Last time we spoke with Dev Patel in February 2021, he let us in on big ambitions to change UK dentistry through M&As and modernising old practices with the growing Beauty Partners group.
So how’s it going?
In this week’s episode, Dev reveals what he’s been up to since his last chat with Payman. He talks about Beauty Partners’ first big M&A venture north of the capital, talks about the challenges of scaling for practices and corporates and tells payman what keeps him up at night.
“I want to change the whole model of corporate in the UK to make it dentist-led, patient-led and focus on getting stuff done like an entrepreneur.” – Dev Patel
In This Episode
02.00 – Catching up
05.55 – The Kiss plan
07.54 – The funding model
10.07 – Unexpected challenges
17.44 – Culture, pay and scale
28.24 – Expanding the team
32.48 – Timescales, focus and frustrations
39.20 – Money Vs missions
43.03 – Growing grey hairs and recruiting from outside dental
49.03 – Internal, external marketing and targets
53.23 – What makes a successful partner practice?
58.18 – Buying blind and rebranding
01.05.06 – Mistakes, weaknesses and things that go bump in the night
01.13.15 – Thoughts on the future
01.16.51 – Fantasy dinner party
About Dev Patel
Dev Patel is the CEO and founder of Beauty Partners, now one of the UK’s fastest-growing dental groups.
He also founded the Brushlink smart toothbrush tech company and Dental Circle networking platform.
He was named 38th on a list of the UK’s most influential dentists. Dev lectures and mentors with the NHS’ Clinical Entrepreneur scheme and is also a member of the editorial board for Young Dentist magazine.
[00:00:00] And then I think the third thing as well was probably thinking about putting yourself in their shoes because I think a lot of times dentists have got this lifestyle in their head of how, you know, why they’re so upset that they get paid on time. Nurses live off £5 extra in the month to live off. They get paid on time. They just can’t even survive. So you need to put yourself in their shoes and bring yourself down a level. I think some associates even get too big for their boots and start like, you know, treat the nurses as if they’re just some sort of like just person in the corner, but they don’t realise how important that person is for them to actually get their job done.
[00:00:37] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.
[00:00:54] It is my great pleasure to welcome a previous guest back for a second time, Dev Patel, who our regular listeners will remember from episode 68 where he went through his upbringing and his various businesses. I mean, a definite serial entrepreneur Dental circle, his adventures and misadventures with Brush Link and in the US. And then finally his Dental Beauty Partners Group, the DSO group that he set up. And I think last time we spoke, Dev, you had just gone up to, I know, 14 practises or was it more was it 20 something about a year ago? And the reason I would say the reason why, why Dave is back on is because so much has moved on for him in this one year. And I like that idea of someone moving so quickly that in a year he’s got a lot of news for us. So it’s lovely to have you, buddy. How are you?
[00:01:54] Yeah, thanks for having me again. And all. Good, man. Exciting to be back again.
[00:02:00] So recently Dental Beauty Partners invested in Leicester Solanki Extraordinary Kiss Dental. And obviously we know Kailash Kennish is perhaps brother. You can hear Kailash his whole story on episode 55. So tell us, Matt, what’s what’s been going on since since since we last spoke.
[00:02:19] Yeah. I mean, as I said, a lot’s gone on. We’ve taken dental beauty partners from 14 sites originally with the first probably 600 partners to over 15 partners now and 30 plus practises so doubled in size and practises. And as a result of that just growing really fast from our head office point of view and also just support networks and some of the things we’re bringing to the group. So yeah, really exciting times. As you mentioned, you’ve recently invested into KISS Dental work as a partner. I’m looking to take their brand across the Northwest. So I think his dream has always been how do I take this amazing, you know, many group of practises of 2 to 3 practises to other cities where he’s got patients travelling hours and hours to come see him. And I just expand that and scale it up because I think a lot of questions I have to do one, two, three slides. You can still go between all of them clinically, between all three of them have a physical hold and management over all three of them. But when you start getting to four or five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten plus sites, then you start really thinking about delegation management structures, back office structures, so that you don’t fall flat on your face. And yeah, he’s just obviously one of a couple of actually other many platforms that we’ve recently invested in who are just looking to take next step now and to start growing more.
[00:03:40] So this is a new model for you basically. I mean, the last time we spoke, we were talking about sort of practises that weren’t doing the best or weren’t weren’t weren’t managed optimally. And then you coming in with your very energetic associates are into new treatments and cosmetic treatments, implants, whitening, whatever, bonding and doubling the turnover of these practises that had potential. But Kailash is practise I mean it’s a whole different story isn’t its full potential is it. So so this thing about growing and I guess a funding story, right?
[00:04:18] Yeah. Look, I think the fundamentals of our model. Yes, obviously one of the parts of the model which is bread and butter, is buying those undervalued practises that have got potential to double triple with a small contract nse around the suburbs of M 25. That’s been our core model, but I think the fundamentals have actually been investing in partners and people. And that’s no different to Kailash, right? I mean, all we’re doing here is rather than buying a new pattern of buying into existing ones and then buying more with him afterwards. So it’s about investing in people, investing in the right partners, the right ambitious partners who want to do bigger and better things and have the right entrepreneurial spirit, really. And there’s no one else, I think, who can say Kailash is not character enough and got the spirit to take it to the next level really. So I think it’s really important where the right partners and typically you’re right we never would look at pacts like this one where it’s probably nowhere near anywhere we can ever get to it in our lifetime because it’s just so well, well run. And, you know, it’s the best the best in the country in terms of how much it does per chair. So it’s typically one that you can’t really grow much more on the existing chairs, existing sites. But actually when we’re talking about getting from 3 to 10 sites in a year, then actually becomes a lot more interesting for us. And, you know, it’s a different market. We’re not looking at a mixed practise model, which is like family based around suburbs, talking about that high end brand, bringing the really high end restorative dentistry, multidisciplinary care in one place and just bringing that to other parts of the country which haven’t got that yet and having that huge follow. On social media and just that brand, really. So yeah, we invested in him and the brand and we believe in him and we think that will take us to.
[00:05:55] So what? Walk me through it, but walk me through it. You guys want to open one in every town in the northwest, let’s say.
[00:06:04] So who’s going to be responsible for, you know, that Kiss Dental brand? I guess you have both of you. Right. But what are you going to do and what’s he going to do going forward when you open one in Liverpool?
[00:06:17] What’s going to be the story? You’re going to have other partners in there?
[00:06:20] Yes. So basically if you think of Kiss as a subbrand of its partners, it’s basically its own brand, its own CEO, which is technically going to be closed and obviously he’ll have his own partners and he will essentially manage the his own organisation, his own really company within our company. But from his point of view, you know, trying to develop a back office, head office where you have to start doing those functions like HR, recruitment, contracts, wages, payroll, finance, even funding, all these things. You need a lot of time and effort to do it. And I literally went through that whole process myself, like a good two years when we first went from 2 to 10 sites. And you can spend probably half your time just doing that, maybe even free all the time, just doing that side of the business. I’m actually focussing on getting the patient journey right, getting those conditions right, do the training of clinicians. So I think it’s a bigger version of our current model now, which is just doing one or two or three sites with each partner. But it’s just thinking about does he have the right partners, does it have the right conditions, the academy and it has all that already. So it’s not like it’s going to be a difficult scalability point of view from the, you know, the locations and the dentists and more about how do we get the back office right for him, which you already have in place anyway, so you can do it very quickly. But I’m doing that over the next 2 to 3 years and get it himself. So it is about speed because we can get to ten sites in a year rather than him do over the next ten years, you’ll investments be much better for everyone. So that’s basically the kind of underlying.
[00:07:54] Who’s your funding model changed since we last spoke?
[00:07:57] No, not really. No, it’s it’s still pretty much the same same as last time. I think the key thing is it’s pretty much 51% for 9% or sometimes a bit more or less depending on obviously the partner and how much they want to invest with us. But it’s the same thing. You know, we we want to make sure that we are adequately able to fund our partners to get their dreams of buying the first practise, the second practise or third practise, doing what clinicians do and kind of keep growing. And I think our private equity partners have been really positive on that. They’ve seen our journey. We still do when we said first time round and still doubling turnover all batches since we first did the deal with in January last year. So the numbers are good and the model is working well right now. It’s now just taking that next level from going. You know, I personally was literally speaking to all the partners, 1 to 1 every single week and having weekly meetings them. And now it’s taken to bring in another management team below me who have now gone out to speak to those partners and manage them to make sure they can still support them as much as I was doing for the first seven or eight sites. So that’s the next challenge really with the growth part of it.
[00:09:02] But explain to me the relationship with the private equity. Is it is it that it’s the same people doing the investment all the time or are you taking it out to different groups?
