Friday, July 29, 2011

Be Prepared – Good Advice for Boy Scouts, Great Advice for Practice Owners. Part I

This is part 1 of our 3 part series.
Click Here for Part 2.

Click Here for Part 3.

I am very proud to say I have two sons who are close to earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Last week I took a day out of the office to pick them up from Camp Buckskin in the mountains of West Virginia. As I was winding my way across the state it occurred to me that the Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared” would be an excellent topic for this article. In fact, it is probably the single best piece of advice I could give to a practice owner seeking an associate or potential buyer for their practice.

There has never been a better time to become a Dentist. Great opportunities are plentiful for early-career Dentists with great interpersonal and clinical skills. More than a third of the Dentists in the country are within ten years of retirement. As the stock market slowly continues to grind forward there are many practice owners, partners and later-career Associates starting to seriously consider retirement. Practice Management companies are continuing to expand and are offering tremendous career options to early-career Dentists with limited risk.

As a practice owner who is interested in expanding and adding an Associate or transitioning out of practice, you need to understand that there are literally thousands of practices vying for the attention of the best Dentist candidates (Associate, Partner or Buyer).

Over the past ten years, ETS Dental has placed more than a thousand Dentists with practices all over the country. We’ve seen hundreds of practice owners shocked and disappointed when their top candidate chooses another opportunity. In most cases, the practice owners who hire the best Associate candidates or have the most successful practice transitions have one thing in common: they are prepared.

I took an informal survey of our recruiting team and came up with examples of eleven real-life situations where practice owners have missed out on hiring their top candidate because the practice owner was not prepared. We also came up with three real-life situations where the opportunity to sell a practice was missed because the owner was not prepared. This article will appear as a three part series.

  • Part 1: Five examples where Practice Owner preparation has attracted a top Associate Candidate or lack of preparation has driven candidates away.

  • Part 2: Six more examples where Practice Owner preparation has attracted a top Associate Candidate or lack of preparation has driven candidates away.

  • Part 3. Three examples where Practice Owner Preparation has attracted a potential buyer for their practice or lack of preparation has driven potential buyers away.

Landing Your Top Associate Candidate:

Example 1: (Time to Interview)
Unprepared - After receiving a Dentist candidate’s CV, the Practice Owner, (and Office Manager) took weeks to contact the candidate. The candidate assumed the practice was not interested, so he interviewed and accepted another position.

Prepared – The practice owner personally called the Associate candidate the same day his information was received. They hit it off from the start. A face-to-face meeting was scheduled and the Associate candidate accepted the position in a town he originally had never considered.

Example 2: (Sample Contract/Compensation)
Unprepared - Practice owner did not have a sample contract when he met with the Associate candidate. He did not have a documented compensation plan either. The Dentist candidate took another less attractive position because she had something in writing.

Prepared – Practice owner had a sample contract and compensation plan ready to give “the right” Associate candidate. He even prepared a one page document demonstrating his commitment to documenting a buy-in and transition plan after a one year trial period. The Dentist candidate accepted his offer on their second face-to-face meeting, before the other practice had prepared a contract.

Example 3: (No Timeline)
Unprepared - The Practice Owner did not have a firm timeline in mind of when an Associate Dentist candidate could start (part-time or full-time). The Associate candidate accepted another less attractive position that was available immediately.

Prepared – The Practice Owner recognized he could not provide a full schedule immediately but knew the position could grow full-time in six months. Rather than being non-committal, he wrote out a conservative plan demonstrating how the Associate candidate could start two days a week in a month, three days a week in four months and four days a week in six months. The Associate candidate accepted this offer and slowly transitioned out of his current position located one hour away.

Example 4: (Wasn’t willing to wait for the best Associate candidate)
Unprepared - The Practice Owner was not prepared to spend 3-5 months recruiting and on-boarding a new associate. The best candidates already have jobs. Most have to give 30 to 90 days notice. The practice owner “settled” for an Associate candidate who was available immediately, but had a string of one year Associate positions. In two months, the owner was disappointed with the new Associate and starts the process over again.

