Marks of Excellence – Taking the Leap with Mark Hughes

Our guest today is a cosmetic dentist, and founder of the famous Harley Street Dental Group and Define Clinic, Mark Hughes.

He unleashes wisdom on what it takes to get to achieve success by learning from setbacks to come through more determined than ever.

Mark also tells us all about his globetrotting years, and how a chance booking at a boutique hotel provided the inspiration for his upscale London practice.


To be successful, you have to care about people in dentistry, and for me, kindness and a desire to help people overrides everything else you can do. – Mark Hughes

In this episode:

02:34 – The childhood years

06:04 – Choosing a career path

10:02 – University – highs and lows

11:10 – Mark’s travels

18:23 – Owning and growing a practice

26:15 – Working on strengths and weaknesses

33:21 – Boutique inspiration

34:58 – Define Clinic

38:13 – Choosing a business partner

41:18 – Mark’s educational program for dentists

55:43 – Mark’s biggest mistake

56:21 – A clinical tip

59:44 – Success stories

About Mark Hughes

Award-winning Mark Hughes is a cosmetic dentist, founder, and clinical director at Harley Street Dental Group. He recently launched Define Clinic (his latest venture) in the heart of Beaconsfield which combines cosmetic dentistry with medical aesthetic treatments

He enjoys more than 20 years’ experience in practice, with more than 10 years spent on Harley Street working at the pinnacle of dentistry.

Since opening the Harley Street practice in 2003, Mark has devoted himself to achieving the highest possible standards in cosmetic work. He has achieved accreditation with UK and US cosmetic organisations, and he is passionate about helping patients lead more confident and fulfilling lives.

Connect with Mark Hughes:




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Prav Solanki: Hey guys, and welcome to the Dental Leaders Podcast. Thanks for tuning in. And today we have the pleasure of speaking to Mark Hughes, a guy who needs no introduction, a guy who founded Harley Street Dental Studio, probably one of the most famous practises in the UK. Interesting conversations with him of how he first started out in cosmetic dentistry in the early days, what it was like back then, getting married, a real family man, really resonates with me in terms of we … We’ve had conversations about the relationship he’s got with his kids and I’ve got with mine and they really ring some trees. I’ve been working with Mark for well over a decade now, so I know him really well. But I think as we’ve said before, you truly get to know and understand the inner values of somebody when you sit down and have an hour long conversation with them over a table like we did today Pay.

Payman: Yeah, for me, it just shows the power of the format. The free format. We go into these conversations without any agenda and so what comes out of it is lovely. Both of us have known Mark for 10 plus years and had dinners with him, had been to his practise and all of that. But when you just sit and just talk you find out all sorts of things. I had no idea by his history in Australia, so many things. Lovely guy, lovely conversation. Enjoy it guys.

Prav Solanki: You’re going to enjoy this one guys.

Mark Hughes: I have planned all weekend, I was carrying a little bottle of champagne in my pocket, it poured with rain the entire weekend. So all of my hotspots to go down on one knee were just totally ruined. The end of the weekend was coming. I was panicking more and more and eventually managed to get down to the river side to the side of the sand and she literally turned around and said, “Get on with it. Please.”

Speaker 4: 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: Mark, thanks for doing this. We’ve known each other a while, long while. It’s good to have you. The conversations we’ve had so far have gone into motivations behind the things you’ve done and so on. But let’s just start with the backstory, where were you born? Where did you grow up? Where did you qualify? All of that.

Mark Hughes: So I was born in Derry in Northern Ireland, right at the turn of the decade, 1970 in the middle of all the troubles, and my parents at 10 years old decided enough was enough and off we went to Dublin. So I went to secondary school there and I went to Trinity College in Dublin and did my dental there.

Payman: It’s cool.

Mark Hughes: Yeah, it was. And a fantastic place for fun and games. So life at Trinity was wonderful, right in the heart of Dublin. After five and a half years I didn’t really want to leave, and in those days everybody went to the UK. So it was over to England for a job, work on the NHS, earn a bit of money, come back home at some point. That was the plan in 1992. It was before the Celtic Tiger, so there wasn’t even that incentive to come home based on economic welfare, but people still usually came home at some point. And a few stayed in the UK.

Prav Solanki: So just going back to your childhood Mark, just like your earliest memories being brought up, mom and dad, what was being a kid like? What were your memories of being brought up like if you can?

Mark Hughes: My first memory was my brother being born, I was two and a half. The very next one after that was literally avoiding an explosion in the supermarket by about 20 seconds. So we left our local supermarket, my brother was in a pram I was four, next thing we’re flat on our faces and we just left the building that the IRA put a bomb in.

Payman: Jeez.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. So I had an interesting childhood but surrounded by guns and the army.

Prav Solanki: Was that a constant theme growing up, did that become normality?

Mark Hughes: Until the age of 10, 11, yeah, absolutely. My primary school was located in no-man’s land between the British Army checkpoint in Derry and the Irish border checkpoint, a lovely little town called Muff. And we had to cross the British Army checkpoint every morning to go to school.

Payman: My dad studied in Belfast, in the 50s. And he became the president of the students’ union because he was neither Catholic no Protestant.

Mark Hughes: He fell between two stools.

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. So that was an interesting upbringing. My grandfather was in the judiciary. So, while he was still in active service, he had police guards and police radios, and then the hunger strikes happened and all the violence reached a peak and my parents just said, “Look, this is too risky for your future and why would you want a teenage life surrounded by this where you couldn’t go anywhere or do anything or have any freedoms?” Cousins lived in Dublin. So off we went.

Prav Solanki: Oh, and just a one brother?

Mark Hughes: One little brother. He’s in Australia.

Prav Solanki: Okay.

Mark Hughes: Yeah, like you.

Prav Solanki: So you were Catholic?

Mark Hughes: Yeah. But my father was a Presbyterian. So my parents were mixed religion. And we were sort of raised Catholic, but we sort of were allowed to be a bit Protestant at the same time. One brother the question my father had contraception.

Payman: And were you a swotty kid.

Mark Hughes: I wasn’t so swotty. Certainly not in primary school. But I managed to get through quite well. I think when I ended up deciding I wanted to study for something like trying to get into dental school then I did become a bit swotty. Although, like most teenage boys in Ireland at the age of 14 and 15, you end up in your first pub. So there were distractions from 15 onwards, and I guess I didn’t study as hard as I should have done or could have done when I got into dental school at Trinity.

Prav Solanki: So what? At the age of 14, 15, were you pretty much clear in your career path that you wanted to be a dentist? What was the thought process? And the influence that-

Mark Hughes: The why dentistry?

Prav Solanki: -you had at that young age.

