I fell in love with the art behind dentistry. You don’t really think of dentists as artists until you shadow one. Seeing a tube of composite created into the perfect tooth is a form of art. It was a year after I graduated from UC Davis that I knew for a fact that I wanted to pursue dentistry. I was working in a dental office that year.
I grew up in a dental office, literally! That’s probably why I was brainwashed into becoming a dentist, haha!
Funds were tight growing up, so my mom, a single parent, would take me to work with her. My mom was a dentist back in the Philippines but found it difficult to receive her license to practice here in the States. When we moved to California, where I grew up, she began working in different offices as a dental assistant, and eventually as an office manager. She brought me to work with her most days and the dentists didn’t mind having a little girl shadow around the practice. These were some of my earliest memories.
In September 2017 I opened up my practice, Smile & Company. Building my own practice from scratch was quite an adventure which I documented on Facebook and social media. It wasn’t something that I planned on doing, it just happened.
Here’s The Backstory:
On the day I ended my associateship, I was driving home in tears. I was at a point in my life when I was starting to feel sorry for myself. It had been almost eight years since I had graduated from NYU College of Dentistry, and I had been bouncing around from office to office. My husband is a physician, and most of those years were spent moving from the east coast back to the west coast as he completed medical school, then residency, then fellowship. After he completed his last year of training at UCLA, we returned home to northern CA where we were excited to finally plant down roots.
After a long search, I finally closed on a building in Folsom, CA. On the last day of my associateship, my husband told me to go on Facebook live and announce to our friends and family that I was finally going to do a startup. I argued with him at first and sat in my car for forty-five minutes before I hit the button to “Go Live.” I had never done a live video before but decided to just go for it. With my hands shaking, I recorded a video standing in front of the building where I would build my dream practice. I was overcome with emotion and couldn’t hold back the tears. It was real. It was raw. And it was the reason that the video went viral.
Established doctors started to reach out to me offering encouragement and support. I was contacted by a podcaster, Michael Arias from The Dental Marketer podcast and we ended up doing a fun podcast series together. I began to document my journey and quickly gained a following. In my videos, I described what I was going to accomplish with my new startup and how I was going to do dentistry, differently – which became my tagline. I documented everything from the demolition to the redesign process. I even admitted my big secret, that I am a dentist who hates going to the dentist. My admission of fear resonated with many and contributed greatly to our success with social media marketing.
I even used social media to recruit my future team members, and I had hundreds of resume submissions. I had the best of the best reaching out to me, wanting to join my team. I’ve learned that when you share your vision, your office culture, and your goals, you can attract the best talent. Today, I am blessed to work alongside four amazing women who are equally as passionate about Smile & Co.’s mission.
What We’re Doing Now:
We are coming up on six months now since the practice has opened and it’s growing fast. What I think contributed to our growth is that we are taking the time to reach out to our local community. We’ve gotten to know some of the local winemakers and will be hosting a wine tasting event at our practice. We are also partnering with a non-profit organization, Mercy Multiplied, that is dedicated to helping young women break free from life-controlling issues, including drug and alcohol addictions, sexual abuse and sex trafficking.
As we are getting very busy, so it’s critical for us to be efficient. My advice is to invest in technology. Find what works for you. We have been using YAPI since we’ve opened, and we love it! There are a lot of great features in YAPI that we use daily. The intra-office communication features are probably my favorite because it helps us stay connected, work well together, and take great care of patients.
My Advice To New Startups:
1. Promote YOU (To recruit the best talent!)
2. Use Social Media (It’s free!)
3. Use Technology
4. Get involved in your community!
Visit Smile & Company’s website by clicking here!
*All images in this article were taken by Studio 8E8
* This story was written and edited by Ian Young, a blog writer at YAPI. If you would like to be featured on our blog please email firstname.lastname@example.org