Strategic Quitting

On my return from Africa I had a commercial wake up call!
During last week’s management meeting with Phillippa I decided that I am going to “pull” The Dental Business School with immediate effect.
We have marketed the DBS over the last 3 months via the ezine and social media

  • With the exception of my existing Elite/Mastermind and Digital clients (who have welcomed the workshops) we have had 2 sign ups – one of whom is not a dentist (an old coaching friend who wants to share some ideas)
  •  I have committed 24 dates in my diary and I am still under pressure in my diary to meet with other existing and potential clients and contacts
  • We are under pressure from the venues to confirm numbers with flat rate fees and cancellation charges

I find it amazing that, back in 2002 we emailed our (much smaller) database with the 2003 offer and over 110 practices signed up! Now, a huge social media campaign and the help of some significant strategic alliance partners – and we have 1 (that’s O-N-E) dental sign up across the UK including NI.
Is Chris Barrow a has-been?
Is it time for me to move on, retire, set slowly in the West, start coaching vets, buy a tapas bar?
Actually – NO! Why do I know that?
Because Phillippa is telling me that my appointment diary if almost full through to January and we are still receiving a steady flow of enquiries for practice visits and 1:1 coaching. I’m also fielding new enquiries from companies in dentistry who recognise that they have a bigger future.
You all know that I’m involved with a number of smaller dental corporates as a Non-Executive Director. Equally, you’ve been following my posts about helping establish a new retail dental business across the UK – that will become more visible over the nest 6 /12 months.
I’m excited about a new e-learning joint-venture that will appear over the next few months.
It appears that clients and prospective clients want CB – Coach Barrow – Mr Marmite – in their premises and Boardrooms (and perhaps on their screens) but they don’t want to take time off to attend courses.
As I reminded Phillippa yesterday:
•           Tom Peters – “fail fast”
•           Unknown – “when the horse is dead – get off”
We all genuinely thought that the DBS offer was very attractive but clearly my audience didn’t agree with me.
If I were coaching myself, the advice would be to pull out now. I don’t want the hassle and pressure of trying to make this work.
Phillippa has been taking calls from interested candidates and the feedback is:
•           post-holiday cash flow pressures and uncertainty – money is very tight for lots of people
•           competition and confusion created by the proliferation of other course providers (Phillippa reminds me that I’ve promoted some of them but i don’t regret that)
•           people are just feeling “coursed out”
So I’m going to withdraw right now and turn the lemon into lemonade.
My focus going forward will be to concentrate on 1:1 coaching with clients. I think my workshop days are over except for guest speaking at other people’s events and conferences.
Although I may have over 4500 social media “friends”, I actually work 1:1 with less then 50 clients a year and that will remain so. My “public speaking” can be managed via our existing Strategic Alliance partners and existing bookings at Showcase (with Phillips Sonicare), ITI Liverpool, The Dentistry Show 2012, Practice Plan days and various IPG’s, BDA chapters et al. My social media broadcasting will flow as always.
I feel much better having made this decision.
Good news to end: the business is in good shape, the diary (as mentioned) is filling and financially we are healthy.
Sometimes in business strategic quitting is a more mature strategy that B/S’ing yourself that it will all work out in the end.
I’ve been back a week and I can already sense that UK dentistry is going through yet another period of evolution.
My own experience may be a metaphor for you – if there are habits and practices in your business that used to work but now don’t – strategically quit and do something different.


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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.