Thinking about my week


On the 06:40 from Cardiff Central to Leeds (via Birmingham New Street) in a first class carriage (thank you Phillippa) and with reasonable wifi and my Bose wireless headphones banging out the Funky House London podcast whilst I work through emails, blog, project work, a few cosmetic last minute changes to my BDA Whitening Day presentation.

Yesterday, as I was trotting through Newbury with a group of 401challenge runners, supporting the amazing Ben Smith, Patrick Allen from Henry Schein asked, “so when are you going to retire CB?”

Answer: “never Patrick – I’m planning to do a Tommy Cooper” (preferably not at today’s BDA Whitening conference).

I work an average 65-hour week because I love what I do, where I do it, when I do it and the people I do it with.

Whether it’s a 25-year old associate celebrating his first few weeks in mentored private practice, or (last night) a 47-year old chatting to me about his options for the next 15 years in practice ownership, I just love this work.

There are weeks like this one where the schedule is exhausting (self-inflicted I hasten to add) but, somehow, when you love what you do, the energy just flows when it has to flow.

This week:

Monday start 05:00 – finish 16:00

Tuesday start 04:00 – 22:00

Wednesday 05:00 – 21:00

Thursday 03:45 (ouch) – 21:30

Friday 05:00 – 19:00 (projected)

Places visited:

  • Manchester
  • Belfast
  • Derry
  • Penrith
  • Newbury
  • Cardiff
  • Leeds

Types of activity

  • Management team meetings
  • Full team meetings
  • Face to face with owners
  • Public speaking
  • Running a half-marathon whilst talking shop


  • 5 taxis
  • 2 flights
  • 1 hire car
  • 10 trains
  • 1 pair of trainers

This week I also connected with a young man who was bullied to the point of a suicide attempt as a teenager and decided to raise £250,000 to support anti-bullying charities.

I listened to a business owner and family man struggling to come to terms with his wife’s life-threatening illness.

As always, I shared the frustrations of business ownership with those striving to make it work.

It’s a sunny morning in South Wales and as I travel North courtesy of Cross Country Rail, I count my blessings:

  • a wonderful career
  • a loyal and committed support team
  • a new web site (still being snagged)
  • fabulous external suppliers
  • amazing clients who are a pleasure to work with
  • an amazing lady at home
  • 5 individually splendid adult children
  • my mind, body and spirit


Not a chance.

Posted in business | Leave a comment



Google are now rolling out their challenge in the instant messaging market (not yet in the UK) and, according to the USA reviews, it’s looking very good and performing well (let’s just remind ourselves that there are many more Android phones that iPhones).


Old ways that we used to communicate:

  • telephone calls
  • letters delivered by the post office
  • face to face?

New ways that we communicate:

  • Email
  • Text
  • Twitter
  • Facetime Audio/Video
  • Skype
  • Messenger (which is where Google are competing with Allo)
  • WhatsApp
  • Instagram


“How do you communicate with your patients?”

Things are rapidly changing across all patient demographics.

Practice management software developers have to keep up.

Letters and calls for marketing and recall systems are becoming less effective every year and make your practice look old-fashioned.

Posted in business | Leave a comment

Is the “selfie” part of marketing?


We now upload 1.8 billion photographs to The Cloud every 24 hours.

Interesting terminology there….

  • Upload – as if it is travelling upwards
  • The Cloud – into some kind of blue sky

Jack Dee had it right years ago:

“they tell us we are “surfing” the internet – actually, we are just typing”

I would suggest that most of those photographs are being launched into their heavenly trajectory from a smartphone, whether it’s the billion iPhones now in circulation or some other alternative, such as the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note7 that has now been banned in-flight by the FAA.

Irrespective, I’m also going to suggest that the majority of those photos aren’t compelling views of famous landmarks and landscapes – I’ll bet they are pictures of us.

I get some funny looks from dental folks when I suggest that the “before and after” teeth and gum shots are for clinical journals and not for your social media or web sites.

Just yesterday, a client shared with me some suggested billboards from a graphic design company that included those inevitable stock photos of the gloriously handsome and attractive (young and old) couples that dental companies favour.

The square-jawed 55-year old male, the glamorous granny, that gorgeous millennial couple.

I don’t identify with those people and I’ll bet your patients don’t either.

The stock photo is as out of place in modern practice marketing as an intellectual at a Trump rally.

Human interest via social media?

It’s called FACEBOOK.


So if you are going to have an actively managed Facebook Page for your practice (and you should) – then fill it full of happy faces – patients and team (with the appropriate consents).

Same goes for all of your marketing.

