The description of dynamo doesn’t quite do justice to this week’s guest, Zuber ‘Zubz’ Bagasi.
Bolton born and bred Zuber has already opened eight practices – all before age 40 and without ever borrowing a single penny.
And Zuber’s not about to stop.
He fills us in on future plans, lets us in on his inspiration and gives an insight into what it’s like being one of dentistry’s most driven.
“If you have that structure, then you as a person, you’ve got a life. And what’s more important in your life, is to make sure that you are enjoying it, that’s the first thing. Otherwise, life’s not worth living.” – Zuber Bagasi
In This Episode
01.17 – Backstory
07.56 – Mentors
13.41 – Expanding the empire
20.50 – Systems and processes
29.27 – Work/life balance
37.10 – A scratch of the nose
40.34 – Get up and go
46.41- Higher purpose
52.00 – Future plans
58.50 – Advice for the next generation
About Zuber Bagasi
Zuber Bagasi graduated from Birmingham University in 2005 and went on to found the Synergy dental group of practices.
He also developed the dental training platform SynTrain.
Zuber is a Member of the Joint Dental Faculty and holds PG Certs in implantology, restorative dentistry and facilitated learning in healthcare practice.
He continues to practice in his hometown of Bolton with the Synergy group.
Zuber: If I have nothing tomorrow it wouldn’t bother me. It would not bother me. Honest to God, it would not bother me because I can drive a Micro or I can drive a whatever it is, or I can have good clothes or bad clothes so long as I’m healthy, I’m sane and I’ve got a lovely family around me, that’s everything for me.
Intro Voice: 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.
Payman: It gives me great pleasure to welcome Zuber Bagasi on the podcast. Zuber’s a guy I’ve known for a few years and always been super, super impressed with what he’s achieved in what timeframe. And really for me not that because you can look at someone’s achievements on their own, but the mindset of this dentist has been always so impressive for me and I thought we’ve just got to have him on the podcast to try and spread that love amongst the audience. Thanks for coming on, Zuber.
Zuber: Well, it’s a great pleasure and it’s great to see you gents as well.
Payman: Tell us the backstory a bit, buddy. Where did you grow up? Why did you become a dentist?
Zuber: Yeah, so born and bred in Bolton. I’ve lived here all my life, studied in Birmingham to be a dentist. Bolton has been my birthplace, I’ve got my friends here, my family here, everything around me. It’s just so convenient, my support structure is here.
Zuber: Generally from a working class background. My parents were both factory workers putting in shifts from 7AM to 11PM, my father did. It was good. My childhood was exciting, weekends were great when used to see my father on a Saturday and a Sunday. Weekdays we couldn’t see him because by the time we’d wake up he’d be gone to work and by the time that we’d go to sleep he’d still be at work and then he’ll come back. So weekdays, generally, we never used to see him, but weekends was family time.
Zuber: But yeah, loads of great memories of childhood. We had everything. We felt we had everything. We had so much fun. The little things that we don’t appreciate nowadays for our own children, we had so little but you see it felt like we had so much. Two up, two down house, two brothers and a sister. So in one room there was two bunk beds and our parents had their own bedroom. It was great. It was cosy, it was great. Cobbled streets of Bolton, memories to cherish.
Prav: And sort of growing up, it kind of reminds me of my upbringing, although not the cobbled streets of Bolton. We definitely didn’t have a lot and when dad came to this country he was working in a factory, I think making knickers or underpants at the time, doing long, long hours. Then it was taxis, and then it was …
Prav: But my memories were he was rarely there but it was just he was working so God damn hard for us, for a better future for us. Any kind of similar stories or analogies there from your upbringing in terms of the influence from your father, and any messages?
Zuber: Yeah, absolutely. So my father was and is still my mentor. I can talk to him. Every decision I make, every single business decision or personal decision when it comes to it I go and speak to my father. He’s always been very levelheaded, he’s always been a very hardworking character.
Zuber: So I guess what the things that he’s instilled in the siblings is, look, work hard, never borrow any money, and he’s instilled a lot of values in us. So, things like being honest and trustworthy, being there for the community, being there for your friends, being there for your family. He’s developed a reputation within the Bolton community as being very trustworthy. If he’s going to get something from someone to keep or to … Whatever it is, he’ll protect it with his life. I guess that is something that’s been instilled in all our siblings, the hardworking part of it, the long hours.
Zuber: He was a keen sportsman so he used to play a lot of cricket on the weekends. We used to tag along with him. We never used to watch cricket but we used to tag along and be mischievous within the wherever we used to go, in the forest, jumping on trees, jumping on rooftops, whatever it is, as kids do. We were only sort of seven, eight years old. I’m the third child in the family. I’ve got a younger brother, an elder brother and an elder sister. It was great, great memories. You’d never think that we used to do the stuff that we used to do.
Zuber: But a sort of take home message from my father is be honest, be hardworking, live within your means and that’s enough. And it’s exactly that which is what I instil in my children as well.
Prav: So the never borrow thing. My dad’s a big believer in live within your means, what you just said, right? If you can’t afford it don’t touch it kind of thing.
Zuber: Absolutely, yeah.
Prav: And so obviously you’ve built this empire that you have and whatnot. Have some of those values carried across? And I’m sure we’ll talk more about it, but in terms of your business ethos and how you’ve built this have you had to raise money, raise finance, or have you … ?
Zuber: Okay, so the first clinic that I set up was in Sunny Blackpool. We used to go to Blackpool as kids as your twice yearly holidays, for the lights in the winter and for the beach in the summer. So I ended up in Blackpool.
