Bigger Isn't Always Better, Better is Better . . .
Unless it's a Supreme Deluxe Meat pizza, then bigger is definitely better.
I am generally of the opinion that less is more - and usually much better quality. I know I'd rather deal with a smaller, local business than some big, impersonal corporate chain.
Case in point: When I moved to the Lewiston-Auburn area and purchased this dental practice, I did all my banking and financing through a large, national bank. I figured it would make "better" business sense. It turned out that the person at the end of the 1-800 number didn't know me, and while they may have wanted to help with whatever question, issue or problem I had, I was still a faceless customer at the other end of the line.
I switched over to a local bank, Mechanics Savings Bank, where I didn't even need an area code to call, the people actually knew who I was, and if I wasn't getting an answer, I could literally get in my car and drive 7 minutes to go and find someone to talk to directly.
This "local first" philosophy has also steered my choice of vendors for the current addition project. Often, when you are able to work and speak face to face with small business owners and their employees, they tend to understand the challenges that another small business has to negotiate, and can help to find creative solutions to some of those road blocks.
Consider this my Oscar speech acknowledgement to some great local companies that have helped us make this expansion happen. I'd like to thank; Maine Source Realty , Hammond Lumber and Dulac Plumbing & Heating for being the heavy hitters throughout this process.
So I get it. Yes, we're expanding, but please rest assured that the corporate business model is not something we are ever looking to emulate. This is not 'assembly line dentistry' - we don't just want to know your name and what tooth you have a filling in. We want to know you.
The whole point of working with people is the ability to get to know people.
We like hearing about your upcoming trip to Puerto Rico and want to see the scuba diving pictures when you get back, or learning that you just became a first-time grandparent and adore seeing the baby photos, or comparing war stories when you get a new puppy (and of course seeing all those cute pictures).
We feel honored when you share with us that you just got into the school of your choice, or are training for your first 5k. Our jobs don't change too much (well, dental technology does, which I will get to in a bit), but people's lives do, and that's what makes what any of us do more interesting and meaningful.
And for the record, we like big dogs, small dogs, and everything-in-between dogs. Just ask, we'll show you our pictures, too.
Wow, You Guys Are Expanding Already?
Time flies. It's hard to believe that we have been in our new location for two years. The whole goal of our move was to be able to make life better (and easier) for both us and for you guys.
Parking was a biggie at the old office, and we definitely also needed more physical space to help stay well organized. Things like getting you checked in, and out, of your appointments efficiently - that stuff matters. Thankfully, our friends from Surf CT who helped us with the initial move, are back to get all the techie stuff that makes it possible to run the office dialed in.
So the past two years have been absolutely awesome, we're seeing more patients and they are wanting additional services - they just don't want to wait two months to be seen. Can you blame them?!
With that, we've noticed an increased interest in both cosmetic and restorative procedures, as well as elective treatments like tooth whitening. The demand for better fitting dentures has also surged, which is why we added a Licensed Denturist to the team.
So, because we have more people, wanting more services I chose to bring Dr. Lake on board. That, and she's got an endless stream of super cheesy jokes that keeps us all entertained. She is our lego-loving, super hero fighting tooth decay every day, and yet she finds the time to write some pretty fun and informative blog posts, too.
We incorporated a Licensed Denturist to the team earlier this year in an effort to better serve our denture-wearing patients. Megan can see people independently of myself and Dr. Lake, which means less time waiting for an appointment when you need to be able to get back in for a tweak or adjustment. That's a big deal for this patient population and we're super lucky to have her specialized skills and talents.
Tooth Whitening Maven
And finally, in the ever popular search for the holy grail of dental work, aka white teeth, we expanded Kayla's role to include 'Esthetic Coordinator'. She can now take you all the way from consult through to completion of the entire chairside tooth whitening process. She is multi-talented no doubt, but I swear Kayla was born to bleach teeth.
Serving Our Patients More Efficiently
With two dentists, a licensed denturist, and an esthetic coordinator, the problem is that it sometimes feels like a game of musical chairs around here, where everyone is rushing to sit down in the last open seat.
Obviously, the solution was simple; add two more chairs!
Now everyone has a place to sit, and Dr. Lake can be here full time. Which brings me to the next point; we had to hire another assistant . . .
Gee, There Are Lots of New Faces . . .
Well, Diane doesn't like it when I say anything about "old faces," but we have added a few 'new to us' faces. It was either that, or ban everyone from taking a vacation (or getting sick), because insurance claims still need to be filed, teeth must still be cleaned, and I think I'm pretty awesome, but there is no way I can do what I do without an assistant - and really, you wouldn't want me to.
So while there may be a few faces that you didn't see down at the '210' (our old Sabattus Street location), there's a good chance that you've seen them before, somewhere else. With the exception of three of us, everyone in the office was born and raised in Maine, meaning if you haven't seen them working at other businesses in town, then you either went to school with them, your kids play sports together, they're your second cousin once removed, or you just keep running into them at Hannaford.
I know how it works in this community, I might not be from here, but I get the 'degrees of separation' phenomenon. I experience it every time I go back to Marysville, Michigan to visit my mom, and am starting to experience it pretty regularly here.
The other nice thing is that no matter how stressful it can get, we really do all like each other (and where we work). Our goal is to have super high job satisfaction with a super low turnover of talent - which means the "new to you" faces are going to start looking like the "same old" ones soon enough. If it doesn't feel like an episode of "Cheers" every time you come in yet, don't worry, it will.
Does Matt Still Work Here?
In an office where I am surrounded by women for 8 hours a day, do you really think I'd let the only other guy here leave? Not a chance. Actually, none of the women would let him go either.
So, Matt is our Expanded Functions Dental Assistant, and he is therefore still an integral part of chairside operations. However, he now manages our new, in-house lab (which is in the basement); hence you may not always "see" him.
Which brings me back to that technology piece I mentioned earlier.
Keeping It Local; Proudly Made in Maine
We keep beating the drum of "Support Local" because the more work any business can keep in the community, the more economic growth is promoted. We strive to ensure that anything we place in your mouth has been 'Made In The U.S.A.', but now we can go further and say that 2/3 of our restorations and appliances are made right here in Lewiston.
In the last 6 months we have seen a lot less of our UPS driver because we invested in a 3-D Printer for the lab.
What this means is that we make our own models (from the impressions taken during your appointment) in-house. This is much faster, not to mention cost smart, than shipping them out (and back).
We now scan, design, mill and fire (just like your pottery class back in school) crowns, bridges, complete dentures and bruxism splints using CAD/CAM technology from Amman Girrbach which works out to a 60% time savings.
Dental technology has come a long way since the Civil War days when barbers and blacksmiths were performing extractions, drills were powered by foot pedals, and a denture could be made from tortoise shell and hippopotamus tusks. As lifelong learners, everyone here loves being on the cutting edge, so we strive to constantly improve upon our services and your experience in the chair.
Sometimes You Want To Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name, And They're Always Glad You Came . . .
So if you are concerned that we are "getting too big" (we're really not), you can blame our patients! Lucky for us, they are great at singing our praises to their friends and family and we're super appreciative. Let me tell you, it's way cheaper than running an ad in the newspaper (although we actually have a really good time putting together creative and fun ones thanks to our in-house marketing gurus).
Bottom line, we have more people than ever calling for appointments and, unlike the airline industry, we never get into an 'oversold situation', we just needed a bit more elbow room.
If you would like to guarantee your own spot, then give us a call at (207) 782-5308 and we'd be happy to reserve (and confirm) your very own seat. And we're always glad you came.