In a previous post, we identified key early indicators for expanding a dental practice by adding an associate. Once you have made the decision to move forward with staff expansion, consider the following:
- Will the new associate be working as an independent contractor or an employee? The IRS has a specific definition for independent contractor.
- How will you compensate the new dentist? What benefits should you be prepared to offer or have to offer if they are a full-time employee?
- What type of agreements and contracts are necessary to define mutual responsibilities and expectations, non-compete, non-solicitation, future potential buy-in, termination details, etc.? Do you have a solid office manual in place to cover all other details?
- Who pays for licensing, malpractice insurance, continuing education, and related expenses?
- Will the new associate need insurance credentialing and how long will that take? Do you need to work with a former employer to receive any insurance payments that go to them in error?
- Will this dentist compliment you, meaning can they add procedures or services that you do not offer so you could keep that treatment in-house? Are they able to work different hours/days to provide extended patient hours, for example evenings and weekends? Are they different in age or gender, allowing your patients options that make them comfortable?
If the prospect of adding a full-time dentist proves daunting, you could consider options for instituting a gradual increase in capacity. Possibilities include:
- Finding dentists who want to work part-time – e.g. associates transitioning into retirement, or young parents with child care responsibilities
- Hiring a part-time associate who works part-time for another practitioner
- Reducing your work schedule on a temporary or permanent basis
Think carefully about your ideal candidates. Consider the technical competencies and levels of experience that complement existing staff. Think about the personal characteristics that best fit your work style and enhance the patient experience.
You may get a sense for “fit” by asking questions for which there aren’t ready answers on a resume. For example:
- If I asked you to write a 1-page memo about yourself that did not include any of the information on your resume, what would it say?
- Which of your accomplishments has given you the most satisfaction in life? Why?
- If we asked the team and dentist at your last practice to describe you, what do you think they would say?
- What kind of practice are you looking for? What motivates you to give your best effort to take care of your patients and lead your team?
- Describe one or more situations that occur frequently in the position that you seek to fill. Then ask the candidate how he or she would handle it (them).
- What would you say are the top 3-5 characteristics that make a dental practice successful? Which of your personal characteristics contribute to that success?
- What specific goals have you established for yourself in the next 2 years and 10 years?
Seeking Professional Advice
Professional advisors can provide the guidance and analytical support to assess your business opportunities and craft a plan consistent with your unique circumstances and goals.