Zuber: In terms of my first squat practise, it was just before the new contract came out in 2006. I used to work during my vocational training year, for Amrik Bhandal in Coventry, in his big fortress in Coventry. So I’ve been mentored through him.
Zuber: The first clinic that I launched was a squat practise. I managed to secure a contract with the PCT at the time, the area team equivalence of nowadays. So it was very little investment and most of that came from my own savings. I like to save to make sure that I’ve got enough and what I need. So I remember investing about 150,000, 170,000 in those days, 2007. I bought the property, kitted it out, I secured a contract, and there’s a story behind that as well in how I managed to secure a contract during a vocational training.
Zuber: Yeah, it was happy days. But I’ve never borrowed money for any goodwill purchases I’ve had. It’s always been organic growth, so each year as we become more successful in each clinic I’ll reinvest that into the next clinic and the next clinic, et cetera. So all of Our equipment, everything like that, it’s all paid for.
Payman: Am I hearing that right, Zuber? You’ve opened eight practises without borrowing any money?
Zuber: That’s right, yes.
Payman: Bloody hell, man. Amazing. Go on, bro.
Prav: Talk to us about your mentor. You mentioned Amrik Bhandal. I guess, if you want to talk NHS contracts in that part of the country he’s got to [crosstalk] right?
Zuber: Yeah, absolutely.
Prav: Did he mentor you in business, dentistry, everything?
Zuber: Yeah, yeah. So, being an undergraduate from the University of Birmingham, we used to have Baaz which is the second brother from the three Bandal brothers in dentistry. And Baaz used to come into clinics and he used to teach us for [inaudible] restorative clinics used to come in. He used to pick out the best surgeons from the ward and I used to see them working for the Bandals later on in their career, so after their VT years.
Zuber: So I knew of the Bandals. Obvious people talk in the West Midlands and they were successful in the West Midlands. Amrik came along once I applied for my VT. I never got a VT place first of all. So I think probably one of the only ones that never got a VT place straight after university. So I started applying to as an assistant post in certain places in Birmingham. I got offered a place with Baaz Bandal in Cranleigh Heath. About a week later he sort of shipped me across to FiveWays, fresh out of university, a week into my clinical practise and he put me into his clinic, a single surgery clinic on Fiveways.
Zuber: At that time, again, when Baaz was on clinic, at the same time I had an interest as one of clinicians. And Anil was such a super duper guy. The inspiration that he instilled. At that time I think I was a fourth year then. He said to me, “Look, Zubs, you’ve got the hands, you’ve got the drive, just make sure that you are achieving clinical finesse.” So he made me think, right?
Zuber: He used to come and check my work on my preps. I used to do a lot of porcelain onlays as an undergraduate, a lot of stuff that some of the undergraduates weren’t doing. I used to go and pick out the more difficult OCC cases, et cetera, just for clinical experience. And Anil just said to me, “Look, that’s what you need to do.” He said, “Get as much experience as you can. Don’t let money be a driver, let clinical excellence be a driver.”
Zuber: So that resonated whilst on the other side I’ve got the Bandals. So I’ve got the Bandals and the empire, and I’ve got Anil on one side, right? So I really sort of started thinking about this in how dentistry can be led through a business model which is corporately managed, the quality of care transfers from one clinic to another clinic, and how do you maintain those high levels of standards?
Zuber: I kept in touch with Anil. I used to go and see him when he was in the Priory in Birminghan for James Hull. I used to go and see him quite regularly for direct supervision, et cetera. He drove me. Anil was one of my biggest mentors, I’d say. So, when I went into an assistant position, Obviously it’s something that I had to do in the period until I got my vocational training post, Baaz transferred me along. He said, “Look, if you work for me for six months I’ll get you into one of my clinics for VT,” which started in February. From June, till July till February I did an assistant post and then moved to Coventry with Amrik.
Zuber: I’ve never met this guy before. I went for an interview, he said, “Look, you’ve got the job. You seem like a great guy.” Great. So I started with him and I sort of learnt how super intelligent Amrik was, how hardworking he was. That was the biggest thing for me. You’ve got so many practises, you don’t need to come to work. It’s not greed, it’s [crosstalk] and that hardworking ethos-
Payman: zuber, I know you take it for granted because you were brought up in the Midlands seeing the Bandals, but for someone who doesn’t know who they are, do you want to just talk about the empire. How big was the empire? What are we talking?
Zuber: When I started my training with the Bandals I think they had about 80 practises across the West Midlands with three brothers. These practises were not sort of small practises, they were huge, humongous. The one that I worked at in Cranleigh Heath for the first week of my post-graduation, that was, I think it was a 12 surgery practise. The one in Coventry, that was a 14 surgery practise.
Payman: I’ve been to that one.
Zuber: It was like a fortress. It was like a mini hospital. All cable chairs all kitted out. So they had a huge empire. Their dad used to come along when I was in the FiveWays, and he used to come in every week with a little car, used to park in the back and used to come and collect the cash. It was so cute. I asked him, “Why do you have to work?” He said, “Every day is Christmas for me.” He said, “Every day is Christmas.” And it was amazing.
Zuber: The work ethos resonates. There’s more purpose to life than just to earn a good living. And yeah, Amrik was with me. I was in the next surgery with him. I was with some great clinicians in Coventry. Yeah, it was a great time. It was a great time.
Payman: So how long after you opened Synergy, your first one in Blackpool, did you look at the second one?
