Driven by care

Versha Miyanger talks to Phil Mathers, owner of Trycare, who says caring about your customers makes all the difference and turns a visit from a Trycare representative into something to look forward to

With a head for numeracy and mathematics, Phil Mathers started his working life as a statistician. One of his tasks was to analyse the tar and nicotine content of more than 120 brands of cigarettes. The experience he gained in computing and statistics was of major help when he started working in the dental supply industry, at Baxter’s of Bradford, in the early 1970s.

He led the introduction of a fully integrated computerised business system, making it the first fully computerised dental supply company in the UK. The system was further enhanced with forecasting and mathematical solutions that gave an edge to stock control and the ability to optimise order completion and minimise back orders.

Baxter’s became one of the top dental supply companies in the UK, with a big focus on customer care. The company was sold and renamed Procare Dental, but within a year the new owners lost sight of the importance of customer care and the company became a shadow of its former self. After a period of rapid decline, it eventually disappeared.

Starting from scratch

It was at this point that Phil decided to create a new dental supply company that would not only emulate the success of the original Baxter’s, but improve upon it.

‘Trycare was born in Bradford,’ Phil says. ‘Incidentally, there are many dental supply companies in the Bradford area and almost all owe their origins to the Baxter group.

‘Trycare started small and the fun has been in beating the odds. We were told on several occasions that “we had no chance”. There were only four of us to start with. Baxter’s always had a reputation for excellent service and support – we wanted Trycare to continue in the same vein and we had an aim of being even better.’

Phil believes that the demise of Baxter’s has had a negative effect on the industry. ‘Baxter’s was seen as the epitome of doing things properly and when it was destroyed, there was nobody to take up the gauntlet,’ he recalls. ‘We always spent a lot of time and effort explaining products to the profession. We were meticulously trained to understand products in order to do so.

‘With Trycare, I was determined to provide the best possible support to the profession, just as we had done before. That’s not easy when you are a small organisation, but over the years we have maintained that ethos and our attitude has carried us through, so that we continue to gain momentum at an ever-increasing rate. We have a “will do” attitude instead of a “can do” attitude. It helps that we enjoy what we do and have a commitment to do things to the best of our ability,’ he adds.

Exponential success

Trycare now has an impressive 85 staff, stocks more than 28,000 products and the business continues to grow dramatically. It is also very active in introducing new innovations. ‘We have introduced lots of exceptional products that do make a difference. We try very hard to explain these to our customers. We have 21 sales managers on the road, regularly in contact with the profession, to establish their needs and what their concerns are,’ he says.

‘We deal with all the major manufacturers around the world and have exclusive products too.’ For example, Trycare is a UK distributor for Japanese dental company Tokuyama, which produces a spherical composite. One of Tokuyama’s range of composites has won the coveted Dental Advisor Award for 10 consecutive years. Its paradigm shifting product Omnichroma is a dental composite that matches every tooth shade, from A1 to D4, with a shadeless material.

‘We have the commitment to absolutely do things to the utmost and whatever is necessary. Customers place orders with Trycare in many ways, including online, the telephone and of course via our infield sales managers.

The emphasis for our sales team is helping wherever possible and building meaningful relationships with our customers. We are all for embracing new technology, but there is nothing like human contact. We have a sense of purpose and we know from customer feedback that they value our service and support.’

Looking ahead

So, how has the industry changed in the last 10 years? ‘The ever-increasing burden of bureaucracy is stifling dentistry,’ says Phil. ‘What is most important, complying with bureaucracy or patient care? Trying to comply with ever more complex bureaucracy is making it harder and harder for independent practices to cope. Inevitably, this is forcing more and more dentists into large corporates and is that good for patients?

‘I believe that dentistry is like a cottage industry where relationships and patient care are the most important. That’s the dentistry I was brought up with and is ultimately how we should strive to keep it.’

And what are his future plans for Trycare? ‘I want to continue as we are,’ he answers. ‘Be dedicated to the job, but be better and bigger. We are always honest with our customers and give them the best service we can provide. Our employees enjoy what they do and this shows that they really care.’

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