You are going to hear me say this over and over:


Posted in business | Leave a comment

All about the patient experience (with passing reference to the game of chess)

chess game

Here’s what dentistry 2016 looks like through the eyes of the patient:

The beginning game:

  • I decide it’s time to do something about my teeth because a trigger event has taken place in my life or is confirmed for the near future
  • I hear about your dental practice (or your dentist) from a trusted friend
  • I search for your web site on Google (organic) or
  • I connect with your practice via a friend’s social media channel
  • I visit your web site
  • I read your online reviews
  • I download your free guide in return for my email address and my consent for you to send me a newsletter
  • I follow your social media posts
  • I read your newsletters
  • until I’m ready…..

The middle game:

  • I contact you via the web, telephone or personal visit
  • I attend an initial assessment and/or consult
  • You listen
  • You present your treatment plan
  • I decide to proceed when all of my questions have been answered satisfactorily and I trust, respect and like you

The end game:

  • You deliver a first class clinical outcome and customer service experience
  • I’m so pleased that I’m happy to comply with your requests
    • for online reviews
    • for recommendations
    • for a written or video testimonial
    • to join your membership plan
  • I tell a trusted friend about your dental practice (or your dentist)
Posted in business | Leave a comment

FIDES – The Forum for Independent Dental Entrepreneurs


I’ve been party to a conversation over the last 6 months in which the participants have been the independent owners of micro-dental groups who have requested a completely non-commercial study club within which they could exchange “best practice” ideas for micro-corporate development.

Although I support the concept, it was clear from the outset that this forum could only be truly impartial if it were run for members by members and on a not-for-profit basis – so I’ve been offering my two-penny worth on a pro-bono basis and will continue so to do.

The Forum for Independent Dental Entrepreneurs (FIDES) is specifically focused on the business of dentistry as it applies to those who wish to build more than a “lifestyle” business by either the acquisition of other practices or the organic development of new sites.

FIDES aims to hold an inaugural meeting in London’s West End on Saturday 3rd December 2016, from 10:00 to 13:00 in the conference suite at 38 Devonshire Street, Marylebone.

The meeting will be chaired and facilitated by independent dental entrepreneurs. The proceedings of the meeting will be confidential. The aim of the meeting is to sense-check the appetite for the Forum and discuss a possible agenda going forward.

There is a web site where you can register for this event (cost price is £56.35, simply to cover room hire and catering) and I’ll include the link below.

In this post, I want to share with you the core values that have emerged from initial discussions:


To support our mission, we have established ourselves with the following values:


We recognise the symbiotic relationship between quality business and quality patient care. Our members seek to achieve the highest levels of patient care through innovation in treatment, providing excellent customer service and offering patients choice.


We are committed to independent entrepreneurs. These are individuals who are not reliant on institutional investment, can take a long-term, patient-centric view in their business planning and want to develop more than a ‘lifestyle’ business linked primarily to their own sales production.


We are not for profit ensuring low participation costs and therefore the widest possible membership.


We are focused on the business of dentistry and its unique challenges and opportunities. Whilst encouraging clinical excellence and development, FIDES is not a clinical or academic forum.


Our members are committed to being open with one another and sharing their experiences, both successes and failures. We are a social and informal organisation; prioritising open dialogue and networking.


We maintain eligibility criteria to ensure our Membership reflects our values and that all individual Members have something to offer the group.


You can learn more, register your interest and book a place at the meeting here:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What exactly do you do?



My new web site is due to launch next week and, with the help of Dental Focus, we have given serious thought as to how it should look.

When we are asked the question “what exactly do you do?” it does create a pause for thought:

“so what do I need to change about my branding and marketing so that people don’t have to ask me that question?”

The term “dentist” (or, for that matter, “coach”) is too generic in the current marketplace.

Our marketing has to showcase the specific outcomes that we offer, for whom and for how much (interestingly, the “how” we do it isn’t so important at the marketing stage of the relationship).

Quite a few well-wishers have asked me the “what do you do?” question now that the Coach Barrow brand has floated free again. A question on which I pondered greatly over the summer months and the answers to which have been a guiding influence in the design of the site.

We realised that my clients were, in fact, my most powerful marketing collateral.

In designing the site, we had to ask some fundamental questions.

Here are my answers:

What exactly does Chris Barrow do?

