The Alimond Show

Vani Takiar of Tooth Clues - The Dental Detective for Kids

October 17, 2023 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Vani Takiar of Tooth Clues - The Dental Detective for Kids
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What if your child's dentist appointment could become an exhilarating detective adventure? Join us as we sit down with an innovative pediatric dentist and the mastermind behind Tooth Clues. With her unique practice, she is revolutionizing the way children experience dentistry, making what could be a scary ordeal into an exciting journey. We explore her entrepreneurial journey, the creation of this engaging concept, and the hurdles faced in setting up the practice, including building a team that genuinely loves working with children. 

Diving deeper into the conversation, our guest sheds light on the nitty-gritty of running a dental practice. From creating a positive patient experience to growing a service-based business, she generously shares her wisdom and insights. We delve into the importance of networking and the leverage of parent and patient referrals for a growing business. This episode is filled with pearls of wisdom, practical tips, and inspiring stories from a woman who is not just reshaping pediatric dentistry but redefining patient experience. Join us for a conversation that will leave you looking at pediatric dentistry in a whole new light.

Speaker 1:

So I am a pediatric dentist at Tooth Clues, the dental detective for kids. Wait, say that again A dental Tooth Clues the dental detective for kids. I love that. That's so fun. I've been a dentist for 10 years and I opened up my own practice here in 2021. So I've been here almost for two years now.

Speaker 2:

How'd you come up with dental detective?

Speaker 1:

I like mysteries and I wanted to have a very unique name. So having a unique name was important and it took me a long time to come up with the name of the office, something that kids would be able to say. I didn't want it to be something something pediatric dentistry, so something very unique. And the tagline was key, so it would emphasize what the purpose is of the office.

Speaker 2:

And how did you get into detective stuff? Was this just like reading, like the certain novels growing up, or just yeah, it's?

Speaker 1:

just me. It's just me. I liked Encyclopedia Brown. We're in the world's Carmen San Diego growing up, so a lot of it was getting to do something that I enjoy and as kids and parents trying to, parents really get it. They're like, oh, you're a mystery solver. I'm like, yeah, we're searching for clues. Finding all the yes, that's right. Yeah, the kids love that.

Speaker 2:

What's that called the different escape rooms? Do you do the escape rooms? I love escape rooms. I did one for the first time really, with my kids, and it was like I realized how much of a bad detective I am. Well, they make it hard.

Speaker 1:

They do make it hard. You have to really search for clues in random places and really think outside the box. Yeah, and every single way you can. In that way at least that's what the kids are there for.

Speaker 2:

That's funny. So tell me a little bit about how did you start your practice. I know you told me like when and what are your goals? Like where are you at now, how you started it, and then what are your goals for the next five, 10 years?

Speaker 1:

Well, my goal is to just practice dentistry and make sure that kids love coming to the dentist. That is one thing. That is the challenge that kids face these days. They don't like coming to the dentist, so I try to make the experience very unique. How do you do that? Well, if you go to our office website or I can describe it for you we have a gaming system in the waiting room and we actually have vignettes to the office of the tooth on the loose. I think I finally came up with his name it's the mischievous molar. He's on the loose and he's escaping the detective who's in our logo. He's detective DK.

Speaker 2:

It's just like a whole story.

Speaker 1:

And there is a whole story and the purpose is to make it more interactive for kids. Sometimes kids when they're so afraid I can use that as a talking point To the goal. Is he in your mouth? Can we start looking for him in there? And then, before you know that, the kid opens up. So it's making dentistry more relatable For my practice in general. It just started within the last two years and I've seen it. I can't even believe where the two years have gone. Hopefully it'll grow a little bit. It's been. It's had its ups and downs, it's had some challenges, but the goal is to expand it and make it a very well functioning practice. The rest I have no idea. I don't know where anything is headed.

Speaker 2:

What is one of the biggest challenges that you've had to overcome, like what's still learning point from that challenge.

Speaker 1:

Well, in dental school they don't teach you how to run a business, so I knew all the dentistry aspect of it. But how to get a name, get it established, get all the paperwork needed to identify myself as a business? I had no idea how to do that. It took a lot of hours reading and asking for help and having the right support team. When you open a business, you need an attorney, you need a CPA, you need all kinds of people. I never knew that and now it's just about having a good group of people to help. It's been really challenging to find a nice set of support staff who has the same motivation as me from my office.

