Angela and Gerwyn Rowlands wanted their new practice to be welcoming and comfortable. They’ve done it with style
When you walk through the front door of Buttercup 7 Day Dental in Broomhill you could be forgiven for thinking you had wandered into one of the west end’s many coffee shops.
With cafe-style tables and seating, stools along the big floor-to-ceiling front windows and wooden flooring it certainly doesn’t look like your average dental practice waiting area.
But don’t let the relaxed facade fool you, the look, feel and atmosphere is no accident. The practice owners, husband- and-wife team Angela and Gerwyn Rowlands, were determined to provide something very specific for their new “squat” practice.
Angela explained: “I guess you could say we had a vision of what we wanted when we were designing the practice. We wanted something relaxing and welcoming, and that coffee-shop feel seemed like the perfect fit.
“We want patients to come in and be really relaxed and comfortable before they see the dentist. I think this waiting area really helps with that as it is not like your stereotypical waiting room.”
The couple, who live in the west end with their young children, see themselves as a typical Glasgow family and they were eager to create a practice where families and especially kids can feel comfortable.
Gerwyn said: “As a family with young children we know it’s important that kids get a good experience coming to the dentist from a young age, so we’ve made sure the waiting room has things for them to do, like iPads with games etc, and coming to the dentists isn’t scary, because that’s how dental phobia starts, and hopefully that will help them form good habits and improve their dental health as they get older.”
Angela and Gerwyn met as students at Glasgow Dental School, both graduating in 2004 before marrying in 2007. They did their VT years in the south of England – Angela in Exeter and Gerwyn in Brighton – before returning to Glasgow to work in general practice.
While Angela was brought up in Glasgow, Gerwyn was raised in Aberdare in the Welsh valleys and had already completed a degree in applied biology at Nottingham before studying dentistry. The couple got together in fourth year and have been together ever since.
After associate positions in Glasgow and Paisley, they bought a long-established practice in Mount Florida, in 2010 where they learned the ropes of being practice owners. However, they had always fancied the idea of opening a squat practice so they could really put their stamp on it.
Gerwyn explained: “We really wanted a practice that we had designed from the ground up. Mount Florida was great and it was probably the best six years of my career, but Buttercup is all ours. It isn’t an established practice, we can create something unique and something that is maybe a little bit different to what’s out there at the moment.”
Angela and Gerwyn started looking for potential premises at the start of 2015 and they viewed dozens of buildings in and around Glasgow and as far out as Blanytre in South Lanarkshire. Gerwyn said: “It was a horrible experience to be honest. We didn’t have a clue where to look and we just felt so lost. At one point we got a map of Glasgow and started to put pins in to represent practices in an attempt to try to find an area that was perhaps underserved. As it turned out there are quite a lot of practices in Glasgow!
“But we then got some professional advice and we started to focus on finding the ideal building rather than worrying about the ‘perfect’ location.”
As it turned out, the couple managed to stumble across their current premises while looking online at another retail unit. A former betting shop in Broomhill shopping centre, they fell in love with it.
Angela said: “As soon as we saw it we thought it was ideal. It needed a bit of work inside but the location was fantastic and we knew that with the right people, we could turn it into a really great dental practice.”
The lease was signed in July 2015 and before they got the keys in October Angela and Gerwyn contacted Farahbod Nakhaei of NV Design and Construction to draw up the plans. Gerwyn said: “Initially we spent a lot of time working with Farahbod to get the plans exactly how we wanted and then work started in December 2015.
“We initially toyed with the idea of project managing it ourselves but, having seen Malcolm in action and taking into account all that he did, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have made it without him.
He kept us in the loop constantly and, even though there were still a lot of decisions for us to make, it all went really smoothly. Most importantly for us, they came in on budget and on time, which was absolutely great.”
NV brought in Peter Newton from Pan Joiners who carried out all the construction and fit-out work. Angela explained the work went pretty much to plan apart from the crew discovering that the previous tenants of the unit had just laid flooring on top of the existing flooring so that they had to dig down five layers just to get it back to its original state.
The practice opened in March they are delighted with the outcome. And, what about that name? Angela explained that they had agonised over the name for some time before their daughter Layla suggested calling the practice Buttercup. They took it to their business consultants Fine Company, who they were working with to build their brand and website, and they loved it.
Angela said: “We wanted something different and I think the name captures that feeling. No one is going to forget it in a hurry that’s for sure.”
The two surgery practice features A-dec 300 chairs with LED lights, intraoral camera and micromotor and there is a third surgery waiting to be kitted out when the patient list gets large enough. Cameron Walker will be joining the practice to undertake any oral surgery and they will soon welcome their new associate Ryan Stewart in August. Ryan is currently completing his VT year in Forres.
The LDU is kitted out with Thermoklenz washer disinfectors and autoclaves from Dolby Medical and to the rear of the practice there is a staff room and kitchen, compressor room and a patient toilet.
Angela and Gerwyn are clearly very proud of their new venture but it is clear that the beautiful surroundings, the iPads and flat-screen televisions are not just for show; they are all tools for building trust between dentist and patient.
Angela said: “We try to spend as much time as possible with new patients getting to know them and building trust. The only currency that has any value to us is our patients’ trust
“We live here, and we expect to make a strong long-term relationship with them. We know that it’s only once we have won that trust that they will truly be relaxed in our practice.”