Case study: DentalCare West's innovation pays off

DentalCare West , an innovative West Auckland dental practice, has a number of different offerings on its list, but what’s really making it fly is help from accounting firm Bellingham Wallace.

The smell of disinfectant wafting into the waiting room, the sound of rubber gloves squeaking over each of your pearly whites – for most of us, a visit to the dentist is routinely unpleasant. But one West Auckland practice is set on freshening up the dental experience, with innovative practices and a lofty business model to boot.

DentalCare West Scott Waghorn and Hayes Knight Mike BellinghamDentalCare West offers a complete spectrum of dental services under one roof including routine dental examinations, orthodontics, dental implants, cosmetic dentistry and wisdom teeth removal.

Open worker-friendly hours (7am to 7pm), the innovative dental practice has positioned itself as a convenient one-stop dental shop located in West Auckland.

Solid regard for customer satisfaction has proven a success, with steady growth of 10 percent over the past three years. During the same period, the company saw an overwhelming improvement in profitability.

In what founder and principal dentist Dr Scott Waghorn describes as a thank you to a loyal client base, in Christmas week last year the practice provided free dental care services for one day, churning through $25,000 worth of free work in eight hours. With donations of dental product and staff volunteering their time for the day, the team saw 104 patients.

“It was a fun day for all us all, but also eye-opening as we didn’t expect such a huge turnout,” Dr Waghorn says. “The first person was waiting outside at 3am and we had over 100 people there by 6am, when we opened at 8am.”

When Dr Waghorn isn’t dreaming up new ways to charm clients, he’s focused on delivering fresh dentistry innovation. It’s one of the only West Auckland practices to offer German-made CEREC ceramic crowns in only one visit. In just seven minutes, a 3D image is taken of the tooth, matched to one of 40,000 teeth in a database and sent to the milling unit where the crown is built. It can then be fitted onto the tooth. By eliminating multiple dentist visits, injections and the risk of temporary fillings falling off, the speedy crown jobs are proving popular.

DentalCare West has also invested in innovative computer-aided orthodontics, which enable patients to see the final outcome prior to treatment, giving an image for them to aspire to during the long months of tightening teeth. The system shaves six months off the standard two-year time for braces and DentalCare West is one of the only New Zealand dentists to offer this system.

Dr Waghorn’s practice makes a point of providing a range of services to keep his customers smiling.

“We now offer invisible braces, clear white ceramic braces and braces behind your teeth for people who don’t want everyone to know about their braces.”

Giving back to both the local and dentist communities is what makes Dr Waghorn tick. He has worked with accountancy firm Bellingham Wallace to create a business model that supports up-and-coming dentists looking to establish their own businesses.

Bellingham Wallace associate Mike Atkinson has helped Dr Waghorn develop the DentalCare Westmodel, bucking the trend of dental practices being owned by larger corporates.

“Research has shown that the best performing dental practices are owned and operated by one or two, sometimes three lead dentists,” says Dr Waghorn. “Our business model supports and helps initiate dental practices for a dentist, allowing them to get on with doing great dentistry whilst also owning the business they created.

“I was helped and supported greatly as a young dentist, and this is a way I found I can give back and have fun doing it.”

Atkinson says the business model was researched by Dr Waghorn, with the pair then bouncing ideas off each other, working to maximise opportunities and protect against risks, while setting the concept in a New Zealand context.

As well as a new business model, Bellingham Wallace recently helped Dr Waghorn in offering a shareholder position to a young dentist and member of staff as part of a succession plan.

“I have been one of Mike’s clients for five years now,” Dr Waghorn says. “He has been instrumental in assisting my business not only with general accounting, but also as a business advisor. It’s rare to find someone who can look at things from several angles and offer solid, trustworthy advice.”

In brief
Offering free dental care services for a day to the tune of $25,000 isn’t the only way DentalCare West is shaking up dentistry. Fully engaged in fresh innovation with an interest in giving back, DentalCare West has worked with Bellingham Wallace on a unique business model that incorporates both.

Mike Atkinson, Bellingham Wallace associate, (09) 367 1634 /

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