THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Gone exploring

It’s been just one week back at work and there is now one more sleep before I depart for Heathrow tomorrow and an evening flight to Oman.

The following 21 days will be truly off the grid, with a spot beacon as the only way that our nearest and dearest can keep track of our progress.

Sandy and Tino at 7 Explorers have done an exemplary job of preparing the 7 of us for this exploration and, although leaving so soon after my wedding feels strange, I’m genuinely excited about what promises to be a once in a lifetime experience.

As to the past week, Phillippa has kept me very busy with client meetings all over the country and I’ve connected with many clients and contacts in the business of dentistry.

Here’s what I’ve observed in the past 7 days (OBSERVED – don’t shoot the messenger):

  1. More practice sales – a continued exodus from independent ownership, including flagship private practices

  2. Goodwill values continuing to climb in both NHS and private sector purchases

  3. More Private Equity and independent external entrepreneurs looking to invest in dentistry (motivated, I suspect, by the BUPA purchase)

  4. More people (dentists and outsiders) connecting with me to ask how to start building a micro-corporate

  5. Associate remuneration percentages reducing – less offered to new dentists and some practices imposing pay-cuts

  6. The emergence of salaried associates

  7. A growing sense of anxiety around the proposed 2018(?) contract changes

  8. The annual festival of stress as practices struggle to hit the 31st March deadline and work around the clock, in mixed practice often delivering private dentistry as UDA’s simply to avoid clawback

  9. The same old stuff about people not behaving themselves

  10. In my newsletter last Saturday I launched a pilot product, supplying practice audits on financial systems, marketing systems and patient communication systems at £247 each. In the last 5 days, 12 practices have invested in 26 of those audits – I seem to have touched a nerve

The changing landscape requires very careful thought.

To coin a phrase, we can only be certain that things are never going to be the same again.

We witness Darwin’s continuous adaptation in every aspect of dentistry.

As a science, dentistry is innovating in exciting ways.

As a business, dentistry is reforming to respond to macro-economic conditions.

A couple of years ago, Julian English and I had a bet on the number of independent practices that would remain in 2025 from the current estimate of 10,000.

Julian’s estimate 8,000 and mine 2,000 (dinner for the winner).

I’m feeling confident about that wager.

Berwick on Tweed and back today, to continue my work with Dr. Indra Rampersad and the lovely team at Berwick Smile Dental Care. Indra is a shining example of The Female Principal I acknowledged in my e-book of the same name.

She is one of those 2,000 independent survivors (some of whom will be micro-corporates) to whom I intend to dedicate the rest of my career.

I’m looking forward to the day and also to meeting a potential new client in Manchester early this evening.

Then it’s back home for a quiet evening with my lovely lady before I pack tomorrow morning and head off for the wilderness.

The Coach Barrow blog will be back on 6th March 2017.

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