THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Flights of Fancy

Remember you flew to New York for the weekend on that crazy plane? The one where the pilot was also co-pilot, navigator and cabin crew? Not so crazy as the return flight. Its a new airline who are looking to build their transatlantic passengers. “Neither Here Nor There Air” In an interesting attempt to be all things to all people, they have decided to do away with the concept of first class, business class and economy class cabins. At “Neither Here Nor There Air”, all passengers fly in a one-class cabin – but (and here’s how innovative they are) you can choose a first class, business class or economy class seat for the flight. First class, you will have a bed to sleep in, the very best food and drink, complimentary extras and superb cabin service. Business class, you will have a huge seat, great food and drink, a few extras and good cabin service. Economy class, you will have an uncomfortable seat, adequate refreshments and service. But the seats will be all mixed up together. Your first class sleeper will be stuck between a couple of economy class seats – so your sleep will be disturbed by economy class passengers grumbling about the food and fiddling about with their headphones and plastic trays. Snotty kids kicking the back of your seat all the way, except when the plane lands and they cry for an hour. Your business class seat will be surrounded by economy class passengers, salivating as they watch you tuck into your steak and wine, whilst they munch their way through the stewed lasagne. There are bound to be a few of them still drunk from the weekend’s revelries – leering at your wife and using foul language. Your economy class seat will be next to a first class passenger who keeps “shushing” you as they try to get a good night’s kip. The cabin crew are, clearly, all over the place. In fact – the first class cabin crew have been told only to talk to the first class passengers – and so on. Who to be nice to? Who to serve first? Just because someone shouts the loudest, do they get looked after first or second? Pouring champagne for the first class passengers, leaning over economy class who are holding their plastic cups out and asking Oliver-like for “more”, Telling them that an economy-class attendant will be along soon, with their Heineken. How long do you think “Neither Here Nor There Air” are going to last in business? How long before the cabin crew, in desperation to please, just serve champagne and steak to everyone to keep the peace? Sounds bonkers? Sure does. So how come you think there is a future for mixed practice in dentistry? Unless you put people in separate “cabins”, they cannot see the point of the upgrade. In dentistry, the separate “cabin” is either:

  1. Chronological – different days

  2. Environmental – different areas of the building – yes – commercial segregation

  3. Geographical – different buildings

  4. Branded – different businesses

What it isn’t – is different clinicians and the same common areas. “Dr Smith only sees private patients but Dr Jones sees NHS patients – and you all get to sit in the same waiting room and experience the same customer service.” Oh no. Mixed practice is dying – and the new NHS contract will be the final straw. So you are going to have to decide what you intend to deliver – first, business or economy class? Here’s the good news. Every 2 years we go sailing in the Caribbean. I start looking at flights a year in advance. First class is often sold out, well in advance. Business class goes fast. Economy class you can always get a seat. Passengers and patients will always pay for the upgrade – as long as you deliver. They will fly away if you don’t. Don’t be “Neither Here Nor There Dental”.

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