Often, one of the first transition strategies employed by dentists is to add an associate to their practice. This can be one of several methods used to energize the practice, bring in new patients and grow the revenue. If all goes well, this associate could move to partner or ultimately owner of the practice in the future. Certainly, not all associate paths follow such a neat and tidy order. Dentists need to understand the benefits as well as challenges of adding an associate to their practice. As transition consultants, we are contacted to search for an appropriate associate or set the stage for a current associate moving to partner or owner. Through years of working with practices, the formula G+R+O+W = Success is helpful to the practice owner who is considering the addition of an associate. A few examples of practices that have applied this formula to their Success are included as well.
G represents GIVE! Practice owners are accustomed to GIVING to their businesses. Most have a career of financial investment, dedication, and hard work! As the practice owner, are you willing to GIVE more to make the onboarding of an associate effective and successful? Decisions involving practice operations like whether to expand clinic hours, the need to realign or add personnel, and which doctor’s schedule will receive the new patients are some of the objectives. The new associate needs to come to the practice prepared to GIVE as well. They can GIVE their enthusiasm and work ethic. They can bring their clinical skills and emotional temperament to assist the practice with new projects and ideas. Both practice owner and associate can GIVE to their community as business leaders. A generous business culture on both sides can lead to greatness!
Practice #1-The new associate GIVING to an established practice was evidenced by their ability to glean through the practice management software and locating the digital consent forms with electronic signatures necessary for the patient record. The ability for this improvement had been there all along, but the associate brought their skill and time to the project resulting in SUCCESS!
R represents REWARD! Both the practice owner and associate should be REWARDED financially for this growth of the practice when given proper timing for the investment. Patients should feel REWARDED as they are treated in the office by a caring and collaborative clinical and administrative team. This REWARD begins with both parties committing to growing the practice together.
Practice #2- A new associate bringing expanded hours to a practice REWARDED the practice owner with more time at home following the birth of a new baby without impacting the practice owner’s revenue.
O represents OPPORTUNITY! The practice owner and associate have an incredible path upon which to embark. Through proper and thorough associate onboarding in the technical and practice philosophies there is an OPPORTUNITY for mentoring and reverse-mentoring. Office policies need to be discussed. Furthermore, changes in equipment, supplies, hours or team members takes organizational planning. The addition of an associate can be exciting and a bit chaotic with new challenges that usually level out quickly.
Practice #3-The OPPORTUNITY for an owner to complete a career well often allows for a practice owner to share their technical and business knowledge with a young colleague. Doctor is a Latin word that means ‘to teach’. As practice leaders, the OPPORTUNITY to teach our patients and our team about how much we care is priceless.
W represents WIN! Most practice owners are not looking for a revolving door in their associate position. When this revolving door occurs, it can be expensive and interruptive in patient care. Having both doctors work together when meeting referring offices, developing new website content, streamlining operations with IT improvements or creating new marketing strategies brings the most successful results. The new associate should seek the chance to grow their administrative skills by bringing their best energy and ideas to these systems. Collaboration on new procedures or systems to be offered in the practice should be communicated effectively through team meetings and education. Team members are invested in the practice success and are integral in how best to educate existing and new patients in expanded services. WINNING is a team event!
Practice #4 – A recent client sent a text discussing the onboarding meeting they held for the new associate. They discussed “prep designs, lab work, materials, procedure analysis, management of employees, practice philosophies and more! We are having fun!” A total WIN!
GROWING a practice takes commitment, intentionality, and a clear understanding of the technical, behavioral and business culture needs of the practice. Strategically, seeking an associate to cover expanded hours allows for time away from the office for the practice owner and often requires an investment in the facility, team or support as the associate onboards. Remaining energized and committed to the goals of the practice requires effort from both parties in order to experience the WIN!