Zuber: So it was 2010. If you bear in mind I had these concepts of corporate dentistry.
Zuber: And you always hear that corporate, the bigger you are the worst you become. And then you’ve got the boutique practises, especially like the James Hull group, some of the practises, especially the one that Anil used to work at.
Zuber: What I did was, even before I applied for the contract in Blackpool, I was a VT, I had my vision set. The vision was, look, you’ve got to work together. In our profession, there is associate dentists, self-employed. You’ve got the local practitioners within their own clinics. You’ve got the nurses, you’ve got the practise managers, you’ve got the receptionists, so it’s not just a simple retail model.
Zuber: I had a friend in optometry and, again, he was going through all this, all these different models in his mind at the time. Since when I was an undergraduate we used to talk about this. We looked at the Specsavers model and how we can have clinical leadership with a corporate structure that supports each clinic, ensuring that each clinic operates to a high standard allowing clinical [inaudible 00:15:12]. We looked at IDH and ADP Dental, can you remember them?
Zuber: And the bigger became the worse the reputation got. We didn’t want to end up like that. So, my optometry friend who was about two years my senior, he developed a similar model to Specsavers where independent opticians are reinvented through a joint venture partnership model.
Zuber: We looked at how we can develop this joint venture partnership model. He’s now got 150 optical practises through a joint venture partnership programme, born and bred in Bolton, went to same school, et cetera, upbringing was the same. So, he then went onto audiology, over nine million turnover through joint venture partnerships. I went into hair transplant surgery myself through our JV model. 50 clinics worldwide this franchise. I was a franchisee a few years ago.
Zuber: We looked at all these models, Vets4Pets for example, and how this model could be brought into dentistry. At that time, when I launched my first clinic, I thought I’ve got to align the Bandals, I’ve got to align Anil Fester through a joint venture partnership model. And therefore I called it Synergy, synergy meaning working together for better results, yeah?
Zuber: The answer to your question, which is how long after the second practise. All this had to be set in my own clinic from a single surgery to a four surgery practise I built in three years. And then in that time I made sure that all the governance systems are absolutely nailed. I’m very OCD in systems and processes, so all the governance systems, number one, had to be absolutely nailed. Second is training, so when we have dental nurses, dentists, receptionists, practise manager starting, what would the training model look like if I was to acquire more practises because I love dentistry. If I had to I would stay in surgery five days a week, and that’s what I’ve been trained to do.
Zuber: So I had to model the training pathways to ensure that I’m hands-off with the training as much as I can and let the systems do the talking. So that, for the first three or four years, I was developing. I became a vocational trainer to understand the actual structure behind the training. So then in 2010 an opportunity came. I had some friends in Birmingham. I said, “Look, we’ll go into a joint venture partnership. I’ll do some of the management and we’ll be equal partners.” We applied for some tenders, we won two tenders in the West Midlands. One of them got pulled back for whatever reason, and one is still operational in the Midlands.
Zuber: So in 2010 we launched our second squat practise, minimal investments again. It was a tender that we won.
Payman: Are you specifically going after squats rather than buying practise?
Zuber: No, no, no, no. So firstly it was the 2010 practise was a tender, a national tender, across the West Midlands booster in Birmingham. It was the time when, I think, Rodric Stencil had a lot of the contracts down south. We managed to secure the one in Birmingham. Again, at that time, I had to evaluate whether partnership was for me. So let alone the systems and processes and how can I make a practise flourish, whether partnerships is going to work for me.
Zuber: So we’re still there and the partners are still very loyal to each other and we’re doing well. And then from there on the vision was how do I now develop the joint venture partnership model just like my close friend had in optometry and in audiology? How can we develop that into dentistry? If you think about it, the systems and the processes, a lot of it are manual, so checklists, paper. Some of it is on Excel, et cetera. But that’s not good, right? In a scalable model that’s not good. So what I had to do is to create software applications to capture HR, capture governance, capture marketing, capture accounts, et cetera.
Zuber: So from since 2010 to now we’ve been developing these systems. It’s taken such a long time. Not saying that it’s took us 10 years, but I had to make sure that every time we develop systems I had to trial it in my own practises. So, every year thereon I had a plan to purchase a practise year on year with my own cash, which I did. So in 2011 I purchased a practise, tested the models out there, pressed the green button, the system works. The staffing model centrally was finally knitted together. Some central management staff have been developed over the years, some have been recruited in, but it’s a very fine balance. Who wants to work in Bolton? Right.
Prav: We can get life from 3:00 for lunch, mate.
Zuber: Get licence degree[crosstalk 00:20:26] who wants to work in Bolton. But Bolton is my birthplace and it has to be Bolton. So the management staff was sort of intricately put together and supporting this the systems, the software’s that we bespoke developed, have been developed and been then trialled and tested on each one of our practises. And it works amazingly well.
Prav: Zuber, You said you’re OCD about systems and processes, right? Have you hold these together yourself? Have you gone in and mapped out every single interaction system process and then launch that and tested it? Or have you hired in someone to do that for you?
Zuber: Oh, absolutely not. I think of myself as Alex Ferguson.
Zuber: Right? I like to create things, nurture things and make it flourish, Okay. so just like, you Ryan gigs and the Neville brothers and Scholes, et cetera. What I like to do I like to get my hands in, develop the systems and processes. I used to read the 200 page documents on the standards for better health. If you remember that in 2005, 2006, it was launch and as an undergraduate, I was reading that. And just to understand the NHS system just to understand the processes.
