More on Managers (and the first week back)

Management and Development concept on the gearwheels

A series of questions from clients this week on the subject of management (including that which prompted yesterday’s post).

I wonder why that is?

Perhaps because some owners have returned from holiday, expecting it all done (and it wasn’t).

Or simply because they are back from a restful holiday and spiritually exhausted at the prospect of having to crank it all up again themselves?

in Thursday’s post we looked at the key performance criteria for an outstanding manager.

Questions from clients this week have included:

  1. should I hire a manager?
  2. should I promote Person A to management?
  3. how do I choose between persons A & B?
  4. my existing manager isn’t making my life easier – what should I do?

The answer to the first question is always going to be a resounding “yes” from me.

I became self-employed for the first time on 1st January 1987 (as a fee-based financial planner) and my first commercial action was to hire a Personal Assistant, Mrs Audrey Heaton, who quickly evolved into my business manager.

That was before I recruited my first client – because I knew that I couldn’t do “delivery” confidently unless I knew I had my back covered.

There have been many “Audrey’s” since then – and for the last 5+ years, Phillippa Goodwin has been my Essential PA, my right-hand person, my back-up, my personal manager.

I travel through my commercial life confidently knowing that things will get done, that they will get done on time, that they will get down accurately – all 99% of the time – and that when the 1% happens (which it will), the recovery will be swift.

I came back from holiday on Tuesday morning and everything was there, done, ready.

There was no engine to crank back up, no mistakes to rectify, no massive email backlog, no mountain of paperwork, no fights to break up, no clients feeling unappreciated.

You see, at the end of the day, Phillippa’s job is to make my life easier – and she does that very well.

As owners, we all need an Audrey or a Phillippa and that applies whether we are a one-person business, a budding £1m practice, £10m micro-corporate, a start up or a 100% Growth candidate.

We have all got enough to do in growing our businesses, without worrying that what we have already created is working properly – that should be the proverbial “no-brainer”.

Every new Audrey or Phillippa who has worked for me has had the same briefing:

  • for the first three months I expect you to regard what we do as chaos – to NOT understand it all;
  • in the second three months I expect you to get your head around it;
  • during that 6 months, don’t expect me to train, consult or coach you – I have clients to look after – if you have a question either find out the answer on Google, from a colleague or ask me if no-one else can give you the answer;
  • after 6 months, I expect you to be walking all over it, telling me what to do and suggesting ways we can improve. I expect you to own it.

In answer to questions 2 & 3 above – the person who gets the job is the one most likely to fulfil those criteria over the next 6 months.

By 1st March 2016 (or sooner), you should expect to have the easiest life possible in business.

If your existing manager isn’t making your life effortless (and has been in the role for more than 6 months), it’s too late – get a new one.

What makes a great Manager?


Most of yesterday’s working day was invested in meeting with the Managing Partner of one of my budding £10m dental micro-corporate clients, along with the recently (internally) appointed Manager of their Hygiene/Therapy Department.

The client has expanded from 1 to 3 practices in recent months and is learning the ropes with regard to managing “satellites”.

When considering what makes a great Manager, here’s what I said:


The Manager has to understand more about how things get done than anyone in the department.

The Manager is responsible for creating the manual to which all can refer when in doubt.

The Manager takes responsibility for (in this case) clinical governance and compliance, and for clinical mentoring, as well as the effective operation of all other systems in her Department.

The Manager intuitively understands the nuts and bolts of how the business works and how her Department works.

The Manager has attention to detail that is a sharp as the Owners.

The Manager takes 100% responsibility for Getting Things Done (GTD).


The Manager understands what makes people tick.

The Manager is able to conduct individual Personal Progress Interviews (PPI’s) on a monthly basis.

The Manager creates an environment in which people want to get motivated.

The Manager is an inspirational Leader, people want to impress her and thrive on her appreciation.


The Manager knows the numbers better than anyone in her Department.

The Manager can dance with a spreadsheet, write effectively, create systems and workflows, project plan and ensure that deadlines and targets are met.

The Manager understands where the profit centres are in her Department and equally where the profit holes are.

The Manager suggests ideas to improve Profitability.