Mark Hughes: So again, it’s like everything in life, you’re a product of your upbringing and your environment to a certain extent. And in those days, the equivalent of a grammar school in Ireland, there were schools that were run by priests, nuns or religious orders, and they were in essence factories to get working and middle class boys into professional life. So you were either going to be a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer, an accountant, something professional. And if you were the younger brother or the youngest brother, you’re probably going to be pushed into the priesthood. I looked at all the options and in those days as well, I was young. I was a late June baby. I was very young for my year, especially when we transition from Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland, five years secondary school, I was doing my Leaving Cert which is the equivalent of the A levels at 16.

Mark Hughes: So I had to decide at 15 what my pathway was. I looked at the perspectives for Trinity for medicine and dentistry. I looked at the long term career pathway in medicine and I went, “No, way.” I liked the idea of being independent after undergrad, being able to go out into the working world and do something for yourself. So I chose dentistry.

Payman: Pretty young age to have to make these decisions.

Mark Hughes: Yeah, it was and I think there … I had a conversation with my mother at 19 where I decided I wanted to go down a different pathway. And that was an interesting conversation. Because in those days, going to Trinity you had to pay fees. My parents were paying thousands of pounds for my education, whereas in the UK, it would have been free.

Prav Solanki: How did that conversation go?

Mark Hughes: I told her at 19 and it was dental school, medical … Sorry, clinical started and it was all getting a bit much for me and I was only a child really.

Prav Solanki: Sure.

Mark Hughes: And I had fascinations to be a filmmaker and a screenwriter. So I came home, told her I wanted to quit. I’d had enough. And instead of me being the one upset, she completely burst into tears and said, “Look, this is something that we were very proud of you for and we’re more than halfway there and you’re really good at it, don’t throw it all away.” So I came to my senses. And the interesting thing about that was, I think, creative juices that weren’t developed at school, because like I said, we were on this professional factory pathway. My art teacher at school was a nun and art was a drawing, and if you weren’t any good at that, that was it. So there was no other real sort of creativity left side of the brain discussions. But dentistry, I figured out and there was one person that taught me who showed me the aesthetic aspect of dentistry and using composite and all that kind of stuff.

Prav Solanki: Who was that?

Mark Hughes: Her name is Ailbhe McDonald and she’s head of department of restorative for the Eastman now. So she opened my eyes up to possibilities and actually applauded or recognised my sensibilities and we spent time polishing and doing incisal edges and that kind of stuff and everybody else in the class was, “Do fillings, get paid, go home.” And then the entrepreneurial aspects and adding in creative touches like how you design your practise, your practise logo, how you do the interior. So the entrepreneurial business owner thing, I was aware of that quite young and every dental practise I went to I absolutely hated, but I had visions and ideas about how cool we could make them.

Prav Solanki: Sure.

Mark Hughes: So that satisfied some of the arty side, [inaudible] was satisfied, obviously by Cosmetic Dentistry and so on. I went from there, I decided to finish.

Prav Solanki: And so going through your dental career at university, did you have any like real low points where you thought, “You know what, I can’t do this anymore, there’s too-”

Payman: When you wanted to be Tarantino’s around that.

Mark Hughes: Well, that was in essence not really a low point, it was more an awakening. So that actually felt quite positive and then actually reassessing the situation and moving on. I guess, the low point for me, I mean, I never really struggled with the academic side of things. I guess I should have done better. I mean, I was late teens, early 20s, all the way through Trinity. And it was a great place to be. So I loved my university life I didn’t actually want to leave. So I contemplated doing post grad and staying on.

Prav Solanki: Sure.

Mark Hughes: I was only 22. And I qualified. I guess the low point at uni. I think it was just having no money. It was the early 90s. I had a large student loan and I was paying 19% interest. So the banks were prepared to keep funding that student loan because they knew what I was going to do afterwards. Yeah, you were just broke all the time, but enough. It was a great life. I was very, very happy there. The prospect of then moving to the UK actually filled me with somewhat with horror. And I wholly expected to last nine months and be home.

Payman: Where was the first place in the UK you touched down?

Mark Hughes: Whitford in Essex was my first practise.

Payman: Right.

Mark Hughes: And you know what, it wasn’t too bad at all. Back to low points. I played basketball for the university and we were league competing in those days. And I tore my cruciate ligament in my final year at the age of 20 … Just turned 22. So that was tough because the rehabilitation and the surgery had to be put off my exams. So actually I didn’t have the reconstruction done for about eight months. That stopped me short in terms of a lot of my sporting ambitions. Then I missed the boat. I was in hospital having an operation when everybody else was doing the first round of jobs on offer, flew over, met our representatives here and got offered positions as associates. So I kind of missed the boat a little bit and missed all the good London practises. So I ended up in Essex and I thought, “This isn’t for me.”

Payman: Was it mixed or?

Mark Hughes: Yeah, it was a mixed practise.

Payman: Back then there wasn’t much private going on anyway. Yeah.

Mark Hughes: It really was sort of NHS with a little bit of private. It was still in the pre ’92 contract.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. And it was just a slog. It was a slog, slog, slog, slog.

Payman: [inaudible] wasn’t it right.

Mark Hughes: Yeah, exactly. And I guess I miss … What I did every weekend was … Afternoon on a Friday, I’d jump in the car and I drive to see all my mates who lived in Ealing. And I’d spend the whole weekend in London and I hated getting back in that car and driving at the eight, I think it’s the 827 or something to Essex … Not that it was an awful place to live, but it just wasn’t for me.

Payman: It actually wasn’t in London.

Mark Hughes: I grew up in cities. I’m an urbanite and for me, London was the place to be. So I decided to quit that after six months, I got a job in a practise in Stratum with a really cool guy who knew everybody in town and had a cool associate I work with called Mamaly Rashad, some of you may know. And Mamaly introduced me to the nightlife and the wild life of London. So, I found myself and then I called my mother and said, “I’m not coming home after nine months.” I found a great flat through a connection that I had at Trinity on the Kings Road, really cheap rent, friend of a friend. Was a connection through our Boat Club. I’ll explain more in a minute if you want, but basically I had a flat on the Kings Road in Chelsea 1993 that’s paying 50 quid a week. So, happy days.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Payman: And go on what were some of the places Mamaly was taking you?

Mark Hughes: Oh, you might remember [inaudible 00:13:41].

Payman: [inaudible 00:13:41].

Mark Hughes: Yeah. Let me see where else.

Payman: Followed by Maroush.

Mark Hughes: Followed by Maroush. And do you remember Po Na Na?

Payman: No.

Prav Solanki: I remember that.

Mark Hughes: Po Na Na was a little bar on the Kings Road basement bar and it was the hottest place.

Payman: We used to go to a place it was a few years after that, Crazy Larry’s it was called.

Mark Hughes: Yeah Crazy Larry’s was on Lutz road, so yeah, all of that stuff but the concept of going out to a nice restaurant and then going out for the night, Mamaly is like “Come on.” And he called me Dr. Irish.