Zuber: I autopsied as much as I can in the public domain IDH. I autopsied virgin. I autopsied Apple. I autopsied Google. And I looked at why these great companies, some of these great companies, the latter ones, especially, are successful. And it boil down to one main thing. It boiled down to look after your staff, look after your people, and they look after you, Right? So all this was sort of cross industry thinking, and then how we could get this back into dentistry. The answer to your question is, yeah, I did develop a lot of these systems myself, I never hired anyone in and from every little details for what a nurse does in surgery, to what the practise managers role is on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to how the governance structure is created to comply with the currency QC standards, how that’s bolted into the BDA good practise scheme, how that bolts with the Health Education England’s Practise inspection plan, all of that encompassed in and is exciting. So it’s all bespoken and it’s all very dentist driven.
Prav: Zuber, how many people work for you now?
Zuber: Probably, about 100, something like that.
Prav: You know that’s quite a beast to manage. Right? As far as human beings, right?
Zuber: No, no, no. So it’s about systems, right. So it’s about systems, right. So you have to have all the different departments. So you have HR, a crucial role. You have governance, a crucial role. You have accounts team, you have a marketing team, you have an IT team, you have the operational team that includes your regionals. Your regional headedness that support[crosstalk 00:23:50]
Prav: what is the sort of the corporate structure? As far as you know people who work outside of the practises themselves. I can see behind you, you’ve got like the office there. Got an account, some marketing operations team. But then what do you have, you have regional managers?
Zuber: So you’ve got underneath myself and my good wife, we have head of HR, and there’s two people in the HR team. There’s governance team who is responsible for any compliance, any changes in policy, implementation, et cetera. You have an accounts team, there’s four people in accounts. And I mean, this is from verification of your cashing up to invoices to whatever else you need, in accounts, your monthly p&l, you’re ensuring your balance sheets are up to date. You’ve then got a marketing team. So in the marketing team, I’ve got an SEO guy, I’ve got some social media experts. I’ve got a graphics designer videographer, content writer, the whole team there.
Zuber: I’ve got an operations team which is the regionals, which is the area manager supporting the practise managers at each practise level. I’ve got two regional head nurses, which support the head nurses at each clinic through support and appraisal. I’ve got two regional receptionist, which again supports the receptionist that practise level through appraisal, et cetera. I’ve then got a centralised treatment team. There’s six girls in there, all GDC registered treatment coordinators, all our new private patient inquiries come through all the funnels that we have both digitally and offline, they get diverted, it’s a seamless system. So patients don’t know that they are
Payman: Super important, right? Super important.[crosstalk 00:25:56]
Zuber: Centralised hundred percent so the way that we’ve trained them up is that you’ve talked to them and the knowledge that they have is almost that the talking to a dentist. Yeah. So, the training systems that we’ve implemented for our team is so robust. And so we’ve got the team centrally here. And then a practise level, the structure as clinicians you’ve got to understand as clinicians and we all clinicians here, so what we want to do you want to go to work.
Zuber: And we want to make sure that we put our gloves on and between the patients and we take off gloves if we go home. And everything else around us, we want organised. So how does that happen? And the systems and processes that’s been created, allows exactly that. It allows associate dentists to come into work, enjoy the dentistry, go out on courses and develop their career pathways, have internal mentorship, but it’s all clinically focused. And then everything else around that is managed by the team. So we’ve got treatment coordinators at each clinic, you’ve got practise manager at each clinic, we’ve got one or two receptionist each can depending on the size of the clinics, a head nurse each clinic, an assistant head nurse, an assistant head receptionist and then you’ve got some clinics have a therapist, some don’t. And then you’ve got the associate dentists there as well. So the system is such that allows us clinicians to be able to flourish.
Payman: So how many days a week do you actually drill? Do you do still do that?
Zuber: Three days? Yeah. So this is what I’ve been trained to do me. And, I can’t see myself being out of clinic. It allows me to be in touch with dentistry. I spend three days in clinic and two days in the office. Again, just working on the business dipping systems further, I regularly have contacts with the different departments on a weekly basis. And we have a board meeting every month, where the law managers potential board meets up for KPIs practise.
Zuber: And yeah, I think structure is in place. I’m a great believer of Bruce Lee, right. And as a child, Bruce Lee was my like, My God, right, I had to get six packs because of that. And Bruce Lee’s philosophy was this that to be successful, you have to have structure and all see the structure, but at the same time, you have to have emotion, and spirituality, right. So to have a synergy between the two, and mechanical approach, and spirituality and emotion and understanding as human beings involved. That’s where the fusion comes. That’s where the synergy comes in. I think that’s resonated all throughout my life. And everything I’ve done has been a mixture of a professional approach, a structured system in place, as well as just have lots of fun. Make sure that stuff enjoy themselves a little coming to work, I believe in a motto. Less stress, more success. And it’s something that resonates across the group.
Payman: perhaps Do you see what I mean? But [crosstalk]
Prav: Listen, and so, the one thing that sort of is screaming out of me at the moment, right, is you’ve put all these systems and processes together. You’re OCD, okay? And you’ve got a family, you’ve got multiple practises you’re acquiring, okay? And you’re having fun at the same time. That there must have been points during this journey where you were putting in and you probably, I don’t know whether you still are ridiculous hours, right? 16, 17, 18 hour days.
Zuber: No, no, no, no.