[00:09:12] Yes. So the private equity firm called Nordic Capital is based in the way they fund the group. We’re part of the European Dental Group, which is second biggest group in Europe. And we just literally it’s like you call them up and they money comes next day. It’s when the size of their group it doesn’t make a difference of what we do in the UK is like a very small.
[00:09:33] Small part of a big organisation.
[00:09:35] Yeah, exactly. They’ve got I think revenues of like 70 million right now, so they’re probably bigger than 98 in terms of size. So yeah, they’re really good from that point of view because they all said everyone’s a dentist CEO and the group is dentists as well. And we all understand the same language about patient care and really growing patient journey to make sure that that’s the focus rather than worrying about life saving costs here and there and how we can cut costs in other areas, which is not actually best for patients. So it’s all about investing in our dentists and clinical journey, really.
[00:10:07] So tell me about you must have run through some problems as you grow in this beast. Yeah, you know, there must be. Talk to me about the thing that you sort of least expect it. Something that hit you out of the blue that you didn’t understand would happen. It happened.
[00:10:25] I don’t think we’ve had like a scientific aspect. I mean, I think if I was looking back on where we are now two years ago and said did I think would be here at this pace of where we are now and obviously that it all worked. Exactly the plan. Obviously not. Nothing happens a plan if it’s gotten better than plan for the growth. But you know, I think the thing that I learnt the most and the thing that I would say that shocked me the most is just how different people feel, the different types of companies, right? So as an example, you could have three practises and have a great person running the three practises like, you know, like a manager or manager and you can have 12 practises to have someone who needs to be a bit more obviously, you know, on the ball and bit more kind of like commercial and obviously start to think a bit more about bigger and bigger picture. And then we get to 20, 30 sites. You need someone completely different. You need someone who’s got an MBA like not an MBA, but that can an experience of understanding culture, understanding operations on a much bigger level where you can’t do it for yourself. I think that’s something that I’ve had to personally learn myself, but also have to shape my team around me as well on that basis.
[00:11:41] Because, you know, as much as I would love to have the first five people that we have hired for my first practise with me for the rest of my life, but actually they would fit within the right organisation of our size we want to get to. And I think it’s also one of those things where if you don’t do that soon. You end up having to have this negative growth from the team point of view with the practise growth. So practises might be growing really quickly and you might be getting all the acquisitions going in over a team are thinking ahead of the next two, three, six, ten months, you’re not going to be able to grow as fast and actually think ahead the curve. And I think that’s really important and I still am not perfect, but it’s really hard to get that right because you’re growing so fast. Hockey stick, right? So in advance of that, with the people that like mindset before you even get there and it only lasts for six months for it to get someone else is even bigger and better as well. So it is hard.
[00:12:34] I think it’s one of the maybe the hardest thing in business is having that conversation with someone who really has worked their butt off for you and is no longer in the right position. Like you said, you got an ops manager for ten practises. It’s totally different to an office manager for 50 practises. It’s a different skill. If you had to have those sort of uncomfortable conversations with with your core, you know, your existing, your first team. And say to someone that, you know, you don’t fit anymore even though you laid your life down for me.
[00:13:06] Not not yet. But I think it’s moving people in that position of where they originally were, in one position that made sense at time and then moving to another position where actually it’s a lot less responsibility, but a different department where actually they’re probably better suited. That’s what we have done because I don’t like to get with anyone unless they literally don’t want to be with us anymore, which is another story I think we naturally I know my first business partner, but father in law step back as it was doing a bit and then we’ve had a few members of staff leave. It’s normal, so you know you’re going to get that. But I don’t think that there’s ever a scenario where as long as they understand that I fit that role and I don’t fit the needs of the business, it’s okay. The issue is when they think they can still do what they’re doing two years ago or five years ago or ten years ago in that same role and think that that’s still okay when it’s not. That’s the issue. I think people, as long as they understand that actually you’re not fit, you’re not fit for purpose for the role anymore. Basically saying else, that’s fine. So I think that’s the kind of way that I see it, like rejigging the team, but constantly every quarter thinking, Oh, I need to redo the team now because these guys are actually better at this, just that and actually want to move around. It’s like having a football team, you know, having different players and moving around all the time and just working out who’s the best position. I mean, you get Ronaldo sometimes playing in midfield or fighting or whatever, but they can be placed in the right positions and they might like it, but actually it’s best for the company. So it’s just about moving jigsaw puzzle round really.
[00:14:40] But not always possible, right?
[00:14:42] Not always possible.
[00:14:44] If it’s obvious with I know where you’re coming from, with with operations, with practises, with practise managers and all that, they can be moved around right when you’ve got, I don’t know, a head of marketing, where’s that person going to go? There’s still for that person to go.
[00:14:59] Yeah. And I think it’s the thing, I think it’s sometimes it’s not like a complete change of Oh, it’s more like we’re bringing someone above you or we’re that kind of thing. So I think so far touchwood, it’s been good. I do think that our current size, we are we’re in a good place, but I do think that might change again, you know, and it probably won’t just be me, but, you know, the company will actually demand to have like, you know, other people with C-level positions or other really experienced and build guys have done other industries and bring them in. So, you know, it’s a constant change. But then obviously it’s hard because you’re constantly thinking about what do I need to bring in for the next two quarters of growth and you grow that quickly. We’re going to be at 50 sites by the end of the year. You went from 1240 boxes to 15 factors in a year. Like, you know, you’ve got to think, what do you need in advance? And then that takes a few months to hire them and then trained up and they’re like, you know, I think it’s unlimited ongoing problem for any company. I don’t think anyone’s ever solved it because it’s a hockey stick. You get the growth, which is great, but then you get a higher above the curve of spending too much money too quickly and make sure that gets right in the right timing. So it’s it’s tough.
[00:16:13] And, you know, the big challenge I always find the big challenge is do you hire someone super experienced and pay them loads knowing that.
[00:16:20] They’ve got.
[00:16:22] Or do you develop. Yeah. And that’s even a combination isn’t it. You’ve got to you’ve got to do both things, you know.
[00:16:29] Yeah. And I think it’s also like getting the right person because I mean, you know, the recruitment market right now, there’s no like magic wand up there. I mean, I don’t know if it was easier 20 years ago or I was just now, but it was like literally you hire people, they say on paper, they’re great, great interviews. And then they come in and you think you should lie about all your stuff, like you got no idea we’re talking about and you’re not, as you said on an interview, I think that’s another challenge right now, just getting good talent because our industry is very niche. Right. We don’t have I always say this to our team right now, I’m like, why have we not got this Goldman Sachs effect where we have nurses lined up once to work for us? You know, why is that for interview stages? For someone who works for Goldman Sachs and for us we have to like cut the big nurses come work. I mean, you know, it doesn’t mean I mean, I know there’s a shortage, but I don’t understand why our industry is so, so niche. I think we need to disrupt that and actually change the way that nurses, receptionists, admin staff feel about working for our companies in dentistry. Because there’s actually I think you can have a really good career in it, but they don’t see it as a career. They just think of it as like two or three years and and change profession, do something else afterwards. So sometimes I think maybe long time ago it’s different, you know, 20 years from what I remember. So yeah, I think we just need to really flip it. On terms of the recruitment piece.
[00:17:44] I think you’re right, I think you’re right. I think culture has a lot to do with it, but it’s difficult to maintain culture as the thing grows because you know, Kunal Patel, good friend of mine, he made a superb culture in his first practise. Now he’s going from 1 to 7. And and I told the first thing I told him was, look, be careful. You have to keep the culture because it’s not easy to go from 1 to 7 and keep the culture. A big part of the culture is the boss on site, spreading his enthusiasm or whatever. And for your group, I mean, you’re growing at such a rate that it’s going to be hard for you. Have you thought about how to do that? How do you make working at Dental Beauty Partners a branded experience? You know, is it is it fun to work at Dental Beauty Partners? Is there more money? Is there progression? What do you want it to be and how do you make it happen?
[00:18:42] I think that the answer to that question, which is a very good question, by the way, it’s not just put out by like every group in the country, same problem. Like they grow too quickly, they just grow too big. They don’t have that local level of support. Right. That’s the whole point of our model. We have a partner with equity on the ground in the business every day or most of the week at least. So they actually get to physically speak to someone. So that enthusiasm, leadership, which should in theory happen on each practise. Now practically that won’t happen every single time to send as my first practise because different people have different levels of leadership skills. But we’re now trying to create a programme where we have some of our good partners who have already shown their skills of leadership and management and obviously growth to help the newer partners get trained up on something that they’ve done to learn from them. And hopefully they can then copy that same level of leadership in practise. So you still have that culture being kept high, but it is really, really important for me to keep that because you’re right, if you don’t have the right culture, you lose talent, you lose talent. You’re back to where you were before. We’ve never known there. So it’s really, really important to keep that. And so far so good. We had our Christmas party in December. We had like four new people come. It was a great big fire, you know, I know a good way. Got a bit messy in the end as always. But yeah, look, I think it’s one of those things where that kind of level of engagement and on that evening must have like 100 would say like love working for you guys.
