“Back when Cavity first started and I was the only one taking bookings, I’d take a notepad, pen and my phone out with me when I walked my dog, Freddie; taking bookings whilst he ran around in the park”
This July we have been celebrating Cavity’s 13th birthday! We sat down with the mastermind behind Cavity and got answers to all the questions you have been dying to ask.
Q: Where did you grow up?
Reading born and bred. My parents moved here in 1960, my dad got a job here & I was born!
Q: Do you have siblings? Are you the oldest/youngest?
Yes, one sister and two brothers. And I am the eldest of 4!
My sister Debs is 2 ½ years younger, my two brothers I acquired when I was 18. Alan is 55, Darren 52, I think!
Q: How long were you in dentistry for before Cavity?
Q: What was your motivation for starting a dental staff agency?
I could never find decent locum staff as a Practice Manager!
I left my practice after a disagreement and took a sales job in London that I absolutely hated, and that’s when I decided it was now or never to do it. It was actually Val Stoakes that talked me into it! She promised she would come and work for me if I started up and here we are, 13 years later, and she is still working with me 😊
Q: What is the ultimate goal?
The ultimate goal is to be the biggest and the best, locum nurse agency in the country. I want everyone to want our nurses as their first choice.
Q: Were there any other name ideas for Cavity before it became Cavity?
Not really, I was struggling to decide on a name and Don, my printer friend came up with the play on words! He’s still helping me now with business cards and various marketing designs.
Q: What does a day at Cavity consist of for you?
Sharon: I wake up at 6am, whilst the kettle boils and I feed Harry (my dog) I check for missed calls and email requests that came in overnight, I get those responded to ready before the phone starts ringing at 6.30am with a cup of tea in hand and dressing gown on! I have been know if it’s really hot to… (I won’t finish that sentence – more information than needed 😊 😊)
I take calls until 7.30am, that’s when my Bookings Coordinators take over in HQ. I catch up with any queries as they come in thick and fast when you’re the only one dealing with them. Then in the shower, get dressed and get myself to HQ for around 8.30am – unless I get waylaid by clients/problems (anything from staff getting lost, clients trying to cancel because they forgot to cancel etc etc)
I am in the Office until 5/5.30pm and my day is full of queries and emails, I see managers weekly, help staff try to come up with new ideas. Anything goes from accounts to payroll. I get home, cook tea and hopefully stuff it down before I go back on call at 7pm, some evenings the phone never stops, some I get to watch TV and brush Harry.
My phone goes on to Do Not Disturb at 10pm and off to bed I go.
Q: Which part of your job and running a business do you enjoy the most?
Answering the phone and taking a booking – always 😊
Q: Which part do you enjoy the least?
Accounts, VAT Returns and when the payroll goes wrong!
Q: Which role would you want at Cavity if you weren’t the Director?
Bookings Coordinator, I love the challenge of never saying no to a client and trying to get every nurse booked up each day. We almost do get everyone booked too!
Q: When you were growing up, what did you want to do/be?
A vet when I was about 5, and then I had no idea really, I went from job to job until I landed in the Dental Practice as a Manager.
Q: How would you describe yourself?
Tired most of the time, short and fat and getting wrinkly… where did that old person come from?!
Q: How do you think your staff would describe you?
Ummm, not sure, when things go wrong and I am cross they hide under the desk, but I never hold grudges, I would like to think they think I am fair and always honest. And they probably think old, short and fat too😊
Q: What makes the perfect Dental Nurse?
Proactive, confident, determined to make the Dentist have a good day, even if they are not, attention to detail, pride in leaving the surgery spick and span, always wear a smile, even if they are having the worst day.
Q: Who’s the naughtiest manager?
Probably Alex! Her admin is the worst, but she is one of the most caring people I have ever met.
Q: How do you relax and shut off?
Watch a film, do some sudoku.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
Sharon: I don’t have much… I like to walk my dog Harry, online shopping as I hate going to the shops physically. I enjoy live performance shows at the cinema, anything from ballet to opera. Eating out, I love good food and especially good wine. On a Friday afternoon you’ll find me at Pilates, that’s my weekly wind down – love it. I love to travel and am trying to go to lots of different places in the world before I get too old.
Q: What is your favourite drink?
G& T of course, has to be Gordans, Schwepps and a slice. I do love a good French wine too.
Q: Did you ever imagine Cavity would become as big as it is?
Never in my wildest dreams!
Q: What have your greatest achievements been over the last 12 months?
Buying our own premises, though the mortgage is scary! It’s great to have a fabulous Cavity ‘home’.
Q: What have your greatest challenges been?
To keep our locums happy, busy in work and earning great money.
Q: If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
Of course, you always make mistakes in life and business, but I believe you have to learn from them, and move on.
Q: Who was your greatest support/helped you along the way/taught you what you know/encouraged you to follow your instincts?
I’m not sure really, I think I was just determined not to be beaten down, I was a single mum with two teenage kids and a mortgage to pay. Janine is always my rock, I don’t think she ever judges anyone and she is always there for me, I hope I reciprocate. Val is my longest standing Nurse, she has always been a great nurse and big fan of cavity. Nicola has been with me for nearly 13 years too, she believes in what we do and always speaks her mind on my bad ideas 😊
Q: What is your motto in life?
Never give up.
Q: What advice would give to someone wanting to start their business?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Cavity would not be here now if I listened to people.
Q: Where do you see Cavity in ten years?
Still the most respected dental nurse agency in the country and hopefully with twice as many staff, so we never have a cancellation list!
Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I would like to think that I will be semi retired. I think they will be taking me out the building in a box! But hopefully having more holidays and doing some more travel.
And there you have it. I have been working with Sharon for 8 years now and even I have learnt something new from doing this Q&A. I hope you too have enjoyed reading this as much as we have enjoyed writing it.