In an interview with Neil Lloyd, CEO of dental partners, we question him about how and why he’s tearing up the rulebook when it comes to working for a dental corporate.
Click on the questions below to read Neil’s answers:
As ‘the new kids on the block’ in the world of corporate dentistry, what makes Dental Partners different to any other corporate?
Over the last 20 years the business model of UK dentistry has changed markedly. Single-handed high street practices have declined and the rise of ‘corporate’ dentistry has been through several evolutions. We want to take this to the next level and do chain dentistry very differently from what patients and professionals have become accustomed to. It helps that we’ve had the opportunity to learn from others, so we can improve the perception of this sector of the market.
Our key difference is that we have complete trust in our clinicians and are committed to giving them the clinical freedom to treat patients as they see fit within a supportive clinical framework. After all, it’s the dental team that knows how their practice runs best and we are not in the business of telling them what to do. Instead, we aim to support them by providing a great environment to work in, giving them all the assistance they need in terms of equipment, practice marketing and compliance but leaving the clinical decisions down to them.
Our ethos is first and foremost an ethical one – we put dentistry first! Secondly, it’s a commitment to clinical freedom which is vitally important to us. Dental Partners practices, and dental practitioners alike, retain complete clinical freedom, so they can continue to treat their patients with the same professional care as always. Finally, it’s about staff engagement and empowerment, because we want our practices to be the very best place to work for our clinical and non-clinical teams. Once you have that mix, you are guaranteed to deliver the best patient choice and the best patient care.
When we are looking at acquiring a practice one of the first things we look for is a great culture. I visit all the practices personally and the first measure I take when I walk through the door is ‘Would I like to work here?’ If the answer is ‘No’, then I simply walk away, and we do not progress with the sale.
We are working hard to bring together the brightest dental talent in an atmosphere of support and professional development that signals a serious commitment to their teams and the delivery of the highest quality patient care. Similarly, staff preservation is a cornerstone of Dental Partners, so when we acquire a practice our aim is to try and maintain the team and culture that has already made the practice so successful. In this way we keep continuity within the practices and make the staff and patients feel confident about the future.
We are very interested in high-quality NHS and mixed practices, especially those with four or more surgeries. We are also very keen on practices that have a commitment to staff development such as those that offer Dental Foundation Training (DFT). The magic piece for us is that they must have a strong ethical focus and a strong culture.
Vendors are naturally concerned about what happens to the business they have spent many years building and to which they are rightly emotionally connected. What they want to ensure is that the people they are selling their practice to are going to continue to build on what they have developed. What we have found is that if we can show we’re not going to change a practice brand that has a strong resonance locally and that we aim to retain and develop their staff – these are the things they really care about.
That’s easy. The best staff and clinicians are fully engaged and empowered and will always give the greatest choice and best treatment to patients. If you put your trust in them and give them complete clinical freedom, then by definition patients will be looked after exceptionally well.
Ultimately, good dentistry can only thrive in the right environment. That’s why we’re determined to help the practices we acquire recruit the brightest dental talent and nurture a clinical environment that ensures all our practices deliver the very best and most appropriate dental care, whilst maintaining and building their valuable relationships with patients.
We want to grow quickly but without compromising our principles in the practices we select and how we develop them. However, the most important factor for us is to create a dental chain that is very different to that which the profession is used to. We are genuinely working towards being recognised by clinicians as being the best place to work and that’s the measure of success for me.
Neil Lloyd, CEO, explains why Dental Partners is different and why commitment to ethical treatment, clinical freedom and staff engagement is so important to the organisation they want to be.
CEO, Dental Partners