Dr Alhan Farjo—delivering smiles all round

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

For Dr Alhan Farjo, operating an award-winning dental practice is all about delivering great service—and creating beautiful smiles. By Lynne Testoni

Dentists everywhere have faced a challenging couple of years, but for Dr Alhan Farjo, the challenges may have been even greater. Owner of a busy CBD practice in the heart of Sydney, Dr Farjo’s main client base was no longer in the neighbourhood for much of 2020 and 2021, forcing her to radically change how she ran her clinic.

“The city was dead, so we felt it right in the beginning,” she says. “Even before the lockdown, everyone was working from home in all the big companies. It was very difficult and it took a lot of time—until now really—before city clients started coming back, and many are still doing the hybrid between office and home. But it is starting to feel a little bit better; back to normal.” 

Dr Farjo set up e-health consultations for the first time during the pandemic, while the clinic itself was open for emergencies (within the rules). Dr Farjo says that she also tried to maintain regular communication with her patients who didn’t need urgent treatment. 

“We kept communicating with our patients via newsletters and social media to inform and educate all our clients. In addition, I was on the phone to clients frequently to provide advice and support. I think that made a difference because the minute they were able to come on site, our patients came in straight away.”

Dr Farjo’s practice, Quay Dental, recently received extra encouragement, winning the Business of the Year Award 2022 in the local business awards for Sydney CBD and city suburbs, as well as the Outstanding Dental Services Award. Quay Dental also recently received the Best of Sydney Award 2022 and was featured in City Hub magazine. 

She says that winning the two awards made a huge difference to her practice, boosted the confidence of her team, and dramatically increased their profile in the city.

I had no expectation of winning because we were up against 10 dental practices who were all well established. But we’re very well-known and we worked hard for it, doing all we can, so it was really lovely to be recognised.

Dr Alhan Farjo, Quay Dental

“It was amazing,” Dr Farjo says. “The nomination came from patients and clients throughout the city. I had no expectation of winning because we were up against 10 dental practices who were all well established. But we’re very well-known and we worked hard for it, doing all we can, so it was really lovely to be recognised.” 

Born in Iraq, Dr Farjo trained at Otago University in New Zealand before moving to Australia. She worked in a few private practices around Sydney before establishing her own clinic in Sydney’s CBD in 2008. 

It was a tough time to open a new city practice, she adds, occurring during the global financial crisis of that year, but she says it gave her the chance to start afresh and practise dentistry the way she wanted to.

“My philosophy is all about providing the highest standard of dental care in a friendly and professional manner,” she says. “We started with just myself and one staff member and while it was a little bit slow for the first year, we slowly started to get everyone in the building as clients. And then one person would tell everybody else at work and we began to get busier and build our reputation for being a great dental service provider.

“I think when you provide great service and you genuinely care, people can sense that. Once I started getting busier, I added another associate dentist and a few other staff members and the practice started to grow from there.

“I’m passionate about dentistry,” she adds. “We want to educate people; we want to make them understand that their oral health is important. People should appreciate the importance of oral health and creating beautiful smiles. It influences overall health, but also self-confidence.” 

I’m passionate about dentistry. We want to educate people; we want to make them understand that their oral health is important. People should appreciate the importance of oral health and creating beautiful smiles.

Dr Alhan Farjo, Quay Dental

Now employing four associates, as well as Dr Farjo, the practice relocated to larger premises in Bridge Street a few years ago where it remains. “It’s a little bit bigger so I fitted it out with really good facilities, such as an OPG X-ray inhouse, three surgeries and a nice modern reception area,” says Dr Farjo. 

The clinic is a colourful space. Dr Farjo is passionate about colour, so the rooms were designed to “look like an art gallery” using rich reds and vibrant oranges because she didn’t want it to feel like a typical dental practice. 

City-based patients can be demanding, she says, mostly because they are squeezing dental appointments into busy work schedules, so it’s important that the practice offers a lot of flexibility.

“In general, we are very accommodating to their schedules,” she says. “We work throughout lunchtime because that’s when the people can come. Our clients are highly educated, and they have very high expectations. I understand that their time is valuable, so since day one we make sure that running on time is a priority. 

“Of course, we always accommodate clients if they have an emergency no matter what. We look after our patients so they’re not in pain or discomfort.

“I do appreciate that just like us, everybody is under a lot of pressure, and has a lot of work commitments. So, we are under pressure to be on time and to do things properly.

“However, I’d rather operate like this because at least it’s straight to the point and they are very receptive as well. When you educate them and tell them about the issues with their oral health, they’re very proactive, which is great. And it makes my time a bit more organised.” 

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