Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Be Prepared!

“Be Prepared” is probably the single best piece of advice I could give to practice owners seeking associates or potential buyers for their practices.

I took an informal survey of our recruiting team and compiled a list of eleven real-life situations where practice owners missed out on hiring their top candidates because they were unprepared. We also give three real-life situations where the opportunity to sell a practice was missed because the owner was not prepared. I have included with each example a suggestion for how practice owners can better prepare themselves for such situations.

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.

Example 6: Answers to basic questions
Unprepared – The Practice Owner did not prepare to answer important questions that would be asked by the Dentist Candidate such as: Compensation, Hours, Potential for Buy-in, How new patients would be assigned, Schedules, Would more staff be hired, What materials are used, Plans to upgrade equipment… The Associate candidate chose another opportunity because “the practice seemed to have its act together”.

Prepared – The Practice owner took an hour to brain storm all of the questions he would ask if he were a candidate. He spoke with a recruiter to find out what questions she hears frequently. The Associate candidate chose this practice because the owner “really seemed to be on the ball”.

Example 7: Below Market Compensation
Unprepared – The Practice Owner did not research current Associate compensation plans. During an interview with a promising Associate candidate the owner “threw out a figure” that was 30% to 50% less than the candidate could make somewhere else. The call ended shortly thereafter and the Practice Owner was frustrated the candidate didn’t return his calls.

Prepared – The Practice Owner researched current Associate compensation by reading Dental Economics and speaking with an ETS Recruiter. He quickly realized that although he is busy, he was not at the point he could afford a new Associate. For the next six months he worked on improving his recall system, which increased revenue allowing him to start looking.

Example 8: Involving the Staff
Unprepared – The Practice Owner did not prepare his staff that an Associate candidate was coming to interview. The Associate candidate showed up for the interview but sensed the staff was shocked and surprised that the Practice Owner was looking. The Associate Candidate chose another position due to the uncomfortable office environment.

Prepared – The Practice Owner discussed his plans to seek a new Associate Dentist long before he started interviewing. He asked for the staff’s input as to what he should look for in a new Associate and got them excited about what this could mean for them.

Example 9: Budgeting
Unprepared – The Practice Owner did not prepare a budget to see if he could afford a new Associate. The Owner interviewed an Associate candidate. Both parties were very interested. Then the owner realized he needed to add staff, add equipment, add operatories, add patients and transfer some of his patients to the new Associate. After two or three months of putting off the Associate candidate, the candidate found another opportunity.

Prepared – The Practice Owner worked with his CPA to see what he had to do to afford a new Associate. He realized he had to add two operatories and increase his new patient numbers before he could take the leap. It took two years but he found a great Associate who was impressed by the updated office and new marketing plan which added 30 new patients a month.

Example 10: Space Constraints
Unprepared – The Practice Owner did not think about space constraints. Although the practice had healthy cash-flow it only had one additional operatory. The practice continued to operate 8-5 Monday through Friday. Over the course of the two years, the practice added then lost three Associates who couldn’t produce as much as they could elsewhere using just one operatory. The practice lost time and money because of the turnover.

Prepared – The Practice Owner turned the space constraint into a selling feature. He prepared his staff to move to a six day, 11 hour daily schedule. The selling point for the new associate was that he could work from two full operatories and get four days off a week.

Example 11: Sell the Community
Unprepared – The Practice Owner was not prepared to sell the community. He owned a highly successful, long-established practice in a community with a struggling local economy. The public school system was rated poorly. The owner interviewed multiple Associate candidates who seemed very interested in the practice, yet they all turned him down at the last minute.

Prepared – The Practice Owner spent time with each Associate candidate to give them a complete overview of the practice and the long-term opportunity. He also took them around to community to show them the nicer neighborhoods. He also talked with them about the variety of private schools in the community that had outstanding ratings.

Landing Your Top Buyer Candidate:

Example 1: Get an Appraisal
Unprepared – The Practice Owner did not have an independent appraisal of the practice prepared before she started talking to interested parties. She thought she was saving money. Since most buyers need to obtain financing, banks and other lending institutions won’t loan money without an appraisal.

Prepared – The Practice Owner got an independent appraisal of her practice done prior to speaking to any interested parties. She recognized any buyer would need to get their own appraisal, but the appraisal gave both her and prospective buyers a realistic expectation of the selling price. She quickly sold her practice to another Dentist interested in moving to her community.

