In the first episode of a special two-part show, Prav gets together with dentist, educator and rugby fanatic Dr Ian Buckle.

Ian talks about his early days in a Christian Brothers’ school and finding his feet in NHS practice.

Ian talks us through his conversion to aesthetic, cosmetic and minimally-invasive dentistry, the journey into teaching and his new Complete GDP training course with IAS Academy.

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” – Ian Buckle

In This Episode

01.51 – Backstory
12.35 – Drive and motivation
19.59 – Dental school & education
26.34 – Highs and lows
29.37 – Into work
34.21 – A change of tack
44.51 – Complete dentistry & the cosmetic wave
50.51 – Into teaching
55.42 – Orthodontics and minimally-invasive restoration
58.12 – The Complete GDP

About Ian Buckle

Ian qualified from Liverpool University in 1985 and spent time in NHS practice before setting up Buckle Advanced Dental Care in the Wirral.

He is a prolific educator who has run courses with The Dawson Academy and IAS Academy, who has also designed practical training on the core curriculum.

He is also a prolific international speaker who hosts regular study clubs and seminars.

Ian has committed to spending one-third of his time teaching and the remaining time in clinical practice.

He is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD), The British Dental Association (BDA) and the Association of Dental Implantology (ADI).

Ian Buckle: And so, if you want to be successful at doing beautiful dentistry, you have to make it work well. And I want to… Pete had a lot of great sayings, and one of them was, “We all have a reputation. It just depends what that is.” And so, he wanted to be a reputation that the guy that could fix things, that made things look great, that made them work well, and that would bring in new patients, but also from a practise profitability perspective, in the nicest possible way, he wanted to fix that patient and get them into a hygiene programme and never have to do too much to them again, because what people don’t realise is when you start doing this stuff and it starts failing, it starts costing you big time.

Announcer: 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.

Prav Solanki: It gives me great pleasure to have Ian Buckle on the Dental Leaders Podcast as our guest today, and he’s famously known for running, in my mind anyway, occlusion courses and heading up the European arm of The Dawson Academy during his teaching career. He’s got a beautiful clinic in The Wirral that I can only describe after visiting like stepping into somebody’s home, but then going there and experiencing the latest, state of the art, digital dentistry at the highest possible level in the area, if not the country. And he’s a very down to earth Northerner as well, which is fantastic, so I don’t have to put on my posh London voice.

Ian Buckle: No. That’s for sure.

Prav Solanki: Ian, we usually start these interviews by asking how you grew up. What was your backstory? What was childhood like? So, just take us back to growing up and what that was like for you.

Ian Buckle: I’m sure it was a very normal upbringing in the ’60s. We’re from quite humble backgrounds. My father left school when he was 14 and basically worked at a factory. My mom mainly brought us up and had a little part-time job. We lived in a three-bedroom council house, five of us, with my granddad. It was very cosy, to say the least. We didn’t have much, but we were happy. Didn’t know any better perhaps, and we just went… Growing up, just went along and went to the local school, St. Matthew’s in Clubmoor. And round here, or certainly back in the day in Liverpool, we had the 11 Plus for those of you who remember that, so I was fortunate or unfortunate enough to be smart enough to get through that, and I went to St. Edward’s, which was a good rugby school not too far away in West Derby in Liverpool.
And that was sort of a… I have to say, my mom in particular was very… I don’t think she got the opportunities when she was young, so she was very keen to help us and did a great deal for us educationally with what we could. And then, she encouraged us when we went to grammar school as well. It was a Christian Brothers school, and I know you hear lots of stories about Christian Brothers schools these days, but it was a good experience for me. I don’t think I was a great pupil. I mainly turned up for the sport, and I think like a lot of young men sort of drifted through education with short spells of motivation and mainly just trying not to get the strap as we used to get in those days for not doing our homework.

Prav Solanki: Was that actually a thing, Ian, getting the strap?

Ian Buckle: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Tell me about it. I’ll tell you what, when I was at school we had a math teacher called Mr. Hindley. It wasn’t back in the day where that was allowed, so as a punishment we’d get lines, right, and you’d have to get your folks to sign it and they’d find out you’d been naughty. But he gave you two choices. He said, “Prav, you can either have lines or you can have the beater bat.” And the beater bat was a plastic baseball bat that had been sliced down the middle, filled with sand, and then taped back up, and he’d stand you in front of the class and absolutely wallop you across the backside. And my god, it stung. I always opted for that, mate, because I didn’t want my dad to find out.

Ian Buckle: Well, it was done then. It was over with as well then.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. It lasted a few days actually, but you got it over and done with. It was hard to sit down after that. So, tell us about the strap? Did you get it much?

Ian Buckle: I didn’t, because it’s only in later years that I’ve become a little bit more non-conformist I think. My parents did too good a job of making me behave. I’d probably go out my way to try and get approval from people, which is not always the best thing, but I never liked to let people down. So, I wasn’t really the sort that would be getting the strap very often. It was there. It was a leather… It was a proper leather strap, probably about five, six millimetres thick. Some of the guys back then, they’d have these ones that were frayed at the edges, so that when they caught you with that, that would really sting, and you’d get little leather splinters in you.
But I have to say that… I can tell you lots of stories about things that went on then, but I fortunately managed to stay away from it all the time. It was really the… I mean, to be honest with you, for me the strap was… When you talk about writing lines, I mean, it’s more of a punishment because you had to do something and you had to let your parents know, whereas you get a little bit of that and it’s over with. I mean, it depends. I remember my dad telling me… I mean, going back even further, he got caught smoking in the toilet, so it was on the school stage. Pants down. Cane on the backside. And that was more about the humiliation of it, I think, in front of your peers that was designed to put people off. Sometimes I think the strap for us had the opposite effect in that you became sort of the school hero for getting a load of it as you did.
The couple of times I did get the strap was related to not doing homework. I was fortunate. I was quite good at sports and I was playing for the school first team when I was 15, so we had different sort of schedules. So, I would be playing rugby, and then being naughty they’d take you for a pint afterwards. And after one pint, doing French homework didn’t seem the best thing to do, and then you turned up and faced the consequences the next day. That was about it.
It was certainly something that would… For those who were brought up that way, no one wanted to have to say that they’d got the strap and whatever else. So, it was a punishment, but thankfully the sort of school that I went to, most of the time most of us weren’t getting it. But some of the Christian Brothers, teaching was not their first profession really. They struggled a little bit. We got up to all sorts of tricks, which would drive them insane. There’s lots of stories, which are probably not for now.

Prav Solanki: Right. Fair enough. What sort of student were you, Ian? Were you one of these kids that was just naturally gifted and talented, so academically it just came very naturally to you, or were you a grafter?

Ian Buckle: I don’t know that I was either really, to be honest with you. Going to a grammar school, all of a sudden I was taken out of this environment where I just turned up and I was always obviously bright enough, and I think I was fortunate because my mother was a great educator for me, and I was sort of the top of the tree without really thinking about it. And all of a sudden you’re plunged into this environment with people who are massively more intelligent than you, and everyone’s got their strengths and weaknesses and they’re all from different backgrounds. I mean, that to me was a proper education then, because I had to learn that you’re not always top of the pile, that some people are good at some things, some people are good at other. And it was interesting to meet people from different backgrounds. I certainly wasn’t the top of the range with the most in that school, but I also wasn’t the bottom either.
So, you met a real range of people, and I think that gave you a good, rounded education, but as far as I would know, I mean, I think… Well, I don’t know. I don’t know these days, but I would say I was certainly a typical boy of the time in that I was far more interested in sports and other things, and I just did my work to get through. And with it being a grammar school I was largely spoonfed, so it got me through pretty well. As I got to my O Levels, as it was in those days, GCSEs, I think I got the hint a little bit and got my head down and did some stuff and actually did quite well with that. And I thought, “Okay, this is what I need to do from now on.” Then started A Levels and thought, “Well, actually, there’s more important things to do,” and dropped off again.
I mean, people say, “Why did you do dentistry?” Well, going to a Christian Brothers school, the careers advisor was a Christian Brother. Now, I don’t know what the listeners would know about Christian Brothers, but they don’t usually have a wide experience of the working world. So, you would turn up with your A Levels or potential A Levels in chemistry, physics, and biology, which was sort of what we had to do in those days, and they would look in the book and go, “Oh, right. Well, you could be a doctor.” “No. Don’t fancy that. Can’t afford the time. Got no money. What else?” “Oh, well, I think you’d be good in a lab.” Well, anyone that knows me knows I have the attention span of a gnat, so that’s not going to work out very well for me. And actually, a couple of my pals had done dentistry and they were quite enjoying it, and I saw it as something… I like working with my hands. I like making things. I like solving problems. So I thought, “Well, give that a go,” and just pitched up and had a go.

Prav Solanki: And so, you mentioned a couple of your pals had done dentistry. Was there any one in particular that had inspired you at the time where you thought, “I quite like that person’s lifestyle,” or they’ve said something about dentistry that’s appealed to you?

Ian Buckle: Honest truth, no. It was just… I mean, the background that I was from, the only professional people that I knew were teachers, priests, and doctors. Everyone else I knew worked in a factory, or a few were at her Majesty’s pleasure. I knew I didn’t want to be a priest. For some reason I wasn’t cut out for that. Although at that time, my grandmother, who was a very religious person… It was still quite common for the eldest son to go to the seminary or whatever. Thankfully, I wasn’t the eldest, and so… I was head altar boy for quite a while, which I think a lot of people could understand with my… Anyway, but that’s a different story.
I liked biology and I liked sport, so you think, “Oh, I’ll be a biology teacher.” And then I just thought, “Well, let me see if I can do something else. I want to do something different. I want to do something that…” I like making things and, like I say, solving problems, so dentistry seemed to be something, but there was no… I hadn’t had any… My only sort of run-ins with dentists was being told I didn’t need braces because I was a boy, because you’re allowed to… Sexism was big in the ’60s. And making me a gum shield, which I thought was quite interesting. That was about it.

Prav Solanki: Right. And so, just going back to influence, you mentioned that obviously your mother was quite a big influence in sort of education and that sort of thing, and you’d come from very humble beginnings. Was there some kind of theme that was going on when you were younger that there was some kind of drive or motivation to do better and there was a push for that? What was that?

Ian Buckle: I think it was… To be honest with you, I think it was very much a working class thing in those days that there was always a drive to do better. People like my mom and dad, they saw opportunity and they wanted you to have a better life than they’d had. I actually see it today and I see it in different communities, and I’m not going to say what communities because you get accused of all sorts these days, but you see it and I think it’s great. It’s based on respect for your parents and their desire to try and get you to improve. And to be honest with you, from our perspective, get you out of the situation that they’ve been in, if you like, and be able to achieve more.
It’s a little bit interesting as well. I mean, certainly from my position now. There’s also a story which I do think people need to know with anyone who’s in that situation. It’s the old rich dad poor dad thing, which is they saw, like a lot of us see, becoming a professional as being the key to success. And I think it’s two things. One was money and two was respect, perhaps. I mean, certainly as a professional, maybe you get some respect, but it’s not always the key to money. I know lots of people who understand money, who make a lot more money than I have, because they understood how to buy something for… Well, let’s say they understood how to sell something for 20% more, which I didn’t have that education. So, it stood me in good stead and I’m certainly not complaining, but I think it’s good for people to understand that professions are great, but you also have to understand the business side of things as well to be financially successful, if that’s something you’re interested in.

Prav Solanki: In a similar light, some things that resonate with me and my upbringing, Ian, because me and my brother were brought up by my dad, single parent, and he always used to drill into us, “Taxi driver. Shopkeeper.” And he always used to say to us growing up, “The reason I’m working so hard is because I don’t want you to do what I’m doing. And if you end up doing what I do, then I failed.” And that really, really resonates with me all the time in terms of that.
And the same thing now, right, that we end up in a fortunate position or situation with our children, and you want them to do better, but for us now, better… I don’t know about you, Ian, but for me, better is not necessarily saying I want my son to be or my daughter to be a doctor, dentist, or professional. I want them to do well in whatever chosen career. I want to make sure if they’re doing their exams, they’re giving it their all. I want them to be happy. I want them to rock up at work every single day and absolutely love what they do. Whereas certainly for me, there was a bit of pressure to sort of be a professional and with that will come money. Did not understand that piece at the time. The overarching thesis from my dad was, “I definitely don’t want you to do what I do.”

Ian Buckle: No, absolutely. And my dad didn’t want me to be working in a factory like him. I think my mom, because I mean, she… My grandfather died when she was very young, so she was raised by just my grandmother, and she had my mom and a brother. Her brother actually went to the preschool for a while. Didn’t survive there. But my mom, terrible thing these days, but because she was female never got the opportunity. And she was obviously bright. She went to a grammar school of the day and did well, but then had to go out and work to support the family. So, she never got that opportunity and she wanted us to have that opportunity.
But as you quite rightly say, I see now, and one of the things as I… I know it’s hard to believe, but as I approach my 60th birthday, that you start to reflect on the things and you can actually see what’s gone on a little bit more. It’s certainly only been in the last couple of years that I’ve sort of been able to maybe connect those dots a little bit more. Steve Jobs said a while ago, “It’s almost impossible to connect the dots going forward. You can only connect them going back.” From my perspective, exactly like you’ve just said. I just want them to be happy. But how much do you push kids at school? How much do you make them go to rugby? How much do you do this? Maybe I’ve been a little bit on the other side. I don’t know.
But you see, my opinion was that we actually… We did stuff and we were fortunate enough to do quite well, but we were actually frightened a lot of the time. We were frightened of failing, which is a great stimulus, but it’s also very unpleasant. But what I was hoping for with my next generation is that they would have the springboard to go on and do whatever it was with the safety net underneath them to feel as though that they… It’s that question, what would you do if you couldn’t fail? And that’s what you’re trying to create, but I think the problem is when you create the safety net you also create comfort, and comfort does not encourage people to move on.
There’ll always be some people who are driven. Without saying nothing about the kids, I’ve got certainly one of them who’s very comfortable. And they’re different characters, and it’s easy to say, “Well, I’m not so bothered. It doesn’t really matter. If they’re happy enough with that then that’s okay,” but for me, that’s what I tried to do, was to create a springboard for them so if they really wanted to, then they could move on and try all sorts of things and find the thing that really floated their boat and then be successful in that, whatever that might mean to them.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. It is a tough one that, and I agree with you there, Ian, that when we give our kids everything it creates complacency, and it’s difficult not to give them everything either because you love them to bits, right?

Ian Buckle: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: It’s a tough balance.

Ian Buckle: Well, I do also think that I’m a bit of a Victorian dad. I’m not there with [inaudible] phones. They haven’t been given so much stuff, but they’ve lived a nice life with nice holidays and always had cars and whatever else. So, I mean, what else do you need? I mean, it’s a comfortable life.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. So fast-forward then, Ian, to dental school. The process of getting in actually, what was it like? What sort of grades did you need to get? What was the process of getting in? And then, what was that like for your parents to experience that news that their son’s just got into dental school?

Ian Buckle: It’s a funny thing. So, what was it like? Well, the grades were less in those days. Dentists were probably considered second-class medics. The grades were a little bit lower, and there also seemed to be a bit more emphasis on the character and what you’d done and whether you were the right sort. I don’t know whether that’s appropriate these days. I see now there are so many people with such high grades that you probably have to rule out a lot of people that I think would actually probably be great dentists and great professionals, because they can never quite achieve those grades, where maybe they’ve got much more of the humanity that the profession really needs.
But yeah, so I was able to get good enough grades. Biology was my main thing, so that was easy. That sounds a bit arrogant, doesn’t it, but I just found that really easy. I found maths quite easy because of the nature of my school. Small school. We had to either do science or maths related, so I had to drop my maths. So, physics and chemistry were not nice for me. Managed to get through them, get enough to get in. Persuaded the university with my sporting skills and other things that I did that I could be a good member of their community and managed to get in.
I have no doubt that my mom and dad were very pleased about that. At the same time, I have to say that no one was shouting and screaming from the rooftops. The most you’d get is probably, “Oh, well done. That’s good. Okay. So, go and wash the dishes now.” It was more that sort of… It was always very much downplayed, although I did find out later on when I met some of my dad’s colleagues from the factory about how he always used to talk about what you were doing and how proud he was of you.

Prav Solanki: Lovely to hear.

Ian Buckle: Yeah, which is nice. But as a young fellow you go, “Oh, shut up, Dad. Don’t be saying those things.”

Prav Solanki: Of course. Yeah.

Ian Buckle: So, I’m sure they were very proud, but like I say. So, managed to get in, and then… I mean, being spoonfed at the grammar school and then going to university, I had no clue what was going to happen. And then you came across people from all sorts of backgrounds. Came across something that’s been a mystery for all of my life, females. People from all sorts of religions, cultures, backgrounds, educational backgrounds, and it was great. Made some good friends there.
And again, I sort of just drifted through trying to do what I had to do to get through. I’m willing to accept that I wasn’t a great student. I can’t say that I was particularly inspired by anyone again. The thing is, I think in education, when you get an education, there are teachers that I would say were inspirational to me at my school who really brought me on. I went from being bottom in history to top in history because of the teacher and because of the way they dealt with you and supported you and did whatever.
Now, it’s that stuff that over time makes you think that’s the way that I… If I’m going to help anyone, that’s the way I want to help them. And also, unfortunately the bitter experiences also make you think, “And that’s the way that I definitely do not want to do it.” For whatever reason, people see this craggy old sports person, but I’m actually quite soft and emotional sort. I got a real dressing down a lot of the time and struggled quite a lot through university. Some of it was what you’d call mental health issues these days, so I’m very pleased that that’s a bit more to the fore, but it was sort of quite old fashioned somewhat. It was, “You’ll do this. We’ll crack the whip.” There was no one for me that really inspired me to get through that experience. I would just hate anyone else’s education to feel that way, to be honest with you.

Prav Solanki: It sounds like you didn’t have the best of times at dental school.

Ian Buckle: I’m also very… I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just want to say maybe I wasn’t the best student either. I think in those days as well, a lot of stuff was very academically based and about behaving yourself and doing that, and I would do what I could to get through, but I liked other things as well.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. So, Ian, what were the lows of dental school? And by the way, where did you go?

Ian Buckle: Liverpool.

Prav Solanki: Liverpool. Oh, so you stayed local then?

Ian Buckle: Well, there’s a bit of a backstory there. My brother’s three years older than me. He was the first one went off to Heriot-Watt University to do actuarial studies and sort of disappeared after about six months, and with that went, I mean, any resources that we had, and also it made me even more terrified about going anywhere. Yeah. Anyway. That’s just the way it is, but anyway. I was playing a lot of rugby and I had a lot of opportunity with the local clubs and things, so I was quite happy to stay there.

Prav Solanki: So, were you living at home or were you living in holes or…

Ian Buckle: Yeah. Sort of one of the… I mean, again, keeping costs down and fear and just not really knowing any better, I stayed at home. You don’t want to have regrets, but I mean, I’d certainly never advise that to any of my children or anyone that wanted to listen.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. Absolutely. So, what were the highs and lows of dental school? You mentioned there were some tough times you went through. Was it mainly to do with passing exams or were there other things going on, Ian, that sort of led to sort of those [crosstalk]?

Ian Buckle: I think most of the time I just sort of kept my head down and managed to get through most of it, and the high spot was escaping and dentist medic sports days and a laugh with pals. Those were the highlights. Totally non-academic. And the one particular time that I remember, I was just having a bad time struggling with requirements and education and whatever and just getting an absolute dressing down when really I needed an arm around my shoulder and encouragement. I actually just didn’t go in for… I can’t remember how long it was, but maybe six, eight weeks, and I mainly just stayed at home, stayed upstairs in my room, struggled with that. My dad was old school. Never said a word. Just let you get on with it. My mom didn’t know what to do, so they just carried on regardless, and we didn’t speak much about it.
And then one day, I mean, again, it’s life’s experience and it’s not something that I would like to see people having to do these days. You’d like to think there’s a lot more support these days, but one day I just got up and thought, “Well, which way am I going with this?” And I had to go in and face up to it and… I’m trying to think of a polite way of saying it, but be a man about it. Face up to it all and crack on. It was an experience. You can look back on those things and say maybe it helped you become the person that you are, but it was also… I think there were nicer ways of getting that experience as well. It’s nice to see… I think there’s an element of encouraging people. I think sometimes we’re a bit soft these days, but it’s also nice to see if someone’s struggling that we can maybe try and help them and help them get over those things and realise a lot of the things are mental issues, and your perception of what’s going on is not the reality.
So, that was a bit of a dark time, but thankfully got through, pulled myself together and came out the other end. And the good thing is today that there are support mechanisms. What makes me sad sometimes is that despite the fact that we have those support mechanisms, we’re not willing enough to support and help each other out as much as possibly we could do.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. So, moving on from there, qualified. First job?

Ian Buckle: Yeah, so back in those days we didn’t have VT or nothing, so I was looking for a job. Got a job in the delights of Crosby Road South in Waterloo, which is sort of north end of Liverpool, moving up that way towards South Port. There was two partners there. One of the younger partners decided to go to Saudi Arabia for tax benefits, which I think was part of the story. Anyway, so there I was, a new kid out of college knowing… I mean, we did a lot more at dental school in those days I think, but came out of college straight into a full list. Was told that boiling water stabilisation was actually okay. I also had a senior partner in the practise who was obviously rather upset about the other person leaving, so he wasn’t very interested in me for quite some time.
I was very fortunate that I had a very well qualified and very clever dental assistant who guided me through. And then thankfully, eventually the senior partner found out that I played rugby and his son played rugby, and then we became good friends. He became a great NHS mentor for me about the 20-minute crown prep and all sorts of other crazy things. We used to have three general anaesthetic sessions a week in those days as well.

Prav Solanki: Oh wow.

Ian Buckle: Yeah. Oh gosh. Yeah. That was an experience. He helped me move on with that, and then after a couple of years the guy came back and I moved on. Went to a practise in Chester, which the first day that I was there, the principal came to me asking me why I’d used more than two paper points to dry a root canal. And I guess I thought, “Well, this isn’t the place for me.” So, that didn’t last long. And then I worked in St. Helen’s for quite a while. All NHS, sort of trying to find my feet.
And also as well, in those days there wasn’t so much in the way of post-graduate educationally. The postgraduate education that there was was the old Section 63 courses, which… I mean, this might sound a bit cruel because there are some good people out there, but were mainly the same people that I didn’t feel had taught me much at university telling me the same thing again. So, there wasn’t much to… There was probably stuff at the [inaudible]. Well, a Northern boy like me wouldn’t know about things like that. And you’re also made to feel that this sort of stuff was beyond you. I mean, there’s one of my inspirational tales from dental school about face bows which was, “Well, a face bow, you want to use that if you’re doing something complicated like a three-unit bridge, and someone like you would never do something like that.”

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Ian Buckle: What tremendous inspiration that is. I mean, like you can see, I probably… I quite like the fact that maybe they see what I’m doing these days and maybe think differently, but it’s not because of what they said. If it is, it’s only indirectly because of what they said.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Ian Buckle: I’ll be honest with you, Prav, I was working in St. Helens and a lot of the time I’d go to work. I mean, I had a mortgage, wife, I had a child at that stage, and the first few years I was just finding my feet. And then the next few years you just think, “Okay. This is okay. I’m getting to grips with this.” Actually, I found it quite boring. I was a tooth mechanic, a tooth plumber dealing with people’s problems all day every day, often not in an optimal circumstance as far as I could see. It was nice to help people, but I really didn’t feel as though I was doing a great job. I kept looking to try and move on, but I couldn’t really find anything. And often I’d go to work, sort of get quite stretched out, and there was a… I don’t know if you know Makro. It’s like Costco. On the way home.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah. Used to go there.

Ian Buckle: Yeah. So, sometimes what I’d do then is because I was so fed up of work I’d go there and I’d buy the latest video or something like that, and then I’d get home and for about a couple of hours I was excited about this new piece of kit that I’d bought, and then I’d realise I’ve just spent that money and now I have to go back to work and do the same thing that I didn’t want to do in order to get the money. And so, you got yourself on this dreadful wheel, and often you’d be working to go on holiday and then you’d spend the first week de-stressing and the second week stressing about going back.
I actually got to a point after about 12 years where there was… As I was driving to St. Helens, there was a… I used to turn right to the practise and there was a Little Chef just straight onward, and I thought… It was before the days of mobile phones. I thought, “You know, I think I’ll just go there and no one will know where I am.” I just didn’t want to go. They always say that when the student is ready the teacher appears, and I’ll be honest with you, I was going to pack in. I just couldn’t-

Prav Solanki: Weren’t happy.

