THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Day 15 of travel – Newcastle

I stayed at the Hilton in Gateshead on Tuesday night – driving up to the front door and chatting to the young concierge, Martyn, about my car – checking in, bags in room, bar snack, bed. Since then, workshops in Gateshead, Leeds and Birmingham – then back to Gateshead last night and a “Groundhog Day” arrival at 10.00pm last night. After 4 consecutive days of our second workshop on finances and team-building – a change today as I meet with 36 members of a Newcastle Independent Practitioners Group – in a local Bentley dealership (that should be good fun). Although the event has been billed as “The Patient Journey and Team-Building”, I suspect that the nature of the group will allow me to play with the material a little. I’ve kind of “had enough” of PowerPoint this week – and would really like to do some bar-stool coaching – just sit there to answer their main questions and concerns. We shall see – sometimes you cannot make that decision until you have invested the first 30 minutes is taking the measure of the audience. The whole week has been a series of 5.15am starts and 11.00pm finishes – so I must admit to feeling rather deprived of sleep – an “oil-rig shift” par excellence – and I’ll be glad to get a little more rest next week, when I facilitate our first 2007 client retreat from a country home in Devon – more on that in later posts. For the moment, I’m reflecting on 4 days with clients in which I have been reminded that most of them

  1. do not know the KPI’s for their own profession, type of practice and/or speciality

  2. do no personal cash flow forecasting

  3. do no professional cash flow forecasting

  4. have no scientific basis fo their pricing

  5. are working with associates and hygienists but with no idea if the relationship is generating profit

  6. have not fully utilised thir premises for income generation purposes

  7. are not monitoring budget versus actual

  8. do not consider improved productivity via innovative ways of service delivery

  9. are not conscious of market developments in facial aesthetics

  10. don’t think about future competition

Rather a scary list. And it is equally disconcerting when I ask around a roomfor the price of a private crown – and hear figures ranging (this week) from £265.00 to £600.00 – for the same product? That’s about self-esteem. It is not about quality of dentistry. The result of which is that, although most provincial senior professional partners in service companies (UK) are earning £250,000 a year and enjoying a good life, dental principals are often earning half that or less, with no life balance. After all these years, there is still much work to do – and, of course, plenty of opportunity for bright-minded business thinkers. It has been said that Richard Branson is always looking for tired industries to move into – I wonder how the market would react if a Virgin Dental Care suddenly appeared on the high-street, delivering quality dentistry at affordable prices, in a modern environment – and a range of other well-being services in-house? Anyways – off to play with Bentleys shortly (that will be fun and frustrating – even I don’t think it would be a good idea to glide up to a client’s dental practice in one of those!). I’m tired – but ready for my last day in black for a while. My client Willie Maceachen mentioned in an email yesterday that, during a flight from Gibraltar to the UK last week, his British Airways stewardess was heard saying to a colleague “don’t worry, the shift is nearly over.” Whilst the sentiment may be true – you have to be careful who hears you say it.

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