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a blog by Chris Barrow

The Australia Diary – day 2 – work and play

To sleep for 10 hours is a rare pleasure for any of us nowadays and I have to say that my Meriton Suites apartment is an extremely pleasant place in which to rest and recuperate from the long journey here.

I’ve decided that it’s business as usual before and after my workshops and so The Barrow Bunker has been recreated here in New South Wales and I have every intention of working through a substantial list of tasks, all associated with working ON my business, as well as keeping on top of client emails and calls.

The time difference makes managing my email inbox rather like emptying a bath full of water every now and then.

I go to bed, rise and the emails are in. I answer them whilst my UK and European clients are asleep. I then go to bed with inbox zero and, whilst I sleep, the inbox fills up again (70+ this morning – it’s Thursday morning here as I write).

Wednesday was a full desk day but I did manage to get out in the morning on my rented road bike and cycle down to the coast at Coogee Bay (pronounced “coo-jee”) then follow the pathway to Bondi Beach. Not easy as the route is really built for pedestrians and includes some steep staircases but what the hell.

The coastline is a spectacular assortment of ocean-facing houses, all of which no doubt cost and arm and leg to live in but, given that it’s winter here and folks are walking and jogging in clothes that would suit a sunny English Spring day, one can see the attraction of the climate and the surroundings. It really is a gorgeous place.

I pause on the headland looking over Bondi to record a short video for the FiveGoForth bike ride and chat to a couple clearly in their late 60’s and out for a morning constitutional. When he asks me what I’m here to do, it turns out he is a retired local dentist and so we enjoy a good old natter about the changes in dentistry since he was practicing. It’s a small world indeed.

After Bondi I do a bit of exploring on the bike and eventually arrive back in Zetland after a very slow 25 km or so and some fierce hill climbs but an adventure has been had.

Apart from a mid-afternoon nap when my inner gyroscope starts playing games, the rest of the day is primarily either sat at my desk in the apartment or across the road in the East Village Centre, enjoying lunch with WiFi and watching the world go by as I work and enjoy a brunch of scrambled eggs and bacon with sourdough toast.

My last working assignment of the day is a couple of Zoom calls with clients back in the UK, talking about leadership, management and how to grow a practice that has plateaued – what to do when the appointment books are full, there’s a waiting list of new patients who cannot be seen and no room to expand?

The answers, by the way, can be chosen from this list:

Switch to therapy-led maintenance.

Recruit an apprentice dentist.

Work two chairs (for the Principal).

Extend the scope of the TCO beyond simply implant co-ordination.

Start placing implants yourself (for the Principal) and stop referring them.

Embrace digital workflow to a greater extent.

Put your prices up!

The evening is serious playtime with my host from Dental Events Australia, Dr Lawrence Neville and an old friend from many years ago Scott Park.

We dine at Bistecca, a very unusual restaurant in the Central Business District, which has the following USP’s:

All smartphones are collected at the entrance to the dining area and locked in a box (like the Western sheriff collecting guns outside the saloon). Hence no Facebook check in last night.

There is one choice on the menu – T-Bone Steak cooked medium rare – the only questions are firstly, “how big?” and secondly “what with?”

Dinner is a great chance to discuss our aims and objectives for workshop 1 on Friday and Saturday and to gain some valuable insights into the Australian dental market.

Perhaps most notably, the fact that most dentists over here are happy to see 8-12 patients in a day – that’s it. There is no hamster wheel.

Prices are much higher than those I’ve been used to. Dentists here are frequently setting up their own squat practices within a few years of qualification.

A fascinating conversation and I’m even more looking forward to meeting the delegates and really getting to grips with what happens here and how it can be compared and contrasted with the other markets I’ve worked in.

Post-dinner my hosts insist on showing me a couple of speakeasy bars, The Barber Shop and The Baxter Inn, both of which clearly take their drinking very seriously and the latter of which has possibly the most extensive whiskey collection I’ve ever seen.

That probably accounts for my headache this morning.

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