Ian Buckle: Well, I just thought, “You know what? It’s not worth it. I don’t want to do this anymore.” And actually, that was when I came across a guy called Paddi Lund. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Paddi. He’s a mad Australian. The mad Australian dentist.

Prav Solanki: I have heard of him. Yeah. Yeah. Was he in the Little Chef?

Ian Buckle: He wasn’t in the Little Chef.

Prav Solanki: No.

Ian Buckle: But Paddi wrote a book called The Happiness-Centred Business, and his story is about basically getting to that point of, in his case, I think almost topping himself because of the situation. He tried to be the emergency guy, the denture guy, the superdy-duper guy, all those things, and he got himself to that point, and then was about to sort of give it all up and maybe even give his life up and thought, “Well, actually, maybe I’ll give it one more shot. I’m just going to be me. I’m going to do what I want, and it will be different, and why shouldn’t it be?” And for anyone who’s listening who is interested, go and look at that. You can find it all on the internet these days.
But it was about being yourself, and that’s what I did. I bought a practise and tried to make it a very family-based practise, and it became pretty successful, still doing mainly NHS stuff. And for a while, that was fairly rewarding. It was certainly… To be honest, it was probably the most lucrative time in my career and certainly a very happy time with young children as well. So, that was always a… Young children. Sport. It was pretty good.

Prav Solanki: Living the dream. Ian, can I just take one little step back? You heard about Paddi Lund, you gave up your job in St. Helens, and you started a new business and bought a practise. Was there some thinking that went on? Was the whole Paddi Lund inspiration that, “Hold on a minute. I’m going to do things my way now, and the only way I can do that is by running my own business,” or what was the thought process during that whole thing? Was it re-inspired by Paddi?

Ian Buckle: Yeah. Well, I mean, that was certainly a big part of it. There was also other things going on in my life and also in the practise where I wanted… I always thought that I’d become a partner in this practise, but I was sort of largely being led on I think. You just have to face the reality that the only way of determining your own future was to do something else, and that’s what I did. So, I knew that I had to determine my own future. I always say the best way to predict the future is to create it, so that’s what I thought I needed to do. I couldn’t see that I could go somewhere else and produce the future that I wanted, and that was a big part of it. And certainly, I’m a sucker for stories like Paddi’s as well, and I thought, “Well, if Paddi can do it, so can I.” And it was certainly a great part of my career.

Prav Solanki: So, when did you make that switch? You were running a predominantly NHS practise, and I mentioned that you were sort of living the dream then. You know, sport, young family, your own business.

Ian Buckle: Well, what happened then is I sort of maybe learned… I was the probably archetypal almost single practitioner. We had a hygienist, a couple of other things going on, but mainly doing that, and I knew every little bit of the practise and I knew what was coming in, what was going out, and I sort of did everything. I had some great staff. We had good fun together. It was very controllable and you knew everything that was going on.
But I then also reached another level where two things happened. One is I was still mainly being a tooth mechanic, a plumber, and also as well, I was seeing patients and they had problems that I couldn’t help them with and I didn’t know what to do. We used to refer them to the dental hospital and we’d usually get a letter back saying, “You should know what to do.” And it’s like, “Okay, that’s not helpful.” And so, you’ve got two choices when that’s happening, which is you either go, “Well, I don’t know what to do,” and just carry on, or you try and do something about it. And I’d always been really interested in… I mean, the only thing that I could see…
Well, there’s two things that actually happened at that time. I’d always been really interested in trying to make things look as nice as possible, and I started to find a few people that maybe were interested in aesthetic things. That was good. And then, I also at the same time went to one of these Section 63 courses where we got rotary instruments, and that was a big change in endo. And I thought… I mean, it was a stupid idea because I haven’t got the attention span for endo, but I thought, “I could do that. I could be better.”
And I went along to this meeting and couple of hours about postgraduate endo and these new rotary files, etc. And I stayed till the end because I don’t like to ask questions and I didn’t like to interrupt anyone, and I said, “I’d really like to get involved in this and get better.” And the answer was, this was from the postgraduate dean at the time, “Well, it’s a three-year course, full-time.” And I said, “Well, I’ve got a practise and I’ve got a wife and I’ve got a family and a mortgage. I don’t care if it takes me 10 years. What can I do?” And the answer was, “Well, give it all up and do this or go home.” So, I went home with my tail between my legs.
And actually, Mike Horrocks… I don’t know if you know Mike. Mike’s a great guy doing simplyendo. Well, Mike was around at the same time. I don’t know if he sort of… I don’t think he really knows my sort of story with that, but Mike took it on and went and did it and got through it, and I admire him tremendously for doing that. But then I think he’s been brilliant in saying, “You know what, I can teach someone to do a better endo and it doesn’t take three years. And you know what, maybe if I show them how to do something really nicely, maybe they’ll start to get interested in the academic side and they’ll get interested in more,” and I admire him tremendously for that, and I think that was…
I was going to say, “I could have done that,” but I don’t mean I could have done what Mike did. I think that’s a great story for him, and I know I still sort of come across Mike from time to time and I think he does a tremendous job in educating people about that and getting them better so that they can help their patients more to the level that they want to be. And he encourages people to do that. And because you encourage people to get better and you can show them practically what to do, they then get interested in the academic side and they get interested in the research side and they get interested in all the other stuff that actually most of us aren’t that interested in, and because of that, they get better and better and better, because of his teaching.
Anyway. That’s me going off track, but I think it’s nice to talk about that. So, that put me off, but as I say, I was fortunate as I was trying to do this. And again, it’s an interesting time because talking to some of the younger people these days and it’s like, “Oh, aesthetics.” Well, this was 20, 25 years ago when we had the cosmetic wave from America with Larry Rosenthal and all those guys, and it was actually… Really, what it was based on more than anything else, it was about veneers, but it was also about bonding and being able to stick things to teeth so much better. When I reflect on my career, one of the things… I’ve seen digital go from nothing to what it is now, and I’ve also seen bonding largely go from something that was pretty ordinary on enamel to amazing things that we can do today.
And so, at that stage sort of 20, 25 years ago, or maybe 20 years ago when we got the sort of fifth generation bonding agents or fourth and fifth generation bonding agents, and we could make nice porcelain and we could stick that on. Some of the composites were getting a little bit better as well. And obviously, we got this sort of smile stuff that came over from the States, and like everything in dentistry we get carried away with it. We take it too far. The problem with that was that yes, there’s great things that we can do, but it needs to be done in the right circumstances, appropriately on patients that need and/or want it. And like everything else, we take it too far. But that’s the story of most trends in dentistry, I think, not just the veneers.

Prav Solanki: So, Ian, you going from doing predominantly NHS dentistry to private dentistry, was that inspired by the Larry Rosenthal movement and that and going on courses or postgraduate courses?

Ian Buckle: Well, I mean, again, people say… Everything that comes in dentistry leaves a trail, and some of it’s good and some of it’s bad. At the same time I was really interested in aesthetic dentistry, I’d also been looking very carefully and read Pete Dawson’s book or tried to read Pete Dawson’s book and tried to understand it, and I couldn’t. It didn’t make much sense really because I’m just not that smart.

Prav Solanki: And for those who don’t know who Pete Dawson is, he’s the godfather of occlusion, right?

Ian Buckle: Well, exactly. This is where we get into that business of is it occlusion or is it complete dentistry? What Pete talked about was what he called the concept of complete dentistry. Pete was one of the great aesthetic dentists of his time, but what he knew, which is what I was just about to sort of start explaining, is that you can’t make things look nice if they don’t work well, and that form follows function. And so, if you want to be successful at doing beautiful dentistry, you have to make it work well.
And I want to… Pete had a lot of great sayings, and one of them was, “We all have a reputation. It just depends what that is.” And so, he wanted to be a reputation that the guy that could fix things, that made things look great, that made them work well, and that would bring in new patients, but also from a practise profitability perspective, in the nicest possible way, he wanted to fix that patient and get them into a hygiene programme and never have to do too much to them again, because what people don’t realise is when you start doing this stuff and it starts failing, it starts costing you big time.

Prav Solanki: And so, fast forward from there because, Ian, I know your story, that you ended up becoming essentially one of the lead instructors for the Dawson Academy. Talk me through how you got into teaching. How did you go from this kid who was always told, “You’ll never use a face bow. You won’t do a three-unit bridge. You’re a load of crap,” to this guy now who actually inspired and continues to inspire a generation of dentists to become better dentists? How did you get into that whole teaching gig?

Ian Buckle: I was very fortunate. As I say, at this time there was this aesthetic wave, cosmetic wave was going on, and I knew that it… I think like lots of Brits and Europeans, we also knew that we couldn’t have the aesthetics without having function. And at the same time, I was really intrigued about what the likes of Larry Rosenthal, et cetera, had to say. And at the same time as that was going on, Schottlander had these… I don’t know if anyone remembers Captek crowns, a particular sort of crown. Anyway, they brought a guy over called John Cranham who was using these crowns, but what he was talking about was the cosmetic occlusal connection. And I always remember that, the lecture that he gave on that, and that was the real eye-opener for me.
The sort of backstory to that was John had come out of college. He was fortunate when he was at university that his professors had been very occlusion based and understood about complete dentistry, and being involved with Pete Dawson, et cetera. And then he came out and he bought a practise, and when he was looking for ways to move forward, the lab that the guy used, a lab called Bay View in Chesapeake, and the guy there, Buddy Shafer, was also a big Dawson enthusiast. So, Buddy, I think… I apologise if I get this wrong, but Buddy actually sent John down to listen to Pete so that they could work together. And as a young guy, John got involved with that. He actually got heavily involved with Pete and started to bring that into the practise. He had the lab support there, which was pivotal to what he was doing.
So, he actually got pretty good at that. And then as the cosmetic wave came, he was able to not just go, “Well, I’m no longer a functional dentist. I’m a cosmetic dentist.” He was able to add that cosmetic side onto the occlusion. You see, because in those days you pretty much had two groups. You had the functional people with gold colours and morphology and things that looked ugly but worked, and then you had the cosmetic people which looked great but fell off. And what people like John did was to bring those two things together. And as I say, because he understood that Pete was actually an aesthetic dentist of the day, now we could take those principles and we could add in these new things that we could do and make it even better still. So, the complete dentistry that we have today, the aesthetic level improved tremendously.
So, John gave this lecture, and I not only liked the fact the way it brought those things together, but it also happened in a very predictable way, step-by-step approach, and I also liked the philosophy of caring for people and doing it right and trying to look after people. So, we became good friends and John helped me tremendously. I was sort of involved with the cosmetic side on one side, and then I was involved with Pete Dawson and John on the other side and sort of trying to bring those two things together, and also being European and being heavily influenced by composite and minimally invasive stuff. I was trying to build those concepts in as well, not just placing veneers everywhere, but also thinking, “Well, if I can get the teeth in the right place and I can get the occlusion right, maybe I can put these little bits of composite on and they’d stay in place.” And I’d do it. You wouldn’t say anything to anyone because it wasn’t really in the book, but it worked. And it’s like, “Oh, okay. There’s something in this.”
And then when you ask the question about how did you get into teaching, so actually one day I was down in St. Pete with one of Pete Dawson’s lectures. And you can tell it was before mobile phones. There was a message on my hotel phone that Dr. Cranham wanted to know if I was around. And John actually flew down to see me and said… He had his little sort of contemporary dentistry thing going on with some education, because he wasn’t involved with the Dawson Academy then, and he said, “Would you be interested in helping me?” Because I’d helped him out with a couple of things over here and he’d obviously thought I wasn’t too bad. So, I did my… I mean, I didn’t have a clue. I wasn’t interested. I didn’t know anything about teaching. I said, “Well, I’ll have a go and see.” In a typical American style he said, “Stop being so British and just say yes,” and that’s sort of how we started.
So, John and I started to develop some stuff and he would come over here and I’d go and help him over there a little bit. And then as Pete was coming to the end of his career, they were looking for someone to take over from Pete. And as I say, long story short, John got the job as clinical director and he said, “Well, I want to bring a couple of people with me.” One of them was my friend Drew Cobb in Washington, and I was the other one. So, that’s sort of how we got involved and how we got involved in teaching. I always like to be very open. John was totally involved in getting me involved in that way.
And I just want to say a word about the sort of Rosenthal stuff as well, because I know people say, “Oh, you shouldn’t do this. You shouldn’t do that.” But everything that you hear you have to take it just for its face value, and when you see people like Larry, you don’t have to do what he does. You don’t have to live his lifestyle. You don’t have to do any of those things. There’s things you can learn from everyone. And there’s one big thing that I learned from Larry and Jay Lerner and Ken Hamlett and those people, was, “You know what, if you want to do this, you can do it.” They actually gave me the permission to do it. I can’t tell you how important that was in my career, rather than all these people who are busy telling you about… Because a lot of people stand up and when they show you stuff, really what they’re trying to do is to say, “You can’t do this. Send it to me.” And what these guys were saying is, “You know what, if you want to get there, maybe we could help you.”

Prav Solanki: So, I guess it was that confidence boost during your career being told, “Well, you’ll never be able to do this. You won’t be good enough for this,” and then someone saying to you, “Do you know what? You can do it.”

Ian Buckle: Yeah. No, absolutely, and that with the background of Paddi stuff. I was fortunate enough to spend a little bit of time with Paddi and that over time, and he was a very interesting character, and then the sort of motivational side of the cosmetic stuff. I like shiny things, so that was nice, and a lot of people wanted nice smiles, so that was good. The philosophical side that Cranham brought and then the real solid background in function that I got from Pete Dawson, that sort of really gave me something that I felt that I could really help a lot of people with.
At the same time, I was also trying to add in my own take on minimally invasive things. I have to give great credit for Tif in what he did, and I think sometimes people forget these things. The reason why people like… Well, I mean, I’m not going to… I can’t speak for Tif, but the reason why many of us started to get an interest in ortho and trying to do some of those things… If you look in Pete’s book, you will see pictures with paperclips and elastic bands trying to move teeth, and the reason that we tried to do some of those things ourselves is because the orthodontist didn’t or wouldn’t do it for us, or you sent them to the orthodontist and the teeth would come back in a place that you had no idea why they were there. No one spoke to each other, and they had their own way, and we’re not going to share with you.
Some of the cosmetic stuff… Well, touch wood. I don’t think I did too much of it, but some of the cosmetic stuff was about taking nice teeth and trying to make them a bit nicer, which is always difficult to say the least. Most of my patients had British teeth, and a lot of them needed complex restorative. A lot of them needed orthodontics even just to get things in basically the right place. And a lot of the teeth, if we could just move them first, then we would be so much better off and allow to do what it is that I wanted to do, which was just get the teeth in the right place and then be able to bond them. And I always tease Tif because he just comes up with great phrases like align, bleach, and bond.
Again, if you look at Pete’s stuff, and I’ve got Pete’s old books sitting over here, 50 years ago his treatment options, number one, reshape teeth. Number two, reposition teeth. Orthodontics. Number three, restore teeth. Number four, surgical. Those are the only four things we can do. And actually, when I saw them I thought, “Well, I like restoration. I’ll do restoration,” but actually he put them in that order because this was the way of fixing people’s problems as minimally as possible, and that’s why ortho was there. And Pete did a lot of ortho to try and get things in the right place, but there was a major struggle back then and in my era to try and get orthodontists to help you. And that’s why people like Tif and others and whatever then started to think, “Well, if you’re not going to help me, maybe I can do some of this myself.”

Prav Solanki: Quick question, Ian. Did you ever manage to shift teeth with a paper clip and an elastic band?

Ian Buckle: I didn’t. I think Pete did. Pete was incredible. I think Tif renamed it an Inman Aligner. I think that’s what it was.

Prav Solanki: Got you. Got you. Yeah. Brilliant. So, just moving on from there, Ian, you mentioned Tif and I know that you’ve recently joined the IAS academy to launch a new course called The Complete GDP. And whenever I ask people what that course is about, so for example people like Tif, they all say, “Listen, Prav. It’s an occlusion course.” When I’ve had conversations with you, Ian… I think you summarised it really well earlier, but I really want you to articulate what it is that you teach, because I think when it comes to education dentists don’t know what they’re getting until they turn up. So, there’s a lot of courses out there that might teach you how to make a sexy smile or whatever it is, right. I think what you said to me earlier absolutely just triggered a light bulb in my head, which is you make stuff work and you make stuff look good, so form, function, and aesthetics. Right?

Ian Buckle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: So, just tell me about The Complete GDP course and what is it. Is it what you used to teach at Dawson? Is it an upgrade of that? Is there new technology that’s been injected in it?

Ian Buckle: Okay. Look, lots of things to think about there. Try and keep on track with this. So, I have to give great homage to Pete and John and all those people for what they gave me, and this is sort of a new era for me now. So, what I hope I’ve done is to take all the things that I’ve learned, and I’ve also been involved with Spear and Kois and numerous other things. Bio aesthetics. I have a big connection with those. And actually, again, I see people say, “Oh, I’m going to give you the best of everything.” In my experience, actually most of these occlusal philosophies or whatever you want to call them, they’re actually largely the same. There’s a few minor nuances that… But most of my time has been spent on understanding that we’re just touching the same thing, but maybe from a slightly different side.
So, what I set out to do with these courses is to contemporize them further. So, what John did, I think, was to bring in the aesthetic side even more, but these days… And again, it’s something that anyone who had been on the courses that I was teaching would tell you that I used to do some my own stuff a lot as well, which was to illustrate the same principles but in a very minimally invasive way. Because a lot of the time we really like what we’re doing, but then it would be crowns or very invasive, and that certainly wasn’t… I do have lots of patients and they’ve got old crowns and Macedo teeth, and because of that, I do a lot of crowns. That’s the nature of what I do. But also, my real passion is preservation of teeth and… To not let it happen in the first place is the best thing. But when it has happened or is starting to happen, how can we help these people get back on track?
One of the problems with dentistry is that we tend to compartmentalise everything. So, we’ve got the ortho department and the restorative department and the perio department, and no one ever spoke to each other. And what I like about being a general dentist is that I’m sort of, to use the American phrase, the quarterback, the midfield general. Specialists know a lot about very little. General dentists, we know lots of stuff about lots of different things. And when our patients come to see us, they are not just after necessarily what they want. They want our opinion and they want us to use our experience to help them. And so, much as they might ask for a beautiful smile, they usually want a beautiful smile that’s going to last, and that’s going to be healthy and that’s going to be functional. And if someone… I get people and their bites are off or they’re having problems or maybe they want their teeth straightened, but they want them to look nice and to function well and be biologically healthy. No one doesn’t want those things.
And so, this is where this concept of complete dentistry about this complete GDP really comes in, because I think as a general dentist, I’m really, really proud of being a general dentist. I don’t want to be a specialist. I like to see that overview. And my job is to try and oversee, and then I can also… I can do things myself, but I can also involve my interdisciplinary team to help get the best things for my patients, because many of us have experienced if you send them to the implant guy you’ll come back with an implant like this, and you send them to the orthodontist and the teeth might be somewhere else. So, my job is to oversee the total design and then make sure that everything we do fits within that design.
So, in complete dentistry, I think the six main things that we look at these days, teeth. I’m hoping that most dentists know something about teeth, although I get surprised sometimes. Perio. Again, hoping that we know stuff about that. Tissues, mainly looking at cancer and things like that because forget all your fancy stuff. We want our patients to stay healthy and well and alive and be great. And so, those are three of the main things that we deal with, but we don’t talk about them too much because I think it’s fair to assume that most of us know something about those. And so, that’s not really where I’m going with this.
Hopefully we’ve got some information for those who might need something, but there’s three more things that we need to think about, and one of them is if we’re going to make teeth, whether it’s a filling or whether it’s a crown or whether it’s a smile or whether it’s moving teeth, then we need to make that work within the system, and the system is the joints and the muscles and the teeth and how all that comes together. So, that’s what we might call TMJ occlusal stuff, so that’s where the occlusion side comes in. The next part is something we’ve already spoken about, which is aesthetics, and again, I see some stuff today, which… Well, it’s a look. I’m not sure that I like it. I mean, I like teeth that look like teeth. I don’t know that I’m… Well, I’m not the best at doing stuff, but I studied morphology and I studied natural teeth, and my goal is to try and preserve natural teeth, and if I do need to restore something, to make it look and function like a natural tooth.
And then there’s also a new thing that we need to understand, which is about airway, and airway is… There’s a lot of things that we thought were TMD, or maybe there’s erosive stuff or tooth grinding, and actually a lot of these things are related to airway, and we need to at least understand the basics of those. What I see is that there’s a lot of people talking about what I would call old-style occlusion and old-style, full-mouth dentistry, when actually we have a lot more knowledge these days and we need to be thinking about all of those things in order to get a great treatment plan for the patients.
So, yes, there’s a lot about occlusion for those people that want to learn about occlusion and how the mastication system works, but we’re also going to be talking about the impacts of airway for general dentists, and also to help you understand real, good, solid smile design principles that will help you understand how to make a beautiful smile that’s appropriate for the patient, whether we do that in porcelain, in composite, in a combination. And so, that for me is what the complete dentistry is about. So, yes, there is a heavy emphasis on how to make this work so the patient is comfortable and our work lasts a long time, but there’s quite a bit more to it as well.
And the one last thing, which is… So, we’ve taken those principles and we’ve added in a lot of minimal invasion, so that’s where IAS and what we’re doing I think are very comfortable together, because we’re largely using a lot of orthodontics and bonding to get teeth there. But also, as well, this is the digital age and a lot of the things that were a real struggle to do in the analogue world have become much easier to do and much more predictable and much more within the grasp of the general dentist in the digital age. It also allows us to really use digital stuff to motivate our patients, which… Again, I was brought up that if you educate patients then they will do this. I don’t know that that’s actually true, but if you motivate and engage with them, then there’s much more chance of them taking on the treatment. And you can look at that from a sales perspective or you can look at it from a very genuine way of trying to encourage patients to enhance their dental health.

Prav Solanki: So, Ian, take me through. I’m curious to learn about what it’s like being a patient of yours. So, my mouth is knackered. Yeah. I walk in and I meet you for the first time. What happens next?

Announcer: 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.

Prav Solanki: Thanks for listening, guys. If you’ve got this far 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.

Payman Langroud…: 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 much for listening. Thanks.

Prav Solanki: And don’t forget our six star rating.

This week we look back at some of our favourite shows featuring the madmen and women for whom quantity counts every bit as much as quality.

Our conversations with multi-practice owners highlight the pros and cons of empire expansion, with plenty of tips and food for thought for both dentists and entrepreneurs alike.


In This Episode

00:00:22 – Adam Thorne
00:02:48 – Alfonso Rao
00:07:38 – Avi Sachdev
00:10:29 – Darren Cannell and Andy Stafford
00:14:40 – Dev Patel
00:20:48 – Elaine Halley
00:26:34 – Kailesh Solanki
00:32:23 – Kish Patel & Jin Vaghela
00:36:53 – Rahul Doshi
00:39:58 – Sameer Patel
00:46:33 – Sandeep Kumar
00:50:15 – Sia Mirfendereski
00:52:25 – Sofina Ahmed
00:57:19 – Uchenna Okoye
01:00:43 – Zayba Sheik
01:05:28 – Zuber Bagasi
01:11:42 – Jimmy Palahey
01:15:47 – Amit Patel

[00:00:05] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging Leaders and Dental Street. Your hosts, Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[00:00:22] Today’s episode of Dental Leaders brings together some of the very best content from our practise owners who shared loads of insights into practise ownership, different ways of managing run in the business of dentistry, the highs, the lows, the hints, the tips of running businesses. If you’re an aspiring practise owner or even an existing practise owner, the loads of content here, there’s going to be so valuable to. The Leaders who share content on this episode include Adam Thorne from Harley Street Dental studio.

[00:00:57] It’s become a bit of a cliché to say this now, but I see a lot of people working long, long hours. Should we be in a mindil, mine and so forth? But how do you feel? I mean, you’ve recently cut down so much or.

