Dr Kia Pajouhesh is interviewed by Harry Foss of Sky News Business about the Telstra Business Awards 2014.
Presenter: And moving on now. The Telstra Business Awards recognises and celebrates the country’s entrepreneurs and innovators, and this year’s Victorian Business Award went to Melbourne-based dental practice, Smile Solutions – Australia’s largest private dental practice in one location. Sky News Business reporter, Harry Foss talked to Smile Solutions founder Dr Kia Pajouhesh at the event and asked just how far the business had come since opening in 1993.
Kia Pajouhesh: Smile Solutions started around twenty years ago from very humble beginnings. Over the years, it’s expanded, providing quality care across a full spectrum of dental services, including all the specialist dental services.
Harry Foss: And what does winning this award mean for your business?
Kia Pajouhesh: It’s a recognition for the social impact that Smile Solutions has had – on Melbourne, and on Melbournians, 65,000 patients and the social impact it’s had on the Manchester Unity Building, the architectural icon that it is.
Harry Foss: In your acceptance speech, you spoke quite a lot about the building being very important to your business. Is the location something that you think is critical?
Kia Pajouhesh: I think it is, because although Smile Solutions has branch practices, the heart, the core of it is one building. A building which is very iconic to Melbourne and Melbournians as a single location practice the business feeds the building, and the building feeds the business.
Harry Foss: Going to the dentist isn’t always everyone’s favourite experience. Is there something your practice does that makes it a better experience for customers?
Kia Pajouhesh: Look, I think offering specialist care is very, very important. When you can offer the highest level of care in each field and each faculty of dentistry I think that can calm a lot of nerves, but we have other tricks of the trade like sleep dentistry, laughing gas – there’s all sorts of things that you can do to make the experience, a less problematic one.
Harry Foss: What have been some of the key successes for you company?
Kia Pajouhesh: I think you have to be very clear on your points of difference in any business. And your points of difference have to be genuine. They have to be unique. Within dentistry, most of the dental practices offer one-stop-shop dentistry across the full spectrum of services by either one or two practitioners. The Smile Solutions model point of difference has been to provide multiple specialists in each field for it allows a patient to be seen by as many as four or five or six registered specialists in the one field under the one roof, sometimes on the one day.
Harry Foss: Now a lot of the award winners tonight have spoken about business being a tough game. How business conditions and business confidence is down. Have you experienced tough time in your business? And how have you coped with those tough times?
Kia Pajouhesh: Look, we’ve enjoyed growth of around 23 and 35 per cent over the last five years and through both GFCs. It’s a little bit like the property conundrum, you can have properties that are going up in a market that’s generally going down. You can have businesses that are doing exceptionally well, in a market where other businesses are struggling. In face, I find that a business is truly set apart from others if you can prosper through adversity.
Harry Foss: And what’s on the horizon for Smile Solutions?
Kia Pajouhesh: Well, just doing what we do, better. We strive for that constantly. We are looking at branch practices around Victoria. And we have set up three branch practices. The mother-ship, the main practice, where people come for the highest level of care, we still strive for doing that, better.