In the case of yesterday’s “newbie” it was quickly clear that, as an experienced clinician, she already knew 80% of the Protocols. However, she scored her expertise on People at 40% and her expertise on Performance at 60%.

So – we spent a lot of time discussing what makes people tick and the balance of our time teaching her the numbers and how to keep count.

An observation:

The Manager arrived at the meeting with predictable concerns about her confidence in the new role.

I pointed out that 80% on Protocols, 40% on People and 60% on Performance = 180/300 = 60%.

A pretty good starting point.

I’ll now be working closely with her to get to 80% overall (a realistic target).

You might want to review the Performance of your Manager(s) against the 3 P’s and identify in which areas training and coaching are required.

The same applies to all of your Managers – Marketing, Patient Journey, TCO, Clinical, Acquisitions or Ops.

If you are building a £10m micro-corporate, looking for 100% Growth or simply want to experience the confidence of knowing that you have a great support team – you might want to call me in to work with your Manager(s) to get them to 80%.

It’s one of the things that I really enjoy doing.


Back to work




I wonder what mood you are in this week

  1. OMG – here we go again, back in the hamster wheel;
  2. Wow – bring it on, let’s make 2015 a Christmas and New Year to celebrate.

Was your August Bank Holiday evening tinged with regret at the fact that the alarm clock will become your daily companion again, looking backwards at your time “off” with sweet sorrow?

Or did you celebrate a summer of refreshment, re-charge and re-connection – then look forward to a final 4 months of accumulating progress towards a fantastic year end?

Covey taught us that “between stimulus and response there is choice”.

We choose our mood and our attitude.

I’m willing to bet that you can quickly construct a list of reasons why your life is a pain in the neck right now.

The situations, things and relationships that you are tolerating and which are making you less happy.

I’m told there is an old Hebrew proverb that if our lists of problems were posted on a wall and we were free to read everyone’s, we would choose to take our own back every time.

Equally, I bet you have a list of reasons why you love your life.

The situations, things and relationships that make you feel better about yourself.

Funny how that second list gets less of an airing?

We all carry both lists around with us and choose which to memorise, recite internally and share with our tribes.

Over the years I’ve noticed that there are times when you have to focus on the “good” list to maintain a mood of self-confidence.

The CBT people encourage us to write down a list of three positive achievements at the start or end of a day (from the previous 24 hours) and keep that list handy for 28 consecutive days, suggesting that this mild brainwashing will lift our spirit.

I’ve done that more than once, sometimes shared the lists on social media daily – and have to report the benefits are palpable.

So, whatever your mood, I’m going to suggest a little self-improvement exercise for you.

From today – write down each day your three best achievements – and remember that anything goes – “closed that big sale” to “walked the dog”, to “fleetingly saw the bottom of my email in-box” – no matter how small – every achievement counts.

Keep the list handy and review at the end of every 7 days.

After 28 days, read the whole list – and decide whether you still need the brainwashing.

I’m laying a bet that you won’t.

Holidays and how to get some real rest

Holiday concept

The 7connections blog will be taking a 2-week break after today – back on 1st September 2015 for the Autumn/Winter season.

So I thought I would leave you with some tips for how to approach the rest of this month:

  1. Sleep more – either set your alarm to wake you an hour later or go to bed an hour earlier – the restorative power of a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated;
  2. Get some sun – not everyone enjoys being flat out on a sun-lounger but sunshine in measured doses is good for you, will help your complexion, your overall well-being and your attitude. English summers are unpredictable but if the sun does come out – get out there with it;
  3. Get some air and exercise – not everyone can run, ride, swim or climb but just taking the dog (or the kids) for a walk twice a day will make a huge difference to your emotions;
  4. Put the devices down. Taking your laptop, tablet or smartphone on holiday is not a holiday – we have all done it. The perpetual attention to notifications is fundamentally inhuman;
  5. Read a book – a real book. I’ve been through the Kindle phase (and it does have a use when you are sailing and have limited space) but I’m back to real paperbacks again and enjoying the tactile experience as well as the content;
  6. Choose your reading well. Choice is very personal but can we try a novel, a history book, a biography (OK, even a business biography) rather than yet another “buy my secrets of success manual and make me successful”.
  7. Use a camera – remember cameras? Stop taking your holiday snaps with a phone – it’s a phone and it wants you back at work;
  8. Ban devices when you go out for dinner. I know that’s a toughie – when my kids were growing up it was text messaging that caused the problems. I grieve for those families who think a great night out at the Italian is the parents chatting whilst the children are gaming;
  9. Eat and drink well – just this once, think about what you are taking in – spoil yourself with exceptional food and (if you do) outstanding alcohol;
  10. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Talk to each other. Talk in bed. Talk while you walk. Talk over dinner. Talk in the bath. Talk by the pool. Talk because there are no electronics, no TV, no movie player. Oh – and by the way – talk to yourself. Talk about how you feel. Talk about your dreams. All problems exist in the absence of a good conversation.