[00:01:12] Uh, yeah, I mean, I’ve cut down sort of a couple of years ago, but I think it’s it’s time, you know, and like you said, I think you can say that, you know, even the six year drop in income and give you the time and you do need time to sort of sit back and think. And that’s true from the initial patient consultation as well. And I think a lot of people try to rush and see as many patients and as almost like a badge. Hey, I saw 40 patients today be much more productive if you see maybe between five and eight, spend some time with them. People people want to be understood to be heard. And they feel if you’re spending time with them, then then they’re more likely to invest in their teeth and and take up the treatment.

[00:01:52] So what’s a mistake you made that, you know, you would give yourself, if you could, to talk to someone else who’s been to this process and he’d be your competitor. But but but what’s a mistake that you made that you wouldn’t make again?

[00:02:06] I think sometimes A, been too ambitious and sort of take on a bit more. And I think when we moved into we where this great vision and it was a vision to move into this new site in 2013, we spent a lot of time planning it, but we were then sort of almost like you, you and trying a budget and then that sort of goes out the window. And I think we should have been a bit bit more focussed and strict on nailing down the costs and building costs, building costs and leases and squeezed suppliers a little bit more, because I think we we overpaid on some things. And it’s almost like sort of when you get married, you have a budget. And then you the last week alone, you had done so.

[00:02:48] Alfonzo Rao, who set up a mini corporate, the Apollonia Dental group of funds. How did the whole practise ownership come around?

[00:02:58] I it is another story that I wanted to do because the time it was working in a mixed practise in Bristol and there were three expansion and I was hoping to buy into this expansion of practise. But then there were arguments between then one day, one of the afternoon when there was a night and thought, I’d like to chat some somewhere to work in the way that I realised that I was not really keen to get involved in that type of situation. And why then I. I resigned in the last time I was working as a visiting front of James Hull. And then, Joe, you know, that is my partner. Now, some of the practise, it was working in one square, the practise. Now I own and unfortunately, the dentist on the practise at the time, he had some problems. So he was on welfare. So he was off. So they’ve asked me to just hit them as a law because I had some spare days because I was kind of in between jobs. And then unfortunately, it was not really able to get back to work. And I was there and I had like a really good relationship with the practise manager, with the staff, and he offered me to buy. And then I just bought the practise at the time. But I mean, this domination that you’re doing in Bristol feels like to me feels like you in my old pal to Razavi playing up all of Bristol. Was this a plan from the beginning? Oh, no, definitely was not allowed in the seven practises that you own now.

[00:04:43] Is that right? Yeah, correct. And not only released and now we are able to get a hold of and for all we know. Well, yeah, probably is the way that we would like these Dental clinic project. And we’re moving from ideally from Canada moving to London. I know to where you are as well. Yes. We it’s nice because we’ve got a good relationship and a respectful relationship with each other. So we are competitive. We’ve got really nice relationship, which I really liked but was not never been the plot. The plot of the original plan was I by my own practise, at least I can be my own boss. I said I’m not really going to be told what to do. And then I start to realise how many excited having one practise and know what if I have three, I probably feel the same and but then having more practise but then was not the case. Now I try to say, OK, if I have seven, this is I don’t plan on getting any better. I don’t know the answer. Yes, but yeah we see. But up until you talk about headaches, I tend to get old, although we both spoke about many stresses that you have of practise ownership and dealing with certain individuals, you tend to handle stress quite pragmatically. And quite simply, I think as a business owner, some people really let it get to them both.

[00:06:10] Your way of just handling these stresses to practise these three practises up to seven. And then you’ve got this idea and you can sort of by later growing this empire. Right. But how could you let these things not get to you and just just click it off your shoulder the way you do? You know, it’s one of those things that we had this conversation. I don’t know. I think you’re getting a little bit my background. I try to do things with the in terms sometimes I stop. And I think what’s important in life is family has these at least like my kids, my wife. And I’m lucky I’m lucky that I do a job that I like. I’ve got almost everything in the world and that is what is really important. So I always try to kind of think things in proportion and understand that, yes, there are a lot of these things that are complex and they can cause stress. But in the promotion with important things in life, they are just like things that they can annoy everyone. But I don’t think that should really affect my health or my my nature. And this is always try to manage that. And yeah, I have a lot of people that make comments on how I can be so relaxed with all those things. I don’t know. I honestly sometimes look at my phone and I’ve got twenty five message, hundred email or something. I don’t

[00:07:38] Have such Dental,

[00:07:40] But I was looking at the list of practises. You’ve got a practise in somewhere Orpington. Why there’s a manager there.

[00:07:50] So that practise at the moment is part time. So three days a week is one of the other ones, one

[00:07:56] Of the other ones that is working.

[00:07:59] We have we have quite a lot of really great stuff. We have a head of finance, we have head of marketing, we have a great PM. We have some senior receptionists, nurses that really help and support us. We’re not as corporate as maybe we should be or we could be. But I think we’re really, really lucky. I mean, I’m looking over. I’ve got a couple of lifeboats just literally behind you in case the majority of my work. So we’re just planning management structures now. We’re rejigging things. We’re planning to go into a bit more ruthless and thermic. So try and get promoted internally and recruit new things for for some other positions. But yeah, no, it should be it should be fun.

[00:08:38] So that head of marketing and head of finance, a centralised like head office people, they really do.

[00:08:46] So I think our PM is somebody who does travel between sites, but she’s usually based out of one. But no, we only have three of what we call potentially management people. We’re really lucky. We have. So the nurse that I work with, just a lot of our ordering, a lot of stock control helps me with a lot of my admin support. And we have business again, that helps team. That really helps. So we really share the responsibility. So we don’t have a huge management team. A lot of our it’s a lot of the dentist. If there’s a problem, they’ll just come and speak to me directly and the team will message me directly. So we don’t really have a hierarchy. We don’t really have a structure where they feel removed from us, not too dissimilar from where you’re at. And their team can just walk up to you and say, I have a problem, and then you kind of empower them to fix their own problem rather than saying, actually, that’s not so. My bike, go and speak. X, Y, Z, because otherwise, I think the team doesn’t really grow. They don’t feel the pain of, oh, I need to learn more information, I need to do something new. So that’s that’s what we found works well. I’ve heard a lot of the other podcasts, and it’s different in a very different way.

[00:09:53] What’s the head count for how many people work for Dental, Dental

[00:09:56] Group and dentist and all that? Yeah, 70 for a lot of people. We’re really lucky. We’re really lucky. Again, like, again, my mom’s very much involved in the business. So she my dad got involved. So she’s to be an accountant. My dad got involved, does everything from sedation. So she’s sedation at 3:00 to PM Rose. So again, we’re we’re very much family run. We don’t have this massive corporate mentality down canal.

[00:10:28] And Andy suffered from the cosmetic dental clinic in Newcastle. And Durham is talking about mistakes along the way, either hiring the wrong person or maybe getting rid of the wrong person or for the wrong reasons. Can you just enlighten us to a couple of experiences along the way, maybe having to get rid of someone who did the firing, was it or was earning?

[00:10:51] And where we did we did have a big sort of blip a few years ago that we more recently, our practise fund manager is just absolutely amazing. Dental, Prav. That’s really what we managed before the manager, before it turned out that she’d been up in the hands in the till a little bit. And when it came to light it was quite a few quid and it got very serious very quickly. And that was our biggest mistake on the way. And looking back, it was horrendous and it really escalated and it turned out to be something that went a long way. But as an experience for us, we learnt so much about what we should do and what we need to keep our eyes on and and and things that can happen. We’ve always been so trusting. We trust everyone. And I think that was a big turning point where when we realised that, yes, we can trust people and yes, we should always give people the benefit of the doubt, but not to not to to a point where we’re taken our eye off the ball a little bit. So, I mean, that was probably the biggest bump in the road that we’ve had over the over the fifteen years. And I still look at that and think there was there was a lot of positive that came from that. It didn’t obviously turn out well for her. And, you know, we didn’t do so well financially that year. But I think that has actually pushed us on to the next level and we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t actually had that experience.

[00:12:25] So what was the process of obviously discovering? Not the initial shock of it all. And then I’m assuming you guys chat it through with each other. How are you going to approach her? It was going to have the conversation with what you were going to say, maybe repeat the conversation in your own heads a hundred times, and then what would you talk about the hiring and firing process? It’s always one that induces quite a bit of anxiety, and especially with something like this where, you know, it’s been motivated by by by theft, I guess.

[00:12:59] How did you just approach that problem? I think we approach that one like we approach most things. We did it together. And it was one of these where we’ve, you know, with the type of people that like to face things from the on. And so it was one of these once we being brought to our attention, really as to what might be happening, it was just straight into our office, sat down across the table from her and tried to establish what on earth was going on. And this particular person was very much in denial. What the facts were that, you know, this was this was taken on by by the police in the end. And this patient, sort of this person got a custodial sentence as a result of all of this. But, yeah, like everything else, we take these things head on together and we work our way through these things. Thankfully, hiring and firing as a as a general rule within the practise, the firing squad has been very limited. You know, we’ve got a lot of team members that have been with us there for a very long time. So that side of things is not something that we’ve had to do on a on a routine basis. The hiring side of things is, again, something that we very much get involved with, particularly nowadays. It’s probably more for the clinician side of things. And we have Lisa and the management teams underneath her that do the rest of the staff. But we’re very much heavily involved in choosing the right dentists and therapists and hygienists to come and join us, because, again, in protection of our baby, you know, we want to be involved at that point to ensure that the people will bring in a to upset the apple cart that we’ve worked so hard to achieve and to make sure that they’re going to follow the same ethos that we want our practises to.

[00:14:37] Work to Dev Patel from the Dental Beauty Group.

[00:14:42] Tell me about the practises then, and it’s quite an interesting, unique kind of business model, isn’t it? You kind of partner up with go and tell me to listen.

[00:14:51] I think it’s I should pay something for us, to be fair, because I’m always I spent a good year and a half out there, pretty much back and forth. And what I realised was Dentists’ shouldn’t actually be when I say shouldn’t. It’s very rare for them to have clinical and business typically like that. So that’s what I trained for five years to do. And probably number five is more military officer. So that’s what I’m good at. And when you start looking at how they’ve won, I’m sure you I that really poorly run businesses, most of them trying to get to the parts of you have pretty bad even if you look at business and you think, what are you guys doing? That’s why people like I started just when I talk to people, it’s like life changing. I’m like, guys, this is not rocket science. You want a business in a normal way. And it’s pretty straightforward stuff. But you don’t get all this stuff at university by a dentist. That’s it. And I think what I realised was in the US design model is as a backoffice, who does the business side of things? Marketing, compliance, accounting, lampblack, fundraising, accounting, side of things. And you’ve got the dentist to up to the practise, the technical guys on the ground in a practise who actually know what clinical is about. The is the practise in terms of the team. That is why and that’s the whole US model, the whole US which is like one hundred thousand pieces. And we have this competitive model which is obviously broken because all the big groups have all failed over the last whether or not able failed financially.

[00:16:21] If you look at all the big names, names, because I will them, but all the big, big groups have failed in some form. And the main reason is because of reputation, culture. And you get this kind of negative connotation with a group being like a factory. Right. You get told what materials to use, lack of freedom. You don’t get the same level of care and quality as an owner would be if you were there perhaps on the ground and never said his clients have always been. My basic level kind of thinking have to have the best quality at any cost we do because we don’t have quality. You will lose patients, lose teams, you lose all time. And that’s the worst thing for any business. That’s why of many is because eventually at some point we have like ten lines before the head office can do anything. And in each year you’ve got non dentists to do from like to saying, hey, your dentist, I know what I’m doing because I said last ten years, use this implantable cheeba. Do I say that’s kind of that’s kind of patchy. And I just thought, what is going on? This is not how health issue one. And look, if you look at next to me, not Tom as well, I’ve got this model as well. It’s very much franchised back office. That’s the front of head office staff offices, the health professionals. So I just thought, why is not done this research into. And I thought, OK, let’s start doing it. And also, at the same time, a lot of dentists in my age group from network as well have been asking me, hey, I want to buy factis, how do you do it? But my first practise in twenty fifteen double the time of a year and a half one of your boards.

[00:17:55] And I think and as a result of that, people like you kind of understand this now and then want to know how to do it. So I said, no, I can help you help yourself friend. Anyway, I always will. If you want my full, full time attention, I need to do this as an investigative. So I partnered up with a couple of close friends at a time who obviously want to buy a practise and expensive. And fortunately I did quite well a couple of inches and the first couple of years of working to have enough savings to them to invest with them alongside them so we can buy books together, which would normally be very difficult to do within five years of university because you just have the cash these days. I mean, you’re looking at paying eight times whatever it is these days, the market you’re paying in hundreds of thousands initially just to block out just what I did anyway. And no one’s not not not not maybe we’ve got kind of cash. So you’re going to have a partner and the banks can back me in terms of knowing I can do it once and the few times you got much better facility lending. So that was also a big reason why it makes sense for Con initially.

[00:19:02] So you’re getting fifty fifty with them. Yeah. Yeah. Fifty fifty fifty one point fifty one for those. Are you looking

[00:19:09] At me when I say fifty fifty we have like it’s literally I would say is actually up my round was. I hope his team works well because in the end I, if they’re happy will make money because they are the ones who develop the pots and grow them. So we always say, look, if you want four times more of a structure for the group and financial lending banks actually in real life and actually on paper to if we have not many big. It is a complete partnership, which is what it should be, because that’s where you can go

[00:19:42] And go through the stuff that you take care of from head office, is marketing part of your responsibility?

[00:19:50] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I’m hoping, like, initially when we first the first few days, it was very much made my partner, Arjuna’s, with my father in law and maybe one or two of our kind of really good and managers who was help us one whole group and was really fortunate to get a few partners within the first few months. So we had, I think, a possible end of the first year and we only start by the beginning of twenty 19. So we actually had eight what years. So people pretty quickly, but I think once had the blueprint and the backing financially in terms of lending, it wasn’t difficult because actually just like out the same model each time franchise, initially we did all of that so we would do this development, business planning, our recruitment contracts, marketing, compliance, finance, payroll and everything. And then. Bloody hell.

[00:20:46] Elaine Howley, famously known for the Cherry Bank Dental Spa, one of the original cosmetic practises that really brought patient experience to the forefront of dentistry. And so moving from that job to owning your own business, obviously, if there was entrepreneurial and, you know, I guess it was probably written in it in your life or sort of in your blood, so to speak, that you were going to own your own business. At what point did you say, well, I’m going to create my own

[00:21:16] Practise of my own

[00:21:18] Patient journey, my own vision? Because I remember when I first got into dentistry probably 13 years ago, 14 years ago now, Cherrix Bank was that practise that you just looked upon and everyone spoke about the experience, the service there and everything. To me, to me, I don’t know whether they did speak about the actual dentistry

[00:21:43] Itself, but the the one big stand

[00:21:47] Out saying the one big standout thing that was on everyone’s radar was the service and the level of service and people who went there to visit. And I think you were at the time you were doing some kind of training programme with James management going around practises and almost like injecting Chemie Bank into multiple practises. Right. So what how did that sort of evolution come about from obviously working as a dentist for someone else to saying, I want to go out of business and create this experience patients?

[00:22:19] Yeah, I didn’t last very long working for anyone else, I think I have I have learnt that by about myself. There’s a certain, you know, would you say control freak? I don’t know what it is, but there’s a certain you know, I have ideas unless and I want for me, freedom is really, really important. The freedom to be able to put my own ideas into practise. So I I was very young when I started my practise. And my first job as an associate was great big NHS practise. I learnt a lot, but I went on a course and I can’t even remember the name of the course. And there’s a few key dentists that we all know that work on that as well. But it was basically an accountant, but he was almost running a course for associates saying you can do this by yourself. And I hadn’t actually considered it at that time that I would be able to open a practise of my own. I was just kind of going with the flow. There wasn’t VTE. I was just ahead of the curve. So, you know, my first to two and a half years in practise, I was self taught. I realised very quickly I didn’t know enough. So I immediately enrolled on the programme. I went on a lot of courses and then I was working down in England and decided I wanted to come back to Scotland. And I just couldn’t face the thought of signing on as an associate again for another practise. So fortunately, I had the support of my parents, but I just decided to open a school practise. I did a fair amount of research into where would I want to live and where did I think they would be space at that time. But yes, I was only two and a half years out of uni and I opened a school practise and.

[00:24:06] Is that you?

[00:24:07] Edinburgh one

[00:24:08] Perth. That’s where I’m sitting

[00:24:09] In Perth with your first one.

[00:24:11] So this is my boy you’re sitting in right now? Yeah. He’s going to take us through this.

[00:24:16] We will be opening this school was quite a bit of a tough thing to do, but then people didn’t really open sports.

[00:24:24] I mean, of course,

[00:24:25] Some did take us through that. I mean, are you the kind of person who jumps into things with full confidence or did you have anxiety about it using your parents money?

[00:24:36] That I didn’t use my parents money, not that they offered, but what we did want to do is guarantee. So they had the guarantee, you know, they had to act of the guarantee for the loans from the bank. Yeah. And. Do I jump into things I think I think I logically look at the pros and cons, I had a plan and I just took it step by step and kind of didn’t I’ve never particularly worried too much about what other people think, although then sometimes it comes as a shock when I realise people do think things. And so I got a lot of a lot of stick for opening a practise in a city where I wasn’t known. And I actually got some quite nasty letters from some of the the dentists. I was quite naive, I suppose. I did write to everyone saying I was opening a practise single handed practise. I was going to be charging privately for the first examination. It was just the contract. So change the year that I graduated. So there was a big move in England where I had worked initially for dentists coming out the NHS. Scotland wasn’t moving in that way. So before that, you weren’t allowed to mix private and NHS. And I, I started by charging for the full examination and then giving people options. And that was practically I would be really angered a lot of people by doing that. But I just I kept my head down and stuck to my guns and realised very quickly I wasn’t going to survive and an NHS environment because I wanted to be able to offer my patients the best. The dentist you had to offer, that’s always been I want my patients to have the choice of the of the best not to say that I’m the best clinically. That was never my that was never my goal. But to make sure that I understood all the different options and to be sure that people had choice, that’s what was important to me.

[00:26:32] My beloved brother, Kylie Solanki, who shook up Manchester back in 2005 when he launched his Dental.

[00:26:41] Because I’m producing I’m hoping not lots of means, but I want to produce people that are not scared, that understand dentistry is something that needs to be provided, passed a basic level, but happy to provide it because he knows I’m his mentor. I will help him. I will go through that with him and I’ll go through every journey with him. I check his preps, I check his arms, I check his final fit.

[00:27:06] Are we supposed to talk about treatments to talk about this? Yeah, we should talk about is, you know, Prav and I have talked about you. I mean, you introduced me to Prav. Let’s start with you and Prav. And I have talked about you a lot. And, you know, Prav does marketing for hundreds of dentists. And and he says that in the end, you are the one of all of his clients who converts the most. And then this question of is it just okay, some people have an X factor and they can do things or is it teachable? And now you’re telling me it’s teachable, you know, which is which is different to what I thought. I thought, okay, caliche, a special is, you know, since you were saying you were grossing and and looking people’s socks off from VTE. All right, you’ve got something. But the idea that it’s teachable, that’s beautiful, you know.

[00:28:00] Yeah. Like from my side, I honestly believe that in three to four years time, I’ll have a team of these guys that will do super well for themselves but will do it well. Guess Dental as well know building a team. I always think of, you know, people like Alex Ferguson when Ebele United or right from the start. And I’m not a massive football person, but I understand his ethos. I understand his athletes understand. You know, actually, I’m not going to buy all these people at real big money. I’m going to invest right from the start. It’s going to take time and energy. And I’m happy to pull that time and again because I know I will produce these superstars because I know he’s teachable. And both of those two guys that I’ve already taught it to a testament to that you see all these people now, you know, two years they’re going to practise. All of a sudden they’re given out business advice like this. And business gurus and like guys are kidding me. Like, I’ve run three practises for fifteen years. I’ve been through recessions, I’ve been through floods, storms.

[00:29:03] But to be fair, you were doing the same when you were a new boy as well. You were, you know, but it’s a lot. But it was it is people were happier. You would do the same. Yeah. Came out of Dental school running a straight course. I remember that’s when I first met you. There was a double.

[00:29:20] Yeah, but what I’m saying is like understand like your you know, your mentor has got to be it’s got to be this has got to be some value in what you’re gain.

[00:29:31] It should take us back to where now. I think it’s back to when you decided to do this Dental.

[00:29:38] Ok, so so Kiss Dental was basically born from me once in a clinic. And I’m very impulsive, very, very impulsive when I purchase things and my shoe collection will tell you that is about a thousand pairs in there and you’re not joking. So I kind of think I’m not joking. Unfortunately, I’m not joking. I wish I was actually, you know, and

[00:30:01] I don’t have a knife. Traders know me.

[00:30:04] Yeah, I know. That’s the reason why I wish I wasn’t joking. And so so basically, I kind of wanted to wanted a clinic and there was a clinic on the market. And it was funny, actually. I had a really close friend at the time who was a dentist. And I said to him, think about buying his practise. And he said to me, Oh, no, don’t buy that salwan a lot. My friends have been to look at it. He already owned a clinic in Manchester Mad. And he said, Oh, don’t buy that. It’s a lemon, you won’t do any numbers are poor on it and so on and so forth. So I kept looking at it and and in the end I thought, you know, screw it, I’m going to buy it. I didn’t actually have a lot of money. I had sold the business. I had about 50 K at that money. That works a little better, but I’ve been spending. So it was what it was. And I put a business plan together and managed to get funding from the bank. Back then we talk talking two thousand and four or five. They were giving you money for old rope. They were giving you like one hundred, ten percent loans. So it’s happy days. It’s got five hundred thousand pound loan. But this clinic had a I think it had something like one hundred thousand two hundred thousand pounds a building and three hundred thousand pounds of goodwill.

[00:31:16] I lost pretty much all the goodwill day one. So now I had a 200 thousand pound built in Riverdale could well and and I decided to spend about four hundred thousand doing the place up. So I was in debt for about Brincat on a mil. I even open the doors yet, but I had brilliant Brandyn, I’d call it Dental, I’d I’d read I’d got these designers to did everything. I got a website before I bought it. It was called Woodsen Circle Family Dental Practise, and the population base was like sixty five to 80, all coming in for the little klinz and polishes. And that was there and I was saying I’m going to open this fantastic cosmetic clinic in Manchester and we’re going to provide all this on the outskirts and people are going to travel from the city centre and so on. And that was my business model. We would close to the network links. We were close to the train station, were close to the motorway, and we were close to the traffic centre. And from my point of view, they were landmarks. People would come to us. We just needed to open our doors and cracken.

[00:32:21] Kishen Jin, who owned the Smile Clinic Group, we made sure, you know, we’ve got every going to practise manager. We’ve got our

[00:32:29] Obsoleted my brother who looks after it. And then we’ve got two younger dentists who we’ve taken on board who are, you know, without them, again, the support they’ve given us and the growth aspect is supporting us on the operations. None of this would function. So we’ve grown a whole subletter, our team, the marketing, finance, so we can also go and smash it up. And I remember I remember

[00:32:52] Speaking to Jin Jin. It was March last year, right. Just as we picked up as a fourth practise. And I said, hey, listen, we’re going to have to grow the team because myself and there’s no way that if we’re going to buy normal practises, that we’ll be able to sustain this. You know, there’s only so many hours in the day and we can only be in so many places at one time between the three of us. So we just took a view that we have to keep growing the team. And one thing that we built within each practise is layers so that there is a sort of a chain of communication all the way right through from reception, all the way through to us. And even though that there’s all those layers that everyone has our number, we’re always we’ve got loads of WhatsApp groups with each practise so that any issues, you know, we’re still seeing it. We’re there to help and support the whole team. Even though we went from four to ten practises and everything we kind of put into place was when we had a small number of practises so that we could just then apply that as we grow in size.

[00:33:52] What were the growing pains going from, let’s say, for. To 10, right, it most going from one to two. I remember, you know, you look at practise one anything. I’ll just go and buy practise too, and I’ll just do double what I’m doing. Right. Just replicate that formula if you go and then you get the biggest shock of your life when you realise that isn’t the case and then you go to three and so on and so forth. What were the biggest pains that you guys experience going from, let’s say before that you had in the space of the covid pandemic, almost tripling the size of your business? That must have been some some serious growing

[00:34:26] Pains during that time.

