Three steps to success

small yaayWould you like to increase your turnover, your profit and your happiness? Andrea Ubhi suggests a tried and tested three-step plan that will start you on your way

I am often asked what is the secret to success in dentistry. Is it luck? Aggressive competitive edge? Magic?!
I am questioned time and again what marketing I do, as the asker waits to see if I will reveal a ‘secret formula’ to getting high spending new private patients through the door. Well in this article I will reveal my top three secrets to successful dentistry, I will show you what success looks like to me, and how to go about achieving your own success.

Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about staying true to your values and being the best we can be in the service of others. We don’t simply find success, it is not something lost that we stumble upon. No, success is deliberately defined, planned for and actioned.

Success to me is this:
1 Putting the best interests of the patient first, absolutely all the time
2 Providing the highest quality treatment and service possible, and accepting nothing less
3 Having a happy team
4 And personally, having happiness, calm contentment, and fun
5 Lastly, achieving profit, and I mean lastly.
Define what success looks like to you. What will success feel like; yes, what will it actually feel like? Take 10 minutes and think what success would look like. I only want to hear positives, no negative statements. For me, success feels good, it feels calm, content, it feels ethical and I feel proud to stand by the service we have created and provided, and pride to stand beside the team that delivers it.


Be ready to do high-quality private work with the best interests of the patient at heart. To increase your private turnover, you must be ready to do high quality private work. No corners cut. What treatments can you do now? What training have you had? What courses are you on? If you want to provide high quality implants for example, then a weekend introductory course on placing implants would be a seriously negligent way to go back on a Monday morning and start placing implants. Take courses, many, all of the courses you can find on a subject, and get qualified and mentored. Put a training plan together.

Decide which private treatments you are wanting to provide. What areas of dentistry do you love? What are you good at? What is it that the patients are wanting to buy? Then do high quality training in each procedure, and be mentored as necessary. No shortcuts.

Put your patients’ best interests at heart. I know you want to do certain types of treatment, however do what is best for your patient. Always. To find success, fall in love with your work.


Choose a location that will work. Providing private options to your patients, you need to consider working in the right location to achieve these private sales. If you are in a 100% NHS practice with a high proportion of exempt patients and working in a poor socio-economic area, you really are going to have to be spectacularly skilled to get much, if any, implant work for example.

Consider changing practices, setting up your own, or moving locations. Do the research. Look at the population numbers, the socio-economic demographics of a possible area. Then think big, new and bold. Are you are thinking that this does not apply to you and that you cannot move? Well I am thinking that you are crazy thinking that you can achieve your dreams and still stay where you are.

Some decisions that I have made in life have been small, some didn’t matter what I chose to do, some have been easy, but the best decisions that I have made have been after exhaustive research, then big, new, brave and bold. There are so many decisions in life that are unimportant, however there are a handful of decisions that form our lives- our choice of partner, our choice of location to live, and the location of where we choose to practice is huge! Don’t just fall into these decisions, but take time to assess them clearly and rationally.

Reassess your location of practice and what you are doing. Do the research for the private potential, the competition, the demographics. Change if you need to, to achieve your definition of success. If you want something that you have not had already, well you must be willing to do something that you have not done already.

So far we have got your ethics in order, the dentistry to a fabulous standard, and the location with great potential. So you are still not doing much private gross. What else is missing?


Get the customer service right. Let us define ‘customer service’ as ‘the patient journey’. Every step along the way from first contact to last appointment needs to be great. Not really great, but amazingly great. You need to choose a great team, a team that loves the patient as much as you do, that wants the best for them. You need to choose and train a receptionist to answer the phone with enthusiasm and politeness, and the patient needs to know that they are the most important person in the world to that receptionist at that moment. When a patient arrives for their appointment, they need to feel welcomed with warmness and enthusiasm by a team who are delighted to have the pleasure of serving them.

How will your team learn these amazing customer service qualities? Easy. From you.

If you speak about patients rudely behind their backs, if you are dressed sloppily and work sloppily, well guess what? You will have a rude, sloppy team on your hands. If you are clean and tidy, polite, kind, well mannered and lovely to be around, and love your patients, guess what kind of team you will train? If your dentistry is of the highest quality and you treat your patients with the uttermost dignity, patience and respect, you will have a team who believe in you and the patient. Easy? Yes.

Discuss this with your team. Ask them where they feel that you are failing. Ask them for an appraisal of you. You may be surprised by what you learn and who better to assess you? In my early years, after every appointment, I would ask my team how they thought I could have improved the last appointment. You have no idea of the honesty that they delivered to me and how fast I learnt. I still ask my team every week or so, how I can improve. They are the closest to me at work, and full of ideas.

We need a foundation of ethics and high-quality dentistry in the right location and high-quality customer care. To me, these three are the pure secrets of success in private dentistry. Success is doing the usual things in your job incredibly well.


Dr Andrea Ubhi is principal of Andrea Ubhi York, a cosmetic private practice, which she opened in 2002, and of Love Dental, a referral service for Yorkshire dentists. Andrea started an NHS practice, Clock House Dental, in York in 1996, selling in 2014. Andrea was Dentist of the Year 2005 (the Probe) and dentist of the Year North 2013 (Dental Awards). She is trustee for Asha Nepal, a charity caring for survivors of sex-trafficking.

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