Lisa Stevenson, D.A. is the Co-founder, Owner and CEO of Arizona School of Dental Assisting
located in Phoenix, Arizona. The goal of this post-secondary school is to prepare students for entry level positions as a chairside assistant in a dental office’s throughout the region. Lisa, along with her brother and other Co-founder recognized the need for well-trained dental assistants and created the company out of a need for hiring strong qualified assistants. The school opened in 2001 and holds 12-week courses throughout the year.
When and why did you join the NASE?
It’s been a long time since I joined, however, you offered a way for me to get and afford good health insurance. I have since enjoyed the News Letters and the articles about what the NASE is doing in Washington DC to represent the Self-Employed.
When and why did you start your business?
I started the business in 2001. Prior to that, I noticed that I was having to retrain dental assistants that had come out of a 9 months dental assisting program before I felt comfortable having them in the rooms with our dental hygienists. After speaking with my brother, Dr. Enrico DiVito DDS, we decided to start a new business to train young professionals to be dental assistants.
What challenges have you faced in your business?
The first major challenge we faced was starting out with very little money. By using inexpensive marketing and a strong work ethic, I was able to grow my business. By doing what we set out to do and producing skilled workers ready to enter a dental office, word of mouth helped me grow and become successful. In turn, this would bring in more and more students and allow me to move out of Dr DiVito’s dental office and get my own campus where I continued to grow. My school has gone from 1 employee (me) to 4 employees. From 3 students a class with only 3 classes a years to 125 students a year in about 12 classes per year. My journey was long and hard however I now own and run the school myself without Dr. Divito as a silent partner.
How do you market your business?
While word of mouth continues to be a strong way we drive business, we also advertise in the newspaper, on the internet, radio, and with TV commercials. We have also recently tried placing advertisements in the time leading up to movies at the movie theaters and are currently measuring results.
Do you have any employees?
Currently, I have 3 full-time employees. So if you include me, the business has four full time employees. If the number of students continues to grow, I will explore hiring another full-time position but for right now, the four of us can handle the workload.
What's your schedule like, what's a typical day for you?
I am usually at the school 4 days a week. A typical day is to check over the various everyday functions of the business, do marketing and “ensure the trains are running on time.” I also meet with new students as needed, counsel current students and sign diplomas. Sometimes I also need to speak with all the grant programs to insure students are able to get the proper information to come to the school.
What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
The part I enjoy the most about being self-employed is that I am able to pay and treat my staff the way I want to without having to answer to someone else. I also enjoy the ability to help others less fortunate. With scholarships, they can come to school and be able to obtain a job to take care of themselves and their families.". It is a rewarding sense of fulfilment knowing I am helping others with my business.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
The best compliment that I received was when someone told me that I, “Am a role model and I inspire them to want to be better. That there is hope for anyone to become whatever they want to be if they put their mind to it.”
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
That’s an easy one, be humble and do not over spend.