Outcomes I deliver
The majority of my time with clients nowadays is focused on:
  • training managers in financial analysis, marketing and treatment co-ordination
  • working with owners and managers on acquisitions, pre and post-purchase
  • working with owners and managers on the deployment and monitoring of a full marketing plan
  • working with clinicians on developing their communication skills with a view to increasing private sales
  • team training to get everyone delivering a remarkable patient experience
  • assistance with recruitment of managers
  • creating accountability for owners and managers (to get stuff done before I show up again)

My favourite clients

Owners who want to:

  • build a £10m micro-corporate
  • increase sales and profit by 100%
  • recruit, train and coach a business development manager
  • deliver a remarkable patient experience
When do I show up?
I attend half-day management meetings monthly, quarterly or for single (full) days when requested.
What is the investment by the client?
Monthly meetings – £1,200 pcm inclusive of VAT – minimum 6-month renewable contract
Quarterly meetings – £400 pcm inclusive of VAT – minimum 12-month renewable contract
Full day meeting – £2,400 inclusive of VAT
(all clients have unlimited access to me via email/Skype)
The site is due to launch on Monday and I’ll return to the subject then – I’m hoping you will see that it is radically different from the usual.
Posted in business | Leave a comment

A word or two about price lists


“Should we publish our price list?”

A question that continues to surface after all these years.

The answer is always a “yes”, whether you have a printed version or one visible on the web.

And the mantra for many years has been to quote your prices “from……..”, so as to accommodate the art of dentistry as well as the science.


There are two types of consumer:

  • those who are looking for your best price
  • those who are looking for the best experience

Many is the time we have discussed focusing on the second group only, unless you are a dental discount store.

My dental clients are offering the best experience.

So a question suddenly occurred to me in a client meeting yesterday:

Do you publish a copy of your experience list alongside your price list?

Imagine, if you will, a bullet point list of all the ways in which your patient experience is remarkable:

  • the experience of your clinicians
  • the choice of lab and materials
  • the quality of your team
  • the location, premises and standards of equipment
  • the pre and after sales experience
  • the guarantees on your work
  • your long-term care programme

I’m sure you get my drift.

Here’s a thought:

Potential new patient asks:

“Do you have a price list?”

You answer:

“Certainly we do Mr Barrow and I’m happy to share that with you. In reality, we find that some of those who contact us are shopping around for the best price and others are looking for the best experience so, if you’ll allow me, I’ll send you a copy of our price list AND a copy of our experience list, so that you can best compare both in the marketplace before you make your final decision.”

Just a thought.

Posted in business | Leave a comment

Used to…..

Mouse inside a labyrinth wih dramatic lighting

Things I hear every week:

We used to…..

  • have daily huddles
  • hand out referral business cards
  • ask for word of mouth recommendations
  • send out a regular patient newsletter
  • advertise on the radio
  • have fun and regular team meetings before they sold the business

I used to…..

  • eat well
  • read books
  • play golf
  • go to the gym
  • spend time with the kids
  • drink less
  • enjoy the dentistry
  • spend a lot less time looking at notifications on my phone

Strange, isn’t it, how the “used to” list is almost always a list of things that are good for our business and for us?

In which case – what the hell are we doing with the time that the “used to” list has freed up?


As I recently commented to a friend who asked why Coach Barrow had gone solo again:

“I’ve decided that I want a lifestyle business – primarily because I want a lifestyle.”

Posted in business | Leave a comment

The Campbell Academy Education Programme 2017


I’m including the digital brochure for the 2017 programme at the end of this post.

I’m delighted to be included as a guest lecturer again on The Year Implant Course and thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to speak at the 2016 DES Conference – you should make a note of the 2017 date as the dynamic of the day is electric.

More importantly, the sheer professionalism of this document and the scope of the courses offered positions The Campbell Academy as a premier provider of post-graduate education.

I’ve been privileged to see this evolve from an idea into a reality.

Download and enjoy.


Posted in business, Dentistry, Education | Leave a comment

Google increases the importance of reviews


The “other” event of the weekend (apart from my 63rd birthday celebrations) was the announcement that, with immediate effect, Google are going to increase the variety of reviews they include in organic search to include:

  • their own Google reviews
  • “critics’ reviews (that means you and I reviewing in places like Facebook)
  • reviews from the web (that means proprietorial customer review sites like TripAdvisor and also industry specific reviews like WhatClinic, comparethtreatment and so on)

Add that to the recent announcement from Google that they are placing more emphasis on the quantity of reviews you have as well as the quality.

Pundits are suggesting that over 100 reviews are now a necessity for those chasing organic visibility (in addition to all that magical SEO stuff).

Readers will know that I’m a bigger fan of organic search that “paid for” media as my clients constantly suggest that the quality of the enquiries generated by the former are superior.

Google’s latest movement of their goalposts sets the scene very clearly for the importance of reviews – which is, in effect, digital word of mouth.

Users of Exact who have purchased their excellent module “Reputation Manager” will have part of this process automated but the savvy business owner will realise that the chase for (and moderation of) reviews across multiple sites is now an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Do you have a protocol to ask and are you measuring the effectiveness of that protocol (and identifying potential reviewers) in your daily huddle?

Posted in business | Leave a comment