[00:20:08] It’s the best thing ever. I don’t think if you read a book review you probably get like 50 people in a whole organisation even, you know. So it is I think we’ve got a great culture because the partners are there, their teams get on with them really well mentored, they get hands on training and you don’t get that these days in terms of like principles and they actually get given cases from a principle given to associate to do some of the work and actually go, Oh, right, this is your first visit. I’ll walk you through it with you. And I think that’s the key thing. As long as we’ve got good partners with good clinical skills to help expand that training and mentorship in practise, I think we’ll be okay. But it is hard for like, how do we make our our practise? The nurse the nurse place to go like the best for nurses or the best receptionists. What do you say? I mean, there’s only so much you can pay them bonuses, so much of health care insurance. It’s like, what more can you give perks wise for them? And it is hard. You know, there’s only so much you can do. And hopefully they feel valued enough and supported enough that they enjoy working the practises. And I can see some cool treatments not just for NHS, so I think there’s enough there for them, but I think the problem is, is that they come in, I don’t think as a career it’s like a do a few years and I just like I was afterwards. Yeah. And mindset which is the problem of the Gen Z.
[00:21:20] But if it is possible. Yeah. I mean famously Virgin pays less than the going rate. Yeah. People don’t leave. People want to, people want that job and you know, he’s got 45,000 employees and he’s I mean, it’s nice talking about the winners, right? Talking about Goldman Sachs and and Virgin, the absolute.
[00:21:45] And you’re right about the industry and I’ve said this for a long time about career progression for for non dentists in dentistry it’s always and it’s strange dude because it’s not like we’re low margin business particularly. Yeah. It’s, it’s not like we have to pay minimum wage, you know, it’s possible to get people but it’s just, it’s just the way it’s worked out. Dentistry is so dentist centric. Yeah. You know, it’s a funny one.
[00:22:14] Yeah. No, I agree. I think we are I think we are above market in terms of what we pay our staff. I think the issue we have is just the whole investment piece. Right. You buy a practise where the guy’s been paying his staff like less than minimum wage or whatever for like last 20 years, really tight margins. And he wants eight times he would die for it. Are you just buying that and then put the wages up by 20% the month after it? That’s it. That’s the issue. I think it’s getting worse and worse with more and more of these like older principals who are now retiring, running a really tight ship for many years and then trying to flog if the highest amount possible in the market, because then it becomes even more unfeasible financially to buy business. Or that, you know, I wouldn’t mind it if we had a no kind of huge cost. They won. But you do unless they’re doing a squat. So it’s a tough one.
[00:23:07] Do you have an element of performance related pay for down to that level, or is it only managers that get that or not even that?
[00:23:15] Yeah, I mean, this is actually a good question. I don’t really believe in bonuses.
[00:23:19] Because I.
[00:23:20] Just think about it logically. Right. If you if I paid you £1,000 more than the year for doing my job, why don’t do the job first in the first place? And I think the thing is right is everyone who’s focussed on bonuses is basically saying to the employer, I will do what you want me to. If you pay me a bonus, otherwise I won’t do it. But my way of saying it is actually doing really well. I’ll give you a pay rise, which is a fixed thing. Not going to just be a one off thing. I’ll give you a pay rise for doing a great job. And actually, that would be a lot more valuable to you for many reasons if you just do your job. But I don’t I don’t think a bonus is a solution to performance. I think if you do well, you’ll get paid just because you’re doing well. And that will actually be more net net over the year and for your future. And actually in our company, because we’re obviously quite a fast growing company, you can move up as much as you want to in the chain because it’s like opportunities in head office and managers and operation managers and other areas in operations like stuff. So it’s not like you’re limited to only one practise if you’re doing really well and you show the potential. So I think, you know, any nurse even can eventually become someone at work in head office if he wants to work hard and they show they’re really good. But yeah, I’m not a big fan of bonuses, to be fair, because I sort of feel like you should be doing that anyway if that’s your job.
[00:24:37] I take your point. But what about. What about? I know when you were an associate.
[00:24:42] If you were paid an hourly rate compared to a percentage of you, you can see the you know, the motivation.
[00:24:51] Yeah. But if you’re an associate, you work for yourself, you’re self employed. So the more you work, the more you get paid.
[00:24:57] But one of the things you understand the motivation for an associate. But but when it comes to others, you don’t understand the motivation.
[00:25:04] I do and I don’t. Because I think if you’re getting a fixed salary where you’re in one day, if you’re getting paid a salary to do a job, you should get a job done. And that has certain performance targets linked to the job. Then it is what it is. If you do better than that and you outperform, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t give a bonus. I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be the reason why you do well, if you want to do.
[00:25:26] Well, I get that. Yeah.
[00:25:28] If you want to do better and do well, then we’ll give you a pay rise. And therefore it’ll be reflected in the fact that you done well. And we’ll pass on some of the fruits of our success with our key people in the company. I think associates, you know, is a different level of mindset because when you’re self-employed, you only get paid for what you do. And, you know, it reflects and obviously level of training, the amount of money and time it’s putting to themselves. It’s not I wouldn’t compare like you wouldn’t say to a nurse, you do really well, give you double your salary like they do in the banks. Right. Because just physically can’t justify that. So I do I do think it comes into how much time and effort you put into your own training yourself and the costs of your you know, it’s been thousands and thousands of pounds of courses and all that other stuff. Right.
[00:26:14] Yeah, I get that. But what about hygienist, for instance?
[00:26:17] Yeah. I mean, look, I did the same thing. I think if you think about hygienist who gets paid an hourly rate, if they do really well and they’re performing really well and they’ve shown that they can be efficient, they can go quite patient with pull. You know, they’re doing great clinical work. There’s no reason why would increase hourly rate by 28%. 40% if we need to.
[00:26:37] Yeah, but look, the reason I’m asking you is this. Yeah, that dentists come to me and say, come and train my hygienist to sell more whitening. Yeah. And we can yeah. We’ve got, we’ve got ways of for hygienist to do that and what’s the best way for hygiene is to bring up shade with every patient and all that. Yeah. But to expect your hygienist to bring up shade with every patient when most dentists don’t bring up shade with enough patients. Yeah. And the hygienist is generally busy cleaning up. And, you know, some of them have nurses, but I haven’t met hygienist who’s got time to expect that to happen without an incentive.
[00:27:17] Is fantasy, not fantasy.
[00:27:19] As far as I’m concerned.
[00:27:20] 100%. But I think the difference between that is that that’s not part of their job. In terms of their job. Yeah, the core job. I think that in that scenario, you definitely get the percentage of any sales they make because it’s like outside their job. If I told like for example, we incentivise our receptionist, if they can get more people on hygiene plans, like the ones where you get you pay monthly for them, they get literally like I think 10% of that yearly plan given to them. So that’s how.
[00:27:51] They do that sort of thing.
[00:27:52] Yeah, that’s kind of different. I think we’re talking about outside of your core job of what you’re doing. I’m not saying that if you’re a manager managing the practise, you’re hitting your target as a manager. You get paid for that. And if you do really well, you get paid more next year. I’m talking about like if you talk about hygienists directly, you give them a percentage of that 100%. I would actually give them like 30, 40% of any of the sales they make because then they. You’ve created work that wasn’t there before.
[00:28:17] Yeah. So I could.
[00:28:20] Tell you what we’re trying to talk about in terms of.
[00:28:24] How is your head office changed since we last spoke? Because I remember from the last podcast you started out with four people looking after something like eight or ten, ten practises. And then last time we spoke, you just taken an office? Yes. Yeah. And you expanded the team in London Bridge, was it?
[00:28:43] Yeah, it was London Bridge originally for like about four, six months. And then we moved it because we got too big again the station because we have a really big office now. We’ve got around 30 people in that office total. Some are scattered around on the road. Some are based in Bristol, some based on other parts of the world. But I think generally we’ve got a pretty big team, which is good. We’re not the biggest team, I would say, compared to other groups of our size. Some people have. I mean, some groups I know we’ve got like 50 people for our size, but I think we’re at the right size. What we need because of the model of partnership, where the partners can actually have the.
[00:29:22] Level but need to have like ten managers running one practise, one more practise, kind of giving support. So yeah, I think we’re, we’re at a good size right now. We’ll probably keep growing.
[00:29:33] What’s the structure? What’s like the org chart?
