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With High Equipment Costs, Timely Repair a Recipe for Growth


A fast-growing equipment repair franchise sells itself as a speedier and less expensive alternative.

The dental equipment market is expected to grow to more than $7.1 million worldwide by 2019, up from $5.4 million in 2014, according to “Dental Equipment Market Current Trends, Opportunities — Global Forecast to 2019.” Factors include the growth of an aging population, and increasing demand for cosmetic dentistry.

But another factor is finance. A dental chair alone can cost upwards of $14,000.

“We can’t replace that (chair) every year and have it make sense,” says Steven Wingfield, DMD, a co-owner of 10 dental practices in the Atlanta area. “That’s why repair is so important.”

It’s also part of the reason why Dental Fix Rx, a mobile dental equipment repair service franchise, has experienced significant growth in recent years. This year the company jumped from No. 188 to No. 149 on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of the top 200 Global Franchises worldwide, and recently sold its 250th franchise.

“Within the next five years we expect to have complete nationwide coverage,” says Scott Mortier, executive vice president of business development for the company.

Reasons for Success

Mortier explains that none of the nearly 400 owners of Dental Fix Rx franchises in the US had any prior experience servicing or repairing dental equipment. What they have in common is they are owner/operators who live in or very near the territory they purchase. That enables them to address an emergency situation quickly.

“It’s business owner to business owner,” Mortier says. “They’re interacting with the dentist. They have that shared experience, because at the end of the day a dentist is a business owner.”

Dental Fix Rx franchisees spend eight weeks learning their new trade. That includes three weeks of online instruction prior to attending three weeks of classroom training in Davie, FL. An apprenticeship week follows, where the new franchisee will spend a week with a regional trainer, who is also a franchise owner, applying what they learned in the classroom.

“And when they launch their business we fly out and spend the first week with them,” Mortier says.

But it’s the speed of service, Mortier explains, that sets Dental Fix Rx franchisees apart.

“At the end of the day, Henry Schein’s business model is the opposite of ours,” he says. “They would rather sell you new equipment and dental supplies than fix your existing equipment. When you call Henry Schein and say my chair is broken, their initial trigger is to send out a sales rep, not a tech. We’re the only ones in this space who want to service and repair your dental equipment.”

Dentists Appreciate Timeliness

Wingfield says he began using Dental Fix Rx in 2013 as a backup for times when their regular service providers couldn’t get there fast enough. Eventually those occasions began to add up.

“We kept running into situations where the big folks just couldn’t get to us same day for service when the compressor would break down,” Wingfield says. “We were dead in the water. But when we called Dental Fix, they were there within an hour or two.”

Time is money, Wingfield explains.

“If we’re down a room then we could be losing $2,000 or $3,000 a day,” he says. “So if Henry Schein can’t get to us for three or four days you’re talking about $10,000 in lost revenues because of this room not being operable.”

That not only impacts dentists and their staff, but patients as well. If a chair is down, patients need to be rescheduled. That’s an inconvenience, but it can also serve as an excuse for putting off needed care.

“We know that patient objections to moving forward with treatment are time, fear, and money,” Wingfield says. “And when we can start same day service by accommodating them today when our rooms are working correctly, not only do we increase production, but it overcomes a big objection in getting patients to move forward with treatment.”

Building Relationships

There’s also the relationship aspect. Wingfield says that with previous service providers he and his staff often saw a different technician every time a service call was made. That meant the technician had to relearn the practice’s equipment, system and team members. With Dental Fix Rx, the person who made the service call was also the person who owned the business.

“They were very focused on retaining us as a customer, and in building relationships,” Wingfield says. “Our team members like that.”

Mortier says dental practices have been extremely receptive to the Dental Fix Rx service model.

“We’ve taken 20,000 customers from someone over the course of the last six years,” he points out.

And franchise owners come from all walks of life—even dentists.

“I have a handful of franchise owners who are in fact dentists, who have put family members and friends in the van every day.”

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