Where were you when Boris cancelled Christmas in 2020? Right here, catching up on dentistry’s finest podcast. 

In this end-of-year special, Prav and Payman take look back on the annus horribilis that was 2020.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, and it isn’t long before our dental royals are round to talking shop, with conversations on management, hiring, firing, working with ninjas and much more. 


“I guess that thing our parents told us about people will always need teeth.” – Payman Langroudi

In This Episode

00.34 – Cancelling Christmas
09.32 – Bust and boom
14.23 – Lockdown lessons
18.48 – Family values
24.41 – Ninjas
31.55 – Hiring
45.05 – Firing
52.29 – The third home
54.38 – Shining examples
59.58 – Wrapping up



Prav Solanki: I truly believe there’s a hybrid future. You ask the question, “Imagine COVID disappear tomorrow. What you going to do? Go back to working full-time in an office?” Not a chance. No way.

Speaker 2: 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 Langroud…: 2020. What a crazy year it’s been. Prav and I decided to have a little conversation about 2020, at the very end … This is probably going to go out in the first couple of weeks of January, Prav, right?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, there or thereabouts, or maybe somewhere in between depending on when our team can get this out. But I think-

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Today is the first Christmas got cancelled. It’s a bit like one of those 9/11, who shot Kennedy, Princess Diana moments. “Where were you when Christmas got cancelled?” Because it’s a shocker, bit of a shocker, I think. I am in London and we just got promoted up to Tier 4 and you guys brought back down, right Prav?

Prav Solanki: We’re 2. I think we’re 2. To be honest, I’m losing track. But the thing is, when it doesn’t have impact on you, doesn’t affect you in the same way as let’s say when we spoke this morning Pay and you said, “What’s happening?” “Family coming round,” etc. etc. We’re fortunate enough to be going on holiday. But imagine being in Tier 4, having booked a family holiday and being told, “It’s cancelled,” right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Imagine the plans you’ve made for your family and getting together. All this time you’ve been waiting in suspense and then all of a sudden it’s cancelled, yeah? Devastating.

Payman Langroud…: It’s one of those moments. We were talking about the silver linings of corona and I’m sure we’ll talk again. But what I was saying to you once was our lives, and our kids lives particularly, very formulaic and very simple, and outside of … If we’re talking about silver linings, outside of getting ill and losing your business, if those two things don’t happen then I was saying to you one of the silver linings of it is to have challenge.

Payman Langroud…: We’ve talked about on the podcast, when you talk to people about, “Why? Why are you the person who achieved this, that and the other?” And people talk about challenge. You always talk about your dad and going off working in the factory and the taxis and the corner shop, “I’m doing this so you guys don’t have to,” and how that stuck with you.

Payman Langroud…: For me, the challenge of COVID … I remember back to the revolution in Iran when we were … I was six years old when it happened. And there were moments in that, there were quickening moments, and for one of them, for instance, was when the lights didn’t go on. A power cut. And it was a proper power cut. The lights just didn’t go on again for a long time. It was a quickening. Up to that moment, we were very much like now, stuck in our houses, there was martial law. They said, “Anyone who leaves the house after 9:00 at night gets shot,” so that was a situation. Yeah?

Prav Solanki: I bet.

Payman Langroud…: Then the quickening of that situation, when suddenly the lights didn’t come on … Now, in corona, what happened today with Boris and Christmas, kind of a quickening moment. But because I’ve lived that revolution I’m okay. What I mean is our kids haven’t had anything like this. And in a way, as long as they’re healthy, in a way it’ll strengthen them. What do you think?

Prav Solanki: I kind of agree. I know you mentioned the challenge, right? But sometimes I look at a challenge as almost like a … In my mind, I look at a challenge as something voluntary, right? Okay.

Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: And I see this more as a survival game.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Do you see what I mean? You’re kind of forced into that situation, and how you respond or how you react to that situation is really important, right? In any aspects of our life, whether it’s life, business, you’re making decisions, right, you are in total control of the outcome simply based on how you respond to that situation. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: And so here, maybe Christmas is cancelled, that’s a survival thing. Maybe being a little bit too dramatic there in that sense. But in the whole situation of what corona’s brought upon us, right, when the initial shock hit us, right? The conversations me and you had about, “Oh my god, business is over. Are we going to diversify? Are we going to do different things? Are we going to look at different business models? What about our team? What about this, what about that?” And we had 101 conversations with each other, right, about the what ifs?

Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: But ultimately, the way we responded with our teams, our families, our loved ones, once we’d absorbed all that information and said, “Right, okay, this is what I’m going to do,” is what’s paved the way for the outcome of where we are today, right now, what’s happened during lockdown and what the future holds.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but we were lucky, Prav. Yeah?

Prav Solanki: Incredibly.

Payman Langroud…: I mean, what I mean by that is it’s easy to survive and thrive when the key things haven’t broken from under you. We’re lucky enough we paid our mortgage, we’re lucky enough we kept our teams. I didn’t have to lose anyone. You didn’t even stop anyone working, did you?

Prav Solanki: No.

Payman Langroud…: You just carried straight on.

Prav Solanki: No, just carried straight on.

Payman Langroud…: But that might not have happened. What I’m saying is, there’s plenty of people out there, people I know, I know people who own nightclubs that are still suffering like hell.

Payman Langroud…: And as a profession, I think we’ve had some disagreements and we’re having some disagreements right now, but as a profession we got to thank our lucky stars for what’s happened. When we were in lockdown, we were having all these conversations with all these people from BAPD and all these profs and so forth.

Payman Langroud…: And a lot of what I thought was going to happen next did happen next. But one thing I got completely wrong, and thank god I did, was that I was seriously worried patients weren’t going to come into dental practises. If you remember, when people were coming onto TV and all that, I was saying, “Don’t mention the virus in the air story,” if you remember. I was [crosstalk 00:07:01].

Prav Solanki: I remember the whole conversation was, “Just keep aerosol out of the mix,” right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Because from my understanding, and having spoken to people like Dominic O’Hooley, who I think educated the entire industry on the science of this whole situation, right? His intellect and his understanding and ability to take complexities and simplify it for the group is phenomenal, and I think as a community we owe Dominic a lot in terms of what he’s given the industry. That in itself I think helped us all just to absorb information at a rate at which we could just make sense of it.

Prav Solanki: But going back to the aerosols, people didn’t know what to say, people didn’t know what to think. And they weren’t making statements based on evidence-based fact, scientific, sound reasoning. So, the moment you mention viral, aerosol, dental practise all in one sentence, patients are like, “That is the last place I want … ” Even though it was probably one of the safest places they could come to, right?

Payman Langroud…: Prav, it didn’t happen. Yeah? It didn’t happen.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, no, it didn’t.

