How to Structure a Successful Transition
A new associate plays an integral part in your practice’s growth and even your succession plan. Follow these steps to ensure you’re attracting and retaining the right candidate for your practice.
Evaluate your practice’s needs.
In a previous post, we identified a few key early indicators you should look for to determine when your practice is ready for expansion. Once you’ve decided to add an associate, it’s time to gain a clear understanding of how an additional veterinarian will affect your practice.
Before you begin your search, ask yourself what you hope to achieve by adding a new associate to your team. Are you hoping to decrease your hours in order to spend more time with family? Is hiring someone who is potentially interested in future ownership part of your exit strategy? Do you have a scheduling gap to fill either due to a change in another associate’s schedule or expanded hours of operation? Are you hoping to develop a new niche market by hiring someone with a certain skillset?
It’s important to understand your reasons for hiring so that you can set realistic goals and bring on someone who can meet those needs.
Identify your ideal fit.
Once you’ve determined your motives for adding a new veterinary associate, you’ll be able to identify the ideal fit for your practice. For example, if you’re hoping to gain more time to spend with your family or on vacation, hiring a recent graduate who requires mentorship and coaching may not be the best choice.
Consider the following:
- Will the new associate be working as an independent contractor or an employee? The IRS has a specific definition for an independent contractor.
- How will you compensate the new veterinarian? What benefits should you be prepared to offer?
- 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 comprehensive employee manual in place to cover all other details?
- Who pays for licensing, insurance, continuing education, and related expenses?
Attract the right candidate.
Bringing on a new associate is an opportunity to shift and grow your practice in a more strategic direction. In order to set the stage for the right candidate to take your practice to the next level, consider making a few internal assessments of your business.
It starts with culture.
If you don’t currently have a documented culture or mission statement, take the time to write one. Being able to easily articulate your vision will help you add the right team members who share that same goal for the future.
Clean up your online presence.
You may not think about your website as a factor in attracting potential new talent, but one of the first things many will do when evaluating your job opening is navigate to your practice’s website. If your website is outdated or unattractive, top candidates may lose interest.
A website also gives candidates an opportunity to familiarize themselves with your practice prior to coming in for an interview. This means you’ll spend less time going over the basics and more time connecting on the things that will make a difference in your decision.
Go above and beyond.
You know all those little improvements you’ve been meaning to make? From painting the exam rooms to freshening up the lobby, consider how you can add a little “wow” factor before you start the interview process. Remember, you need to impress your ideal candidate as much as they need to impress you.
Ask the right questions.
As you begin interviewing, think carefully about what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate. Consider the technical competencies and levels of experience that would complement your existing staff. Think about the personal characteristics that best fit your work style and enhance the patient experience.
You may get a sense of “fit” by asking questions for which there aren’t ready answers on a resume. Here are some example interview questions that may provide additional insight:
- If I asked you to write a one-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 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 show compassion to care for your patients and their owners?
- Describe one or more situations that occur frequently in your practice. Then ask the candidate how he or she would handle it (them).
- What would you say are the top three to five characteristics that make a veterinary practice successful? Which of your personal characteristics contribute to that success?
- What specific goals have you established for yourself in the next two years and 10 years?
Get your transition plan in place.
When you start to narrow in on your ideal candidate, be sure to think about how your practice will change as a new associate transitions in. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Will you transition some of your existing patients to the new associate or will the new veterinarian be responsible for bringing in their own clients?
- Since you most likely will not have enough business right away to keep both of your schedules full, perhaps you will cut down on your hours temporarily or maybe your new associate would be open to working part time as you build the practice?
- How will you divvy up the marketing responsibilities as you work to bring in new clients?
- Are there any additional investments you need to plan for, such as another assistant or office staff member or expansions to your office space and equipment?
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. Contact us today to find out how Aldrich can help you plan for your future.