Friday, December 19, 2014

Reference Checks: The Questions That Can Make or Break Your Practice

In many ways, the dental community is isolated from the rest of the business world. While the corporate world is encroaching, most practices are still built around the owner who, generally, has little formal business training and may well remember the days when a handshake was enough.

As recruiters, we often start our relationships with dental practices who have recently gone through a frustrating and often messy termination. Unfortunately, the doctors who leave the biggest messes easily find other employment only to leave a similar wake of destruction in their next office. Why is it so easy for these doctors to ruin one practice after another?

Dental Practices, as a group, routinely fail to protect the practice, staff and patients by performing a simple reference check. The importance of reference checking is well-documented in the larger business world.

Simply checking license history is no longer enough. You have the right to ask for references, and you should not settle for personal references. Ask for contact information of previous employers or faculty, if appropriate. Here are some practical steps to help make a reference check call easy, informative and less time consuming.

Confirm the details
Do not be shy to ask how the reference knows the job seeker. Find out how long they have known each other. If the reference is a former employer, ask for dates of employment. Ask what their function was in that position.

Decide what you want to know before you call

When we perform reference checks on behalf of our clients, we ask the reference to rate the job candidate on productivity, the quality of their work, their oral and written expression, their working relationships, their motivation and initiative, and their punctuality and attendance.

Know what he/she does well

Ask the reference what they would consider to be the job seeker’s greatest strengths in the position. Also, ask what the employer’s expectations were and how well the job seeker fulfilled them. Do they work better independently or under direct supervision?

Know where the job seeker could improve

This is a great way to ask for constructive criticism in a way that will not make the reference feel uncomfortable about giving a bad reference. Be sure to ask if the job seeker was open to critique and if progress was made toward improvement.

Would the reference hire or re-hire the job seeker?

This is straight to the point. If you hear “No,” make sure that you know why.

When you finish the reference check, be sure to thank the reference for the time that they spent with you and the information they provided. They may well have just saved you from a bad decision or enabled you to sleep well with the decision you will make.

Written by Morgan Pace, Vice President and Recruiter at ETS Dental. You can reach Morgan directly at (540) 491-9102 or Find out more at

Friday, December 12, 2014

Annual Planning – To Add or Not to Add an Associate

With the holiday season in full swing and the end of the year approaching faster than ever, many practice owners utilize this time of year to put the finishing touches on their business plans and goals for the upcoming year. Perhaps one of the most important decisions any practice owner will make during annual planning is whether or not to add an associate dentist to their practice.

Knowing if your practice is ready to hire an associate, however, is key to determining the success of any expansion. Here are some tips to follow when considering the addition of an associate to your practice, including good reasons to add and good reasons to wait:

Good Reasons to Add
It fits with your mission – If you offer a unique set of services to your target patient base, your production numbers are above industry norms, and you can easily add more patients by offering more capacity, it might be a good time to look at adding an associate.

It fits with your long-term strategy – We’ve written numerous articles over the years about having a clear picture of what you want your practice to look like and be like in five years, ten years, or when you are ready to transition out. If you don’t have a long-term objective, it’s important to develop one before hiring anyone. If you need some help, we’ve put together a great guide on preparing a business plan and organizing your objectives and goals: Dental Practice Owners: 8 Simple Steps to preparing a Business Plan 
A great opportunity presents itself –One of the best indicators it may be time to add an associate is if there is an underserved patient population in your community and you could fill a new associate’s schedule by catering to their needs.

You find an associate with the following three qualities
1. His clinical philosophy is in sync with yours
2. Her personality fits well with yours and that of your office culture
3. Your long term goals align (i.e. she wants to buy an office in 5 years, you want to sell your office in 5 years)

If these three things align, just about all other issues can be worked out in time. If clinical philosophies, personalities, or long-term goals are not in line, however, don’t make the hire.

Complimentary Skills – If an associate loves working with pediatric patients, doing extractions, or performing endodontic procedures and you routinely refer these cases out, you may be able to add a complimentary revenue stream to your practice without adding patients.

You can afford to fail – Adding an associate is a calculated risk. Make absolutely sure that if an associate does not work out, it will not seriously jeopardize the long-term health of your practice. We’ve seen dentists literally hand their practice over to a new associate on their first day so the owner could take an extended two month vacation or stop practicing all together. This is a recipe for disaster, and often comes with costly consequences for the practice owner.

You are truly prepared – Make sure you have the operatories, systems, and staff to support a new associate before you make a hire. The reason that most associate relationships fail is because the practice simply wasn’t ready. There are plenty of great associate opportunities out there. Don’t lose a great associate because he or she lacks the equipment, staff, mentoring, or patients. Just because you need an associate does not mean your practice is ready for one.

Good Reasons to Wait
Your practice’s systems are inefficient – When was the last time you took a look at your practice’s internal efficiencies? Is your practice producing what comparably-sized practices are? If the answer is no, you may want to speak with a practice consultant so you can get the most out of your current system and team. Adding an associate will not fix your production issues, but will simply add to the inefficiency of your practice.

