How We Did It: Learning How to Drive Our Dental Practice

Breathe has worked with many clients to help them drive their practice in the direction they want to go. Rather than hear it from us, though, we are running a series of articles written by our clients about their experience. Gopi Shan and his wife Lona have set up Viva Dental in Carnforth, Lancaster and here is Gopi’s thoughts, as Business Development Manager, on their journey so far.

”In my parallel life, I am an architect running my own business. Until 15 months ago when we first decided to buy a dental practice, my only association with the world of dentistry was that I was married to a dentist. I had agreed to oversee the management of the practice, relying on my general management experience and MBA skills. However on buying and taking over the practice 10 months ago, I quickly understood, that I needed a comprehensive overview of the mechanics of the dental business and an insight into dealing with imminent challenges we faced. What prompted this, was the realisation that externally, there were massive changes taking place in the industry, and internally, all the systems that we had in place to manage the finance, marketing and operations of the practice were inadequate, arbitrary or non existent.


As a practice, we had not actively recruited new patients for years, our NHS component was being subsidised by the private patients and the basis for setting our fees was arbitrary. I could not see, how in the face of rapidly increasing regulations and costs, we could operate in the same way as we had done previously for much longer. In the hope of learning from others, I started speaking to other principals only to realise, that they too were operating in almost the same way as us in blissful ignorance. The main difference it seemed was that although I did not know, I also knew that I did not know.


When I came across Breathe and the Breakthrough programme, I had a feeling that it could make a difference but I was reluctant to commit, as it seemed quite expensive, especially at the outset of our business. I was also not sure how much value it would add, considering my management and MBA background. But having gone through the Breakthrough cycle, I think it is probably the best investment we have made so far. What I liked about it was that, it is not a ‘how to do’ course as such, although it has quite a bit of it. It is about making you think of the kind of practice you want to build and giving you the tools and, very importantly, the support you need to go about building your vision.


In the 10 months since we bought the practice, we have become very focused on the type of practice we want to run, made a conscious decision to eventually become a fully private practice, branded our practice, reduced the time the principal spends working in the practice, taken on a new associate, increased the productivity of the existing associate, introduced our own capitation scheme, revised our fee scales, begun the process to train the staff to sell private dentistry, increased the number of our private patients and are midway through the extension of our practice to add two new surgeries and a private patients lounge. It is inconceivable that we would have got this far this soon without Breathe. I am not sure how to work out the Return On Investment of that one.”


Gopi Shan – Business Development Manager, Viva Dental

If you would like to know more about how Breathe can help you drive your practice in exactly the direction you want to, then please contact Ernie on 0845 299 7209 or to find out more about the Breathe Breakthrough programme.

We have a SPECIAL OFFER to join the Breathe Breakthrough programme throughout September – the next meeting date is Thursday 23rd September – so please do call Ernie to take advantage of this offer, quoting this ezine!

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