A big part of strategic planning involves appointing key people in your team who can help you achieve your desired outcomes. There are a number of key people that every dentist should have in his/her inner circle. I subdivide these roles into five main categories: Finance, marketing, customer relationship management (CRM) operations and team building. Finance Under the finance category you need a bookkeeper (to count the beans of the business), an accountant (who accounts and tax liability via inland revenue) and a financial coach who can talk to you about strategy and forward planning. Marketing In the marketing division you need a brand advisor, graphic designer, web architect, search engine optimiser, an advisor on relationship marketing, and an advisor on direct marketing in all its different forms. Customer relationship management You need a CRM advisor who can help you to create a patient journey – that becomes the talking point of your practice. Operations For successful operations in your dental practice, you need a first class practice manager. Team building When it comes to staff management, you need a Human Resources consultant who can talk you through how to hire and fire people, as well as how to motivate members of staff. Help on demand Some of these roles that I outline above are in-house and others are out. And clearly some people will have skills and experience to multitask across some of those roles. But this is the list of bases that you need to have covered in order to be really successful. In addition, any practice principal will need a business coach (of course I would say this!). Of great importance is that you need to be part of a very strong clinical peer group. This could be a trade association or a few friends that meet on a regular basis. Periodically, I also refer clients to a personal coach if they are going through a particularly rough patch. Sometimes you need some external counselling to help. Cost implications? You don’t need to actively engage with these people all the time. What you need to do is have that inner circle which you can draw down on as circumstances dictate. As an example, I’ve used a personal coach for 10 years but I’ve not spoken to him for a year. But I also know that I can pick up the phone today and recommence that relationship. What makes dentists become alcoholics or suicidal is that they try to do everything themselves. The most frequent question that I am asked is ‘How do I build a team that I can delegate to?’ When dentists ask me ‘How am I going to pay for all these people?’ my mathematical answer is: increase your sales and profitability. My emotional answer is: how can you not do this?! With regard to the dental practice management in the future, I am already recommending that my clients employ two senior managers. One is a clinic manager, responsible for the operational side and teamwork. The other is a business manager – responsible for finance, marketing, CRM. Developing these roles in your practice is essential. So as we move towards 2011, think about who is on your team and who isn’t.