Payman Langroud…: Although some did. If you remember, we did this influencer campaign where we were trying to get the mom influencers into the practises.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And I see those communications coming in on the social media and some of the moms said, “I’m not confident to go to a dental practise yet.” I saw some of those. But overall, I don’t think anyone could complain. Not private practitioners, not NHS practitioners, not mixed practitioners. I mean, some people had a hard time. My wife’s an associate who was earning more than £50,000 and didn’t get a penny over that period, and we were okay.

Payman Langroud…: But I often thought if my wife was a single mom looking after three kids, and she was an associate earning whatever she was earning, 70 grand a year or whatever it was, that family would have been in proper trouble. And there are families like that out there, yeah? In dentistry even, who are in proper trouble. Let alone the country’s on its knees and we’ve done well. We’ve done well. I guess that thing our parents told us about people will always need teeth, yeah?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Dentistry definitely is recession-proof to some extent. But one other really lovely thing I’m noticing, Prav, is that we’re getting to have our cake and eat it in so much as when there’s an upturn, cosmetic dentistry flies, when there’s a downturn dentistry doesn’t suffer in the same way as some businesses do. We get the best of the upturn and we’re recession-proof, whereas let’s say a doctor might be recession-proof but he’s not getting the upturn part. Since cosmetic dentistry has become a thing in the last 10 years or so-

Prav Solanki: Just on that note there, I’ve got a couple of theories on that. If we just talk about medicines not getting the upturn, right? I look after a lot of private GPs, and the conversations I’m having with them … Let’s talk business and numbers, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Conversations I’m having with them is their income’s gone through the roof with patients who want private tests, fit-to-fly certificates. Home visits, they’re charging a premium for that. Patients are willing to pay etc. etc. Right?

Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: So, they’ve noticed a massive upturn as well. Dentistry may be slightly different because obviously-

Payman Langroud…: It’s on an upturn now. I’m not talking about that, now. Now’s a downturn.

Prav Solanki: We’re seeing an upturn. We’re seeing an upturn.

Payman Langroud…: I know you are but I’m saying as an economy, the economy’s down, yeah?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Medicine and dentistry’s been okay. Now, when the economy flies, yeah? When-

Prav Solanki: Cosmetics flies.

Payman Langroud…: Cosmetics flies. So, it’s a nice thing that we can get both the ups and be protected against the downs.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And I think it’s because of cosmetics, because of the wants … It’s almost like we can push the wants when people want, and then we can keep the needs when people need.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. One of the things I fear at the moment is what we’re seeing in private practise at the moment is the furlough money.

Payman Langroud…: That’s true.

Prav Solanki: I know, even if I just look at all my team members in my agency, they’re not driving to work. They’re not buying lunch. They went through months and months where they couldn’t spend any of their earnings. And for the first time in their lives, they started accumulating significant savings, right? And it’s the same for a lot of people who were either furloughed or not furloughed but working during this time-

Payman Langroud…: Your team was a hundred percent this period?

Prav Solanki: My team was on a hundred percent. None of them were furloughed, right? But scratch that to one side.

Payman Langroud…: Even if they were-

Prav Solanki: There was no commute, right? Living expenses went down. There were no holidays. Okay? They couldn’t go anywhere and spend their money.

Payman Langroud…: Mortgage holiday.

Prav Solanki: Mortgage holiday. All of that. So, you accumulate this cash, right? Imagine that across the nation. You’re accumulating this money whether you’re working, whether you’re not. Whatever you’re doing. You’ve got this furlough money, so to speak.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, you’re right, you’re right. There is that.

Prav Solanki: What do they do with that? You’ve got these people who want to feel good about themselves, want to smile, want to be happier. “Invest in your smile. Invest in your teeth.” Then we start seeing dentists’ marketing campaigns rolling out. Okay, this information gets pushed in front of people who’ve got a few extra thousand pounds in their bank account. “Hey, why not spend it on a beautiful smile?” I think we’re seeing a lot of that right now.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. I mean, Enlighten’s had the best quarter we’ve ever had just now, which I really wouldn’t have predicted, dude, when everything was shut.

Prav Solanki: No.

Payman Langroud…: I would not. I think you’re right, furloughs were part of it. I think the AGP issue helps us because there isn’t AGP during bleaching. Maybe that’s another reason. Who’s to say when that’s going to dry up? I guess they’ve just extended it to end of April.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: At the end of April, there will be massive job losses if the virus is still around. It feels like it’s still going to be around. The vaccination thing isn’t going to happen properly.

Prav Solanki: Agree. And also, one of the things with the furlough that sometimes we don’t think about, because you just think, “Okay, the government are backing this,” right?

Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: You still need the cashflow to fund it and pay it, claim it back, pay it, claim it back. Whatever, right? Some businesses can’t survive like that. So, there’ll be some that will bottom out way before April. There’s some that have already have, yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Had to make that decision. Because in addition to wages and things like that, obviously, there’s loads of other overheads and stuff. Even in my own business. Come on, we’ve got an office that we’ve probably done six days in.

Payman Langroud…: In total?

Prav Solanki: In total, since Boris announced the first lockdown. Six days-

Payman Langroud…: What are you going to do, Prav, if … Let’s just imagine we can switch off corona tomorrow.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: What will be the work situation? What are you going to tell your team? Do they have to come in, don’t they? What are you thinking?

Prav Solanki: Listen, if you’d have floated this idea with me pre-corona, yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: I’d have told you which bus to get off on. Yeah? Seriously, it just would not have happened. Right?

Payman Langroud…: [Sanja’s] the same. My other partner, Sanja.

Prav Solanki: Even if you’d have told me, “Look, let your team work one day, two days a week from home,” yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, Sanja wouldn’t even give them the morning, not a morning even.

Prav Solanki: Uh-huh (negative). Not a chance mate, right? But we were talking about survival earlier, weren’t we? And we were talking about okay, sometimes situations put … You get put into situations that you’ve got no control over and this is one of them. When I was sat in my office that day, team had gone home, packed the computers up, and I just sat in the middle of the room and just cried for a bit, right? Then thought, “Right, okay. We all start working from home as of tomorrow,” right? Or was it Monday? I can’t remember. And every element of let’s call it the lack of trust … Let’s be upfront, right? Let’s call it lack of trust, call it whatever, of working from home, it disappeared into thin air. We came together as a team, right? And actually, the reverse. I was getting messages at 10:00 at night, 8:00 at night, early in the morning from my team, at times when I didn’t think they’d exist in my business.

Payman Langroud…: What do you do when they’re in the building? How closely are you looking at them anyway? I mean, my point on this is just because the guy’s in the building doesn’t mean his brain’s in the building.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. No, no, no, listen. I’m with you now, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yes.

