Ask yourself – Do you have golden questions in your business?


Perhaps the most famous golden question in business is that used by Macdonald’s:

“Would you like fries with that?

A question that the company has claimed nets them $365,000,000 profit a year – a million a day.

Ever been in a pizza parlour where the waiter has asked:

“Would you like some olives or garlic bread to start?

Golden question.

Ever booked a low-cost flight and been asked:

“Would you like to board quickly?

Golden question.

Ever hired a car and been asked:

“Would you like to remove your excess?

Golden question.

Organisations can multiply their profits (and make fabulous offers) if they get their golden questions right.

Two for one pizza vouchers.

Free onion rings.

Automatic upgrades.

Because they are covering their profit margin in the golden question.

So what’s the secret?

An affirmative answer to a golden question INCREASES the perceived value of the whole transaction for the purchaser.


Garlic bread.

Jumping a queue.

Avoiding an insurance payment.

They all sound wonderful and they make me feel as if I’m treating myself to a reward.

You 100% get that – OK?

So – what are the golden questions in your dental practice that secure much needed super-profit for the business?

I’d love to hear your ideas but here are a few of mine to start you off:

“Would you like to consider whitening your teeth when your orthodontic treatment is completed?

“Why not take advantage of our Airflow treatments to turbo-charge your hygiene visit and give you an amazing fresh breath experience?

“Have you thought of making the whole process easier and faster with our same-day crown service?

“May I explain the benefits of becoming a full member of the practice?

Your turn…

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: We are at war…

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We are at war. With what seems like every retail organisation in the world, who want us to buy something off them because CHRISTMAS IS COMING.

Everyone I speak with – clients, their team members, taxi drivers, fellow passengers on the rail – seems as sick of it as I am.

  • Since when did Christmas start on 6th November?
  • Since when did anyone in the UK give enough of a shit about Black Friday to punch another person’s face in Tesco at 00:30am on CCTV for a 42” plasma?
  • How many more times have we got to watch a £100 toy penguin advert, WW1 soldiers swapping chocolate and playing football and listen to that obsequious so-called Ebola “hit single”?
  • How many more envelopes of junk mail with pictures of people/pets/animals suffering do I have to carry from the front door straight to the re-cycle bin?
  • How many more brilliantly lit homes covered in multi-bulbed blinking reindeer do I have to travel past on my way home from the station?
  • How many cloud-based software systems am I going to have to read about with a massive “festive” discount?


The answer is – for nearly another 2 feckin’ weeks until Boxing Day, when they will start asking me to book a holiday and get in the queue for the January sales (which will, no doubt, start in December).

I’m keeping my eye out for Easter bargains, any day now.

I can remember a time when cabbage-patch dolls and the Tracy Island created a modicum of civil unrest.

What’s happening here has all the hallmarks of civil unrest.

The only people who (so far) seem to have been absent from this sickening orgy of affluenza-based brainwashing are Apple – no doubt because they don’t need the business. They have already sold everything to everyone.

“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: Are you a brand yet?

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You know you have made a difference when your name becomes a brand:

Clinical brand names

Ive been on Tipton

Im doing Dawson

I want to go to Pankey

Ive studied at The Eastman

Training, Consultancy and Coaching brand names

Ive invited Laura to take a look

We brought Tracy in

Have you had Sheila in?

We are going on Ashley

The team went on one of Nikkis days

Kevin came to speak to us


It occurred to me the other day that I used to be a verb:

Weve been Barrowed up

but that very few people say that to me any more.


Because I don’t run as many workshops as I used to?

Because I’m a has-been? (always better than a never was)

Because maybe my branding message has become confused with my frequent GaGa-like costume changes over the years?

I don’t envisage any conversations in the pub after a trade show where one dentist turns to another and asks:

have you been 7connectioned?

Thats a problem that we need to address.

Your patients can adopt a similar approach to your practice or your clinicians:

My smile was designed by Christian Coachman

My smile was created by David Bloom

My teeth were built by Luke Barnett

When you are best of breed and become a brand – the price for your work goes up – because there are plenty of people out there who want to pay for the exclusivity, for the difference in the way it makes them feel.

Remember always what Seth (see what I mean?) says about Apple – that they didn’t sell us expensive computers, they taught us to have taste when we buy computers.

