From my previous days in NHS corporate dentistry, and from working with clients over many years who have a significant NHS commitment, I know that the period from 1st January to 31st March is one in which there is only one subject on the agenda:
The supply side of the industry are well aware that there is little or no point in making sales pitches for products, services or projects that are designed for business improvement - nobody in NHS dentistry is listening.
Professional advisors know that, even though tax and company year-ends may be approaching, they will get little response out of their clients.
Thus it always was.
Multiply the problem by a factor of 10 this year:
a dearth of clinicians;
team members demanding pay rises and on the move;
team and patients suffering from the respiratory infections that plague us all;
patients who would rather save money or spend their time and money elsewhere.
It's a tough landscape, inadequately policed by an overworked paymaster who are probably already thinking about how they are going to cover their own backs when Government ask why the nation has fallen so far short of targets.
I'm regularly hearing from independents who have served notice to "return their contract" and have had no acknowledgement whatsoever.
I do feel sorry for long-suffering owners, managers and team members in independently owned practices and still delivering NHS dentistry, who are struggling with the same issues and trying to give their best.
However, my post is aimed at those who have escaped the Titanic and are offering independent private dentistry.
You have a three-month competitive advantage in the marketplace - no need to fret about targets and the ability to press the pedal to the metal on your marketing;
As those who are chasing targets become more desperate - watch your back for the poaching that will increase in its intensity.
Now - is a golden opportunity for the independent private practice owner to take the competitive advantage in the market - and there has probably not been a better time to do that in 25 years.