To Read the full article visit First Impressions Magazine by clicking here
Service tech builds national onsite repair service
Roughly 10 years ago, service tech Michael Parker left the dental firm for which he worked and went out on his own. Many service techs do the same. What he did next, though, was different. He met franchise entrepreneur David Lopez and, in July 2009, they launched Dental Fix RX, an onsite handpiece- and equipment-repair service based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They sold their first franchise in November 2009. Today, Dental Fix has sold more than 100 franchises in 27 states and two Canadian provinces.
While still a service tech in South Florida, Parker recognized the value that onsite repair services represented for dental practices, says Dental Fix Director of Sales and Marketing Andy Cohen. “If a compressor in a dental office goes down, the dentist is bleeding money. Maintaining the equipment is critical, and Mike saw an opportunity – as a local business owner – to service equipment quickly and more efficiently. By providing faster service and repairing handpieces onsite, Mike was able to drastically reduce downtime. He also eliminated travel fees, and focused on building a loyal customer base by providing a more cost-effective and unparalleled service. Doctors appreciated that.”
Parker’s small business grew by word of mouth, but operating as a solo tech wasn’t easy. For example, he found it difficult at times to get necessary repair parts from manufacturers, and was forced at times to tell his customers to buy the parts themselves, then notify him when they arrived, so he could make the repair. Lopez, who had no prior dental experience, recognized the opportunity to expand the business using the franchise model.
In the franchise model, each owner/operator buys the rights to operate an exclusive territory for Dental Fix, says Cohen. The typical prospective owner/operator possesses technical skills, is financially qualified and entrepreneurially driven. He or she is typically very disciplined; in fact, many have military backgrounds..
New franchisees travel to Fort Lauderdale for a month-long, intensive technical training session. “They learn how to repair basic equipment as well as the principles of the technology in the dental office – handpieces, compressors, vacuum pumps, utility room equipment, chairs, lights – everything,” says Cohen. “We run it like a university, directed by professionals in the dental industry with extensive repair and biomedical backgrounds.” Following that, the new franchisee serves a week-long “apprenticeship” with a successful franchisee, and then returns to his or her local market, where he or she is accompanied by a corporate Dental Fix operations trainer on rounds.
As a Dental Fix franchisee, the local business takes advantage of the corporation’s sales and marketing expertise, as well as vendor relationships. Support is ongoing, says Cohen. “We provide business consulting along with 24-hour technical support. We work directly with manufacturers also, so our franchisees can get OEM parts and technical support directly from them as needed.”
Franchisees benefit by networking with other owner/operators, says Cohen. “You’re linked into a network of years and years of technical knowledge.” Once a year, franchisees come to Fort Lauderdale for a convention and trade show, “where we provide advanced training and more, all for the betterment of our individual franchisees.”
Today, Dental Fix franchise owners service more than 7,000 dental offices in the United States and Canada (British Columbia and Ontario). Franchisees can sell some equipment and supplies, but their primary focus remains onsite handpiece repair and repair of other equipment. “Our true business model is focused on repairing equipment and trying to save the office from the capital outlay required for new purchases,” says Cohen. “We’ve been able to expand our offerings as we’ve grown our customer base and presence in the market, but our core competency hasn’t changed.”
Dental Fix’s onsite handpiece repair business is unique in the industry, he continues. “We repair the practice’s handpieces in less than an hour while sitting in our mobile service center in the parking lot, so our customers never have to mail them out again.”