Dental business blogs — this one included — always go on about business growth being de facto a good thing. But rapid expansion without strategic planning can be counterproductive. Jamie Oliver’s misadventures are a perfect example.
In February one of our clients mentioned the celebrity chef as a salutary tale of business hubris: if you expand too quickly but don’t understand the market and don’t maintain standards, you pay with your brand equity.
We agreed. Headlines like “Not so fresh: why Jamie Oliver’s restaurants lost their bite” and “Jamie Oliver should have stuck to recipes – he’s just no good at restaurants” were causing permanent damage to his prestige, even though no one was questioning his skills as a chef.
The Jamie analogy is particularly apposite for dentists. Dentists too are technicians, which comes naturally, and entrepreneurs, which doesn’t. It seems that Jamie hated the business side so much that he avoided it, and let other people trade off his reputation while supplying a sub-standard product.
As 12 branches of Jamie’s Italian close, you have to wonder if he had any direct input into the bland and overpriced menu at all. If he did have some input, it wasn’t enough. These businesses, the centrepiece of his restaurant division, wouldn’t have been viable in the first place without Jamie’s books and TV fame.
They skipped quality control and this wasn’t acceptable to the punters. It shouldn’t have been acceptable to Jamie. He built his brand on his technician magic and this is what his punters thought they were buying.
You can’t trick the market and, as Warren Buffet once said, only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. The trouble for gifted chefs and gifted dentists is that being a great technician doesn’t mean you are going to be a great business owner.
Often it means the opposite. It’s reasonable to say that, had Jamie engaged with it properly, Jamie’s Italian chain would never have been launched. If you have growth plans and feel uncomfortable about them, to the point where there might be some Jamie-like avoidance happening, don’t just plough on regardless. There’s still time to sense check everything. We can help.