Prevention Better Than Cure All Round
Without doubt a fundamental principle of the dental profession is to provide the best level of care for patients, and quite rightly something on which the industry holds itself to the highest of standards. It’s important other aspects of care, not least for employees, are given similarly high attention. Ask any practice owner, indeed any business owner or CEO, and they will agree their people are their biggest asset. It makes good business sense to protect your assets, so they can perform to their best, develop to their full potential and add the most value for the long term. And, as Lis Hughes of Frank Taylor & Associates says, “even more fundamental than what’s in your P&L or balance sheet, looking after your people is simply the right thing to do.”
“As well as a team’s physical health, a practice should look after the team’s mental wellbeing. There is still some way to go in breaking down the stigma attached to mental health, and this is particularly important in the dental industry, which has an alarming (and unwanted!) link with higher suicide rates”.
“As dental professionals you are well trained in spotting symptoms of poor oral health in patients, and even to an untrained eye, symptoms of physical ill health in colleagues are usually fairly easy to detect, and quite often the sufferer will be vocal and complain about their ailment anyway! Symptoms of mental ill health are altogether harder to identify, the victim usually suffering in silence, and the consequences potentially more damaging in the long term”.
“Your professional treatment for patients will often revolve around addressing problems before they become too acute or severe; I’m sure we’ve all quoted the old adage “prevention is better than cure” more than once! You need to adopt the same mindset when addressing and caring for the mental health of your staff”.
“There’s no one-size fits all approach”, continues Lis, “it really comes down to knowing your team, understanding their motivations, their styles and behaviours and being tuned in to any changes that may appear out of character. It’s very helpful to create a positive, open and respectful culture where staff can all feel comfortable that they can speak up and bring their ‘whole selves’ to work without fear. It’s not about asking everyone to ‘open up’ if they’d prefer not to, rather ensuring the opportunity and the channels are there if and when the need arises. As managers, or owners, the tone is set from the top, so it’s important senior leadership set the right example and lead from the front. It’s not something that can be delegated, it’s very much something where the whole organisation is in it together”.
“It comes back to what I said at the beginning about it being the right thing to do”, concludes Lis, “Creating the right environment to support mental, and physical, health in the workplace really shouldn’t be an option, it’s a must and should be formalised in a practice’s protocols.”
Practice - Suffolk
Practice location: This well-established practice is located in one of the most aesthetically pleasing towns in Suffolk. It is well situated in a high street amongst high end shops and restaurants.
Practice type: This is a four surgery, mainly private practice. It was established in the 1980s and has been owned by the current principal for over 20 years and is being sold to facilitate the retirement of the principal. It is being sold as leasehold with a 15-year lease in place and is inside the Landlord & Tenants Act 1954.
Practice financials: The gross fee income from management information for the past 12 months is in the region of £875,000 per annum, 93% of which is private and 7% a NHS-GDS contract with a UDA rate of £33.27. The income is generated by the principal working five days a week and four associates working a combined 14-day week and a hygienist working three days a week. They are supported by a part time practice manager, three full and three part time dental nurses and two full time receptionists.
Price achieved: A price of £685,000 was achieved which was in line with the asking price.
Agent's comments: This practice underwent a full refurbishment several years ago and is state of the art hidden behind a rural façade. The exiting principal has invested heavily in the team and it clearly shows as the atmosphere in the practice exudes harmony and happiness - if this could be bottled it would be a best seller!
Practice - Somerset
Practice location: This practice is located in one of the renowned cities in the county and is set within a predominantly residential area.
Practice type: This is a very well established three surgery, mixed practice which is being sold to free the current principal from the responsibilities of practice ownership. The practice occupies a former residential house and is being sold as leasehold with a new 15 year lease being created within the Landlord & Tenants Act 1954.
Practice financials: The gross fee income from management information for the past 12 months is in the region of £735,000 per annum. The gross has been generated by the principal working five days a week, a full time and part time associate and a hygienist working two days a week. The team are supported by two full time and one time receptionist and five nurses who all work a variety of hours.
Price achieved: A price of £975,000 was achieved which was in line with the asking price.
Agent's comments: This principal really enjoys his day job and has over the past few years found the burden of practice management impacting on this! He has no desire to stop work but wants to return to the main focus which is dentistry not admin. He is not alone in this as the majority of owners when we meet them describe the weight of admin and bureaucracy as a big driver when they are considering their future.
Practice - Norfolk
Practice location: The practice is situated within a popular town and has been established for over forty years and was fully refurbished in the last 10 years.
Practice type: This is a four surgery, mainly private practice being sold to facilitate the retirement of the current principal. It is based in a previously residential property and is spread over two floors with ample car parking outside of the practice.
Practice financials: The gross fee income is in the region of £650,000 - 30% of the income is generated by a NHS-GDS with just over £35.00 per UDA, and 70% is private. The income is generated by the principal working four days a week, and four associates working a combined 16 days a week and a hygienist working 4 days a week. The team are supported by a practice manager, two part-time receptionists and five full time nurses.
Price achieved: A price of £825,000 was achieved which was slightly higher than the asking price.
Agent's comments: The principal has built a great team and the energy when you walk into the practice should be bottled and sold. Having said that he has decided he wants to retire before his enthusiasm starts to fade and is very keen to work alongside the incoming principal as he has not lost his joy of clinical work.
Practice - Midlands
Practice location: This practice occupies a purpose built two storey building, located within a large town amid residential and commercial properties.
Practice type: This is a three surgery, fully private practice being sold with a new 20 year lease. It has been established for over 20 years and is being sold to release the current principal to explore other business opportunities.
Practice financials: The gross fee income from management information for the past 12 months is in the region of £750,000. The income has been generated by the principal working two days a week, and three associates working a combined seven days a week and two hygienists working a combined 2 days a week. The team are supported by a part time administrator, six full and part time nurses who also share reception duties.
Price achieved: A price of £975,000 was achieved and was in line with the asking price.
Agent's comments: This Principal feels he may have fallen out of love of dentistry and is young enough to want to consider a career change. By selling the practice he can invest in other interests and is hopeful his love of dentistry will return when he can work as a locum.