Zuber: Never. I feed children. Never. I love to eat, I love to get out of the house and I love to do the school pickups and I love to do all of that. But yeah, my kid is nine, four and two year old, so very demanding. But my nine year old, he’s memorising the Quran. So in the morning killer, he’s got to wake up in the morning 6 am I’ve got a supervising for two hours in the morning before I go to work. In the evening, I spend another hour with him. So that’s my time after five o’clock off. That’s it, done.
Prav: Always been the case.
Zuber: I think 90% of the times. When I first started, you know working in practise. In when I first set up my squat in Blackpool, I used to come home, but I feel so tired and ready to go to sleep. Before I had my children. I used to say to my wife, do you want to go to your mom’s today? She put up your mom’s house say sorry, not seen him all week. Why don’t you go? I decided that time that I used to get time for myself to develop systems and processes. So, I used to have a hook on one side and I used to develop my systems on the other. But yeah, I put that trust to my associates. Now as well saying that nine to five you clock out you switch off you go home.
Zuber: Sport is another big thing in my life. You have to balance it out. I’m a big believer, again, the Bruce Lee’s story. We still have Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. And then were the days when the sport used to I felt the value of sports are probably you know all about this, I think. I’ve been following your fasting journey. Sport is integral, I think it’s integral part of your life. And if you don’t have this balance in life, something’s going to give whether it’s internal, or whether you’re going to explore somewhere else or in your mind, right. So this balance of sports, professional life and personal life is key. I mean, one of the analogies I gave is that life should be like driving a car, each wheel should be fully inflated equally. So work is one of the wheels. And the other three is exercise and sports. The other one is your personal life, your family and the other one is spirituality, Right? So if you use mind, body and soul. If balance yourself well, then I think you’ll do.
Prav: Well talk to me about how this balance features in your life and makes it through maybe a typical day stroke week or couple of days in the life of where spirituality features health and wellness how that fits in, whether it’s a workout, whether it’s whatever it is you do and just give us an insight into that, Mate.
Zuber: Okay, so my day starts at 6 am and I spend about two hours in the morning with my elder child. He’s memorising the Quran takes about five years or so he’s probably about a quarter of his way through now started last year. So eight o’clock when I’m in surgery. I’ll start off at eight o’clock get to Blackpool for about quarter nine, I’ll have a full day a clinic finished at the four o’clock. Spend some time when I finished my clinical work to write my reports up that what the TCM was developed for me, sign them all off, send them out to patients and come home drop my kids offs to the evening mosque.
Zuber: My wife does the school pickup I do the evening pickup and drop offs. And then I’ll fit once in the Mosque, I’ll fit in. I’m a triathlete. So swim, bike or run. I don’t do any heavy weights, I don’t do any weights at all. I just follow these three disciplines. I’m with a triathlon group. So the biggest one in the country, in fact, very lucky to have that in Bolton. And, we have training schedules planned during the week and the weekends. So I spend about an hour or so in the pool, 1500 metres to 2000 metres, whatever it is, or I go for a run for an hour. The weather’s good. I’ll go out for a bike.
Zuber: It takes me one hour, 20 minutes normally the route that I do. And so that’s been a week, so I have two or three of them sessions in the week. Evening wise, spirituality wise, I pray over five prayers during the day, in the morning, afternoon throughout the day. And so I always get them in and that keeps me grounded. I’ve got a really naughty streak in me and I think all this keeps me really grounded. And I’ve got a very supportive wife, Hitler, I call her sometimes!
Zuber: I found but her she’s a little lovely and there’s a story behind that as well. And it’s the way we met but It’s great and then on the weekends, I’ll spend. We go some swimming lessons with my children. So I’ll say come on to swimming, once they having the swimming lessons, I’ll jump in the pool myself. And I’ll do my laps, I need to, again 1000 metres to 1500 metres. Something like that I’ll do. On a Sunday, every Sunday, every morning, half to seven or eight o’clock, depending on the time of the year is. We’ll go for a long ride so 50, 60 miles with my triathlon group and straight after that swimming again with the kids and then we’ll go for our family walk or family adventure in the afternoon and up till evening. So it’s great. Is this a structured life it’s a very nice structured life.
Prav: You’ve definitely got all four tyres equally inflated, they’re made that’s for sure.[crosstalk 00:35:45]
Payman: Did you get during the day when you’re doing patients, so if you’ve got constant messages coming on your phone, things going on?
Zuber: No, no, no, no, no, because one of the things that I’ve… the way that I’ve stitched up the management team. Think of it as Richard Branson sitting in his office, he’s not going to get operational problems, is he? He’s going to have a layer and a layer underneath him was going to take it. I’ll give an example of some friends of mine, the Euro Garages brothers are very close friends of mine. They’ve just took over as in a big stake. Right? So I was with them last week. And I said, Look, how do you manage? And we will speak about this is. How do you manage it? Thousands and thousands of Euro galleries across the world? Australia, America, all over Europe, right? Two brothers sound level headed. And so how do you how do you manage it, they’ve been part of my business mentors. So I said, Look, it’s simple, you have to have a structure in place.
Zuber: And if you have that structure, then you as a person, you’ve got a life. And what’s more important in your life, is to make sure that you are enjoying it, that’s the first thing. Otherwise, life’s not worth living. You spending time with your family. Okay, and everything else is the secondary. So if you’ve got a structure in place then that should take care of itself.
Prav: Tell us about Hitler.
Zuber: See us every time I have an argument, my wife, I say, the biggest mistake I’ve made is scratch my nose. And I remind her of that and said, the story behind values. I met this girl in college. So, I’ve probably spoken to about three times in college. Never give her the time of the day. She used to hate my guts. I used to have curtains, you know the curtains styles in the days.