Prav Solanki: Totally, totally with you. Even when they were in the building, call it old-fashioned mentality, whatever you want, but there’s a certain magic that happens when you’re all together. You cannot take that away. When your team is together versus when they’re remote, there’s a different type of magic that happens.

Payman Langroud…: That’s true, that’s true.

Prav Solanki: I truly believe there’s a hybrid future. You asked the question, “Imagine COVID disappeared tomorrow. What you going to do? Go back to working full-time in an office?” Not a chance. No way. [crosstalk 00:16:42].

Payman Langroud…: That’s for yourself? That’s for yourself, right?

Prav Solanki: No, no, the team as well, mate.

Payman Langroud…: The team as well. So how-

Prav Solanki: The team as well, mate.

Payman Langroud…: How many days a week do you reckon you want them in? Because we’re working, right now, we’re working on one day a week.

Prav Solanki: I would say one to two days a week max, yeah? But I’ve got to decide now, we’ve got an office for what, 15 people, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, what to do with that, right?

Prav Solanki: At the moment, I’m still paying rent. Full whack. Last week, I stopped paying for my car parking space. What an idiot. I’ve been paying for a car parking space since lockdown one, yeah? And only last week I decided, “Well, I better cancel that because it’s doing me no favours whatsoever.” Tried to cancel my super-expensive broadband and all the rest of it, my direct fibre line. They wouldn’t let me do that. But here’s the thing. Do I downsize my office now? Do I double up on equipment because I’ve had to send the team all home with their hardware, software, everything, whatnot? Do I double up on that? Do we just have get-together meetings in a swanky hotel once a month? Right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: And treat everyone.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. That’s what I would do. It’s different for us because we’ve got a lab on site and everything.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: But if I were you, I would use a WeWork or something.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And you’re right, make it a really funky one, and meet up and eat and-

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: It’s more a culture thing. Now, the question of people knuckling down and helping and all that, I get that completely. Look, I know my people, right? We hired them, we spent all that time together. So, on that trust subject I trust them when they’re at home. What’s your view on a new hire who doesn’t get into the culture?

Prav Solanki: [crosstalk] I’ve hired three people in lockdown.

Payman Langroud…: How have you got them to get into the culture? Is it just like an online culture?

Prav Solanki: Well, prior to lockdown I wouldn’t have said so, right? The culture is the culture, it’s the vibe, it’s the thing you can’t describe, it’s the energy, it’s the camaraderie, it’s the values that you live and breathe. Right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: One of the things that we did during lockdown is we started focusing on our own brand values as an agency, where we’ve come from, what’s happened, and we used part of that lockdown to sit down and establish essentially what they were as a team.

Payman Langroud…: What does that mean? It sounds good. What does it mean?

Prav Solanki: I think if you think about what we represent, there’s different ways of looking at it. There’s what we represent as an agency to our clients. Okay? And then there’s what we represent to each other as a team. Okay? We sat down and we figured out and we said to ourselves, “Well, what are our values?” Right? And so we communicate on this tool call Slack and we have Zoom calls every day and we figured out, we said … I’ll run through our values for you because I think that’s going to be the easiest way to answer your question. Right?

Prav Solanki: Value number one. Right? We put family first. Okay? That’s always been my ethos right from the beginning, is the work can go wherever it wants to go but family comes first. But what does that mean in my business, right? That if Joanne’s son is ill and a client needs something doing, I’ll give priority to the first thing. And as a client, you must respect that. Does that make sense?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. Number one, we put family first. Right? We love where we work but family’s where the heart will always be. Okay?

Prav Solanki: Number two. We love what we do. Yeah? Just watch my developers’ eyes light up when they talk code.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Watch my designers’ eyes light up when we talk user experience. Yeah? Watch my eyes light up when Bob hands me a strap-line or a piece of copy that is just purely magical flow of words. Right? We really love what we do. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: And with that comes our next value, which is we give a shit. Yeah? With love comes care. And there’s not a single piece of work we look at and we say, “There’s no pride behind that.” And there’s been numerous times where a piece of work has been subpar. We’ll over-deliver and lose money on that rather than release something that we’re not happy with. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: But do you not find what that means is you hire based on talent and then talented people sometimes aren’t organised people, for the sake of the argument?

Prav Solanki: That’s where project managers come into the mix, right? That’s something I’ve learned during lockdown, especially when you need to manage people without presence. Yeah? Numerous Zoom calls a day. I figured out in my team very quickly who are the doers, who can manage, who’s organised, right? For example, there’ll be certain members of the team who can put together some really cool marketing copy. Yeah? Could they organise and structure the entire project for a website? Probably but not as efficiently as Joanne could, who can do it 10 times better than me hands down. Right? And we learned that very quickly during this lockdown. So, yeah, talent supersedes anything else, but where other people have talent, maybe in project management, maybe in video editing, maybe in writing words-

Payman Langroud…: Look, what I mean is, because now I’ve gotten involved in hiring creatives-

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: I always used to outsource that but now I’ve got an in-house team of creatives. And you taught me the process with a creative, to give them a task in the interview.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And give them all the same task and see. So, I’ve done that. Let’s say for a videographer, a designer, whatever, I’ve found the most talented person for the job.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Now, sometimes with that talent comes ego. Sometimes with that talent comes working slowly, let’s say. Someone might want to be a Tarantino but I’m asking him to produce 12 movies a day. Yeah? So, it’s really important what you’re saying because you’re saying, “Look, our core values are … ” right?

Prav Solanki: The values are this, right? That number one, let’s say we know our stuff, one of our biggest values is to be constantly improving. We love to learn, improve and teach. So, we all need to pass the baton, we all need to carry on teaching each other, but we need to be profitable. Okay? And that is really, really important. Right? We are running a business. Okay? Everyone needs to understand their measure of profitability. That doesn’t mean I’ve got everyone on an hourly, minute rate, measuring productivity. No, no, no, nothing like that.

Prav Solanki: But imagine if that person is editing a video for a client, and let’s say we charge a couple of hundred quid for that video and it takes my editor six days. You and I both know I’ve lost a lot of money on that video edit. Okay? So, there’s a balance to be struck. That comes with time, mate. You can’t expect someone who’s a solo video editor, or a solo whatever, to understand profitability and talent and how those come together and connect and mix. But it’s my job as a leader to teach them that. Yeah? Then-

Payman Langroud…: You’ve got these practises, yeah?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And in some of them, they have a social media ninja type.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Let’s take it to that. Firstly, do you reckon that? I guess it comes down to the size of the practise. I’m thinking of your guy at Dental Suite.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, Christian. He’s amazing, right? And so-

Payman Langroud…: I like what he does, like what he does a lot. I mean, what is his role? As a dental practise, let’s say I’m a dentist, and I want a … What’s his role? What do you call him?