Prepared – The Practice Owner was willing to speak with and interview Associate candidates who couldn’t join the practice for 90 to 180 days. Although it was a short-term inconvenience the owner connected with a Dentist who was practicing out of state and wanted to move back to the area to be close to his wife’s family. It took five months to get the new associate but he became part of the community and three years later he bought out the owner.

Example 5: (Interview Preparation)
Unprepared - The Practice Owner did not prepare for the interview. He came up with questions on the spot and did not ask important questions about clinical skills or clinical philosophy, commitment to buy-in, schedule or availability which caused problems later. He hired an Associate who only stayed a year because she did not agree with some of his clinical philosophies.

Prepared – The Practice Owner took an hour and wrote out all of her questions for a potential Associate candidate. She eliminated three promising prospects because her clinical philosophy and timeline to partnership differed from theirs. After meeting with five different candidates she hired an Associate with a compatible personality, clinical philosophy and long-term goals.

Written by Mark Kennedy, Owner/Managing Director of Executive Talent Search (ETS Dental, ETS Vision, ETS Tech-Ops). To find out more, call ETS Dental at (540) 563-1688 or visit us online at

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Job Searching in a Saturated or Difficult Job Market

Last week the Bureau of Labor released its monthly jobs report. The bottom line: the U.S. added only 18,000 jobs in the month of June 2011. What an eye opener!

The job market is tight and in many markets Dentistry in is not immune.In some markets Dentist are realizing the same issues as other industries. There are not enough jobs for all the job seekers in saturated areas such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Austin. At ETS Dental, we speak with dentists and dental staff job seekers everyday who are having a very hard time finding opportunities.

We want to provide some tips that may help you in your search for stable, long-term employment.

Don’t Get in Your Own Way: The biggest disservice you can do yourself is to think you are the only qualified applicant for the job. In a saturated market you have to sell yourself much more than the practice has to sell itself to you. For example, I just posted a job opening in San Francisco, CA. I had 10 applicants within 2 hours. By the end of the week I will have at least 50 to 75. Your resume, cover letter, attitude, and the things you say have to express what you bring to the table to benefit the practice. What skills and experience do you have that will benefit the practice? What sets you apart? Can you speak Spanish? Do you love working with kids? Can you place implants? Can you bring new patients into the practice? Don’t move the conversation straight to how much they will pay you. You don’t even have the job offer yet, and this approach can cost you the job.

Expand Your Options: Most job seekers we speak with would much rather work for a private practice or small group practice. Corporate dentistry is a last resort or often not something they even want to consider. However, large group and corporate dentistry is growing and here to stay. These practices can offer you stable employment, great training, a guaranteed minimum salary, and benefits. If private and small group practices are not hiring in your area, don’t limit your options. 
Use an Independent Recruiter: A few dental recruiters, like ETS Dental, have contacts with practices throughout the U.S. Most often we are working on openings that are not advertised in any other channels. Our clients entrust us to locate the right talent to grow their practices. We speak with job seekers in order to understand their goals and experience. We have the ability to market strong candidates to practices with whom we have built relationships with over the years. Sometimes it’s who you know, and recruiters are good to know. 
Volunteer: Many new graduates can benefit from this in difficult areas. Volunteering can help build or maintain skills. It helps you learn chairside communication and build patient rapport. It can even help you connect with other practitioners, and possibly lead to an employment opportunity. Look for volunteer opportunities in free dental clinics or giving your time by participating in free dental care days that may be offered in your community. 
Shake Some Hands: Go to dental society meetings. Get online and join discussion groups such as Dental Town. Get on LinkedIn. Hand out business cards to every dentist you meet. Drop in and say hello to offices and leave a resume/CV. You can’t be shy in a saturated market. Let people know who you are, and let them know you are looking for an opportunity. 
Multiple Part-Time Jobs: Most saturated markets have more part-time openings available than full-time. You should definitely consider trying to get 2 or 3 part-time jobs if you need a full-time income.
Relocate: It’s an extreme measure for many, but for some it can mean the difference in having a career or several short-term, part-time positions or nothing at all. Relocating expands your options exponentially. Just make sure you are not expanding your options of relocation to another heavily saturated area. Check out some earlier articles on this topic:

Written by Carl Guthrie, Western Region Account Executive and Dental Recruiter. Contact at or 540-491-9104

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Candidates’ Market Emerges, or Maybe It Always Has Been

No one seems to question the connection between unemployment, the employment market, and the economy. They are often used almost interchangeably. Yet, the three are different, and right now, they are in disparate places.

May saw a significant slowdown in the number of jobs being added to the workforce as the declines in the unemployment rate, which began early this year, came to a halt. The general economy, which a few months earlier had been showing signs of growing faster than expected, has failed to impress. The talent market, however, is such a different story that it seems counterintuitive. 

In a recent survey of MRINetwork recruiters, more than half (54 percent) characterized the current market as candidate-driven. In fact, 52 percent of respondents noted an increase in the number and competitiveness of counteroffers in the last six months. 

“Successful companies are frugal. They don’t throw money around just because they can and when they do begin making counteroffers, especially the kind we’ve seen recently, there is a reason for it,” says Rob Romaine, president of MRINetwork. “Employers who have had to conduct major searches over the last year understand better than anyone the cost and difficulty associated with finding top candidates today. When top talent resigns, employers are finding it easier to counteroffer, even if it falls outside their traditional pay grade for a role.” 

In the survey, recruiters noted companies that never use counteroffers or even have explicit policies against them are making offers. Some are just monetary—recruiters report seeing as much as a 40-percent increase in base pay—while others focus on non-monetary issues. “Compensation always plays a role when talent changes positions. But the last few years have been hard on corporate cultures as cost-cutting measures have trimmed back many, if not most, of the perks that defined great workplaces a decade ago,” says Romaine. “Not only is improving the workplace environment important for retention but also for recruitment. If a candidate sees a drab, low energy office in an interview, it’s going to take a substantially larger offer to lure them away than a bright and active office.”

What turns the act of recruiting from a science into an art form is the ability to nurture that sense of attraction and excitement for a position that will entice a great employee with a steady job to resign and take a new opportunity. If the hiring process is drawn out, that excitement will wane. 

“On average, we are seeing employers take more than five weeks from a candidate’s first interview until an offer is made,” says Romaine. “After more than a month, what started as an exciting opportunity becomes a nerve-wracking process that has thrown the candidate’s future into limbo. 

“At the same time, when push comes to shove, for top talent, it always is a candidate-driven market,” notes Romaine. “Today we are seeing a tighter market for top talent than perhaps is typical. But in truth, top performers are sought after regardless of the economic cycle.”

Friday, July 1, 2011

Integrity In The Workplace

Among the various characteristics a leader needs to possess, integrity may possibly sit at the top. Defined, integrity means making the correct choice when faced between right and wrong. It further encompasses adherence to ethics and morals, and is often linked with honesty.

Integrity begins before a person is faced with a decision of right or wrong. Should I tell the truth or should I lie? Should I steal that necklace or should I pay for it? Should I follow through with what I said I would do or blow off this responsibility? Should I study or cheat? It's much easier to make the right decisions, if individuals have prepared themselves for such situations. Individuals, who possess integrity, commit to choosing right before they find themselves in a situation, which requires action. Without integrity, individuals are untrustworthy. How does an employer promote honesty in the workplace?

Example is the best way to lead. If employers will demonstrate honesty and integrity in all situations, employees will catch on and follow suit. Rather than constantly be riding individuals about their character or criticizing individuals for poor choices, show true character through silent and humble actions.

Exerpt from BUSINESSTM.COM FOR ENTREPRENEURS. Please click the following link to read the full article:

Posted by Marsha Hatfield-Elwell, Regional Recruiter/ Account Executive for ETS Dental. You can reach Marsha directly at (540) 491-9116 or