Starting with the End in Mind

Andrew Moore explains why bringing Advance Dental Clinic into the Dentex family has allowed him to set an endpoint and refocus on his clinical work.

Since its opening in 2003, Advance Dental Clinic has grown to become one of the most successful practices in the UK. The practice has a host of awards to its name, established growth and an excellent reputation.

In 2020, I’d reached the point where I knew I needed to create some sort of continuity to keep the practice going without me being here.

While that consideration had been building, COVID lockdown brought another shock and then I was in a bike accident and out of action for six weeks. I was lucky – and back at work comparably quickly, but it made me question what would happen to the practice if something happened to me.

THE BIG DECISION TO SELL

Further complicating matters was the success of Advance Dental Clinic itself. Taking on a large clinic would be a challenge for anyone. I didn’t think I could sell this practice to an individual, but in dentistry, you also can’t just decide that you’re going to retire next year.

It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I sounded out a few options, but in the end, it was a personal recommendation that led to an answer. Two friends of mine joined Dentex and said they’d had a good experience.

What’s more, I know a very successful investor linked with some huge companies. He told me he’d invested in a dental company that he had a lot of faith in. That company was Dentex!

Dentex was the best fit for Advance, for several reasons. I got the feeling that Dentex wasn’t going to change things for the sake of it. I’ve spoken to other companies in the past who wanted to change it into this type of practice or that type of practice, and I never understood why.

Advance is a successful practice – it needed someone to take over the day-to-day running of the business, not rebrand it and change everything. Dentex wanted me to carry on doing what I was doing but take away some of the burden of HR, compliance, and the other admin – which made a lot of sense.

A CHANGING MINDSET

The sale was completed at the beginning of 2021. If anything, the newfound free time has taken me more getting used to than anything else. At first, it felt like I was twiddling my thumbs!

When it’s your practice, there’s a lot you do behind the scenes even when you go home. Your evenings can be spent paying bills, checking invoices, looking at compliance – that stuff is always there.

I don’t need to do these things anymore, so I can focus on seeing myself more as the clinical director of the practice. I’m gradually easing myself into that mindset.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Beyond reclaiming my evenings, the changes have been fairly minimal. Aside from some payroll details – as in where the money comes from, for example – I don’t think much has changed. We had a three month changeover period, so even those things didn’t kick in from day one.

I don’t think the nurses have seen any changes. Clinically, there’s been practically no difference – we still order the same things from the same suppliers. We even use the same marketing people.

We’ve not said anything to our patients. Nothing’s changed from their perspective, so I don’t see any point in being dramatic about it.

FINDING THE BALANCE

The noticeable difference at the practice is for our two practice managers. That’s the role that’s seen the biggest change. They’ve had to take on a lot more, and they’ve risen to the occasion.

Breaking the news turned out to be one of the most challenging parts of the sale.

I had a very sleepless night before the day I told everyone. I think that stress is the same for anyone selling their business. You don’t want to spook everyone, but there’s no point in talking about it before it’s a done deal.

It’s a hard balance to hit – I didn’t want to say anything to the team until everything was in place, but I didn’t want to tell people without notice, either.

The team reacted really well. They understood and told me I deserved it, which was really nice to hear.

LOOKING AT THE FUTURE

I’ve got an endpoint that I can work to now; I’ve got someone who’s taking over the running of the business so I can concentrate on the dentistry bit, which is ultimately the part we want as dentists! I enjoy what I do so who knows when I will actually stop, but now I know I have the option.

We’re really busy – I’m already doing lots of implants at the moment, so being able to focus on the clinical side of things and mentor the team more, instead of worrying about admin is really positive.

I was already happy with what I was doing before I joined Dentex… so now I just get to keep doing it!