Supermarket dentistry

Last night I received a copy of an email newsletter article that contained a number of important factual inaccuracies, written by an anonymous and self-styled “marketing expert”.
To set the record straight:

  • Sainsbury do NOT have an in-store dental practice in Hale, Cheshire. They do in Sale, Manchester. I assume that is a simple typo, ironic in an article that suggests the dental practice literature is amateur;
  • Tesco are NOT set to become the first supermarket to open in Scotland. They did open in Slough on Monday 18th October and any plans for Scotland have been delayed until 2011 – I delivered the customer service training for Tesco in October and I am in weekly contact with the team as their business coach;
  • The in-store practice IS a concession and always has been. In Store are the company who own the Sainsbury concession and they also are my clients;
  • The practice visited has NOT been open for 6 weeks – it HAS been open since Autumn 2008;
  • I do agree with some of the comments made about Boots Dentalcare – after all, they were my clients as well – the business achieved all of it’s financial targets and the Boots Executive decided to get out of “well-being” services.

In addition to some destructive comments about the web site (point taken I’m sure) and the customer service experience, together with a surprisingly personal comment on the physical appearance of the receptionist, the article does little to advance thinking on the role of retailers in the market.
Predictably, no mention is made of the success that the 4 Sainsbury stores have experienced since opening. I know the sales figures and, although they are confidential, I can assure you that the patients are flocking in and the numbers look encouraging.
I’m sure that if this “expert” had taken the trouble to ask, either my client Dr Lance Knight or his business manager Scott Jameson would have been happy to offer details.
Just yesterday, I was chatting to the Business Manager at the Tesco dental concession in Slough and reviewing progress in the first few weeks. Some early mistakes are being rapidly rectified – sales are strong.
In my various scribbles I keep mentioning that, as a consultant to PCT’s, to dental corporates, to both Sainsbury and Tesco concessions and to independent practitioners, I have privileged access to much of what’s going on out there.
There is plenty of room for all the players in the current market place and I have never been more confident about the prospects for all sectors, including the independents who continue to make up the majority of my clients.
Change – yes – plenty.
It is important that informed business commentators lead the debate on how best to navigate through the commercial, economic and regulatory changes that we all face.
Getting your facts right is an important step in that process;


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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.