Dentistry as American football

There are two styles of dentist:
Attack – reliably productive, predictably good at communication, encouragingly enthusiastic, popular with patients and team, £1000+ a day producers;
Defence – reliably plodding, predictably introvert, worryingly demotivated, £700-£1000 a day producers.
I’ve noticed that, no matter how many training courses you send the defence to – Breathe, Ashley Latter, Stephen Anderson et al – they carry on producing £700-£1000 a day – and I have proved elsewhere that on a 50% contract that is losing money for the principal.
Defence prefer to go on clinical courses – to learn more and more about clinical skill and technique – so that they can have a more interesting time producing £700-£1000 a day – then go home to their apartment, gym and Porsche Boxster.
Attack just do it.
They just do £1000, £1250, £1500 a day – whatever patients you put in frot of them.
And if you give them new patients, that will rise to over £2000 a day and beyond.
It just happens that they do all the clinical courses as well – but they have a gene that makes them good communicators and producers.
So the way to set up a dental practice is that:

  • Attack see all new patients and, after dealing with any initial treatment requirements, pass them on to the defence team for ongoing maintenance;
  • Attack are responsible for the delivery of all advanced treatment referred to them by the defence dentists in the building
  • Attack see 7/8 patients a day
  • Defence do the maintenance – full stop
  • Defence see 20-30 patients a day

If the principal is an attacker – the principal sees new patients and delivers advanced treatment to the existing patients who are referred from defence.
Same model – attack and defence – but you cannot figure which is which by production – you can however, look at the FTA rate.
An attacking hygienist has a very low failure rate in the book – the patients love to visit. Up to 10% FTA.
A defence hygienist has more cancellations – because they are not so much fun to be with. Over 10% FTA (and sometimes above 20%!).
How does that contrast with what you are doing?
Are you a principal drowning in a sea of check ups, frustrated by the inabaility to fit treatment appointments into your diary?
There’s no way out of that hamster wheel unless you make radical change – and sort your team out.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.