Jamie Hustler
The Strand Dental Practice, Worthing

Just do it Jamie!

Just do it Jamie

Business is central to dentistry but not addressed in dental training. This was Jamie Hustler’s experience as a dental student. He met Chartered Accountant Linda Giles via a colleague when they were both newly qualified, he was a vocational trainee and she was with her first accountancy firm. Thirty four years on, he appreciates how lucky he was to meet her at the right time.

Most dentists learn about business once they are working and for some this means learning the hard way. I was shielded from making mistakes because I had Linda to advise me. Her style suits me down to the ground. She is not just an accountant by any means. If I have any worries, Linda is my first port of call. I pick up the phone and we talk it through. She is the master of making you feel better.”

Jamie Hustler
Jamie HustlerThe Strand Dental Practice, Worthing

Jamie began his working life as a vocational trainee at the Strand Dental Practice in Worthing, moving on to become an associate and then, a some years later, a partner. A large practice with a dental team of 37 people, he is one of four in an expense-sharing partnership.

“This is the business arrangement that Linda recommended and it has worked well. Some of my friends have been encouraged to form limited companies but, as ever I followed Linda’s advice and I am profoundly grateful for it!”

There are four partners in the practice who, Jamie says, are very different people who rub along well. On the occasion when they can’t find a consensus, Linda will get everyone together and talk things through.

“We had a difficult time when a dentist was joining the partnership, replacing a partner who was leaving and, with three solicitors involved, the process was taking forever. Linda wrote some strong emails, cracked the whip and got it sorted.”

On another occasion she helped me with sorting out a mortgage. Afterwards the bank manager said:

Your accountant is amazing, isn’t she!”

The annual meeting with Linda – and now her new collaborator Nathan Poole – is an important part of the year.

“They do an overview of the previous year and we plan for the year ahead. One epic review took seven hours and was amazing. This is not just about money. They will give their advice on a whole myriad of things and then there is loads of follow-up. I know I can speak to her at any time.”

Without a doubt the most challenging experience of his working life has been when the country went into lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the time I was on holiday and my brother – also a dentist – was ringing me and we were both so worried. Linda was very calming. She gave us lots of information on the furlough scheme on business loans, everything we needed to stay afloat.”

Jamie said he had never felt so deeply the responsibility of being an employer. Some staff were furloughed and others paid to offer a triage service. “We depend on our staff and they depend on us. Some of them are parents with young children and they need their income from us. We were worried we would not survive and we would have to lay people off. Once again Linda was there, sharing our sense of responsibility for our employees and focused on keeping the business going in everyone’s interests.”

“The business side of dentistry is so important and dentists get no training. I am very lucky that Linda has her eye out for me and she never gets it wrong.”

Now, Jamie is looking at retirement. His exit strategy is centred on a foundation dentist who as a young child was a patient of his. Inspired by Jamie to become a dentist, he is coming into the practice as a trainee. Jamie says he is ready to retire but worrying about telling his loyal patients. Linda’s advice? Just do it Jamie!

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