[00:34:29] I think that’s a very, very good question, and I think the hardest thing for us, especially during the kind of sort of period, is the. Not being able to go physically to the sites, and I think that we’re very hands on in that respect and I think generally agree with me when I say this is that one of the practises we bought was a fairly private practise was literally we completed one week before Lockton. And we had plans to go up, but they didn’t materialise because of lockdown and obviously we couldn’t meet the team and we could do whatever we do on Zoom. But back then, everyone was still getting a feel for Zoom. And it’s just not the same feeling as going in and sort of having that team meeting, that practise meeting to introduce ourselves what we’re about. So I think that was probably one of the hardest things, not being able to physically be there initially.

[00:35:19] But I just miss giving everyone hugs, you see, and there we were, a bit old school. And I like, you know, face to face seeing people feel that energy and vibe when you were there. And when you’re growing to a certain size, you can’t be at every practise. I mean, you can clone yourself and go there and do it. So trying to put in structures and processes in place where everyone knows you are there and approachable, but they don’t feel like, you know, going into the practise, that’s something we struggle with, along with time, trying to make time to juggle all this and also balance everything with home, life, life, life, kids, everything as well, which for myself, in case the balance of life is super important, I think trying to keep that all in place. I don’t I don’t I’m not

[00:36:11] I’m not currently running any Dental practises, yes, so the three of you can help me with this year, but some this isn’t it better to take your four practises and double the output of those for them to operate?

[00:36:25] Yeah, I mean, look, I think you’re right. One of the things which you make a good point on and I would say is it’s about focussing on making sure your bottom line or your EBITDA net

[00:36:36] Profit is increasing. And that’s one thing we’re quite conscious with,

[00:36:39] Making sure each practises

[00:36:41] Output is increasing. But on the flipside, if a good opportunity comes along,

[00:36:47] We’re going to take it. And that’s how there is a balance of both

[00:36:51] Real Doshi, who owned, grew and exited from the Perfect Smile studios, and today is the clinical director of Dental.

[00:37:01] Maybe you ended up buying buying ash out. I did. And how many years after that did you sell the practise?

[00:37:09] I bought Ashot in 2010 and then my practise joined Dental in 2017.

[00:37:17] How did it feel? I mean, we’ll talk about it, but how did it feel selling the place? Did you feel that sense of loss that people talk about then Texas model is that you’re still

[00:37:27] Kind of involved. So actually, the only reason why I joined Dental was not to sell. So that’s an important thing. I did not join to sell or to leave dentistry. I, I wasn’t thinking of exit. Dentists were offering me to actually grow the number of practises I had. So they were offering me a way of growing off, not just having one practise, but actually having multiple practises, which they would have. And my role I joined in Texas what was called a regional partner. You will be earlier. I’m one of the earlier people, so I was working with ten practises in Dental, I think nine or ten, but I can’t remember the number. So you

[00:38:06] Transition from what you had to working with ten

[00:38:10] Practises, what period of time and

[00:38:12] Within a year. Within a year or two years.

[00:38:14] And were you just sort of honing in on your experience of what you’d done in your practises and distributing that, or did you come across new challenges that you hadn’t come across before?

[00:38:24] The reason why I joined Dental exposed to grow and and at that time to do still current with my clinical dentistry. And I want to be totally left alone in the way I did my dentistry. If I worked for any other practise, I’d be unemployable because the way I practised was so unique to me with a team that I practised in the way I worked in my environment. I did not want anybody to tell me what to deliver and then allowed me to do that. So when it then came to growing ten practises as opposed to a single practise, because I’d been doing a fair bit of coaching with Bhavna, my wife, and growing other practises, I had that experience with her. So we joined as a team to then Texaco and we then were able to grow many practises with her only because of the experience we’d had in growing other practises previously. And every practise is different and practise that we’d grown previously had its own challenges. So we were literally just using the same knowledge that we’d gained in and putting into Dental

[00:39:26] Just like muscle memory. Really. You’ve experienced the challenges and you kind of say, well, we’ve come across this problem before and that’s how I fix it. Absolutely. And so and it

[00:39:36] Went so well that then they put you in charge of eighty something practises

[00:39:39] Well. So Dental now has seventy one practises and yes, I’m the clinical director. So my, my title is sort of cloak and clinical development strategy director. So it’s about growth of these seventy-one practises clinically and in other ways as well.

[00:39:57] Samir Patel from Eleven Dental. So what you’ve what you’ve just said there really makes sense in terms of, you know, everything that you’ve put together. But you came from this cricket playing dentist who’s worked in a few practises, has been given a bit business knowledge. What was the actual journey to get from an associate oasis to having this multi award winning practise with super talented clinicians?

[00:40:23] If you just put that out there and you think about

[00:40:26] Another dentist out there listening to this is such a lofty

[00:40:30] Goal, how do you how do you recruit these super talented people? What is it that you

[00:40:34] Attract them with? And then how do you get to that point? So what was your journey from the point that you were an associate to where you are now?

[00:40:42] So from Twyford, again, I believe networking is so important and thankfully I enjoy networking. I said to you earlier, you know, the people side of things I really enjoy. And I went to the b’day local committees and would listen to the lectures in the evenings and ended up being the chairman and the chairman for the GDP, a guy who Steve reduced our practise in HENNELLY and. He approached me and he said, look, you’ve got a good reputation, I’m looking for somebody to take over my practise and the partnership, and so I went to see him. And it’s this wonderful Georgian building in the middle of Hanalei Street. It’s a beautiful building, great you listed. And I was just blown away by it. And then I walked in and it was just, do I belong here? This is so nice. And my two partners were 10 and 12 years old and the mayor, respectively. And I thought, well, this is going to be a great training ground for me to to work and and now go to the next step. And I was so excited to own a practise. And I remember Shivani, who was always so supportive. It’s like, how are we going to pay for that monthly expenditure that we have to put in the fall? And I said, you know, I think you’ll be OK and you have to take that leap of faith. And then I joined it.

[00:41:58] But interestingly, when I joined it, it was actually very difficult because the vision of my partners was not my vision. And so finding TrueNorth had not been found at this stage. It was a tough and quite a few years where I was in this place, the vision of where everyone how they were working, where I was working, the way I wanted to work, the way I want the practise looked like I was I was a little bit claustrophobic. And at that stage, I had now given up playing county cricket and I was just playing club cricket for Ealing, which was great, but I was training quite hard still. And then Anthony, who’s my partner up in London, and he’s an orthodontist. So I really respect the way that you talk in the way you work and the way you’re doing stuff. And I’m an orthodontist. Would you have got this? Would you like to do something together? I said I loved doing something together because I don’t feel I’ve really found what it is that I want to find here. It was I hadn’t found my true north and at that stage I didn’t know what it was. And he had found an orthodontic practise in the West End. And when we did all our due diligence, it was very clear that 90 percent was coming from the Internet and 10 percent was referral. And so I said, come on, let’s give it a go.

[00:43:10] So we remortgaged our houses, we put all our savings and we put it into 11. And we were both had our own practises and we started. So Shibani Nice and Anstee started that two days a week and so. Well, that’s grown now. Then it was then I brought the then this building blocks. This is all building blocks. So then it was about general dentistry and then we got another audit done. Since they were busy. I brought Peterle in who’s my first associate I brought in there’s a general dentist and now were 18 of us, but that’s grown just three blocks of getting busier. And if I can share with you how we started at 11 again, it started Prav. As you said, it didn’t start with clinical dentistry. It started with Accenture coming in to come and tell us how a business should run before we started it. So we had KPIs and the orthodontics was divide. It was they were given three options. You can have a match at that stage with metal, metal, metal, ceramic, ceramic, ceramic. And that was their option. And he said, Starbucks, do it. You give them three options. They’ll pick the middle one 80 percent, pick the middle one. So now what you want is 80 percent. Pick that middle one. So we were like, OK, that’s what we’re going to do. And then we built in what our overheads were and then we built in how many patients we want to see how how we were going to market, how we had to increase our marketing to get those numbers in.

[00:44:30] And then we achieved the target. And, you know, a lot of it is knowing your numbers as a leader. And from the beginning, I knew my numbers and so happy to say we’ve grown that business six hundred percent since we’ve owned it. But it was from understanding that my staff this is my numbers, this is what we’re doing. And then having a plan and having a name. And every year we would have an aim of this is what we want to try and do. It doesn’t mean that we’re selling more stuff. It just means we need to open the top on marketing a little bit more now because that’s not happening. And again, talking about where that comes from, it comes from us being stable and having incomes from our other associates, our other partner jobs basically. And so therefore, there’s never drive to make eleven a money spinning machine or it was just about having dentistry and we tore down the whole of dentistry and made it the most remarkable customer experience that we we thought was possible. And we did that with Accenture. To start with a couple of questions. When you say CPI’s OK, we’ve got, I don’t know, top line. Bottom line.

[00:45:40] Did you focus on one of those two? Firstly, no. Well, which one of those two?

[00:45:45] We basically had KPIs. Just understand what our aim was as key KPIs that you were looking at, large number of bonders, for example, because it was all it was just orthodontics at that stage and that’s all it was. And then we got the lease for upstairs. So at the same time of our profits, we were trying to refurbish upstairs. And you’ve been upstairs to my room and that space there. And again, it’s it’s an environment where it’s conducive to people wanting to have dentistry and opening their mind of seeing what is possible. So CPI’s a number of Bundaberg, a number of new patients seen, and it was very simple. No leads, number of new patients booked in. A number of people went ahead with treatment. That was the journey at that stage.

[00:46:31] Sandeep Kumar, founder of the My Small Group.

[00:46:35] So how are you? How are you adding volume to that? And it’s just back then,

[00:46:39] Could you do it? So back then it was the fee for service, like there was no Yoda’s or anything. Like you just do you just do the work. And I was bored, became a workaholic and even at that time. So it was literally my principle and my philosophy those days was same and even today they’re the same. Do not say no to the patient if somebody turns up in a practise in pain. My simple instructions to my team was to not say to the patient that they can’t see you as long as they’re willing to wait. We will see them before the end of the day what time they cannot promise and pay. I still remember before we open for lunch, there was a 220 people standing outside sometime. And in 2003, I was the only one dentist. In 2006, there were six dentists in the face just to learn that practise. So how many? That is my background.

[00:47:34] Is that now? Is that the same six six

[00:47:36] Six six six surgery and it runs beautifully. I still take a lot of pride to go there every week. I feel home and I go there.

[00:47:47] Ok, so let’s talk about when did you decide to go for number two?

[00:47:51] So number two was 2006, the contract changed to UDS, so from 2003 to 2006, for me it was you know, I never came out one day, but I’m going to do this, this, this and this. It just happened. But 2006 contract, the growth was literally stopped. You can’t go of business. And I’m sitting there thinking, that’s no, I’m used to what I’m doing. Anybody can come into. And that’s going to start exploding what’s happening outside in the Dentistry for Dentistry Board instead of that boastful dental practise? Let me just go out and explore what’s going on. So I still remember I joined this battle programme that time. I think he used to run some clubs or something. And I speaking to Chris and I said, you know, I’m thinking about to open another practise, but I don’t know what to do. And they have to go. And I still remember he connected me with Zachy. That could come on and I can. Kanzaki and Chris was good friends. So I think Chris called Zacchaeus said, you know, this guy, you want to you want to have a look at what’s happening in private industry. Can you can you have a quick jeopardy? Because I came back to London one day and I thought, you know, I’m going to go to his practise.

[00:49:08] It’s going to set me in his office and he’s going to tell me a little bit about private practise, how that both. I can still remember that day I turned up the he or something. Give me half an hour. Just wait here. Let me just finish what a couple of things. There’s a long lunch lunchtime, and that guy has taken the rest of the day off for me. And he said, let me show you how to play the flexible. So they took me to Dental, where he used to work. It took me to London smiles, but he took me to Bow Lane. And I’m thinking, wow, this is another side of dentistry, you know, which I never, never leave. All I know is. Well, all I know about is about is that it is so expensive to four or five hours with me on that day and, you know, told me everything introduced with these guys. That’s the first time I met a and a couple of other guys that time, and that was it. So I came back and I got a bug and I said, you know what, I’m going private. I need to find a dentist who can do what I do

[00:50:14] And see my friend desk. Only a couple of practises, one in college and I believe one in Wimpole Street. But then your Baker Street practise. Was the majority of your new business come in because you had a shop from.

[00:50:27] Yes, definitely. Is there any marketing? Did I do any marketing? I did. You know, I did a lot of brochures. I did a lot of leafletting. I did some adverts in the local newspaper back then. Foolishly, I wasn’t doing any websites. I wasn’t doing any marketing through websites. And I didn’t even understand the power of how that would work. But, you know, just through local advertising and local marketing and having office, keeping the cost of the consultation, keeping the cost of the initial examination low, and with my relationship with Enlightened, you know, having teeth whitening offers certainly helped bring in the walk in trade.

[00:51:07] When was it? So you started lecturing for us? I remember. When was it in that time that you opened the Baker Street? Remind me.

[00:51:14] I opened the Baker Street one, if I’m not mistaken, around two thousand and two. And we started working together in the initial days was a 2004, 2005, five, five, five, six.

[00:51:29] So your big street to explain this to me, you spend some money, you set the place up. There’s no patience, no patience. How long did it take before it was busy?

[00:51:38] Two days a week? Not long. A few months. But I did have a lot of offers. And, you know, I’ve done a bit of homework. There weren’t that many practises in that region. It was a bit further up from Baker Street, up on Gloster Place. I don’t know if you know it. I think Francis Collins Junior School has a branch there and not a walk in. Trader was it was good. And I think the whole thing about teeth whitening was really expanding. It was pre the home kids. So it was all the the light activated ones. And because I could offer it at what I felt was a discounted rate, it brought in a lot of patients through the promotions that I would have through leafletting and advertising in the local newspapers.

[00:52:23] Sophina Ahmed, who sets up a dental practise focussed around delivering dentistry at convenience night Dental delivering treatment all the way up to midnight,

[00:52:36] And something I’ve studied entrepreneurship, leadership, any of that? Do you read books or try to read?

[00:52:43] I mean, this is definitely

[00:52:45] A pure bred entrepreneur, you know, like you’re an entrepreneur.

[00:52:49] It’s so, so in your blood.

[00:52:51] I observe, I observe, I observe and I take everything in and I look at what I didn’t do.

[00:52:57] And I mean, how old were you when you started? You were young.

[00:53:00] Thirty three.

[00:53:02] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:53:05] I to start when I was twenty four. What are you talking about. But yeah.

[00:53:09] Yeah, yeah. What’s your dream come true outcome.

[00:53:14] I don’t know.

[00:53:16] For years I’m not,

[00:53:17] I’m not going to lie. Yeah. Yeah I’m not going to lie. I have sliding door moments where I’m just like you know what I could have. Instead of spending two hundred thousand on that Democrats I just sat back. We make a decent money. My husband was making good money and I could have just spent his money and being a housewife and bought shoes and handbags and gone to the coffee shops. My friends and I do think, wouldn’t that have been a better life? And I do. I’m not going to lie. I have those moments where I think, what is this for and what is it worth? And there was there’s nothing why the why and control. And I don’t and I’ll be honest, I maybe I will have more of an answer in five years time. But I do go through this. I do go through those moments where I’m thinking, oh, goodness, like, what have I done? Like, why do this to myself? What did I guess what do you

[00:54:07] Think you’re trading in for business in your life?

[00:54:12] Well, you know what? I my kids are still at home. I’m with my kids. I don’t have a nanny. I don’t have home support like that. I do family support. Yeah. So I do look after my children. I know I breast feed my children. I think that is really important to me.

[00:54:31] More person. One hundred and fifty.

[00:54:33] You know, I hired do you know what I hired? I hired a personal sister, so I hired a sister and I thought and that’s what she does. She filters my calls. So she filters like things like she’ll say she’s very ruthless. She’ll just say. We need to deal with the issue, just make those decisions for which is exactly what I needed, and that’s made a big difference to me. So for me, I don’t want I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a nanny, by the way. Like, I know people who are homemakers and have nannies and is completely fine that I don’t have, like, it’s what suits me and that suits me. And it was really important for me to not, you know, what is this, some life I don’t want to feel. What I’m doing is compromising my family and my my children. And, you know, I think it’s overcompensate

[00:55:19] Getting tired of being a woman than the man.

[00:55:22] Absolutely not. No, not woman generally, but maybe a woman in the field. I do, absolutely. Definitely being a woman and business. I love your mother because because I’m a mother. And you know what? I have faced so much vitriol. I have faced I mean, the things people have said about me and that we

[00:55:44] Don’t look like the classic classic entrepreneur

[00:55:48] Young. Exactly. Exactly. And and that I get so much backlash from and I did. I mean, I think things have definitely settled down, but especially at the beginning, I had people causing these people trying to sabotage me. People badmouth me, people judging me before they even started. And there was a lot of horrible, horrible things being said about me. And and it was all and I was trying to figure out where it came from. A lot of it was because people were genuinely scared, like they they have a stereotype of a girl. And I’m an Asian girl, Muslim girl, female, wears a headscarf. I’m like, if someone sees me, they’ll think she’s she’s not capable. She’s the stereotype me into being that placid, timid, can’t think for herself kind of person.

[00:56:32] Try and prove that wrong.

[00:56:33] Absolutely. Definitely. Yeah. I love that’s

[00:56:37] Why.

[00:56:38] That’s the reason why I don’t believe that. Yeah. Maybe it is. Maybe it is proven that we’re completely capable and we are completely you know, we can do this and we’ve got this some intelligent women, we’re independent. We think for ourselves we’re not. We’re not. And I think there is definitely an element of trying to prove people wrong that it does drive me when I hear because I have 70 Dental and pretty much all my Dental seven of the job because of the hours we work and they’ll come back and I hear what’s being said about me. And people don’t realise, you know, when things are being discussed about me, that it does come back to me and it totally drives me so completely drives me.

[00:57:17] You coie her practise in central London, London Smiley. What’s a typical day for you? You showed that in the life of times you wait for it all star.

[00:57:30] Work, yeah, a typical day normally wake up about 5:00, so if I sleep around 6:00, like that’s a lie in not feel behind the I wake call, I’m a Christian, so I pray. I try and stretch because my back is having issues. And if if I’m lucky, I can do all that. If I’m unlucky, a little person comes in like she’s a nun but says she normally wakes up between five and six as well. So right at the moment we would spend about half an hour together. So she be reading I’d be reading to her. She just wants to watch something, but I don’t let her. And then I will leave the Prav leave home about seven blocks past seven, come to the practise. I like to have the first hour for myself. So to just catch up on stuff and determine what

[00:58:27] Does the money come in at that point or does she live with you

[00:58:30] Know, she, you know, has made me more resilient because before that I’m not I don’t want anybody living with me and all the rest of it. And then I used to come in. But me and the four year old for all those months, I’m sorry, it was hell, I kind of like like it was just so intense. And because she said so, she wouldn’t leave me alone. Like those, you know, all these people having all these conference calls and all CPD things, I didn’t get to do any of that at all. I just like I say to others. So she’s she’s she lives with she’s in there with me. So that’s really helped. So I leave, I come here. We have a morning huddle. Normally the team would have sent me the night before, like it would do what’s called the day lists and minuses. But like, I have a list of things, the occupation, what happened the last time they came in or they’re coming in today. Any problems? So I read first beforehand, then we have a morning huddle and then the day starts and it just each day is kind of different sometimes.

[00:59:40] What time to go home again?

[00:59:42] I try and get home, but now I try and get home by six thirty. So my job is to, you know, it’s fun have changed. I used to be like, I have to get home in time to give them a bath, but that’s actually really boring and I’m tired. So now does the bath and I read the story and put her to bed and then collapse three times. You could have been. Usually about midnight, well, 9:00 to 5:00 a.m. every day. My dad growing up, I’ve always done that. My dad used to say sleep was practising death. You have eternity to sleep. So we’ve always like in my house growing up, no matter what time you went to bed at six a.m., morning prayers, everybody dressed, seated for breakfast things. So friends didn’t like coming to my house.

[01:00:42] Zabor, SHAC founder and owner of Ruu Denzel Seabury, are you interviewing all team members

[01:00:51] And seems like you’ve got a relationship with all

[01:00:54] Team members at every level, right?

[01:00:56] Well, I do well and

[01:00:59] Koshy do so at the moment. I have like managers and stuff that kind of triage and filter through and when I recruit, then I will try and meet everyone before that final decision of hiring someone or me or Lindsay or I’ll try and zoom them. So in the last couple of months when I’ve been off maternity, there’s a few new people that I hadn’t met. And so that was my first thing that I need to go and do is meet meet them, because I’ve heard so much about them. And that that is really close to me. That’s important to me to meet them and and get to know them.

[01:01:33] And then you spoke about people bringing the value

[01:01:36] To the business. I mean, one of the things that’s so, so clear about many of the clinicians, that is the Instagram presence, right?

[01:01:45] Yeah. They all they all share in common. Is that something that you can look at and forth and is checking out their social profile a big part of the recruitment process?

[01:01:57] So it is and it isn’t. So we do check it so we know where they might be like sitting in terms of their work shows a lot of that portfolio as well. So if they have a strong Instagram presence, it does show their portfolio of work, but it’s not a criteria. I would say that they have to have a strong Instagram following or they have to be strong on it. That’s not because I have some dentists that work for me that don’t they didn’t have that in the beginning and they don’t want to grow that or something. But it’s naturally evolved that way. I would say I would say that a lot of the patients and the demographic of people we’re attracting is within that kind of demographic of Instagram. So we do say to the dentist that it does help because we put them on our Instagram as well. So it helps

[01:02:45] And help them grow their Instagram as well. It looks like, you know, the content you’re creating for them and their own brand with room is part of the deal as well, that you’ll

[01:02:56] Help them grow their social presence if they want to.

[01:03:00] Yeah, I mean, we want to grow our social presence. So our marketing is very strong and they are our brand as well. So all marketing is based around them. Video creations for the dentist, video questions for the staff. But they then utilise that content on their platforms is absolutely fine because we want to have a synergy. We don’t have we don’t want to say that you can’t grow yours and not grow ours. One of my closest dentists to me and she’s grown with me, Slaney, she is a strong Instagram dentist. But when we both when she started out, we were both squirming. She was growing in her Instagram platform and we were growing in our brand. And we always said to her, we’re not against each other and we have a synergy. And that was so different for her because she said, Majoras, the principles are the same to me. You can’t do this and you can’t post this about us and you can’t post that. And you have to write our logo on that and our logo on that. And I was never like that. I just said to her, will grow you your day. Wow. And she ended up being full time with us and she’s trying hard right now.

[01:04:01] Interesting. Kathleen is lecturing for me tomorrow. I see. It’s a small makeover for four. Amazing marketing.

[01:04:08] Amazing. But you know

[01:04:10] What impresses me, Zabor, is that you mentioned this. There’s a degree of vulnerability and having your associates having such a big presence because they could take they could take their patients away with them. But you don’t see that using that as an opportunity.

[01:04:29] Yeah, I don’t. Yeah. And I always say to business, well, we don’t ever see it that way. We always say that we just have confidence. And also there is a confidence in what we do and a confidence in our brand that we’ve seen that the dentist, once they’re in and they experience and touch and feel through and experience the journey with me. I mean, a lot of them, I just feel like the journey is a long term journey that they’re and they’re both in and they feel that it’s not fake and they know that. And the ones that have left or I’m not saying everyone stays with us, it’s all been positive. There’s a reason they want to grow in a different direction. And we’ve been there and I haven’t said or felt your patients are going with you or our patients. I’ve never felt that. I always feel that that’s enough for everyone. And I don’t need to no one needs to step on each other’s toes. I just have never needed to to feel that.

[01:05:27] Xavier, see who owns Synergy Dental clinics.

[01:05:32] The thing I find about Xibalba, I mean, you meet a lot of dentists like me and Prav me, a lot of dentists all the time and a lot of people. It’s kind of fashionable now to say I’m opening a chain. Yeah, but the way you executed and how for me how effortless it looks now and I know it’s not, but I know it’s not. And there’s a lot of planning and execution. But but but you are definitely enjoying your life. You know, it’s just it’s obvious you’re enjoying your life and it looks like you that you’ve managed to balance this out really well. Would you say, you know, obviously what you said about your sister, who’s a great friend of this podcast and the Bendel’s and that massive structure? You said that, but would you say there’s something about you that’s more ambitious than the next man, more structured than the next man? I mean, what you know, parents who work in a factory now you’re talking about opening 100 practises out of the blue. You know, where did it come from as a kid, whether you like that or that, these guys depend on that to sort of open your eyes.

