THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Intersecting circles

I want you to imagine three equal sized intersecting circles in a row, like an Olympic symbol or an Audi badge. On the left hand side circle number one represents NHS dentistry. In the middle circle number two represents affordable, private family care and on the right hand side circle number three represents cosmetic, advanced and specialised dentistry. The circles can intersect to varying degrees. For example, the last time I looked approximately 85% of the turnover inside IDH was NHS dentistry and 15% private and specialist whereas the mix for Oasis might be closer to 60/40 (my guess). Similarly, you can take a look at a lot of family dental practices and realise that at the lower level they intersect with the NHS (circle number one) by providing children’s or exempt contracts and at the upper level they intersect with circle number three by providing a range of cosmetic, advanced or specialised procedures. In any given dental business these circles exist and intersect to some degree or other. In fact, in a large corporate may have a small number of private or specialist practices then the circles form themselves into a pyramid shape and intersect with each other in the middle (I hope you can get the visual). Perhaps 10 or 15 years ago it was possible to set up one dental practice that would attempt to provide services across all three of these circles and the people who visited their practice were happy with the commonality of the branding, the interior décor, the customer service experience and the clinical care. However, in 2012 more and more patients are beginning to firstly realise and secondly expect that as they move from one circle to another in their treatment needs then there may well be a different brand, a different interior décor, a different customer service experience and (dare I say it) a different level of clinical care by reference to the materials and procedures that are used. After all, it’s been for 10 years now that the BDA have defined the difference between NHS dentistry and Private dentistry as being:

  1. Quality of materials used

  2. Range of treatments available

  3. The amount of time that you are able to engage with the dentist

As time goes on, it’s becoming more and more difficult to offer a consistent branded experience across all three of these circles – in fact, what one does see on a regular basis is businesses that are becoming more and more confused in the mind of the consumer because they are attempting to be all things to all people. So the future is likely to become about polarisation of the branded experience. And circles that intersect less frequently.

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