4.15.16 Issue #736 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

5 Tips for a Successful Family-Run Dental Practice
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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There’s no question you love your family, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should work with them 40 or more hours a week. You all have different personalities, styles and problems that make it difficult for you to get along during family dinners, let alone in a dental practice setting.

Still, many dentists choose to employ family members, which is a decision that, when made lightly, can lead to disaster. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no question working with family presents a unique set of challenges and complications, but if you go about it the right way, it can be a rewarding and profitable experience.

Not sure how? Here are a few tips to help ensure your family-run practice is a success.

1. Create detailed job descriptions. This is true for any team member, but it’s especially true when talking about family. All too often dentists hire family members and then give them little or no direction about what their position entails. This not only means they have no idea what systems they’re accountable for, they also don’t know how their performance will be measured. And because they’re family, they often think they can get away with doing as they please – which is easier when they don’t really know what they’re supposed to do in the first place.

2. Develop a system for determining raises. Make it clear how performance will be measured and under what circumstances raises will be given. This will help you avoid that awkward situation when your sister corners you insisting she deserves a raise. While you might be thinking a little raise can’t hurt, trust me, it can. A few dollars here and there will quickly throw salaries over the 20-22% of revenue benchmark, sending your overhead costs soaring.

3. Make sure it’s a good fit. Just because you’re close with your brother doesn’t mean he’s capable of being your practice’s Business Manager. Before asking any family members to become part of your team, really evaluate the decision. Can you work together? Do you share the same work ethic and business philosophy? Don’t just hire people because they’re family. Make sure they have the skills and attitude necessary to help the practice grow.

4. Think about bringing in outside help. All too often, when dentists hire family members to help run their practice, they hire them for the wrong position. For example, Dr. Mike just asked his sister, Jessica, to handle practice collections. She has a pleasant demeanor and is great on the phone, so Dr. Mike thinks this will be a great fit. The problem is, Jessica doesn’t like asking people for money and does whatever she can to avoid conflict. She says yes because she wants to help and could use the job, but she certainly isn’t effective in the role. This ultimately hurts the practice and strains Dr. Mike’s relationship with his sister.

Just like with any other employee, it’s important to put team members in positions that match their skill set and temperament. Because you’re family, it can be difficult for you to see exactly what your sister’s strengths are, or what tasks your brother struggles to complete. That’s why I suggest bringing in outside help to navigate you through developing job descriptions and determining who will work best at which positions.

5. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Not only do you need to develop a clear designation of who’s responsible for which systems, you should also determine what you and your family member employees want to get out of the practice. I suggest asking these key questions:

1. Do you want the practice to grow?
2. Do you want to keep the practice where it is?
3. What’s more important to you, giving up some control and growing, or keeping control and staying where you are?
4. What’s your practice vision? What if it’s different than your spouse’s or your brother’s or your dad’s - whose vision gets priority?
5. What steps will the practice take to achieve that vision and those goals, and who will be responsible for which areas?
6. How will the practice measure its success?  

If you don’t ask these questions from the beginning, it can lead to friction down the road. Commit to open and honest communication and you’ll be much more likely to achieve success.

As a practice owner, you have a lot to think about, and part of that is making sure you have a strong team that is poised to help your practice reach true success and profitability. While it might be tempting to hire family members to help you get there, you have to make sure everyone is on the same page and has the training and skill set necessary to excel. To be successful, you must communicate, develop clearly defined systems and provide detailed job descriptions so there is no confusion about who’s responsible for what. All this will help ensure your family works in harmony toward one common goal: helping your practice thrive.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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