THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Building the £10m micro-corporate – Step 7 of 7

Growth Contracts exchanged, deal done, team settled and clinicians calmed – now the real work starts, the work of growing sales in your satellite by 50% over a 2-3 year period after purchase. You want your £500,000 satellite to become a £750,000 turnover business, with net profit before tax of 15-20%. That is a lower profit level than the mother ship because you are not there, and so all production carries a fee-earner cost, even if your associate(s) are stakeholders. You also want your patients to feel valued, relaxed, unthreatened by the new owners and for your team to deliver excellent standards of customer service and clinical care. The following comments could, in reality, be applied to any practice – but let’s focus on your new adopted child. Money: You will need to allocate an additional marketing budget of 5% of satellite sales each year – let’s say £25,000 in year one after acquisition, rising to £37,500 per annum at maximum cruise. People: You will need to ask your existing marketing manager/assistant to take on board the responsibility for the satellite as well as the mother ship. My guideline here is 1 full day per week of uninterrupted marketing activity for every £400,000 of group turnover until such time as it becomes a full-time job (at £2m of group sales). Uninterrupted means what it says – you cannot “do” effective marketing and answer a phone, greet and meet at a front desk or assist in surgery. You can, however, mix marketing activity with treatment co-ordination whilst growing. The cost of your marketing person is NOT included in the marketing budget – it is a payroll cost. Resources: The marketing budget will have to be allocated across a colourful pizza-topping of activities and sliced accordingly. Any practice needs to understand the totality of marketing activities necessary to ensure a positive and fruitful Return on Investment (ROI). Let me start the marketing conversation by describing your order of priority in targeting: 1. existing patients (up-selling further treatment) 2. word of mouth recommendations 3. attracting strangers So often, I see marketing plans that take the opposite approach, investing thousands in attracting strangers whilst leaving little time or effort to appreciate the people who already trust you. Your recall system is a primary marketing opportunity and yet, so often, is handled as a chore and with a total lack of passion. Reference the famously bland “we note from our records” message that I’ve written about before. A recall system and regular dental health reviews are wonderful opportunities to upsell and obtain recommendations, as would be a long-term sequence of monthly email newsletters, sharing stories about patients whose lives you have changed for the better. Once you have invested in appreciating the people that you know and the people they can introduce you to, what’s left of your budget can be invested in a variety of attraction techniques. At this point, owners become bewildered by the choices and the contradictory myths and legends they hear from marketing service suppliers and their clinical peers. Even as committed marketers, we find it hard to keep up with the ever-changing landscape as existing techniques have to be adapted and new technologies embraced. Your marketing manager/assistant is going to have to work hard to stay ahead of the curve – constant research and review are necessary as well as access to trusted advisors and colleagues in the dental marketing space, with whom ideas can be tested and results exchanged. The reason you embarked on this micro-corporate project wasn’t just to grow through acquisition but to grow organically as well – that’s where your super-profit resides and, if required, your future exit strategy. Below, I share with you an example of the ground we are covering in a proposed future marketing workshop. You can use this as a template for the knowledge required as you build your group. For now – we have covered our 7 steps and, in the concluding instalment of this series, I will share with you some general observations. Thanks for staying with me this far – and good hunting. The 48-hour Ultimate Marketing Workshop Day One Session 1 09:00 – 10:30 Introductions Understanding The Lifecycle Marketing Philosophy Attracting Up-Sales, Referrals and Strangers (in that order) The importance of the IOT (internet of things) Resources – time, money and people What your people have to do (marketing as a team event) Measuring marketing ROI Session 2 11:00 – 12:30 The critical essentials required on your web site Driving traffic to your web site Optimisation Digital marketing basics – paid media Funnels, lead magnets and tripwires Session 3 13:30 – 15:00 Direct marketing basics Word of Mouth marketing basics Networking basics The roving reporter in your practice Session 4 15:30 – 17:00 The importance of social media marketing Managing your social media channels Reflections on day one Day Two Session 5 09:00 – 10:30 White paper marketing Short-term nurture sequences Long-term nurture sequences Session 6 11:00 – 12:30 The patient experience Telephony Front desk Smile checks Treatment co-ordination Treatment plan presentation Conversion Session 7 13:30 – 15:00 Pipeline management Reactivation Long-term care Session 8 15:30 – 17:00 Reflections Your own MAP (marketing action plan) Q&A Next steps

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