What’s it like buying a dental practice during lockdown?
We speak to husband and wife team Anshul Kapoor and Aarti Bedi about buying a dental practice during lockdown and how the journey has been so far.
When did you buy your practice?
Anshul: We actually bought our practice on the 1 of April – the irony of it!
Aarti: We expected it to go through before Christmas. But we’re actually in an NHS building so we don’t own the property. That’s why it took a while to get everything sealed. And then the pandemic happened. I even said to Anshul a few days before ‘do you think we should pull out?’ But of course we didn’t.
Why did you decide to buy a practice?
Anshul: Our backgrounds are that Aarti’s been a dentist for 14 years. I’ve had my own business for 20 years now. Pretty much as soon as we met I was looking for a dental practice. We’ve been married now for seven years and it’s taken this long to find something. That practice came along when Aarti was pregnant with our second child.
Aarti: The last thing on my mind was buying a practice. We went to have a viewing and it just had a really nice feel to it. A big advantage as well is it was only five miles from home.
Anshul: Before this, I was seeing practices but not really looking. I know it’s a weird thing to say – things were coming through but I wasn’t really looking properly. This story is full of cliches really but it was on the 31 December when I woke up and thought: ‘Right, this coming year I’m going to buy a dental practice.’
I looked at one that had been sent through a few months previously and it struck me how we couldn’t have picked a better location. Within four days we had gone to see it and within a week we had put in an offer. This was January 2019.
What made you push through with the purchase during lockdown?
Aarti: Well, I didn’t have a job. I left my job during maternity leave and did some locum work in January and February. Buying the practice would have been better than not buying.
Anshul: But I would have always bought it, regardless of Aarti working or not. Of course, we could be cautious about it and should be. I thought: ‘You know what, there’s never a good time for anything.’ There’s always going to be people telling you to be cautious.
Okay yes, we were in a strange scenario and we don’t know what’s going to happen to the NHS contract. But will they completely take them away? Doubt it – it’ll cause such an uproar and so many problems for oral hygiene across the country. But if we are thinking about this as a long-term venture, things are always going to change.
Aarti: People need dentists at the end of the day. No matter how we work, no matter how much the contract changes – we’re always needed by the community, by the country, by everybody. Even if we had some obstacles, like we have now, eventually it’ll be okay. It is what it is.
Another spanner in the works though is that I’m now pregnant again with our third!
How has it been since practices could reopen their doors again?
Aarti: The pandemic has allowed us to ease ourselves in. I didn’t really know much about business but I’m learning. It’s been quite an enjoyable experience so far because I’ve got the time. In that way, it’s been advantageous.
We couldn’t have two dentists in at the same time because of the size of the practice. During this pandemic, we’ve also been quite fortunate in that we’re a fully NHS dental practice. We’ve all got into a routine now and we’re very fortunate to have a great team.
Obviously there’s no growth at the moment because of the pandemic going on but it’s ticking along as it should be. It’s great.
Anshul: We have a duty of care. At the end of the day we’re given public money to deliver a public service and it’s frustrating that we can’t do what we want to do and deliver the full service. Equally, we have a duty of care to our staff as well to make sure everybody’s safe. It’s a fine balancing act.
We’re very lucky that government has supported throughout. We hope they’re not seeing us as sitting here twiddling our thumbs while we’re making money. Actually, we want to be working.
So no regrets?
Aarti: No, absolutely not.
Anshul: We’re absolutely glad we’ve done it. The principal we took it over from has been brilliant. He was genuine throughout the whole thing.
Aarti: You know, I’ve been working for 14 years. I’ve worked in low-end NHS dentistry and high-end private – a big variety of places. I know the type of dentistry I want to do. I want to do the Invisalign course, I want to do composite bonding.
But I’ve not been able to use these skills at practices I’ve worked in previously. I want to bring it to this practice and grow it in that way too.
And it’s not just about me developing – it’s about my team too. It’s about taking them on courses and growing their skills as well.
Anshul: Being your own boss allows you to do this. It allows you to at least think about it and dream about it. You can put things in place to make this happen. It’s not just about buying a place – it also gives you the freedom to do something different and transforming your skillsets.
You can increase your skills, increase the practice’s offering and develop a business – and enjoy it as well.
What would your advice be for other people looking to buy a dental practice during this time?
Anshul: Frank Taylor and Associates were really good in getting this to happen. They were very professional, very supportive throughout and very helpful throughout. I would go back and use them again.
I think also if you’re not business minded and you don’t know the business, you need to find the right financial adviser. We found a really good, no-nonsense adviser.
Also, it’s important to remember that solicitors are working for you. So don’t fear that you will upset them. Anyone who’s working for you, is acting on your behalf.
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