10 Questions: Hayes Handpiece Company

March 21, 2012
Issue 5

01 You are a family-owned company that started in 1989. Why the handpiece business?

01 You are a family-owned company that started in 1989. Why the handpiece business?

My parents, John and Jo Hayes (pictured above with Joe), started the business in a 10’x10’ garage space in the San Diego area. My dad had been in the dental industry for 20 years and owned a dental equipment repair business. Most practices were sending their handpiece repairs to supply houses halfway across the country, so convenient, local service and fast turnaround were a welcome change. In 1995, we franchised the business and set up 10 franchises that first year. Since then, we have grown to 80 locations.

02 Would you still call yourself a family business after all these years?

Absolutely! My mom and dad continue to play major roles in the business. My sister Diane runs the parts and repair headquarters, and my sister Jeanne operates our Oklahoma location. My brother David owns a Long Island location, while my cousin Casey manages the Chicago and Kansas City locations. My aunt, nephew and wife Kristy work in our corporate office.

03 Why did you decide to go the franchising route?

Franchising was the best way to provide local, personal service on a worldwide scale. In all industries, franchising lends itself to providing a consistent, quality product (i.e., McDonald’s). The difference is we’re also really passionate about service, which is unusual for large businesses. While we do have company-run locations, the majority of our offices operate as independent franchises-small business owners who can identify with the dentist as a small business owner. That’s what keeps the Hayes brand strong.

04 How does the Hayes repair differ from most handpiece repairs?

We’ve built excellent relationships with the handpiece manufacturers, and in most cases, we’ve received factory training and acquired their tooling. We’ve also developed our own tooling and proprietary repair techniques. Together, these add up to a top-notch repair that’s difficult to compete with, especially when you factor in the faster turnaround we provide.

05 What have been some of the most significant changes in handpieces?

There’s been a trend toward GPs offering more specialty services such as endodontics, implants and extractions. With these added services comes a busier office with less time to stay current on manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations, or changing CDC guidelines on infection control. The onset of electric handpieces also has changed the business, as has the use of ceramic bearings.

06 How has Hayes adapted to these changes?

Since a lack of proper maintenance can dramatically reduce the life of a handpiece, we began offering in-office maintenance training. Today, we‘ve expanded beyond handpiece maintenance to cover instrument processing, operatory systems and OSHA and CDC information. We offer online CE credit, as well as ceramic bearings for our high-speed overhauls. These repairs are proven to last up to 20% longer than repairs with steel bearings. We also now sell and service electric handpieces.

07 How do you recommend offices protect their handpiece investments?

Again, it comes down to proper maintenance. We find that some practices operate with too few handpieces or instruments. They skip important maintenance steps such as lubrication, or take their handpieces out of the sterilizer before the cycle is complete. We find that regular maintenance training makes a big difference.

08 You’ve recently started selling products. Why did you make that transition?

We started selling products to offer replacements for cost-prohibitive repairs, and we’ve always sold products to complement our maintenance education, such as handpiece lubricant. Our product line has grown in response to customer requests. The reality is that people want to buy handpieces and instruments from someone who can consult on the purchase. We’re big believers in helping offices make the right purchases through education

09 Has the economy impacted your business?   

The economy hasn’t hurt our business. We just had our 22nd straight year of growth. Most offices choose to repair a handpiece instead of purchasing a new one. When they decide to buy, we have some really economical new handpieces, as well as reconditioned handpieces available.

10 What will the future bring for Hayes Handpiece Company?

Our goal is to find more ways to bring education and value to our customers, and to be a member of their team. We’ll continue to listen to our customers and deliver solutions to keep their practices running efficiently.