Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grow Your Practice in the Upcoming Year with a Business Plan

The theme of my articles around this time of year always revolves around planning and goal setting.  Like it or not, we are just 60 days away from the end of 2012.  It’s in the books, and that’s all she wrote…

Practice owners: If you don’t set time aside to write out your business plan or set your personal goals by November 15 it’s probably not going to happen this year.  Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, followed by Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years.

Associates and practice owners: Set your personal goals for 2013 by November 15.  Whether it is improving your clinical skills, planning for retirement or your kid’s college, or getting back in shape, the time to set your 2013 goals is NOW!

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of articles, books, and blogs have been written about the importance or writing a business plan and setting personal goals.  I’d like to share a few of my favorites:

Eleven reasons to write a business plan:

  1. Achieve your long-term goals by developing a road map that details specific short-term goals and milestones.
  1. Prove to associates, employees, family members, and bankers that you’re serious about growing your practice.  It allows them to see where they fit.
  1. Share your strategy, your priorities, and your plan of action with those who will hold you accountable, such as associates, employees, your spouse, and business advisors.
  1. Determine when you will have to say “no.”  There is no shortage of good ideas.  Each year it’s better to pick a few and execute them well, rather than saying yes to everything and not giving any of the ideas the effort they deserve.
  1. Understand your patients, your competition, and your opportunities better in order to grow.  Writing a business plan forces you to do research on your market and the needs of your patients.
  1. Make your practice more attractive to potential buyers-- five, ten, or twenty years from now.
  1. Making a plan gives you a reason to stop doing things in your practice that don’t make sense anymore (or never made sense in the first place).
  1. A plan determines your financial needs.
  1. It allows you to assess new revenue opportunities as well as rejuvenate old ones.
  1. It also gives you a chance to make mistakes on paper, or to prevent you from repeating those mistakes that you’ve already made.
  1. Establishing daily and weekly goals simply makes it more fun and rewarding to come to work in the morning.

If you have never written a business plan before, you will find the following article helpful:

8 Simple Steps to Preparing a Business Plan for 2012

Twelve reasons to write down your personal goals.  (Today!)

  1. Writing transforms your goals from thoughts to tangible objectives.  Once goals are written, they are easy to remember, track, and accomplish.
  1. Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. (Washington Irving)
  1. First you write down your goal; your second job is to break down your goal into a series of steps, beginning with steps which are absurdly easy. (Fitzhugh Dodson)
  1. One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is better than half-a hundred half-finished tasks. (B.C. Forbes)
  1. All you have to do is know where you’re going. The answers will come to you of their own accord. (Earl Nightingale)
  1. A goal is a dream with a deadline. (Napoleon Hill)
  1. Goals allow you to control the direction of change in your favor. (Brian Tracy)
  1. You cannot expect to achieve new goals or move beyond your present circumstances unless you change. (Les Brown)
  1. A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder. (Thomas Carlyle)
  1. The path of least resistance is the path of a loser. (Phil Weltman)
  1. Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk. (J.C. Penney)
  1. You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures. (Charles C. Noble). 
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  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dating and Hiring a Dentist – They are Just Not That into You

Hiring an associate dentist is a lot like dating. A job seeker will do their best to impress while digging for information. A practice owner will tidy up and try to show the best face of the practice while probing for future issues. Both sides want to know if the other is interested but do not want to seem too anxious. Sound familiar?

As the process moves along, often the associate candidate will continue to push for the job even after the point there they realize that they would rather “keep dating other people.” It is important for the hiring practice to stay on the look out for warnings and clues before making an offer or, worse yet, hiring a dentist who really does not intend to stay with the office over the long term.

 Here is a list of red flags to look out for as well as advice on how to deal with each:

Commitment to the Process

When a candidate’s commitment to work with you is in question, you may wish to ask, ‘I am sensing that you are not 100% committed to making a career change at this time, and that is 100% acceptable.  Am I reading this correctly?’

