Alastair Smith
Orthodontist and practice-owner, Chichester and Bognor

The ultimate sounding board

case study The ultimate sounding board

Would a chef with a busy restaurant operate as sous-chef, receptionist, waiter, sommelier and menu planner? Chartered accountant Linda Giles asked her client, the orthodontic specialist Alastair Smith, that very question. As owner of two orthodontic practices, serving private as well as NHS patients, not to mention managing associates, dental nurses and receptionists, he had cooked up more than enough roles and responsibilities for one person.

Guided by her, he appointed a business manager who has now been with him for five years. Not only did Linda encourage Alastair to appoint a business manager, she recommended the right person to draw up the job spec and carry out the interviews.

Without Linda, it would have been very difficult to have given up the daily control I had over my practices in Chichester and Bognor. I had to empower a business manager to do the job and Linda gave me the confidence to take the step.”

Alastair Smith
Alastair SmithOrthodontist & Practice-Owner, Chichester and Bognor

Linda has been Alastair’s accountant and business adviser for more than 11 years. He started working with her on the recommendation of a dentist friend. ‘Prior to Linda, my accountant was not a dental specialist and his service was very basic and frustrating. I never felt he helped me at all.”

Conversely, Linda has been available to him whenever he needed her experience and insight. “It’s that old adage that you get what you pay for and with Linda you get someone with integrity and the personal touch you would not get with the standard accountant.”

“Linda was instrumental in helping me make the business case for the acquisition of both my practices. She pulled together the projections and the figures so I could go to the bank with a viable plan and answer all their demands. I am sure this made everything easier.”

In the case of the Bognor practice, she could see that there was scope to tap into capital allowances to reduce the cost of the renovations. She knew just the right person to provide the expert advice.

“In the hurly burly of practice life, to have someone who I can to turn to for sound, constructive advice is fortunate indeed. I can have a crazy idea and I know the one person who will give me an objective opinion is Linda.”

Mostly, says Alastair, once the idea has been analysed and thought through by Linda, it’s viable. “She will pick apart my idea and weigh up what might work and give it her full consideration. I always know that I can get a rational analysis from a business perspective.”

The annual review conducted by Linda is invaluable, says Alastair, giving him the opportunity to look back on the previous year and take stock and also look ahead. “It gives me the structure to sit down and reflect and recap on what has gone on.”

He appreciates her dedication not just to him, but to the business. “She gets to know the names of my team and what’s going on in their lives and she knows how the practice runs. She understands the ethos and personality of the business, the idiosyncracies of the way we work.”

She combines empathy with forensic attention to detail on figures. “I always have absolute confidence my tax return is completely accurate. Linda is really upstanding and trustworthy and having her involved in the business gives me the comfort that my business affairs will be fine.”