Prav Solanki: I’ve had this question numerous times with dentists and the one thing is, “Oh, I haven’t got enough to give a full-time team member the ability to create let’s say social content, edit social content, produce social content.”

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: One of the lessons that I’ve learned from this whole process, anyone you take on like that, for them to get where you think they need to be today, is going to take 12 months. Right? They are not going to step into that role today and be that person that you want them to be today, but they will be in 12 months’ time. Now, as long as you can identify the talent, know that that person’s coachable and receptive to coaching, and responds with change, then you’ll have that person in 12 months’ time. And so what’s that person’s job role, right?

Payman Langroud…: Go through the jobs. Go through the jobs. What does that person do?

Prav Solanki: Okay.

Payman Langroud…: [crosstalk] full-time?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Full-time social media manager, right? So, what’s that person doing? Number one, coming up with ideas. Storyboards. Creating content. Behind the scenes footage. Photography. Writing posts. Writing blogs. That person will also at some point start answering all your DMs. Okay? Responding to them. Learning how to book them into the practise management system. Following up treatment plans. Okay? So, that entire job of content creation, dealing with the consequences of that content creation, the direct messages, the Facebook adverts, the Instagram adverts and all of that-

Payman Langroud…: Wait a minute. Hold on, hold on, hold on. What are you saying, that person manages the page as well?

Prav Solanki: No. No, no, no, no, no.

Payman Langroud…: No.

Prav Solanki: Definitely not.

Payman Langroud…: But you’re saying manages the response from the page?

Prav Solanki: Manages the response from the page. But how do they do that, right? In my mind, they’ve got to spend time shadowing people in clinic. Yeah? What-

Payman Langroud…: Clinicians?

Prav Solanki: Shadowing clinicians. You may think, “What the hell does a social media manager need to spend time watching an implant surgeon, or watching someone fit brackets on?” Okay? Do you know that micro detail of behind the scenes footage, “What colour are these elastics? How do you tie them round a brace thing? What are the different implant tools?” There’s all these tiny little things, behind the scenes content and these questions they have, when they create this content and understand it, that’s what makes your practise [crosstalk 00:27:48].

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Me and you both know a couple of ex-nurses who’ve gone this route.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. And who’ve been very successful at it. I guess that means they’ve got that existing knowledge of what happens in the clinic already and the vocab of dentist-to-patient and patient-to-dentist. But what would you say to someone who thinks … This is what people say to me. They say, “Oh, I’m going to put so-and-so on it. She’s always on Instagram.” My view on it is just because I like watching movies doesn’t mean I know how to make a movie. Yeah?

Prav Solanki: No.

Payman Langroud…: And so-

Prav Solanki: And here’s the thing, right-

Payman Langroud…: A lot of dentists make that mistake, don’t they?

Prav Solanki: A lot of people. Here’s the thing. That person giving that person the role, doesn’t even know the role. Okay?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Number one, easy to get the wool pulled over your eyes. Number two, you actually don’t know what that person’s doing, whether they’re any good, or how to measure them. Okay? So, unless you’ve got that in place … Listen, I’m not saying that person’s going to be lazy. But if you don’t give someone targets and you don’t give someone goals and they don’t know how they’re being measured, how do they get a value of self-worth, right? [crosstalk 00:28:57].

Payman Langroud…: So, then you’re saying the dentist has to have a knowledge of it themselves, the principle?

Prav Solanki: Listen, someone needs to be able to benchmark this individual or this person, right? Or they need to come to you and say, “Look, for your practise, I will do this, this and this.”

Payman Langroud…: “These are the milestones.”

Prav Solanki: “I will deliver this. I will create this many posts today. I’m going to deal with every DM within this period of time.” Right? “I’m going-”

Payman Langroud…: I mean, look, what you’re saying about following up DMs and following up treatment plans, then suddenly the value of the person becomes very obvious, doesn’t it? I mean, before you said that piece I guess people are thinking, and I was thinking, “Well all right, 20 grand a year just to create some content seems quite high.” But as soon as you bring the other side of that into it, of follow-up, probably we’ve had this discussion a million times, the follow-up is the number one biggest flaw or advantage that a practise has. Do you [crosstalk 00:29:54]-

Prav Solanki: And look, let’s think about this patient journey. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Whatever that person delivers, whatever that person produces, they need to take ownership of it. I’m huge on this, right? I’ll give you a simple example. Let’s imagine you’ve produced a piece of copy for me, right? And that piece of copy is a piece of email marketing. I want you to own that. So, when you write that copy, I want you to know where it’s gone, who it’s gone out to, and how that button was pressed to deliver that, and what was the outcome of that copy that you wrote so you can learn from that, right? What was the result. You take ownership of that.

Prav Solanki: And in the same respect, if you’re a social media content creator, in-house, I truly believe you need to take responsibility for the consequences of that. The DMs, the engagement, the activity that comes off it. Right? But the other thing is if you’re non-dental, someone asks you, “How much is a single-tooth implant? I can go to Turkey.” Yeah? Christian has now got himself in a position where if a patient says, “I can go to Turkey and get that done for five grand,” up his sleeve he’s got a video that he took of the patient who came to us after having their train wreck in Turkey and spending another 20 grand for us to put it right. And this woman is making a plea on this video saying, “Whatever you do, don’t go to Turkey.” Right? And he’s turned patients around just with that piece of [crosstalk 00:31:36].

Payman Langroud…: I bet that works well.

Prav Solanki: Well, mate-

Payman Langroud…: What was he doing before he was doing this job?

Prav Solanki: Social media manager for Derby College.

Payman Langroud…: And where did you find him? Did you put an ad in Indeed or something?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, Indeed. You know very well that I’ve got a pretty slick process when it comes to recruitment.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go through that process, buddy, because the times I’ve used your process for hiring it’s just transformed the game for me. Especially if we’re talking in this sort of area, but it could work in any area, right dude?

Prav Solanki: I use it whether I’m looking for a lead ninja, so someone who’s just dealing with leads, whether I’m looking for somebody who’s a copywriter, whether I’m looking-

Payman Langroud…: Go through the process. Go through the process, because it’s an interesting one.

Prav Solanki: Okay. The first thing I want to do is identify the role, right? Who is it that I’m looking for? Then the second thing I want to identify is, well, what are these persons’ values and how can I articulate that these are our values so they align? So, basically so that my advert attracts the people with the right values and repels the others. Right?