--Candidate doesn’t do research on the practice

  • Ask how committed the candidate is to making a job change.
--Candidate coughs, clears throat, acts nervous.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask the candidate to explain his/her nervousness.
--Candidate does not reply promptly to calls or emails

  • Don’t be afraid to ask the candidate how important the opportunity is to him/her, how serious or interested he/she is in the position.
--Candidate resigns from current job before accepting an offer.

  • Ask them directly for their reason for resigning ‘early.’
--Candidate does not respond to your requests.  Returns calls at odd hours or doesn’t return calls at all.

  • State "this is my last phone call to you" to force a response.
--Candidate nit-picks parts of an offer, deflecting your attention.

  • Ask how committed the candidate is to making a job change.

 Willingness/Availability to Relocate

When you have questions about a candidate’s willingness or ability to relocate, consider asking them if they will speak with realtor or relocation coach.

--Candidate agrees to relocate his/her family when significant other has a good job and children are in school.

  • Talk with significant other, recruit him/her and confirm that relocation is acceptable.
--Candidate has shared custody of children.

  • Ask how this will affect a candidate’s decision to move forward on an offer.
--Candidate has high school age children.

  • Ask if the candidate has discussed the potential of a move with the entire family.
--Candidate has recently purchased a house.

  • Ask candidates how long they have owned their homes or how much equity they have in their homes.  Ask candidate if they have checked with their accountant regarding their state’s capital gains tax laws.  (Some states require you to own a home for a specified number of years.)

When you suspect that a candidate has lied, exaggerated or generalized their qualifications or experience, you need to ask specific questions and obtain written documentation that verifies his/her claims.

--Candidate says he/she cannot share production figures because those numbers are confidential.

  • Reference check to assess candidate’s accomplishments. 
--Candidate provides unusually larger production figures

  • Verify their payment structure and ask them what their W2 income was last year. Simple math will verify if the production number was more or less accurate. Ask for a copy of the W2 if you feel it is necessary
--Candidate’s resume states an accomplishment as ‘number 5 producer in the region.’

  • Ask for specifics.  There might only be 6 in the region.

Unrealistic Expectations

It’s relatively easy to recognize when candidates have unrealistically high expectations about their next career moves.  What’s not as obvious are candidates who apparently lower their expectations for their future roles.  

--Candidate is unwilling to lower his/her expectations about compensation or is inconsistent about their desired salary.
  • Ask the candidate why he/she deserves a certain level of compensation and explain what level is realistic. 
--Candidate insists that his/her travel expenses for interviewing be paid up front by the company

  • Question the candidate’s commitment to making a change.

Candidates may provide incomplete or inappropriate references, or resist providing any references.

--Candidate can’t provide references; says they won’t compromise their current situation.

  • Explain the importance of good references.  Make an offer contingent upon satisfactory reference checks. 
--References are all peers, subordinates, patients, suppliers.

  • Be proactive by outlining what kinds of references are acceptable.

Material provided by Management Recruiters International. Contributed by Morgan Pace, Senior Dentist Recruiter for ETS Dental, | | 540-591-9102

Friday, October 5, 2012

Employment Summary for September 2012

Total unemployment in the U.S. fell, according to the Labor Department, from 8.1 to 7.8 percent in September, while the economy added 114,000 jobs. Revisions to past months showed more than 60,000 more jobs were added over the previous two months than initially reported. The participation rate, which can create an illusion of falling unemployment rates when discouraged workers leave the workforce, in September actually grew by 0.1 percent while the number of discouraged workers fell by 42,000.

Total employment growth and unemployment are measured by two separate but closely related surveys; the household survey which surveys individual households and the establishment survey which surveys employers. While the establishment survey saw just 113,000 jobs created, the household survey saw more 873,000 new people reporting being employed and 456,000 fewer people unemployed. Nearly half of that growth was among workers aged 20 to 24, and about half of the total growth was in part-time positions, implying it may be part of a seasonal bump as college students seek out part-time jobs during the fall semester.

