Be prepared to build a team around you, and delegate. You can’t do it all yourself, and the team around you is very important. Find people that are skilled where you aren’t, and trust them to deliver — not only will it cause you less stress, it will make them happier. And consider them as working with you, not for you.
Be prepared to invest and reinvest — a successful business is not all about profit, especially during the growth phase. Have a longer term vision and be prepared to put everything into it — instant gratification is very rarely scalable.
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Robbie Hughes. He is one of the UK’s leading names in cosmetic dentistry, and a pioneer, raising the standard of cosmetic dentistry in the UK, and through his professional academy and laboratory, Dental Excellence.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was 15 I was doing my GSCEs and knew from that age I wanted to do dentistry. It was within the medical profession, but the route to owning your own business was much quicker with dentistry than other avenues in medicine, and that was something I always knew I wanted to do… the pathway to being an entrepreneur and owning your own business through dentistry was more immediate.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When I was training to be a dentist I was also heavily involved in martial arts. I was on the GB taekwondo team, and at the training camp I accidentally spin kicked a team mate in the mouth and knocked their tooth out! Because I was also doing dentistry at the time, I put it back in straight away, and treated him on the spot. That was a different experience!
A narrative I find surreal is that I’m known as the “footballer’s dentist” — one of the biggest search terms online for me is being known as “Jurgen Klopp’s dentist”, and as a result, a lot of my clients are well-known faces within the sport and celebrity world. Word of mouth recommendation in that area is paramount, and I get a lot of endorsement from clients I’ve worked with in the past who recommend me to their peers. That sometimes means that I’m known by face as the “go-to” guy for dentistry in that circle, and that’s really humbling.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
For me it was 2016… when I realized the potential with Instagram and social media, and the growth of those platforms since then.
I was an early adopter of Instagram for myself and the Dental Excellence business, and when I started treating high-profile clients, and they happily shared their experience on their social channels, it really started taking off.
But the reason I was able to attract those clients initially was because of the Dental Excellence experience — I understood what people needed and wanted from a premium dentistry experience and saw a gap in the market to bring it to life. Not just from the patient journey and treatment options around dental beauty, but the look and feel of the surgery, the patient lounges, the whole experience from start to finish.
Creating that “super brand idea through Dental Excellence appealed to a new demographic, specifically within the North West, and from 2016 to 2018, the business started to really take off. As a result we made the bold move to new premises and worked with designers and architects to bring the vision of the treatment centre to life — where the aesthetic of the clinic and the experience for clients was all very considered and part of a much bigger picture I had to revolutionise the private dental market.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
In business I have been fortunate enough to work with different dentists, all of which have been helpful to me and understood my vision and passion, but who were also skilled and knowledgeable themselves in their field so I could learn techniques and processes off them too. They were all supportive of the type of cosmetic dentistry I wanted to do, but one in particular, Dr Vejay, saw my vision and really encouraged me to follow it. He was a visionary dentist and in the early days mentored me and guided me to achieve what I wanted to.
It was a big risk — especially at the age I was — to follow that vision I had and look to really step change the dental industry, but he gave me the confidence to do it, and when it came to the big move to open a bespoke, conceptual dental treatment centre he just said “You’re a 21st century dentist, you need 21st century premises, do it”. So I did, and I’ve never looked back.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?
In cosmetic dentistry, Dental Excellence was an early adopter of digital dentistry in 2012/13 and it continues to be a big focus for our business, especially around digital smile design. With the tech we use, we can digitally design a customised smile for each client, and using 3D printing, can create an in-mouth prototype that they can “test drive” before progressing treatment — they can try before they buy. It’s much easier to educate the patient and get them involved, giving them the confidence in the results, before they spend.
It’s revolutionary in this field and something that has really helped accelerate our business.
We’re really at the forefront of this movement, and we are always pushing the boundaries of what is possible and bringing innovation to our patients.
