By Luc Wade, Marketing Director at Hive Business.
But I haven’t talked about what seems to me to be the key ingredient in delivering it: the business manager. When I say business manager, I don’t mean a loyal receptionist who’s been promoted or a nurse-stroke-practice manager who dabbles in marketing in between the ever-increasing burden of compliance, HR, stock management, payroll and the rest (not to say that doesn’t work brilliantly sometimes).
I mean someone special to take responsibility for growth. Recently we’ve been advising some of our clients to hire a BM for exactly this reason because even when the practice owner has had the vision for growth, there’s been no one there to realise it. The owner’s in surgery all the time and the practice manager is a full-time job in itself. There is a need for a completely different role in the business, and because there’s a lack of training in dentistry outside the clinical realm, candidates are hard to come by.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s normal not to have a BM and possibly why owners see it as an unnecessary expense. On top of the cost of a serious marketing programme (£30k-£50K) you’re looking at coughing up another £35k-£40k+ for their salary, depending on location, size of practice and experience.
The BM role has three components: define the company’s growth plan, coordinate and execute growth, and optimise the systems. It’s revealing that when owners do decide to recruit a BM they generally have no idea what they’re looking for and ask for help. That’s not surprising because it’s a big role. Here are some of the key attributes:
- Commercial experience (ideally from outside the dental sector)
- Able to establish systems for appraisal, reporting and marketing
- Has energy, empathy, warmth
- Enterprising and driven, producing solutions and recommendations independently
Crucially, the BM needs to be able to challenge the owner and hold the owner to account, and the strength of this relationship will determine overall success. Obviously this is rather delicate; when dealing with an ego the BM will struggle without personal qualities of tact, diplomacy and nuance. They must be a good leader too because even though they won’t have direct authority they are still responsible for making big changes.
We would always suggest that the BM sits on the board, even if this is a conceptual board (an idea we use a lot) and not the actual board of directors. Conceptual or real, you are going to need board meetings and weekly review meetings to make sure you’re on track.
Your BM will drag the practice into the future by implementing new systems, following the marketing process and being brave enough to say things like “we need another clinician” or “we’re not good enough in that area”. As Michael Gerber argues in The E-Myth, technicians always struggle to see business sense. Time to get yourself a pair of outsider’s eyes?
If you would like to discuss the benefits of a business manager and the roles of everyone in your practice, please get in touch on 01872 300232 or email us at email@example.com.