You are the master of your fate. You are the captain of your soul.

About knowing who your friends are…

word cloud - leadership 2


There is an important distinction between the words “friend” and “friendly”.

You know you are with a “friend” when simply being with them makes you feel good/better about yourself.

You are being “friendly” when you treat people as you would have them treat you (The Golden Rule).

Just because you work for or with someone, it doesn’t make them your “friend”.

Friendship is earned after many hours of unconditional authenticity, transparency and trust.

Good leaders understand that the people they are called to lead are not their “friends”.

Good managers understand that the people they are required to manage (in itself, impossible – managers manage systems and lead people) are not their “friends”.

Needing to be liked will exhaust, frustrate and disappoint you.

There is huge satisfaction in reaching down, lifting the right people up, helping them to fulfil their own potential, paying forward what you have learned from others.

That is the calling of a great leader or manager.

But it’s a lonely place.

Your “friends” will be few and priceless.

p.s. You cannot effectively coach someone unless they are your “friend”.

The 100% Growth System – my job application



Dear Dental Principal or Supplier

I’d like to apply for a job at your practice please:

  • Job Title – 100% Growth Manager
  • Start Date – 1st October 2015 or ASAP after that
  • Duration – 6 months
  • Salary – £1,200 pcm (including VAT). Your total investment = £7,200 or less
  • Benefits – I do not require any health insurance, or a pension, or life cover, or expenses or an invite to the Christmas party
  • Working conditions – I don’t need a desk, a chair, a telephone, a computer, a uniform, a locker or any business cards – oh, and you don’t need to be nice to me
  • Attitude – I’m a business survivor and I know how to grow your business by 100%
  • I’m not scared of getting my hands dirty
  • Special offer – I recognise that its not easy to get a job nowadays – so I’m prepared to start work on 1st September and work for a month FREE OF CHARGE to show you how good I can be for your business
  • In March 2016 I will resign on a month’s notice and ask you to provide a reference for my next Employer – or I’ll want you to ask me to stay another 6 months – either way I’ll want you to say that I’m worth it because I helped your practice to start the process of growing 100%.

I’d like to attend an interview and answer your questions.

Would you be prepared to give me an hour of your time on Skype or face to face?

If I’m there any more than 60 minutes it will be your fault.

Your action – just email with the word “Audition” in the subject line and I’ll connect.

Job Description – The 100% Growth Manager

To make sure that your practice begins the journey to 100% growth as a result of my being there and working with you, your team and your suppliers.

I”ll start with the implementation of a comprehensive Marketing Action Plan










Then I’ll work to make sure that the following happens in your practice:

Tactic #1 – teach your team to hold accountability meetings face to face with your SEO, Digital and Direct Marketing providers EVERY MONTH AND PREFERABLY FACE TO FACE and ask them the golden question.

Tactic #2 – train your team in actively asking for emails, social connections, testimonials, referrals and networking invitations

Tactic #3 -make sure that everyone in your team understands The Lifecycle Marketing Workflow and their role in lead generation and lead conversion

Tactic #4- train your team to create White Paper downloads on your web site for all of the major treatment modalities that you wish to broadcast

Tactic #5 – train your team to embed White Paper offers into your existing email newsletters

Tactic #6 – train your team to complete internal web forms for all new patient enquiries and up-sales to existing patients

Tactic #7 – train your team to create reactivation sequences for dormant treatment plans.

