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a blog by Chris Barrow

The Forum for Independent Dental Entrepreneurs

On Saturday at one of my favourite London CPD venues Seminars at 38 I attended the inaugural meeting of FIDES.

A total of 16 in actual attendance, representing over a dozen micro-corporates and one owner who joined via Facetime from overseas.

We welcomed visitors from all over the UK and an interesting mix indeed.

After an introduction from Trevor Ferguson and an agreement that the meeting would be run under Chatham House rules, I was then invited to facilitate a “state of the nation” conversation in which we took a look at the current conditions in the UK dental sector and shared opinions as to how this would affect the future landscape. Particular reference was made to:

  1. goodwill values

  2. associate recruitment, retention and remuneration

  3. digital dentistry

  4. the effect of institutional investment on the market

  5. the future for the independent micro-corporate

Our initial conversation took as its focus how best to plan the next 10 years as an owner.

In the second part of this section we then looked at the micro-corporate from the perspective of the patient and asked ourselves what would have to happen to positively differentiate from the competition (primarily defined as larger corporates, retailers, health insurers and others entering the market from the top end).

Such differentiation was defined as arising from:

  1. building hub and spoke businesses “the right way”

  2. the correct relationship with the public via branding and marketing

  3. the correct relationship with patients through the experience delivered to them

  4. the approach to building winning teams

  5. innovation in digital dental systems, both clinical and non-clinical

The second section of the meeting was equally fascinating as each attending business shared with the room their own business model, ranging from carefully selected acquisitions to opening cold squat satellites (sometimes with innovative and surprising parameters).

Even from a dozen businesses, the variety of ideas and approaches engaged us all and certainly taught me a thing or two.

Our initial meeting was a concise 3 hours but agreement was reached to invest more time in (probably) arranging a couple of full-day meetings each year and also creating an online community for the exchange of questions and ideas.

Watch this space for further developments – can I reinforce that FIDES is not my brain-child – credit to Aaron Ferguson who has done most of the groundwork in getting the Forum off the runway.

It will likely be a slow burn and, given the nature of the Forum, their will be no membership drive, it is expected that membership will grow slowly and organically.

What was clear from this weekend’s meeting is that there is plenty to discuss and a wealth of knowledge amongst those who are taking these first steps from clinicians and owner-managers to becoming dental entrepreneurs.

FIDES is here to stay.

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