Ali Oromchian, JD, LL.M.
Dental & Medical Counsel
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Three Tips for Hiring (and Keeping!) the Best Dental Associates
By Ali Oromchian, JD, LL.M.

As every good practice owner knows, the right dental associate can truly make or break your business. An associate can help you grow revenues, allow more time off to do the things you enjoy, and increase your team’s energy – among other things

Therefore, finding (and keeping) the best dental associate is crucial to the success of your practice. Whether you’ve had issues with turnover or are simply looking for hiring tips, improving upon your hiring and retention skills is always a good move. Here are three tips you can implement immediately:

1. Use a Buy-In System Which Rewards Hard Work
Creating a plan that allows your associate to buy-in, including partnership or some other equity interest, is a great incentive to offer current and potential associates. Not only does this offer your associate the ability to generate a higher income, it also gives them a sense of ownership that comes with time. Discussing or acknowledging these options with your associate early and often provides an underlying benefit: these offerings are evidence that you consider your associate when planning for the future of your practice.

But it’s not always about money. A buy-in system creates a connection between the associate and his or her future, and helps ensure that future will be spent with your practice.

While most owners know the importance of working towards partnership with their associates, many fail to discuss such long-term topics in any real way when interviewing applicants. Such compensation structures can offer benefits not simply in terms of associate retention, but with recruitment as well. Even if you are hiring applicants straight from dental school, you should be prepared to discuss and implement buy-in practices that help make associates feel bound with your practice from day one.

While other benefits such as a solid base of patients, pleasant working environment, etc. are wonderful options to offer associates, they are essentially valueless if you cannot attract an associate’s attention in the first place. A clear cut buy-in system can really demonstrate your commitment to finding and keeping the most sought after applicants.

2. Always be Transparent
Transparency is the foundation upon which any solid working relationship is based, and this transparency should begin even before an associate starts his or her first day. While you want to be forthright and honest in all endeavors, there are some uncommon ways for practice owners to exercise transparency which can pay off in big ways.

For example, implementing a social media component into your hiring process is a fantastic way to reach younger dentists, and the low cost (nothing, in most cases) makes it a cost-effective way to locate new talent. But social media also offers another way to communicate with potential hires. When associates learn about and seek employment via your social media accounts or your website, they are likely to look around and see what they can learn about your practice. Transparency ties to social media in that it should never be used to make your office appear a “certain way.” If you create a funny or super-relaxed social media presence but in practice your office is more understated and professional, then you should not be surprised if you attract associates who end up not meshing well with your practice. The same is true of expectations: if you are not clear about what you expect, then the only outcome you should expect is to be disappointed.

Transparency impacts retention as well. One of the biggest factors contributing to turnover is whether or not an associate was the right fit for your practice in the first place. An ill-fitting associate is likely to leave your practice sometime down the road, leaving you on the short end of the investment into the hiring process. Find associates who are a good fit for your practice from the beginning by being transparent in marketing your expectations. This will reduce turnover and cultivate strong, long-lasting, professional relationships.

3. Bonuses Never Hurt
If you want to hire the best associates, then you need to make them feel valued from day one. Even if you genuinely respect and value your team members, your position does not mean much if your associates do not feel valued. Therefore, if you are finding yourself satisfied with the applicant pool but your offers are being declined, or if you have been happy with your hired associates but have been experiencing high turnover, the issue could be that you are not doing enough to make your associates feel confident about their role within your practice.

Unsurprisingly, sometimes the best way to show appreciation is with good old-fashioned money. While not all bonuses have to be financially-based, traditional bonuses are a sort of one-size-fits-all way to show your associates they are valued and their hard work is not going unnoticed. And a strong history of generous bonuses is always a strong selling point during the recruiting process.

Of course, if you really want to get the most mileage out of your bonuses, you should tie them to clear expressions of appreciation. If an associate is performing well, you should say so outright. Keep in mind that, at least in theory, any practice can offer bonuses. What should make your practice unique is that your bonuses are sincerely tied to efforts to make your associates feel valued.  This is important even if (and sometimes especially if) that associate consistently performs well. Specifically address an associate’s personal strengths, such as a friendly rapport with patients or strong team-building skills.

Building and keeping a strong team of associates is vital for any successful dental practice. No matter the size of your office, hiring the best associates and retaining talented workers can reduce stress and strengthen your bottom line. By focusing on the suggestions above, you can hire top talent and ensure they stay on for the long-term. Practicing transparency, making your employees feel valued, and implementing strong social media practices are all strategies which can have a major impact upon the success of any practice.

Ali Oromchian is a dental attorney at the Dental & Medical Counsel, PC law firm and is renowned for his expertise in legal matters pertaining to dentists.  Mr. Oromchian has served as a key opinion leader and legal authority in the dental industry with dental CPAs, consultants, banks, insurance brokers and dental supplies and equipment companies.  He is also the author of The Strategic Dentist: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Owning a Dental Practice. 