Tactic #8 – train your team to create a CRM software-based recall system that encourages up-sales and referrals

Tactic #9 – encourage your relevant TCO’s and clinicians to get trained and adept with Digital Treatment Planning

Tactic #10 – train your team to implement The 12-Point Recommendation Checklist

Tactic #11 – coach you and your managers to demonstrate Passion and Leadership on a daily basis

Tactic #12 – train your team to use The Smile Check

Tactic #13 – train your team to use The Dental Health Review System

Tactic #14 – train your team to grow a strong membership base

Push Button - Act Now









If you get your finger out – you can hire me for a month free of charge from 1st September 2015.

Your action – just email with the word “Audition” in the subject line and I’ll connect.


Cash Flow

United Kingdom. Cash  Concept.

When you have positive cash flow in your business:

  • you can publish a set of core values
  • you can make ethical decisions
  • you can applaud the efforts of others
  • you can be a philanthropist
  • you can take the moral high ground and “tut, tut” at those who don’t
  • you can develop a CSR policy
  • you can re-invest
  • you can organise social events for your team
  • you can innovate

This first set of behaviours is based on courage and abundance.

When you have negative cash flow in your business:

  • you can ignore your core values
  • you can dump integrity
  • you can find others to blame
  • you can be miserly
  • you can profiteer from your clients/patients
  • you can seal up the charity box
  • you can let the business stagnate
  • you can cancel the Christmas party
  • you can block new ideas

The second list of behaviours is based in fear and scarcity.

The hero is the one who decides to climb back into positive cash flow without compromising on any of the first list.

Cash flow makes people villains or heroes.


How Much?

how much - question in letterpress type

Moving on from last Thursday’s pizza-slicing.

This morning my 06:15 cab driver to Stockport asked me what I did for a living.

Hearing that I’m involved in business development for dentists, he asked me whether dentists in this country made a good living?

I replied that “some do, some don’t” depending on their level of business acumen.

His next comment was interesting.

“I suppose at the end of the day dentistry is like any other business – you need to do the marketing all the time to stay on top?”

True enough.

He then asked me how much I would advise him to invest in marketing when he opens his own business in 18 months….

“after all, I cannot drive a cab all of my life – it’s been 4 years now and I need to do something.”

My answer (all plus VAT):

Web site – £5,000.

Optimisation – £250 pcm.

Google advertising – £500 pcm

Facebook advertising – £500 pcm

Automated email marketing and e-commerce – £750 pcm.

Print media – £500 pcm.


One payment of £5,000 plus £2,500 pcm = £35,000 in year one.

“That’s good” he said “because I guessed at £30 – 40,000 in year one for my business and so I’m about right.

I have been saving for this and will also borrow some money from my family.”

I asked what business he was planning to get into?

“I want to open a take-away food place.”

It seems the cab driver planning a take-out service has gotten his head around digital marketing and the financial investment involved.

I wish it was that easy with some of the dentists I talk to.

“How much?” they exclaim when I share similar numbers – and then call an agency or consultant that tells them it will be cheaper.

The 100% Growth System – Part 12



We end our search for 100% Growth with a long-term strategy but one that characterises the “Champions League” practice.

Imagine that on the first day of every month, 1,000 patients pay £15.00 into your business account for every full-time dentist working in your business.

Then you start work for the month, marketing for new patients, re-marketing for up-sales, asking for recommendations, delivering long-term care and treatment.

Instead of new patients arriving in to your practice for a specific product or service and then vanishing, they stay with you for a lifetime during which they regularly attend, occasionally buy more and constantly refer.

What I’m not going to do is list the features of a good dental membership scheme, take part in a debate about capitation versus pure membership, or compare the players in the marketplace versus DIY.

Here are some tips for practices who want to introduce or grow a membership scheme:

