THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Busy Busy Busy

I’m just amazed at HOW busy my professional life is right now – and that’s a reflection of what’s going on in the UK dental market I suppose. Is there fear and anxiety? Yes there is. How do I know that? Because my network is telling me that:

  1. Hygiene books are gappy

  2. Discretionary spending is slowing down

  3. Referral clinics are down on business – because referring dentists are choosing to deliver crown and bridge work (and keep the cash flow for themselves) – I can hear the outrage from the precious dentists who suggest that whatever they diagnose is in the patients’ interests and clinically necessary – yeah right;

  4. The banks have dried up and liquidity for practice purchase is becoming as rare a rocking horse poop;

  5. The well-poisoners in the dental media and on the forums are having a great time prophesying doom.

Are there “green shoots of recovery”? No – there are not – we have a long way to go and one tongue-tied politician is not going to make a summer, even though I’ll bet she wishes she could swallow her words. Is there cause for optimism? Yes – there is.

  1. I invested a delightful day last week with a top clinician who has bought the goodwill of a bankrupt practice for next to nothing and now intends to create a private squat in an affluent town – and I have every confidence that he will succeed – with careful planning and prudent investment. Watch out for bankrupt practices for sale!

  2. And another day with a simply fabulous private referral clinic that is busy with dentists on their MSc course (oh – by the way – in a recession, dentists seek safety in clinical courses);

  3. Everywhere I see practices with strong membership schemes – I see robust cash flow – because the British don’t cancel their standing orders and direct debits – they cannot be bothered calling an overseas call-centre to do that. A membership scheme in private dentistry is like a UDA contract in the NHS – almost guaranteed cash flow – very powerful nowadays.

  4. I also see referral clinics continuing to receive business because the have entered into a marketing partnership with their referring dentists to improve the referrers systems;

  5. Everywhere I see fabulous customer service, I see strong patient loyalty;

  6. I see orthodontists reporting record private sales of adult treatment – I love Incognito and would love to go to Dubai and learn more about it – click here for the 3M Unitek brochure download (2.6 Mb)!

  7. Many NHS practices are uber-busy, attempting to reach their UDA targets before the end of the quarter and thus avoid claw-back – and so focused on delivery and not on service – an opportunity for the private sector?

  8. A dentist tapped me on the shoulder at 4.00pm yesterday in Costa Coffee and asked “you are Chris Barrow aren’t you?” – I was – and so he told me all about his successful private practice and asked about the IDH private proposition!

  9. I was approached by a well-known dental supplier yesterday – out of the blue – to deliver lectures during the summer on marketing for the whole dental team, not just principals. There request came as a direct result of customer feedback – “who do you want to hear from and what do you want to hear?” We are going to design a brand new day in which the team can arrive and leave with a 12-month marketing plan done and dusted – no homework – great idea and I’m jazzed;

  10. I’m just about to start a month of public speaking – Tony Gedge’s marketing weekend on Saturday, BACD Study Group in the West End in a couple of weeks, SOE marketing evenings in February all over the UK and The Brits 2009 next month as well – I cannot wait to get out there and hear more success stories.

There are still people out there who are as busy, busy, busy as I am – to coin a well known phrase:

Attitude, not aptitude determines altitude

The ultimate litmus test of my busy-ness. 60 emails a day – and rising. Bring it on.

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