Last year, Ali El’Kabengi decided to purchase his own practice and set up Toothi – a squat practice in London.
Having worked in various practices in the past, I had often found them to look cluttered and inconsistent in their interior design. I had a vision for my own practice to look clean, free of clutter and really demonstrate a minimalist aesthetic.
This ended up being especially beneficial as my new practice is quite a small space at less than 600sq2. I chose a light, bright and pale colour scheme to maximise the space and make it feel as open as possible, while still having personality and individuality, and ensuring a calming atmosphere. I wanted to create an environment that people recognised as different from other practices they had visited, which also made them feel comfortable. It is particularly important to make a positive impression when opening a new squat practice as you need to steadily build business from the outset.
With regards to the building itself, we took over a former retail premises. We stripped everything out, from the floors to the ceilings, so we could start from scratch. This involved installing electrics, water pipes, cabling, partition walls and an external plant room, all before any dental equipment could be considered. While this was a very exciting time, it came with plenty of challenges. When doing all this building work for the first time, there were many variables and I didn’t always know what to expect. It was a very fluid process – we had a plan but had to be very flexible and adapt to situations as they happened. Several ideas did have to be amended as we went along, sometimes at the last minute.
Throughout this process I worked with Matt Rowlingson from Clark Dental. He was extremely helpful and never made me feel that I was bothering him with any questions I had or changes I wished to make to the original plan. It was reassuring to have this support when taking on such a big project as I was able to call him any time any day and he always got back to me if he couldn’t speak there and then. This was also one of the main reasons why I chose to work with Clark Dental in the first place. Following a recommendation from a friend and meeting Matt in person, I could tell that Clark Dental was a family-run business from the personal touch it offered. Being able to work with the same person from start to finish was also greatly appreciated. I contacted other companies for comparison but didn’t feel that the same level of support was available.
With regards to the furnishings and dental equipment, I was initially planning to purchase basic options and then upgrade later once the business was better established. However, things changed when I began browsing!
The dental chair is one of the biggest decisions to make because it is so integral to the patient experience. I visited different showrooms and considered a couple of brands when Matt suggested I have a look at the Clark Dental showroom too. It was here that I fell in love with the Adec 500 treatment centre; it was just so different to others and so advanced in its capabilities. I liked the continental style that prevents twisting of the hands to pick up the handpieces and ensures optimal user comfort, which will be very helpful as we get busier. It adds to the patient experience as well – not only is it comfortable for them, but it also continues the calming yet luxurious aesthetics of the practice. It really gives a ‘wow factor’ and was absolutely worth the investment. For the second surgery I bought an Adec Performer treatment centre but modified it with a double electric motor to ensure we could provide the best treatment. The goal was to present a unique experience for patients and I believe these treatment centres help us do just this.
Clark Dental’s Apex cabinetry then was chosen for the surgeries in a white glossy finish to match the colour scheme and general look of the surgeries. I was able to customise the worktop widths in order to achieve the super slick aesthetic I was aiming for, which was really appreciated and ensured my total satisfaction. Elsewhere in the practice, I chose the Durr suction system, W&H handpieces and a Cattani Compressor based on brand reputation and recommendations from Clark Dental on what would work best for me. Installation of all equipment was seamless and we received good training from Clark Dental. So far, everything is doing its job and I’ve been very happy.
Though we haven’t been open long, we are steadily growing. The goal for the coming months is to invest in marketing and further expand our patient base. We want to be known for making our patients feel cared for in an environment that offers something different. I am very proud that we were a finalist in the Best New Practice category at the Private Dentistry Awards 2021 – we were only able to enter and get this far thanks to the support we have received.
For anyone thinking about opening their own squat practice, it’s essential to have a financial contingency plan for the first six months – you just don't know how it will go. I also can’t stress enough the importance of working with good companies that offer a complete service. It’s not just about finding the best equipment; they should be helping you to ensure efficiencies, adapting to your evolving needs and providing the support you require at the time. In fact, I believe that service must be at the forefront because even a small mistake or delay can cost you thousands. I would hand on heart recommend Clark Dental to others for their service, which has been truly second-to-none.