  1. Start the conversation early – when a prospective new patient arrives for an initial consultation or TCO assessment, mention membership as a long-term feature and benefit right from the start;
  2. Maintain the conversation throughout the new patient experience, including reference to the benefits of membership in every consultation, every treatment plan you issue, every email newsletter, across your social media channels, in your blog and as part of any paid media or direct marketing campaign;
  3. Ask patients giving testimonials to mention that they enjoy the privileges of membership;
  4. Don’t use the words “plan”, “scheme” or any other reference to what sounds like an insurance policy or warranty for white goods. Compare membership of the practice to membership of a Golf Club, a Health Club or any community who enjoy special privileges;
  5. Don’t use the word “discount”. I hear all the time that “members enjoy a 10-20% discount on our usual price list”. Better still to explain that “members enjoy their own special price list, non-members pay more”. In fact, I love it when practices publish two price lists – one for members, one for non-members, promoting an enquiry as to the difference;
  6. Make membership compulsory. That sounds harsh doesn’t it? Yet I have worked with practices who have simply decided that the only way they will offer preventative maintenance (through the Dental Health Reviews that we discussed last time) is to fully committed members, who have demonstrated that commitment by signing a Direct Debit for the monthly fee;
  7. Create member events in your calendar. Open evenings and social events to reward those who are loyal;
  8. Establish “member get member” rewards for recommendations, not as inducements but as unsolicited “thank you’s”;
  9. Give your members advance notice of new products and services from dental procedures to consumables and give them “early-bird” offers and member-only prices;
  10. Give your members Kudos – recognition at all times, whether they are in the practice or on the web – make members feel special;
  11. Enrol the whole team in the benefits to the patient and the business of a strong membership base. Include reports and numbers in your daily huddles and frequently reinforce how important membership is;
  12. Ensure that every team member is trained, coached and mentored in the language of membership. How interest is developed, how FAQ’s are answered, how concerns and objections are overcome. Make sure the team training is repeated regularly and individual team members are held accountable and recognised for their achievements in promoting strong membership.

It is easier to grow your practice 100% when you have a strong membership base.

Tactic #14 – grow a strong membership base

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 09.42.11

Summary so far of The 100% Growth System

Tactic #1 – hold accountability meetings face to face with your SEO, Digital and Direct Marketing providers EVERY MONTH AND PREFERABLY FACE TO FACE and ask them the golden question.

Tactic #2 – lead your team in actively asking for emails, social connections, testimonials, referrals and networking invitations

Tactic #3 – download the Lifecycle Marketing Workflow

Tactic #4- create White Paper downloads on your web site for all of the major treatment modalities that you wish to broadcast

Tactic #5 – embed White Paper offers into your existing email newsletters

Tactic #6 – complete internal web forms for all new patient enquiries and up-sales to existing patients

Tactic #7 – create reactivation sequences for dormant treatment plans.

Tactic #8 – create a CRM software-based recall system that encourages up-sales and referrals

Tactic #9 – get trained and adept with Digital Treatment Planning

Tactic #10 – implement The 12-Point Recommendation Checklist

Tactic #11 – demonstrate Passion and Leadership on a daily basis

Tactic #12 – use The Smile Check

Tactic #13 – use The Dental Health Review System

Tactic #14 – grow a strong membership base


Slicing the marketing pizza (again)

Seafood pizza


This conversation is happening every week.

Client – how much should I be investing into marketing?

Coach – 5% of gross revenues

Client – what do I invest in?

Coach – 

  • SEO
  • Paid Media
  • Print Media
  • Direct marketing
  • Lifecycle marketing (white papers, email and e-newsletters)
  • Reactivation
  • Word of Mouth

Client – what is the split of my budget across these areas?

Coach – that depends – there is no “one size fits all” solution.

It depends on location, age of practice, size of practice, preferred treatment modalities, preferred demographic, pricing strategy, growth targets and other individual circumstances.

Client – do I have to invest in everything?

Coach – yes – to some extent or other – a piecemeal approach will be ineffective.

Client – are most of these services outsourced?

Coach – yes – it is highly unlikely that any member of your team (or you) will have the time and experience to do the job properly.

Client – how do I find the right outsource agencies?

Coach – by recommendation from other dentists or people like me.

Client – how do I know if I’m getting the right result?

Coach – by creating the habit of monthly feedback reports from all outsourced agencies to tell you exactly what they have achieved with your money.

Client – so why do I need a marketing manager?

Coach – to manage your marketing budget, to hold the agencies accountable, to provide the stories that will populate your campaigns, to work with the rest of the team to make sure that all this effort isn’t wasted by an ineffective patient journey, to manage some non-digital marketing activities in your community such as B2B and B2C networking and local print media.

Client – so where do I start?

Coach – with a Marketing Action Plan M.A.P.

Client – and where do I get a M.A.P.?

Coach – ask me.