Prav Solanki: So, if I give you an idea of mine, it’s that, if I say something like, “We don’t clock watch. We don’t do half measures. And we can all use the mop,” that’s really important. Now, listen, if you need to change a word on someone’s website, and that’s something as simple as using a word processor, my senior of my most senior developers will do that and my most junior of junior team members will do that, and they all feel comfortable doing it. And guess what? So will I. Yeah?

Prav Solanki: We don’t clock watch. Let me tell you something. If our clients need us at 9:00 P.M., not that that’s written in any contract, not that that’s enforced by me, James, Josh, Neil, Joanne, whoever it is, will crack their machine open and jump to the task.

Payman Langroud…: Take care of business.

Prav Solanki: Yeah? And so in the ad we really make it clear. I’ll give you a simple example, right? I am not looking for a 9:00 to 5:00 individual. Yeah? Our customers don’t expect 9:00 to 5:00. We don’t expect 9:00 to 5:00. Yeah? And we’ll say we don’t watch the clock. We absolutely love what we do. I’ll use terminology in my job adverts that speak in an informal way. Yeah? I’ve had people respond to my job adverts saying, “This is the most unprofessional job advert I have ever seen. I would never work for you.” I’m like, “Thank god. That job has done its job for me.” Right? It has repelled [inaudible 00:34:34]-

Payman Langroud…: Has that happened?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, loads of times.

Payman Langroud…: Has it?

Prav Solanki: Yeah. Some people have said it’s arrogant. Call it whatever you want, right? I lay out my set of … “These are the rules that we live and breathe by.” Yeah? “This is the type of individual that I want. And if you want to work with us, and if you want a job with us, the first thing you need to do is write me a cover letter with an interesting opening line. If I read past that, maybe we’ll get somewhere.” Some people might see that as bloody downright arrogant, and other people see it as a challenge they want to jump to. Right? Yeah? Look, let’s go through-

Payman Langroud…: All right, all right. That’s the advert.

Prav Solanki: That’s the advert. So, we go through the advert.

Payman Langroud…: Typically, how many responses are you getting let’s say? Just give us an example.

Prav Solanki: 1,800, right?

Payman Langroud…: 1,800?

Prav Solanki: 1,800. 1,500 to 1,800 responses to a typical ad.

Payman Langroud…: Oh my god.

Prav Solanki: Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: And then?

Prav Solanki: But we filter from there, right? From that 1,800, I guarantee you that the application criteria, we’ll be left with about 150.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but who does that? Joanne?

Prav Solanki: Automated, mate.

Payman Langroud…: What do you mean?

Prav Solanki: Automated. Basically, they will have to either respond with a certain headline, fill out an application form where we expect certain things to be ticked off.

Payman Langroud…: So, 90% fail on that?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, 90% fail on that. The other thing we used to have in our application form how far away … This is something that’s changed, right? “How far away from the office do you live door-to-door?” And we give them our postcode. Anything more than 45 minutes, automated, they get eliminated from the procedure, process. Right? Because [crosstalk 00:36:16]-

Payman Langroud…: You’ve automated even that?

Prav Solanki: Even automated that. But listen-

Payman Langroud…: But you’ve changed your position on that now?

Prav Solanki: Changed my position on that now, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Prav Solanki: Changed my opinion on that.

Payman Langroud…: All right, all right, all right. So, you’ve literally automated that if such and such a bit isn’t filled out, or if the value of such and such is more than that, or, “Do you smoke?” “Yes,” or whatever it is-

Prav Solanki: Whatever it is.

Payman Langroud…: … [crosstalk] those values, they’re all-

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And that itself filters out 90% of the process?

Prav Solanki: Filters that out, right?

Payman Langroud…: All right.

Prav Solanki: Based on the automation, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: We then literally send that 100 and 150-odd applications a congratulations message. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: And we say, “Congratulations-” first name, ” … you have made it through to the next round.” Yeah? “Out of 1,800 applicants, you’ve made it down to the last few. In order to get through to the next stage, I need you to do the following.” Right? And we give them a task. Now, the beauty of that is 70% of the people won’t even … They’ll just be turned off. It’s too much work for them. Right? The sort of task I’m setting them should take them anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: The task is relevant to the role, obviously?

Prav Solanki: Completely relevant to the role. Tests their creativity. [crosstalk 00:37:37].

Payman Langroud…: If it’s a creative role, right?

Prav Solanki: If it’s a creative role. We give them flexibility. Whatever that is, right? Now, one of the things we find during this process is some people will take some initiative and send me a personal message on LinkedIn to stand out from the crowd. Some have sent me direct mail.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: [crosstalk] pink envelope, which I’ve posted on Facebook before, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: That sort of stuff stands out. That doesn’t guarantee them a job, but it gets them right to the front of the pack, it gets them noticed. So, we go through that process.

Payman Langroud…: Okay, so now you’re down to how many?

Prav Solanki: 15 people.

Payman Langroud…: Based on the task, right?

Prav Solanki: Based on the task. We’re down to 15 people.

Payman Langroud…: Now?

Prav Solanki: Now, based on that task, I will have one of my team review that task, whoever it is on my team. And they will do a quick yes, no filter. Right? We’re now down to half a dozen.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Okay? Based on that yes, no filter, if it’s a yes then I will look at the task. Yeah? I’ll look at the information. I’ll liaise with-

Payman Langroud…: That’s the first time you’ve looked at it?

Prav Solanki: That’s the first time I’ve looked at it, yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Oh my goodness.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: I love that. I love it. Okay, now we’ve got six now you’ve looked at it.

Prav Solanki: Got six.

Payman Langroud…: And you bring it down to two from that?

Prav Solanki: Yeah. I’ll tell you what will usually happen at stage is Zoom interview now, right? It would normally have been an in-person interview.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: But Zoom interview on that stage. Do you know what it is? I just really want to get to know this person, yeah? Who they are, where they live, what they do outside of work for shits and giggles, right? What makes them flow?

Payman Langroud…: Will they fit in? Will they fit in, right?

Prav Solanki: Will they fit in and will we fit with them? Do our values align? I will ask questions along the lines of, “If I gave you … ” It might be a Thursday the interview, yeah? And I say to them, “Look, on Saturday we’re doing a website launch. It’s at 7:00 P.M. There’s four of us on it. I might need you till 9:00 in the evening. The team are all mucking in. How do you see that fitting in?”

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah? You can usually, through the whites of their eyes or their response, get a feel for are they clock watchers, are they-

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but that’s not your only criteria is it though?

Prav Solanki: No, no, no, it’s not my only criteria, but look there’s a-

Payman Langroud…: It’s sounding a bit like that.

Prav Solanki: Well, it’s important. It’s important, right? And the reason for that is this, it’s not that I’m working all the time, but imagine Josh needs a wing man to help him do something, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, I get it, I get it.