[01:06:43] No, no. So I’ve been brought up in a community where, you know, 90 percent of the children never had the opportunity to go to university, and even if they did, their parents probably discourage them all working class. And, you know, the ethos at the time in the 80s and the early 90s was, you know, you go to school and you go to work. After that, I started working at the age of 12, something like that lamp factory to Nappi, factory to Sock’s factory to you know, Morison’s earning two point fourteen an hour to Sainsbury’s. I’ve always worked and I’ve always earned for myself and I’ve always been. That means I never I never got a penny of my parents for anyone. OK, and the same with my siblings and the same with my friends around. It was it was just the ethos in the in the in the community. So one of the things that resonated, resonated when I was a child, is actually seeing so many intelligent, really, really intelligent guys. I’m not the most intelligent, I can assure you, really intelligent guys. But they got to go into work and they’ve lost that ability to progress. And then, I mean, what I’m talking about is you would know from on on on one hand, the guys that went to university in the communities that we live in. So, you know that that kids going to university, that is going to invest, you know that. OK, so that to me was this has to change. I need to inspire. You know, I need to do something that you can do this and you can’t do that. And you don’t need to just to go to war, can you don’t you don’t need to drop everything else.

[01:08:28] You can balance it. And life is a balance. So I guess one of the biggest drivers for me is to inspire and only not mentioned this earlier. The only kid in my entire family, my first cousins that I’ve ever gone to university. No, no, my first cousins. I’ve got a big family. We’ve got a huge family. Right. So the first thing is I’m I’m not going to be looking to buy them because they’ve I’m one of the younger guys in the generations. But I’ll be able to inspire the next generation and they inspire the generation. That’s coming up. Right. So, um, how do you do this? You got to do it yourself. So, you know, through school, through, um, you know, I did well. I put my head down. I was not a child. I got into trouble loads because of the life that we were living, naughtily we were very naughty, very mischievous. Whenever we had a complaint at home. Father used to I used to say, what do you do outside? Stays outside, never, never bring it home. Right. So I went through school, did well, straight A’s, straight A’s, etc.. Again, a big, big drive was motivating others, went to a college sixth form. And I actually wasn’t going to do dentistry in the first place. I was going to do law. And I don’t know how I ended up in dentistry, but the people around me, those that were very ambitious, they all around me. So like I said, for example, my friend who’s in the optical field is over 250 practises, my very close friend, online pharmacies in America, Europe, UK, another very good friend of mine.

[01:10:07] These guys have been brought up together. I was got chain of pharmacies. And then you’ve got the the euro graduate brothers. And there’s other stories, very successful story. And other guys were the mindset that we had was how to inspire the community, you know, drugs, mental abuse, mental condition, suicide rates. All this was very prevalent and it still is. And we have to do something which allows people to focus on an end goal. And we have to do ourselves for for for us to inspire others. So be inspired and inspire others. And I guess Anil and AMRRIC were sort of sort of booster’s to that same philosophy. That’s why I love these guys. And Anil was my mentor for my four implant’s. When I first started in twenty seven, he used to come all the way from Birmingham to live there. And we’ve been snowboarding together in in Worcester and I’ve invited him across. We’ve been to the American flights alongside Americans from Bolson again of sportsmen. I’ve seen him grow up in a few. If you remember Sajid Mahmood, the cricketer, the fast bowler for England cricket. He was in my year in school and all that very sort of successful Indian rights. But the the work that goes behind it, no one sees the. No one sees what it takes to get there and everyone just wants to shock, right? And this is not the right. It’s not the it’s not the culture that we, you know, we try to share.

[01:11:40] Jemmy palliate from tree line Dental.

[01:11:44] So, Jemmy, just tell us firstly, prie covid what your practises were like, the sort of the size of them, the number of people, the buildings, the kind of things you were doing

[01:11:55] In those four.

[01:11:56] And then three of those became urgent care centres, urgent Dental centres.

[01:12:01] So really what I’d like to know is what it’s like. First of all, how did you do that? Why did you do that? Why do you barbecue like the rest of us and then what

[01:12:09] It’s like working

[01:12:10] In that environment? OK, so let’s take a question that time that’s going to be a initial group of practises that we had. We always want to mix models, so we’ve always run to mix. I’ve always felt that was the most suitable model for us. I think it worked well for us. I did a background in getting NHS dentistry in most of my career doing that, and then obviously always had one eye on private as well. But we’ve always approached it as a sort of a sort of expressive dentistry through that sort of model. So not high end Michelin star and not McDonald’s. So kind of fitting in the middle. And we’ve always kind of sat at that sort of position. So we’ve always felt the foxes were awful really into that sort of position where we have a steady NHS income and then also have the private on top.

[01:12:57] When did you have your first one and how old were you when you started that?

[01:13:00] And then when did you have the next three? So we bought the first practise about ten years ago and we put it, you know, pretty standard set out to buy practise of it, often a practise over there. And then they where they sort of ran it as much more and more of an NHS type practise. And then we sort of added more services and expanded the practise and so on. And then we sort of went through the tendering process or from unhatched contracts, and that’s how it sort of expanded over the years. So we expanded over the last few years to more sites in order to sort of just essentially be able to treat more patients and just have a bit more activity going on and obviously taking that original philosophy into practise to create that sort of mix model.

[01:13:52] And Jemmy is as a practise owner, and I see a lot of practise owners who have mixed practises and then grow personally from a clinical point of view.

[01:14:01] Did you adjust your split? Did you start doing more private work or move at any point shift towards being exclusively private and then get the associates in to do the NHS? How’s that been during the whole period of time that you’ve grown from, say, your first practise? Up to four. So, yeah, I mean, obviously I was doing a lot more NHS work beginning because a young couple buying the practise essentially put the graphic grit and determination to sort of a few years. I’m sure everybody will say the same thing. And then as we as we had more conversation, the patients been stabilised. Elbaz, we can start talking to them about private work and then obviously introducing various clinical systems into the practise. So witling being one, for example, and implants and also sort of ended on taking over surgery and expanding into that phase and then just making sure that we cater for all needs. We try to keep everything under one roof. And that’s probably what the majority of practises are doing or aiming to aiming to do and then back into the natural platform to then expand on. And that’s what we’ve done. And so

[01:15:08] You as a clinician personally, do you do any NHS work now if you’ve shifted to be primarily working on the business plus private, or do you do still do a little bit of

[01:15:18] How does a structure work now? So, yeah, I probably do more private work now, like you said, work on the business. So the problem solving and all the other aspects of running a business, I’d like to do a little bit of NHS because that’s where my roots are and I don’t mind doing a little bit. I think in certain circumstances NHS is very suitable properties, obviously suitable in the circumstances. That’s just about giving people choice and they’re not prejudice against one or the other. I’m quite happy to give them both an army.

[01:15:46] So who owns Brookfield’s Dental Care operates in as a father and son.

[01:15:51] See, to tell me, how would you would you bring to that side? Does that come naturally to do you feel like, you know, being the boss is something you like being?

[01:16:01] I think a lot of people I’m not I’m not great at business. I never have. And I think if I was quite a business, I wouldn’t be a dentist. So it’s in dentistry. I think it’s very

[01:16:17] Hard to be excellent

[01:16:18] Clinically and also an excellent practise owner or principal. I think it’s very hard to do both because both require time.

[01:16:27] So I decided to go down the

[01:16:29] Clinical because, again, I love working with my hands, I love my job and OK, I could go and go the opposite way and own 20 practises, and I wouldn’t have that of a crown ever again in my life or fitting ever again. But I actually love doing clinical dentistry. So I wanted

[01:16:48] To get into practise ownership

[01:16:51] Just because the fact that I wanted to always take over my dad’s practise,

[01:16:55] Which is his baby. There’s an element,

[01:16:57] There’s element of like legacy

[01:16:59] There.

[01:16:59] And of course and I really want to take that to the next level. He’s done to a great start at the last sort of three or four years of being really involved in the business of marketing and looking at the figures and getting a team on board.

[01:17:16] So I’ve done a lot with that. And then we’re square mile. We’ve we’re very clinically there because you got Sanjay make a line.

[01:17:25] Pull myself, I do think is one of the best clinical teams in London. Yeah, excellent clinicians there. However, the marketing the branding is not correct there. And that’s something that needs to be sorted out. So and the guys understand that. And that’s why I’m coming on board, because I do think that places have got something special about it. The locations are fantastic. The the the work the Sanjay does is unbelievable. You know, one of the best dentists in the UK and, you know, his work is absolutely sublime.

[01:18:05] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging Leaders history.

[01:18:16] Your house, Payman,

[01:18:17] Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

[01:18:21] Thanks for listening, guys.

[01:18:23] If you got this far, 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

[01:18:35] 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.

[01:18:46] And don’t forget our six star rating.


In this week’s special show, we take a retrospective look at some of the towering figures from implantology we’ve had the pleasure of chatting with so far.

You’ll hear hints, tips, career advice and much more from some of the field’s visionaries and leaders.

If implantology’s your thing, this is your show.


In This Episode

00:58 – Alfonso Rao
04:29 – Andrew Dawood
08:38 – Andrew Moore
12:35 – Anil Shrestha
15:26 – Basil Mizrahi
19:44 – Fazeela Khan-Osborne
26:04 – Hassan Maghaireh
29:33 – Kailesh Solanki
34:43 – Koray Feran
40:38 – Nilesh Parmar
44:13 – Paul Palmer
46:48 – Zaki Kanaan

[00:00:05] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging Leaders and Dental Street. Your heist’s Payman Langroudi, I’m Prav Solanki

[00:00:22] This week on Dental Leaders, we’re bringing you some of the best implant industry content that we’ve recorded over the last couple of years from our implant Leaders those dentists who’ve got an expertise in implant dentistry and who share some hints, tips and advice and nuggets around the topic of implant dentistry. Some of the people who we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing include dear friends, colleagues and clients of mine and others who I’ve just met during this process of recording the Dental Leaders podcast, The Implant Leaders that you Bohem from include the Italian cooler than cool Alfonso Rao, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for many, many years. And Alfonso, how did the teaching come about? Because I remember when we first met, we were having our initial discussions were around, hey, I’ve got this company who want me to teach for them. I’ve got this company. You want me to teach for the this one wants to give me this, wants to give me why, etc., etc.. I remember those conversations so vividly. And so how did you from coming from Italy to hear being as young as you are, how did you get yourself recognised as Hey, I can teach or I want to teach or what was what was your teaching journey? I mean, that is something that I always really, really liked my since my time at university. I think that everything you say this obviously is completely correct is not something it is being taught like a lot of things not I’m not extremely good seeking a business plan and say this is going to happen now.

[00:01:56] This is going to happen next. I do a lot of things as I feel that are right for me, for my colleagues, for my practise and for my family. So a lot was that I was invited to teach for different companies in a different aspect. Now, at that point, I start to feel that that was not enough because I was doing things for others, but for myself, and I think especially when you’re the teaching is extremely important to be as independent as possible. Obviously, I do work with a lot of company and I do a relationship with them as well. I wouldn’t have. Show or discuss them, of course, something that I honestly don’t really use in my clinical work every day, because there is obviously dignity and ethics. I don’t think that otherwise I would be greeted as by Anita. So that is the reason, because we started to say, OK, but then for the people teaching for company, well, the only person you knew that why I’m not having my academy, I’m happy to deal with a company that I usually work with my clinical staff anyway. But in basically in my way, in my role in my time, and I’ll decide how to do it. But teaching is something that I find extremely rewarding from a clinical point of view, I find it that helped me to be a dentist because, you know, since I remember this was a conversation where the beginning at the beginning, I was not taking orders. But now I do photos of almost every cases because obviously, I mean for the teacher.

[00:03:34] And then when I review my photos, because I have to prepare an actual presentation, I often try to be self-critical. And I should have done this in a different way. I should have done this in a different way. And I’m not too competitive with the people around me. And I was thinking you weeks to write. I’m really relaxed about my competition and my competitors, but they’re not competitive with myself. So, you know, I always want more from me. And what you guys did with the implant ology and Massimo does is all right. Yes. So I do all the implants. I must admit an OK. But then we also used our Italian connexion the last few years to do like some prosthetics or or restorative course we like from rubber dam surgery, from dippie to for large cases. So microsurgery. So we always try to do a course with a different level. But one of the nice things that works is keep the academy is that nice and fun place to be. And so we realise that a lot of people are coming to the academy, of course, and then they’ll end up in the home with us. Andrew Daywalt, who has got this supercenter in London and is operating at the very pinnacle and cutting edge of implant dentistry. And in terms of being one of the leading implant clinics in the UK, in terms of pricing and level of investment, where do you sit? I’m assuming at the top end of the

[00:05:06] Line we are an absolute bargain. No, no, I’m I’m actually being all of that completely serious love that. I’m being completely serious. So we OK, look, you’re talking about us as an implant clinic and actually we’re not an implant clinic. We’re a specialist practise. We’re a practise with many specialists in it. Actually, we’re not all specialists, but we’re a practise where if it is appropriate that a patient has a feeling, they’ll have a feeling, if it’s appropriate that they’ll have a difficult reconstruction on teeth. And that’s what they’re going to have. Yes, I do implants almost exclusively implants. But it’s, you know, what is an implant clinic? I mean, maybe that shouldn’t really be there. I don’t think a specialist implant, you know, we talk about should there be a specialism and implant dentistry? I don’t really think there should be because it’s actually about restoring dentistry and we need that overall perspective. So we are about coming back to a point. I mean, we’re a bargain because we’re hyper efficient. I think we’re extremely efficient at what we do. We’ve been doing it a very long time. We use known, highly regarded implant systems and we do that from from the ground up. So we are implant system is something that’s highly regarded and well known. But the components that we put on top of it are also of that system. So I think something that people don’t really get is that what you put on top of the implants is as important as the implants. And a lot of patients will say, well, I had to you know, they used that implant. It’s a really good implant.

[00:06:57] But then you see that what’s been put on it just doesn’t fit at all. And they’ve used, you know, cheap stuff, cheap stuff on top. And that’s a great way to cause implant itis, for example. So the implant fails because of the restorative work that’s done. So when we work with referrers, we work very closely with them to make sure that what goes on the implant is the right thing. Now, if you’re going to do it right, it is going to cost a bit more. I think I’m actually going to name some thing that’s happening at the moment because we hear you laughing. I think you know what I’m going to tell you. So this is a Dental company called Finest Dental, which is just recently, I understand, going bankrupt or something like that. And there were patients out there who have just been left in the most appalling state and some of them have found their way to our practise. And it’s just just mind boggling. I mean, they have had implants provided from a from a well known manufacturer. But of the patients, I’ve seen the implants look like being shot in, um, the far more of them than they should be from the implants. So they’re paid very little. I believe the. Very little, but for twice as many implants as they needed, then what’s being put on top just beggars belief. The thought to the collusion, no thought to the opposing arch thoughts of the Dental state, the restorative state. And I mean, it’s it’s worrying. It’s upsetting because it gives us all a bad name.

[00:08:38] Dr Andrew Moore, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for well over a decade, one of the nicest guys in dentistry and omes, shall we say, dead on, because he recently exited the mall, one of the most beautiful practises I’ve ever stepped foot in with an amazing patient experience in an atmosphere that you’ve just got to experience to pick it up. I always said to Andrew, if he could bottle of what he’s created at his clinic and disallow that into other clinics, he’d make a lot more money than he would place in implants.

[00:09:13] Yeah, I used to do a lot of surgery when I first qualified, I used to work at the hospital and do there was a days when you were there were there was a department run by one consultant and sideshow in about eight clinical assistants. And someone got me into doing that when I first qualified. So I still like doing you know, we used to run our own less. It was really good. It was great way again, surgical, you know, sort of experience. And then after probably I think it was about seven or eight years of the NHS, did a lot of amalgams in a really busy, busy NHS practise, just like I just don’t know if I could do this for the rest of my life, you know, and started then looking around for other things. And someone said to me, oh, you should look at implants. Who could be the next big thing? So I, I met Ashok’s at the AU and I did Ashok’s course and I’ve got a lot of to Ashok for because he opened my eyes to to things dentistry could be you know, I remember going to practise in Harley Street is a big town house in Hollister. And again, this is amazing. This is why one, this is what I want to do.

[00:10:25] What sort of stage career were you were

[00:10:27] That I was in that transition where I’d been where dentistry was. It was getting to be the same old, same old. How many years qualified were you by then. So must have been eight, maybe nine years qualified. And I was just, I was still enjoying er I was still enjoying dentistry but I was just at that point of like oh my God, I could be doing this for another five years. I to do something else, not something else you know, because I now I’ve got limitations by something, maybe a just a different challenge. So that was good for me to, to go and see what else was going out there. And then I started going on courses through Asharq, you know, did he did his year course and and I thought to myself, well, I’ll do the odd implant here and there and and again, have quite a leap of faith as an associate in a predominantly NHS practise to turn around and go, oh, I’m going to buy all the implant stuff and physio dispenser that care all that, you know, and all this when you

[00:11:28] Are you placing all 750 implants were sold for a second implant all

[00:11:33] Up until recently. I was. Yeah, but Phil is now doing a lot of yeah. He’s doing a lot of stuff so. Yeah. I mean he’s good. I mean we’ve got so many patients who just because I think been in the same street, I’ve worked in the same street for 30 years. So we’ve got a lot of patients out there and I walk through town. Yeah. Yeah. So they’re just these is a volume of people. I don’t remember the name. I remember what I did on them. And then they, they sort of you get people coming out the blue. I saw some on the yesterday and he was who hadn’t seen for 15 years. Wow. And just came in said ah broken to the did an implant for me fifteen years ago and I just want that one out and you know, so I get people just coming back so it gets easier. I think as you’ve done more there’s, there’s not much selling involved for me anymore with implants because a lot people are sold on it. And I like the old days. It was a real leap of faith for people, you know,

[00:12:35] And we’ve got Anil Shrestha, who I consider to be the true gentleman of dentistry. Whenever a media company he is always acts, dresses and articulates himself as a true gentleman. And he’s got some really interesting nuggets to share in this episode.

[00:12:53] If you had to see your work in percentage terms, how much of it is implant ology, how much of it is straight aesthetic dentistry, how much of it is restorative rehab type stuff? I know, I know it’s all mixed together as well as cases,

[00:13:08] But that’s a good question as well. So last year, because I audit every week and at the end of every year, etc., So like last year I started in nineteen full mouth rehabs. That’s enough to keep me working for at least another year. In fact, you’ve been to the practise. You’ve seen my list of actually that’s enough to keep me working for another two, three years. And I get new patients with stuff like that. I have to pick and choose very carefully. I teach at the Royal London. I teach on the prosthodontics specialist training programme as one of their clinical tutors. And I say to these guys, listen, you really need to learn all of the academic stuff as well as the clinical stuff and clinics very well. But what you learn to be able to work like people like me being able to rebuild a whole mouth, reconstruct them, not just a.. Case is not just beautiful, perhaps, but rebuilding a whole mouth and reorganising inclusions, including doing the grafting and the implants, which is the majority of my work. And restorative implants. It’s only 50 percent of what you actually need to master.

[00:14:10] The other 50 percent is. Being able to be empathetic and looking after these patients, because I have patients who have certified post-traumatic stress disorder, several of them, I have patients who are incredibly difficult to manage, who you just have to understand them. You have to be empathetic, but you also have to be in command. I have patients who have walked out the door who had so much trauma that they become alcoholics from from the previous traumas they’ve had. I’ve had a patient who I had to section because she she literally left and she was so emotional, revisited past traumas that police had to take her into their custody of 50 percent of that work is not actually clinical dentistry. It’s the management of the patients. And I think that reflects what Michael was saying. You know, his patients were not easy. He used to pick and choose his patients. I’ve heard it said that he used to say Leaders said to me his practise was based not on the patients. He used to treat the very famous ones, etc., but the patients he didn’t treat because he knew how to select them.

[00:15:13] Yeah, well, I was going to ask you that question said in your position, you must come across a bunch of people who their problem is more. Let’s call it psychological than than

[00:15:23] I’d say it forms a significant part.

[00:15:26] Then we’ve got Basil Mizrachi, who to many is known as one of the top, not just implants, is one of the top dentists in the world and even himself coming back with some of his shortcomings and mistakes and paralysed by perfectionism during his episode, I found really interesting. What would you say are a few things that most dentists don’t know or get wrong that you wish that they got right and they thought more about it? Was it that what you just said? I zoomed out thought process. I mean, even examples now for our composite course, I wish more dentists paid more attention to primary anatomy now before I mean, we try and put that into their heads when when they get there. But they’ll come in talking about layering and colour and secondary anatomy. But but not to have focussed enough on primary anatomy, simple things or polishing, finishing and polishing, for instance, everyone’s got their head into colour for some reason. And so in bleaching something I wish people gave a damn about their impression of as much as they keep pretending to know what they’re talking about when it comes to percentages of gels. Yeah, everyone goes into that. It is always the first question. The percentage gels that bit. But I wish more people took better impressions in your world. So I wish people paid more attention to the temptress. So of course, because I think, guys, that’s stuff that allows to go from single to suit to multiple dates.

[00:17:06] So I think that is the key to success when you want to start doing more complex. And I don’t think they just realise that when they come out of Dental school and then they try the limited knowledge of how to do it. And we are stable when you try to do more complex as a patient or even what, temporaries the food, right? Yeah. Your temper is the kind of functional thing, isn’t it? It’s not just not just there to protect the teeth. Yeah, it’s it’s not the stopgaps. It’s you can’t get to that point unless you go with the emigrates because again, it’s the journey that’s more important than the end result, because the end result we could all do a dead end result would be compromised if you had to at all is going through the journey. And the thing that stops you cutting corners, going to the journey are the temperate. And please allow me to take the time you see me putting those pictures up on Instagram. I didn’t do that in one visit. I may have done that paper, but three visits driving myself crazy. What allowed me to take three budgets to do the print, the fact that I had a table and say to the patient, I come back in a week’s time, I’m exaggerating, but that’s the only way for me I can get at level is taking as much time as I need next week.

[00:18:28] And then also the hardest skills are for me, I think that sometimes people are losing their skills, focussing on the aesthetics. The adhesive is good, but it still is a piece of mechanical and that’s hands each in the hands of important and also social media. I think a lot of people just focus on the front. I mean, we see Instagram. Pictures, just the cosmetic results I would like to see and you never see the gun margins or you never see a close up picture impression of the guns, that kind of thing. I think I was going to say the thing with Instagram, a lot of it is aimed directly at patients. Yes. Not patients don’t want to see the gun, but it’s dangerous. Dangerous insomuch as you know, if you if you’re only talking to patients, the way the way that you can present the thing is different doesn’t mean you don’t have to be so ridiculous. Yeah. And I guess that’s sometimes the differences. But some market would be pitching it as a dentist, whereas average day, a small kid would be pitching in patients, I think is a different perspective. And then we’ve got Fazila Khan, Osvald and Fazila is one of these dentists who has really humanised the process of implant dentistry.

[00:19:55] During her podcast, I really got a feel for what it was like to be one of the patients and the gentle human touch and problem solving approach she takes to implant dentistry. I found really insightful during that episode that we recorded with her. What I found about the whole teeth in a day process procedure out of all the treatments that we provide in our own clinic is the one that has, I would say, the biggest life impact absolutely. Above and beyond any cosmetic dentistry, teeth whitening, even Payman and orthodontics. Right. Is that you’re actually giving these patients back foreshocks and yeah. The ability to not worry about something falling out of their mouth. Absolutely. Or just a whole new menu of food, right? Yeah. Have you got any stories you can share with those of patients whose lives you’ve changed and what is the one that sticks out that’s had the biggest impact on you? I remember the first one I did, the first one I did was a lady who came and everything was moving to the point where she brought her models and said, you can’t take an impression because everything will come out. So I was already shit scared about what I was going to be doing if I was going to be doing it. So. So that was a big thing. And she was only sixty seven.