Prav Solanki: Dr. Irish.

Payman: So then Okay, this job in the Stratum-

Mark Hughes: Yes.

Payman: -who was the boss?

Mark Hughes: The late Mark Spurway. Very interesting character. Again, knew everybody who was anybody in London and all of a sudden Art Gallery openings, cool restaurant openings, he knew everybody and he had a fleet of classic cars. And he was like one of the coolest guys in town. So, I would meet people like Simon Le Bon at dinner and all of his mates would come to the practise in Stratum. We were sort of, all the trendies of London. So, again, opened my eyes up to a world of possibility and introduced me to a lot of really cool people and I felt really at home and it was-

Payman: So interesting, that must have been a big sort of milestone in you ending up in the sort of a high end world that you’ve ended up in.

Mark Hughes: 100%. Because Mark had a … And Mark unfortunately passed away scuba diving, I think he was 36 at the time. So Mamaly and I were his two hot associates for about three years. And I think yes, it was Mark-

Payman: It was your working day when he passed away?

Mark Hughes: I just left. I took some time off and I got a call when I was in Australia to say that he hadn’t come back to work from the receptionist, “What do I do?” And I had left about a year before that. But Mark had a, I think he did one day a week in Devonshire Place, and the last time I’d been into Harley Street was to sign up with the GDC. And so would go up and check out his room that he rented one day we can always really cool patients on Devonshire Place and he take out the fancier cars and park them in Harley Street or in Devonshire Place. So, again, it was like, “All right, this feels like home. Not a practise in Stratum.”

Mark Hughes: But I decided having gone all the way it’s like from school at 16 turned 17 started uni, five and a half years at Trinity, straight over to work on the NHS. I needed a break. So I took nearly two years off. Worked really hard for a couple of years on the NHS, saved up a lot of money had bought a flat at that stage in Battersea. So I had an investment I was really proud of. It was the beginning of the turnaround in the property situation in the 90s. And all of my mates said, “You’re mad.” Because there had been a property crash. So bought that flat, rented it out, went off to Latin America for nine months.

Payman: Wow.

Mark Hughes: Yeah, so it did that, worked in Australia, worked for the Flying Doctors for four months, worked in Sydney, another six months in Southeast Asia and then was about to head to India for-

Payman: Working in each of these places?

Mark Hughes: No. Just having-

Prav Solanki: Having fun.

Mark Hughes: -having fun and pretty much everywhere, including Australia working because I was flying to Aboriginal communities in New York.

Prav Solanki: And were you like young, free and single at this point?

Mark Hughes: For some of it.

Prav Solanki: Yeah?

Mark Hughes: Yeah. No. I left with a partner and came back-

Payman: Alone.

Prav Solanki: With another one?

Mark Hughes: No. With the same partner, but we’d figured it out on the way that it wasn’t really going anywhere. And that was … My friends tease me about that. God hope she isn’t listening to this. But they said I had to take her around the world for two years to break up with her. And what happened was, when I worked in Sydney, I was exposed to a few practises that in 1996, 1997, had screens on the ceiling. They were really coolly designed. They had graphic designers work on their logos, their buildings, their colour schemes. There was one guy, he was known as the dub dentist, because he had a really great sound system and all his patients loved listening to the house … He would play all this soft house music, and Sydney was really cool at the time. And they were 90% private. So I was determined then to come home, find a practise, do great stuff to it. And that’s what brought me back.

Prav Solanki: So was it at that point, you realised, I am going to own my own practise, run my own business and create something special, that no one else has ever seen in the UK?

Mark Hughes: Hundred percent. Because I’ve been exposed to what it was like to work for somebody else. And you get frustrated when you want to do things and you can’t really do them. Then being exposed to some cool innovative stuff going on, that nobody had in the UK. And then I came back. And actually some people were starting to do it. There was one practise in particular, in Covent Garden.

Prav Solanki: Who was that?

Mark Hughes: James Green had a practise on Endell Street and he had this really cool coloured logo in the window. And I ended up working as an associate around the corner. And I ended up buying the practise. And it was on Drury Lane. And at the time-

Prav Solanki: I remember that.

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: I remember that clinic anyway. Not that time. But yeah.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. Well, it still has the same logo that my mates designed in 1997. The current owner still has it, hasn’t changed it.

Prav Solanki: Amazing.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. And these were guys that I played football with, played five aside with. They worked for companies like EMI and Euro sport. And they were starting out their own businesses, and they wanted to help and put their graphic design team together. And we just were mates just helping each other out and built a website, which was awful.

Prav Solanki: Well the fact that you had a website though right?

Payman: It would be like having an AR studio now.

Prav Solanki: You get to a point where you’ve been an associate for a period of time, and you say, “I know I’m going to own my own business and have a practise.” And I’ve experienced this before starting a business or before taking that leap. There’s a load of fear that kicks in, real load of fear that kicks in, and then you start doubting yourself. And so you have the ‘Yeah but’ conversations will do this, yeah but, what about that? Yeah, but what about this, and that? Can you just talk me through, like your fears that you had before starting your first business or buying that practise, or even going through that process of saying, “I’m now going to be my own boss.”

Mark Hughes: So I think the fears I had were not necessarily the traditional fears, like the level of investment, and the borrowed money, I was really keen to get the money and buy the cool equipment and have the eye track cameras and all that kind of stuff, location that I ended up buying was terrific. What I found out was that there was a huge gap in my learning. So we had very little of computer knowledge and skill training, certainly not through dental school, zero. And school, I was pretty poor. So, everybody was getting computerised to create nice letter heads. So I had to basically teach myself how to use Word. And that’s what I spent more time doing than anything else was trying to figure out how to use a computer. And it actually wore me down for a while. And the skill set to manage staff, to look after all the non-clinical aspects of the practise, that was the hardest bit. Because I had no training in whatsoever, no experience in it.

Prav Solanki: And it was a complete unknown, you went in blind?

Mark Hughes: Totally blind. I remember in the early days, and you recruit people, and you think you can trust people implicitly and I arrived at the practise, the patient was waiting outside, nobody had opened the practise.

Prav Solanki: Oh dear.

Mark Hughes: Yeah, and so those kind of things happen. And I think those kind of things, were the hardest part of it for me. But I wasn’t fearful of doing it. It was when we got into it. And I realised, “It was a bit more to this than just turning up everyday and doing nice dentistry.”

Prav Solanki: And having owned multiple practises now and starting up from scratch and going through that process several times with different business partners, et cetera. Someone listening to this podcast now. And if you could give them a bit of advice about how you just said you went into this business unknowns about managing staff, about computers, et cetera.

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: What three little tips would you give them about taking that first step and trying to avoid these situations that you’ve been in?