You want more time off – Many dentists make the mistake of adding an associate simply because they want more time off. This reason is perfectly justifiable, but first you need to assess the financial impact of an associate taking over some or all of your current production. If you can improve your quality of life by adding an associate to share your current workload and give you more free time, by all means do it. Just make sure you get with your CPA to ensure you truly understand the financial impact of such a decision.

You’ve just expanded or built a new office and want to “fill it up” – Just because a new building will accommodate two, three, four, or five dentists and the accompanying support staff doesn’t mean you will immediately have patient demand to fill everyone’s schedule immediately. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t always work when it comes to dentistry, especially in the short term.

Your competitor just hired an associate – Can you hear your Mom saying “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” There is a lot of truth behind that old phraseology, as silly as it may seem. What might be right for a competitor’s practice and financial situation isn’t necessarily best for your own practice, and vice versa. Identifying and assessing your practice’s specific needs and goals will always warrant better results than simply trying to copy your competitor’s strategies.

Adding an associate is an important decision for any practice owner to make. With some careful thought and planning, though, the addition of the right team member to any practice can boost production levels and increase the overall profitability of the practice as a whole.

If you’re considering adding an associate, feel free to reach out to one of our experienced dental recruiters and let ETS find your next great associate for you!

Written by Mark Kennedy, President and Owner of ETS Dental, Vision, Tech-Ops, and Therapy. For more information, contact us and let ETS Dental find your next associate, partner, or buyer today!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Recruiter's View: Candidate-Driven Market to Present Retention Challenges in 2015 Among Top Performers

U.S. employment had its challenges during the winter months of 2014, but throughout most of the year we've experienced consistent growth as 222,000 new jobs has become the 12-month average. Despite the fact that many companies are in growth mode, retention is increasingly problematic. This is especially challenging in the executive, managerial and professional job sector which is candidate-driven, as the brightest talent recognize more jobs are available and feel more confident about pursuing them. Recruitment additionally faces challenges in the sector, as many employers continue to lose great candidates to lengthy hiring practices, below-market salaries and an inability to sell the company brand, the role and true advancement opportunities. New data from the most recent MRINetwork Recruiter Sentiment Study, a biannual employment landscape survey of MRINetwork recruiters across approximately 600 worldwide offices, indicates that the candidate-driven market, which has experienced a consistent uptick since 2011, is here to stay, and the rate at which top performers are rejecting job offers continues to grow. As we approach 2015, employers will need to review their recruitment and retention strategies from the top down to remain attractive to employees and potential new hires.

"It is definitely and without a doubt a candidate-driven market, however many employers are still laboring under the same processes as they did when it was an employer-driven market," said a recruiter responding to the study. "Candidates now have choices and employers need to make the interview process go smoothly and quickly." According to the report, in the second half of 2014, 83 percent of recruiters described the talent market as candidate-driven, up 29 percentage points from the second half of 2011.

The executive and managerial market continues to be candidate-driven because of the availability of more job opportunities and growing talent shortages due to skill gaps. Top performers have a strong advantage, with multiple job offers to consider and the ability to reject less desirable work opportunities. This is significant when you consider the factors motivating a job move. According to the study, 49 percent of recruiters say greater opportunities for advancement is the primary motivating factor for candidates looking to make a move, followed by improved compensation. Based on year-over-year data, the main reasons for rejected job offers continue to be a result of great candidates accepting offers with other companies and being presented with disappointing compensation. Further, the time between the first interview and the rejected offer is shrinking, with a six percentage point increase from the second half of 2013, for candidates that rejected offers within two weeks of the first interview.

FFP December 2014
Click to enlarge.

MRINetwork recruiters provide the following survey insight about rejected job offers:

  • The search process is still taking way too long considering the recession has been behind us for years and the fact that it is a candidate-driven market in many industries. This provides candidates with the time to investigate other opportunities.
  • Candidates are much more fully engaged and also much more aware of their worth in the marketplace.
  • Clients are still looking for the perfect candidate, yet are not offering an enticing salary.

With more top performers moving on, the candidate-driven market points to several things:

  • Internal and external branding will continue to be important as companies face growing pressure to sell their value proposition to employees and candidates. "They are operating with the mindset that there are an abundance of candidates, all willing to jump through hoops to get a job at their company, and that is just not true anymore," says an MRINetwork recruiter.
  • A streamlined hiring process will be imperative to avoid losing top candidates in 2015 and beyond. One recruiter notes, "Every candidate we speak with is actively looking and has several irons in the fire."
  • Talented employees who were hired at bargain salaries during the recession will be moving on.  The majority of MRINetwork recruiters (83 percent) say they have interacted recently with these under-compensated and under-employed candidates who are anxious to improve their earning capacity. Salary and benefit packages will need to be adjusted to retain these individuals.

Although the study results demonstrate that hiring trends are highly favorable towards top performers in the executive, managerial and professional space, recruitment and retention will continue to present ongoing challenges for overall hiring as the job market expands. A fundamental shift is taking place in the way in which candidates expect to be recruited, and companies need to get on board with these changes to bring in and hold on to the talent they seek.

To view the complete study, visit