There is a world of difference.

Does buying your course, your clinical training, your training, consultancy and coaching, your dentistry – imply better taste?

We all (me included) need to think about how best we can become a brand that stands for quality.

“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”

Referral, reputation, trigger – ready to buy?

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Patients are ready to buy when:

  • they have been referred to you by a family, friend or colleague
    • or have self-referred to you via the internet, publishing, speaking or advertising
  • they have respect for your reputation
    • confidence in your ability, trust in your integrity
  • They have experienced a “trigger event”in their own lives
    • and are motivated to take action

Marketing could be defined as:

  • how do we ensure that people are referred to us?
  • how do we ensure that people appreciate our reputation?
  • how do we ensure that we are there when people trigger?

There are three routes to market:

  • interruption marketing
    • high cost with low return
  • permission marketing
    • medium cost with high return
  • lifecycle marketing
    • medium cost with very high return

You need all three routes to market to be totally effective.

A marketing strategic and tactical meeting explores the above and determines what your 2015 marketing plan needs to look like to take advantage of the very latest thinking and methodology.

I’ll be speaking about this at the Violife DSD conference in Luxembourg on Saturday 13th December – to an audience of over 50 European dentists – all keen to evolve and stay ahead of the curve.

If you would like a copy of my slides, I’ll be sharing them in a future blog post.

Guest blog: Patient information portal

2014-12-08_1630 is a unique patient information portal where we educate patients that implant dentistry is not all about about price, and that a skilled dentist is the most important factor. During my time at Straumann and 3i I was always pondering how the really good dentists differentiate themselves in an ethical way, and this is why I launched the site both here and in the US.

The power of third party endorsement is going to grow and grow, and our experience from the US shows that “reputation management” has become more essential than SEO / Pay per click visibility which has become cost prohibitive. ($20 a click for Dental Implants in Manhattan!)

Blog entry: Are all implant dentists the same?

The site gives a unique, cost effective presence on Page 1 of search engines which is not available anywhere else. Only well trained, experienced dentists can join, and there are only 150 places nationwide, so it is first come, first served in any given area.

The power of this is undeniable –  a dentist contacted me on Monday to join up as a patient had demanded to know what was wrong, in that they weren’t listed on the site!

If anyone wants to know more, my contact details are below. I have a special deal for everyone on your list.

Andy Smith
Chief Executive
Informed Patients Ltd.

Don’t let your patients go cold this winter


Having worked within dentistry for 14 years, Tara Cooke has a thorough understanding of the daily obstacles faced by practices. Over the years she has held a number of roles which include: head dental nurse, receptionist, patient coordinator, marketing manager and practice manager. She is currently helping 7connections with sales as a Senior Marketing Strategist.

Having woken up in Reading this morning to a miserable day, it has got me wondering about the up and coming snow forecast for December.

If your practices are anything like mine were then you will experience multiple cancellations due to patients being snowed in.  What always baffled me, what I couldn’t get my head around was why one patient would cancel, when another who lived just a few houses down would dutifully show up, as if there wasn’t a full on snow drift in their drive-way.

After getting quite worried about the amount of money being lost and falling behind on our UDAs, I started to calculate these losses daily.  During this time I noticed a pattern; isn’t it funny that we will move heaven and earth to get something that we want but when it’s something that we aren’t looking forward to or we don’t immediately need then we are quite happy to use convenient excuses to reschedule, especially one as exciting as snow.

The differences were;

  • The patients cancelling were not in pain and didn’t want their LR6 DOB replaced because it wasn’t bothering them, however they were in more clinical need then the patients who removed branches from the road to get their veneers fitted or their teeth whitened.
  • People coming in wanted their treatment, they really wanted it. These were the patients fighting the elements, these were the determined ones.  The clear winners were aesthetic treatment types and pain.

So the big question is how?

How do we get our patients to want treatment, all treatment – not just the aesthetics but the treatment that they clinically need… Well that is where the Ultimate Marketing Academy comes in.

Because it’s a miserable day (and I don’t need to go out!) I am going to try to shine some light on one of the most enlightening courses that we provide.

It’s so relevant and timely that almost everyone we talk to seems to be interested presumably because of the amount of confusion surrounding dental practice marketing.