Mark Hughes: So number one on the list, absolutely clear my mind, find a mentor. Find somebody who’s done it and done it well before, who embraces you as their … Somebody that they want to help develop them. Because both on a clinical level, but even more, so managing staff, managing your team, training, your tax situation, your investment situation, all of that kind of stuff. If you have somebody that you can trust that is prepared to help you along that way, it’s saves so much time.

Prav Solanki: Sure.

Mark Hughes: People like me made enough … I made an awful lot of mistakes. I didn’t have anybody to guide me, well, virtually nobody to guide me. So I would have progressed far quicker, with far fewer bumps along the way had I had somebody like that. So that will be number one. And I think training programmes that develop those skills as well, and not just how to do a great copacetic would be number two. So the biggest thing that happened to me in dentistry, was being encouraged to go to the Pankey Institute. And I put it off for a number of years, not only because it was expensive, but it was far away. And I heard all sorts of weird rumours about these strange American courses and what was involved there. But the best thing hands down, I ever did in my career was go there and spend six trips at Pankey and invest the money in not only my dental skills, my knowledge of occlusion and function and high end dentistry.

Mark Hughes: But that place also taught me how to communicate better with patients, build a team better and it’s soft skills that came around that and that were embedded in that and they have people that come, give up a week of their time for free to help young dentists, that for me was absolutely crucial in my career. So go to the Pankey Institute, it’s the most unique, wonderful, fantastic Dental Training Institute in the world. And I would encourage anybody to go there. The third thing would be develop some of those soft skills. If you’re going to run a business, you have to learn how to manage your books. And the numbers are everything. You know this Prav.

Prav Solanki: Sure.

Mark Hughes: Not only stats, you’ve got to learn how to look at stats, but your numbers and your management. If your numbers in your business, allow you to reinvest, allow you to employ better people, allow you to take a week off and go to the course that you want to do and still be able to pay your bills. So I think that’s one of the major things that’s missing in dental education at an undergraduate level and definitely missing at a postgraduate level. Why does everybody want to go and learn how to do an implant when really what they should be doing, if they’re going to own their own practise is learn how to be a businessman. Now, in hindsight, what I would have done would have been an MBA.

Prav Solanki: Interested.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. I would have spent a couple of years if I’d had the cash somewhere like Harvard, London Business School and learned about economics, learned about businesses, how they run, and then apply that with the dental skills. So those would be the three things

Prav Solanki: Having done the MBA, let’s imagine that happened. Do you think you’d still be where you are today? Or do you think you’d be a little bit further ahead?

Mark Hughes: I think if I had, well exclude the middle one, because I went and did it. But if I’d done it earlier, and I’d had the other two things, I’d be way ahead of where I was.

Payman: Sure.

Mark Hughes: Because my ambitions in my mind were always held back by either my lack of knowledge of certain things, or I had to learn by making mistakes. I would have been way further on. Life teaches you so many things. And it’s easy to say in hindsight, “I wish I’d had that hold.”

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: But if I’d hold those three things early on, I would have been far further on I think.

Payman: And it’s also the question of do you work on your strengths? Or do you work on your weaknesses?

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Payman: And for me, I think working on your strength is probably better than working on your weaknesses. Like, I don’t know, I’m disorganised, you could buy me the best diary in the world. Still, I not going to be a more organised person.

Mark Hughes: I tell you, the one thing I did learn though, was that, I thought I wanted to be a businessman. And a lot the things I’ve talked about are about learning business skills. But what I realised was, the further I got away from the clinical dentistry, which I ended up being quite good at, the more I realised that was the most comfortable place for me to be, because I was ok at it. And I could put my hand to it. And actually, when I refocused on actually trying to be as excellent as I can, I enjoyed my life so much more. What I would have needed, though, would have been support, people to defer to or to take over the management role of the business. Being the clinical lead of the business, and having the ideas were really where my strengths were.

Payman: So when did it go from that clinic to the Harley Street ones?

Mark Hughes: So I realised, and spent a lot of time re-educating myself on aesthetic restorative treatments because I wanted to do Cosmetic Dentistry and in the late 90s, that was when that boom was happening all over the world. And it was trickling into the UK. People like Mervyn Drury and invited Larry Rosenthal over and a lot of us flew off to the States to do courses. And that was exciting dentistry. I realised I wanted to do that. And I figured out that where I was, and the type of practise I had, wasn’t going to allow me to take it to the next level, or the level that I wanted to take it to. So the premises were wrong location wasn’t bad or was probably wrong. And the practise was so embedded with general dentistry, that it was mixing up my day.

Mark Hughes: So I decided, and was lucky enough to come across a great premises in Harley Street, and I thought, blank canvas, put in everything now that I would like to put in. Build it and design it in a way that I would like to, that I feel will be appropriate for me to start treating very … Doing very high end cases and very high end dentistry and attracting patients who wanted to invest in that. So the next step was Harley Street.

Payman: So the partnership with Adam, was that right then? Or was it a bit later?

Mark Hughes: No, a little bit later on. So that was 2003. And that came much later on.

Prav Solanki: And so Mark, I remember starting my business back in 2005, 2006. And when you start your business and you think, “Who would I love to work for or with?” Yeah, “Who would I aspire to work with?” Right? You were number one of my hit list.

Mark Hughes: Really?

Prav Solanki: Totally.

Mark Hughes: Tell me why.

Prav Solanki: Because the research that you do and the profiles that you see, there was only one guy who was pioneering in terms of the look, the aesthetics, the guys who were taking full face photographs, lifestyle photographs of their patients. Even today, I encourage my clients to do that. And say that telling stories through those pictures, are key to getting more patients through the door. You were still doing that 10 years ago, 12 years ago, right? So I saw that, and it was just inspirational. And then you see the education that this guy’s gone through, that he’s got this place on Harley Street and you were number one on my hit list.

Mark Hughes: That’s very kind of you.

Prav Solanki: And so what was going through your mind at the time when everyone else had these, what I would consider to be normal cosmetic private practises. But you sort of went above and beyond and said, “I’m going to create something on the most prestigious street when it comes to the Medical District in the whole world. And I’m going to do it different to everyone else on this street.” And ultimately, you ended up having an entire building, which is crazy, unheard of right? Like just talk me through those thought processes, because I speak to business people all the time looking to start their own practise. Well, their mindset is so far away from what yours was when you were setting that up. Some of the listeners here, I’m sure they’d be interested in hearing what your thoughts were.

