In 2002, as a recently graduated young dentist I immediately jumped on the private dentistry roller-coaster. Several years later I decided that we need a project of our own. That is why I purchased the first premises in order to pen my first clinic. That is when I took the first major loan (for about EUR 100 000 at an annual interest rate of 16%). At that time there was still not a good rental culture and I couldn’t understand that buying a property and opening a dental practice are two completely different things. I put all my efforts and those of my family into this project, and in 2009 I was able to launch it. I needed more than two years for repairs, which caused certain family rows and wars.
At that time, I did not know that this path would lead me to the business and all its specificities, and not merely to private dental services, with the regular exchange of services for money.
I quickly realized that I would not be able to provide world-class dentistry at a place that was (almost) no different from most dental practices in Sofia. For a new place, much different from everything else, would require a lot of money, and we had just found ourselves deep in debt!
Several years later, things got sorted out unexpectedly. I had just managed to almost repay my dents, the bank agreed to grant a sufficient loan under favourable conditions, and a very suitable premises were being offered for rent. So, we promptly signed the Franchise agreement, then complete repairs from naked walls and metal stairs through to a private elevator and a completely finished clinic, were performed within three years.
The total area of the Clinic is 440 sq.m. and it only has three dental chairs. There is, however, a special operating theatre for placing dental implants, 3D scanner, sterilization room, back-office, conference room, dental laboratory. There is also a signed Picasso print!
When I finished the repairs and obtained all necessary equipment and machinery for the clinic, I had a million-euro debt. This is a quite substantial debt for a dentist, as most of my friends and colleagues started calling me “Titanic”, and was just looking forward to the moment I was going to sink. They found it difficult to believe that I had taken such an enormous loan. There were even some rumours in our dental circles, about money of the Chechen mafia, a rich relative abroad, having bequeathed me a large sum of money.
Now, when I say that there are very few clinics like this around the world, I try not to start persuading people, but just let them decide for themselves. After all, even for me it was difficult to believe that there is no such a clinic in London for example (in 2019 I visited all major clinics in London, and there is nothing like it there indeed). The answer to the question, why it is so, is that our clinic is a “clinic by catalogue“. The equipment is a true brand constellation. When we started ordering the dental equipment, surgical tools, etc, the distributors all said that we may expect delays of the deliveries, because there was no such equipment in the European warehouses. It was just too expensive and they needed to order it from the US, Japan or to have it custom-made.
Six years after the launching of Dental Clinic Petar Duchev, we managed to repay all loans and keep hearing in my mind the words of Canon’s boss, saying that in order to succeed, one has to do something no one else has done before! Obviously Titanic was not such a bad choice!
It couldn’t be otherwise with the level of equipment and competencies I have gathered there.
“The market in this segment has been fully saturated for a long time”- everybody tried to convince me once again.
Do you know what is the most difficult thing in the premium segment? Patience.
Slowly and gradually people started taking the risk and entering the clinic in downtown Sofia, in the building of the European Parliament. Parking inside the building, direct access from the parking to the clinic, followed by a tour of the entire clinic, during which I told everybody about our sterilization protocol and how we won’t allow anyone to get contaminated, about the operating theatre, which cannot be found anywhere else in Bulgaria, and how it meets even the cardio surgery standard. As well as that we have no Jacks-of-all-Trades, but rather narrowly profiled experts in dental science.
In 2019 Forbes Magazine published an article about us, outlining the tour for the patients in the clinic as a factor, significantly contributing to our success. This tour became a standard not only for the internal marketing, but also for the maintenance of the clinic. During these tours, nobody knew where I would go and what drawer I was going to open. In this way it was guaranteed that the clinic had a perfect appearance 24/7, and at night, when it is all lit-up and visible, the tours take place from the outside, without any need to go in.
Now, almost every employee in the clinic, is as capable of guiding a tour in there, as I am!