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a blog by Chris Barrow

The 20

This is an updated version of a post originally created in July this year – a reminder of what we have been doing here in London these past few days – and again today, meeting with Practice Principals. I’m creating an elite community of Chris Barrow/7connections clients: “The 20”:

  1. You already own either a established dental practice(s), a dental laboratory or a dental supply company

  2. You want to grow up to at least £10m in annual sales over the next 7 years (with a minimum target of at least £1.7m net profit per annum before tax)

There will be no more than 20 members of this community – after that the doors are closed. The exciting news is that I already have 10 “Champions League” dental businesses committed and ready to welcome you from 1st November – the objective of this article is to identify the remaining 10 in the next 3 months. (We currently have 9 dental practices and one Supply Company in the community – I am especially looking for one dental laboratory, one other Supply Company and 8 more dental practices) 2013 is my 20th year of coaching dental businesses and I celebrated my 60th birthday on September 9th. 7connections is 7 months old – and this year I’ve been taking the time to think carefully about how I want to spend my time in the years ahead. I want to focus 80% of my energy on working closely with a very select community of clients to facilitate extraordinary business results, using “what” I know and “who” I know to help them get there. By 2020, I want to be working exclusively with 20 businesses enjoying combined sales of £200m and profits of over £30m per annum – I believe it can be done. I want “The 20” to be nationally recognized as some of the best businesses in European dentistry (already, one of “The 20” is located in Luxembourg). I want them individually to be hugely attractive as acquisition candidates, so that not only do we take them from “good to great” but also we facilitate an exit route for the owners. I have the full support of the 7connections team in this quest – and they will be supporting me in delivering results to “The 20”.

“We became clients of Chris in late 2007, at a crucial time in our business development. We had just won a National Award, we were on paper doing well, and we hoped we were delivering a very good service to our clients. And yet we knew that there was so much more to learn about running a successful private dental practice. Chris has helped us develop our business thinking in so many ways; our intentions were good, we had strong ideas about the type of practice we wanted to be, but we had no business training and no-one to help us focus our ideas in a meaningful way. Chris has been, and continues to be, an essential part of the team. He is relentlessly honest, thought provoking, and challenging, and we find it difficult to imagine a time when we won’t find his advice invaluable.” James Hamill, Blueapple Dental and Implant Team – Belcoo, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Quick outline of how “The 20” will work: Results

  1. The best financial systems in the business, giving you real time access to the key data that will maintain and grow profits

  2. The best marketing systems in the business, giving you a steady flow of new patients/clients and new business

  3. The best CRM (customer relationship management) systems in the business, ensuring that your patients/clients become ambassadors for your brand

  4. The best sales management systems in the business, working with your fee-earners and sales team to make sure they maintain activity and hit target

  5. The best treatment co-ordination systems in the business, training and mentoring your TCO team to achieve maximum conversion

  6. The best operational systems in the business, aimed at zero wastage in the utilization of facilities

  7. The best purchasing systems in the business, creating a purchasing group that can buy intelligently and competitively

  8. The best leadership and management systems in the business, empowering your people to realise their full potential

  9. The best recruitment systems in the business, to rapidly and successfully fill positions in the business as they become available

  10. The best managers in the business – your financial, marketing, customer service, clinical and operational managers will achieve recognition as “best of breed” and will free you to do your best work

  11. The best growth plans in the business – whether you decide to grow organically or by acquisition, we will equip you with all the tools, models, funding connections and support necessary

  12. The best personal systems in the business – as your personal coach I will use my 43 years work experience to help grow the most effective version of you that you have ever been

In short – committed at all times to bringing “simply the best” of everything to the table. Incidentally, I’ll be choosing the next 10 members very carefully, to make sure that there is no competitive overlap and so that we can pool our strengths.

Through my career as a dentist, I have met and listened to many people talk about our profession. Many leave you with some interesting thoughts and ideas which you are able to take back to your business but only one is able to engage you and involve you in such a way that you actually MAKE those changes- Chris Barrow. An entertaining speaker- yes; Intuitive about the dental world-Yes; a personal coach…..? Above all Chris’s personal approach to coaching us has made the difference. We have travelled an amazing journey over the last 5 years and are about to embark on our next chapter. Through Chris we have spoken and met many like minded Practices who have been a fabulous help in sharing their experiences and vision. My career pathway has been influenced by Chris, for the better. I’m a Yorkshireman through and through- I don’t spend if I don’t see the benefit. Having Chris as our business coach (and Lifecoach at times!) is an absolute honour and a pleasure. Jack Cooke, Ashby Dental, Wetherby