[00:21:24] So for me that wasn’t that old. And I sat down and I remember saying to her, and I’ve done lots of versions of this a lot, but I’d never actually done it all in one go. And I always made sure I surrounded myself with people that were a bit better or a lot better. So that wasn’t very difficult. And I made sure and I said to her, OK, so we used these two models, which were OK, and we kind of guesstimated what we were going to do. And I had everybody there on the day and I knew I could do the surgery. And my ex-husband was a prosthodontics, so I knew I had him as a backup. And he we did this as a double act for nearly two years. And at the end of it and I’m not joking Prav we finished a 10 to one in the morning. It was about 10 hours apart, a whole lot. And I remember her daughter coming to get her and everything was fine. I did it under sedation, so everything was cool. She went home and the next day she sent me a photo of her eating and she said, today is the beginning of the rest of my life. And I still have the photo and I still have the text to remind me of how fallible I am and how, yes, this can go well, but how lucky I am and how grateful I am to be surrounded by all those people to pick me up.

[00:22:43] And they do. They operate in for eight hours is no joke. And I was really lucky. And I said to myself, I’m going to do five hundred and then I’m going to go and I’ve done five hundred and three. But but I also decided the last one I’m going to do for free because that will be my best one. Nice. Do you remember your first implant fame if. Oh yeah. I’ll tell you something, it’s funny, we were talking about it yesterday. I have it in my drawer because I do, I have it to look at. So every time I open the door, the surgery is looking at me. Yeah, it happened after 18 months. And I remember saying to me, I’m so glad because I was beginning to worry that you’d think they were. Yeah. I remember every single day, every time I pick up an infant, I remember that you’re only as good as the last one. Really, really. And, you know, I learnt a lot from that. And I don’t worry that the implants will fail because after twenty six years later, you know what to do, because you’ve actually made all the mistakes and you’ve mostly made all the corrections. So by now you should you should know something.

[00:24:00] If we ask if you want to say this question about mistakes.

[00:24:05] Because from from I don’t know if you’ve seen black black box thinking. Yeah, yeah. It’s about it’s about we can learn from mistakes and how in medicine we don’t sort of learn from our mistakes. We don’t learn from each other’s mistakes because everyone hides their mistakes. If you had to think back, what would you say is your biggest mistake and what have you learnt from it? My first big mistake was I was doing a placement with an oral surgeon, actually, and she put the implant in and I said, is it sound? And I wiggled it and it went in the sinus. All right. And I remember thinking, holy bleep, what am I going to do now? And so my choice was right. Well, let’s go back to oral surgery, open it up. We take it out. I remember saying to us that when it happened to him that you’re fishing around in this sinus during this procedure, you’re fishing around. And then he literally set up the patient and the implant fell out onto the floor. And I remember thinking, yeah, OK, so after an hour of fishing around, I suddenly wised up and I said to the patient, can we just sit you up for a sec? And it fell on the floor. And in that moment, I literally looked up at the sky at the window and said, thank you so much. So that I’ve learnt a lot from that.

[00:25:29] I think putting implants in the wrong place, I think almost every kind of mistake you can imagine, nothing life threatening, nothing major, but every kind of thing that is not perfect. I have at least done once, if not more than that. And I think the difference is that when I go to surgery now, I don’t go with a plan. I’ll go with 10 plans. So I always assume, well, if it goes to plan, we don’t need to talk about it and nobody does. You don’t learn anything either. But if it doesn’t go to plan, what are you going to do? Hassan Megaera, somebody who’s a researcher, teacher, mentor, is the bad bad academy and someone who recently I’ve had the pleasure of working with on his personal brand. I’ve begun to realise that he is a true, real perfectionist and a stickler for detail. Obviously, we all majorettes, we wouldn’t be humans if we didn’t make errors. And you know, one thing talking about the pilot co-pilot concept is all about, you know, what can we do to make it better for our patients? And I again, you know, if I want to take one, send one take home message to my friends and colleagues is please think about working as a team. It does help. It does help. You know, let’s put our egos down and think, you know, working as a team.

[00:27:02] One thing I really regret and it really hasn’t hurt me for a long time. I treated this lady. She was my number two patient in UK, in the private sector. And I had a mentor and I invited someone who I used to think is a great person because I was very young and he was very popular. I paid him from my own share as an as an associate to come and deal with me that Saturday. And I treated this lady. And now, you know, 15 years on, I realised that that mentor was literally standing there doing nothing. I he sort of supervised my errors. I placed and put in the wrong direction a place and place to labial. And the patient ended with recession and with metal display. And it sucked because I thought I had my safety net behind my shoulder and I realised now that he didn’t do a good job. So that sort of, again, motivated me. When I accept to mentor someone, I take it there seriously. You know, I’m there 100 percent as if this is my patient. And that’s what every mentor needs to do. You know, it it saddens me to see people claiming to be mentors when they’re not ready to be mentors. And when I say ready to be mentor, not only clinically, but you need to have the passion and the patience to be there as a teacher, which is harder than being just a clinician.

[00:28:40] So that’s something I would, you know, I would regret doing, not knowing the right people to teach me and learning and then teach me how to do things at the very beginning. Obviously, when it comes to dentistry pay, it’s very critical field. If you place your implant one millimetre to labial the whole thing in a film and you’re going to get Middleville recession. So it makes or break the case, the correct positioning. It’s like a domino effect. If the first block isn’t right, everything else would be wrong. So when it comes to dentistry, it’s all about plotting, planning, planning, planning and sharing that plan with your mentor, discussing double checking and. Having no ego, whenever you get ego playing, that’s when things go wrong. Kailash Solanki, my dear brother, love him to bits very accomplished implant surgeon and you’ll pick up some nuggets from him. A lot of what Kailash delivers this is this little bit of magic that is bottled up inside his charisma. And then obviously the skills go hand in hand. Bro, you’re probably one of the highest grossing dentists in the UK, if I do say so myself. What’s your secret to sales? What’s your what does your console sound like? You know what? A patient comes in. Just take us through the experience of a patient coming in, meeting you for the first time and what that’s all about from Doris, who’s a 75 year old old dear to your young influencer who comes in and they’re both totally different people.

[00:30:23] Surely you can’t have the same approach with them all. Now, of course, lik e e very much like understanding people like that, you know, and and what things have helped me be. That guy, I suppose, know working in my dad’s corner shop, you know, having to deal with, you know, the drug dealers, the drug takers, the middle class person that wants his bottle of wine on a Friday night because he’s had a heavy week, you know, in the office to two Doris and who walks the shop on a on a Thursday afternoon with a with a with a wheel in bargain and gets exactly the same things each time. And, you know, having the ability to have a conversation with all those different variations of people allowed allowed me to to build that in my repertoire. So, you know, when when the influencer comes in and current, you know, people will always say, I kind of know I understand language. I’ll talk to them in the language they understand. If Doris comes in, though, she’ll be I will say to her very gently and very quietly, you know, OK, nice to me. I hope everything’s OK. Did you manage to find Azara? Did you manage to cope with those? You know, just things that I know that they’re empathetic with, you know, and empathy is a real big thing for me.

[00:31:41] And it’s not it’s not I’m not putting on I’m not faking it. I’m just I’m always genuinely wanting to make sure that they’re OK. And whether it is the influencer or whether it is the seventy five year old daughter that comes comes to see me. Of course, my approach is different. I taught them differently, the language I use is different. The way I see it, the way I kind of conduct myself, the way I believe in, you know, either give body contact so nobody contact, you know, all these little things just to create some reassurance massively helps. And, yeah, make my take is is always has been, you know, everyone that’s ever worked with me or worked for me or worked alongside me will tell you, you know, I can literally get 95 percent uptake of all treatment plans. The only times they don’t go ahead is if they can afford it and off and pass that, they will go ahead. And so it’s easy to you know, I don’t even think about growth figures. It’s easy to to do a lot of dentistry if the person trusts you and allows you to do it. And I think that’s kind of what I do on a day to day basis.

[00:32:50] But you build trust and you’re saying you almost do that as a second nature thing. You know, you don’t go, oh, I’m going to build trust with this person. That’s the person you are. You build trust and then.

[00:33:02] Yeah, but then

[00:33:04] From such an early age to be treatment planning sort of comprehensively and and having the confidence to, you know, to come out with a twenty thousand pound treatment plan as a VTE. I mean, where’d you get that confidence from both of you? Confident people.

[00:33:23] Yeah, I think what does it come from, from working in a shop where

[00:33:27] People work in a shop, guys?

[00:33:29] Yeah, I, I, I get what you say in light, but from my my point of view, I suppose, you know, there’s there’s two things. There’s the ability to have the confidence to to kind of almost talk the talk. And then the reason I did all the postgrads, you know, and I would say that they’re not mouthes the three year degrees or diplomas or less than the other. But I’ve got the hands on experience to be able to take that to fruition. I’m not telling you that, you know, over that time, I haven’t made mistakes. And I think if any dentist who does the level of dentistry that I do turns around him and says everything I do at every point in life is amazing. And, you know, I’d I’d question that massively question everyone has bad days. Everyone has treatment plans which don’t go quite to plan, even though you feel the special tests and everything you’ve done is, is is is good enough to hold that treatment plan up. Some things do just go wrong. Sometimes shit just does happen. And essentially, you know, that’s also learning. That’s also taught me a lot, you know, that that kind of now allows me to make even better clinical decisions for patients. And we’ve got Karaf around. If I myself wanted to see a dentist Hungar comprehensive, thorough check on all aspects of dentistry, I would have no hesitation in going straight koray first because of his thoroughness and his approach.

[00:35:02] And I really got that from Korei during the interview that we did with him. I have a great admiration for Andrew. I’ve known for a long time. I mean, we we we kind of I knew when I was a surgeon, so I’m talking sort of maybe 30 years ago. And he’s always been innovative. He’s always been at the cutting edge. It was at his practise that I thought I saw no bell really get into gear in the early 90s and his imaging system. And he’s he’s an innovator and he is a spectacular mind to have a great deal of admiration for him. He is somebody who I’m the same. So our practise is multidisciplinary. We deal with all sorts of stuff. But he takes it a step further because he also deals with the cancer patients and the facial deformities and the specialist implant designs and things. So with his imaging, he he is a cut above the rest of these. At least he’s a special guy. And I think, you know, it’s not I’m not I’m not that level in terms of the scope of what he does. But what is what is what is what is your value? Add in the implant world with my value, your value add.

[00:36:15] You know, I do high high level whitening. That’s what I do. Because we don’t we don’t we don’t understand implants tell it was from a normal thing. I don’t think there’s something special about implants as such. I think it’s just it’s just biology and patient management and good, good restorative skills. I mean, I don’t really like the term implant ologies because it kind of signifies to somebody put screws and it’s not synthesised. That’s not the that’s not if you’re a restorative dentist and implants the same as an under five as part of your repertoire, he said the important thing is, is I think realising when you shouldn’t, when you shouldn’t. And what solves that patient’s problems in the best way for that patient? And it’s not necessarily what you would recommend the patient. You know what? I don’t want that. I want this thinking, OK, so the best way of doing it, but it’s a way of doing it. As long as you’re aware of X, Y, Z, OK, we can do that. But sometimes you have to know when the patient says, I want A, B, C, you think there is no way this is going to work. I’m going to go down that road. You have to be X, Y, Z or something similar. And that’s what they said. No way. The thing with Andrew’s practise is, again, is, is a massive practise.

[00:37:28] A lot of clinicians, there’s a lot of different physical activity going on in there and it’s much more difficult for him to control clinical standards at an individual level. I’m trying to keep my practise small enough that I can do that where we all are on the same same song sheet, but large enough that we’re flexible and we have a side that makes it a viable business both to work in and to. So I couldn’t run that practise on my own. But equally, I don’t want to practise for I have fifteen associates coming in and out. I just that that’s that’s a hospital. So I think four surgeries where myself and the hygienist make up one half of the practise of the associates in two surgeries, make up the other half of the practise is quite a good balance. And you know, getting an associate when I talk about associates, I talk about these butterflies in. So I think when you have when you’ve got bees in your in your business, then you you have very, very good thriving practise and you can just take your foot off the gas and lie back and let everybody do their thing. Because they get that. They get the ethos. It’s integral, it’s and you rest easy if you got butterflies and leeches. Not so good.

[00:38:45] And the difference between them is the bee will work as hard as you do. The bee will earn more than you. They’ll do it on social media. They’ll be moving the patients. They’ll be following things up, be doing things to a clinical standard. They’ll be on top of their paperwork. They will be a version of you, me. Those are the ones those are the people I want to cultivate. On the other end of the spectrum, every practise I’ve seen them with, the kind of girl that comes in, complains about everything. Nothing’s ever good enough yet. They’re the ones that don’t turn up to meetings. They’re the ones that don’t toe the line. They’re the ones that don’t obey the rules, that the one that expects everybody to run around them. It’s all about them and them. They’re the leeches. Get rid of them. And they’re the people that are going to take your patients and run off to to set up their own practise. So those are the two extremes. The difficult ones are the cheap. The bees get rid of the leeches, the problems of the butterflies. You start off as a caterpillar, sort of eat everything and they kind of get into the practise, the wonderful and it turns the wonderful butterflies and they are there with you and they’re lovely and everybody loves them.

[00:39:49] And their quality of work is good. Nobody really complains about them. They occasionally drop the ball, but they find in the sweet and the charming and everything. But they don’t really add and you don’t practise. They don’t really bring in any patience. They don’t really do anything. It’s just a job. They come in, they go home. And those butterflies are the difficult ones because they don’t really help build your practise. But on the other hand, they kind of it’s nice to have them there. And the butterflies are the most difficult societ, because if you push them to try to raise the game, they shrink back. And if you don’t give them enough, they get bought. Those are the typical associates and you don’t always know what they’re going to be. But if you can find bees, pay them well, keep them busy, keep them happy, give them everything they need, because that is going to be your future. And then Palmer, probably one of the most educated dentists, especially for his years that he’s been in the game, quite a young dentist, got a very mature head on himself, both from a business perspective through doing his MBA and experience in the business of dentistry. But on the implant side of things, he’s really educated himself, got himself out there, even run his own courses. Great concern shared by Neelesh.

[00:41:08] So what would you say to a youngster who wants to get into implants? Would you now say MASC or would you say go find some courses, long courses, short courses?

[00:41:20] It’s it’s a hard one, isn’t it? What I’d say is, where are you in your career path? Can you do surgical? Can you take teeth out? If you can take time then consider implant work. If you can’t if you’ve got that whole in your repertoire, you need to plug it restrictively. Are you competent? And then it’s a question of doing a course and then finding a mentor. The masses that are out there, I don’t have enough experience of them to comment on whether or not they’re good or whether or not they’re bad. But I know that there’s nothing as good as the guys programme anymore. I mean, you have people getting messages from certain universities only doing like five implants or something, and we must have done twenty, thirty loads. But you need a good mentor. So some of the guys who I work with now who did my course mind and of course I still mentor them and it’s nice to see that they’ve progressed, but he’s taken three, four, five years. It’s a really slow burn, but you have to be all it. You can’t be doing implants and then also be doing this and that. And that implant is the one where you just need to dive in and really go gung ho into it. It’s it’s a hard discipline, but the rewards are very good because there’s not enough dentistry. And to me, to any youngster, I wish I would only be a youngster to any like young the dentist. I say, look, and this is from the financial side.

[00:42:40] If you want to learn, you’re going to open up a shop, right. Let’s say you open up a shop and the shop next to you is selling coke and the shop on the other side is selling Coke. Why are you going to open up a shop selling coke? Only going to do is be a price war. You’re going to have to sell the cheapest Coke Pakhtun if you are a dentist. Why are you learning Invisalign Botox Lutfullah composite restorations when every other dentist is doing the same thing? Why don’t you offer a different service line? So who’s not offering anything? And it’s hard to come by nowadays and implants. So if you differentiate yourself from the early days, your market share. By default would be bigger because if you’re in a town and there’s 10 dentist incompetents and one dentist implant, guess who’s going to be the busiest guy? And then you can almost set his price, right? So that’s what I would say is the speciality that is the least service in your area and then go for it. And Implant’s, I think, is is an amazingly rewarding area of dentistry to do it. And I would like more youngsters. And I think definitely we need more women in dental implant surgery because there was even a women in Implant Dentistry Foundation and we had a female president of the Aidi. And I think it would be great to have some more diversity in implant industry. I’m sick of going to implant conferences and just seeing bald heads in the audience and present company excepted.

[00:44:05] Is this all you get is not to go and this is your room. And then Paul Palmer, one of the eggs of implant dentistry. And what was the takeaway I got from Paul Palmer’s episode was the you know what? It’s important to choose the patients you treat rather than have them choose you. And, you know, I think over the years he’s he became more selective and understood what to avoid, what not to do, because it comes up a lot with people I speak to. And that’s zygomatic implants. And you’ll I just want I just want your thoughts on it, because you know what? I’ve come across some dentists who jump on a weekend course to learn zygomatic implants. I personally think that’s bonkers. And then whatever your philosophy is on it, what sort of training and qualifications do you think somebody should have to be doing that, that level of surgery? So, you know, that’s always a tricky one. I’m not staying at the door letting people in and excluding people. So I think it’s dangerous to even venture down the line of who who should or shouldn’t, because at the end of the day, the person holding the drill is the one who has to answer for himself and the GDC. So is not how Australia if I don’t what courses you’ve done at the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to be confident in your own ability and working within your own abilities.

[00:45:39] You know, again, is what we try and instil in our students and our the people we work with. Because once you lose that insight, life gets difficult and dangerous for all of us. But, you know, the employers myself, you know, they have a good enough record and in the right hands, they certainly have a place. But what they actually can deliver again is another one. It’s a common philosophy and one used by by Borris of late, which is under promise and over deliver. And I think once you’re at the level where you’re starting zygomatic in your stance across the lines where delivery could prove very problematic. So just proceed with caution would be my word with it. It’s not something again, we know well our level of expertise. And when it comes to that, well, we’d found that out if we felt it appropriate, then have anyone within our practises who actually provides that. Last but not least, the Zacky Nozaki, one of these guys who when I first got into the Dental industry, he was the man who I recognised or identified with being situated in some of the top leadin practises in London. They would rely on Zachy to deliver their high end, high calibre implant dentistry. But on a more personal note, the guy is an absolute pleasure to be around a great host and great to be in the company of as well. And so enjoy this episode and hope you take away some plum nuggets.

[00:47:32] You do so many different things. You you work at them plant ologist in lots of different practises. A drop in the blooming sort of.

[00:47:40] Yeah. Peripatetic. Yeah, I used to do that. I don’t do that. Not much anymore. But a funny story is, is that you know, when the recession kicked in 2009 and you admit a lot of my friends that did implants and they’d be like, yeah, it’s a bit slow, it’s really hit us and I’m not doing that many or how about you? And I’d be like, I was busy as as hell, you know, I was like, no, I’m it’s great. It’s you know, it hasn’t affected me at all. The difference was, is that they sat in one room, in one location, in one clinic. That area. That area. Yeah. Whereas with me I was like. I got off my arse and actually found the work and a lot of people said, oh yeah, you know, do you like what you do going around, whatever it’s like, you know what? At least I was busy. At least the money was coming in and I made lots of connexions and networks. And and then when, you know, when we opened our practise stuff, I started reducing. Although I didn’t want to travel so much back then, I used to even go up to Scotland. I used to do all on fours. Really? Yeah, I did a couple of even Fairlane up there in Cherry Bank when I was you know, we go to Gleneagles every year, get one of these timeshare things up there. And even once I was there for a week, she’s like, can you come over? So, you

[00:49:01] Know, I’m just going to ask you, though, you visited lots of practises. You can see lots of different ways people work. What are some of the takeaways? I mean, what are some things you learnt that you then put into your own practise?

[00:49:14] Well, one thing I learnt was the bigger the practise, the harder it is. I mean, it’s obviously just common sense, but it was exponentially harder because you’d have to keep everyone busy and you’d have lots of staff turnover. It was it just seemed a lot harder. And on the face of it, people look at these practises from the outside and think they’re running smoothly and whatever. However, when you’re on the inside, it doesn’t it’s not always like that. And that’s why we did something small. So when there’s a recession, when times aren’t great or there’s less patients coming in, I don’t have to worry. I still remember shortly after setting out my practise with with Dominique, my dad got ill. I had a phone call from my sister. I was actually at a board meeting at a college, said, Zacky, you got to come right now. I literally took the next flight out and I was away from our new clinic for seven weeks on the trot. And I was all I was thinking, I was like, God, what’s going to happen? I’m the one doing the high end implant, you know, treatments, thousands of pounds and I’m not there. The nice thing was that the rent is low. It’s a small practise. There’s not a huge sort of monthly expenditure on staff wages. Not that there is, but it was manageable. Now, if I had a much bigger set up and I remember talking to several people and they’re like, you know what, you’re so lucky you’ve done something small. And whilst you say I was ambitious and wanted to open up multiple surgeries, that’s my comfort zone. I’m happy like that. And I’m happy also working and placing implants for other people, which I still do to this day,

[00:50:58] That this is Dental Leaders the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging Leaders dentistry. Your house, Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki. Thanks for listening, guys. If you got this far, 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’ve got some value out of it

[00:51:29] 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.

[00:51:40] And don’t forget our six star rating.


From humble beginnings as the son of a Sunderland shipbuilder, Michael Oliver might have gone into medicine had it not been for the sage advice of a GP.

But medicine’s loss was dentistry’s gain. Michael talks about how it felt to be unexpectedly thrust into solo practice.

He talks us through moving into NHS practice back in the days when it wasn’t such a common move and lifts the lid on dentistry in the 1980s – cigarettes, ashtrays, spittoons and all.


“I was cr*p at running my business in some respects. I ran it on feel…Now and then, I’d end up in my accountant’s office, with him saying: “Michael, what are you doing!” And he’d keep putting me back on track. I also had a great solicitor who limited my stupid ideas and said: “Michael, don’t do that!”  – Michael Oliver

In This Episode

02.13 – Backstory
05.56 – Into dentistry
11.42 – Politics
15.08 – Into practice
22.52 – Expanding and going private
31.27 – Exit and aftermath
43.47 – Teamwork and empowerment
46.59 – Risk and marketing
56.09 – Photography
58.33 – Retired life
01.01.38 – Charity work
01.03.44 – Dark days
01.06.42 – Last days and legacy

About Michael Oliver

Michael qualified from Newcastle Dental School in 1983 and worked as an associate with the late Donald Hudson. When Donald retired, Michael purchased a practice in East Herrington, which he developed into a multi-surgery clinic. Michael retired in 2018 and now spends more time on his hobby as a wildlife photographer.

[00:00:00] If you’re going to go down the private side, you’ve got to have a totally different mindset to guarantee the success of your business. And one of the mindsets is getting comfortable with marketing. And it’s no good being good as a dentist in the world, not knowing that you’re good because a lot of patients aren’t aware of what’s a good band that sticks in the throat a little bit because there’s very inequality’s in dentistry. But you’ve got to get the message out to the public as to why they should come and see you.

[00:00:32] This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging Leaders and dentistry. Your heist’s Payman Langroudi, I’m Prav Solanki.

[00:00:50] It gives me great pleasure to welcome Michael to someone I go back with along the way. Michael, you probably don’t even know this, but you were instrumental to some of the situations that we had enlightened in our early days. You were one of the dentists who used to order lots. And and I was used to see your name and see see the practise name, at least this guy in Sunderland who was doing so much whitening. I could just see I could just see the whitening side of it. And then I met you and we talked about it. And the really the reason I wanted you on the podcast is because now you’ve come to the end of your sort of Dental career. And I’d like to get the pivotal moments and the excellent story of your practise from beginning to end and what you went through. And for me, the inspirational part about your practise is that it’s by no means in the nicest parts of Sunderland. It was a very ordinary suburb and what you made of that place and the success that you had. I just want to just want to get that down on because it’s a it’s a pleasure to have you. We normally start with where were you born? What kind of child did you have? Why did you become a dentist? Yeah.

[00:02:14] Well, lovely to see you guys. And as I’ve just mentioned, it’s quite a nice distraction for me sitting here about an hour away from the World Cup final that I’ve got to be honest, I’m a nervous wreck. So the question you just asked there is great because, as I said, take my mind off things. But I’m certainly glad. I think anybody who’s unfortunate enough to follow me on social media will be well aware of that because that runs on a little bit of both. And I’m very proud of my upbringing. I come from a working class background. My father’s the shipbuilder. I was still alive, but he was an electrician in the shipyards. I don’t come from a privileged background. He worked very hard for his money. My mother worked in a butcher shop and I was well aware that money was tight those days when they didn’t have money to go and spend on food. So it wasn’t a hard upbringing, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t a silver spoon child, that’s for certain. And I think it influenced me right from the word go and my attitude to work, my attitude to Sunderland, the people of Sunderland. So I was born in Followill Sunderland. People have probably heard of football because I was very close to the old football stadium.

