by Janet Davies
Dr. Rami Majid’s Picton dental office is called simply County Dental Care – and the caring part is important to him.
“People don’t particularly want to be here in the first place,” he says with a smile. “I try to make it as pleasant as possible.”
Dr. Majid still seems surprised to be called an entrepreneur. “There is a real entrepreneurial spirit in Prince Edward County,” he says. “I never really thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but I guess that’s what I am now.” He discovered in his first year that running your own business is not a walk in the park. “It’s very different to working for somebody else,” he says wryly. “I do the actual work, I’m the dentist, but I also manage my staff, run the office, and try to do a little marketing, too.”
Before taking on his own practice he had worked with dentists in Wellington, Belleville and Deseronto, but had returned to Toronto for family commitments. Five years ago, the doctor selling the Picton practice contacted him. “He’d heard good things about me and wondered if I’d be interested,” he says. “I thought about it long and hard before I decided.” It was a big decision to move out of the city. An even bigger leap to become his own boss. But he went for it, and he ran into the challenges right away.
“I didn’t know anybody here socially, and the previous owner pretty much just up and left. It was not a an easy transition,” he says politely.
No handover, no introductions, just a busy office and a lot of patients.
“On the other hand I could walk to work,” he says with a grin. “So I took over the patients and took on new ones, because I had a good reputation from my time working in Wellington. There was good word of mouth out there about me.” Rami thinks his laid back approach helped him win over patients, too. “I’m a little more chatty than some,” he says. “I like to play music, I try to put people at ease. I want to relate to people as individuals as well as patients, and I encourage my staff to do the same. We have a good atmosphere in the office.” He takes time to talk to his patients to assess what are their goals and how best he can help them, whether they’re insured or not, whether there is government funding or social assistance, it does not matter-everyone is treated the same. “We don’t push anybody into treatment. We explain options, go through the costs, see what they’re comfortable with.”
THE COUNTY -vs- THE GTA
How does he find his work in The County compares to Toronto? “I find the patients are friendlier here!” he says without hesitation. “They seem to feel more loyalty to their health professionals, there’s more of a relationship – and the hours here are much better!” In his opinion the GTA has become heavily focused on evening and weekend hours in all kinds of businesses, including healthcare. “That can leave you with no time for anything else. The pressure can be intense,” he says. “And that’s without counting all the hours you spend commuting. It’s getting crazy in Toronto. Here in The County it’s different. You work hard and steady, but everything is easier, you’re closer to things.”
Even though he still finds it quiet here socially, Dr. Majid feels the strong sense of community here. “People talk to each other a lot more, and that impacts a business like mine because there’s a lot of word of mouth out there, a lot of connections. In the city people come from a wider area, everything is more sporadic. Without that connection I don’t think you have the same sense of personal responsibility. People will just not turn up for an appointment if they don’t feel like it, it’s like doctors and dentists are interchangeable. Here in The County people seem to care more, they show up on time, they are more courteous, they appreciate what you do.”
With the more sociable work hours and drastically reduced commute times, Rami can get to Sandbanks in 10 or 15 minutes after work. He can jump on his bike and pedal into the countryside or into a craft brewery. “I really like the way more patios are popping up and staying open later,” he says. “Things definitely slow down in winter, but even that is changing. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my five years here.”
There are a lot of older people in The County, retirees and people escaping ridiculous house prices in Toronto, but Dr. Majid says demographics is another thing he’s seen change. “More younger people are moving here. I see young families, people starting businesses in the tech sector, in hospitality and food. It’s that entrepreneur thing again.” He may demur, but Dr. Majid is entrepreneurial, too. “Starting my own business has been hard,” he says candidly. “But it really has got better every year. I plan to grow my practice. I’ll take on another dentist at some point, but that will be hard work, too, finding the right person. I want them to care as much as I do about the patients.” Rami is finding that life-work balance he was after. “I certainly plan to stay here, at least for a while” he says. “It’s worth all the hard work.”
For startups or businesses looking to expand or re-locate to The County, you can fill out this Business Inquiry Questionnaire, and the Community Development Department will respond in 48 hours.