Mark Hughes: So it’s 2003, you’re absolutely right. Nobody was doing it. Or they were doing it in still shop front practises. So I had a shopfront practise, I had a on the street practise. And that’s great. But for me, the things that I really like to do and I was prepared to spend a lot of money on were, when I went travelling, and I had stayed in really lovely, unusual, not necessarily expensive, but great hotels, because it was about the experience. And part of that experience was just being completely blown away when you walked in by the decor, and the space and the way it was laid out. Part of it was the greeting. Part of it were the services. But it was overall the whole experience how the team who greeted you looked after you, how people greeted you in the bar and the restaurant, and you went away a few grand lighter after two days, and you felt like a king. So it was immediately apparent to me that what dentistry needed at the high end was something like that.

Mark Hughes: So the first practise, the reason I took it on was because it was actually a flat. The Harley Street area had for over 150 years a special lease called a reside and practise lease from the 1800s. And it was where a country doctor or a doctor who might have had a home in the countryside could have a room or rooms in Harley Street, but had a place to live. So you basically had a little flat, a little bed set, and you had your rooms downstairs and you went home with the weekends. So this was one of those old leases. So it was basically a two and a half three bedroom flat had a dental chair in one of the rooms, and one of the rooms is very spacious, had a beautiful bay window. The dental chair that was in there had all the piping running across the floor and it just looked absolutely awful. But I saw the space and went, “This is going to be cool, what we can do here.”

Mark Hughes: And the artistic side came out. I was always into colour, design, going to stay in nice hotels, having an interest in that. So I put all the elements that I found in those places into the design of the dental suite. So it wasn’t blue and white and red and orange. They were really soft tones of colours. We spent a lot of time really carefully choosing all the corian and all the cabinet colours and we used a dark chocolate brown. I don’t if you remember, back in those days.

Prav Solanki: I do. What you’re describing there is the experience when stepping into a boutique hotel.

Mark Hughes: That’s right.

Prav Solanki: That is my first experience of walking into your practise.

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: And it’s still the experience today.

Mark Hughes: And in those days, the boutique hotel was where my mindset was, and I just done up my flat. The flat that I bought in Battersea all those years, I had a girlfriend who was an interior designer, she studied at Inchbald London, one of the most famous interior design schools in the world. She introduced me to two of her buddies, one of whom now I’m godfather to his kid, we’ve been friends for years. It was Christopher, everyone calls him Chip and they done up my flat and I was like, “Next, the practise.” And so Ninya was her name she helped me with the Covent Garden practise. We completely really redid that. Did up my flat and I thought, “Right, the next thing is now the new practise.”

Mark Hughes: So it was designed like a boutique hotel, you wouldn’t get away with some of the stuff that we did, these days CQC put an end to soft furnishings and in some places in the practise and you’re limited by all sorts of different things. But at the time, it had that really, welcoming, warm, I’m staying in a cool hotel feel, and then it was all about training the team, it was all about the customer service experience. So that was back in 2003, 2004. And ever since it’s been working on and developing versions of that and improving on that.

Prav Solanki: So Mark, you still got that amazing practise. People talk about Harley Street Dental studio, they know what that means. There’s a new chapter coming in your sort of business evolution development, called define clinic I believe.

Mark Hughes: That’s right.

Prav Solanki: Would you like to just tell the listeners a little bit more about that. And once again, innovating the market and being ahead of the game. So just tell us a little bit more about define.

Mark Hughes: So the concept of define is initially bringing together an expert in cosmetic dentistry, and an expert in the field of aesthetics and plastic surgery. And the reasoning behind it was, certainly from my own perspective, a smile is not teeth, it’s certainly not teeth and gums. And it’s actually not even teeth, gums and just lips. It’s a whole face and a whole persona. And facial aesthetics is becoming more and more prevalently mixed with dentistry, a lot of dentists are doing it. The procedures are becoming much more accepted by patients, they are becoming much more predictable, and they’re actually becoming much more natural. So I met my wonderful partner Benji Dhillon, who’s younger than me, far better looking to me too.

Payman: We’ve had him on the podcast already actually.

Mark Hughes: Have you?

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: Oh, he’s a great guy. And we were introduced by a mentor coach that we both share. In fact, I met Benji at school, what I mean by that is his youngest daughter and my daughter are in the same class at school together. So we met at a kids party. My wife-

Payman: As you do.

Mark Hughes: As you do. And when we got on and boom, we have the same mindset and philosophy. And we started referring patients to each other. And the more I referred patients to him and got his feedback, the more I started to look at the whole face of a patient. Even after 25 years of doing teeth and smiles and knowing a bit about aesthetics, and facial aesthetics and all of that kind of stuff. It just took on a whole new meaning. And then the possibilities, for example, patients with quite severe gummy smiles we were talking surgery, or two years of ortho plus surgery plus perio surgery. And nowadays, you can do lots of contouring and softening techniques that may not require the patient to get the result they want and have to go through all of that. And there’s more to it than that. And it’s about preservation.

Mark Hughes: The Fountain of Youth, for me is the next great thing in dentistry. And if not medicine, now, that might seem silly. Everybody’s been chasing the Fountain of Youth for millennia. But actually, I think we’re getting close to being able to provide that for people, or at least allowing longevity of the facial structures and of the teeth. I was at a lecture recently where somebody said that, “From a paleontological point of view, the teeth are only meant to last 30 years. They’re not designed to last 120 years and by 2050, some of us will be living to over 120 years old.”

Payman: Sure.

Mark Hughes: So Fountain of Youth, preserving youthfulness, for me, the two together absolutely go hand in hand. So define is all about enhancing the natural you, preserving the natural you with a smile in the face. And that’s the concept.

Prav Solanki: And your business partner, Benji, you were certainly at the top of your game when it comes to dentistry in terms of the education that you’ve had, that you’ve put yourself through, you’ve invested in, and the resource that you deliver to your patients. And equally, you’ve picked a business partner who is also … Just tell us a little bit about his credentials, and how they complement yours.

Mark Hughes: Well, so Benji, firstly, I mean, I’m touching again, on the fact that a lot of dentists do facial aesthetics. Now, I’ve never really got into it myself, I’ve dabbled in it. For me, I was never going to be good enough at it to call myself an expert. And I always think to myself, if my children, my mother, my wife wanted to have something done, would I do it myself or would I send them to somebody else? And this is a very clear thing I learned in Harley Street, why try and build a facial aesthetics business on Harley Street when you’ve got some of the top dermatologist in the world next door? And so Benji was clinical director of Allergan at the age of 30. He’s from a medical and plastic surgery background, there is nobody that I would want more to inject me in my face than somebody who’s gone through that level of training. So that’s why we’re doing it together.

Mark Hughes: Now, we truly believe in teaching dentists to be excellent at cosmetic dentistry and facial analysis and facial enhancement. But for me, the educator has to be the person who’s of the highest level of qualification and experience. He’s a dynamic, fun, friendly guy. And that to me goes hand in hand with the person I want to do business with.

Payman: Sure. Is teaching going to be part of it?

