Dr Kate Lindsay's against the odds

Her new business has only just opened when COVID-19 struck, yet Dr Kate Lindsay says she's not too worried. 

  3 minutes

There is something to be said for making the most of your circumstances. Take Dr Kate Lindsay, for example. Dr Lindsay opened her own new dental practice, Eastside Family Dental, in Geelong at the end of last year. She had just brought on another dentist at the start of 2020 to help with her workload when coronavirus struck and everything changed.

“We stayed open under the restrictions,” Dr Lindsay says. “But I made the decision even prior to that to step back and delay any treatment that wasn’t urgent and only see emergencies. We have only been open five months but have had a really good start with the business. We’ve been busy from day one. There’s a lot of admin that we haven’t been able to keep up with so we used the time wisely. We built our systems and did the things that we didn’t have time to previously, and I still saw emergency patients.”

Up until that point when the world shut down, Dr Lindsay had all the elements in place for a successful practice. “I had a very loyal following, because I was at the previous clinic where I worked for 11 years,” she says. “I was pretty confident that they would find me if I didn’t move too far. The important thing was finding somewhere in Geelong that wasn’t too populated with dentists. That led me to East Geelong—there’s only a few clinics here.”

Home turf

It helps if you know the area. Geelong born and bred, Dr Lindsay finished high school at age 17 with no plans for what she wanted to do with her career. She dropped out of a forensic science degree at uni with a vague plan to get a job while she worked her life out.

“I got a job as a dental assistant at a clinic in Geelong, and I worked there for about 18 months and loved it,” she recalls. “I’d quite often get into trouble by the principal dentist because my head was in his way. I just found it incredible and interesting. So I decided that’s the career path I would choose.” After a further couple of years at Melbourne University and five years at the University of Adelaide, she returned to Geelong to land a job as a dentist in that same dental clinic where she had worked as an assistant, all those years earlier.

For the next decade she split her time between work and raising two children. “But once they were both at school I started thinking more about the direction I wanted to go in,” she says. “I thought, ‘Yes, now is the time’, and we went from there. It took probably a good six months to plan it.”

Dr Lindsay had a mental picture of what she wanted her practice to look like. “I really wanted a little house. Because my vision for the practice was that it was going to be somewhere comfortable to come into, like coming into my house. The perfect opportunity came at that time when I found the building.”

She was spared the normal challenges dentists face when converting a residential property to a surgery. The previous owner was a naturopath who had operated his business out of the property for many years, so parking and access were already taken care of and the council acknowledged the property complied with all the necessary rules. 

Forging ahead

The last piece of the puzzle was working out the financing. An advantage for Dr Lindsay was that her husband worked in finance, so could compare different loan packages from different banks. She had previously spoken to Luke James from BOQ Specialist at the Australian Dental Congress in Adelaide, and pleasingly, her husband’s research confirmed that they would be their bank of choice.

Obviously, growth has stalled a little since opening, but Dr Lindsay is still focused on the longer-term plan. “At this stage, I’ve got two operating rooms that are fully equipped,” she says. “The opportunity is the third room, that I’ll get up and running hopefully in about 12 months’ time. Once we’re through COVID-19, we will ideally build up the business, reach our capacity and be happy. That’s the plan.” 

 

Thinking about starting or growing your practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for setting up a practice. Or ready to take the next step? Contact us to find out how we can tailor a practice finance solution for you, or call us on 1300 160 160.

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