When you think you are ready to hire an associate, consider why you think you need one. Are you just too busy? If so, is it because your systems are a mess, or do you really have too many patients for one doctor? A good problem to have! And at what point are you in your career? We have some clients who need associates but the owner dentist is too young to consider an associate for a possible buy-in scenario. In that case, you have to be sure you don’t recruit an associate with ownership aspirations. What else should you consider?
- Make sure you have enough patients to support a second dentist. How many patients should that be? Most practices should be seeing 30 to 45 new patients per month. According to industry sources, 85% of those should accept treatment. No associate wants to just do the procedures that you don’t want to work on. So, consider the associate will see the new patients. Then you will need to attract at the very least, 30 new patients per month for the associate to have an opportunity to produce over $10,000. Any less than that and you are risking patient relationships by being too aggressive with treatment.
- Take a look at your systems. Make sure the reason you are busy is because of the patients, not your systems. Take a step back and really look at those systems. Better yet, hire a consultant to take an objective view of the practice. Sure, it’s expensive. But it’s the best investment you will make in your practice.
- Be realistic. Do you have the space necessary to support another dentist and the related staff that comes along with bringing on an associate. Right away you will need another chairside assistant. Eventually, you are going to add front desk and hygiene personnel to support the increase in patient flow.
Keep in mind, again according to industry sources, that 80%, that’s 4 out of every 5, associateships or dental partnerships don’t work out. Why most of them fail is due to expectations that didn’t correlate between the dentists or weren’t communicated during the search for the associate. Be transparent. Go overboard. Meet, build a relationship. Take the candidate to dinner, lunch or better yet some sporting event where you have a captured audience for several hours and can talk, talk and talk some more to get to know each other. Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight. You have to start before you really need someone, but you can see it coming. Or if you are too close to the operations to see the details, ask us for our opinion. We work with several hundred dentists and have seen many situations with associates over the last 15+ years. – Robert Edwards