Of those with a bachelor’s degree and higher, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent, but participation grew from 75.5 to 75.9 percent, as 103,000 more people reported employment. For those with just some college experience or an associate’s degree, the participation rate grew from 68.3 percent to 68.8 percent as 196,000 more people reported employment. There was virtually no growth in employment for those over 25 with a high school diploma or less.

The professional, managerial, and related unemployment rate fell from 4.4 to 3.9 percent from September a year ago, while the unemployment rate for sales and office occupations fell from 9 to 7.5 percent over the same period.

On an industry basis, which is only reported in the establishment survey, growth was spread amongst service-providing industries with no stand-out growth aside from healthcare, from which almost half, 49,000 positions, of the reported growth derived. One variation seen in September was an increase of 13,000 state education employees, which was enough to grow total government employment by 10,000 during the month, the first time that sector has seen such growth since the 2010 census.

While the report was one of the most positive in several months, it is tempered by a variety of factors. The large rate of part-time employment growth means a relatively small amount of consumer buying power is being added to the market. Furthermore, recent revisions of the U.S. GDP rate showed an annualized growth rate of just 1.3 percent in the second quarter, meaning projections of up to 1.9-percent growth in the fourth quarter will likely be revised down. Perhaps most cautioning is a similarity to 2011, where we saw a strong second half of the year, only to be followed by disappointing numbers in the new year.

Longer Tenures Create Opportunities for Workers and Challenges for Employers

It’s become gospel in recent years that workers jump from job to job to job. Some reports say that the average person entering the workforce today will go through as many as 20 jobs in a career. It’s been cited as a symptom of a new crop of workers who avoid committing to a single employer more than a few years. Job hopping has become so mainstream that staying with a single company for more than three or four years now needs to be justified with evidence of accomplishments and career advancement, much in the way job hopping has had to have justification behind it. 

It’s a trend that was true of male workers from the early 1980’s through the late 1990’s. In that time frame, the current tenure of wage and salaried male employees over 25 years old fell from 5.9 years to 4.9 years. Since 2002, however, the median male tenure actually grew from 4.9 to 5.5 years. Over that same period, the median tenure of women grew from 4.4 years to 5.4 years—tenures of women had also grown in the decade and a half when male tenures were falling, but that is largely attributable to a change in the career mix of women which began to favor longer tenure-professions. 

“The 1980s and 90s was a period filled with tremendous opportunity, when employees discovered the power of being free agents and the salary advantages of changing jobs. Since the turn of the millennium though, the economy has been markedly less stable, and employees have been less likely to seek out unnecessary instability by changing positions,” says Rob Romaine, president of MRINetwork. 

While consistent tenures of less than three or four years can still cause negative perceptions, being open to change careers in a slow economy like today can be an effective way to jumpstart a career. During the recession many employees took on added responsibilities without receiving a promotion, and those who did see promotion, often saw them in title only. The slow economy caused annual salary adjustments to stay in the low single-digit percentages, yet job changers who succeeded at adding value to their organizations throughout the recession can now find salary increases of 10 or 20 percent or more with new employers.

“In sectors of the economy that have reached, or even far surpassed their pre-recession levels, like technical consulting, accounting, or healthcare, rising tenure can mean even fewer experienced candidates are available for mid-career opportunities,” notes Romaine. “But, it also means that opportunities for those willing to change positions will be both more plentiful, and have more potential for reward.” 

Median tenure for the healthcare industry over the last decade has increased from 3.5 to 4.4 years, lengthening by three-tenths of a year since just 2010. Professional and technical services median tenure has grown even more—from 3.1 to 4.4 years since 2002. 

For employers trying to find top performers, workers staying in their positions longer means simply finding them becomes more difficult. The longer someone isn’t actively in the job market, the older and more out of date their discoverable footprints become. LinkedIn profiles go unmaintained. Resumes in databases grow so old they are irrelevant. 

“Finding top talent that isn’t trying to be found requires constant surveillance and proactive network-building. There is nothing automated about the process and it’s challenging for an internal recruiting apparatus to proactively build a pipeline for key positions that a company may only be hiring for every few years,” notes Romaine.