[00:29:36] Yes. So we’ve got a marketing team which is comprised of two different sections. One of them is the sales team who are on the phone all the time talking to new leads that we get coming in for head office. So we get loads of new clients, patient needs. Yes, exactly. So that all goes through Salesforce or gets tracked. And we have all these we’re about for about four girls now working non-stop on the phone, just literally taking calls all day long, booking tons of patients followed by clinics. So those are all the new leads. And we’ve got another four girls to do social media, SEO, Google ads, advertising, marketing in terms of actual marketing. And then we got a head of marketing above that. So that’s the marketing team and growth. Then we’ve got our UPS, HR recruitment team that sits on the head of ops and that’s basically comprised of the HR team who do all the kind of contract variations, know payroll with finance and all the documents and the compliance and bits and bobs that you need for each staff members, which obviously is something that most clinics like what we’re doing, because I just think it’s not normal. But then actually you do need to have that secrecy and just it can be a headache. We also have a recruitment team who’s doing recruitment and make sure that we have bums on seats for interviews, ready for any vacancy we’ve got in the group pretty much within a few days. And then we have ops team which have central ops team that there’s a lot of kind of day to day, you know, really important core stuff in practise like tracking leads and making sure that all the systems are working. Okay, make sure that we’ve got finance companies being set up for new practises. Make sure that we’ve got pretty much any system you can think of that tracking how many phone calls per day, how like how well we’re tracking in terms of performance for clinics that just kind of central ops team to kind of keep the kind of the heart of the operations team kind of running. But more how many.
[00:31:25] People is up how many people.
[00:31:27] How many to I think tend to ops. Then we have two operation managers who go on the road looking at managing 15 clinics each and go go to church every Sunday on site to help them. And that’s more operation against up on the ground and above that head of UPS and we have also just put on so that’s pretty much it. Yeah. For the ops team. And then we’ve got our finance team which has got most of its back office in India. We’ve got ten guys there, work full time for us and then we’ve got in the UK too more people full time and our CFO, we have a M&A team who is based out like three people from doing kind of execution acquisitions and conversions for the point of us going to practise viewing and actually getting it over line. And then we also have a head of M&A because of that. And then we also have. Team. So whenever we find new practise in choice manager, go in there for like 6 to 8 weeks, hold the hand for the, for the new principal, the partner we have. And literally like we’ve got plan of adding in four chairs with averaging the whole thing that the whole thing through plan the whole thing out, get whole thing done and it’s like hassle free for the manager, for the partner basically because it should be done by that team and that’s a team of four people as well. So that’s kind of the structure, but it’s kind of like you think from when you looked at practise, actually the whole the whole journey, it should be covered by that different teams.
[00:32:48] And how long does it take from from the moment of practise comes on on your radar to the moment it becomes a dental beauty partners branded operation.
[00:32:59] It depends.
[00:33:00] So it depends on the sale, right?
[00:33:02] Yeah, it depends on the style, depends on the practise type. So if it’s fully private, we can probably do a deal with three months. If it’s mixed, could be 4 to 5 months. So it’s typically pretty efficient. But the good thing is that we see all parties before pretty much anyone else in market because as you can imagine, all the brokers do love a group that’s got lot money. So before anyone else could actually see it, like the bonds or the gold, people like whatever they get different memberships is, we’ll see them first typically. So it does make it easier to get the deals done for us to start doing auctions and other stuff. And yeah, I mean we’ve got a great relationship with the brokers. They all really appreciate the fact that we are pretty much assistant in, if we want to say, offering, offering. We like it when we agree on it. It’s a done deal. It’s not like we’re going to mess around and tip prices at the end like other groups do and try and mess some of the vendors around. We kind of do what we say. I think that’s really important because in the M&A world and with brokers, only five brokers out there, you’ve got reputations, okay, that that they can kind of tell the vendors and the practise of the last 20 years is there a lot baby that is why the buying in these guys mostly around you know there’s other groups out there who’ve got reputation for like plus shipping last minute just so they can get deal done and you kind get your hands tied about it. We spent five months doing a deal when he just pulls through last minute. So we are kind of, I would say like pretty much straight guys when it comes to getting deals done. And we’re pretty efficient because we have a good team. You can get stuff done really good. That takes time.
[00:34:24] What are you most focussed on when a practise comes in front of you? I mean, okay, so you’re saying you’re not going to have penny and dime the thing.
[00:34:30] You focus on speed more than focussed on those pennies, right.
[00:34:35] It’s about potential. So like, you know if we say the difference is if you’ve got practise payment and your one’s in great practise and have such an example, you’ve got practise and both for other people look at it three groups and and us right that were groups you’ve got one model I buy a practise keep it as it is and make it tick along for next five, ten years hoping that you’ll be tied for five years at least and you’re going to go anywhere. So it’s just quite straightforward model we buy. If we look obviously like that one on the potential, we’re going to add three or four chairs and grow it and bring a partner in so we can say, buy my payment. See late on day one, if you want to go tied in like a like a prisoner, you can say you want to say, great, we love your state, but we’re not.
[00:35:19] Would you rather I stayed and become on it?
[00:35:22] Depends on how how important you are. Now, once again, if we’re looking at practise thinking this is not that great, we can do a lot better, then surely you probably haven’t done what you should be doing in the first place as a principal or partner, because I wouldn’t look in the first place and potential’s there. So it’s probably more likely than not. You’ve done a great job clinically. You’ve got great patient base there, no marketing, no branding. You don’t really know how to really maximise capacity, etc., etc. from the growth. Therefore, happy days you can retire, take the money, go home or good and we’ll bring in a partner who’s got the right mentality and entrepreneurial spirit to actually practise and deliver the it should be. And that’s what it is. So, you know, if we like a part like hey, for example, we bought one recently in Colchester, great partners both in the forties or 40. Yeah. And they’ve still got a lot of energy left to keep kind of growing and developing, but most time it is displacing the old principle and bringing the new one in. So that’s why we don’t worry about the pennies, because actually if I can see it being doubling in a year, who really cares about eight times? We’re looking at four times net net. So it’s fine.
[00:36:31] Yeah. And so what have you got a shortage of? What? Like what’s your biggest frustration? I mean, if you were God for the day, what would you change? What would you tweak? Have you got more, more partners waiting than practises or.
[00:36:45] Yeah, yes. I think you know what it is, it’s we’ve got a really long part in the pipeline which is great. Obviously it starts to spread more and more as we’ve got more partners of great experience of us. They tend to friends join us as well, which is really nice to see because that means that something is going right. At least the bad thing is, is just is very, very linked to location of where they are and when particular market at that exact time. That’s the right practise you see. So I don’t want to buy a patch because Payman lives in in north. And therefore perhaps on the market and it’s rubbish. I would buy it. I’m not doing that. I’m not going to buy the right ones where I know that they’re going to get the most value out of that for growth and that we’re going get more growth. That could take time. It could take one month, it could take six months, could take a year. So that’s the frustration from having these really excited people who like, yeah, going to do this. But to go for all the details of you, we love it.
[00:37:37] We want to buy back together and not having them exact perhaps I wish I could go from here have a fact is potential price but the market is a factor as well like you might have a really prompt release, you might have an issue the landlord like all these things can can block a deal from happening in the first place. So, you know, trying to get all those things aligned is difficult. And then the shortage, I guess, is just some nurses. And, you know, I mean, it wasn’t that bad before, but since then it’s been a nightmare. And I just wish that we could have I mean, it’s not stopping our growth in any way. It’s not stopping us doing what we’re doing. We’re still getting by and making sure we can make it work. But that is annoying because it means that you just don’t have that peace of mind, that you can just buy a practise and add four chairs tomorrow and get four nurses. That isn’t a problem. That’s a problem. Which is annoying, right?
[00:38:20] Yeah. The squat model that I suspect some of these you’re going to do with cartilage are going to be squats.
[00:38:26] Yes, yes. Yeah, definitely.
[00:38:27] So are you interested in that model more now so you can tell this guy you’re in Hampstead? I’ll sit up in Hampstead with you.
[00:38:33] Yes. So I think you know what it is. It’s there’s two different ways of looking at it. A squat is more risky. Yeah, of obvious reasons. But with the right brand and the right model, it can work. Our model has always been about acquiring under-utilised sites and making them better and then doubling it and making it a kind of we know what we’re doing in that model, but that’s what it’s doing with a squat model. It’s done a few times already. He knows his model work well, so I think he knows model. That’s what we invested in really. And I think that’s an area that we wanted to get into rather than finishing ourself, trying to do it ourselves and trying to build our own brand of getting leads from day one and spend a lot of money on that, it made more sense. Someone who knows what it’s doing and just make fun of it, really. So yeah, we’re going to do some squats on that and see how it goes to, but exciting time for that because I think that’s gonna be a big opportunity for us.
