Mahsa Soraya, DMD
Graduation: University of British Columbia, 1991
Practice: Angel Care Dental, Delta. B.C.
Dr. Mahsa Soraya and her husband, Dr. Alex Galo, were solo practitioners running efficient, successful practices for over twenty years. The changing face of dentistry made it harder to remain profitable, so they made a big decision.
I met my husband in dental school.
After we graduated, I opened a practice and my husband opened one four years later, after working as a military dentist. They don’t teach anything about running a business in dental school, but to tell you the truth, it wasn’t that hard to be profitable. Leases were reasonable and staffing costs were quite manageable, so we just learned on the job and it worked out well.
It’s a lot harder to be profitable now than it used to be.
Lab costs, new technology, working with supply companies … it’s hard to compete with larger practices and corporate practices, where economies of scale make them far more efficient. And with a big influx of practices in the area, it costs more to find and keep good employees. There are many advantages to staying small, and we wish we could have, but it just made more business sense to combine our practices.
When we made the leap, we decided to go big.
Location is critical. We found the perfect place on the main floor of a building in a busy area. It’s far more expensive but it’s made a tremendous difference. We invested in making it as attractive as possible—I’m talking lots of marble, designer furniture, a fountain … anything we could think of to create a delightful experience for our patients. We like to call it spa dentistry.
The biggest investment was on the clinical side.
All dentists know the importance of a strong hygienist business so we really boosted that, and we took on two associates, so now we can provide a wider range of procedures. When you add up the new dental assistants and admin staff, we now have a team of 24! We also invested in the newest technology, which helps boost patients’ confidence.
You have to love dentistry.
That’s why we were able to do it. Taking such a big leap was not easy, but it was necessary. It has added a lot more complexity, and risk, to our lives but we’re both thrilled we did it. In addition to our large base of patients—some of them are grandkids of original patients—we’re now welcoming 80-100 new patients per month, so we know we’re going to be fine.
Younger dentists sometimes ask what advice I would give.
One of the most important things to me is to be kind to one another. I’ve never looked at another dentist’s work and said, “I could have done it better.” We’re all on the same team – we’re all trying to do our best. Let’s respect that.
I’ve been with CDSPI since I opened my first practice.
We have several insurance plans with CDSPI. They have everything we need, and they’ve always been great to deal with. For instance, I came into the office one day and there was water up to my ankles from a broken water tank. It was even leaking down to the bank below. CDSPI took care of everything.
It went from good to WOW when I met Brian Buirs.
Brian is a financial advisor with CDSPI* and we hit it off immediately. He has a knack of finding what your core beliefs and goals are, and then supporting you in that. He created a financial plan for us and he’s given us smart, knowledgeable advice on many topics, even things that are helpful for our children. We trust him so much we transferred all our life savings from the bank to CDSPI for money management.
It’s too soon to think about retirement, but it’s fun to dream.
I love practising too much. Besides, we still have a lot of debt to pay off from the new practice. Eventually, I’d love to cut back to a couple of days a week, and who knows, something like a round-the-world cruise might be in our future. The best thing is, it’s all doable thanks to the financial planning we’ve done. Thanks Brian!
* Advisory services are provided by licensed advisors at CDSPI Advisory Services Inc. Restrictions may apply to advisory services in certain jurisdictions.