Hailing from Gulf Breeze, Florida, Dr. Burke grew up enjoying sports and outdoor activities, including club and varsity soccer and volleyball. She graduated from Pensacola High School with an International Baccalaureate diploma. Dr. Burke continued on to Emory University as an Emory Scholar, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Minor in Spanish. In the summer prior to her senior year, she studied abroad in Spain, where she became proficient in the Spanish language. While at Emory, Dr. Burke spent her spare time volunteering at North Druid Hills High School, where she tutored students in all subjects, and playing pick-up soccer at the practice fields. Upon graduating, she then completed her doctorate in dental medicine (DMD) at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry in Birmingham, Alabama. She had leadership roles in SPEA (Student Professionalism and Ethics Association) as president, ASDA (American Student Dental Association), and AAWD (American Association of Women Dentists) as Co-VP.
Dr. Burke has worked as a general dentist since 2017 here in Atlanta, Ga. She is a member of the Hinman Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the Georgia Dental Association, and is a member of her regional dental association. As a Hinman member, she places high value on continuing education and service, with an emphasis on southern hospitality. What Dr. Burke loves the most about being a dentist is helping a nervous patient feel comfortable in the chair and in her hands, and then delivering results that relieve pain or improve their smile and self-confidence.
Dr. Burke is happily married to her husband Demetri. In her free time, Dr. Burke plays co-ed soccer once a week and enjoys yoga and pilates. She also loves to travel, learn new languages, and eat exotic food. She likes to joke that she travels for the food alone!
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The idea of opening a 24-hour dental office is nothing new, and plenty of doctors have tried in metropolitan areas. Without a doubt, there is a need for after-hours dental care. Dental emergencies occur at any time of day, and sometimes you can’t wait for your doctor’s next available appointment. If you go to an emergency room at a hospital, which is designed to see virtually all types of medical emergencies, you will never see a dentist on-site to address dental emergencies.
The concept of an emergency dental office was appealing to me because: 1. I’m not a morning person and find myself more productive in the afternoon and evening time, and 2. I enjoy the instant gratification of relieving someone’s acute dental pain or fixing their tooth before a last-minute event. Access-to-care is a cause for which I care deeply. I am acutely aware of the fact that there are thousands of people in the Atlanta area who cannot go to the dentist regularly because they cannot leave in the middle of their workday. With this in mind, and my previous work experience, I was ready to put pen to paper and draw up a business plan that would cater to dental patients in need of after-hours and same-day care.
In the past, it has been difficult for dentists to implement an emergency dental facility due to multiple factors. For one, dentists are accustomed to the 9-5 workweek. Due to the physical strain of dentistry leading to issues involving the neck and spine, as well as arthritis of the hands, many dentists prefer even a shorter workweek of three to four days a week to increase longevity. So to ask a dentist to work at night or on the weekend is a tall order indeed. In addition, previous business models relied on waiting for an emergency to happen where the doctor would be on-call and only come in if there was a patient to be seen. This led to low employee retention from lack of adequate compensation.
My business partner Charles and I took these issues into account and came up with a model that works for the dentists, the staff, the patients, and the business as a whole. We are happy to report that after over a year since opening, our model works!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
On a typical day, I will see between 8 and 15 patients in an 8-hour span. The emergency treatment takes about an hour on average. We split our workday into two 8 hour shifts of 8 am to 4 pm and 4 pm to midnight. We have seen that after midnight, the demand for care drops significantly. So we open for 16 hours a day, including Saturday and Sunday.
The production walks through my door automatically due to the fact that they have a dental emergency when they arrive. Any time you have a toothache, broken tooth, etc., there is treatment that needs to be done. That being said, the majority (75-80%) of what I do daily is extracting teeth. Most patients that come in with toothaches have waited so long that their tooth is no longer viable and needs to be removed to get rid of the infection. The rest of our production consists of a combination of crowns, veneers, fillings, cleanings, and dentures.
We work with a very talented SEO consultant who attends to our presence on Google in order to drive business. Without google, it would be much harder for the city residents to find us! So I have to give a shoutout to google. Many of our patients have only heard of emergency dental care after googling for a dentist to see them immediately and seeing our ad at the top!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Here is my process: Have a clear vision. Prioritize. Hire the right people for the job! Stay focused on the goal until it is achieved. Go back to the drawing board if it fails or needs modification. And lastly, don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out the first time. Failing is just a step towards success!
What’s one trend that excites you?
I don’t know if it is exciting or terrifying, but the trend right now for business owners is working harder and smarter in the midst of a pandemic and rampant unemployment. While some businesses have closed indefinitely, others have thrived and adapted to the environment. I have always been able to adapt to my surroundings so I definitely am in the trend of persisting and growing over panicking and giving up.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am always thinking steps and steps ahead. Asking myself, “what’s next?”
I never get complacent. I just tell myself that I’ll stop coming up with ideas for improvement, growth, or change when I retire. Sometimes it’s hard to turn my brain off!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take more time for rest and recovery. Be in the moment.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People want to work. They just need the right opportunity, environment, and benefits.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Two things I do regularly for my mind and body as a dentist: yoga/pilates and chiropractor visits, reading dental forums and news to keep up with the nuances of my profession.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Improving SEO and website to attract new patients and encouraging online reviews. Our reviews speak for themselves and are a huge reason aside from our business model and hired team for why we drive the business that we do
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Haven’t had a major failure per se (I’m sure I will at some point) but I would say finding the right dentists for the job has been the most challenging endeavor I’ve had so far. I have overcome by having a clear vision in my mind and speaking it out loud for my prospective dentists to hear so that they know what we’re about and why our office is an attractive place to work.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve got two asks for you entrepreneurs out there:
1. Insurance that actually covers common dental procedures like implants!! or financing that works for dentistry.
2. A healthcare app that sets up appointments and reminders for preventative care.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
New phone for the front desk going from 2 to 3! Allows us to field more calls and for our staff to multitask. haha most of what we spend is well over that!!!!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Our dental software sets up automatic appointment reminders, allowing us to keep up with our active patient base and keep them on track with their ongoing dental needs.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Exceeding Customer Expectations by Kirk Kazanjian
It is all about customer service. You can go on all day about how good you are at fillings but it doesn’t matter at all unless the customer is satisfied with the overall service. This book goes into how Enterprise rental cars became #1 in customer satisfaction based on just one survey question.
What is your favorite quote?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
- When you have an idea and want to open a business, always have growth in mind.
- Google is your best friend.
- The right people on your team make for an easy night’s sleep.
- Always make time for yourself to avoid burnout.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.