Time What is your time commitment to “The Twenty”? Daily

  1. A commitment from you to becoming an efficient owner and an effective personal time manager (with my help) – 30 minutes

  2. Real time access for your whole team to the 7connections support team and to our strategic alliance partners

  3. Access between members (and your managers) to share great ideas and solve problems


  1. Sharing a weekly positive focus with “The 20”, with the 7connections team and with me on wins, losses and lessons learned – corrections to stay on course – 30 minutes


  1. A monthly business management meeting with me, Chris Barrow (face to face), relevant to needs at the time – half-day

  2. A monthly on-line meeting of members to share progress – one hour


  1. Attendance at a Leadership meeting (working dinner, overnight stay and all the following day) that will be hosted close to one of “The 20” and include a tour of their business – to incorporate

  2. Half-day session on progress reports from members and

  3. Half-day training on selected business and clinical topics

  4. Guest speakers on clinical, business and personal innovation

  5. A separate full-day Management meeting for your practice/business managers to train them in new skills and create a support community


  1. Invitation to a 3-day business planning retreat to establish your strategy and tactics for the following year – attendance by members and the whole 7connections team as facilitators

  2. Joint attendance at one overseas dental conference to explore market innovation


  1. On-line access to the 7connections team

  2. On-line access to “The 20” members

  3. On-line access to me

Collaboration and Sharing

  1. Pooling of knowledge, resources and connections

  2. A private on-line forum for owners

  3. A parallel forum for your managers

  4. Financial metrics to establish benchmarks

  5. Marketing initiatives and ideas – we trial ideas together

  6. Systems, Protocols, Brand-Standards for “everything”

  7. Training for teams by 7connections and guest trainers

  8. Productivity management of fee-earners

  9. Sales management of treatment coordinators and sales team

  10. Clinical skills development and product trials

  11. The best deals with suppliers

  12. Cost savings via effective facilities management

Who will support you from 7connections?

  1. Chris Barrow – personal coaching, overall business strategy, sales management, connection with key industry leaders

  2. Tim Caudrelier – project management, intelligent purchasing, negotiation with suppliers

  3. Karl Taylor-Knight – training and mentoring of managers, implementation of systems, content creation and design

  4. Access to our strategic alliance partners on all aspects of business ownership, management and growth

I’m excited about investing my next 7 years as a business coach creating 20, £10m micro-corporates that can then either be sold by the owners or will generate stable profits.

Sue and I have worked with Chris for about two years now. We have used coaches before who have helped us with designing the clinical and the business sides of the business, we felt that it was time to make a change and decided that we were looking for someone who would help us identify the strengths and weaknesses of The Smile Spa and to then take the practice further forwards. In the time that we have worked with Chris he has helped us in so many ways; He seems to have a real feel for what is happening in dentistry today, and that knowledge has enabled us to identify where opportunities for development exist. He asks relevant questions of ourselves and the team, that means we can focus in on what works and what doesn’t. He has helped us recruit dentists and is happy to advise and help with staff recruitment We are aiming this year to grow the practice substantially and despite the country’s financial situation, five months on, we are on target. I know we wouldn’t have been so successful without Chris’s help. Simon Andrews, The Smile Spa, Stockton on Tees – Private Dentistry Practice of the Year 2012

What will your investment be? My objective is to make membership of “The 20” self-financing. That’s right – it will pay for itself. How? By reducing your operating costs and by growing your profits by an amount at least equal to your membership fee. Your investment is £2,000 per month (plus VAT) for all 7connections and Chris Barrow time and results – the only additional expenses we will expect you to cover will be your travel, accommodation and delegate costs when we hold any meetings off-site. All off-site meetings will be held on a “not for profit” basis. I will interview you personally for membership of this community and if I cannot identify at least £24,000 of clear bottom line savings and growth in the first 12 months (and more beyond) then I will not expect you to join us. I want to invite serious business owners only with ambitious goals to our existing community of 10. Next steps I am allocating time over the next 12 weeks to personally meet with and interview potential members of “The 20” – I want to be very selective as to who I coach in the coming years. I’m asking for 90 minutes of your time, no charge and no obligation – face to face. Maybe we could meet at The Showcase or BACD – I will be there. If we “click” as people, if our ideas fit your plans, if our philosophy of business and life is in harmony with yours, if we can agree there is mutual benefit and if I can demonstrate that membership will be self-financing, if you can work with the other members, if you can become as excited as we are – then we are good to go. If you would like to consider membership of “The 20” please email

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