Your Guide to Hiring Associate Dentists Who Make Great Partners

Your Guide to Hiring Associate Dentists Who Make Great Partners

For many dentists, running a family of practices is a long-term goal. After building a successful practice and establishing oneself as a skilled dentist, opening another practice in your community can seem like the logical next step. If you are a dentist and have wondered whether this is the right next step for you, we’ve actually talked about that in another blog post: How to Know If You’re Ready for Dental Practice Growth.

But for those of you who have already made the decision and are on the verge of making a move, today’s post is your guide to hiring associate dentists who make great partners, with expert insight from DentalHQ founder, Dr. Brett Wells.

Well-founded Professional Experience

Dr. Wells operates multiple practices in North Carolina. In fact, his experiences juggling more than one office are what inspired him to create DentalHQ.

When Dr. Wells opened his second location, he recognized the necessity of dental membership plans and supporting software. But he also understood the importance of building the right team. As he explains it, “Your capital becomes more human capital. The more you scale, the more focused you should be on having the right team members. They are the organization you’re building.”

To Your Patients, Associate Dentists Are Your Representative

The reality of owning two locations is that you won’t always be at the new one, and you won’t always be at the original location either. In your patients’ minds, the dentist who visits with them is likely the owner of the business too. And when you aren’t there, that dentist is your associate.

Hiring associate dentists carefully isn’t only essential because they’ll be responsible for the oral health of your patients. Your choice in associate dentists is also key because their persona and actions—including both expertise and bedside manner—will represent your business.

This means that when you’re on the hunt, you should be thinking about each candidate from a holistic perspective. Their degrees and job history matter, but so do their personality, ethics, social styles, etc. Does this person feel right to you? Do they “click” with you and your team? These might not be things you’d normally mull over during an interview process, but in this unique situation, you definitely should!

The Best Talent Comes at a Price

That’s true in just about every industry, right? For you as a dental practice owner, this could mean offering incentives. You might balk at the idea of paying high salaries or offering partner opportunities, but in doing so, you’ll be opening up your practice to new pools of talent.

Dr. Wells took this approach when opening his second and subsequent offices. With the promise of growth potential, he caught the attention of highly skilled and passionate dentists.

“I think having an equity component is very important,” Dr. Wells says.

But what, precisely, would that look like? Well, it’s up to you, of course! But to give you an example: You could offer associate dentists the opportunity to buy into ownership of the company after five successful years at the practice.

Pro tip: No matter the details of your particular offer, it’s always good to clarify them in a contract at the time of hire. That way, there is no confusion and thus, no ill will later on.

They, Too, Must be Leaders

This might seem a little obvious, but when you yourself are a leader looking for a talented employee, it can sometimes slip your mind that said employee will be a version of boss if hired.

While it might be difficult to identify the aspects of your own character that make you a great leader, there are plenty of resources here to help. Center for Creative Leadership has a great article about how to define a good leader, but you could also involve your team in this conversation.

Ask your front office team members, hygienists, and dental assistants alike: What do you think makes for a great leader at a dental practice?

While you’re at it, you could take the opportunity to glean feedback from them about yourself. Create an anonymous survey and ask them to share pros and cons about your leadership style. Maybe you’ll even want to use that info to find yourself an associate dentist who offers a slight foil to your own approach!

The most important thing to remember is that hiring an associate dentist is not a task to be taken lightly or a decision to be made quickly. Your associate dentists represent you to your patients and lead your team when you aren’t present, so it’s important to invest time, effort, and maybe some extra monetary incentives, into finding the perfect fit.

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