Prav: Believe it or not, so did I, mate.
Zuber: Really? Oh my goodness. Right. Peter Andre? Right.[crosstalk 00:37:48]
Payman: Is she a dentist?
Zuber: No, she’s a solicitor. Right? So she works for us now. And she has been for the last decade or so. But in terms of our method, So, imagine this girl I knew of, I never really spoke to her. I went to university she went on and she didn’t care what I did or what, vice versa, et cetera. And then I came back from university that said, you know Rich Dad time. It’s time that you got married. And proposals came, we through the community, you meet one girl and she hates you or you don’t like her or whatever it is, right? And so this proposal came so I think I know this girl, and I confirmed it was her. And I said, Okay, we exchanged numbers, parents exchanged numbers, and we met in Starbucks in Bolton first day.
Zuber: I said, Oh, shit, I don’t know what this girl looks like now. Not seen it for over a decade. What if you got it? Couldn’t it be awkward? You know, her friend circle. I know it crosses over. So I went into Starbucks and I went in with a big bouquet of red roses, right? And I went behind the tail and I said, I slipped to 20 pounds, no sin. And I said, Look, guys, I want you to keep this behind the counter. And if I scratch my nose, I want you to bring it out. Okay?
Zuber: I sat down and ordered my coffee, ordered my tea. She hates coffee. So ordered, everything’s planned, right. She came along, sat down, anxious as hell. And on the back then I also arranged with my sister to say look, call me at this time and if I say Oh, shit seriously, I’m coming home now. Okay. So I had it all planned, right? So just in case to make it a bit more.
Prav: Had your escape route sorted. Did you?
Zuber: Everything sorted, right? Everything sorted, right? So I’m talking to this girl and we’re talking a way about college and you know, blah, blah, blah. And then I had a scratch on my nose. And I forgot all about I told these guys that bring the flower out. They bring the bloody flowers up, right? That’s it, I am going to have to marry her now. That’s it done deal. Right? Can’t go back right, flowers are out. Right? My sister call. oh case is too late.[crosstalk 00:40:17] All right guys, so every time we have an argument, I see. No scratch.
Prav: such a lovely story.
Zuber: You know, you’ve been a lovely lady, she’s a rock of my life.
Payman: The thing I find about Zuber, I mean, you meet a lot of dentists right? 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, for me, how effortless it looks? I know it’s not bad. I know it’s not. There’s a lot of planning and execution. But you are definitely enjoying your life. It’s just it’s obvious. You’re enjoying your life. And it looks like you’ve managed to balance this out really well. Would you say obviously, what you said about Neil Shrestha who’s a great friend of this podcast and the Bandals and that massive structure, we said that, but would you say there’s something about you that’s like, more ambitious than the next man, more structured than the next man? Parents who work in a factory now you’re talking about opening 100 practises out of the blue? Where did it come from? As a kid were you like that with these guys? The Bandals with no stress to sort of open your eyes?
Zuber: No, no. So I’ve been brought up in a community where 90% 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 go to school and you go to work after that. I started working at the age of 12, something like that. Alarm factory to Nappy factory to Socks factory to Morrison’s earning 2.14 an hour. Sainsbury’s, I’ve always worked. And I’ve always earned for myself, and I’ve always lived within that means.
Zuber: I never got a penny of my parents, anyone. Okay. And the same with my siblings. And same with my friends around, it was just the ethos in the community. So one of the things that 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’ve had 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 one hand, the guys that went to university in the communities that we live in, right, so you know that that kid has gone to university that kid has gone to university, you know that, okay.
Zuber: So that to me was this has to change. I need to inspire. I need to do something that you can do this and you can do that. And you don’t need to just to go to work, you don’t need to drop everything else, you can balance it and life is a balance. So I guess one of the biggest drivers for me is to inspire. Remember, I’m the only… I’ve not mentioned this earlier, the only kid in my entire family, my first cousins have never gone to university. None of my first cousins have gone to university. We’ve got a big family, we’ve got a huge family, right. So the first thing is I’m not going to be able to inspire them because I’m one of the younger guys in the generation. So yeah, but I’d be able to inspire the next generation and I’ll be able to inspire the generation that’s coming up, right.
Zuber: And how do you do this? You got to do it yourself. So through school. 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 say, what do you do outside stays outside, never bring it at home, right? So, went through school, in 12, straight A’s, straight A stars, et cetera. Again, a big, big drive was motivating others went to college sixth form, and actually wasn’t going to do dentistry in the first place 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’re all around me.
Zuber: So like I said, for example, my friend who’s in the optical field is over 150 practises, my very close friend, online pharmacies in America, Europe, UK, another very good friend of mine. These guys have been both up together. We’ve got chain of pharmacies, and then you’ve got the the Euro garage brothers. And there’s other stories. There’s very successful stories and us guys were the mindset that we had was how do we inspire the community. Drugs, 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 it ourselves, for us to inspire others, so be inspired and inspire others.
Zuber: And I guess Anil and amrik were sort of boosters to that same philosophy. That’s why I love these guys, but Anil was my mentor for my four implants when I first started in 2007. He used to come all the way from Birmingham used to live there. And we’ve been snowboarding together in Worcester and I’ve invited him across, we’ve been to the campsite a lot.
Zuber: Anil comes from Boston again never sportsman, I’ve seen him grow up if you remember Sajid Mahmood, the cricketer, the fast bowler for England crickets. He was in my year in school and all very sort of successful in your own rights. But the work that goes behind it, no one sees that. So no one sees what it takes to get there. And everyone just wants a shortcut. And it’s not the first, right. It’s not the culture that we tried to share.