[00:39:20] You last time we spoke, I remember you saying something that really sort of impressed me. I wasn’t I wasn’t expecting you to say it because sometimes when when you talk to someone like you, such a sort of business guy, that the sort of the the patient side of it kind of gets lost. But you said something like, you know, I’m not as interested in the money as you might think. I’m more interested in having impact impact on dentist lives and and on all those thousands of patients lives.
[00:39:53] Yeah. Yeah.
[00:39:54] That’s that sort of mission centred approach and I don’t know exactly, you know, we all have little stories we tell ourselves, right? Yeah. You know, the ego side that says, you know, Dev Patel, you were always going to be like an entrepreneur from the moment, you know, I’ve met you the first time. But the motivation remember the last the last podcast was actually called What’s Driving Dev?
[00:40:21] And not just the motivation, but also how your role must change so much since a year ago. And then since three years ago. And it’s going to change again going forward. And that sort of that that chameleon that the CEO has to be. Talk to me about all of this.
[00:40:41] Yes. So I think that the mission of us being able to transform the UK patient journey hasn’t changed. I’m still bamboozled. Why no one? If I look at other practises and some ones that actually go viewing, we go to viewings like regularly and we see what they’re doing. I just don’t understand why they haven’t thought about what make this practise the best, practise possible patient journey. And that’s really, really key because we live in a consumer environment and I maybe I don’t know what my passions I’ve had dentistry since I first graduated, but after going all the courses and thinking it’s a huge opportunity in the UK where 90% the country are still thinking about, I’ve got a contract of unlimited patience. Why do any marketing, why do anything? I practise differently. I can make it run and just keep living off the days because I can do it. That’s changed and COVID has accelerated that more now, which is great, but I want to see hopefully us having 100 practises by the end of next year. That could be a target for us to be able to treat, you know, potentially 200,000 patients and have that amazing journey for them, not whether they’re private NHS, except I don’t really care. I want to feel like, you know what, this is a clean, good practise. They treat it properly. I don’t get told that amalgams are better for me than doing the right thing for that for their mouth.
[00:42:02] They’re actually helping them out and give them all the options they could possibly get within a practise rather than just saying, sit down, 10 minutes in and out. That’s it, three days done. So I want to I want that’s our aim and our group as a European and a group treats 1.1 million people a year. So it’s great. I’m really glad that we’re part of that, a good organisation and I want to just keep that going really because I think there’s millions of people out there who’s being literally abused by the NHS system where people just doing things to make targets done but I think is a criminal really. And yeah, my job is always constantly changing and you know, is hard because I didn’t do an MBA, I didn’t get taught how to run a group, let alone a group of our size now with like 1000 employees or something that way. So you need to constantly evolve. But I’m learning a lot always will doing and keep hopefully humble enough to know when I’m wrong and when to, you know, bring the right people in to do a bit. That I’m not good at. So yeah, it’s hard. I’m not saying I had to get paid, but I’ll let you know if I worked out.
[00:43:04] I mean, you have, you haven’t got any great grey hairs to see, but tell me about some of the grey hairs, man. A thousand employees is 1000 issues, isn’t it. I mean, per week.
[00:43:17] Yeah, but I think that the good thing is that it’s not just like my problem. I think our partners are fully aligned, our teams are fairly lines that everyone takes on as if it was their own practise. So I think we’ve got a good model. It’s not like we’re a 100 owned by one person. That’s it. So I think our model works well from that point of view. And locally, the partners do manage their teams really well and lead our teams really well. But it’s just about the strategic thoughts of how do we, as you mentioned, become the place to go to for work. How do we make that difference for a nurse or for receptionist or for managers say, I love them, a beauty, and we’re constantly reinventing ourselves to think, what more can we do? What more can we offer? Do do more courses, do more training, do we do more socials? What is it that that kind of gives them that culture and keeps them happy? And that’s something I don’t think any companies are, but some of the virgins of the world and as you mentioned, you know, some of the Goldman Sachs have done really well. But I think the good thing is that we’ve got I would say 70% of that already worked out now, which is like extra to take us to the next level to make that curve as we get bigger and bigger, keep that going. Because I think any group can be great up until practise. I think the next step is the really important step from 50 to 100. You can keep the quality going and keep everyone happy even though what they should really.
[00:44:39] And what are your responsibilities compared to your brother in laws?
[00:44:43] My brother in law is sold out. Sorry.
[00:44:46] He’s not involved.
[00:44:48] Obviously more so. He’s in last round. He’s kind of doing family stuff, but yeah. No. So it’s just myself.
[00:44:57] It’s just. Yeah.
[00:44:58] Yeah, yeah. I mean, obviously we’ve got some really key managers in the group. We’ve got a head of M&A and CFO, head of operations.
[00:45:06] And you have you got these people from other corporates?
[00:45:09] No. Well, one. One of them, yes. I’m not big fan of of hiring people on corporates, not saying anything bad about it. But if I just said to you, go back a step, I said to you, I want to change the whole model of corporate in the UK to make it a dentist led, patient led and focus on getting stuff done like a. Entrepreneur and none of the other groups do that yet. So therefore if you hire for them, you’re bringing the wrong people anyway because I was be in the first place. So you need to actually find people, get them trained up or get them other industries to bring them in to hopefully deliver that kind of mission. It’s very hard to try and change someone. It’s been at my dentist’s for 20 years doing needs to start saying how I patient how do I help day care centre like are you saying this is the wrong person, the wrong fit so you need to make it. I think everyone’s pretty much come up from come from other industries apart from maybe like a couple of people within our head office who have come from other kind of groups, but generally we try not to take up.
[00:46:08] What do you find that challenge though, with people from other industries to sort of train them up into dental think or you don’t want them to be into dental think? Is that what you’re saying?
[00:46:16] No, because you know what? There’s not really much dental related things from a senior management point of view for head office, there are certain nuances for sure. But like finance, for example, finance is finance. You know, you get someone for any industry, they do numbers, they do panels, they balance sheets, they do any of your accounts. Right. It’s the same thing. Yes. See what that is? Pay. Yes. You got to work out differences between, you know, paying some of implants or not. But you learn that within a few days. It’s not rocket science. Hey, chart very similar. Not much difference in it. Yes, you might learn a few things about nuances of different roles. Otherwise, same thing marketing, same principles. Really. What’s different between doing what we’re doing and doing veterinary or doing other health care? It’s the same thing. You just try and track patients to come in in your practise. So a lot of the different I like people think dentistry is very specifically ask me, but actually I would rather have an expert from like a great brand that everyone loves and knows that great marketer to bring them in and let them do what are doing in that company into our company and try to break the mould. I might try to have disrupters and people doing different things, so I’ve been doing the same thing over and over that it’s not working because I look to other groups in marketing, they don’t bring patients in.
[00:47:25] The market is basically putting a brand in the door. That’s it. So I actually bring in leads and basically tracking them to the point of every single part of that journey and they’ve been booked in yet. What was opposed, what was accepted, what was the conversions, what was paid hasn’t been booked in half of that for the final treatment. That’s how level of detail are marketing. It’s not like, Oh yeah, we did some branding this month and I know personally because I work not the companies in industry that I’ll circle and they sponsor us and I’m thinking, you guys find money, no idea what you’re doing and you never know what returns you get afterwards. But they do it because they think, Oh, like, you know, we can do it. So I think it’s really important to be fully engaged to the level of like actually what is the result of the marketing and how is it work? And that comes from really good other industries out there that can be able to do the same things.
[00:48:10] That’s Dental circle sponsorship messed up. Well.
[00:48:15] Maybe. I’ll tell you what. The ones who really do engage and understand what they actually are doing. It’s fine.
[00:48:24] I’m joking, buddy. A lot of times.
[00:48:26] A lot of times who don’t actually know about doing.
[00:48:28] A lot of times, though, these sort of things happen because relationships, you know. Like, if you could ask me to sponsor something, whatever it is. Yeah. And I do it because we know each other. Not necessarily because of the cold, hard facts of the return on investment I’m going to get from that particular sponsorship. There’s plenty of times I’ve done that, you know, because because somewhere along the line I felt like, oh, this. I really like this guy. Or somewhere along the line, you’ve done me a favour or something like that, you know? So. So I. I hear what you’re saying, though. It’s an interesting question, because last time I spoke to you, you said that external marketing wasn’t really at all your focus. You were really focussed on internal marketing, but now you’re telling me you’ve got a four man team on the phones taking calls from leads. So is that something you’ve changed since we last spoke?
