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A library of experiences to help dental business owners

A library of experiences to help dental business owners
Being a dental business owner (23 years) has equipped me with knowledge and experience of many of the areas of concern and contention that can and do arise in owning a dental practice. Having said that the permutations of specific issues and challenges are almost endless in their detail.

Leaving aside the inevitable and hopefully only occasional unexpected and unforeseeable problems that will arise, a systematic approach to running a practice will iron out many, if not all of these wrinkles.

Increasingly, I have found myself invited to have conversations about running and leading a dental business, which is why I have decided to formalise this as a service with the team at Rose & Co. But does simply having once been a practice owner qualify me to coach others, probably not on it’s own, however time well served. But as a self confessed early adopter, I have been immersing myself in the world of coaching for 30 years and seen how this can benefit dental business owners at any stage in their careers;

1) 6 years as coaching client of 4 dental business coaches over a 20 year period since 1985.

2) I have been able to learn from them, as well as becoming involved in group problem-solving with a good number of other dental practice owners. Getting to understand their successes, challenges and failures and observing the outcomes of their trials and tribulation.

3) I have in my practicing life had a variety of experiences to draw on, including working as an NHS associate in several practices, An associate in mixed NHS/Private practice, a part-time prison dentist (for a year anyway), living through the fallout from a practice in which the owner absconded with the practice manager, working as an associate with a view to buying into an expense-sharing partner in a mixed NHS/private practice. The expansion of that practice from a 2-storey leasehold property to buying into a 50% share of the freehold over 3-storeys. The eventual and acrimonious break-up and dissolution of that arrangement (1979-1988), a 6-month locumship in a 2-site NHS practice, in which the original principal had had a declining health, leaving patients with seriously compromised dental health…all useful experience, yes!

So I spent 23 years building a private practice, in Newbury, whilst developing skills in occlusion, implantology, surgical periodontology, aesthetic dentistry via BAAD and countless hands-on CPD courses for clinical excellence, ongoing dental sedation learning via SAAD and the Dental Sedation Teachers Group. as well as delivering an ever-improving patient journey experience.

4) Managing my way through 2 recessions, the first one coinciding with buying my own 2-surgery NHS practice whilst declining to sign-up to the original “new” NHS contract around 1990/1 and converting it to a private practice. The second recession of 2008 onwards coincided with building my book in readiness for an eventual sale and retirement from general practice and coping with implementation of HTM 01-05 and CQC.

5) Simultaneously, I have built a small parallel business since 2003 delivering over 40 one-day programs teaching the theory and practice of Inhalation Sedation, passing on over 30 years of experience, in this often life-changing technique for the patients and dentists involved. Combining teaching with platform, presentations, lecturing and one-to-one mentoring.

6) In 2011 I gained a basic teaching award (Level 4 NVQ PTLLS)

7) As a dental practice owner, we took on and trained from scratch, many dental nurses with a 100% pass record over 23 years. One went on to qualify as a Dental HygieneTherapist.

So, these were the main success and failures. Even successful, or apparently successful dental practices will have challenges, some of them enormous, some of them more minor and I have had my fair share of both over 38 years – so I can empathise with dentists working through their own issues.

Through all of this, including the coaching programs, and everything mentioned above and more, I have had the unswerving and incalculable support of my wife, Chris, a Dental Hospital trained Dental Nurse and later holder of the Dental Sedation Nursing Certificate, who managed and was our front of house person for the 23 years of practice ownership and whose wisdom and common sense have seen us through all of the difficulties into our recent retirement and that really just scratches the surface!

We never stop learning and the best, never stop pushing and challenging themselves, even if it’s just in a small way. I hope that somewhere in my library of experiences, there is something that will help you.

Richard Charon

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