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THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Another thinking day ahead

Tuesday morning and I’ve been awake since 5.30am and pottering about before starting on this week’s ezine and more business contemplation. Yesterday, I stopped work at 2.00pm local time, after hosting a telephone conference call with some of my UK dentists. The primary topic of conversation was, surprise, surprise, associate profitability and how a single-handed practitoner makes his/her practice profitable without recruiting potentially unprofitable dentists? My response was to highlight the following:

  1. Most associates are not deliberately lazy or unprofitable – they are just working in lousy conditions, seeing patients that the principal doesn’t want to see, working with demotivated teams in poor environments. They are also working on a remuneration contract that doesn’t work in the current climate but is embedded due to history, supply and demand (but not for much longer). Add to that the requirement to hit unrealistic UDA targets and you have a recipe for failure;

  2. So the secret (if you recruit associates in a private practice) is to identify the 5% who are “up for it” and willing to learn – that’s a dental needle in a haystack but

  3. There is also the possibility of looking at a new dental business model – the dentist working with a team of therapists to provide basic dental maintenance. If I “came back as a dentist” that’s a model I’d be looking at very carefully and

  4. Finally – if you own the freehold of the building – think “landlord” not “dentist” – and determine how many of the rooms in your building can generate income whilst you are away – either let the rooms on a sessional basis to other healthcare providers or on a long-term let to a non-health related business.

So I think I widened the debate for those attending. After my working day I wanted some time to chill out. The afternoon was spent window-shopping at The Eaton Centre – prematurely decked with a giant Santa, sleigh and reindeer. In and out of clothes shops, electronic shops and a quick lunch of pesto pasta.

My favourite port of call being the Apple Store – I still don’t use a Mac and I’m tied to Sony and their Vaios (my second favourite store) but you have to admit that the Apple marketing is the best in the world. For Christmas, they are selling bright red iPod Nanos and they look so cool. The new laptops in black and white are equally tempting – but Team CB will be glad to know that my wallet stayed in my pocket – there will be another time. Best crazy toy of the day was in the Sony store though – a graphite black mini-laptop and digital camera packed into a graphite black briefcase – limited edition to celebrate the new Bond movie, Casino Royale, which launches here on November 14. They are selling a James Bond kit in the briefcase – retailing at over $4,299 CDN. Pure indulgence for the adolescent middle-aged man. How I wish I had the cash spare! Later last evening, I dined at Joe Baldini’s famous Italian restaurant and then wandered over to the Paramount Imax movie theatre to catch some entertainment. I chose to see The Prestige purely on the basis of a cast list of Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansen and David Bowie (!) and had no idea what the plot would be about. In spite of my jet-lag, I was absorbed to the final reel by this unusual tale of the rivalry between two Victorian magicians. It took some time to adjust to Christian Bale’s excellent Cockney accent but the twists and turns of the plot were perfect – a thinking person’s film for a change. Oh – and by the way – Elvis is alive and here in Toronto.

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