How (and Why) to Prepare for Tough Questions When Selling or Hiring

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What kind of impression does your practice make?

Whether you’re selling or hiring, your success hinges on what potential buyers or hires think about your practice. And that impression often goes beyond the initial curb appeal. (See: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Practice’s Curb Appeal.)

When dentists are looking to join a new practice, whether as an owner or associate, they’re wise to look beyond that first impression. In fact, a smart candidate will take the time to dig deeper to see how well the practice runs. After all, the practice could become their professional home!

Think about buying a home. Even if the house is professionally landscaped and freshly painted, you’re going to look at the details and ask questions. In fact, you probably hire a professional to help you investigate all the house’s systems. How old is the furnace? Does the roof have any signs of damage? Are there hints of foundation problems? You ask all these questions to ensure that the home you’re about to invest in will be right for you – comfortable and secure, with no messy surprises.

Someone joining a practice should do the same thing. By investigating how well the practice runs, they can ensure that the practice they’re investing their time and/or money in will be right for them – comfortable and secure, with no messy surprises.

Great candidates ask tough questions

If someone asks tough questions, don’t be offended or put off. Rather, realize that the candidate is trying to ensure that the practice is right for them – and that they share your vision of success. If they take the job and discover that outdated collections policies delay their payments by months, they will not be happy. Nor do they want to discover that they have a different vision of how the dental team should work together.

A candidate who asks tough questions or wants to see the details is typically more invested in the practice’s success than one who accepts things at face value. By doing their due diligence, the candidate is ensuring that they can succeed in the practice – and contribute to the practice’s overall success.

So if you’re preparing to sell or hire, pay attention to the details and be prepared to answer candidates’ questions. Better yet, use the examples below to showcase how great your practice really is! Doing so can infuse a candidate with the confidence they need to accept your offer.

Document strong policies to indicate that the practice is well run

While a potential buyer will absolutely ask about the practice’s collections policies, smart associates will too. After all, they want to know how they will get paid. Make sure your policies are clearly documented. As an owner, you should ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I reviewed the collections policies? Do they account for all our current payers? If there are high rates of rejection, consider making changes.
  • Which plans are accepted? When did I last review this?
  • When did I last update the fee schedules? (Check out the ADA’s Survey of Dental Fees, free to members.)

Take some time to review all your policies. Work with your business manager, CPA, or other team members to make any necessary updates. An owner who can show current, thoughtful policies is more likely to be taken seriously by potential buyers and associates.

Define team members’ roles and interactions

Even tiny practices need a basic employee manual that spells out each team member’s responsibilities. After all, roles can vary between practices. In one practice, dental assistants may provide the doctor with four-handed assistance from start to finish, while in others they may place and polish restorations themselves.

Incoming dentists may be used to dental assistants performing all the functions allowed by their state’s dental practice act, and be surprised if they don’t. Remember, the way the staff perform their jobs greatly affects day-to-day work for the dentist. A disconnect could lead to frustration.

Need help creating or updating an employee manual? See the ADA Practical Guide to Creating and Updating an Employee Policy Manual.

Create a plan for expansion or transition

Have you thought through how the new dentist will be incorporated into your practice? Having a plan – and talking about it during the interview process – can make or break a successful transition. Again, an incoming dentist wants to know that they will be set up to succeed when they join your practice.

Ideally, you should think through these points before you begin your search. But it’s never too late. Develop a plan that answers these questions:

  • How will they get patients? Will you re-allocate existing patients, or will they need to recruit? If the latter, will you support that effort with marketing or other resources?
  • What will their production targets be? Consider setting a schedule to review and adjust these targets as needed, perhaps after three or six months.
  • Which operatories will the new dentist work from? Will they have designated staff?

Involve your current staff in your plan. Make sure they understand that they are crucial to the practice’s success. Their cooperation can help the new dentist start strong. Clearly articulate how you intend to allocate treatments. Ensure that they know why you are hiring this particular person so they can share that confidence with patients.

Our What Went Wrong: The Practice Wasn’t Ready for an Associate post details more ways that you can prepare your practice for a new dentist.

Prepare for a successful transition

Whether you’re selling or hiring, it’s worth investing some time to put your practice in the best light possible. Try to envision your practice as a new dentist and be honest with yourself: Are things organized? Does the practice run smoothly? What policy or process changes might improve the practice’s overall success? Your long-standing team may also have valuable suggestions!

Then, as you approach your transition, create your free ADA Practice Transitions profile. We recently expanded our dentist matching platform to serve dentists nationwide, and can help you find the right dentist for your practice. And when you sign up, you gain access to an ADA Advisor who can guide you through every step, from reviewing your profile to helping you and the new dentist find a rhythm, well after they join your practice.