Speaker 2:

Yeah it's hard, something that a piece of advice that my business consultant gave me was don't try to find people who are as excited about your business as you are, because you will always be the most passionate, excited person. And I had to change my mindset of just create the best experience for the people that are joining, but don't expect them to love it as much as I do. And once I finally made that shift, everything felt so much easier.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think I've just come to realize that shift. I mean, it's just really finding someone who's motivated to learn, it's finding that right characteristic, the right personality for the person, and then you can make it enjoyable, which won't hightest them to want to come to work and be a part of it.

Speaker 2:

What are some of the traits that you look for when you're hiring your team?

Speaker 1:

Kid-friendly, very happy and positive.

Speaker 2:

How do you find kid-friendly? Because you can ask people do you like kids? And they'll say yes, but then you see them with kids and you're like Maybe the best way to describe kid-friendly is approachable.

Speaker 1:

You'll go out of your way to talk to the child. You'll go out of your way to initiate a conversation with the child and identify them by name. So having even the slightest talking point and sometimes that's a characteristic you have to learn, you have to hone it in, because everyone, some people can be a little shy, but that's, I think, also teachable yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Teachable, that's a good one. Open to learning, open to coaching yeah, absolutely. That's awesome In terms of how, because now you're two years in, you've started to learn this whole business marketing, all that fun stuff. What tips would you give a new business owner who is looking to grow their business service-based business for, specifically, the Loudoun County area? Like, what are some things that you're like, if you just do this one or two things, it's a good start.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think networking is really important wherever you start, so in my case it's getting to know the parents. A lot of my advocates are current parents, current moms, current dads. A lot of them come and say, oh, I wish I could be a patient here once they see the experience. And they're the ones that go on Facebook or other social media avenues to advocate for me as a practice owner. The networking not only with professionals but also with your clientele, making sure they feel that they have, by coming to you, they feel valued for their service, like your service, and for your reciprocate.

Speaker 2:

What type of networking? Is it online networking or is it in-person networking?

Speaker 1:

Well, as a business owner. I've stepped out until the L'Oddan Chamber of Commerce, so a lot of people have gotten to know me from that. But a lot of our parents do the networking for me on social media, whoever their friends are. Parent referrals, patient referrals those are the best referrals we can get as providers for their children. And for any other clientele-servicing business I would say the same thing Having your clients be your best advocate because they've experienced you firsthand and they can better advocate for you, like in Valchon.

Speaker 2:

It's always nice to hear from somebody that's actually worked with the business and say like, no, I would bring my kids there, right, right. Sometimes I feel like the networking world can feel a little bit confusing because there's all these types of groups where you get credit for referring businesses that are in your group, and so when I was really having into networking five, seven years ago and I would ask for referrals, my brain wouldn't actually go to well, have you personally worked with them? Yeah, because it's huge to say like, yeah, I have personally worked with them. They were on time, they were great, right Versus. Like they're in my group, right, right, they're a nice person.

Speaker 1:

So I mean, when I've gone to the Leachier events, not a lot of people have young children, I'd say. But hearing my name, hearing that it's unique. The office name is unique. It sort of stays in someone's mind. It does Look how I've heard of that. Oh, wow, okay, let me check it out. It sounds a little different.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love it. It's so fun. How did you come up with that too? I know you said because you were into it, but like what made you bold enough to say you know what? I'm gonna be different, because, if you know, anything about. Long County, it's all you know. Pediatric dentistry, like that's the. It's either their city or the county and then just dentistry or pediatrics.

Speaker 1:

I think it was just off of my concept. I didn't. I wanted my office to have a theme and I can tell you it took me about two years to come up with a name. I would spend hours on the way back and forth from residency just in my phone writing names over and over and over and over again. I'd go this isn't sound right, this isn't sound right, and then I would run it by everyone I knew.

Speaker 2:

Was there somebody that was finally like just use it, it's awesome.

Speaker 1:

No, no, I think when I came up with it at the end, I was like this, is it Okay?

