In the doom and gloom of dental news, this month Chris Barrow provides reasons to be cheerful and asks if you’re keeping your glass half empty or half full.
Six weeks off work (holiday first, then a cycling accident) was time enough to be demoralised by the news media.
The thing is, I don’t normally follow the news. Other than perhaps dentistry and sport.
It was tempting during my periods of incarceration to while away some time (especially boring hospital time) by checking in with the news.
It didn’t take very long to figure out that being in hospital and watching Sky News was in no way going to encourage me or my fellow inmates to leave hospital – who the hell would want to be out there?
Had I not recovered my senses faster than my capabilities, I might have been tempted to start this article with a monologue on all the bad news.
Twelve reasons to be miserable
- The continued demise of NHS dentistry (the longest death scene in history)
- The recruitment crisis (nobody replies to our adverts)
- The retention crisis (my team are leaving dentistry)
- The poaching crisis (my team are leaving for better money in dentistry)
- The wages crisis (a client in the North West reported £13 an hour on offer for ‘apprentice nurses’ and £15 an hour for qualified. I’m revising my 20-year-old key performance indicator on team wages from 17.5% to 25%)
- The pricing crisis (we need to put our prices up by 25% to stand still – how are we going to do that?)
- The EBITDA multiple crisis (the Portman/Dentex ‘merger’ deflates multiples, as does the increased cost of borrowing. Some have predicted a 25% reduction in goodwill values before the year-end)
- The exit crisis (more of my clients have their practices up for sale than at any time beforehand. Given the above, it’s hardly surprising)
- The energy crisis
- The inflation crisis (the Bank of England have suggested a run-rate of up to 18%)
- The consumer confidence crisis (when does all this bad news impact the patients and lead to treatment plans delayed and/or not taken up?)
- The leadership crisis in the Conservative Party (let’s face it – do we really want either/any of them?).
It’s enough to make an owner want to sell, isn’t it?
So, before I find myself with no clients and become a born-again life coach, I think we need some balance.
Here’s a list of what I see as the good news amongst all the doom and gloom.
Twelve reasons to be cheerful
- Correctly utilised, the intra-oral scanner is the single biggest revolution in the delivery of oral health education and advice in a generation
- Similarly, the intra-oral scanner is the single best treatment generator ever invented
- The training of GDC registered dental nurses and TCOs in the use of intra-oral scanning, allows greater use of the new technology to ‘wow’ patients. It also frees up the time of the clinicians to generate profitable revenue
- The rise of dental deserts across the UK makes compulsory dental plan membership (and conversion) easier than at any time since 1996
- Over the last six recessions through which I have lived and worked, the sale of the very highest value and most complex dental treatment has remained robust. The more you focus on the dentistry that most dentists are either too scared or too lazy to invest in, the busier you will be
- The effective collection of Google reviews makes automated SEO within the grasp of any practice and at no cost. Therefore, this eliminates the need for the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of digital advertising
- The GDC scope of practice for dental therapists opens up a whole new world in the provision of preventative maintenance on profitable terms and without the need for principals to be drowning in ‘check-ups’
- The ability to grow ‘therapy and associate led businesses’ frees the principal from the shackles of a performance-related earn-out on sale
- The effective and responsible use of social media generates new patients more cost-effectively then ever. As a result, marketing costs are going down
- The more corporates and micro-corporates who spring up in the middle of the current recruitment and retention crisis, the more the swing towards salaried clinicians and the demise of the broken percentage/hourly rate model. This results in better profit margin management for owners
- The more practices gobbled up by corporates and micro-corporates, the less competition for independent owners. This is because corporate dental marketing is almost always poorly designed and executed
- During the 2008 banking collapse, goodwill values dropped by 25% almost overnight – that lasted for 18 months before they were back and beyond their previous highest levels.
There is no such thing as a crisis. There is only a cycle.
So now you get to decide. Is your bottle half empty or half full?
Catch up on previous Dental Business Coach columns:
- Knowing your own capabilities and limitations
- Stagflation and the next ‘crisis’ in dental hygiene
- We need to stop using the word ‘crisis’
- Pay rises and dealing with inflation
- How to recruit in a crisis.
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