Are you ready to bring on an associate or partner to your dental practice?
Adding a new doctor to your dental practice—be it an associate or a partner—can impact you financially as well as alter the rhythm of your practice. For you as the practice owner, this isn’t a decision to take lightly. It requires time, effort and money to fully integrate the new doctor into the business and the hearts of your patients.
However, with preparation and proper execution, bringing in a new doctor can offer not only financial advantages but also work/life balance. Having another doctor in the practice allows for more flexibility for vacations and life events. It also reduces time spent on administrative duties through the distribution of practice responsibilities that may seem overwhelming to maintain alone.
If you’re considering this next phase for your practice, these key steps will help you get organized and ensure you’re prepared to welcome in the new doctor.
1. Know Your Why
Chances are the decision to add an associate or partner did not come to fruition overnight. Whether you need someone to equally share the patient load with, you’re looking for a better work/life balance or you’re wanting to scale back to have more free time, you most likely have a reason for wanting to make this change.
Keep this “why” at the forefront of your mind and let it guide your path. Additionally, have a vision of what you want this doctor to bring to the practice, how you want to integrate this doctor and where you see the practice going in the future. Your goals and vision will ultimately set the foundation for your decisions throughout the transition process.
2. Be Financially Ready
While another doctor is meant to help you in the practice, there are financial costs that come with the new addition. Ask yourself: How much revenue do you need to bring in to cover the cost of another doctor? In other words, what is your breakeven?
Consider their compensation, benefits package, additional build-out, increase in supplies and lab costs, additional staff and any other expenses you wouldn’t have incurred without this doctor’s presence. After adding the costs together, determine whether you’re financially ready to support that number.
You’ll also want to take an in-depth look at your financial plan. Oftentimes, your cash flow will decrease when the new doctor comes on, and although your cash flow should grow over time, your financial plan needs to be ready for the onset of this change.
3. Check Your Production
Although another doctor can help increase revenue by treating more patients, there needs to be enough current work to go around, so the practice’s production should justify an additional doctor. You wouldn’t want to spend the money and effort to end up with a doctor who’s not being utilized.
Does the practice have a busy schedule? Are you operating at full capacity, both from an individual provider standpoint and a physical space standpoint? What is the active patient count and is there a healthy amount of new patient flow? Does the new patient flow support the addition of a new doctor? What is the practice’s growth trajectory?
These are the type of questions that will help determine if you can keep the new doctor busy. If you’re looking to share a portion of the patient load, this step may already have a checkmark by it. However, if your answers to the questions above don’t justify the addition, the production numbers may not support adding another doctor. If you find yourself in this situation, you may have to be ready to step back on your own production to keep the doctor busy while maintaining cash flows sufficient enough to sustain the doctor.
4. Consider Space and Equipment Constraints
Take a look at the office space, number of operatories, equipment and technology, and confirm your practice is physically equipped to accommodate another doctor. Especially if you and this doctor plan to work on the same days, you want enough space and equipment to treat patients while not feeling crammed in a box or limited in your ability to produce.
If the office isn’t up to par, determine if there’s room to grow and consider the improvements you can make. If you own the building, that allows more flexibility for expanding the space and making necessary upgrades. Just ensure you have a thorough plan if you do decide to do upgrades. Expanding the physical space can be an expense and a lost one if the timing in other areas isn’t right.
5. Be Prepared to Shake Things Up
With a new doctor in the practice, the way the team works and communicates will inevitably look different. If you’ve been practicing solo for the past few years, you’ll now shift to sharing the work. If you’re forming a new partnership, you’ll also share the control with another doctor. If you currently work with another doctor or two, you may already be accustomed to dividing and conquering, but you need to understand how this new doctor will fit into the mix.
In any new doctor situation, just because you like the individual as a person doesn’t always mean it will lead to a successful business partnership. All doctors in the practice should agree with each other’s managerial style, clinical style, long-term goals along with the numerous other factors that come with managing a dental practice.
Communication about your vision and expectations is key to a smooth transition and long-term success. Keeping an open communication line with the new doctor and the office staff will help maintain consistency in the clinical work and treating patients.
Communication is also necessary to help the doctor feel welcomed and get the team and patients excited about the new addition. Be prepared to make the proper introductions to your staff, patients and vendors, coach your front desk staff on how to handle new patients when they call as well as include the new dentist’s name and information on marketing materials such as the website and business cards.
The groundwork for a successful transition
While this is only the first phase of bringing on the new doctor, these steps can help lay the foundation for your dental transition, allowing you to navigate the change with confidence. As you continue moving forward, our advisors at NDP can guide you through the next steps of your dental transition and ensure you’re on the right path to achieving your goals. Reach out to a member of our team today.