Speaker 2:

good.

Speaker 1:

I had come up with like tooth sleuth, tooth land, like all kinds of things, and then when Tooth Clues came up, it was not supposed to be a playoff of Blues Clues. Oh when you said that I started to think.

Speaker 1:

I never I never watched the show. Actually, so funny. I never watched the show so I didn't even think of that. When I thought of it, my logo was always supposed to mimic like we're in the world's Carmen, san Diego, so that's why there's that circle and the tooth is sly, he's evasive, and the detective's like I know you're there, but I know you're also not there, like we're gonna play this game and I knew that the Tooth Clues I could play off of it more as a detective agency, more as a location for kids to come. You have just a creative brain. Overall, it took a while. It really did take a while. Now, why kids? I don't know.

Speaker 1:

I think I graduated dental school and I started working as a general dentist and then I think I came to realize that I wasn't meant to work with adults. Explain. I always got told I looked very young, okay, and it was very hard to present a treatment plan or convince my parents, patients that I knew what I was talking about. Yeah, and when I worked around, I joined a pediatric dental practice and I felt like I could be myself. It's, I mean, age is just a number, but I think when kids look at me and they also don't call me doctor T, they call me agent T, so we take away the whole doctor aspect of it.

Speaker 1:

I love that. That's so fun A lot. All my staff's called agent so and so and so and so and so and so, so it just felt right. It felt like I was in a place where I could be myself and I think kids relate to me that way, because then they don't see me as an adult. Like we've done exams sitting on the floor, we've done exams sitting in the parking lot. It's more of I'm here to help you, just probably an extension of your parent. Yeah, so welcome me in.

Speaker 2:

I love that, basically, parents aren't calling or adults aren't calling up for the type of experience that you can bring to the table, whereas kids are like eating it up.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, right, and I think kids. My office is very colorful. We designed it specifically that way, but kids love to walk through it. They know that there's nothing harmful there, so they can do whatever they want in a safe manner, but they can enjoy themselves while they're there. I love that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's so much fun. I try, I really try. I open up multiple practices. This almost feels like it could be like a franchise.

Speaker 1:

That has been mentioned to be so many times Because it's so different. I think so, yeah, and it's packaged nicely. You asked about my long-term plan. That would be it. I would sit and be like the.

Speaker 2:

You need a couple years to go over in your head to kind of like the name yes, to be like yes. Ok, we're going to do this.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and then let other people take over, let other people franchise it and play off of the theme and build from it. I mean, eventually, I thought of almost like the Pokemon Go game, where the tooth is elusive and you're just the detective trying to follow him and find him, just making it as interactive as you can make it.

Speaker 2:

I love it and then creating these really good, positive experiences for children at a young age. That way they grow up with very good feelings towards industry Because, similar to your profession, when people come in here they hate getting their photos taken Right and usually it stems from a bad experience growing up or even as an adult. And so they come in here and they're like OK, I really hate being here, I really don't want to do this, I have to do this. So it's very similar probably to adults when they come into a dental practice and we love it because we're able to change the way that they feel about getting their photos taken Absolutely. You see pictures they're like, oh my gosh, I love myself in this photo. And then they know it's not them, it's usually the photographer or the angles or the lighting, so they can actually love getting their pictures taken Similar to what you're doing.

Speaker 1:

It just takes one experience to change someone's response to a situation, and it's all about the approach.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Agent, I love it. Yeah, anything else you'd like to share with our listeners besides, watch out for a tooth clues coming to a location near you, possibly?

Speaker 1:

That would be great in the future. I would love for someone to take that load off of me.

Speaker 2:

I have somebody to connect you to that could help Sure Talk you at least through the initial steps and see if it's something you want to do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think I've learned a lot through this process. I found my own space. I did all the background work by myself, so if I had to teach someone how to run or start up a business, I could even do that at this point. But it's been a journey and I think to see kids come in and they want to come back and they remember me just not for being someone who caused them any discomfort, but someone who was here to help them and make their experience better, is a huge difference.

Speaker 2:

I love that. Thank you so much for being on this podcast and sharing a little bit about your story.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so?

Speaker 2:

much.

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