Example 2: Prepare Historical Numbers and Metrics
Unprepared – The Practice Owner had not prepared the financial information necessary for a potential buyer to make an informed decision.
• Monthly, Weekly, Daily production numbers.
• Mix of procedures. Mix of Fee for Service, Insurance, or Medicaid.
• Hygiene production. Procedures referred. Growth opportunities.
• Number of active patients.
• Number of new patients.
All the owner knew was that he wanted to sell the practice for $500,000. He spoke with a number of potentially interested parties, but could not move ahead because they didn’t have any specific information they could use to make an informed decision.

Prepared – The Practice Owner tracked all of this information monthly. He prepared reports summarizing last year’s production information. A potential buyer realized the Practice Owner was referring out all of his endodontic and many of his pediatric cases. Since the potential buyer realized he could immediately increase production by $150,000 a year, he purchased the practice at the asking price.

Example 3: Don’t Quit Before You Sell
Unprepared – The Practice Owner wanted to retire two years ago, but his retirement funds shrank dramatically. The owner came to work begrudgingly and let the practice atrophy. There were a number of potential buyers. When they looked at the practice they saw it was disorganized and dated. Production had declined and key staff members had left, sensing they did not have a future there. The practice eventually sold but for $350,000 less than it would have sold for three years ago.

Prepared – The Practice Owner recognized he would not be able to retire for three years. Rather than cutting back, he realized that this was the most important three years of his career. He didn’t make major investments in equipment, but he repainted and updated the waiting area and operatories. He landscaped the outside. In addition he worked to grow his practice recognizing that its sale price was determined by the last three years production. He worked with a consultant and gave the staff incentives to increase production. After three years he sold the practice for $350,000 more than it was worth three years previously.

In short, there has never been a better time to become a Dentist!

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.

For a practice owner who may be interested in expanding and adding an Associate or transitioning out of practice, it’s important understand that there are literally thousands of practices vying for the attention of the best Dentist candidates (Associate, Partner, or Buyer). The competition is intense!

With ten years of experience behind us, ETS Dental has seen hundreds of practice owners shocked and disappointed when their top candidates choose 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.

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 www.etsdental.com.

Job Searching in a Saturated or Difficult Job Market

This summer, the Bureau of Labor monthly jobs report stated that the U.S. added only 18,000 jobs in the month of June 2011 and ZERO in the month of August! With over three million people in the U.S. at this time (a number that is growing every second), that statistic is quite an eye opener!

In a tight job market, dentistry is not immune; there are simply not enough jobs for the job-seekers in saturated areas such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Austin to all find opportunities.

At ETS Dental, we speak with dentists and dental staff job-seekers every day who are having a hard time finding opportunities in saturated areas.We want to provide some tips that may help you in your search for stable, long-term employment.

1. 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, this summer I posted a job opening in San Francisco, CA. I had ten applicants within two hours. By the end of that week, I had at least 50 to 75 applicants. Your resume, cover letter, attitude, and the things you say have to express what you bring to the table. 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.

2. 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.

3. Use an Independent Recruiter:
A few dental recruiters, like ETS Dental, have contact 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 over the years. Sometimes it’s all about who you know, and recruiters are good to know.

4. Volunteer:
Many new graduates can benefit from this in difficult areas. Volunteering can help build or maintain skills, like chair-side communication and building 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 give your time by participating in free dental care days that may be offered in your community.

5. Shake Some Hands:
Go to dental society meetings. Get online and join discussion groups like 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.

6. 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.

7. 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 even having 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 cguthrie@etsdental.com or 540-491-9104

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not Seeing Many Good Dental Jobs? A Calendar for Opportunity.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Leaves change, college football starts and you can open the windows again. I love raking leaves, picking apples and carving pumpkins. Of course, it is a different story once I head to the office.

I am a headhunter (technically a dental recruiting consultant, but that’s a bit stuffy for my taste). I talk with thousands of dentist and dental practice owners every year. I match practices with dentists who share the practice owner’s vision, offer a compatible personality and fit into the clinical skill set needed. Most of my time is spent interviewing and consulting with dentists who are confidentially looking for along-term opportunity.

This time of year, the conversation inevitably turns to the state of the dental job market. Is the economy affecting the market? Could be, but probably not. The practice owners I speak with aren’t generally doing any worse than they have been, though many are nervous about adding staff right now. The real reason for the slow job market is the calendar.