Mark Hughes: Most certainly. And mentoring as part of teaching, live patient teaching will be part of this. That’s something that very few actually do where the candidate, the mentee, the students will actually get a chance to do dentistry that they want to do with me sitting next to them, or Benji sitting next to them as part of their experience of learning.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Mark Hughes: So hands on is great, but hands on a patient, million times better.

Prav Solanki: Different experience. And then going back to Benji injecting you.

Mark Hughes: Yes.

Prav Solanki: Has he done it yet?

Mark Hughes: No it’s coming soon.

Prav Solanki: You would have that done?

Mark Hughes: Well, I tell you why. Yes. And I put it off for a number of years. Because I thought I was getting away with it. To be honest, when we shot the latest round of videos, and I’ve got this Indian Cary Grant next to me and a young Cary Grant and we’re both on the video together, I could see that certainly, I should have done something about prevention many years ago. I’ve got a lot of sun damage to my skin. I like to laugh. And I’ve been very stressed in my time. So I got a lot of wrinkles. And what I saw was something that really should have been intervened in 20 years ago.

Prav Solanki: So just tell me what what can you do? There’s guys out there listening to this, ears are pricking up. What are the options out there? Because all I know is Botox and fillers, right? That’s all I know about skin and stuff. I don’t use moisturiser, I never have done it. And I’m sure that I probably shouldn’t do. Has Benji educated you on what the sort of-

Mark Hughes: To a certain extent, yes. But that whole world is opening up to me. And in fact, we are working very hard at the moment to build an educational programme for dentists. So I am the prime candidate for his side of the educational programme. But there’s lots of amazing stuff out there in medical aesthetics, there are amazing machines that can be used to actually deliver certain results. As a medic, he can use those. A lot of us even as dentist can’t have some of the stuff in their clinics that we’ll be able to have. I see a time coming when dentist will. Especially if they reach a certain level of qualification. And I do see that coming. I see more and more regulation coming. So I think there’s an awful lot for me to learn. And that’s actually part of why we’re doing it together. Because he has an awful lot to learn or has learned an awful lot from me because I did his teeth.

Payman: What made you decide to move away from the West End for this project?

Mark Hughes: Two things. I live very close to the area and children are now five and a half and nearly three. And some days I’d spend four hours commuting backwards and forwards. And that’s four hours, not with them. It’s four hours, not enjoying leisure. It’s four hours not with my wife, it’s four hours sitting on a train, walking in the rain. And I just wanted to do something closer to home. So that was the motivation. The second was to build the kind of clinic that we’re building, which is similar in size to my Harley Street clinic.

Payman: As big as that?

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Payman: Really?

Mark Hughes: Yeah, it’s going to be over four and a half thousand square foot. Yeah. So again, it’s back to the experience. You can haven’t met a dentist doing aesthetics and maybe a dentist who brings in a doctor one day a week to do facial aesthetics in a high street practise. But for me, if we’re going to build something especially where we’re going to be teaching, it’s going to look the part and it’s really going to provide an experience.

Prav Solanki: Are we going boutique hotel again, or something different?

Mark Hughes: Well, I think the boutique hotel concept is almost died out. I think now it’s more about experiential stuff. It doesn’t have to be boutique. So yeah, it’s going to look fabulous, I hope. Why there? Why not the West End? it’s going to be easier for us to do it. Benji lives in the area, we see clientele travelling somewhere close to Heathrow. And the idea may well be that at some point, this concept could be replicated, could be taught how to be replicated. But I think primarily both of us wanted to be closer to home.

Prav Solanki: Sure.

Mark Hughes: I’m not leaving the West End. And so I’m going to see all my patients there and continue there. But I will spend a couple of days a week at the new practise and build a team like I have done before. We’ve already recruited a lot of the key elements, one of whom was a young dentist that I took on and have mentored. And that’s something I find really rewarding. I really enjoy. And it’s an opportunity for me to pass on the things that I missed or didn’t learn. Because I didn’t have one.

Payman: What do you looking for when a young associate is looking for a job in a high end places that you’ve had and they haven’t worked in the West End before? What are you looking for? Do you look at their CV much? Or is it about them, the way they come across? What are you’re a couple of hacks you can us?

Mark Hughes: So it’s definitely both. I think it’s all about the person and their willingness to learn. But they must have a certain skill set, as well. So, when I’ve done this very successfully before and the person is completely under qualified, but I don’t mean under qualified in terms of personality and desire. I mean unqualified on paper, is giving them a shopping list, and say, “Go away and come back to me in three years, four years when you’ve done this.” And the most successful of those thus far came back in nine months and had done the entire list. So I had to talk to her again. And then we together developed a log book, like a mentor, like a scorecard.

Payman: Was that [inaudible 00:45:27]?

Mark Hughes: Yes it was. And so it had to be supervised and in a big practise I was able to bring somebody else in and slowly but surely allow certain treatments to be passed on to her under my supervision and that in a way is something that’s going to be part of a new clinic is actually developing a programme of education that has that built into it. If they haven’t got the shopping list go and get the shopping list and for example top of the list for me it was Chris Orr course certain others I still want you to go to Pankey, will get round to that.

Payman: What others?

Mark Hughes: Look I think-

Payman: Or does it depend on the person?

Mark Hughes: No I think fundamentally if you want to be an aesthetic restorative dentist there are certain places you have to go and certain boxes you have to take especially if you want to do the full compendium of treatments. So Pankey or alternatively if the focus is occlusion somewhere like Spear or a course in the US, you’ve got to learn how to prep teeth properly. So either one of the courses at the Eastman Pankey teach fantastic prep courses. So the Spear, Chris Orr course in the UK, for me hands down is one of the best in the world for introducing dentists. Yeah.

Payman: Yeah it’s a great course. Did You do that course?

Mark Hughes: I didn’t actually. But you know what, I probably would go back, I’ve been tempted to go back and do it again, just to refresh everything. And because Chris is such a great educator, but Chris and I are contemporaries. So he was building that business as I was building my practise. And I was going to the State’s an awful lot and spend an awful lot of time at the AACD, and did all the hands on courses like possibly could. Great value for money if you’re a young dentist, and it sounds expensive going to America but the hands on experience at AACD is second to none. Started the accreditation programme at AACD, started at BACD. Managed to get that this year.

Payman: Yeah, congratulations.

Mark Hughes: Thank you. So the willingness of a student or a young dentist to do all of those things, or at least begin them and to follow through on them. So it’s not just about saying it’s about doing. And I think to be successful, you have to care about people in dentistry. And for me fundamentally, kindness and a desire to help people overrides everything else you can possibly do.

Payman: Very true.

Prav Solanki: Let’s talk about the real Mark Hughes.

Mark Hughes: Oh dear.

Prav Solanki: We’ve heard about dentistry, we’ve heard about the businessman, the innovator, pioneer more about the family man, just talk to me through like the first time you met your wife, can you take us back to that?