Prav Solanki: [inaudible] need to ask.

Payman Langroud…: Okay. You’re down to two.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Pre-COVID, you were bringing the two into the office for a day or was it a week?

Prav Solanki: A day or two, right? If we were down to two, what we normally do is we invite them both into the office to spend a day with us. We actually just dish out some work to them, throw them right in at the deep-end, and for one day I give them somewhere between two and a half to three days work to do. Okay? What I want to truly understand is number one, how do they prioritise, yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Are they clock watchers? Number one, two, and three, are they clock watchers? Number four … Yeah, go on.

Prav Solanki: Are they clock watchers? And number five … No, no, no, no, not at all mate. Although it’s sounding like that it’s nothing like that. How do they prioritise, right? They’ve been given a load of tasks to do. How do they work with the team? Do they ask the relevant questions? Do they sit there in silence, rabbit in a headlight? Some of them have just walked out at lunchtime and switched their phone off. Yeah? Literally, took their bag, gone to lunch, switched their phone off, end of mission. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: We’re back to clock watching again, bud.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: You’ve got a clock watching problem, man.

Prav Solanki: [inaudible 00:41:46]. But that’s it, right? They’ve gone, they’ve not survived it and there was too much stress for them. But by the end of that we get an idea. Can they produce a piece of decent work? Can they communicate with the team? And at the end of that process, I get all of my team to vote. It’s not up to me at this point who gets the job.

Payman Langroud…: Really?

Prav Solanki: No, no, no, no, no, no.

Payman Langroud…: And you still get it wrong sometimes. That’s the crazy thing about it.

Prav Solanki: They’ve cocked it up so many times.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah, yeah. Because look-

Payman Langroud…: You do a version of that for a dental practise as well?

Prav Solanki: Well, we did that with our social media one. I’ve just been through that process with the lead ninja we’ve just hired, Rebecca, who’s really, really good. So, I think despite whatever, however my process is and whatever values you think that seem to sit strongly with me, that you can use the same process, the automation, the filtering, all of that, to make that person jump through the hoops that you think they need to to work for you, right? But you’ve got to live up to their expectations. You can’t just give them this job. I tell you what one of my values is, is that no matter what job you’re working in with me, I want you to spend 70% of your time doing something that you absolutely fricking love, and 30% of the time doing stuff that you just have to because it’s part of the job. Right? Okay. And do you know what? The stuff that I hate doing is someone else’s 70% out there. Yeah? And the 70% that someone else doesn’t like doing is someone else’s 70%. Yeah? That’s the constant thing that as people evolve and say, “Right, okay, well this is getting a little bit mundane for me. Let’s find a junior who would absolutely love doing this.” Right? And that’s-

Payman Langroud…: We’ve talked about this before, Prav, right? The more you hire, the more you need to hire.

Prav Solanki: So true, mate.

Payman Langroud…: It’s such a weird one.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: You feel like when you hire someone that’s a job taken care of, but as you said, and to me … Let’s say I hire an ad buyer.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: That ad buyer’s going to now need content, so now I need a video maker. That ad buyer’s now going to need money to buy ads, so now I need to raise more financing. It’s an interesting thing. We’ve digressed from what we were looking at, talking about, but I like that, Prav, I like that. And your process actually definitely does bring some results. Now, tell me about next after that. Let’s look at it from a dentist’s perspective too. You said one year before you know whether that social media ninja really is any good or not or-

Prav Solanki: No, no, no, no, no.

Payman Langroud…: No, you give them a year to immerse, right?

Prav Solanki: In a year’s time, you’re going to be getting incredible value from this individual, right?

Payman Langroud…: Okay. Don’t expect it straight away you’re saying?

Prav Solanki: Don’t think that, “Listen, I’m hiring this guy or girl or whoever it is, and in three months’ time this person is going to be setting my social media world on fire.”

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: But let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about it because we’ve gone through the hiring process of someone new, for me, there’s a definite … I’d give them three months, four months, before I even think about, “Is this person any good or not?” But what about you? Are you paying closer attention than that? I mean-

Prav Solanki: A hundred percent. And look-

Payman Langroud…: You’ve fired people way before that, haven’t you?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, within the week.

Payman Langroud…: Within the week?

Prav Solanki: Within the week.

Payman Langroud…: Have you?

Prav Solanki: Yeah. And look, this-

Payman Langroud…: Go on, go on, tell me about that. What is it about that person that within a week you know?

Prav Solanki: So, you go through this [crosstalk 00:45:42].

Payman Langroud…: It’s the clock watching, isn’t it?

Prav Solanki: It’s not clock watching. Listen-

Payman Langroud…: Because I’ve never, ever, ever done that, ever.

Prav Solanki: Listen, you go through this intense recruitment process, right? And when you’re involved at the level I’m involved and you’ve invested the time, the energy and the emotion into hiring this person, you think they are someone who you think they are. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: You’ve built them up.

Prav Solanki: Let’s just leave that statement where it is, right?

Payman Langroud…: You’ve built them up to something.

Prav Solanki: You’ve built them up to where … And you think you’ve hired somebody, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: There becomes a moment in time very, very soon after that, when if you’re wrong, yeah, you realise very quickly. Okay? Now, you’ve got a few options. Ride it out for three months, knowing that you’re just going to make the process even more painful for yourself in three months’ time because your gut’s telling you it’s not right. Okay? Or you just grow a pair of balls and get on with it the next day.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. But, Prav, you’ve had this conversation with numerous dentists, right, including your brother, where some member of staff is wrong for their job and the dentist just can’t bring themselves to get rid of them or to have the conversation or, “What will it do to the team?” or, “Are they following process?” What’s your advice? We’ve all come across that member of staff, right? It’s that grumpy receptionist or whatever it is.

Prav Solanki: It’s really, really easy for me, right? And-

Payman Langroud…: You don’t suffer with this problem [crosstalk 00:47:17].

Prav Solanki: No, I don’t mean it’s easy to get rid of somebody, because no matter how many times you’ve done it, it gives you the sleepless night before, it raises your heart rate. Okay? If you’re a human being, yeah? And if you’re doing it at lunch time, forget about breakfast and forget about any work before then, because your heart’s racing all the way up to there, right? So, it is an awful feeling.

Payman Langroud…: But you get this call all the time, right?