Let me explain. The vast majority of dentists enter the job market shortly after graduating from dental school or finishing a residency. Most contracts run on a yearly basis and so new grads enter the market at the same time that current dentists decline to extend their contracts. Also, many delayed partnership or ownership transitions schedule buy-in after a set number of years only to have the negotiations fall apart, effectively ending the working relationship. This results in a fairly consistent yearly job cycle with the most jobs available mid-year and again in January as practices make new year plans.

Dentist and practice owners aren’t generally planning their next associate arrangement months ahead of time. As discussed in a previous blog, it often takes 3-4 months to find the ideal match but many owners do not begin to interview until one to two months before they expect to fill the position. Take a look at the graph below. You will see that there are always jobs available but the variety of jobs varies dramatically under or above the yearly average of new positions per month.

Does this mean that you should wait until the summer before adding an associate or looking for a new job? Absolutely not. Practices are always growing, relationships fall apart and, in general, life happens. Do not let the job market cycle delay your plans, but do allow for more time to find the right position or the right associate, particularly in small to medium-sized markets.

In the meantime, enjoy the wonderful weather!

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face.”
~John Donne

Posted by Morgan Pace, Senior Dentist Recruitment Consultant with ETS Dental. To find out more, call Morgan at (540) 491-9102 or email at mpace@etsdental.com.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Time Kills All Deals!

In the dental recruitment industry, we see this happen more often than it should. What does “time kills all deals” mean. Well, it often means that instead of on-boarding that new dental associate and finally being able to get a little sanity in the practice’s patient scheduling, the practice is back to square one and looking for that “perfect doctor”; explaining to patients that they will have to wait three months for their next appointment and counting up the lost revenue from not having the position filled. This often is what happens when a practice takes too much time making the hiring decision. The fact of the matter is, the truly good candidates have plenty of options and will most always go with the practice that has their act together, and can come to a decision in a timely manner.

What about the candidate dragging their feet and being reluctant to commit to an opportunity that meets all of their needs and desires just because they are not quite sure or have trouble making decisions? The results can be the same. When candidates drag out the process and start looking at too many opportunities they can miss out on the one that they really wanted, just by taking too much time to commit. Know what you want and recognize it when you find it. Good opportunities tend to not be available for long.

Any time that the process goes on for too long, whether it is the hiring practice or the potential candidate who is causing the delays; it creates an environment where any number of challenges or problems may crop up and derail the deal resulting in wasted time, money and lots of frustration. Over time people lose interest, question the sincerity of the practice or candidate.

For practice owners, do your homework; know the questions that you will ask in the evaluation process. Be prompt in contacting and interviewing interested candidates and most importantly...make an offer in a timely manner and be prepared for acceptance.

For candidates, know what you are looking for. Return calls and emails from prospective employers in a timely manner. Prepare well for the interview. Let the practice know if you like what you hear and want the position. And lastly, be prepared to accept the offer.

Do not let time kill your deal!

Posted by Gary Harris, Account Executive Recruiter for Dental Specialists-Nationwide. To find out more, call Gary at (540) 491-9115 or email at gharris@etsdental.com.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Here are a few helpful resources for a practice owner or practice administrator preparing to interview associate dentist candidates. For more up to date tips and helpful information, follow up on our Facebook fan page, Twitter, or on our blog. A candidate version is available here.

Before the interview:

• Be sure to check all licenses for disciplinary actions.
• Will the candidate be relocating? Know the advantages of your area.
• Have answers to these commonly asked questions.
• Plan your questions to include a balance of technical, experience, behavioral and opinion questions.

Sample Interview Questions

• What attracted you to my position?
• Where have you worked?
• How long have you been in each position?
• What would your current boss say that you do well?
• In what areas would he/she say that you needed to improve?
• How often have you been late over the last year?
• In which insurances did you participate?
• What was your average production at that office?
• What lead you to look for other positions?
• What kind of notice period do you have to give?
• Do you have a restrictive covenant that would keep you out of this area?
• Are you right handed or left handed?
• Are you familiar with the equipment used in this office?
• What are your clinical strengths?
• What do you prefer to refer out?
• In what areas do you have interest in further training?
• How would you describe your practice philosophy?
• What days are you available to work?
• Are you interested in eventual partnership or ownership? How soon?
• What are your income expectations?
• What motivates you?
• If you have ever been in an office with a light schedule, what did you do with your free time? What did you do to help fill the schedule?
• Which of your strengths and achievements do you feel best distinguishes you from other candidates I may speak with?
• What do you like the most about this position? Least?
• Now that we have spoken are you interested in pursuing this position further?