We have implemented digital dentistry into our patient journey and workflows and into the clinic and lab. As well as exemplary results, it also brings predictability and quality — at scale — to our clients, meaning we can service more people more effectively and seamlessly, without losing any standard of care, and waiting times are reduced. This has allowed us to effectively scale the business — because of the technology we have adopted, we can have multiple clinicians operating and delivering the same quality of work, because of the workflows we have implemented over the last 10 years that ensures the same result, time and again. The technology we have embraced has massively enhanced our customer journey from beginning to end.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
We are revolutionising the dental beauty industry, and what excites me about this is:
1 — We have the ability to communicate directly with our clients through digital channels — social media, our website — we can create really great content that tells the brand story and gives people what they want, educating our followers in the right way. It also makes dental beauty more accessible for more people, it breaks down boundaries.
2 — The marketplace for this work been driven by the consumer — people are more educated, they know what’s available, and that means when something comes to market, customers know about it and are on it — they demand it — and this forces the industry to grow and learn faster, which is something I find really exciting — for those brave and quick enough to embrace it.
3 — The opportunity to build a brand in the clinical/medical field is vast… you can have entrepreneurial spirit or experience and use this to drive a business forward in an industry that has previously been more stagnant or closed off. The opportunity to build brands and businesses to scale is very real, and I think it will be a really interesting space over the coming years.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
1 — Where social media has opened up opportunities to create content and educate people in a positive way, it can also make people want things they don’t need. Everyone is chasing perfect, and social media, when not kept in context, can lead to competitiveness and out doing each other.
In the dental space, for professionals, this can lead to some clinicians trying to run before they can walk, focussing on their brand before their abilities, not building up their skill set and experience and trying to compete with dentists with 10 years more experience; rather than accepting where they are now.
2 — It is a consumer driven industry, but patients don’t know what they need — it is the responsibility of professionals in the field to take control of client expectations and the work they want done, exercise their duty of care … Demand is high and dentists taking advantage of this and not meeting client expectations is very real — if it is out of their skill set, they should say no and refer them on, rather than going ahead where patients won’t be happy and the quality won’t be right.
3 — Where the opportunity to build a brand is very real and lucrative, it also makes the industry susceptible to investments from business people and investors who want a quick win, to plough money in to scale a brand but who have no experience and lack a customer-centric ethos, which for me, is key to success and longevity, as well as excellent treatments.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
For me, beauty in any form starts with your inner self; how you feel… positivity is a good thing. Surround yourself with positivity because what you absorb daily will impact your mindset massively.
Get up early, have a solid routine, take exercise, get some fresh air, read.
But definitely stay away from negativity; if something makes you feel bad, inadequate, less confident, leave it alone.
And obviously, smile!
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
1 — Know your customer, exactly, intimately, completely. The more you can narrow it to a specific niche, the better. Understand them and then work on increasing awareness of you and what you’re about, to them. At Dental Excellence, we have three distinct profiles of consumers we know are our target market, and will communicate with them in slightly different ways.
2 — Understand you and your businesses’ USPs; be clear on what makes you different. For us, it is the customer experience, from the first time they see the brand, all the way through revolutionary treatments to patient aftercare. Remember what you’re about and why your customers should care.
3 — Have a basic understanding of the principle of marketing — no business can succeed without a good marketing strategy. Employ someone to help you activate it, but make sure you get the fundamental whats and whys yourself. For us, social media plays a massive part in our marketing plans, but so does our online presence (website), and CRM processes.
4 — Be prepared to build a team around you, and delegate. You can’t do it all yourself, and the team around you is very important. Find people that are skilled where you aren’t, and trust them to deliver — not only will it cause you less stress, it will make them happier. And consider them as working with you, not for you.
5 — Be prepared to invest and reinvest — a successful business is not all about profit, especially during the growth phase. Have a longer term vision and be prepared to put everything into it — instant gratification is very rarely scalable.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
After lockdown and social distancing has long been forgotten, I think we need to bring back some love! We need a hug-a-thon or something to spread love not fear. Hug everyone you meet.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Procrastination is stagnation. Sitting on an idea can eventually lead to you talking yourself out of it, and is the single biggest killer of progression. If I had sat there talking to myself and listening to my fears and doubts back in 2018, I would have a very different looking business today.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.