Prav Solanki: I get this call all the time. “How do I break the news?” So to speak. “What do I do?” and all the rest of it. When I said it’s really easy, this is what I mean, is ultimately you’re a leader in your business, you’re responsible for driving that train, steering that ship, call it whatever you want. Okay? And the rest of your crew are singing along at the same pace, doing everything they should be doing in the way they should be doing and not holding back. Right? According to all your values. Let’s say one of them is just totally out of line, yeah? Number one, it’s not fair on the rest of the crew.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But go on, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Prav Solanki: Yeah. And number two, I like to feel comfortable in my own house. Yeah? Imagine walking around your house, imagining not being able to walk around your kitchen with your boxer shorts on. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Do you understand where I’m coming from? I like to feel comfortable in my own home, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but you are uncomfortable when someone’s watching the clock or whatever, yeah? Some other people, like me, I start making excuses for the person. I blame myself.

Prav Solanki: Listen, I don’t expect everyone to work … I tell my team, “Right, listen, do one. Yeah? Get gone, get home, get some rest.” Yeah? I’m all for that. And I’m actually all for switching off from work, because having that break makes you bounce back stronger, whether it’s over a weekend, whatever.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but okay, let’s get back to this dentist. Let’s get back to this dentist. There’s a receptionist who’s been there, incumbent receptionist, been there for 20 years.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: We’ve made new plans. We’re trying to increase our implants and Invisalign and whitening or whatever it is. And we’re trying to become a more customer-centric place and this person’s grumpy but she knows a lot of [crosstalk 00:49:46]-

Prav Solanki: Time to get off the ship, mate. Time to get off the ship.

Payman Langroud…: She knows a lot of patients and she’s part of the community. How do you handle it, dude? You don’t just say, “Go.” What do you do?

Prav Solanki: Well, first of all, I’m not a HR professional, right? Okay?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: The view that I take it from is, “This is the end result that needs to happen, and it needs to happen as quickly as possible.” Now, if it’s a recent hire, it’s far easier. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: If it’s someone who’s been there for 20-plus years, take some legal advice. But you know that that individual is not part of the future makeup of where you want this business to go, and you also know that that individual is going to be a constant hindrance into the direction you want that business to go. Right? So, there’s no question, if you want that-

Payman Langroud…: Tell me, Prav. This has come up for you so many times before. When that individual has gone-

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: … is there a sense of weight off people’s shoulders and-

Prav Solanki: Euphoria mate.

Payman Langroud…: But I’m not just talking about being happy. I’m saying from the practise perspective, can one receptionist really break a practise like that? I mean, I think we all know they can, yeah?

Prav Solanki: Mate, one tiny little bit of cancer spreads like wildfire and can impact the rest of the body. In the same sense, in that business you just need one bad egg to drop the mood and it screws with the whole practise, especially if that person has been there a long time, sits in a position of authority, either in terms of age, number of years served, or position. Yeah? And I’ve seen practises completely transform. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: In terms of the motivation of junior team members. I’ve seen it in my own business. I’ve cut cancer out of my own business a few times, right? And having had it left there and rot for two to three years right in the early days. And when I cut it out, that’s when I finally like I could walk around my own business in my boxer shorts, mate. Yeah? When I think about it as a business owner, I want to feel comfortable amongst my team. Yeah? If I want to swear, I want to know I can swear. If I want to be politically incorrect in the way I speak, I want to know that I can be comfortable speaking the way I speak and they can feel comfortable … Do you understand where I’m coming from?

Payman Langroud…: I do. Be careful with that one though.

Prav Solanki: Oh, I know. I know. And listen, I’m not saying I’m walking around being non-PC all the time, right? But the point I’m trying to make-

Payman Langroud…: Okay. No, I do know.

Prav Solanki: … is I want to be comfortable in my own house, in my own business.

Payman Langroud…: It’s interesting, Kunal Patel, who we both know well-

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: … he’s not like … We all run our businesses differently, yeah? So, some of the stuff that you saw to me, if I stood up and said it I would feel a bit cringey saying it. You know what I mean by that?

Prav Solanki: I get it, mate.

Payman Langroud…: But listen, I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s actually right. What you’re doing is working, it’s correct.

Prav Solanki: Listen, it’s right for me.

Payman Langroud…: It’s right for you?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: And Kunal does it in a whole different way in his practise. I think we’ve both seen that, right?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: The one thing he says to his team, which I found a really interesting idea, I really like the idea, is that, “Out there we’ve all got problems, but in here we don’t have problems.” Something like a really interesting idea, that work is the rest from life.

Prav Solanki: Beautiful, isn’t it?

Payman Langroud…: It’s a beautiful idea. It’s what I’ve always wanted Enlighten to be and try and get, “Oh, let’s get a ping pong table and let’s get food delivery and stuff,” and try and be all like a lovely place. But he really put it into these nice words, that you come to work to get away from the hassles of your life.

Prav Solanki: Do you know what that reminds me of? Starbucks’s values.

Payman Langroud…: Is that what [crosstalk 00:53:52]?

Prav Solanki: Yeah? The third home, right? When they created Starbucks, the whole thing was it was the third home. Yeah? The place between work and home that you go to treat yourself, whatever, flip your laptop open, whatever. And it wasn’t really about the coffee, right?

Payman Langroud…: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prav Solanki: And I guess the same thing with Kunal is, it’s such a beautiful way of putting it, that, “Here, we’re a family, right? We don’t have problems.” Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: [inaudible 00:54:19].

Prav Solanki: And I know from having numerous conversations with him, and especially Lucy, the way they look after their team with appropriately-named love teeth, it’s with love and care and you see that. It’s very, very much a family-driven ethos and-

Payman Langroud…: What are the best practises that you’ve seen amongst your … Look, we both have a lot of dentist customers. You’re much more intertwined in your clients’ businesses.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: You visit them all the time. What are some of the other best practises that you’ve seen?

Prav Solanki: Amongst team members, staff and that sort of thing?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Culture. Because dentistry has got a real problem, dude. I mean, you’re not a dentist. But one big issue with dentistry is there’s no career pathway for nurses. Like this thing you’re saying about in your business, that if someone … do 70% of the stuff you love and then hand that over to someone else, there-

Prav Solanki: That’s the dream.

Payman Langroud…: I know, but there isn’t that much in nursing or reception. That’s a real problem with the industry, that we can’t get proper career progression for our people in a dental practise. What have you seen out there? Who does it well? I’m thinking of Andy Moore’s practise. That-

Prav Solanki: Listen, Andy Moore-

Payman Langroud…: That vibe. That vibe in that place.

Prav Solanki: Listen, I tell you something mate, if you could bottle up Andy Moore’s magic and ship it round the country, yeah? Whoever’s handling or processing that, yeah, even for 10% commission mate, I could give up everything I’m doing right now. Yeah. Do you know what? Sometimes, I think it truly comes down to leadership, mate. There is no magic formula, right? Forget this career progression and all that sort of stuff. You step into that breakfast and you get that warm Ready Brek feeling. Okay? You get that glow.

