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Lessons Earned: There's never a bad time for a helping hand

Imagine taking that first step into entrepreneurship, only to be thrown a devastating curveball almost immediately. Dr. Effie Gregoriou persevered through tragic circumstances to continue building a thriving practice.

Shortly after she bought into her practice, Dr. Effie Gregoriou was faced with a difficult decision. Her partner in her dental business suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, leaving Effie to solely run Surrey, BC’s Semiahmoo Dental Centre. This marked a turning point in which she had to decide whether to take on a new partner in the business while ensuring all patients continued receiving the very best dental care.


It quickly became that I was running the entire show on my own, so it was certainly a challenge to transition to that,” says Effie, pointing out the ultimate decision to not take on a new partner meant leaning on a few unexpected supporters to keep the business running smoothly.

“Since taking over the practice on my own, we’ve had significant growth and taken a new direction in terms of modernizing, adapting new technology and adding new services. And it’s been a short three years now, but we’re in a position where we’re right on target with what I envisioned.”

That growth came with important support. Through the transition, she leaned on her dental office team to ensure Semiahoo Dental Centre continued to offer optimal services, and looked to her bank for new business investments and further evolution. Acting on the opportunity to invest in new technologies was coupled with advice and guidance from her business banking advisors at CWB. The result is that Effie remains one of the most successful dental practice owners in the Vancouver area.


A difficult transition made smooth


Transitioning sole ownership of the business to Effie occurred quickly. And it meant Effie and her banking advisors from CWB’s Surrey branch needed a fast plan to work through a laundry list of complex logistics.


At the beginning, we were under a significant time crunch to transition the practice, and everybody jumped in to help out,” says Effie, crediting the personal touch of her business banking advisors who helped smoothen the transition and provide peace-of-mind through the whole process.

“They met with me in person. They kept me up-to-date as to what was happening. They really hustled to get this done. They kept me apprised the whole way. Everybody that I’ve come in contact with at CWB is fantastic. They were willing to come out and meet with me personally; I think that’s a big deal.”

Evolving the practice


The close-knit relationship that Effie developed with her advisors at CWB not only assisted a speedy business transition, but also began future advancements for her practice. Her CWB team helped set up a business line of credit that enabled the purchase of new dental equipment and aided investment in new procedures and practices that’s keeping her business moving forward.


“I wasn’t necessarily focused on getting a business line of credit for new equipment when I took on the business,” says Effie, noting that the proactive approach from her CWB advisors assisted her vision for longer-term business success. “It was a great opportunity – it put me in a position to take advantage when new technology became available.”


Being valued as a business owner


Something that worried Effie during the business transition was if she would be taken seriously as a business owner and entrepreneur. She acknowledges that women can often face many barriers - and she wasn’t sure if she would be treated any differently as a business owner – but she was pleasantly surprised by how the team at CWB approached her needs.


They were very keen to listen to what my needs were and what my vision was. They were very supportive of it,” says Effie, who notes that she always felt prioritized, even when she spoke with the Branch Manager. “What really caught my attention was their willingness to listen, look at the possibilities and support me.”


Though the business transition to become the sole owner of her dental practice proved arduous at first, the support of her team and the advisors at CWB helped ensure that Semiahmoo Dental Centre will remain successful and continue to grow.


I think it’s pretty exceptional progress to turn around from a situation where the partnership had completely dissolved, to now experiencing practice growth and success while adopting new procedures and processes,” she says. “There’s a real sentiment at CWB to put the customer first and to go above and beyond for them. It’s clear that CWB is a bank that’s completely invested in its clients.”