A business model that works for customers and the neighbourhood
A visit to Norwood Dental Centre, says co-owner Amanda Nielsen, feels more like a trip to your neighbourhood coffee shop or salon. You’ll find that description is apt when you walk through the doors.
At the counter a lounge menu includes sparkling water, apple cider, and hot chocolate. Customers watch a TV screen in the waiting area. The hallway opens to a children’s play room and a bathroom bursting with hand lotions, toothbrushes, and lip balms.
Located on the corner of 95 Street and 117 Avenue, the family dental practice demonstrates how service can be integrated with the idea of building broader connections. The practice fulfills a dream of Nielsen and husband Dr. William Chin, to offer a community-oriented service where patients not only feel they’re cared for, but can also escape life’s stresses.
“Many people are anxious about going to the dentist, or at the very least, don’t see it as an experience they look forward to,” says Nielsen, who grew up in Stony Plain. “Our goal is to change people’s minds as to what a dental visit feels like by showing it can be a relaxing, pleasant, and even fun experience.”
Bilingual in English and Mandarin, with a background that includes restorative, implant, and cosmetic dentistry, Chin agrees that a dental practice can be a place of laughter, kindness, and community.
“We believe in caring for people,” says Chin, who moved from Taiwan to Edmonton while in junior high.
The value he and Nielsen place on relationships extends into the neighbourhood.
“We’ve done thousands of oral health presentations at inner city schools. We’re at every local festival, community league events, block parties,” says Nielsen, noting their definition of success depends on a ground-up approach.
Staff are an important consideration. “We’ve been really intentional in hiring and developing an awesome team that really cares about our patients as human beings, not just teeth,” she says. “We try to treat our team like the superstars they are, because we know when we do, they will treat our patients great in turn.”
Since opening in 2018, the owners have invested in features “to make the whole process more soothing.” Amenities include massaging dental chairs, weighted anti-anxiety blankets, fleece blankets, and Netflix with noise cancelling headphones.
They also offer payment terms such as direct billing and installment plans for eligible patients.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of their business model is its transferability. “Build relationships and invest in your team and community,” urges Nielsen.
“The Alberta Avenue area is super community-focused, so getting involved with the community is key. And it’s really important to deliver a great experience every single time,” she says.
And because word-of-mouth is still a key part of growing a practice, their community-focused philosophy has produced results.
“We’re so lucky to have developed a vibrant and diverse dental family who has helped us grow by referring friends and family to us,” says Nielsen. “This is the highest compliment and we so appreciate it.”
Featured Image: Norwood Dental’s co-owner and general manager Amanda Nielsen (left) stands with Emilie Antoine, admin staff, at the bright and welcoming patient intake area. | Kate Wilson