Integrating Your First Associate—Part II
In Part I of my previous article we discussed how to transfer patients through reactivation strategies as well as recommended staffing protocols and effective scheduling. In Part II we’ll review a few strategies that will complete your associate’s integration plan.
1. Develop a Marketing Plan. It is amazing to us how many dentists do not make an investment in announcing their associate to their entire patient base! For the first sixty to ninety days after integrating an associate, we do not recommend that any “global” marketing take place, because the associate is in the probation phase. In certain instances he/she may not be the right candidate so making a broad announcement would be ill-advised. Each patient who will be assigned to the associate during this probation period can be told verbally, or sent a letter of introduction that contains a bio, but once the associate has passed the probationary period, marketing efforts should commence. These activities include the following:
2. Weekly Meetings. We are strong believers in constant communication. Many associate relationships have failed due to lack of communication between the host and the new doctor. We recommend scheduling a weekly meeting to discuss clinical and scheduling issues. For example, if your experienced dental assistant notices an area in patient management that needs to be addressed, a timely resolution through a weekly meeting can take care of the matter. If you utilize a treatment coordinator, that person can oversee those cases for which feedback from the host doctor is warranted on a patient that is scheduled with the associate.
3. Monthly Meetings. A monthly meeting should be scheduled for the purpose of reviewing the associate’s production and collection reports, especially if the associate is paid on a commission. This is an excellent way to ensure your associate is staying on track, so that the draw he/she is receiving is being met by Production/Collection goals. In the long run, if your associate becomes your partner, you will have established a positive habit of regular communication. We have seen unhappy partners, and a lack of communication can contribute to unsuccessful partnerships.
4. Staff Meetings. Involve your associate in staff meetings as much as possible, perhaps delegating to him/her responsibility for certain marketing and/or personal matters.
5. Mentoring and Over-the-Shoulder Training. Based on your clinical services mix, it’s appropriate for young doctors to participate in “over-the-shoulder” observation. Having the associate assist you chairside in specific cases is a great learning tool to enhance clinical skills. Also make sure you review comprehensive treatment plans to oversee case acceptance. If the associate is faltering in his/her presentation approach, try some role playing.
If you take the steps listed above, as well as follow the ideas we presented last month, chances are you will have a very successful associate relationship and one that will enhance your practice transition plans.
Dr. Thomas L. Snyder is Managing Partner of The Snyder Group, LLC, a nationwide practice transition and financial management consulting firm. With more than 75 years of experience in the field, The Snyder Group can provide you a full range of services relating to practice transition matters and retirement planning. They can be reached directly at 1.800.988.5674.
If you would like additional help, email Dr. Snyder at email@example.com.
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