Meet Dr Martyn and Felicity Sweet from Kingston Beach Dental
Turns out, with the administrative expertise of a teacher, the skills of a dentist, and a combined passion for great systems, procedures and staff, a happily married couple can create a thriving dental clinic, together.
Dentist Martyn Sweet alongside his wife Felicity, share their passion for the beach and all things dentistry with Credabl’s Craig Spiegel in a recent catch up in Hobart.
Tell us all about Kingston Beach Dental
Martyn: Kingston Beach Dental is an accredited family-run practice located 20 minutes south of Hobart, Tasmania. Our mission is to provide “Quality and Caring Dentistry” and excellent customer service. We strive to promote patient relationships that are built on trust and in an environment that is calm and comfortable. We see patients from all over Southern Tasmania, including some who travel a much further distance.
Felicity: We recently relocated the practice to a retail strip within a shopping centre at Channel Court in Hobart. The downside – no more wonderful beach sounds or views as we enjoyed in our previous premises across from Kingston Beach.
“Our focus is to care and connect with our patients through kindness to build trust and provide an exceptional experience.”
You like the beach then?
Felicity: Yes! And not only Martyn and I personally. The beach was a big part of the identity of the practice and being on the beach in such a relaxing location was a real point of difference for our practice.
Combining your love of the beach with your thriving practice, why did you move away from the beach?
Martyn: We first started trying to expand the physical size of the practice in 2009. We tried various locations and venues including purchasing property at another beachside location and in a business area nearby.
“The Expansion” became a concept which was all consuming. No matter what we tried, it felt like we were constantly hitting brick walls with everything we were doing by just trying to stay at the beach.
Relocating inland was as much a requirement as it was the right financial decision.
Felicity: Once we made the decision to move off the beach and find an alternative site, it took a year of negotiations related to the tenancy/lease etc, designing and obtaining approvals, constructing and fitting out the practice.
Finally, in January 2018 Kingston Beach Dental started trading from Channel Court and it has been an amazing success. We haven’t looked back!
Felicity, you’re a teacher, how did you find yourself working in the practice with Martyn?
Felicity: When Martyn and I bought the dental practice in 2007, I had a career working as a high school Science and Maths teacher and our daughter and son were still young (3 & 4 years old). We decided at this point to hire a Practice Manager to help get things up and running.
But of course, when it’s your own business, it’s not really just a day job. While I taught during the day, I used to assist with practice administrative tasks such as writing a staff handbook, job descriptions, performance review documentation and recruitment from home and outside of hours.
In 2013, I decided to step away from my teaching job after a long-term member of the practice’s staff had to step down due to personal health reasons. We used this opportunity for me to take on a larger role in the practice and establish greater office efficiency to complete our Practice Accreditation by overhauling and documenting our practice policies and procedures. I haven’t looked back and feel my teaching experience has given me a lot of valuable skills to manage systems and people.
Fast forward to today, strategic planning for Kingston Beach Dental is my core responsibility.
Sounds like Felicity has this all under control. Martyn, you’re just the “dentist”! Is that right?
Martyn: Ha, sounds about right! Actually, I’d say I’m more of the big-picture visionary, enabling Felicity to deal more with the fine details and administrative tasks.
Not all married couples can work together, successfully. What’s your secret?
Martyn and Felicity Sweet
Felicity: Our business is a family-run practice and patients like the closeness and intimacy of the team.
Because Martyn and I both have a vested interest to care and make sure the business runs well, we think being married has contributed to our success.
It makes me proud to see what a great dentist Martyn is and how much he cares for his patients and how he really looks after them.
Integrity in our business is very, very important and I think that we bring our mission to provide “Quality and Caring Dentistry” to life every single day at work. We are also humble about finding ways to improve and to continue to provide an exceptional experience. We also think it is really important to invest in our staff to make it a place people love working.
Sometimes being married and working alongside each other is hard. We don’t actually see each other a lot during the day at work, because we are both so busy, which means that work tends to creep into our home life too much. This has certainly been the case in the last 2 years while focusing on expanding.
What’s been the highlight of designing the new practice?
Martyn: We have spent a lot of money on designing surgeries in the past and ended up hitting hurdles every time we thought we were on the right path.
However, relocating presented an amazing opportunity for us to rethink our practice design and fitout. Our minimal design aims to change the way patients view a visit to the dentist. We are finalists in the Architecture Institute Awards which is a great achievement.
For example, The new state-of-the-art facility is equipped with a spacious “patient waiting lounge” with comfortable seating and a dedicated children’s area. The large windows let in lots of natural light and have great views of Mount Wellington and surrounding hills, turning patients’ experience into a pleasant one. Patients frequently comment that “it is so relaxing and doesn’t feel like a dental practice”.
The new practice location has allowed us the capacity for more patients and better exposure. During our opening month, we saw 97 new patients in our premises with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“The number of people who walk past and call in and book appointments because they are looking for a new dental practice and have heard about us transforming peoples’ experiences and attitudes towards the dentist is remarkable.”
What are some challenges you face?
Felicity: Managing and maintaining an excellent work culture for our fantastic staff. We have an open-door policy to discuss and resolve any issues/concerns staff have and a no-blame culture where we try and fix things that aren’t working by encouraging staff to help with the decision making.
The expansion of the practice has also allowed us to grow the team with exceptional staff members. We recently appointed one of our longest serving staff members as clinical coordinator and we have employed several new staff this year including two practitioners. We are also thrilled to have reached the finals in the state government Employer of Choice Awards for 2018.
Martyn: Spending less time outside of work doing work!
It’s our goal to be able to each work 3 days a week. We are currently setting things up to allow for this – like investing in getting great staff on board and providing training for them.
“Kingston Beach Dental feels like family.”
What would you do with all that spare time?
Felicity: Focus some time on life outside of dentistry, including our teenage daughter and son. Maybe a yoga retreat or two?!
“I love having a business that has allowed us to live a great life with opportunities to travel and to employ and really look after our staff.”
Kingston Beach Dental has 5 chairs, employs 12 practice staff, occupies 240m2 of practice space and enjoys helping over 10,000 patients with their smiles.
Craig Spiegel from Credabl has enjoyed working with Martyn and Felicity since they began their journey.
“It’s been my absolute pleasure to join the Sweet’s on their journey throughout the years. Kingston Beach Dental is a thriving dental practice with not only best-in-class facilities but a warm and first-rate practice atmosphere that is a credit to its owners.”
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