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a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: The year of the big sell-out


2015 will be the biggest year on record for the sale of independent practices to corporates.

A few simple reasons:

1. Too many independent practice owners have had enough of 3-letter acronyms. FTP, ARF, GDC, UDA, DOH, HTM etc. 2. Equally, they have had enough of troublesome relationships with staff, associates, business partners, suppliers and patients 3. Competition for new business is hotting up, whether on price or proposition 4. You now need to know many things to stay alive in business 5. Goodwill values now offered by corporates are back at a historic high and, although there is much devil in the detail… 6. Screw it, let’s do it

So the head count of independent dental practice owners will reduce this year more than at any time since 2007 (before the banks buggered us all) – and that will start a 10-year trend, reducing their numbers down from c.10,000 to c.2,000.

And so, in announcing my retirement…

No, I’m not retiring any time soon but I am looking at that future market place and in constant conversation with my business partners and team about how we position ourselves (and how I position me) in the future world.

If you are over 50, tired and getting a bit sick of it all – I suggest you go now – call a corporate and take a cheque to add to the net worth you may have accidentally accumulated in property. Five years of biting your lip until it bleeds as you serve your earn-out, listening to all the promises that are never fulfilled and watch your life’s work crumble before you. Grin and bank it.

If you are over 50, full of as much vim and unmedicated vigour as I am and ready for new challenges – want to leave a legacy and not just accumulate a pile of money – stick around, teach yourself the brave new world and join in – but please, no more moaning about the state of the dental market – take advantage of the situation. Open yourself to new ideas and revive the entrepreneur within.

If you are under 50 you have no excuse – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to become one of the 2,000 who will prosper in the new order.

Under or over 50 – aim at £10 million in sales and 25% net profit before tax – in the next 5-7 years. Why not? It will take just as much effort to do that as it will to build £1 million in sales and 25%.

If you achieve £1m you will build a lifestyle business that needs constant attention like a Christmas puppy that will never grow up.

If you achieve £10m you will build a real business that runs with and without you – and you will build a legacy for a next generation, be it family or successors.

I’ve decided I’m going to live to 110 years old and retire when I’m 100, to enjoy 10 years of unprofessional mischief to add to the 39 years of professional mischief I have ahead of me.

I’ve also decided I want to focus my attention on and mentor legacy-builders.

Do join me – it’s going to be a blast.

“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”

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