[00:49:20] No. You know what? I wouldn’t say we’ve changed. I think it’s the next phase of growth, because once you maximise your internal marketing from when you buy a practise, you have maybe your backpacks are three chairs. It’s got 2000 patients in the books, right? Three or whatever you go first. Those patients, you bring them in again. You get the new journey, a new patient experience that’s been done. How would you then take that to the next level of adding more and more every year? You have to do marketing eventually, but I think for the first year or two it’s not a really big focus because you’ve got so many patients to see anyway. They’ve already paid for that goodwill. Then it’s the next level of the marketing. And as we’re growing at a certain pace, the first 15 chapters need more marketing than the next 15 years, kind of integrating and still kind of find their feet, find the teams and maximise their own practise with their own patient base already. So it’s a different phase of when you need the marketing for you. And I think from our point of view as well, we are looking at how do we get that growth journey for maybe two years doubling to like 12 months or six months. So the more you can do, the more you can grow faster. But it will be so good to try and make things more efficient, more secure every single year, and just trying to make that whole machine even more, more better.
[00:50:33] And have you got targets from above, from the Nordic group that you have to meet?
[00:50:38] Which is really good, I think. Yeah, yeah. No, no. The answer because the good thing is because we’re a small part of a really big group. And I mean, obviously, the more we do, the better. But they don’t have like a fixed target. And I think what they originally said that it would be good to have we doubled that anyway in the first year. They’re like, Really? Well, don’t worry about it. It’s all good. So we have fixed targets of growth and I think that’s really important because we’re not pressured. I think a lot of other priority groups who are small platforms, I’ve got one priority backer on that, only on that one group only in the UK means I have to hit targets. They’ve got a three year timeline and then the flip, right? So they have to pressure themselves constantly to grow and then get a big pipe exit. And then it’s like, as you probably know, they’re selling right now and they go to the market in the next few weeks. They’ve been smashing the M&A and buying into perhaps in the market recently. Just I can get stuff in the pipeline.
[00:51:28] So when I sell they look like they’ve got really big deals. They can get a good price and everyone just goes off in the mood right afterwards. So, you know, it’s different type of backing for private equity, which is really good for us because I personally love that because it means that I’m not having to worry about targets and deliver exactly what’s right for the company. If it’s good opportunity or do it. If it’s not, we’ll pass it. I think a lot of groups get caught up with that whole pressure, having to buy stuff to hit targets and then just by ship, which the problem you have and then you realise half the portfolio is rubbish, half of them are good and the bad ones and then the whole thing down after 5 to 10 years because they start losing staff, the locations aren’t great and you have that same issue that you have with people. So it’s really important to have a very relaxed kind of approach to M&A, not being pressured to buy stuff because they are being hired. It’s just put on paper.
[00:52:18] Yeah. I mean, it’s one of the biggest issues, isn’t it, because the, you know, this question of sort of multiple of orbit, it actually applies to massive groups as well, isn’t it? I mean, the and that pressure that you’ve you’ve just been talking about has meant that massive groups have kind of inflated prices. And and like you say, I’ve been I’ve been going to some corporates recently and actually quite, quite pleasantly surprised with some of the morale that I saw, because I saw some terrible morale at corporates as well. I mean, maybe they’re sending me into their sort of key branches and, and all of that. And, and I was talking to the management and asking them, you know, what do they think is the reason that some of them have got such high morale and then. Some of them don’t. And they they were putting it down to the practise manager and the treatment coordinator, but then they don’t have partners in place like you do, you know, like dentists who are proper clinical directors, if you will, in place. Have you identified what makes a successful partner partnership or practise and what doesn’t? What are the what are the warning signs? What are the red flags?
[00:53:33] I think if I was a manager of myself in the reception issues or a nurse, I think the four things I would really want to have to be in a happy practise and be, you know, have good memories, someone to go to, open door policy, like physically, like, you know, the principles out there don’t talk to their staff. Ever go to work, go home. And I’m like, Don’t even talk to your team. They’ve got problems by leaving. You don’t care. And that’s just their mentality. I have an open door policy which is communicate properly is number one. Listening to our problems, finding out about them, like knowing your team is important. Number two is just being a good person. I think there’s lots of old school dentists, even some young ones who just got this very weird mentality that they can basically be a dick and get away with it in the practise and accept people. Just be like, I’m the boss and therefore it’s my way or the highway. I think you have to be pretty complex. Yeah. Yeah. And I think you can’t work and hit your targets in good practise or even get good in it without a good team. So you’re in the same boat, whether you’re principal, dentist or associate or nurse. You can’t work about each other. It’s like it’s a it’s a mutual relationship. So I think you need to be a nice person generally and actually be approachable because a lot of staff are going to like the guy, don’t want to talk to him like why do you go them for your principal? Like you pay the bills like you should be able to talk to the guy and have a chat with them and a woman just they’re not going to buy.
[00:54:56] And then I think the third thing as well is probably thinking about putting yourself in their shoes because I think a lot of times dentists have got this lifestyle in their head of how, you know, why they’re so upset that they get paid on time. Nurses live off £5 extra in the month to live off. They get paid on time. They just can’t even survive. So you need to put yourself in their shoes and bring yourself down a level. I think some associates even get too big for their boots and start like, you know, treat the nurses like if they’re just some sort of like just person in the corner, but they don’t realise how important that person is for them to actually get their job done. And yes, they’re making those money, they’re doing really well. But actually that nurse, they couldn’t do that. So I think you’ve got to put yourself in their shoes and think how they would think too. And sometimes they don’t get enough. First time round must repeat yourself ten times the nurse to get the one job done. But remember then these guys aren’t working. You know, they come out of school, probably they got A-levels and they’ve just come to nurse review. They’re not, you know, triple A A-level. People have gone to university for five years and learnt stuff. They’re not going that same mindset. So you’ve got to take a step, step back a bit and just work out how do you communicate that person properly and put yourself in their shoes? And I think lastly, just, you know, pay your staff, right? Be a market leading kind of practise owner where all group where you are actually thinking about the values of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it for as in clinically, but also paying your staff.
[00:56:19] Right. I think I’ve seen a lot of practises over the years where they get the whole team to leave every six months. It’s a great practise on the front of it on Instagram. Looks amazing. Everyone thinks is the best practise in the country. When you go there, you look at their things going to term. It’s so high. What’s going on here. They think that’s too good for the rest of the team and therefore they can just pay what they want to pay and it is what it is. I think that’s a really bad way of thinking. I think you should be thinking more about how do you retain the staff? If it costs more, do it and make more afterwards. Don’t keep losing staff just to keep bottom line small as very old school way of thinking and many opinions. But just generally it’s very old way of thinking about like, you know, how do I keep my costs really tight and don’t worry about anything else. Like think about culture and team. It’s not easy to recruit talent these days, right? And I think if you get those things right, you can be a good partner. And then if you’re good partner, you can make lots of money to so or principle. Not just to principle.
[00:57:11] Yeah, I agree with you. There’s got to be some sort of focus on earning more by making people happy than trying to always cut costs. You know, you know you’re in business, but in business both are important, aren’t they? But it’s just that sort of people don’t realise how quickly they can ruin a relationship with a human does taken years and years and years to build up. And it reminds me something Zeba Sheikh said that just simple body language, you know, acknowledging people waive all of that, all of that means something, you know, when you when you’re the boss and we forget that sometimes, then we I’ve seen that as enlightened, grown, and we’ve got more and more people that getting to getting to know people has become a harder thing. And now you’ve got 1000 to think about.
[00:58:09] Well, not mine. Father’s death certificate. I mean, I’m not I don’t get to know all the members, the staff members themselves, but I try.
[00:58:18] Tell me about the practise in your group that you’ve got least knowledge of. Is there one is there one that you bought without? You didn’t see it. Someone else handled everything.
[00:58:29] Because that’s going to happen du jour. If you go to 100 by next year, that’s going to happen a lot.
[00:58:34] There’s been a few. There was one that we bought. I don’t know the names of it, but it.
[00:58:40] Was absolutely.
[00:58:41] It was in Hertfordshire. I didn’t get to view it. I just bought it. I went there the first time after it was completed, after a few weeks when I did the refurb a team. But I think it gets to a certain point where I’m actually going back to it anymore, because if you’re going to if you’re going to buy a practise, take out the principal, the numbers of numbers, premises, the premises. The rest of it comes down to the right partner coming in and keep them out of work. And if it’s not all the normal kind of bits that we might like in terms of a small contract, blah blah is what it is, man. It could be any practise anyway. I don’t make a difference to me. As long as it’s not million miles from London, I can make it work. So yeah, we are know because it takes sometimes 2 hours, two viewings and then 2 hours to come back and just waste half a day to do a viewing, whereas our team does anyway. So it’s nice though to meet dentists and stuff because I do like to get a face to face like see something that and say like what you’re selling to us because you get a lot of stuff from inspectors and don’t look in the prospectus and it looks amazing when you go there, you think this guy is dodgy. I don’t want to the fact that it’s got like a ticking time bomb here, but I think our team knows now what’s kind of some red flags to hear when they’re saying that they’re just doing £500 a month. I’m like, Hmm, that sounds interesting. It must be working a lot of days. Oh, but one day a week. That sounds really good. Yeah, really, really good. So, yeah, I think, you know, a few red flags, but yeah, I think we kind of know what’s right, what’s wrong. Our partners go there as well. So the dentists, they kind of know what’s right, what’s wrong as well.