Every practice is unique and they all have different approaches but there are some key things that all practices need and, as we know, we aren’t always willing to give up the things that we want for the things that we need, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

But that’s why we have Chris to help us along.

Chris is going to take the members of the Ultimate Marketing Academy on a journey.  He’s going to help them discover what their practices and patients want and how to fulfil desired outcomes.

If our patients aren’t “wanting” then we have clearly failed in our communications somewhere along the line and that’s what we are going to cover in the Ultimate Marketing Academy.

Through the very latest thinking in all aspects of marketing we will unleash growth in your business that you may not have imagined possible.

And if you don’t (assuming you listen and take action, of course) – we’ll give your money back! How cool is that?

It’s as cool as snow.

Click here for the course overview.

Click here to read an article on the Ultimate Marketing Academy, written by Chris

Please contact me if you would like further information – or just for a chat ;)

I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks,





That’s the sound of laughter.

I have a couple of questions I would love to have the official answer to:

  • Someone told me that 17% of UK dentists are currently the subject of a Fitness to Practice investigation – is that true or an urban myth?
  • Someone told me that the GDC themselves have consistently failed to pass muster with their own regulator, The Professional Standards Authority – is that true or an urban myth?

We’ve been thinking at 7connections how UK dentists can deal with the ARF.

Not a judicial review, no signed petition, no lobbying in Parliament.

Sadly, we take the view that the noble, hard-working and eloquent protestors are regarded as dogs barking at lampposts by the very people with whom they take issue.

So can I make a suggestion that might make the ARF pill a little easier to swallow?

Why don’t you or your practice consider becoming Bridge2Aid Unity Partners at a TAX DEDUCTIBLE investment of £3,000 and thus:

  • train a Tanzanian Health Worker
  • bring pain relief to 10,000 people
  • send a message to your team and your patients that you care
  • use all the marketing material that Bridge2Aid will share with you to promote your CSR to your patients and community
  • get HMRC to pay your ARF for you – and do some good in the meantime?

Just a thought:

CLICK HERE to have HMRC pay your ARF.

Ask yourself – Do I need a business coach in 2015?


To help you answer that question – ask yourself:

If I had a business coach, would I ask my coach:

• to facilitate management meetings with me and my senior team, working to agenda that has been developed over 21 years in the business of dentistry?
• to train my team at quarterly workshops?
• to answer my emails quickly and with direct answers to questions and no flim-flam?
• to attend Online Meetings with me and my management team?
• to present ad-hoc Training Sessions on subjects that will help us to grow?
• to hold me accountable via Weekly Personal Progress Reports (either by email, Skype or using their own dedicated smartphone application – free of charge)?
• to assist me in my task management using Wunderlist?
• to share with me the very best of cloud-based systems to make my life simpler and easier?
• to help me with editing of emails and letters so that my team use the correct language in patient communication?
• to speak at my GDP Study Club meetings?
• to allow me access to the other members of his team?
• to give me free access to loads of historical resources and templates that have been developed for other clients?
• to introduce me to his Corporate Friends – other professional service providers who have delighted his clients?
• to Shoot the Breeze and take me out for the day when I want to get away from it all?
• to grant me discounts on other products and services offered by his firm?
• to use his vast experience to guide me through Acquisitions, Sales and Mergers?
• to connect me to the community of his existing clients so that my team and I can pick their brains and take part in exchange visits?
• to be available evenings and weekend to deal with genuine Crisis Management?
• to give me help and advice on developing my Corporate Social Responsibility Programme for the practice?
• to help me in publishing my own newsletters, blogs, social media posts and marketing material?
• to work with me on my 3-year vision, 12-month plan and 90-day goals?
• to show me how to acquire plenty of new patients, sell more to my existing patients and accept increasing numbers of word of mouth recommendations?
• to tell me when my ideas are stupid and I’m being a nightmare?
• to make me feel confident about my future?

If the answer to those questions is a “no” – then you don’t need a business coach in 2015 – stop thinking about it – move on – sign up for another clinical course or, better still, book a holiday.

Strategy, tactics and delivery

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If you are delivering dentistry (no matter how good or complex or expensive) you are generating cash flow.

If you are involved in the tactics needed to run your business – then things get done.

If you are involved in the strategic development of your business, you are building a bigger future and creating wealth.

The choice is yours.