Disrupt the dental cartels, don’t be a victim…


A cosy cartel exists in most towns in across the UK between dental practices because it’s easy.

There are typically three or four exclusively NHS practices, three mixed and three or four exclusively private.

Over time they have all carved out a client base and are trading successfully, whether the practices have five surgeries or one surgery, ‘success’ being determined by the income of the principal dentist.

Everything is more or less stable, there are no sudden changes and all the protagonists just keep doing what they have always been doing and keep taking the money. It’s a cosy arrangement and remains so until someone – from among the cartel or a new arrival – ‘disrupts’ the status quo.

A brilliant example of a disrupter at work; a large advert for £995 implants seen at Liverpool's John Lennon airport

A brilliant example of a disrupter at work; a large advert for £995 implants seen at Liverpool’s John Lennon airport

As we know, competition usually improves the quality of service or product delivered into a market whether it’s cars (think Skoda), pet care, garden centres or indeed dentistry.

What does a disrupter do that is so game changing for the other players? It could simply be a state of the art retail format in the right part of town with easy parking. It could be opening 08.00 until 20.00 or seven days a week.

Or the practice offers implants at £999, or simply invests heavily in SEO and paid search and dominates all the search terms within your catchment.

More likely it is the appearance of BUPA dental within your catchment (BUPA brand equity is incredibly powerful), or a new entrant takes the Sainsbury’s franchise format in your town. Or somebody finally does the easyJet dental format – great dentistry at a very fair, transparent price with add-ons.

Dentistry must be one of the last remaining bastions of a cosy cartel arrangement. I know you know it’s going to change because we all see the incontrovertible evidence around us each day.

Perhaps what you may not have fully appreciated is the threat of a disrupter entering your space and assaulting your livelihood and retirement plans, and how quickly it can happen.

You will of course be able to respond but you will be moving from a defensive position and, remember, all the other members of your informal cartel will be doing the same thing. The result? The market will be in chaos, with lots of unfocused, distressed reactions which means only one thing for you – less security, less profit and much less ultimate practice value.

Don’t be a victim, be a disrupter. Get all that first mover advantage and keep new entrant disrupters out because you have already disrupted the market. There will be lots of other towns that don’t have a disrupter like you, so they will go and play somewhere else.

If you’d like to become a disrupter get in touch – I’ve been creating disrupters for 40 years and know all the tricks. Plus, it’s serious fun…

Best wishes,


07860 672727



Breathe Business CPD at the BDA

Dr Simon Hocken is hosting a BDA Training course titled:

Grow your dental practice using effective retail strategies

By the end of the course you will:

  • understand what large retailers such as John Lewis can teach you about running a successful practice
  • know how to break through your practice’s glass ceiling
  • understand the life cycle of your practice
  • discover how to take your team with you when implementing change
  • know when the bell has rung and it’s time to sell your practice
  • gain tips on how to exit your practice well

When: Friday 27 March 2015, 10:00-16:00

Where: BDA, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS

Buy a ticket: https://www.bda.org/events/Pages/Grow-your-dental-practice-using-effective-retail-strategies.aspx

This training course meets the educational criteria set by the GDC for 4 1/2 hours of verifiable CPD and is certified by the British Dental Association.


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