In this occasional blog series, we speak to some of the people who have long standing relationships with us to find out what makes them want to continue to be part of the Practice Plan family.
First up is Dental Business Coach, Ashley Latter. Area Sales Manager, Suki Singh, caught up with him to see why, after two decades of business and friendship, he still enjoys working with us.
SS: You’re an old friend of ours, Ashley. How did you first become involved with Practice Plan?
AL: It was in the early days of Practice Plan when I think it had only been trading for a few years.
At the time, I was delivering what we call the Ethical Sales and Communication courses. We were delivering presentations, taking on speaking engagements or running courses all over the UK, and I think Jan and John, who originally formed Practice Plan, got in touch with me so I could deliver a series of workshops and courses for Practice Plan members. That was over 20 years ago now and I’m still here happily working with you guys!
SS: 20 years is a long time in the life of a company. Our ownership has changed hands in that time, have you noticed a difference?
AL: I haven’t noticed a difference. Regardless of changes in ownership, Practice Plan have always had the same family feel about the company. The team here are very passionate about what they do, and they care a lot about the company. So, no matter how much the company has grown, the team have continued to radiate the warm, caring, and supportive feel they have always had. Also, a number of people have worked for Practice Plan for many, many years, so you’ve got the continuity that comes with having people who have been around a while.
SS: You’re about to deliver a workshop in Southampton on Creating a World-Class Patient Journey for Practice Plan members. How has your association with Practice Plan influenced your business?
AL: When I first started working with you guys, I was just delivering the Ethical Sales and Communication Course, and predominantly that was the only programme I was delivering. But what I discovered as I got to know the dental world better, was that there were lots of other opportunities. So, I introduced things like the reception programme, and how to take inquiries and turn them into appointments. I could see that some practices do this really well, but there were opportunities where things could be done a lot better. So, I developed programmes and courses around that, then I went on to produce speaking and self-confidence programmes and how to communicate what they do really well to the patients. I could see that was a real big issue with some dentists and team members. They could do the work really well, but they couldn’t put that across to people.
So, I suppose through the feedback we’ve had from the Practice Plan courses, and talking to your members and other dentists, we’ve looked at where they want to develop and what their challenges are, and we’ve come up with solutions for them.
SS: What is it specifically that you like about working with Practice Plan?
AL: I’ve already said I really like the family atmosphere of Practice Plan. It is like meeting up with old friends when I deliver workshops for you. You seem to have a knack of recruiting people who really want to do their best for their customers and who are prepared to really go out of their way to do that.
During COVID, I know that even though your Regional Support Managers (RSMs) weren’t able to go and visit practices, they were on the end of the phone to offer moral support to customers. They really were a shoulder for people to cry on during very scary times. You don’t get that with every company you come across.
You’re not just a membership plan provider. For some teams you’re the extra member who gets invited to the Christmas Do. I know with some practices your RSMs even have their own mugs, they’re embedded in the team so tightly.
For me, it’s great to work with a company that knows so much about the dental industry and cares about its customers so much. Trust is very important in business, and I know that your customers trust you, which works well for me, too. However, all of this integrity is overlaid with a sense of fun. The teams are really friendly and great company too, so spending time with Practice Plan is always a pleasure.
SS: Finally, if you had to describe Practice Plan in five words, how would you describe it?
AL: Forward-thinking, Innovative, enthusiasm, fun, caring.
SS: Thanks, Ashley. We look forward to working with you for many more years to come.
Ashley Latter is an industry-renowned dental business consultant.