News feature: Unlocking that door to success

Winning the Midlands Best Team at the Dentistry Awards 2008 was, for The Priors Dental Practice, just one more accolade to add to their clutch of awards earned in recent years.

And, as runners up in the Best Practice for that region, too, the awards night that took place in Leicester’s Athena last December must have felt like a practice celebratory party in recognition of all their hard work. The fact that this success coincided with winning the prestigious BDA Good Practice Scheme Practice of the Year 2008 was, according to practice manager Lindsey Edwards, the ‘icing on the cake’.

Based in Penkridge in Staffordshire, The Priors was originally established as Mark Emms Dental Practice in 1986 and he operated as a sole trader and principal dentist. The practice converted to private practice in 1997 and the 15-strong team hasn’t looked back since.




Mark Emms

Lindsey says: ‘We converted in 1997, but it was a staged conversion so it was over an eight-year period. It’s definitely been a team effort – and a combination of using people’s strengths to our advantage. We have a great team of specialists and clinicians, and a fantastic support team. We have a good combination of qualities.’

With a ‘significant investment’ made in 2005 when they opened the new practice, a ‘wow’ factor was established.

Lindsey says: ‘The awards are, for us, about excellence in patient care, excellence in
clinical standards and excellence in dentistry. We have worked so hard as a team that each and every award means so much to us. It’s great that we have been recognised for our high standards all round.’


“We look to the leaders in dentistry and hope that our business can forge some new beginnings with our award success and commendable recognition”



The practice treats 4,000 patients, plus referrals, and Lindsey acknowledges that the awards have attracted fresh interest and are getting patients through the door.

‘Without a doubt, the awards have brought in new patients and, combined with innovative marketing and excellent word-of-mouth referrals, it’s been successful for us,’ she says.

‘Winning the BDA Good Practice Scheme Practice of the Year was really the icing on the cake for us and means so much. We worked very hard on our entry and were pleased when the judges announced a visit, as we were delighted to be able to show our innovative methods and good organisation.’

She’s happy to share the secret of their practice management success – and has had plenty of enquiries from other practices to support the fact that they’re now widely considered an industry leader.

‘The secret of good practice management is good organisation. The phrase “fail to plan, plan to fail” is a great military quote that applies to business, too. Business planning is essential for the business to succeed, especially team management planning and financial planning. I always take the view that the most important components in the business are your team and your finances.’

The practice operates a staff bonus scheme, based on turnover, but they also look at productivity of time, sickness levels and achievement. The non-financial incentives are to do with ‘training and growing people’ and the ‘fun’ side includes an annual Easter Egg hunt and Christmas lucky dip.

‘We introduce fun things to the team to keep things fresh. Most people appreciate financial benefits, so we try to keep these ahead of the game. But we motivate our team in other ways, and sometimes they are required to motivate themselves,’ she says.

The practice runs CPD nights for referring clinicians and team members which, she believes, ‘helps spread the word about the practice’.‘Many people ask how we’ve done it. I usually reply that “firstly, it hasn’t been easy; secondly, it requires boundless energy; and thirdly, a good business knowledge is required to run a practice effectively”,’ Lindsey says.

‘The magical combination of human resources, health and safety, finance, clinical care, IT, operations etc, needs someone in the practice who can pull these items together and work the team and the business to their full potential.’

She adds: ‘We look to the leaders in dentistry and we hope that our business can forge some new beginnings with our award success and commendable recognition.’

The ‘new beginnings’ are already beginning to take shape with the opening of a bespoke implant surgery suite this month. This will double up as a teaching facility, too, for hands-on sessions. The practice has a specialist orthodontist – John Scholey  – who has just won Best Orthodontic Smile Award 2009 and the team is now looking at site preservation techniques with a view to writing clinical articles.

Lindsey concludes: ‘All of our full-time clinicians are doing Masters level dentistry on a course or are already Masters qualified. We attend international and national conferences to keep up with what is perceived to be “cutting edge” and incorporate these into the practice. We have created our own bespoke periodontal methods. We are always looking to move our team to the next level.’
No doubt, The Priors will be looking to add to their impressive array of awards again this year…

• You could be one of the winners of the Dentistry Awards 2009! Gain the recognition you deserve and enter by calling Elisa on 01923 851734 or visit for an entry brochure.

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