Prav: Zuber, you spoke a little bit about, well, quite a bit about religion or touched upon it. Keeping you grounded, coaching your son through this five year programme of reciting the Quran? How important is religion to you? How does it feature in your life? And how does it keep you grounded? Talk to me about[crosstalk 00:47:03] what are your belief systems just tell you a bit about your beliefs.
Zuber: My beliefs, I’m a Muslim. And I believe in a higher creator. And it goes a lot deeper than that. Because wherever religion you’re in, my belief, is that the ultimate end goal is one, which is how you treat others. So you might be praying 20 hours a day and you might be given so much in a community, whatever it is that you you do for your religion, ultimately, it comes down to your inner self, and your inner weaknesses and strengths.
Zuber: So you’ve got the, again, one of the things that I love about Bruce Lee is that he’s not just a fighter, he had this higher purpose, which is you got to fight these inner demons. And the inner demons for Bruce Lee was things like fear, anger and hatred. So, wherever he taught him did, he was to fight these inner demons, you must have watched return to the dragon, Enter the Dragon sorry and this is based around this.
Zuber: Taking that a step further. When it comes to spirituality. It’s inside you look at you don’t look at the outside you look at the inward world, which is things like greed, jealousy, eating too much or less than. All these spiritual sicknesses that we all have, we all human beings. And it’s religion allows me to focus on that and work on the inequality so if I have nothing tomorrow, you wouldn’t bother me. It would not bother me. Honestly, it would not bother me, because I can drive a micro or I can drive a whatever it is or I can have good clothes or bad clothes so long as I’m healthy, I’m sane and I’ve got a lovely family around me that’s everything for me.
Zuber: And that’s my route. And it’s something that’s been serious whatever it brings, what’s my vision? Like, sky’s the limit. What if I spoke to a man I was with Zuber Issa from the Euro garages. Just two years ago, they were venturing out into America. And I said, Why are you going to stop? Why are you going to take this. You’re supplying the amount of fuel that you’re supplying it’s one fifth of the whole country. Right? So where are you going to take this? Right? So we don’t know, we just take as it comes. We don’t know. And yesterday, they were the preferred bidder to buy us there. Now, who would have thought that two years ago, would they have thought that themselves? No, they wouldn’t have. So long as you’ve got this balance, so long as you’ve got an opportunity, and if it fits within your life, and within your lifestyle, and it’s not affecting your time that you spend with your family or friends. It’s not affecting your health then yeah go for it. I studied the high purpose to inspire others. It’s inspire, be an inspiration. Because life is more than that.
Prav: Just taking that question, just to touch further, what you believe is on the other side, when this life is over, at the end of it all? What, what do you think happens? Or what do you believe happens?
Zuber: There’s a hell and heaven and I don’t judge who’s going go to hell, and who’s going go to heaven, I think I’m going to go to hell. There’s so there’s so many bad traits I still have, and I could do so much better. What I believe is that you’ll be judged on your character. So if your character whatever religion, I think religion is a means for you to focus on yourself, right? And whether it’s today’s on Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, whatever it is, the higher purpose of this is to focus on your inner self. That’s where Sufiism comes in. That’s what spirituality comes in. That’s where cleansing your spiritual sicknesses come in. If you having one day, you might not have it the next. That’s the bigger battle that you have. And if you have that you’ll be judged on that. And if you don’t, well, you’ll have an eternal life in heaven. And if you haven’t, then unfortunately, you see red.
Payman: You do really believe it, but really believe it’s the burning like, you really believe in it?
Zuber: I don’t know maybe. I don’t know. Honestly. It’s a common thought there is fire and snake whatever it is. But let’s not focus on that. I’ve got phobia against wasp. Wasps in the hell of it. Right. Wasps and spiders two things, right. Honest to God. Right.
Payman: So you are saying that if I’m hearing you, right, you are saying that if everything carries on and you feel like you’re happy, you will just keep growing this and you’re looking at the 150 mantises, whatever you’re not looking to exit. Yeah.
Zuber: I’m only 38 pal. No, no, I’m only 38. You know, I get bored really, really easily. I have to do new things. So dentistry wise, clinically, I see children that are on the NHS, requiring routine exams, to simple restorations to full arch implants and sedation, and Invisalign, and composite bonding and the whole spectrum. Because if I just did one thing, I’d be out of my mind. So I mixed it up.
Payman: But for me, if I was running the Empire, you’re running. I probably would lower my clinical days. But it looks like you’ve managed to get that thing running itself almost, and still managed to get the clinical hours it. I think the Bandals are like that too. Right. They will practise. They kept practising.
Zuber: They do? Yeah, I don’t know the practises right now. I think his sons have probably taken over. But the ethos is, I mean, there’s different types of dentistry. There’s an NHS dentistry world as a high end private dentistry. Well, there’s something in the middle. There’s a mix practise economy, whatever works for you, and with regards to staying in practise, again, it’s what I love to do, this is my main job. I don’t see as a job in fact. I like using my hands. In management, you can’t do that.
Payman: It was an insight into what I’ve seen a couple of your practises and you know that I like what you’ve done with them for a second perspective and all that. Yeah. But give us an insight, what is it that makes your practises so successful? For instance, with enlightened, when I look at your practise where it is, and I see the number of enlightens going through that practise, it’s more than it should be. [crosstalk] So it was known that the treatment coordinator thing, what is it?
