The Two Most Common Roadblocks To Growing Your Practice

My fellow Breathe Coach and business partner, Jonathan Fineand I have just spent the last two days with our Foundation Business Club Members, locked in a Hotel Conference room in Bristol, hosting their regular, quarterly 2 day meeting. (We did let them out for dinner!).

A large part of our agenda was to review and refine their business plans for 2012 and amongst the seven practices present, all were planning for growth during 2012, both in turnover and in patient numbers. Their most popular tactics included:

  • Effective reactivation of dormant clients and dormant treatment plans
  • Upgrading their web sites to increase traffic and lead numbers
  • Increasing their kerb appeal
  • Improving their sales processes so as to increase lead conversions, treatment plan size and treatment plan uptake
  • Adding more fee earners to their clinical team
  • Better data collection so as to manage their marketing and sales more effectively


As always when discussing tactics with our members, we look for the roadblocks to successful implementation so as to find ways past these blockers. By far the two most common roadblocks amongst this group (and I suspect amongst you readers) were:

1. The Practice Owner’s time, focus and energy and
2. Push back from their staff

I keep hearing this same story in many practices we work with and so I thought it would be useful to look at the solutions in more detail. The first thing to understand is that the roadblocks are linked. I visited a practice recently where the Principal works from 0900 on Monday to 1600hrs on Friday, 48 weeks a year… That’s something like 40 hours clinical/week. It’s no real surprise then that this team are dysfunctional, possibly dishonest and disloyal. They behave as they do in the absence of any: leadership, management, praise, criticism or monitoring. (After all, when would the principal find the time to do any of that?)

So, if you want to implement change so as to grow/improve your practice, here are my Top 7 tactics for overcoming these common pair of roadblocks:

1. Zone your time in The Practice into 2 distinct areas:

  • Clinical Time and
  • Business Development Time.

If you want to make changes to the practice and keep your evenings and weekend free of work, then the maximum clinical time you can book is 3.5-4days/week, leaving between 1 and 1.5 days/week to lead the development of your business.


  1. Manage your team daily. This means short regular meetings at the beginning and the end of the day with your clinical/operations manager and your business manager. (In sub £500k turnover practices, these two roles are likely to be carried out by the same person.) I’m not suggesting you make your day any longer, I’m suggesting you make the clinical part of the day shorter so as to have these meetings and keep your team accountable so that they make daily progress.
  2. Have at least a day a week free to project manage the larger changes to your business.
  3. Lead your team by example. Don’t dress down, turn up late, be discourteous, gossip about patients, over promise and under deliver act dishonestly or underhand or cheat.
  4. Train your team every day. It’s the small behaviours as well as the big behaviours that count. Use role play all the time. Your team will learn best by saying it out loud and hearing you say it out loud. Don’t ask them to do anything you’re not prepared to do. If you want them to call patients to reactivate them, you do the first 5 calls in front of your team.
  5. Tell the whole team, on a regular basis, where the business is heading, how it is doing now, how they can help and what’s in it for them!
  6. Then reward their progress with: your thanks, performance pay and motivational bonuses.

If you would like some help with changing or growing your practice, why not consider a Breathe Analysis Day. See,

To discuss how we can help you, please contact me directly at or contact the Breathe Team on:

T: 0845 299 7209

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Simon Hocken
Director of Coaching

Simon Hocken, Director of Coaching at Breathe Business, has a wealth of experience as a successful private dentist, practice owner and business coach. Over the last 10 years Simon and the highly experienced Breathe Team have worked with more than 700 dental practices helping them to develop and grow.

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