Like many businesses, Smile Direct Club closed its offices, known as Smile Shops, around the country when the coronavirus led officials to call on non-essential businesses to shutter.
Yet, the Nashville-based teledentistry business saw its online and mail order volume surge as people social distancing at home took up the opportunity to straighten their teeth from home using the company’s clear aligners.
“It was a big part of our business, but now it's a significantly bigger part of our business, and it's really picking up,” Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer, the Chief Clinical Officer at Smile Direct Club told NetSuite’s Kendall Fisher in a Zoom interview.
Naturally, that wasn’t the only change. Smile Direct Club’s platform relies on a network of 250 licensed dentists and orthodontists that work closely with customers to coordinate care. With dentist offices closed for all but emergency care around the country, Smile Direct Club opened its platform to all licensed practitioners and is also offering face masks and has adapted its 3D printing facility, one of the largest in the U.S., to create up to 10,000 face shields per day. On April 1, the company started shipping 25,000 face shields to second-tier health organizations across the country.
The company has been able to adapt so quickly thanks to an agile approach and a history of rapid growth.
“Well look, it's kind of in our DNA to do this kind of thing,” Sulitzer said. “We're disruptors, we're used to shifting on a dime. We're a telehealth company first of all, we're a health company and we're also FDA verified because we do Class 2 medical devices as a medical device manufacturer. It's kind of natural for us to be able to make a shift like this.”
For example, Smile Direct Club was able to act quickly to continue to receive the manufacturing supplies it needed and adapt its businesses processes. Running on NetSuite has helped ease that transition as well.
“. . . Agility and adaptability are some of Smile Direct Club's best traits,” Sulitzer said. “NetSuite's flexible system allows us to quickly shift as needed. That’s how we are able to make these changes that are necessary.”
In this conversation, Sulitzer goes on to explain how its business continuity plan and the tornados that struck Nashville months before helped it prepare for the pandemic, what this means for the future of dentistry and telehealth, and how the company has adapted manufacturing processes and protocols to protect workers and customers.