Written by Jane Nicholls. This article is part of our Red Papers business content series.

Alison Egan had studied nursing, psychology and worked in mental health and was still searching for her perfect career path when she decided to treat herself to a teeth-whitening session as a pick-me-up. “I dreamt that I had really gleaming white teeth, so I guess you could say that was the dream for my business!”

The inspiration came via the rude awakening when she discovered the procedure would cost her up to $2,000 if she had her teeth whitened in a dentist’s chair. “It was astronomical … I couldn’t afford it and I wondered, ‘what if we can make this into a business?’”

In a twinkling of an eye tooth – a mere five years – that ‘let’s see’ notion is Sparkling White Smile, a booming business, which only began franchising last year and is already up to 22 franchisees across Australia – and counting. “I wanted to offer a service that would let people get white teeth at an affordable price.”

“I have dentists who are my friends and mentors – and we work with them to get proper dental insights as part of our teeth-whitening training, to make sure our practices are at the best industry standard,” says Egan.

Her second brilliant idea was making her service mobile – instantly transforming teeth- whitening from a slightly clandestine solo affair into a party. “We can do up to 10 people in one group session,” explains Egan. It’s extremely popular for bridal parties to get the treatment in the lead up to their big day.

Just as her own directions to clients are careful and detailed, she has some specific requirements from her mobile technology provider. “When we started franchising, I wanted to make sure we had good plans and reliability because we are mobile and operate across Australia,” says Egan. “I also wanted customised numbers: we got the numbers 797 for SWS (Sparkling White Smile) for all of our franchisees.”

All of that has been made easy with the aid of her Vodafone Business personal account manager. “I have been a personal customer for years, so for me, it was a no brainer to stay with Vodafone for Sparkling White Smile when we started,” she says.

“We have so many services, and it helps me keep track and given our business is mobile, I have complete confidence that wherever they are, I can find them.”

Sparkling White Smile is all about giving customers the confidence to flash their pearly whites, but Egan and her growing band of technicians (mostly female, but a couple of blokes are in the mix, too) take the whole process extremely seriously. There are not one but three applications of their special gel formulation – 25-minutes each, during which time there’s not much talking because special cheek-spreading mouth guards are in place.

That doesn’t mean there’s no fun, though. “You are lying down, you can watch Netflix or read a book and since we do lots of bridal parties, we play games where everyone has to try to decipher what the others are saying,” says Egan. “It’s pretty hilarious.” After two hours or so it’s all done and dusted – or sparkled – but there are still protocols to observe if you want that gleaming smile to last.

“There’s no eating and no coloured drinks for three hours after the treatment,” says Egan, who says they stress to customers that they must come to their treatment well-hydrated and properly fed. “While we recommend people don’t drink anything other than water for 72 hours, you could always have a glass of champagne through a straw,” she suggests, revealing, “Honestly, I do it all the time!”

Egan is proud that the gel Sparkling White Smile uses is manufactured in the Netherlands exclusively for her company. Where exactly is a closely guarded company secret – she declines to disclose in which Dutch town. “It’s all made in Holland – it’s not cheap, but it’s top quality.”

When she travels to visit the company, there’s more cause to grin when her Vodafone $5 Roaming plan kicks in. “There’s no need to worry about going over my data because it’s the same data I have at home,” she says. It was a pleasant surprise when she discovered that feature of her Vodafone service. “Like most of us, I’d been burnt by overseas data charges in the past.”

That makes her grin, as do the smiles on the dials of her customers. “I wanted to create a business that would make people happy – and I know we do that.”

 

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