[01:00:11] And are you still doing this thing where you’re just ripping the place apart and rebranding straight away?
[01:00:17] Pretty much, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
[01:00:19] Is that part of do you think that’s actually important to sort of rip the soul out of the old place and, you know, like.
[01:00:26] Yeah, I mean, I think if it’s a good perhaps of a good soul, it’s fine. But once again, we’re buying patches that just don’t these guys don’t care. Like most of the time they just like, I don’t work here working 2 hours a week. I let it run itself down for last five years ago and down every year. My turnover is cut contract by doing it by it not having and they have no marketing and branding. It’s like the dentist in Hampstead. It’s got no actual brand behind it, no website. These are ones that haven’t got anything anyway in the first place. It’s got a great band like Kiss, for example. That one bought recently in Colchester, North West. What’s that.
[01:01:00] One called?
[01:01:01] North Hill Dental North. Yeah. So what would impact is that great brand locally? People know it. Make good reviews on Google. You wouldn’t get with the brand, you keep it. So it’s just about working out if it’s the right brand to keep or lose and like at ten times to lose because they haven’t got anything in the first place. So why buying it right as potential.
[01:01:22] I remember payment, the other beautiful payment saying things. Somebody saying that some of the some of the staff felt like they were mourning the loss of their their building because like where it is now, the toilet or something. Yeah.
[01:01:43] I mean, I think there’s there’s two of things, right? There’s the actual physical premises where you’re updating it and making it look nice. And there’s the brand of like, you know, if you had a generally a great brand and it was really good and it worked well, we never lose it. We would keep it. But I don’t think anyone now after tours are buying that many Baptists can say it wasn’t the right thing for the parts because actually they’re all doing great now from 3 to 6 chairs that were really busy. You know, I think it takes some time for change and it will be a big initial kind of like jerk reaction. But after seeing it and the where everyone involved, for example, we bought one in Beau, that was for 70, 80 years old. And literally it was, you know, the physical premises wasn’t up to scratch of what it should be for three factors in both. We did a refurb that took six months, found asbestos in there. Like, you know, you never see that stuff in advance. You find these problems. We do refurbish and is what it is and the team like there’s dust everywhere, there’s mess everywhere. Like builders are making noise all the time that it and off they saw the refurb finished so I went in there when they’re all grumbling about how annoying it is with the refurb happening and there I went there afterwards actually last week and they were like, you’re right. Like you guys were fully on point with what you’re doing. It makes sense now. I love it here. I can see the vision of it now, but at the beginning we couldn’t see it. We just thought, you guys just coming in here doing X, Y and Z. So like. Is hard to show a practise of a team for 20 years the same team they’re what’s going to look like never end until I see it and they be in it. That’s pretty different.
[01:03:19] It’s very different, man, because I constantly give advice to people by and practises to not do this. Yeah. To evolve not not revolution. Evolution makes sure the team and the patients don’t think anything’s happened when you first buy it and and you’ve taken that and put it on his head and just destroy. Which it’s interesting. It’s working for you. If it’s working for you, it’s working.
[01:03:40] Yeah. No, I mean, I did the same thing as well, to be honest, if you like my first practise and same thing, I didn’t change anything at the same team, the same team, the same everything apart from a rebrand. And it was a worse I could have done because actually I could have easily understood quicker by bringing the right team and the right conditions and the way everything I wanted to do, they won. And actually it is a bit more ballsy to do it, but if you do it and you’ll see that patient go back a step by your potential and your patient going in there, if you can see it being rebranded with a nice brand, you know, a nice new paint on the walls, new flooring, new desk, the reception area, new patient flow scanners. You would probably want to spend more money there. It’s quite straightforward. You’re not going to get much growth out. Perhaps if you don’t change the team, you haven’t changed your practise. And if it’s not great from day one, how are you going to grow it? What you do differently? You’re not going to do anything differently apart from the price itself. I think it’s hard to then tell patients, Oh, what’s a double now? But we have a lot of different objectives, so you have to do one or the other. And I think it’s either you do it later or you do it slowly or you’re doing one go. And the whole plan depends on how bad it is in first place. If it’s a nice practise, you’re right. Keep it as it is, evolve it slowly and do it a bit. But if it’s not a great practise from day one, then you need to just crack on. Man, I have a.
[01:04:56] Question. I want to ask you some darker questions now. We’re known for our dark questions. All right, well, I’ve got three. I’ve got three for you.
[01:05:06] What’s been your biggest mistake in this venture?
[01:05:11] Biggest mistake would be sometime. Well, I’m not to name names or what happened, but bringing on. The wrong people in the business. For the sake of convenience. Yeah. So what I mean by that is, you know, I haven I’m going to bring you in for X, Y and Z job in the organisation. And because you’re the first one I’ve seen in the market or because it’s easy, you’re there an opportunity is there or the jobs are available. I need someone now. I just bring you in to make it easier for myself. That’s been a bigger problem because mistakes, I say, because by doing that one person in it has a negative effect on the rest of the nation, either from head office or perhaps level or whatever. And then that to fix that takes a lot longer than it was just to wait for a few weeks to find the right person. So I think it’s important to wait for the right person and the right fit for the company rather than rushing it because it’s convenient and easy.
[01:06:21] Except when you’re growing quickly. Sometimes you have to. Right. That’s that’s the way it is.
[01:06:27] I mean.
[01:06:28] You want to expand on that for us a little bit?
[01:06:30] No, I think.
[01:06:34] All right. Let’s move on to my next one. What’s your biggest weakness, your own personal, biggest weakness? It’s like an interview question.
[01:06:41] And sometimes sometimes I’m too quick to jump the gun. You know, when you move as fast as we move and I fast, my mind moves. My gut instinct is probably what I always go off. Every single time just comes out of my mouth. Don’t even think it’s just no filter.
[01:06:58] But when you say something inappropriate.
[01:07:02] No, no, no. It’s not saying it’s not decisions. So if you say what I do because my job now is making decisions, all I do I do is go to work, make decisions every day. That’s it. Go home and actually physically do anything to make the right decision and think I’m like a little couple in my head thinking through every scenario of what the decision is and say yes or no to it or whatever. Right. And I play chess when I was younger. And I don’t know if you ever play chess before, but you can get timers of chess. You can do 50 minute chess games. Right. And in that game, you play a game blitz chess. So you have to make decision, do it and hit the clock and move on to next one. I ain’t got time to think. You got to do what you think is why. Quickly and bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. So that’s how I literally run the business right now. Like, I’m literally thinking my head off. I think I’ve only got like 12,000 days to work or 50 hours a day to do work. I need to get all the stuff done in 15 hours. Bah bah bah bah, boom. And sometimes I will rush into it, but actually take a step back and think about it and give a decision to that and not actually think, you know, I should taken about another day to think about that properly before I did my decision on it. And I wouldn’t say that I’m wrong all the time, but I am wrong. Obviously, no one’s perfect, so I think I should just take a deep breath sometime. Just take a step back and think once I can, I’ll tell you 5 minutes me right now, because that hot potato mindset, it’s hard to think about some straight away, think about it first and then do it because then I’ll change position afterwards and oh shit, I should have said that the first time around.
[01:08:25] I find a partner is very good for that, for for balancing. At the same time with a partner, sometimes you have to it slows you down as well. Right, because you can’t make every decision you want to make.
[01:08:36] Yeah. Yeah.
[01:08:37] My final nasty question. What keeps you up at night regarding this business?
[01:08:47] I’ll tell you what it is. The honest truth is keeping the quality of what we had in the first practise the same. Every time I want to deliver that 100% patient journey, 100% partnership to our partners, 100% to our team, the staff morale, culture, the award winning kind of mentality and doing that without becoming the next honestly, because that’s the biggest fear you’re going to have, right? Getting so big that you lose that quality. And in theory, it shouldn’t be happening because you’ve got partners there. The things we mentioned over this whole call, but it is a fear because I don’t want to be the next massive quote, but that’s just got a shitty reputation for having a high staff turnover and churn rate. I want to be like the same as what we had the first time around. Like a virgin at the next 2000 employees that come on board, I want to all feel that same level of support and emotion for the job and love working for the company.