[00:03:27] So from an early age, that sort of seed in me was my sporting tie with Sunderland. I’ve always had a passion for football. I grew up, I went to school. I enjoyed building relationship and making friends with a lot of people from Sunderland. I had a father who was adamant that he didn’t want me to do what his father had led him to do with the ship. That’s no disrespect to shipbuilding. Sunderland was famous as the biggest shipbuilding town in the world. You guys might not know that, but there’s a huge amount of pride in Sunderland for the shipbuilding, the coal mining history, glassblowing. And I’ve got Nissan that was called and it was fantastic to see ships being launched. And I used to I used to take down to Sailor and I had a lot of pride in him and for what he did. But he was always adamant he didn’t want me to earn my living using my hands and being covered in oil, and then what he’d done in his in his life. So he wanted me to study and become qualified to do something other than that. And I think it instilled a work ethic in me Payman. So I’m not I wouldn’t consider a hugely intelligent person, but I’m I’m a dedicated person.

[00:04:40] I work hard. If I see something I want to achieve, I’ll work very hard to achieve that. I saw that when I went to university. There was it surprised me when I got there, some very intelligent people, but I expect it to be in the lower end of the scale as far as qualifications go. But there was a lot of people like me who went into dentistry but worked very, very hard to get there. So so I went through all levels as it was in those days and then A-levels. And to get into to dentistry in those days, you needed three grades to A-levels. Can you believe I mean, these days you’ve got to get a leg up and get in. In those days, it was three grade essays, which is exactly what I achieved. So I just got over the white line. There were people on there with is based, but in those days that didn’t hand is like confetti graded on our course. We see today, I think to be with the audience. But so. I’ve had a lot of good fortune in my life, guys, and one of the good fortunes is that I was able to get into dentistry. I got into dentistry, as I said, probably with just a lot of hard work.

[00:05:56] How did it come up to get it to go for dentistry, like after?

[00:06:00] That’s a great, great question. And I actually thought about medicine. And I remember going into my doctor, I forget sore throat or something, and I brought it up with him. I said, oh, I’m really interested in becoming a doctor. And he said, the best advice I can possibly give you is become a dentist. That was from Monnig. And I wasn’t sure why he said that. But I’ll listen to what he said. And a friend, we were in the selling club at the time and one of the members down there was a dentist and they agreed, as you often say, to have me in for a day just for work experience. And I went in and, you know, that was in a different era of dentistry. I vividly remember watching it Dental mixing amalgam in her fingers and squeezing the mercury out into clots. And, you know, as I said, a totally different era of dentistry, but it excited me. I like to introduce quite a character, this guy. And I liked the interaction that he had with his patients. And he was a promising little guy that you’ve been up to. And I think you probably get as soon as you cross the border into the north face, you get a feeling for what the place is about. And there is a community spirit. And that appealed to me. It didn’t appeal to me to go into medicine, to sit at a desk and write prescriptions out to people with sore throats and bad books. So I got the message from Amorally the Doctor about why dentistry was a good route to go down. And it was probably the best decision and best advice that I received really early in my career. So I’m glad I went to the dentistry.

[00:07:38] Where did you study?

[00:07:40] I qualified at Newcastle University and again, I’m probably going about the protocols I look at I’m looking at being in my life. But when I went for my interview with Newcastle, I went to the old Dental school, which was it’s probably been there for decades. And I always remember that there were sterilising instruments and boiling glass containers and it was just a set back into the past. But the year I qualified and got onto the Dental because it was the brand new dental school in Newcastle, which is they were claiming at the time, and I’ve no reason to disrespect the view, it was the best in Europe. It was fantastic. So everything was brand new. And then I had a five year Dental course in Newcastle. Yeah, very, very fortunate.

[00:08:31] And what was the what was Dental school like back in the day? Was it was it very hands on? I know a lot. A lot of people graduating today are coming out, maybe doing one root canal, half a dozen crowns, and then the qualified and the practical aspect is probably not. What was it like for you back then?

[00:08:51] I think it was the same for I think they had a great opportunity when they had a brand new Dental scandal to introduce very modern educational techniques. So I suspect how we would treat a trend is very similar, probably to where they are now. I think our exposure to patients was much greater. And I always remember on the conservation side, we had to collect points that might do that still. But there was a wide range of treatments, if you could do to to collect your points to. You have to have so many points to qualify, of course. But we did a lot of root fillings. We did crimes. The surgical side, the research department at Newcastle was very good. We had some good consultants, so I wasn’t experienced very much at taking wisdom teeth out. And in those days, if you weren’t experienced as a student, you came out and you learnt pretty quick in your first few months as a as a as a qualified dentist. So there was no vocational training. I go on to tell the next stage story in a second, but the student days were very, very happy days. There was seventy five of us and I’m just trying to think how many ladies it was probably more, about 50 percent, maybe more female. And as I say, we’re in brand new facility in Newcastle. So a five year course than what you qualify. But I qualify. I started in nineteen seventy eight and I qualified in nineteen eighty three and I always remember the night of qualification and we had to go into a lecture theatre and read the results. So it was all alphabetical order. I was probably more nervous than, than I was with the gold watch this much but mine name. All of it was well done and everybody was passing and passing and passing it. It’s like a penalty shootout and I’m the one to take the last penalty. But my name was on the list as well. So the whole year that you’ve been and what he really saw was over the moon because he got like that’s what

[00:10:52] We call the winter of discontent. Just do that must have been just as you were going into Dental school.

[00:11:00] Yeah, I can. Yeah, I can remember that. Yeah, that was right about. It wasn’t a certainty.

[00:11:07] That was the year I got to the U.K., so that’s why I remember,

[00:11:11] You know, so, you know, I mean, I was owed nineteen sixty one, I was born nineteen sixty. So my memory for life in general probably starts from maybe 68 onwards. If you were talking about politics, have you remember how Harold Wilson remember Ted, he thought that I don’t remember the miners strike and that had a big impact on me as well. But yeah, I go back a long way, I’m afraid so.

[00:11:42] With the stick sticking to politics for a minute, the miners strike really defined what happened to that part of the world. Yes. Watching that, did you did you I mean, there’s a massive anti Tory sort of sentiment in some people will never forgive the Tories for what happened. But for you, for you seem to read somewhere that you’re more sort of in that sort of wing of the politics of the Tories. How do you how do you balance those things?

[00:12:16] I was influenced in the early days. Politics didn’t really come into my life till Mitt and I have a passion for things. And once I became a practise owner and I, I started to discover how hard you had to work to make to make your money as a business, as a small business owner took on a lot of risk at the beginning of my career. I’ll tell you about that, obviously. But and it coincided actually with the Margaret Thatcher government. So it’s interesting you bring up the winter of discontent, because I had been influenced in that it didn’t affect me because I wasn’t the business owner then, but it was right at the time I was lining up to become a dentist and then move on in the business so that I was very aware of how that hit our country. And then Thatcher came in and I could see why she would have a battle with the the union side of things. My father was in the shipyards and he was a big can you believe a lot of people were labour people? Payman My father has always been a Thatcher man and he respected hard work. And he, in his life in the shipyards, could see how the unions were influencing things. And yes, the Tory government were blamed for the shipyards down what have you. But it wasn’t the whole the conservative government. If that’s had been a profitable business, no government, whether it’s Labour or Conservatives, would to come in and close the down.

[00:13:41] And actually, it led to the things in Sunderland. And you’ve seen what’s happened to Nissan lately, haven’t you? It’s an exciting time in the north. So, yes, I totally understand any bitterness that people involved in a lot of friends and patients actually. So I’ve had a lot of discussions about that over the years. But on the surface it looks as if everybody had such a vote. That is actually the case. There’s a lot of people who work in the mining industry, in the shipyard industry and certainly in the north east actually realised Margaret Thatcher was a strong leader and was making some decisions that needed taking up. My life wasn’t affected by it. If I worked in a lived rather than a mine working family and my parents had been close, I might have a different feeling. But my dad was a shipyard worker. Shipyards were closed in Sunderland. But again, there’s more to that story than just Margaret Thatcher one day getting up and saying, All right, time we shut the ship. Why would anybody do that if it was a successful industry? So I’m not really qualified to comment totally on that. But I just I’m well aware. I spent a lot of people in my career in the Northeast, but there’s always two sides to that story. Unfortunately, my city now is really there’s a lot of investment. It’s an exciting place at the moment.

[00:14:58] And I mean, you’re right. You can put the whole Nissan thing in the end down to Thatcher as well.

[00:15:02] Thank. Yes, of course. Yeah. Actually had a big influence attracting Nissan Muslim.

[00:15:08] Let’s move on to a qualified. What’s next?

[00:15:13] Well, good fortune boys actually qualified in June 1983, I started work about the second or third of July in a single practise. I was promised a lot in that position. But when I got there, it was a two day a week. So I’m very bushy-tailed associate cannot know business knowledge whatsoever. You walk and you think this is going to be great. And in the early days it wasn’t great because the patient numbers was below, but the potential for that business was huge. The my principal at the time was a lovely man and one of the well-established dentists said is if you talk to the population, everybody has a story about no dentists. And Mr. Hudson, who was my boss, must have respect for a lovely, lovely man, was one of those dentists associated with Sundlun But anyway, I started in a part time position in the October. Mr. Hudson, unfortunately, had a heart attack. I came in one morning and I was asking the staff where he was. He lived in the house attached to the practise, and he was upstairs in bed having had a heart attack that night before when I went to see him and he looked dreadful and what have you. And he was unable to come into work, obviously. So that morning I went from having my list to having two lists to work.

[00:16:34] We didn’t cancel any patients. I just run from surgery to surgery, improvised. So that was the beginning of a change in the practise because he was off for quite a while when he came back, he wasn’t really the dentist that he was. It was a struggle for him. And I managed to talk to him and influence them into considering selling the practise to me. So I went from being a newly qualified dentist to, after three months running the practise associate to buying the practise the year after, by the time we negotiated and what have you. And that was the time scale you could achieve in those days. These days, I couldn’t possibly do that on so many levels. One, the financial level. I was there young dentists who are struggling to buy you guys a pint of beer at the time. And I had an opportunity to buy a five bedroom, detached house on the dental practise, a touch up into the practise Payman. So you can probably visualise when you go in the front. Wow, that’s the home side. So I can remember walking into a little branch bank, NatWest and the bank manager. I’ve got this idea. I want to buy five five bedroom detached. I was in the Dental practises and he said, all right, because not that offered the money, but it’s so ridiculous.

[00:17:56] I think it was called the sleep scheme in those days. Some ridiculous insurance based loan. The cost me a fortune and I went along with it. He said, oh yeah, we’ll do that for you. We put one hundred percent loan down and I needed security from my parents, which when you’re twenty four, you’re saying your parents are just there for security. You don’t realise the house or you buying in park. You have no experience of running and you’ve got no business knowledge whatsoever. So forever grateful for the backing that I got from my parents, the backing I got from a bank, and I forget what the financial return, but they were very, very good. So it allowed me onto a ladder and I could see the potential for that practise because my principal was an elderly dentist who clearly didn’t want the money at something that he didn’t say a return on his investment for. So if I look back, probably because of the potential, I stole the place, really, but he was happy. My pockets were happy. So I ended up with a twenty five year old and starting at the big house and a nice dental practise. So again, a lot of good fortune.

[00:19:12] I believe you create your own. Look, Michael, you just stumbled upon all this good fortune

[00:19:18] One after another night. Yes, I have just one thing that I’ve learnt in life is that you’ve got to have really balanced risk, I think. Is this a lot of people? Yeah, I’ve heard people say that before. I bump into a lot of people who know what they would like to do, but not willing just to step off the cliff to do it. And of course, this is where the problem comes. If you’re going to step off that cliff, you’ve got to have a soft landing. But I think if you educate yourself with the risk that you’re taking on, you can get a I’ve always had a bit of a sixth sense about risk and I could tell where I was going to get a bloody nose and I could tell when the risk was worth taking. And it’s paid off a little bit in it’s expansion of the business is another example. You know, you’ve got to borrow a lot of money to do that. But you see the risk and the reward is the but yeah, there’s there’s quite a few people are very risk averse. And I think if you’re running a business, you guys have seen it, you you must have come across so many opportunities to take a little bit of risk to progress it. And it’s paid dividends, but being careful not to overstretch yourself,

[00:20:25] Michael, as a twenty five year old kid, having just acquired a Dental practise. Yeah. What were the what were the big challenges and what were the what were the unknowns? Were there any moments? Must have been some moments where you thought, what if I got myself in?

[00:20:41] How do I do this? How do you know? I think when when you as you get older, you you manage to build more stress in yourself that when you don’t say that stress, you don’t see the risk. You don’t always see the risk of what you’re taking on so blindly. When I decided I could rule the world with my Dental practise and just throw everything at it with my energy. One of the most fortunate things I had was that the practise was a two surgery extension on a big five. So I lived in the house, so I was able to dedicate an awful lot more time. So I lived in London on to practise in the middle of the night, troubled, and I would get so close to I was in trouble that people would take I had access to my practise so that I got a bit sick of that, to be honest. And further down the line, I moved, moved out of the practise. But in the early days, for the first few years, it was fantastic to be living on site and built a relationship with the community. So people got to know me as the guy living in that house, because going back to what I said earlier on Sunday is a very community based city and industry, particularly if you’re asking me how I was successful.

[00:21:56] The practise, one of the things I would say is embedding yourself and making friends with the community and having the community respect you for what you’re trying to do for them. And it’s a genuine feeling. You know, I didn’t embed myself in the community, become a successful businessman. I had to look people in the eyes in my sundlun guy. And you’ve got to be able to hold your head up in that community. But certainly in those days, it was very community based. There was a national health dentistry in nineteen eighty three and forty five was pretty much all NHS open our end of the country, maybe not so much down in London, but even so, I suspect London was very NHS based as well. So there was a solid income. The secret was to make one the people come and see you. So yeah but building a bond with the community I think is one of the important things I discovered in the in the early, early stages of my career.

[00:22:51] Take Michael from that sort of early stage. You didn’t know what you were doing and as you started to learn, started to get into the community. And then I came up there just for you, sold just after you sold it just last year and this well oiled machine and got some wonderful team and everything. What were the pivotal moments along that path? It’s a big difference that that two surgery and practise to the what is it, seven surgery private.

[00:23:25] When I saw that we had eight surgeries and nothing short of 30. When I when I bought the practise, that was myself but my old boss who stayed on as an associate for a short period of time. And we had three nurses. But the you talk about the situation at the practise Payman the practise on a nice street in Sunderland. So, you know, that’s a nice residential area. Over the back of the practise is a very large council listed one side and a very large council on the other side, which in the early days with the NHS best practise was a perfect balance. Everything was NHS. We had the patient numbers, but the being no marketing. As we move on here, I’m going to talk about getting the message out. Obviously, bonding in the community I think is vital for any young Dental is wanting to know how to build this practise. You’ve got a bond in the community and I did that in a lot of different ways. But yeah, I was patient. This was absolutely huge month when I bought the practise, but both didn’t even send reminders. I thought it was too expensive to put a stamp on a reminder envelope, but couldn’t equate it to the fact that he had a failed to attend patients. I didn’t need to be a rocket science to say what you had to do there, but I’m just never a moment that I’ll criticise my own boss because I learnt so much from and going into the community what a character this man was. And, you know, he had a cigarette smoking coming to the surgery in those days and to have a cigarette in his surgery and then put the cigarettes out in the spittoon. And we did that for real.

[00:25:11] Is that for you?

[00:25:12] That is for a dispute with a surgeon with the surgery had what was it like British oxygen. And he said and I came in as a young dentist, I could spot all the things that we needed to do. So stop general anaesthetics immediately, because in those days, you could just bring children in off the street and stick Alison inside them. At that time, I just thought, what a dreadful image for dentistry this is. But that’s how it was know, the 50s and 60s. That’s that’s what happened in dentistry. But if we had to have a vision for that practise and its growth, I didn’t want to be associated with putting kids to sleep in a Dental transcending the mode with a scarf wrapped around the mouse. But I always remember you had the oxygen and nitrous oxide or whatever chin to the wall. It was like, oh, well, this factory in. And that’s just how the dentistry was in those days Payman. But I learnt a lot in this relationship building with the patients. What a lovely money.

[00:26:13] When did you start going private? Was that in the 90s

[00:26:16] As things moved on? Obviously one part of this one hundred percent loan had to be fairly stable in the early days. Couldn’t go in. Is that right? This is a private practise now. Yeah, that had to be a tipping point for that decision because actually going back to the Thatcher era, then just take over really quite nicely. In those days, we we run with separate and separate and with children and there was favorit so there was a massive incentive to work hard on the NHS and I know that the moved away from that, but maybe there was some positives that got overprescription was I would say a small issue in those days. But in moving away from Pritam, it opened the door to so many of the problems of older on the prescription. You know, the story goes I don’t know a little bit. But anyway, I went from eighty five and then I went to a talk with a guy called Stephen Noha. I don’t know whether you’ve heard that name, but I think I’ve got the name right. But he was setting up then plan and it was very much in its very early days. It was going around the country doing little talks to groups of people like me, and there was about eight or ten of us would turn up. And he had this idea of private competition scheme, which was Dental and fun in those days.

[00:27:38] And the penny dropped with me. I thought you told a lot of sense. You put some figures down, but how would work financially? And so I took a hook, line and sinker, just one of those. So this is where the risk comes in here, but the rewards both for me as a business owner, but for the patients as well, I genuinely thought that was a win win situation for all of us. So I went when I was trying to think what year that was. I bet it was nineteen eighty eight or ninety nine very early days by then. I think I had two associates working there and they didn’t follow me. But it became infectious for them as well, because they could say it was successful for me, I had quite a little bit patient base and a lot of them came up to the private side. So it showed me that it was even in some way going back to what you were saying. Someone’s not a wealthy city boys, but every city’s got patients who want value for money and are willing, even if it’s more than what the Fed previously, if they attach value to what they’re paying for, it’s going to it’s going to work for them and it’s going to work for us. So it gave me focus on customer service because on the NHS side, it was mass production.

[00:28:55] In the big numbers, there was there was times when I would say 35, 40 patients a day when I thought, there’s no way I’m going to spend the rest of my career doing this, no way whatsoever. So patients followed me. And then as things progressed from that, there was contract changes. And I started to win the argument with the associates that I think it was a fake. But actually, I’m sure there was a strike amongst that. I think I was vocal in that as well, where the government I forget, which go to Blair or I don’t know. But anyway, the fees were cut and there was uproar and it was again another tipping point. The Dental started to come along with me and we then start to invest and have a private funded facility and then the patients start to accept that. So as things stand now, I think the practise is fully private, including children. And it’s one of I was going to say ideas is my dentists, I think may be the most successful private practise I have across the country. So I’m quite proud of that. I’m quite proud of that. So to my dentist, then there’s the odd frustration. But in general, they’ve invested very hard in it and it’s continued.

[00:30:10] Yeah, it’s a testament to that, because we see this happen quite a lot with our users and all of this has kept going, that must make you feel good to

[00:30:21] Because I had worry and I actually maybe that’s unfair of me to say, but I felt that there was one or two colleagues were looking to see if this was going to fail. And I know I can’t be critical of my Dental they did everything by the book with me. I was dealing I know I had a big practise, but even so, I was just an individual in some kind of sundlun lad dealing with a very, very big, powerful corporate. And I can see how it’s easy if the buyer is unscrupulous that that seller could be trampled on. I don’t really let people jump on me very, very often, but I was aware that there was potential. So but there were fantastic. They came in the bids, the practise. They all did that bit because I thought, oh, we’ll get to the week before and then they’ll backtrack on what they’re going to do, all the things that you’d be suspicious of. But yeah, I don’t get paid by, my dentist said. But I am pleased that I stuck with my dentist. They were very good.

[00:31:27] Michael, what was the what was the turning point when you decided I want to sell it now, or did somebody walk into your practise and say, well, this is what worth?

[00:31:36] Well, what led to that? I see. That’s a good question, because it’s a pivotal moment in your career when you make that decision. Yeah, quite a few years. I’m talking maybe five or six years before. I think when you’re running a business, I mean, you guys all know you have days when you get to be think, my God, is it is is this really worthwhile? I wonder what the situation is of a solid body, blah. And then you come down in the way you move on in life. I had a period like that five or six years before I sold it. When I went in and I sat down with one of the long established associates and put it to might be in his interest to come to me with a bid for the practise, which he did. So we had the practise valued at the eleventh hour. I think it was just when the financial crisis was on the horizon. So he he was obviously stretched financially, as anybody would be to abide by the practise. And I totally understand why he would get nervous with the potential storm developing with a financial crisis. And just a few days before he was meant to complete, he contacted me and said he was he was pulling out. So that was a huge disappointment to me and to him, I suspect. But as it turned out, it was probably the best thing that happened to me, because not long after that, as the financial crisis eased, the culprits came into dentistry and the valuation of the practise went through the roof. So if it had sold at that point, he would have got himself a bargain. Looking back now and I would have lost an awful lot of money on the final sale sale of my business. So, again, going back to periods of look in your life Prav, I would say that was a lucky period, really. The sale didn’t go through. And I don’t think the associate probably has any regrets because of the hassle of running the practise. But on the financial level, you probably missed an opportunity. But these things happen in life.

[00:33:36] And what was that? What was the process like in terms of just just told me through you decide to sell it did tell the staff, did not tell the staff all the financial stuff. They were pulling everything together for them. Was that was that a stressful period or was it quite straightforward for you?

[00:33:55] Did they make it easy for you? The situation was that I just had a professional value. You get to a surge of your life where you want to know what your assets are worth. And without professional guidance, you can guess what the value was. But I actually paid for professional valuation firm who was a practise financial management. So they gave me a cost. Mahboba too. But at least I knew in black and white where I stood financially. And then I’d actually approached me. I think they were out fishing and I knew what if I was going to sell the practise, what I would want for it. So I invited the sales guy to come along and we sat and chatted and it looked as if something that would work for them. They were keen. And the thing that nudged me in favour of doing it was at the time when I thought the valuation on practise was probably as high as I could ever achieve unless I worked another five or ten years investing and growing and what have you. And I was nervous that something would happen in the industry, that the swings and roundabouts and the valuation doesn’t have gone from almost selling my practise, but 40 percent goodwill to having bids on my practise? It pretty much. One hundred percent goodwill, so thousands and thousands of pounds swing in the valuation of the business. So I was obviously wary of it going back the other way. So if somebody comes and puts serious money on the table and I was fifty seven, I think 60 was probably my end game for retirement anyway, I thought if I wait another two years and it’s not everybody that comes along with the check, we’re waiving checks like that to you.

[00:35:40] I thought you’ve got to grab and run with this. So. So we agreed to figure out the actually offered me a hundred thousand pound more than I wanted. So after all this had gone through and sold the business, but nothing Godavari to solve this by, you know, it was so keen to buy it but I just want a thousand pounds. A lot of money to me is a bonus above what I was actually for it. So but in retrospect I should have played hardball with them. But I was happy, they were happy and it meant that there was a very smooth. They came in and did all the professional valuations and everything, and we were in total agreement that they didn’t try to knock me down, which was nice. They had a vision for the practise that matched my vision for the practise because I was nervous about assets that I didn’t know what they were going to do, but they reassured me and they held the world. But but going on to what you’ve just asked me, that’s when the stress starts. So we shook hands. The negotiation gets tougher is the fine. Details come towards the end like selling your house, isn’t it, when you start negotiating the curtains and not the actual bulk of the cost of the house? But anyway, so I had this enormous secret I had to live with, which crucify me because I’m not good at hiding my feelings and my emotions. So I think I managed to keep progression under my hat for several months.

[00:37:06] But you then get to the situation where strange people are walking through the door volume and you run out of excuses for why strangers are coming in with clipboards to at business and and just stuff on your stuff on digits. I’m sure I had an inkling. But then then things progressed to the big day where you’ve got to announce to the stuff that I was very emotional day for me and it was an emotional day for the staff because I considered the team part of my family. I must have relationships with with the team and I loved working with them. That worked incredibly hard for me. And part of the the growth and the success of the practise comes not not from me, but from the people that I surround myself with. But the bottom line is you’ve just got to push through with once you’ve made that decision, you can’t get cold feet, guys. You’ve just got to push it on through and do what you got. Plenty of hurdles coming your way. I remember two weeks before the completion did the associates still hadn’t signed contracts and were haggling. You know what I probably considered I’m fine details, but that’s stay alive. So I totally respect them for what they did. We’re trying to squeeze as best they could out the company. And I think they got good compromise contract in the end. And but I remember how stressful I was thinking this is all going to come crashing down and no one in the practise and and what have you. But it went through smoothly and I think everybody was happy then. So.

