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a blog by Chris Barrow

Breaking news – £15 UDAs and a £10,000 sign up fee – apply now at Mydentist!

Those are the terms that appear to be on offer as Mydentist head-hunt your associates.

Back in 2008, when I was Director of Private Sector Development for IDH, they were actively buying practices and recruiting dentists from the EU.

Now they are selling/closing practices and inducing dentists from the UK with terms that any of my clients would regard as financially unsustainable.

Before you start your moaning – I believe that’s called a free market economy. It’s the kind of thing we fight wars to defend.

So I’m not here this morning to bemoan the fact that senior officials at Carillion are being accused of insider trading, that Bank of England officials have run up disgusting expenses bills that would feed a small nation or that Mydentist are perhaps burning their investor’s money to chase UDA underperformance.

That free market regulates itself, one way or another.

I am here to advise my clients on what to do when their associates reveal that they have been induced by a corporate with a king’s shilling.

Let them go.

In fact, get them out of the building as fast as you can.

It’s a basic principle of good business that you don’t negotiate with terrorists, whether it’s s patient asking for a discount, a team member threatening to leave if they don’t get a pay rise or a freelance dentist/hygienist/therapist who wants to know “what you are going to do about it?” when the poaching offer comes in.

Once you give in, you lose the respect of the “winner”, you demoralise the rest of your team and you open the floodgates to more attacks.

I don’t care if the spare surgery is empty, if there is going to a period of stress whilst you fill the position, if your well laid plans for the year suffer a setback.


If an associate wants to work for a huge corporate for £15 a UDA and a £10,000 sign on fee, it’s for one of two reasons only:

  1. they want the money or

  2. they need the money.

Either way – you cannot compete with the shareholder/investor funds being used to buy them or with their personal financial appetite.

Can I remind you of that famous Seth Godin quote – “the worst thing about a race to the bottom – is to win it.”

One of the corporates may win that race and, if it happens, it will cause more disruption in the UK dental landscape than any other event in the last 25 years.

You know from experience that most of the patients who drift away to cheaper practices never come back – but some do, after a while, complaining that the customer service at the new place was crap, the facilities were shabby, that the staff were rubbish and that they saw a different dentist every time they showed up.

The same will happen with these cash-driven dentists (although the £10,000 sign on fee no doubt carries conditions of service, just like The Royal Navy used when press-ganging).

A few will come back in a few years, battered by their experience and wanting to get back into clinical skills development, a nice building, ambitious team members and appreciate patients.

It will be for you to decide whether to allow them back.

My attitude? I think you can guess.

If your associate takes the king’s shilling – wave them goodbye as fast as you can (before they infect the rest of your team) and recruit yourself an apprentice dentist with the right attitude, a couple of years out of Foundation training, on a basic salary, doing 4 days a week in their own surgery and 1 day a week mentoring with you.

That’s working really well for many of my clients.

As for the head-hunting – get over it.

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