Name: Don Billings
Franchisee Since: 1999
Service Area: San Francisco Bay Area
Don spent 25 years in warehousing, which included taking receipt of products, shipping and management. But the hours were long – a typical week for Don was 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. The hours made raising a family challenging, so he began looking at getting into another line of work. He learned about The Dentist’s Choice while reading Entrepreneur magazine, and called Steve Everhart, president of the company.
When Don asked Steve how much he could expect to make as a Dentist’s Choice franchisee, Steve told Don it was entirely up to him. Don appreciated Steve’s honesty. Being in control of how much he earned was appealing to Don versus working for an employer who determined how much his salary would be. Don has been a Dentist’s Choice owner for 18 years, starting with 10 clients in 1999. He has grown the business to more than 200 clients.
DC: What’s your favorite thing about being a Dentist’s Choice franchisee?
DON: I have several favorite things about being a Dentist’s Choice franchisee. I love the freedom of going out and getting my own clients and setting my own schedule. I speak with doctors and develop a good rapport with them. I consider many of them my friends. I also enjoy the challenge of winning over doctors, turning them into new clients. It feels euphoric, especially if you’ve been working a long time on convincing them to use your services. It also feels great when an existing client is so pleased with your work that they decide to give you more handpieces to repair.
DC: What’s a typical day like? How many hours do you put in?
DON: Typically I begin my day at 6 a.m. making repairs before I leave by 9 a.m. to visit clients. I don’t get home until 5 or 6 p.m. But, I live an hour outside my territory, so I spend a lot of time driving. People have suggested I have my clients mail their handpieces to me, but I enjoy the face to face interaction with them too much. So I still make the drive. I do that four days a week. My Fridays are spent doing administrative work. While I work a lot of hours, they’re better than what I was working in warehousing, and I get to set them myself.
DC: What’s the secret to your success?
DON: The secret is getting through “the gatekeeper,” typically the front desk staff, to get a chance to speak with the doctor. I develop a good marketing strategy and a friendly relationship with the staff first. Most of the time, when I do get to speak with the doctor, I will get their business.
DC: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
DON: One, be honest. When I send out invoices, I show the last time I worked on the handpiece so they can keep track of how long the repair lasts. I will also provide them tips for extending the length of service on their handpieces. Two, live up to your word. Do what you say you’re going to do. I treat my clients the way I want to be treated. I also cover my clients’ warrantees on handpieces.
ABOUT THE DENTIST’S CHOICE
Founded in 1993, The Dentist’s Choice is a nationwide network of community-focused dental handpiece repair experts, providing quick and cost effective repair services on handheld tools used by every dentist. Local franchise owners pick up handpieces from dentists’ offices in their markets, repair them in their lab and typically return them within a week. Focusing solely on handpieces, The Dentist’s Choice concentrates on high speed, slow speed and electric handpiece repairs, sonic scaler and attachment overhauls, and fiber optic replacement services. For more information, visit thedentistschoice.com. For franchise information, visit dentistschoicefranchise.com or call 239-222-5581.