You can contact him at 925-999-8200 or email ao@dmcounsel.com

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Dr. John Bond
Mighty MolarMan
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Using Animation, Education and Fun to Build Your Practice
By Dr. John Bond

As dental healthcare professionals, we are keenly aware of the importance of good oral health and strive to educate our patients, schools and community. The reality is that approximately 50% of the general population do not seek regular and routine dental care. Imagine how busy dental practices would be if we were able to somehow reach and activate even half of this population.

How can we reach and effectively engage all these people? We must first understand the root of the problem (no pun intended). We are all aware of the common obstacles keeping people from getting the dental care they need – time, money, fear, and the overall low value placed on oral health, primarily due to a lack of education. However, let’s focus on the last two factors, fear and lack of education.

Many believe that people don't seek regular dental care because they don't value oral health. Yes, there has been progress with people valuing their smile/esthetics, with teeth whitening and smile enhancement procedures becoming more and more popular. But the HEALTH aspect of dentistry is definitely lacking. Despite all the studies and evidence that oral health directly affects overall health and wellbeing, our message is just not being heard and/or sinking in. 

Fear Factor Overcome
It is estimated that as many as 1-in-3 people have some level of anxiety/fear of the dentist. Engaging young children at a very early age should significantly reduce the number of dental phobics. 

Special Healthcare Needs
The fun and distraction of the items listed below help those with special healthcare needs to have a comfortable dental experience. 

We are always looking for fresh and fun ways to engage and educate our patients, school children and community. As with many educational campaigns, starting with the youth is important. If we can add a fun-factor along with the education, it is a win-win. If we can appeal to the kids, we attract the whole family! 

Pledge Certificates
These little pieces of paper are powerful! When a child, teen, or even an adult signs their name to a pledge, it really works to hold them accountable.

Books
There are several excellent dental books available that are fun and engaging. Some come with a toy or other item(s) to increase the experience. 

Websites
Finding a website dedicated to oral health awareness and education is a great find. Music, coloring pages, puzzles, and other multimedia can make the experience interactive and highly effective.

Cartoons
Let's face it, kids LOVE cartoons!  Are there dental health cartoon characters out there that bring education and fun to the dental experience? Is there a dental health Super Hero ready and willing to come to the rescue and save the day for the kids? Kids learn faster when they are entertained and engaged, and what better way than animation.

Super Hero
The Tooth Fairy is great, but kids just love Super Heroes – especially with capes! If your practice Super Hero also happens to be your mascot, all the better!

Social Media
The various social media channels give us wide-ranging opportunities to educate, entertain, engage and positively influence. Aligning your practice with a popular and successful brand, including animation and cartoon characters, could really enhance your practice personality and appeal with children and families. 

Apps
Apps are in, and highly popular and effective. A few to consider: http://www.mightymolarman.com/characters/dr-ph and http://www.mightymolarman.com/characters/texter-mobi

Mascots
Children and families respond very well to mascots. Utilizing a dental mascot in your practice, at schools and at community events is a magnet to attract the masses. If the mascot is tied directly to a website, social media, and fun oral health cartoon brand, it's all the better to increase the appeal and overall effectiveness. Sending a personal message from the mascot character directly to the child patient the day before their dental appointment can help reduce fear and enhance the experience positively. 

Plush Toys
These furry little friends alleviate fear and comfort kids. Toys that are dental themed are even better for education and fun. If the toy is a part of a book/story, it can help create an experience that captures children's imaginations. Keeping them comfortable reduces stress with the dental team and increases efficiency. More info can be found here: http://www.mightymolarman.com/for-doctors

Patient Communication Software
Wouldn't it be great to personalize messages to patients for appointment reminders, etc. with a cartoon character that appeals to that particular patient? The usual boring emails and texts all of a sudden become fun and engaging!   

Orthodontic Themed Packages
Patients can choose and enjoy their most fun and appealing character!

Campaigns & Causes
We all love a good cause, and what better way to promote good oral health than with a central Brush-Floss-Rinse Campaign that we ALL can rally around and support?! Here’s an example: http://www.mightymolarman.com/parents-corner

Foundation/Charity
Any serious movement or cause must raise money and resources to get the word out and help those in need. A good portion of those 50% who don't see a dentist is because they can't afford the care. http://www.molarsunited.com

Focus on creating an EXPERIENCE for patients that helps your practice stand out from all the rest. Something unique and special will cause families to drive past several closer dental practices to get to your “destination practice”. When you create and offer such an experience, you will most certainly be addressing and putting a big dent in the inactive 50% crowd, while welcoming many new families to your practice.  

Dr. John U. Bond, a general dentist in Dallas, TX, always knew that making the whole dental experience fun for children/families was in his genes. His father was an artist and cartoonist, who influenced him with his illustrations and humor. By creating Mighty MolarMan & Friends, Dr. Bond established the foundation of fun in his practices along with helping children with dental phobias and those with special healthcare needs.

For more information, visit www.mightymolarman.com
Dr. Bond can be reached at john@molartowneproductions.com

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