As every good practice owner knows, the right dental associate can truly make or break your business. Associates can help you grow your revenues, allow you 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 have 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 that 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, are great incentives to offer to current and potential associates. Not only do they offer the associate the ability to generate a higher income but also gives them a sense of ownership that comes with the authority with time. Discussing or acknowledging these options with your associates early and often provides an underlying benefit: these offerings are evidence that you consider your associates when planning for the future of your practice.
But it’s not always about money. They are about creating a connection between the associate and his or her future, and a buy-in system helps to ensure that 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. But 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 to make associates feel bound with your practice from day one. While other benefits such as a solid base of patients, a pleasant working environment, etc. are wonderful options to offer to 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 on 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 – including in social media - impacts retention as well. One of the biggest factors which contributes to turnover is whether an associate may not have been 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. By finding associates who are a good fit for your practice from the beginning, by being transparent in your marketing and when it comes to your expectations for associates, you’re likely to 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, then 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 that they are valued and that 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 that 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.