[01:09:47] Yeah, but what else keeps you up at night? I like that, but.
[01:09:51] I didn’t really know anything.
[01:09:53] What keeps you up at night? What you said there was kind of more, like, aspirational, which I like. Yeah, but.
[01:10:01] I mean, it.
[01:10:01] Worries the hell out of you.
[01:10:06] Seem pretty good these days, man. I mean, look, I think I think look, I mean, the obvious thing is obviously hitting targets in terms of like.
[01:10:14] With the grid is what keeps what keeps some dental associate up at night, GDC hearing whatever. Something like.
[01:10:21] That will.
[01:10:22] Keep him up at night. What keeps you Dev Patel up at night? Like what would be a bad case scenario that you’re worried about? You want to talk about it honestly? Right. Well.
[01:10:32] I tell you what it is like. If you ask me, it’s two years ago. I’ll have 25 things and I’ll tell you what they were like. It was like, well, the bank has financing for the next part or will we be able to hire the associates for that? Perhaps because we’ve got bums on seats we haven’t got ready to go? Well, we’re in a position now, when I say we, I mean myself personally, where I’m really comfortable. I’m not stressed out anymore, like generally because like personally or good families or good health or good. That’s number three. Three things. Then off that comes the business. And I mean, we haven’t got any major red flags, but I’m like, Oh shit, this is going to be a complete shit show tomorrow. I’m stressed out. But because we’ve got great teams, we’ve got great people in practises, I’m not just saying I’m being very honest now, like I don’t actually think I’m a huge one because in the end day everything’s aligned. Like if I was on my own with no partners, I’ll be stressed out like, Oh my God, how am I going to make sure that was employed happy all the time. But we’ve got great partners on the ground level doing their job, we’ve got great teams are back and doing their bit and managers now doing bits for me before I was doing myself where I was stressed out.
[01:11:36] Now that I’ve got people below me doing all the different department heads who are reporting to me, then it’s actually a lot easier to run an organisation. And both there we think we’re double our targets, what we’re meant to be doing from our backers because that could be stressful as well. I guess if you weren’t hit a target as an equity backing group, then you’d be stressed out. You think I’m totally going to buy 10,000? You have only bought five. I’m stressed out because we are ahead of a curve, both on our point of view, growth point of view and M&A point of view. It’s not stressful. So I think it’s stressful for new for the first time and worrying about your team makes you happy. There’s always a stress for me because I’m like, I want everyone’s happy in my team and I do that job, but it comes down to that quality level. I want everyone to be happy, so I don’t actually have like a general fear. Like if tomorrow everything went to shit and I had to retire, I wouldn’t really care. Like, is what it is like. Be upset. I’ll be upset by what.
[01:12:31] Seems like you’re in a good place right now. Seems like it’s all going to get disturbed when you add another 50 practise, but well done, buddy. That’s nice. Nice to hear that, because I remember last time you were a bit like running, trying to change the tire in a racing car, as you were myself.
[01:12:46] Yeah. That’s the difference when you when I was actually on my own doing everything on my own, I was doing it by myself. I was doing everything myself. And it was a one man team. Now I get to around me, it’s a lot easier and I think that’s like a really blessed position to be in because you’re not having to do everything yourself anymore and you can delegate to other people who can do the well the job better. You can actually and have more time to do it properly rather than try and do 120 1010 things in one day. And actually I can do more shooting things now, which I think is, is really nice to be able to do.
[01:13:15] Let’s finish it with what you think the future’s going to hold both for dentistry and your group. I mean, how do you see the macro economy? Does that help.
[01:13:24] Keep. Yeah, yeah. Once again, I think it’s I’m not saying that, you know, there’s obviously things that can affect dentistry, but we are quite a niche industry where we’re not affected as much by the macro economy. It’s like you train more like you think, Oh, that’s going to have a huge impact on many things on the world. But actually dentistry is not affected in any way, most likely in the UK. So there’s like, you know, big things in the world going on. It’s actually going to happen for sure. But will that affect us that much? Probably a bit here and there, but not a huge amount, because once again, if you’ve got a great service, people need to get the teeth done. They’ll come to us. It happened during the last recession, too. So I do think that there are factors that would affect a practise owner now in the industry because of macro economy. So like for example, interest rates are going up for sure. That’s going to affect people’s loans. That’s going to mean that’s many more repayments, less profits, less cash flow. So, you know, these things will happen. But for us on our side as a group, I won’t affect us in any way. We’re like we’re just like in our bubble with terms of our financing and stuff. So, you know, will there be any have a major effect on the industry? Yes, I think we’ll start seeing our wave of dentists go out of NHS and go into private a lot more than we’ve recently seen over the last five years. We’ll be like ten, ten times more prominent in the next 26 months to a year. I think we’re going to start seeing perhaps is not hitting targets anymore and given that the is just don’t wanna do it anymore which would be a big shift generally for contracts and how could they happen over the years?
[01:14:54] I think you see the private market turning into like the super high end private market, like dental and then middle and then like. Do you see that?
[01:15:03] Yeah. Yeah. I think we’re going to start seeing a major shift in the mid-market of a general practise. That’s mid-market. No more associate. Sorry, no more patches around the M 25 belt or just suburbs of cities going from 50%, 5% NHS to maybe 80%, five, 20% NHS. And if they don’t hit target like oh well guys and I don’t really care anymore kind of thing I think we’ll see associate. Applying for jobs only mainly private and not heavy on. So rather than that 6000 per year per chair, it might be 4000, 3000 now. So that’s gonna be the new norm. And I think we’ll, we’ll start seeing a lot more squats being built up, greenfields where people are taking the punch of it’s been great for the last two years of private let’s kind of give it a go. Risky that would be most likely to be some failures there, too. But I think it’s definitely another big push right now. And then finally, I think it’s gonna be a big change of recruitment have to happen from either India or Australia or somewhere around the world. It’s gonna be an influx of them coming over once we eventually jettison standards out, actually allow them to over quicker because there’s not enough dentists right now and nurses and staff to actually accommodate for these perhaps that need the help in expanding rural areas around the country. And so I think those are a bit of bigger changes but we that everyone knows WEDI and for us I think it was just going to be keep doing what we’re doing. We might look to strategically buy some other kind of platforms in other cities where we’re not in right now. So we can keep growing in other areas that we’re not in, but staying to the core of big cities, good affluent areas that we know we can do good part of industry. And it’s kind of cool of what people really buy. There’s so many good things out there who could be partners for us as scientists and to meet them and speak to them and see if that could work and we can work together.
[01:16:51] Really amazing. Since last time we’ve changed one of our final questions. So you answered the ones before, but there’s a new one. Guess it’s about fancy dinner party.
[01:17:06] Three guests, dead or alive.
[01:17:11] Am. Okay. Elon Musk.
[01:17:17] Jay-z Yeah.
[01:17:21] And. It’s tough on them. Probably my uncle.
[01:17:31] Your uncle?
[01:17:32] Yeah. It was quite a close part of how many people I passed away, and it was like kind of the reason why it’s in the first place. So. Yeah.
[01:17:41] When did he passed away?
[01:17:43] When our second study at uni.
[01:17:47] Who’s that? Your dad’s brother.
[01:17:48] That’s brother. Yeah. Similar kind of a typical Indian story came from East Africa, came over here sort of business and did loads of material things. And yeah, I kind of work on entrepreneur flair in the first place, so.
[01:18:03] If you think he was the one who maybe put the seed in you. I mean, look.
[01:18:10] We’re one of the ones that I know as well. But not as an entrepreneur. But like, you know, when we were kids, we weren’t, you know, playing Xbox and stuff we’re doing doing the accounts for our company. Some of that, like we’ve been looking for that when I was five or six years old. You learn these things by doing this stuff with these guys and going to meetings and you know, back then it was weird, like, you should be sitting there, we’ll have a business meeting and you’d be like told to sit there and talk and about these things in a way that you probably should be learning. But, you know, it’s a good way of doing things.
[01:18:42] Yeah, you got some by osmosis, man. Lovely to have you, buddy, for the second time. And really good luck with this. And I’m sure I’m sure you’re going to flourish, but it’s been really, again, really nice having you.
[01:18:56] Thanks for having me back again.
[01:18:57] Buddy. Thanks, man.
[01:19:00] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts Payman, Langroudi and Prav. Solanki.
[01:19:16] Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this file, you must have listened to the whole thing and just a huge thank you both from me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guest has had to say, because I’m assuming you got some value out of it. If you did get some value out of it, think about subscribing. And if you would share this with a friend who you think might get some value out of it, too. Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Thanks. And don’t forget our six star rating.