Time to change

Are you happy to work within the NHS? There are a number of dentists who are happy having a large list of patients and working on a ‘conveyor belt system’. However, many of us are doing some private dentistry, or looking at seriously converting the practice to private only. There are a number of proven and defined strategies that can be followed to ensure a successful and profitable conversion to doing private work only.

However, dentists are often apprehensive about ‘taking the plunge’, and do not fully understand the simple steps to learn and carry out. This article is aimed at giving an overview on how to make positive change happen predictably and successfully.

A positive mindset

The most successful people in history have understood the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction says that you are a living magnet. It says that your thoughts create a force field of energy that radiates out from you and attracts back into your life people and circumstances in harmony with them. Any thought you have, combined with an emotion – positive or negative – radiates out from you and attracts back into your life the people, circumstances, ideas and opportunities consistent with it.

The Law says that if you have a very clear idea in your mind of your desired goal (e.g. having a successful private practice), and you can hold that idea in your mind on a continuing basis, you will inevitably draw into your life the resources that you need in order to achieve it. So be completely focused on your outcome, and you will achieve your goals.

Design your life

It is important to design your life first, and then design your work around this. Not the other way around! Dentists should sit down with their spouse or partner and really identify what is important in their life. It is crucial to define clear goals such as:

1. How many days a week do I really want to work?

2. How much income do I want?

3. How many weeks’ holiday a year do I want to take?

4. What are my hobbies and things I am passionate about that I need to create time for?

5. What is the most amount of time I am prepared to travel to work?

Work is important; but it is desirable to have a balanced life. How much time do you spend with your loved ones? What is the price to pay if you work hard and do not have a balanced life? How healthy are you? Do you have time to develop your spiritual life? How happy are you? These are important questions to contemplate and address.

It may sound obvious, but if you are physically fit, eat and drink healthily, and enjoy fresh air and the beauty of nature around you, you will feel much better. Your attitude to work and your energy and enthusiasm at work will then be amazing.

Vision and goal setting

To make change happen, you need to create a new vision. Three important areas need to be reviewed:

1. Who are you? It is essential to decide your practice identity and develop a clear picture of this.

2. What type of dentistry do you want to do? Decide the types of treatment you are fed up with or want to stop doing. Clearly define the type of work you want to do from now on.

3. Whom do you want to treat? E.g. if you want to have an aesthetic practice, then you will not really be able to treat children. Also, identify the market for this type of treatment i.e. age, demographics, etc.

This is a difficult exercise to do properly, but one of the most important steps to begin with. Goal setting is then required. Goals must be written with clear deadlines. Only the top 3% of the most successful business owners have clearly defined written goals. To convert an NHS practice to a private once may require a one-to-two-year game plan with clearly defined and manageable monthly goals. This makes the task easy and minimises financial risks in the transition.

Create a marketing plan

Allow a budget of 5-8% of the annual turnover for marketing your practice. You should then have a detailed marketing plan for the year, which will actually change as time goes on. This is because you need to monitor your marketing strategies and evaluate what is working and what is not. Some examples of successful and low-cost marketing strategies are:

1. Find time to develop excellent relationships with your clients.

2. Offer outstanding customer service at all times.

3. Ask for referrals.

4. Learn how to make exceptional temporaries (this has been our secret to building a great cosmetic practice).

5. Repeat newsletters to your database.

6. Use of smile questionnaires.

7. Digital photography, one of the most powerful ways of

non-pressurised selling.

8. Having a great website.

Create a nice looking practice

Improving your practice doesn’t have to cost much money. Dentists spend thousands of pounds on equipment and fancy gadgets, but often fail to understand that patients will not perceive the difference. They will, however, notice the aesthetic ambience of the practice, the nice aromatherapy vapour as they enter your premises, the beautiful music playing in the background, the smiling and smartly dressed professional team members.

They will also notice the totally clutter-free environment, the beautifully appointed washroom with Molton Brown products, the freshly brewed cappuccino when they asked for a coffee. They will also enjoy the classy hardback books in your reception lounge, the nice works of art and makeover pictures of your clients on the walls.

In summary, set a budget, have a team meeting and brainstorm the ideas of change you want to consider in your practice. Review what nice hotels and restaurants look and feel like. You cannot have a successful private practice if you don’t look the part.

Educate yourself and your team

To make successful change, you will need the following:

1. Excellent clinical skills. Go on postgraduate courses to pick up additional skills. Hands-on courses are the best way to learn (e.g. smile design, occlusion, and photography).

2 Learn the art of selling. How can you quickly learn the skills to successfully get your patients to say ‘Yes’ to large treatment plans? How good are you and your team at communication skills?

3. An excellent treatment coordinator. Dentists find it hard to delegate. However, a highly trained and skilled treatment coordinator will drive your business to levels of success you would not have dreamed of! Dentists should mainly focus on actually doing the dentistry.

What your eyes cannot see, you don’t know. Also, the more you learn, the more you find you don’t actually know! Life is a journey of learning. Develop a passion for excellence in whatever you do.

Mentorship and coaching

It is important not to try and reinvent the wheel. It will actually be more efficient and productive to get help from dentists and business coaches in dentistry that have a wealth of experience to help you focus clearly and guide you on the journey of change. For example, if you wanted to set up a pizza restaurant you could take the increased risk of setting up a new business, or open up a franchised name such as Pizza Express.

You would benefit from the excellent training, support, marketing, etc. This would potentially guarantee you better success. When people choose a cosmetic dentist, they are now increasingly looking at the calibre and experience of the dentist and the practice. Are you ready to step up to a new level?


In this day and age, your business is either growing or dying. You cannot afford to be complacent and think that everything will be okay. If you do not make positive change, then your competitors will take over. However, if you are shown the simple and effective steps to take, and you have the belief in yourself, then nothing can stop you achieving the practice of your dreams.

Dr Rahul Doshi and Dr Ashish Parmar are founders of The Perfect Smile Studios and The Perfect Smile Academy. They have special interests in smile design dentistry, practice productivity, growth, leadership and team motivation. They run a number of successful courses from their state-of-the-art practice in Hertford. Their website is www.theperfectsmileacademy.com.

Rahul Doshi and Ashish Parmar will be speaking at Private Dentistry 07, Central Hall, Westminster, London, on 30 November 2007. Their lectures are being sponsored by Philips Oral Healthcare. Other speakers at the event include Kevin Lewis, Philip Newsome, Lina Craven and Komal Suri. For more information, or to book your place, call 0800 371 652, email [email protected] or visit www.independentseminars.com/pd2007

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