OWNING a practice of their own was always part of the plan for dentists Maha Razik and Munsoor Alvi.

And when the right opportunity arose, the husband and wife team had to act fast.

“There are two ways to do it and both have pros and cons,” explains Mr Alvi, from Glasgow. “If you set up a practice from scratch you can do everything your own way and hand-pick your team, but it takes time to build patient numbers.

“If you buy an established practice you can just walk in and take over, but there’s no guarantee it will work out and it’s very expensive.

“After getting experience in different practices and having our three children we felt ready to do it and were mulling over how to proceed when fate intervened.”

When Ms Razik’s boss at the Coatbridge practice she worked at decided to sell up, the couple took the plunge. And after taking over in August, Main Street Dental Clinic has gone from strength to strength, building on the success of the NHS and private practice, and finding new ways to improve patient service and experience.

“It’s a bit of a risk but we took a leap of faith and just went with it,” says Ms Razik, who originally comes from Kuwait.

“Working there for two years I knew it was a state-of-the-art clinic and the people were great - the fundamentals were in place.”

The Stepps-based couple, who met while training at Dundee University, are acutely aware that there’s more to the job than dentistry itself, especially since patients now have more information and choice than ever before.

“I do a lot of work with nervous patients,” says Ms Razik. “It’s very important to build a relationship with your patient and provide a personal service. You need to invest time.

“In the longer term this approach is better for both patient and practice. Word of mouth is vital in our sector. If you don’t spend quality time with your patients and show them you care, there’s no reason for them to come back to you.”

Mr Alvi believes social media has also changed dentistry.

“The cosmetic side of things has really grown,” he says. “People watch TV and follow celebrities on Instagram and they want perfect white teeth. Patients google treatments and do their research – they tell us they want certain veneers or a specific whitening treatment because they’ve seen it on social media.”

The toughest transition from employee to boss, says Ms Razik, has been managing staff.

“We’re a very close-knit team but it has been a steep learning curve,” she explains. “Obviously I was one of them before, but when you take charge of the business it’s inevitable that the chemistry will change.

“It’s important to show staff how much you appreciate their work and we try to do that in different ways.”

The couple clearly appreciate having each other to lean on, too.

“It was always my dream to work with Maha,” says Mr Alvi. “We support each other and bring different qualities to the business.”

Ms Razik agrees: “It’s good to have your rock, that person you can completely trust, working with you. We have very different opinions on things and that makes us better decision makers.”

With Mr Alvi looking after administration and Ms Razik taking care of business development, they hope to move into e-commerce in the coming years. RBS will also continue to be a key partner.

“To buy the practice we had to move really fast but Angela, our business manager at RBS, was behind us 100 per cent of the way,” says Mr Alvi. “She was so patient and supportive.

“We’ve also picked up some really good advice speaking to others at RBS events. Networking is essential when you run a business."