Be sure to explain what the next step would be and when they can expect to hear back from you.

After the interview:

• Check references before considering an offer. Here is how.
• If you feel that you have found the best available match, move quickly to get a commitment
• Before making an offer, be sure that you know the current market standard. Income potential varies from community to community. Here is an excellent resource for understanding that your associate should be able to earn: are offering market values: http://www.levingroup.com/pdf/desurvey/December%20DE-LG%20Survey%20Story_1_and_2_2010.pdf

• Make sure that your contract is complete: Employment Contracts - What a New Dentist Should Know.
Other factors to consider when writing up a contract include:
Make your expectations clear from the beginning
Make them feel welcome.

Posted by Morgan Pace.

Morgan Pace is the Southeastern U.S. Account Executive and Senior Recruiter for ETS Dental. He can be reached at mpace@etsdental.com or 540-491-9102. ETS Dental is a Dental Recruiting firm specializing in finding and placing General Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Staff throughout the United States. www.etsdental.com

Proper Interview Attire

You may not get the chance to make a second impression if you don’t take the time to make a great first impression.

“His shirt was so wrinkled that it looked like he’d worn it the day before. He didn’t even bother to try and cover it up by putting a jacket over it. My thought was that if he couldn’t even take the time to impress me at our first meeting, what was he going to be like with our patients?”

“He was sloppy and unshaven. At first I thought he was a homeless person coming into the office.”

“She showed up in jeans, a wrinkled T-shirt, and dirty sneakers. I understand that she is a recent graduate but the least she could have done was ironed her T-shirt.”

These dentist candidates were NOT asked back for a second interview.
As a recent graduate or seasoned dentist, you have years of training and experience. So why not make sure to get the offer by backing up your clinical skill set and experience with a first impression that leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that you ARE the right candidate for the job.

Your attire and actions speak louder than words. Even if you don’t feel traditional business interview attire is necessary at the very least chose business casual clothing and be sure it neat, clean, and pressed.

Below are just a few links where you can refer to for proper interview attire.




Written by Rob Knezovich, Regional Account Executive/ Recruiter at ETS Dental. You can reach Rob at (540) 491-9117 or rknez@etsdental.com. Find out more at www.etsdental.com.

Get Noticed On Job Boards

Once upon a time, you could hand deliver a resume and even get interviewed on the spot. Those days are long gone. Personal interactions with hiring managers have been replaced with emailing your resume and applying through online job boards. So, what can you do to stand out when you are applying online? Here are a few tips:

  • Attach your resume as a Word document, if possible. Often companies will invest in software that can harvest Word documents and input your information into their database more easily making your information more likely to come up in a search.

  • Let us know you are relocating! It can be something as simple as including in italics “Relocating to Florida Summer 2011” under your current address or just adding a blurb to your objective. Recruiters and hiring managers are not mind readers. You may miss out on an opportunity simply because someone thought you had applied for the wrong position otherwise.
  • Tell us you are bilingual. Being bilingual is a HUGE asset in a lot of markets! Your resume needs to tell what languages and your level of fluency. Many of the job boards will also have a field for you to enter this information in as well; take the time to ensure that this is completed properly because often this gets read before a hiring manager ever even takes a peak at your resume.
    Be sure to include all of your contact information on your resume. This includes: phone number (make sure they are working numbers), and email address. I understand that we may not always call at the best time and may need to schedule a time to speak later, but if you sincerely want to work we need to be able to reach you.
    • Sticking with contact information; make sure your email address is appropriate. Personally, I love the cheesy work related emails like “2thfairy@...” or “floss4u@...” because to me that shows some personality. If that is not your style, so be it; play it safe and create an account using your name. I do not care how sexy, beautiful, big, small, or anything else you are. We see your email address before we see anything else about you and it needs to relay a level of professionalism.
    There are many factors that actually go into getting a job and these tips just barely scratch the surface of the topic. However, these tips may help you to tweak your own information and get your information noticed which is an important first step to getting to that new job. Good luck in your search.