THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Hire fresh people

Conversations with prospects and clients, like buses, can sometimes come in threes after a long wait. When that happens, as a consultant, you learn to realise that you are spotting a trend. The conversation that I’m involved in frequently right now starts with: “There aren’t enough hours in the day” “I’m doing 35 hours week clinical and then running my business in the evenings at at weekends.” “My existing manager doesn’t seem to be able to cope with the demands of the job.” “I ask for things to be done and they just don’t get done.” “We haven’t grown as a business in three years.” There can sometimes first be a moan about the inadequacies of the existing team. Managers and people who can’t quite seem to get it right, don’t know enough or don’t do enough. Most often, the solution is to hire fresh people. People who are consciously competent in the areas of finance, marketing, customer service, sales, compliance, operations and HR. For a smaller practice in the areas of finance, compliance and HR, this may have to be part-time sub-contractors but when it comes to the other categories it can be difficult if not impossible to sub-contract people who will care as much as you do – care enough to get the job done. Marketing, customer service and sales are the three areas that require total immersion and commitment – and the challenge for the owner is that you will never have the time to make a proper job of it. I was with a prospective new client the other day, running a very profitable £1.3m turnover dental business but doing all the marketing, customer service and sales management himself, on top of a 24 hour clinical week. “Not enough hours in the day” and the practice is stuck. I explained to him that he would not like my solutions but he asked me to take the shot anyway. Solution 1 – increase your marketing spend from (currently) 1% to 5% of gross – that’s £65,000 per annum. Solution 2 – hire a business development manager – full time – that’s £35,000 per annum in his post code. Solution 3 – hire a treatment co-ordinator – full time – another £30,000 per annum in his post code. Solution 4 – hire me as a business coach to mentor the two new hires – 12-month contract at £14,400 (inc VAT). Total investment in his business in year 1 – £144,400. Result – we can help grow his business to £2.6m in sales within 18-24 months – and I’m VERY confident we can do that – with an increase in pre-tax profits of £500,000 per annum, after the extra expenses outlined above have been paid. By the way – this meeting was a word of mouth referral from his trusted friend – an existing 7connections client who have doubled their turnover and profit in 18 months working with us. Can you guess what he said? “Leave that with me and I’ll think about it.” Actually, I’m pleased he said that. It means my solution hurts – and that’s a good sign. I’m not interested in growing his business 20% – it will simply make him and his existing team 20% busier and 20% more burned out.

I want to work with clients who desire massive growth and are a little bit scared of the commitment – because that will ensure that they do their homework.

The trend I’m spotting at the moment? The need to hire fresh people.

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