[00:38:37] And what about what about the aftermath, Michael? You go from being business owner. Practise owner, the boss. Yes. To them becoming associate. Yeah, that’s. What was that like?

[00:38:51] I mean, personally, for me, I was determined to make it work, but I can’t hide the fact that it was a stressful experience because there wasn’t a day of my ownership of that business that I didn’t go in looking for opportunity, be it opportunity to have great customer service, opportunity to invest in things that I saw that would be successful for the business opportunity to market the business opportunity to build relationships with the business and a corporate, no matter how good they are. And as I said, I’m singing the praises for my dentist. They haven’t got that personal touch. And so they come in and they have business managers. And if I’m being honest and for want of a better word, I was Krumpet running my business in some respects on the phone. I run it on sale Payman. So how did you do that? It came from fail, really. And then every now and then I’d end up with the accounts of what you do and what you’re doing. And they keep putting me back on track. And I had a great solicitor who limited my stupid ideas and said, Michael, don’t do that.

[00:39:53] So you’ve got to surround yourself with good professional advisors, because if you shoot from the hip all the time, as I’ve got a habit of doing, you can make some mistakes. But corporates don’t do that. They’ve got bottom line profitability, blah, blah, blah. And I found it difficult to. Did not environment, but as I said, I was determined to live in that environment. And but after two and a half years, I would find it a bit of a stretch. And when you’d work too hard and all the fine, successful business is about fine details, guys. You know that, don’t you? The big stuff, every every business you bump into does the big stuff pretty well. It’s the ones that do the fine details well at a restaurant that Dental practise, whatever you’re talking about, it’s the fine details that matter. And on a corporate level, those fine details sometimes get overlooked for the big decisions of buying a hundred thousand pound scanners and putting the carpet down in the waiting room. So I find that a little frustrating.

[00:40:55] And so we tied into those two and a half years or we tied him for longer, did you negotiate? Oh, yes, I was.

[00:41:02] I was tied into that was the contract was two and a half years Prav, as I said, at the initial negotiating position with four years and four years at the time. Four years, my God. That endless but two and a half years flow. So four years would probably fly as well. But I just psychologically to me, the thought of signing a piece of paper, not knowing whether I was going to enjoy my talian period for two and a half years, I thought was a gentlemen’s agreement and a compromise. And I’ve got to say, I enjoyed the two and a half years, but I always went I could see things I wanted to do and I just had to sit and be an associate and industry, which I enjoyed. And I did miss the influence that I could have in the business. So that was probably the tipping point for accepting retirement. I could also say that dentistry was changing from the dentistry that I loved in the early days and for most of my career where it was about relationship building, it was moving into relationships with patients and sign this and I’ve told you this, and this is what we’re going to do. And I’d like to think that for thirty four years I was a dentist. I did everything with the patient’s interests at heart. Obviously, I had a business to run. But the bottom line is I don’t think I ever did anything to a patient that I didn’t think was right and didn’t think it was something that they wanted.

[00:42:25] And we’re in agreement with me. And this taking away that trust relationship that I had with the public. And, you know, I had an incident where I did a beautiful job for patients towards the end of my career, and she tried to get the better of me. And I’ve never been sued in my whole career. Payman, I’ve got something I’m really proud of. This lady got a fabulous job and she tried to make some money out of threatening legal action. And I’ve got to say, that left a really bad taste in my mouth at the end of my career. And she was a cheat. And I’ve got to say, the Dental protection. BUCKMEIER all the way to a barrister, she never turned up. She just kept threatening and threatening hope and she was going to get a payoff. And I’ve got to say that by Dental protection were magnificent in backing me. She never turned up the code. So I left with my head held high. And if you’re asking me, have I got any memories of practise lives that left a bad taste, that’s probably the only one. But it’s going back to what I was saying. Why did I lose a bit of energy for it? Because that trust relationship started to be taken out of dentistry. But I think it goes for any business, doesn’t it? You’ve got to you’ve got to work out your contracts and you know what have you.

[00:43:47] Michael, this feeling that I had when I talk to your people was they were empowered, No one more than most practises when you talk to talk to the nurse and she’s she’s buying all three of something and you say, hey, why don’t you buy 12? And she would say, sure, let’s do that. It was very rare people. It was it was about the time when I was actually the one picking up the phone. So I would I would say the same thing to different practise. And they would say, well, I got to go ask the boss or whatever it was. Your team, your team was so empowered. Give us some give us some of the key team facts, factors that you managed to get such a wonderful team that was so, so, so loyal to you and so into the patients and customer service and all of that.

[00:44:38] That’s interesting. Or you make that happen because that’s one thing I know is the practise gets bigger. A lot of owners of practises can’t let go. And if you do that, won’t you restrict the potential of your practise in his staff? But you stress yourself to bits as well. And I’m not a big one to let myself get stressed. So I wanted a nice life. And I think if you asked me what the number one success to running a big Dental practise is, you’ve got to surround yourself with people that are better at that job. Somebody told me this early on and it just resonated with me. I always try to employ people who were better job than I could ever be, and that obviously wasn’t very difficult. But so I brought good dentists in so I could rely on them just to get on and treat the patients right. The practise management team, the nursing staff. I looked for very, very friendly people. First of all, going back to the story, because we all I don’t think it’s a difficult thing to run a good business. You’ve just got to have the right people working hard and believing in what you’re doing.

[00:45:44] Payman. So and the other thing is, if you bring the wrong people in, if they’re in a good team, they get fined very, very quickly. So going on to your point about empowerment, I trusted the staff to do the right thing because they had people watching for me and I didn’t have to come knocking on my door and said, oh, Jimmy’s not doing his job properly. I could tell by the body language in the team if we’ve got somebody who wasn’t delivering because it reflected on the rest of the team as well. Payman. So but you you can sense when you’re working with a big team like that, who are the top performers, and they tended to be given the positions of responsibility. But everybody, whatever they were doing, I just let go. And if a problem arose, we dealt with it and it tended to work well. And I think it meant that the people working at the practise enjoyed working there because they had that freedom to express themselves as well. So surround yourself with better people than you. And you’re in business,

[00:46:44] Michael, you must be one of the earliest practises to start doing present in nineteen eighty eight. That was still very, very early.

[00:46:54] It was. And again, this goes back to fair and risk.

[00:46:59] What is it, what is it about you, what is it about you that makes you be the person to make that jump.

[00:47:07] Yeah, I think I’m a natural risk taker and I don’t have any, any ability. I’m pretty good at maximising. So if if I think I’m working hard on something that there’s too much hard work going into it for the reward that’s coming out. I look to go down a different road and I also am on the private side. Didn’t want to spend thirty, thirty five years of my life just drilling holes, taking money off people. And I could see most, most satisfaction, a big part of it if I had to blow my own trumpet building up this relationship with the Persians. And if you’re saying thirty five patients a day. Building up that relationship is mighty, mighty tricky, to be honest. So I value the extra time that I got on the private side. I didn’t actually make the rich person, but there was this perception at the time and there was resistance, of course, but there’s a perception always made and he’s wanted to do that. So I could actually, for a large chunk of my career, have been a rich dentist by having a large NHS contract and probably the sale of my practise as well. So there’s a misconception probably in the public, maybe not in the profession, but in the public, that private dentistry is all about lining the pockets of a dentist. I can say you’ve got to work pretty hard on the private side to to run a profitable practise, guys. But you’re well aware of that, aren’t you?

[00:48:37] So did you have much help, Michael, with from people who weren’t in dentistry? I mean, at the end of it, they were definitely very, very linked up to the movers and shakers of Sunderland. Did you talk to those people about the way they were running their other businesses? Get any help from them?

[00:48:56] Yeah, if I wrote one or two things down before we started this chat, what became clear to me, if you were going to go down the private side, we have to move away from dentistry where the dentist had a bracelet on his door and was almost on an ego trip with the brass plate. And that was his statement in the community that it was present. And in the early days of dentistry, we weren’t allowed to advertise. So we had loads of patients. There was an NHS facility. The door opened on a morning and I walked everybody. But if you’re going to go down the private side, you’ve got to have a totally different mindset to guarantee the success of your business. And one of the mindsets is getting comfortable with marketing. And it’s no good being good as a dentist in the world, not knowing that you’re good because a lot of patients aren’t aware of what’s a good dentist, the buttons. And that sticks in the throat a little bit because there’s very inequality’s in dentistry. But you’ve got to get the message out to the public as to why they should come and see you. Now, I had no experience of that whatsoever, and I actually was taken down the road to meet somebody. You’ll have heard of Tony Gege, who at the time is running marketing Pirates of Penzance, which is an abrasive name for a company.

[00:50:14] But he had this public that the public marketing model, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s no good just being in this world. You’ve got to be Knickerbocker glory. I always remember. So if you’re running a business, you’re kind of just a grey walls and a grey front door. You’ve got to have, you know, it’s like for the public, I want to say a little. So it took me out of my comfort zone and had me thinking in different directions about the patient perception of my business, because most dentists turn out similar standard of work. So you’ve got to get the message out to people. Now, that ruffled a few feathers in the early days because marketing wasn’t a big thing in the late 80s. And he’s the young dentist whippersnapper up the road doing private dentistry and just gently pushing the boundaries really on marketing. Those boundaries are miles away now from where we are in marketing dentistry with video on YouTube and Instagram. But in those days when 90 percent of people had a brass plate on the door and that was the marketing, the next step was YellowPages. And everybody thought they were big and bold by being in YellowPages. And then this guy, Tony Gates, comes along to me and the others doing all sorts of stupid things and

[00:51:31] Go into the still some of the things that you did. I mean, was it crazy headlines, some newspaper ads

[00:51:38] Just changing the form of newspaper and instead of Michelotto the ten twenty seven down road Sandland, you know, you might have seen the advert that he actually advised me against. I got involved in to think dentistry, which also is a big opportunity with other practises. Not if you can look after a patient with pain, you’re going to build a good reputation with that patient. So I took a picture of myself pointing my finger like your country needs your type finger. Yeah, and I was stupid enough to run that as an advert in the paper. I’m sure I took a whole load of abuse from a local dentist, but it’s the most probably the most successful thing I ever did in marketing because people associate that this idiot pointing a finger at them to a telephone number that could ring to get a toothache sorted out. So I just try trying to be quirky. I also was lucky enough to become someone football clubs, dentist. In the early days, the club secretary came in as a patient, probably nineteen eighty seven, 88, and the football club didn’t have to touch dentists. So it was a door that I walked straight through and I had a funny. Fosdick, 20 year association with Tournament Football Club in which I built great relationships with footballers and footballers, are a big part of the community in Sunderland and it’s amazing how you get the tackle trade.

[00:53:03] The football is so whether it’s right or not, it elevates your status in the community so that not only that, but that also in the back of that truck to the people who were quite well known in the community as well. So again, that’s a big part of marketing, a private property. You see it these days, and successful dentists associated with well-known citizens for. But being quick, the wording over the years is working in this particular Knickerbocker glory. And the other thing he told me was, if if you don’t think you can do it, you must do it. That’s another 20 gauge thing. And that’s going to risk taking that we were talking about. Guys that we all come across, hurdles don’t. And we like, oh, my God, I can’t do this. And I just look back to what he told me. And I think if I don’t think I can do it, I’m damn well going to do it. And I get around that hurdle. So you’ve got to come out of your comfort zone to live your life like that.

[00:53:58] There must have been occasions where you must have thought about buying a second or third more practises,

[00:54:05] But you never did. I did have an opportunity in the cancer to remember the guy’s name, but we wanted to set up a mini corporate panel and they wanted me to come down to London and how big they were trying to hedge fund all the performing private dentists in the country to join the group. The problem was that were a few million quid from input free money. And if I was at the beginning of my career and the opportunity came along, I may have taken that further. But once I was I think I was fifty five at the time at fifty five to put all my eggs in one basket when I worked so hard for 30 years to build on what was quite the big asset anyway. Yeah. And I was where did I meet them. In Bond Street and panelled office and I looked around, I saw this guy means business

[00:55:00] But

[00:55:01] We’ve all met people like that helped me politically go on in my life. But I came away from it and I thought, no, it’s not something I need at this stage in my life, get involved in trying to help. And God knows he wanted me to buy the practises in the NHS and turn them private. I didn’t mind that might have worked, but I don’t think so. And I looked in my only stage. I did go to buy into the practise in Sunderland and when I went in I was just so run down my account. Such a well-established dentist and the I looked around and he had a recovery room that had a double bed in. Can you imagine these days where I just had a double bed. And so when you were coming around from your Gillanders, they put the patient in bed. I suspect I may have gotten from the professional tribunal, but the goodwill value of the boot was just about non-existent. So I think I offered a thousand pound for practise, but it worked 30 years of his life and he didn’t accept that was as near as that. Got to buy another practise and.

[00:56:09] I know we’re we’re a little bit short on time, but I do the two other things I want to cover with you, Michael. Yes. Number one, your photography. I would you’re one of my favourite photographers who says semi-professional wildlife. Well, when did you learn that? Was it was it did it come from Dental?

[00:56:29] No, my father in the days when cameras were a little Kodak photographies, moved on incredibly with this technology, doesn’t it? But I always remember my once in my twenty first birthday, I was married to Robert. She bought me a nice cowman camera and sowed the seeds. But the technology excites me that the improvement in technology I remember buying the very first Sony digital camera. I spent nine hundred times in Florida. I like gadgets like you. Probably done nine hundred pounds for a camera that you put a floppy disk in and you can capture the images despite trying to the moon image on the screen. And people thought it was fun. But you have to join the dots to form a photograph that was so pixilated and moved on and on and on. And it’s very kind of you to comment on my photography. But this is a big help comes from the technology these days. Before that, if some of the images that I’ve taken recently of flying hours and

[00:57:34] Amazing and I

[00:57:36] Mean, the cameras help as well. But I’ve got the freedom to get behind the scenes with wildlife photography. You don’t realise how much time you’ve got with sitting waiting for a red squirrel to walk across in front of you. It’s got to through look down. I’ve you know, I’ve been out and about with my camera in the fresh air, and I’m lucky enough to be in the position that I’ve travelled to some nice places. So I ended up with the Arctic. You might have seen the polar bear shot. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. A grizzly bear shot in British Columbia. I’m lined up to go to India in November to take photographs of tigers in the wild. And so it is a passion. I do enjoy it. I do it reasonably well and but it gets me on the boat. So but I think if you’re going to sorry if you’re going to retire, you’ve got to be careful to fill in the gaps. And I’m lucky that photography tells a lot of gaps in my retirement.

[00:58:33] So is what is retired life like for you now? Was it the day you hung up your drill or whatever it was, was a big weight off your shoulders?

[00:58:42] It was an important emotion. I remember I can visualise the last person. It was a friend. And I remember I finished on the Thursday. On the Friday morning, I flew to Seattle with my wife and then we flew to Alaska and I did a bucket list trip. But the day after I retired and it’s just in some respects as an undeclared, you get excited about it and then it just it was like qualification. I always remember it just the day after everything falls a little bit strange and why I was slipped off the cliff here. But I’ve no regrets, guys. I had a wonderful career. I met some brilliant people, a lot of whom I still stay in contact with. I miss the social interaction with the patients and the nurses and the other dentists. That was what kept me going really through my career, the relationships I built up with the staff and the patients. I met some fantastic people coming through the door, some interesting characters and yeah, from footballers to just people in the community, all really nice people.

[00:59:47] So who is your dentist

[00:59:49] Now, Michael? I go into practise and one of the lady dentists is largely dental patient, as you would expect. And she holds my hand and gets me through a check opened. But there’s a great team of dentists, all of us still. And that’s that’s another thing that I like about what’s up with a practise, because you invest a lot of emotion and it’s still got my name over the door. Guys, it’s always dental practise still. And it would have upset me badly if the reputation of the business had gone downhill. But they rang me the other day. I want to knock a broom through to put it into the surgery. And so I think private practise is going quite nicely. And I think the strains on the NHS telling people seeking out private dentistry. So it’s nice on the back of a pandemic that I thought would hit them hard. They seem to be doing all right. I asked them,

[01:00:47] Did the Peter McQuillan was was that

[01:00:51] What a song Peter was he he just reflects everything I think about our private practise is such a tough guy as a friend and I still keep in contact with her is he’s got a great image as a good looking guy. He’s a good boy. He understands he’s got to try and do dentistry. That’s high quality. If you’re going to be in the private sector, you’ve got a pretty good quality dentistry.

[01:01:17] Who’s going to ask you about your charity work? Throughout the time you were there? You were doing charity.

[01:01:23] But that comes actually, yes. I could barely stand up today. I didn’t if I. Miles on the bike, which is ridiculous, but wow, that was to raise some money for some Land Foundation, which is a charity, and you very kindly sponsored me in the past to do some wonderful work in the community of nations, that it goes back to what I was saying about community involvement. I think it is important that you have that involvement in the community and it’s giving back argument made me feel better and the patients liked it and supported it as well. And I did the coast, of course, last weekend and the charity called Red Sky, that there a lot of work with children, heart patients. But I think the charity side was instilled in me with Tony Gege as well, because he said Mavericks and the Mavericks. You approached me right at the word go, said, Michael. Do you want to get involved in something I want to set up? We’re going to go to a little village in Morocco and treat the kids. They’ve never seen a dentist. And there was, you might know, just some fun to just under the sun. And there was a few of us then. And we turned up. I was taking out the kids at the mountains in schools. And that really so decidedly that’s one of the most emotional and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Go to Morocco with Tony and the Dental Mavericks and the credit to me. It’s continued on Khalik. I just pushed it on as well there in Beirut. And they’re getting some difficult places and they’re doing some wonderful work and still in Morocco as well. So but I fell in love with Morocco. The people are just wonderful. And I did some dentistry. I never thought I would say with buckets and. And the best thing I could talk endlessly about, but I’ve got some wonderful memories of Morocco and working with the kids and become a celebrity in Morocco, when you turn off the Dental and.

[01:03:22] Yeah, like what was what was looking back on your career. And it’s so lovely. It’s all centred on this one practise. You’ve only worked in that one practise so beautiful. But what were the darkest days? When was what were the bits that you might do differently?

[01:03:41] It might be easy to say, oh, you’ve got a wonderful practise in your relationship that you can’t go through thirty four years without having stresses on relationships with some team members and. You know, I maybe got involved in some emotional things with the team that led to a breakdown in relationship with those staff members. I’m not talking about relationships with the staff members. I’m talking professional relationships. But maybe in retrospect, I should have let somebody else handle rather than put my hands up. If I saw a bubble and needed lancing, sometimes I went in and lands the ball and sometimes it needs somebody, maybe a little more diplomatic than I was. I haven’t got many regrets in that respect. And sometimes the decisions are made possibly. Right. But how they handled is important. So I’ve had some relationships with staff that have broken down and I would say I would regret because I’ve always thought the people I’ve worked with were nice people. But on the whole, I can’t think of too many things that I would say I was in a black hole with with the practise. This time, I felt the pressure and stress of taking the risks that I’ve just told you guys about. But that makes it an exciting ride as well, especially when those risks tend to turn out successfully. But you have time to do with yourself when it’s difficult, difficult times. When Mr. Hudson, my boss, as I said, a lovely man, had a heart attack. The stress on me as a 20 year old Dental is going in one morning having to run a Dental practise, which you wouldn’t be able to do these days. But I took you learn pretty quick, guys, I’ll tell you. But that was a dark time when he was struggling with his health.

[01:05:29] I friend.

[01:05:31] But no, I can’t really come out with anything that would excite the audience about it. I was very lucky.

[01:05:41] It’s been lovely speaking to you, Michael. We’ve got a game to get to,

[01:05:47] A point where you can celebrate just

[01:05:55] By the time this goes out. But if this goes well, the audience will be very happy with it.

[01:06:03] Oh, let’s hope so.

[01:06:04] That prevents this with the same questions. Every time I if you don’t indulge in

[01:06:12] Fire away from

[01:06:14] Michael and imagine it’s your last day on the planet and you and you surrounded by your loved ones, your nearest and dearest, and you can leave them with three pieces of wisdom. Three pieces of advice for life, what would they be?

[01:06:35] Something that my parents instilled in me is honesty and I hate dishonesty. I think sometimes people present has been dismissed when really it’s just they’ve been unlucky. But I think if you can go through your life and look at yourself in the mirror in the morning when you’re having a shift and know that you haven’t treated anybody, I think that’s one thing that I hope my children have picked up from me. I think working hard is brings its rewards. I don’t think things will come to you without a lot of a lot of hard work and commitment. And I think I’ve tried that and I don’t know, it’s just just trying to be nice to people sometimes find it difficult to be nice to people that are not nice to me, but just trying to be generous with my time in my life. If somebody asked me to do something I like to think I would do it for them. And yeah, but I think no one I would say is understanding how I try. And I try not to be dishonest because it’s it’s not a good characteristic.

[01:07:38] So I think. And how would you like to be remembered if somebody said Michael was. Finish that sentence off the.

[01:07:52] Michael was a grumpy old ogre, but his heart was in the right place. I’m sure I’m most grateful when I get sick of the sound of my own voice sometimes guys. But I’d like people to think I was well-intentioned and I hope I’ve left a mark on the planet anyway. When I go, I think I hope somebody will say something positive from what I’ve done. Maybe not everything I’ve done, but I’ve really, really

[01:08:21] Enjoyed this conversation, Michael. And just I’m smiling all the way throughout. And Payman is as well, because when we’re listening to you, is this real sense of not really thinking too hard about what you say and not really thinking too hard about what you’ve done over your career. It’s the whole conversation has been very much matter of fact and say as it is, with very old fashioned values that go a long way. That’s what that’s what I’m drawn away from this.

[01:08:51] And I always think of Michael is one of the gents, one of the gentlemen of our profession.

[01:08:55] Well, you guys, in the best time I’ve had for a long time and I’ve been in a mess and you’ve lifted my spirits. And I thought,

[01:09:07] Let me ask you one final question, Michael. Let’s say you are the days left. Well, what would you do for those 30 days,

[01:09:16] 30 days at oh, my goodness, I am not waiting for that red squirrel. Oh, I think, you know, if I would, I would surround myself with my kids. I’m having a tough time at the moment because my daughter lives in Melbourne. And you know that if we wanted to get a home, she could go home. But I think she’s enjoying working at a restaurant. But I’m usually my other two kids that you’re into. Turn one works in the city. One’s a nurse, a children’s nurse. They make me grow in my life. I would I would spend some time with them together. I’d probably try and get a flight to the Arctic and spend some time in a place where you can just sit and it’s totally unspoiled and you’re surrounded by nature. It’s the most exhilarating, exhilarating experience I’ve had. And I’d probably go take some pictures. I don’t know what would I say, pictures of dolphins or something. But I wouldn’t I wouldn’t pick up a golf club, guys, because I would trust me if I want to thing in retirement. Just don’t waste your time following the golf ball around a field like stirringly. Now, I was addicted to it originally, but there’s a lot more to life than a golf golf driving range. But I have met some great people. So, no, I just I don’t want to leave anything undone on this. I try to do as much as I can with my life as I possibly can achieve. So, yeah, I’ve I’ve still got a lot of living left to do. Thank you.

[01:10:50] My lovely to have it. An absolute pleasure. Really enjoyed today. Thank you so much for doing this.

[01:10:56] Extremely well guys. Thanks for asking me to do this. I was a little nervous about it, but it’s liberating actually to have a look back over your career. And as I say, I’ve been lucky and maybe I’ve left a small mark on the industry. So that’s not really a day goes by when I don’t realise how lucky I am. But when I went into dentistry, you know, I’ve had a fabulous career and I hope I’ve left a small imprint on the profession, maybe maybe upset some people, but I didn’t intend to. And I thought I tried my best.

[01:11:30] Yeah, I think you inspired me. I think people listening to this will definitely be inspired

[01:11:35] By

[01:11:37] This piece. Dental Leaders the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders on the street. Your house, Payman, Langroudi and Prav Solanki.

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