THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Industry alert: architectural design services

Three cheers for Independence Day In all walks of life, there is a great deal to be said in favour of independence. We start to seek it from an early age. Standing on our own two feet makes us all feel good about ourselves, and lets us set about our lives with vigour and enthusiasm. In professional terms too, many of us would undoubtedly say that being free to make our own decisions and to take our own risks, without any conflicts of interest, is an ideal scenario for achieving real and lasting job satisfaction. Owning your own company is something that most people aspire to. The number of dental associates I come across who are as keen as mustard to set up their own practices, so they can be their own boss rather than be employed by somebody else, bears testament to this urge for freedom. It is not that associates are badly paid. It is not that they resent their employers in any way, just that they crave the independence that only establishing their own practice can bring. For those of us who provide specialised services for dentists and dental practices the same sentiment, the same craving for independence, can hold true. As a designer and project manager I have worked on building and refurbishing many dental practices over the years, building up what is probably an unrivalled degree of experience of helping dentists launch, renovate, relocate and rebuild their practices. But, however happy a company may be, being part of a larger design consultancy can lead to conflicts of interest just as being part of a larger dental practice can. There can be pressure to do things in the ‘company way’, and to use particular suppliers or contractors, for example. However, because design and architecture is all about finding the most appropriate solution to a given challenge, it is far more advantageous to start every project with an open mind. Every choice should be carefully weighed up, and made for the ultimate benefit of the task at hand – rather than because it is ‘the way we do things’. That is one of the reasons that I have chosen to show my pride in my work, and to highlight my own independence, by putting my name above the door and launching Roger Gullidge Design. I have come to know many dental practitioners over the years in which I have specialised in the sector, and there is certainly a growing demand for independent advice. I believe that now is the time to strike out on my own to offer the best service that I possibly can to these clients and their colleagues. Using my own name, rather than a name such as Pinnacle Designs as at my last company, is, hopefully, not an egotistical choice. Instead, it is one designed to emphasise the independence of the new company, and its ability to focus absolutely on its obligations to its clients above anything else. The timing of this launch is not accidental. The state of the UK (and wider) economy is famously difficult. But it is also proving to be a good time, strategically speaking, for new dental practices to launch and for existing ones to expand or relocate. Interest rates are historically low. Property prices have dropped and sites are remaining on the market for a long time: it is a buyer’s market. It is true that some dental practices have seen incomes drop, but patients still have teeth and they still need to be cared for. Setting up a new dental practice is all about investing for the future, and for ambitious dentists the present time represents an extremely appealing opportunity to do just that. The demand that is revealed whenever an existing dental practice is put up for sale provides ample evidence that the urge to go it alone is not an isolated one. There are many dentists seeking the chance to get their own business up and running. When making such a big commitment, it is essential that these brave practitioners have access to expert independent advice. Bringing in design expertise early in the development stages of a new practice can allow significant savings later on. From streamlining the process of securing funding, to achieving more competitive terms from building contractors and avoiding duplication of effort by being fully aware of dental-specific legislation, an experienced dental design team provides far, far more than just a good-looking surgery. It only seems right that when they are seeking help and advice to help them achieve the independence they crave, clients get that advice from somebody with exactly the experience they need: somebody who is independent. Roger Gullidge Design is a specialist architectural design services and project management consultancy specialising in the dental sector. Call 01278 784442 or email info@rogergullidgedesign.com for more details. www.rogergullidgedesign.com

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