By Danny Chan
The decision to sell one's practice is often synonymous with retirement, a well-earned respite following a lifetime of unwavering commitment. Yet, for Dr Fady Ayoub, a seasoned general dentist with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, such a farewell to his calling was hardly a consideration. Instead, Dr Ayoub is embarking on an entirely new chapter in his distinguished career.
Last year, the previous owner of DentalArt Clinic made the pivotal decision to sell his practice to the dental acquisition firm, Ekera Dental. Instead of retiring, he opted to remain an essential part of the clinical team as their principal dentist. Both decisions were made after much research and deliberation, having studied a variety of offers made by private and corporate sellers alike.
According to Dr Ayoub, his practice sales journey was significantly influenced by an encounter with Dr Coulepis, the CEO of Ekera Dental, who he describes as an “incredibly knowledgeable and genuine guy”.
“What left a lasting impression was Dr Coulepis's approach – he wasn't at all pushy, but instead, he was very helpful and provided several options and insights for my consideration,” Dr Ayoub recalls.
His generosity of spirit left an impression
Dr Ayoub was most impressed by Dr Tony Coulepis' generous spirit. Throughout the negotiation process that spanned more than two years, the CEO never showed impatience towards him, even when he had once postponed a decision due his reluctance to turn down a training opportunity in Europe.
Ever accommodating, Dr Coulepis furnished Dr Ayoub with a list of dentists' numbers, all of who had chosen to sell their practices to Ekera at some point in their careers. The conscientious dental proprietor managed to chat with several of them on the list. Each of the dentists expressed immense satisfaction with their decision to sell to Ekera. Many shared about their positive experiences working with the Ekera team after they stayed on as Practice Principals, which inspired Dr Ayoub to make a similar choice.
At the time of this interview, Dr Ayoub was about to cross the 18-month mark, working under the Ekera banner as Principal Dentist of the NSW clinic.
“Nothing has changed – and I mean that in a good way,” he announces. “Apart from the fact that I received a generous lump sum payment from the deal, I am still working in my old familiar surrounding doing what I do best as a dentist.
“Of course,” he hastens to add, “I also feel a huge sense of relief because I no longer have to contend with a lot of backend management work, which from experience, can add up quickly and become very time-consuming.”
The silent switch
The uniqueness of Ekera Dental lies in its approach of not assimilating practices but rather allowing them to maintain their essence and integrity. In Dr Ayoub's case, this means that DentalArt Clinic continues to operate with the same branding, clinical setting, values, principles, and the familiar face of Dr Ayoub himself.
The dentist also prefers not to reveal the management change to his patients – unless asked or when he needs to provide an iron-clad reason to prevent discount haggling. Otherwise, the seamless ownership transfer is something he relishes.
“The reason is that, in human behaviour, some people resist change,” he explains. “They might start assuming that the management or the quality of materials would change. But when they see the same familiar faces running the show for 15 years, they still have that trust.”
No questions asked
However, not everything survived the changeover. The OPG machine malfunctioned about a week after Ekera Dental took over the practice, although to be fair, it had absolutely nothing to do with the changeover or the company.
Nevertheless, Dr Ayoub felt bad and wanted to chip in for repairs of the $15,000 unit. But within two days, the Ekera team had arranged for a brand new unit to be installed.
“They managed the entire process very smoothly,” Dr Ayoub praises. “To be honest, I thought I might have to share some of the costs with them, but they didn't even ask. They said, 'It's our practice now; we'll take care of it.' It's amazing.”
No dull dentistry for me!
After graduating with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Otago (NZ) in 2001, Dr Ayoub has immersed himself in numerous post-graduate courses and seminars. His areas of specialisation include implant surgery, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, and laser dentistry. In 2008, he achieved accreditation as an Invisalign provider and secured certification from the Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID). In 2012, he became a Member of the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons (MRACDS).
As a dental practice owner, time is often a luxury, with long hours juggling between patient care and business management. But now, with the support of Ekera Dental, Dr Ayoub is seizing the opportunity to follow his dreams – which is, continuing to hone his skills as a clinician, in order to better the patient care and experience at his beloved clinic.
“I find great enjoyment in dentistry, but it's crucial to keep it challenging to make it more interesting and enjoyable,” he explains.
“The best return on investment, in my opinion, is education. Investing in yourself is a personal journey, and it allows you to advance your knowledge. Otherwise, it can become a routine job.”
To date, Dr Ayoub has successfully completed the gIDE Dental Institute program in Latin America and has pursued education in both Australia and the United States. His current emphasis is on achieving a Diploma in Implantology in Edinburgh, England, with future plans to pursue a master's degree in Germany.
“I also hope to allocate time for studies in Istanbul or Germany in the coming year,” he adds, “this decision to sell the practice primarily stems from my educational aspirations, as they would have otherwise chosen to continue operating their practice.”
In addition to professional development, the courses provide a unique opportunity to travel with his spouse and children. These academic jaunts encapsulate the essence of what joining Ekera Dental means for the indefatigable learner – the ability to preserve both his professional identity and personal life.
Finding work-life balance in a stressful era
Asked what he finds different between life as a dental owner and now as an employed dentist, after 20 years of owning his own clinics, he reveals:
“Practicing dentistry is still enjoyable for me, with fewer headaches. In the past, despite having a good practice manager in my wife, I still needed to spend at least two to three hours per week on administrative tasks, not to mention keeping up with accreditation requirements for the practice, which can be cumbersome.
“I also find the new media marketing aspects rather challenging. I often lack the SEO skills or enthusiasm to actively promote our services on platforms like Facebook and Twitter."
Since relinquishing his management duties, Dr Ayoub started going to the gym three times a week, and swims once a week with his family and in-laws. He also plays volleyball once a week.
“A good lifestyle is essential,” he advises. “It helps reduce stress, which is crucial in this day and age when the industry is already stressful.
He reckons his post-Ekera Dental workload has reduced by about 40%. “It's the little things that can weigh on your mind. You keep thinking about issues like network problems or a broken computer. These small concerns can add up. But now, it's all worry-free,” he chuckles.
“Yes, I still want the practice to be successful, and we're committed to maintaining it, but it's much more comfortable now."