6.29.07 - Issue # 277 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Starting Up a Dental Practice?
Give It Your “Informed Consent”

According to Robyn Thomason, a Risk Management Analyst for The Dentist Insurance Company, “Buying a practice may be a dentist’s most important financial and professional commitment.”  She goes on to explain that the start-up dentist must be informed enough on several issues in order to make an intelligent decision when purchasing a practice.  With the enormity of the details on issues such as: the sellers motivation and involvement in the practice, pre and post sale, the patient records and the accounts receivables, the existing clinical standards of the office and the legal compliance, contractual agreements or existing malpractice claims etc., it is necessary to have the counsel of an experienced attorney preferably one with experience in dental practice sales.  

Just as important as the legal counsel of an experienced attorney is the advice, recommendations and training received in the Practice Start-up Program offered at McKenzie Management.  Achieving a smooth and seamless purchase and transition is every dentist’s goal.  Understanding the business of dentistry including recruiting and hiring the best team, establishing an effective recall system, setting up the hygiene department, understanding financial and billing policies, understanding dental insurance and how to make it work to your advantage and the list goes on. These systems are the everyday challenges the dentist will face and will need the best advice from experts.

Experience and years of listening to dentists has taught me that the biggest challenge in the average practice is staffing.  When purchasing an existing practice there will be an existing team. The buyer does not have to go with the status quo.  Review of the Office Policy Manual or Employee Handbook (if one exists) will describe the conditions of employment and current benefits that the employees are entitled to.  If there is not a policy, then one should be written to take affect after the purchase. Advice on setting up the Office Policy or Employee Handbook is part of the Start-up Program at McKenzie Management. The buying dentist can decide what the office hours will be along with duties, wages and benefits.  Once in the practice, the new dentist can meet with the staff and explain the changes.  Employees will be asked to read and sign the Employee Handbook.  Take into consideration the following when evaluating the existing team:

  1. Are there written job descriptions for each team member and when were they last reviewed.  If no job descriptions then write them.
  2. Look at the rate of employee turnover.  Are there office “cliques”?
  3. Are there regular performance and salary reviews and when was the last one?
  4. Are salaries low or high for the community? 
  5. Are licenses and credentials up to date? Everyone should have CPR current.
  6. Are the team members neat, efficient, experienced and with a positive attitude?
  7. Are the team members willing to share your practice philosophy and mission statement?

It is vitally important that the existing Business Administrator (Office Manager, Receptionist) fully support the transitioning dentist.  If this key person cannot transfer allegiance to the buying dentist, then it may be advisable to replace her with someone who will communicate enthusiasm and confidence.  The new dentist may have a different approach to diagnosing dental disease, which the existing Business Administrator may not fully understand because she is comparing it to her former employer.  She may attach a judgment to this, which will be picked up by the patient. 

Advising the start-up dentist through the challenges of hiring the best team and providing a proven system of success is an important part of the Dentist Start-up Program.  On-going training for Business Administrators is just as important for the success of your practice as the training of the clinical staff.  Your Business Administrator is vital to the sale of services and products and she must understand the benefits to the patients.  Most dentists are not aware of the barrage of questions the front office team will get about procedures and products.  If the questions cannot be answered to the patient’s satisfaction, the patient will not be able to make an informed decision and often leaves the office without scheduling an appointment or not buying the product that was recommended to them.

It is vitally important that the Start-up Dentist is informed on all business issues that will affect the success of his/her practice.  Get informed; join us today for the Dentist Start-up Program or the Advanced Business Course at McKenzie Management.

For more information on McKenzie's Start-Up Program and Advanced Training Programs for Dentists, Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.
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