Mark Hughes: Yeah, very much so. I met her in a great pub in Wandsworth called the Ship. And I was nearly 40 at the time, if not 40. So I hadn’t come close to getting married at any stage before that.

Prav Solanki: Just not met the right person.

Mark Hughes: Just not met the right person. Absolutely. And I think within minutes of meeting her I thought, “Whoa, this is definitely somebody I’m interested in seeing again.” And then we went on our first day to the Connaught hotel. And she looked absolutely drop dead.

Prav Solanki: Can you just go back to the Ship?

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: First time you laid eyes on her.

Mark Hughes: Well, she was gorgeous.

Prav Solanki: Wait, when I first met my wife I was like, she’s super hot.

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Is that what was going through your mind?

Mark Hughes: Exactly the same thing.

Prav Solanki: And then you spoke to her?

Mark Hughes: When you look at somebody and you think all the opposite of actually what they’re going to come out and say?

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: And she was a very successful musician, classical musician, highly skilled at that. And she’d had many different sort of variations in her career, was learning to become a jeweller. So I just found her absolutely fascinating, really interesting. And she was charming, and delightful and warm and friendly. And yeah, I think I pretty much decided on our first proper date that this could go somewhere.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: You had your first date, was it Connaught?

Mark Hughes: Connaught. Yeah. It’s a favourite of ours.

Prav Solanki: And then just obviously carried on meeting each other. And-

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: -what point did you pop the question?

Mark Hughes: In Paris about nine months later.

Prav Solanki: Wow.

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Payman: That’s pretty quick.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. You’ll laugh at this. So I had planned all weekend, I was carrying a little bottle of champagne in my pocket. It poured with rain the entire weekend. So all of my hotspots to go down on one knee were just totally ruined. The end of the weekend was coming. I was panicking more and more and eventually managed to get down to the river side to the side of the sand. And she literally turned around and said, “Get on with it. Please.” So down on one knee popped the question. And the rest of the weekend could continue. But that’s her all over. And that’s why I actually really why I married her.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: She’s strong willed and does not suffer fools gladly. And sometimes you just need somebody to support you in other ways. And yeah, so she certainly sorted me out, that’s for sure. Yeah. And then we got married quite soon after that, I have been married seven years now with two beautiful children.

Prav Solanki: Tell us about your kids.

Mark Hughes: Girl firstly, all right. She’s five and a half. And she’s an angel. I always thought growing up, “I want to boy, I need to have a boy.” My wife was, “I definitely don’t want to have a boy.” And this gorgeous little girl came along. And she’s total daddy’s girl and I’m a total daddy’s girl, daddy. And then we decided to have another one. And our son came screaming out, and he’s been full of laughs and a barrel of fun, but two totally different personalities, and both absolutely adorable. And now life has a completely different focus. You’ve been through that Prav, I’m sure.

Prav Solanki: Sure. And so let’s just talk about that, prior to kids. Like you go from prior to kids, and then you have kids and life takes a huge shift. It certainly did for me in terms of priorities, and just what I think about the future and everything, right, and they become my all important thing.

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Just talk to me, how did Mark Hughes change?

Mark Hughes: In all of those ways. And I think the strangest thing about becoming a parent is that you have absolutely no idea what’s coming, you might have an idea about it. But you absolutely have no idea how unconditional your love for that little person, and how it brings you and your partner, your wife together, how that suddenly changes everything and every aspect of how you think. And it’s sort of reinvigorated me in a way and made me reassess a lot of other things that I had made decisions about and realised, actually, you know what, if I’d had this influence 10 years ago, things would have been a little bit different. And again, maybe even better, in some ways, or the focus would have been slightly different. That’s my be all and end all now.

Payman: But did you have that moment of first moment you held a child you felt there and then?

Mark Hughes: Yes. And my wife had a very difficult labour and ended up almost having caesarean section. We were touch and go for a while as to whether or not she was going to breathe when she was.

Payman: Your wife?

Mark Hughes: No. The baby when she was actually forceps delivered. And I think it was something like a day and a half we were in hospital. And she was tiny, she was only six pounds. And my wife had been anaesthetised, she was behind the screen as it were and daddy has to go over when they’re cleaning the baby up and put the little girl under the heat lamp. And she was not breathing. And there was a difficult labour and there was that risk. And it was our nearest NHS hospital. There wasn’t a specialist on board, our gynaecologist wasn’t there, our obstetrician wasn’t there, it was whoever was on call that night, and they were this junior doctor was 15 years younger than me. But they were amazing, actually. And the hospital was fantastic. God bless the NHS, it was absolutely wonderful.

Mark Hughes: And they did everything that they could to help us. And she breathed. And I wasn’t overcome with floods of tears, or that kind of Hollywood type emotion. I was incredibly relieved. And the relief passed instantaneously. And then there was this overriding sense of joy and love for this creature that looked a little bit like my wife and looked a little bit like me. And then it’s almost as if you can see your future. But you can’t see it. You know that all you have to do now is look after this little person. But as to what road you’re going down. And that’s an adventure greater than any educational adventure, any business adventure. You asked me earlier, why Beaconsfield, I want to be close to my kids and have them be part of the practise as well. And we are going to treat children and do orthodontics and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, it’s become everything in my life.

Prav Solanki: That’s great. And just quick question. Are you a celebrity dad? So you walk through the door and the kids come running and screaming and throw their arms around you?

Mark Hughes: Absolutely. Yeah, of course. Yeah. And that’s the best feeling in the world.

Prav Solanki: It is.

Mark Hughes: And my wife hates it. Especially when she’s been choring with them.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: Yeah, totally. I know that they’re amazing. They’re fantastic. But yeah, so there’s some days I just can’t wait to get out of the practise, especially in the West End. And I’m like, “It’s time for me to get on the train, get home, catch them before bed, do bath time.”

Payman: Are there any days where you can’t wait to get back to the practise?

Mark Hughes: Yeah, Mondays? Two three days with the kids at home?

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: Oh, yeah. I’m up at six and off we go. Yeah.

Payman: Do you relate to this idea yet. At the weekend, you’re working for them?

Mark Hughes: Yeah, absolutely.

Payman: Whereas during the week, you’re working for you?

Mark Hughes: Yes. And it’s far easier working for you.

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. Well, I’m in control of that situation.

Prav Solanki: Totally.

Mark Hughes: Mostly. For the most part. I’ve had 25 years experience of it. I can think I can handle most of the situations that are presented to me, whereas with children, no-

Payman: Yeah, but loads of people hate Monday morning as well, you know about them, too.

Mark Hughes: I love going to work because I love my work. Working for the accreditation and getting back into clinical dentistry made me fall in love with it again. And so yeah.

Payman: What’s the biggest clinical mistake you’ve ever made? We were asking everyone today.

