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Meet Amy and Michael Vlachakis of Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry in Memorial City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy and Michael Vlachakis.

Amy and Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was associating with a large pediatric practice and reached a point of wanting to run things my own way, I outgrew the practice and my role there. I wanted something to call my own. So 5 years ago I started planning to open my own practice from scratch. I knew myself and if I bought a practice I would fall into those routines they had in place and I didn’t want to limit myself that way. So I started fresh, I found an area, a space, and an incredible view. We built out the space, I picked everything out, it was exhilarating.

Then I opened, with no patient flow, in a hard to find office building with a tough to navigate parking garage. So I started slow, opened only Monday, Tuesday and Friday. I supplemented by being a temporary dentist around Houston on Wednesdays and Thursdays, forwarding the office phone to my cell and booking appointment when I wasn’t there. I grew slowly but consistently, it was nail biting growing slow and steady.

A little over a year later we were opened on Thursdays and busy enough that I became extremely overwhelmed and needed someone who cared about the office as much as I did. Enter my husband. He was not loving the corporate world and I desperately needed his help, we decided to take a leap of faith and have him quit his corporate job and help me full time. About 1 week after giving his notice and starting with me, we found out we were expecting our first child. This intensified our need to excel and continue to grow, which we were able to do. In August 2014, I gave birth to our first child, Watson. Michael managed the office while I stayed home and recovered and cuddled with our newborn. 5 weeks later I was back at the office.

Since then we have grown from 1 assistant to 2 full time assistants and 2 full time hygienists, all while having a second child, Baxter, 1 year ago. I am extremely proud of the life we have made, the people we help and the love that we share. I am so thankful for our patients who we love and who continue to believe in us and trust us with their dental health.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Starting from scratch is extremely stressful. I had 3 patients when I started, my mom, my dad and our friend John. There were a lot of days of wondering how we were going to make it. Wondering how people would find us, we are on the 15th floor of an office building. Once we started growing, I wanted to make sure we didn’t lose the reason I started my business, that we still treated everyone the same as we did when I had all the time in the world, I wanted to make sure we still didn’t make people wait in the reception area. I hate waiting, I assume others do as well. Finding the balance of busy but not overwhelmingly so has been our latest challenge, because it is important to me to continue with the aspects that made me want to open in the first place.

The world of Dentistry is also a challenge. We have at least 20-30 competing offices within a mile radius of our office. There is also a sentiment among dental patients that practices have become “all about the money” instead of quality care. We not only wanted to tackle this obstacle head on, we wanted to do dentistry different….with a focus back on the patients. Also, I jokingly like to say “I cannot give my product away”…most people do not love the dentist, until they need it.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are a general dentistry practice, I specialize in seeing patients of all ages. Currently my youngest patient is 18 months and my oldest is 93 years; everyone deserves to be treated with respect and compassion and that is what drives me every day. I am proud of the respect my staff and I give our patients, I realize that this is a very intimate experience and most people have some level of fear or apprehension, so making them comfortable and excited about their dental health is the biggest thing I can give someone.

We also having a life changing headache program. Most people are extremely skeptical but when they take the leap of faith with me they are then overwhelmed by the results. Having constant chronic pain that no one can seem to make better, even with medication, then coming to a dentist who says “I got this, we got this, you will feel better” is a good reason to be skeptical and I know that. Again this is something that I have been through myself and know the crazy leap of faith it takes but I know the results, I have felt them and I feel those same results every time a patient starts to feel better. You see it in their face, their attitude, and their outlook on life. It is amazingly rewarding to see the relief that comes when you don’t have to worry about the headache that may come, the migraine that may ruin your plans. It makes me extremely proud and thankful when patients take that leap of faith with me.

What were you like growing up?
Amy – I have always been an introvert. I am extremely shy but I can talk all day one on one. I enjoy getting to know people and their stories, I prefer listening to talking. At a party or big event I like to sit back and observe, soak everything in. These aspects have done well for me as a dentist, I am lucky to get to know my patients and thing that are going on in their lives. Seeing them over the years and how their lives grow and change.

I have always been interested in the health field and helping people but it was my college counselor who recommended the dental field, I fell in love, dove in head first and never looked back.

Michael – I grew up the child of Greek immigrants working in the family restaurant as early I could be useful. Between that and going to the Naval Academy straight out of High School, I have always had a passion for organization, customer service, and forward thinking. While my wife is the introvert, I have enough extrovertedness to cover both of us. I love tackling challenges, and I hate wasting time on the details…to many people miss the big picture.

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