Zuber: No, No, no. It’s a very finely stitched system. So currently effects right, so enlightened, you’ve said, enlightened with the highest provider of straumann implants in the whole of the Northwest, with the highest provider of Invisalign in Greater Manchester and Lancashire, enlightened is another big brand that we use and promote. And all this, you can’t just pay someone and expect results, right. So Prav, right. So in terms of Google SEO, Google pay per pay per clicks, you can’t just put a shedload of money in and expect results, it doesn’t look like that.
Zuber: So the way that it works is, there’s a sales funnel, right? And whatever the sales funnel that you use, whether it’s social media, Google, whether it’s PR that we do wherever it is, you’re ultimately, the endpoint is patients sat in your chair and then the conversion of that.
Zuber: So that’s one part of the bigger picture, right. So the patients have now come into your chair, however, whatever way that you’ve done that, through your central human coordination team, to your key tools, in practise, whatever way is, you’ve got a patient in the chair, the second challenge is allowing the associate dentist to be trained enough sufficiently to be able to manage that case, within the scope of practise. So that is a big, big area. So that’s training and mentorship. So we have a system that we’ve developed, probably took about four or five years to develop a digital platform where everything’s recorded step by step using high resolution videography. It’s a platform that’s an accredited platform. You got the AAIDD award last year for digital dentistry. And it allows each clinician to be able to go through a training programme. And then at the end of that they have mentorship, and direct and indirect supervision.
Zuber: So the second part of the puzzle is, once you’ve got the patients into your chair, how do you develop your dentist, particularly your dentist to be able to offer that treatment, you can have a dentist that comes in fully trained, fully skilled, and then they can implement themselves into the system, or you take the fresh dentist who are very motivated, who are enthusiastic and a willingness to learn. Those are majority of our dentists. So most of our dentists come straight after the f1 or within the training ourselves. And then we’ve allowed them to flourish. Okay. And that’s the second part. Okay.
Zuber: The third part is the management system that goes around, it’s all the administration, all the governance, making sure that everything’s working, making sure that you’re stocked in full Nick, making sure that the equipment that you use you’ve invested properly in it, all everything that goes around it, the infrastructure that’s around it. So if you were just to pay for footfall in marketing, you’re not going to get the results. So it’s the whole system. And that’s what we’ve developed, and that we’ve developed this through looking at the bigger brands that I mentioned earlier.
Payman: Socially present, but they’re going to tell you every time I speak to you, I’m just super, super, super impressed with you, man. Perhaps Go for it, buddy.
Prav: And just just before I go for it, I’m just blown away by the balance that you’ve got here, right? I know a lot of people who do well in business, right, but you’ve got the health, you’ve got the family, you’ve got the wellness, you’ve got the switch off at five o’clock, you’ve got the time in the pool on the bike running, blah, blah, blah on his face.
Payman: picks smile on his face.
Prav: Huge smile on his face, right. I’m a good judge of character as well. And it’s very clear to me that every single word that’s come out of your mouth today has come with a high degree of authenticity.
Zuber: Thank you.
Prav: And I feel like I’ve been having a session with my business coach. I’m genuinely inspired. But all that to one side. Yeah. Imagine it’s your last day on the planet.
Prav: And the kids sat around you and you need to leave them with three pieces of advice.
Prav: So question number one, what would those three pieces of advice be? Question number two, how would you like to be remembered?
Zuber: Okay, so three piece of advice is number one is what I’ve been always is don’t be afraid to ask a question. Okay. So that question could be reaching out to a mentor. That question could be reaching out to the authorities, whatever it is, regulators, whatever it is, don’t be afraid to ask a question. Okay. That’s number one.
Zuber: Number two is be the best version of yourself, Right? So don’t compete. Let yourself, create yourself to be the best version of yourself. So I was taught, I engage. I was 100 metre sprinter in school. And one of the pieces of advice that someone gave me is never look to the left, look to the right, you just focus on the end goal and you just go for it and give it your best shot. And the chances are if you do that without distraction, you’ll probably win the race. It’s not about winning, and somebody competing, it’s about giving your best shot. So the second piece of advice I would give is, focus on yourself, and make the best version of yourself. Okay.
Zuber: And the third is, I think is the most important is this, have fun whatever you do. Otherwise life’s not worth living. So whatever you do have fun, enjoy life. Spend time quality time with your family, friends, work. And I think that’s the third, probably the most important piece of advice.
Prav: Beautiful. And how would you like to be remembered?
Zuber: What I’ve always done is to aim to be an inspiration, whether professionally or personally. And so yes, so the guy that inspired me, whether that’s to take up a nine month challenge, which I did a couple of years ago or a to open a squat practise or become a partner within the joint venture partnership programme or to excel clinically . I would remember an ancestor as one of the guys that inspired me to develop clinical finesse and that’s one of the guys that remember him as. So that motivation that inspiration is so value.
Prav: You certainly inspire me to buddy.
Payman: Yeah, me too buddy. Go kick some ass. Thank you so much, buddy. Thank you so much. Thank you. I knew it was going to be good but it was even better than I thought it was going to be. So thank you so much to take your time.
Outro Voice: This is Dental Leaders. The podcast where you get to go one-on-one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your host, Payman Langroudi and Prav solanki.
Prav: Thanks for listening guys. If you got this far, you must have listened to the whole thing. And just a huge thank you both for me and pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say and what our guests had to say because I’m assuming you got some value out of it.
Payman: 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. And don’t forget our six star rating.absolutely.