Prav Solanki: And it’s so evident, from the person who’s greeting you that she’s absolutely tickled pink that you’ve walked the practise and dead happy, to his associates, to his nursing team, to his implant coordinator, whoever it is. But it’s not just when you step in, mate. You pick up the phone and have a conversation with one of these people, they’re delighted to speak to you, yeah? Mate, even if I’m picking up the phone and speaking to someone who pays the bills they’re delighted to speak to you. Right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but you’re saying you don’t know why? You don’t know what they’ve done to make this …

Prav Solanki: [crosstalk 00:56:56].

Payman Langroud…: I’ve noticed Natural Smiles, do you know Natural Smiles?

Prav Solanki: I know of-

Payman Langroud…: Bhavnish?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, I know of Bhavnish, yeah. But even if you ask Andy, right? If we go back to Andy, even if you go back and ask Andy, “What is it?” even he says-

Payman Langroud…: He won’t know.

Prav Solanki: No, he tells you he doesn’t know, right? Then he says, “Maybe it’s the environment.” Yeah? He’s a really nice guy. Do you know what? He’s super-successful, clinically great at what he does. He’s an IRONMAN athlete or whatever. He’s got a pretty cool lifestyle and all the rest of it. Really humble and lovely with it all. Yeah? Really, really humble and lovely with it all. He’s just a really nice human being, mate. Do you know what? If you break it down to the simplicities, if you treat people well and if you’re nice to people you’ll get it back.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. It sounds simplistic to me but it sounds a bit-

Prav Solanki: Sometimes, the most successful things are simple.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah but-

Prav Solanki: I can’t put more of a formula on it-

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, but really-

Prav Solanki: … than that.

Payman Langroud…: Really nice human being is my grandmother and she’s not running a dental … You know what I mean? Really nice human being is one thing. It’s running an elite business while being a really nice human being that’s amazing. I mean, that’s an elite business isn’t it?

Prav Solanki: Oh-

Payman Langroud…: And you look at the throughput of work that goes … They’re working hard, yeah? They’re not just sitting around-

Prav Solanki: And the quality, mate. And the quality, yeah?

Payman Langroud…: And the quality. They’re not sitting around being nice to each other. You know what I mean? There’s an X-factor.

Prav Solanki: There is mate. Honestly, I think that’s written in Andy’s DNA. Yeah. I couldn’t pluck that out for you.

Payman Langroud…: Well, I think you’re doing it in your business, dude. I think you’re doing it in yours. The amount of work you guys are putting out with 15 of you. Yeah?

Prav Solanki: Yeah, but-

Payman Langroud…: It’s a lot of work.

Prav Solanki: We are. We are, right? I think we’ve become a closer team over lockdown, that’s for sure. There’s numerous projects that we’ve done, the standards that we deliver at, the quality that we’re producing now is on a completely different level. And I truly believe if it wasn’t for this COVID malarkey, we definitely wouldn’t be outputting at the quality we are today.

Payman Langroud…: I mean, we’ve talked to people like Alfonso, yeah?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Who we both know, the way Alfonso operates is he sizes you up as a person and at one point he says, “Yes, we’ll … ” You’re either his best buddy or he’s not working with you, kind of thing. Maybe that’s how he operates with all his team as well, yeah? It’s the person. I’m sure he gets on with most people.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Then you’ve got so many different ways of doing it. You’re right, I guess it’s a bit unfair to say, “Hey, what’s the magic sauce?” But there are lots of ways of handling practises. Anyway bud, I think we should wrap it up.

Prav Solanki: I think we should wrap it up here mate. Do you know what? It’s been a great year despite the ups and downs, mate. I feel like we’ve got to spend more time together, even though we’ve spent less time together. I’m looking forward to those days where I’m back in London, I can give you a quick call and say, “Hey Pay, I’m in London. What are you doing? Let’s go hang out. Let’s eat some food.”

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Your IS courses, are they completely back on?

Prav Solanki: IS courses are back on now. Fully booked. We’re noticing we’ve got bookings going through until the middle of next year. Online courses. Dentists have pivoted to online education now and investing in I guess being able to be educated in the comfort of their own homes. Do you know what I mean? What are you guys seeing with MSM? I mean, Dipesh’s courses have always been over-subscribed. I know whenever I’ve recommended any colleagues to get on your course, you’ve got to squeeze me in some special favours to get them in on the course, which obviously you can’t do with current circumstances. But how are things looking for Mini Smile Maker over the next year?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, we’re busy. We are busy. I mean, it’s funny because it’s hands-on isn’t it?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: So, it’s one of those things that can’t be done online. Should we have an online element? We probably should. We probably should. You guys have both, right? You have a hands-on element and an online element?

Prav Solanki: Do you know one thing that we explored during this … And Tiff has said specifically this has been a game-changer, right? Is a hybrid course, where you’re actually forced, or it’s a prerequisite to do some online training. So, you’re given the online training prior to coming to the hands-on. So, number one, you get more hands-on. Yeah?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Number two, you’re armed with more knowledge so you’ve got a minimum standard of informational knowledge when you arrive. Then the other thing that we’re playing with at the moment are these semi-hybrid courses where you have online. We send the models out to their practises, and they do the hands-on element via Zoom, right?

Payman Langroud…: Yeah, yeah.

Prav Solanki: And send the models back for assessment.

Payman Langroud…: Yeah. Cosmedent is doing quite a lot of that in the US, our manufacturer. They’re charging a lot for it. They’re charging the same as we do for proper hands-on courses, although the prices are a lot higher in America for education for some reason.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: All right man. It’s been nice having a little catch-up and talking about the way you handle all of your recruitment and so on. In summary, for me, as a profession I think we should be counting our lucky stars man, that we’ve managed to bounce back the way that we have, albeit with the hassles of fallow time and PPE and all of that. And looking forward to a whole lot more Dental Leader podcasts happening next year. We’ve got some great guests lined up. I just spoke with Basil Mizrahi as well, who’s going to be on, so that’s going to be fun.

Prav Solanki: Amazing. Amazing. Yeah, it’s my favourite non-working workday when we’re interviewing [crosstalk 01:03:22].

Payman Langroud…: Do you mean you prefer being with your family than doing this?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Payman Langroud…: Screw you, man. I prefer this, man.

Prav Solanki: I think I even prefer being with your family. I’m kidding man. It just all depends, right? I really, really-

Payman Langroud…: Enjoy Dubai, buddy.

Prav Solanki: I will.

Payman Langroud…: You deserve it and in Tier 2 you cannot do it, whereas we’re about to hunker down to a Christmas on our own. So, have a good time. Pleasure speaking to you, bud.

Prav Solanki: Thank you.

Speaker 2: 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 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’ve 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, so much for listening. Thanks.

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



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