our vision was to grow to over 100 practices. The question today is: what impact do we want to have on dentistry? It’s really to build the best dental business we can. That’s our differentiator.
I believe we’re on the right track. We’re not worried about losing sight of who we are as we grow. It takes effort to instil, but once the right culture is in place within an organisation, it grows. People who believe in the culture will work to protect it, and I think Dentex is an extremely valuable business because of it.
I think creating the right culture is a worthy goal. If you do too, we’d love to hear from you.