Mark Hughes: I had to think about this for a while now. But I know what it is. I put two central incisor veneers on the wrong way around.

Payman: Cemented them?

Mark Hughes: Yeah. And had to immediately apologise to the patient. Re prep them, re temporise them, put all the others on. And got them remade.

Payman: They actually fit kind of?

Mark Hughes: Well, they sort of fitted in a mess of cement.

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: And then you realise on clean up when they’re being tacked in.

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: What can you do? When they are tacked in, you probably can’t get them off cleanly. And yeah, so it’s either go for it or not. Thankfully, I noticed. They were quite symmetrical teeth.

Payman: I mean, how about a clinical tip that you can share?

Prav Solanki: Like a hack.

Payman: A hack, your hack, you?

Mark Hughes: Okay.

Payman: You found it out?

Mark Hughes: It’s not necessarily directly clinical, what I would say to everybody is get in an hour before your first patient every single day.

Payman: An hour?

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Payman: Oh nice.

Mark Hughes: Now because you need time to wind down, you need time to check what’s coming in through your door. In fact, you should have already done that days before. I’m constantly updating and talking to my nurse about what’s coming in the next week. And we always go through-

Prav Solanki: Oh wow. That far ahead?

Mark Hughes: Yeah. Because sometimes the patient that you wanted to have an hour and a half for has been given 30 minutes, if you find that out the minute they walk in, you’re either rushing, apologising, and somebody’s going to be upset, either you, the patient or your nurse. And for me, preparation is everything. So get in early, get ready for the day, plan start to finish the day. Make sure everything’s ready.

Payman: Do you guys have one of those daily huddles?

Mark Hughes: Absolutely. It’s one of those-

Payman: And you go through individually, each patient that’s going to come in?

Mark Hughes: Hundred percent. It’s the most important thing in all practise organisation and business organisation you can possibly do. There’s a great documentary about the Carriages hotel, and-

Payman: Yeah, I saw something on that.

Mark Hughes: Right.

Payman: Excellent.

Mark Hughes: Did you see their morning huddle?

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: So all the senior management team get together in a room, they’re all standing, nobody’s sitting down drinking coffee, papers out, plan for the day, who’s coming? What are we doing? Now when the Emperor of Japan, is due in your dental practise, you got to be ready. And sometimes we have royalty and leaders of industry and politicians that have ended up at the practise. We have to know if there’s five security guards coming. We also have to know if there’s a lady who’s coming who’s unwell and needs a wheelchair and we have to be ready. So I mean, those are obvious things. But for me getting in early, reviewing your day, not leaving the practise until you’ve at least reviewed your next day, if not your upcoming days. It’s so important to be ready for people and to be ahead of the game. I check my lab work if it arrives a day or two before the patient’s due for the seating. I’ll take it all out and have a look at it on the models. I can’t tell you how often we’ve had lab work that belongs to a different patient.

Payman: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: Now you don’t want to find that out when you’ve given them local and taken their temps off.

Prav Solanki: So, how far in advance do you check the lab work? As soon as it comes in?

Mark Hughes: Yeah.

Prav Solanki: Yeah.

Mark Hughes: So we have a system and especially when you work together with an assistant, a really good assistant who’s on board with that. We just have a routine and she chases me up and I chase her up. And that teamwork is absolutely crucial to getting fantastic results for people. So yeah, I mean, I did one today, there’s a guy coming on a Wednesday. I was coming to see you guys this afternoon. So I had to be ready, have all my stuff sent to the lab. So I’ll send PDFs and descriptions and photographs to the lab for wax ups and how I want the veneers to look all has to go out before I leave. Yeah, so I had a look at the crown, made sure it was the right … We had the right screwdriver ready on Monday for the type of abutment channel, for the implant crown, all of that kind of stuff’s really important. It’s more important than people get credit for.

Prav Solanki: Mark, you spend a lot of your time changing people lives, creating emotional stories, or that big, can you remember one particular patient that you’ve had the biggest impact on their life, what you did and what that impact was?

Mark Hughes: So yes, I can. So she’s a lady who came to me in her 60s, she sucked her own fingers for her entire life, not a thumb a couple of fingers. So she had managed to orthodontically extrude and procline all of her anterior teeth over a 50 year period, from the time that she had her incisors. And she basically had this gigantic overjet teeth splayed and her whole face had changed because of her lip contour, over 50 years of this changed. And she had been told in many practises that she needed to have orthodontic surgery, or extractions of all those teeth. And the placement of implants or all on fours and all of these sort of somewhat popularised treatments. And what I figured out having run a few diagnostics, she had healthy teeth, you could align them back into position. Yes, it wouldn’t be a perfect orthodontic result, and she would still have an overjet. But what you can do sometimes simply can have such a massive impact. She had no idea that this was possible.

Mark Hughes: So when I showed her her clinCheck simulation for Invisalign, for example, she was totally blown away, she cried, broke down, cried that she hadn’t done something about it 15, 20 years ago, because she thought that she didn’t have any options. And I think that’s a really important lesson for young dentist, is that some people are given misinformation, and they don’t know what’s out there, and what the possibilities are. And to find that something out 20 years later, that could have been dealt with, it must be heartbreaking for people. The plus side is then you go on and you do it and you deliver the result. But she has been given an idea of what it would look like and then you deliver a result that’s even better than what you had anticipated. You’ve changed somebody’s, not only their life, I mean, you change their confidence, you change their ability to eat, you change what they wear, you change how they dress themselves, how they put their makeup on, how they live their life.

Mark Hughes: So it’s not just about confidence about how they engage with other people. And if you can revolutionise or develop somebody’s confidence to such an extent they almost become a different person. The person that they are with their family that they’re not ashamed of, they can now present that to the rest of the world and that is an extremely wonderful gift for somebody like me and my colleagues to be able to do and that’s really the motivation that’s a very special experience.

Payman: Do you also get emotional?

Mark Hughes: Yeah. Occasionally when Liverpool lose.

Payman: How did you become a Liverpool fan?

Mark Hughes: Well, like I was a child of the 70s there were no other teams.

Payman: They were doing well.

Mark Hughes: There was no other team

Payman: Well, thanks a lot for doing this.

Mark Hughes: Pleasure. I really enjoyed it actually.

Payman: It’s been a lovely conversation.

Mark Hughes: Yeah. Interesting, I’ve known you guys for years and we’ve never really had this conversation.

Payman: Yeah, I was just thinking that.

Mark Hughes: It’s great. Thank you so much for the invitation. I really appreciate it.

Payman: And really good luck with the event. It sounds really exciting.

Mark Hughes: Thank you so much. Yeah, it should be good. It should be fun.

Prav Solanki: It will be great.

Mark Hughes: Cheers guys.

Speaker 4: 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.

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