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a blog by Chris Barrow

Recruiting the “stand out” business manager

The word “business manager” is important here.

I don’t consider it part of my scope of practice to comment on the performance of a clinic manager – that would be the person responsible for issues like compliance, governance, supplies, rota and team well-being.

To a large extent the role of clinic manager is an echo of the 90’s practice manager, in the days before the internet, before multiple treatment modalities, before savvy patients who wanted an affordable and appropriate new smile, before the CQC and the FtP, before practice management software, before cloud-based accounting.

Keeping the clinic operational was then and is now a mission critical task – and there are consultants and trainers out there who do a fantastic job of suggesting ways to improve performance and behaviours.

I do consider it part of my scope of practice to comment on the performance of a business manager – that would be the person responsible for issues like financial monitoring, marketing systems, the patient experience, treatment co-ordination, ethical sales, the end of treatment conversation, plan membership sales and front desk communication skills – as well as the measurement of ROI and conversion statistics at every step along the marketing and sales funnel.

That job didn’t exist when I arrived in dentistry.

Taking part in the evolution of that role has been fascinating.

The challenge for the smaller practice owner is that modern clinic and business management generates two full-time jobs and can never be effectively delivered either by one person or by those who are multi-tasking with other responsibilities.

I’m often called in to deal with the consequences of not enough time, money and people devoted to each of these roles – and when I suggest that the business has to employ two people, it can lead to my dismissal as the coach who didn’t give the right answer – so be it.

Heaven knows I’ve tried to help the long-suffering, stressed out, multi-tasker (owners and managers) who never quite seems to get on top of the work – surrendering to the urgent and not important – leaving the important but not urgent incomplete.

The better day at work for me is when I’m asked to help to:

  1. seek and find business manager applicants

  2. sift through CV’s

  3. interview and select

  4. train and coach the winning applicant (that takes 6 months)

In recent years that has become a significant proportion of my work and I’m very proud when I look at the business managers I’ve worked with over the years, some internally promoted with dental knowledge, others externally recruited with none.

The title of this post refers to the “stand out” candidates who get through the auditions and judges houses to the live shows in dental business management.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to select the right candidate:

  1. Rule #1 – recruit on attitude

  2. Rule #2 – there is no preference based on age, experience, background, skill, references, quality of CV

  3. Rule #3 – you will know if you have made the right choice 90-days after they start

  4. Rule #4 – always remember Rule #1

If you do finally decide that you need a business manager and don’t know where to start (or have the time) – then contact me because that’s one of the things I do – but beware because I’ll only work with “stand out” people.

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