Retirement! How do you handle the transition? How do you do more FUN dentistry? What should you look for in a dental associate, and how can you get enough patient volume for him or her? How do you choose an associate? Mark and Howie explain.

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Podcast Highlights

  • Retirement transition
  • Moving to FUN dentistry
  • Budgeting for changes
  • What to do with a new dental associate
  • How many charts will support a 30-hour work week?
  • Pulling volume from different demographics
  • Advertising to match new capacity
  • Transferring ownership of your practice
  • Hiring the right dental associate
  • Aligning services

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by DentalWebContent.com and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome to our this I think this our first podcast of 2018. And it’s now 2018. How you doing, Mark?

Mark: I’m doing well. Thank you. This is the week we’re actually recording this the week between Christmas and New Year. Did you have a good Christmas?

Howie: Oh, yes, I did. I ate lots of stuff.

Mark: Lots of food. Yes. Um, alright, so yeah, I mean, we had us little series going of how to prepare for 2018. I think we kind of ran that title into the reality of 2018 actually happening?

Howie: Yeah, here it is.

Mark: So here it is. So, we’re gonna have to read rename that title from how to prepare for 2018. To what to do in 2018.

Howie: Right. And I thought maybe we might look at how to this, this. This won’t apply to everybody in our listening audience, but it will at some point in time apply. And that’s setting up your practice in preparation for your retirement.

Mark: Yeah, I mean, what’s the use of having a business if you have no exit strategy?

Howie: Exactly

Mark: Exactly. Right. So, and we have a lot of customers or prospective customers and customers are. Our clients tend to be with us for? Well,

Howie: Many years.

Mark: I think the longest tenured client we have now is 23 years. So, they tend to stay with us, or many of them do through an entire career. So, at the end of their, quote, unquote, career, they need to transition. There’s lots of different transitions in dentistry, there’s insurance transitions, there’s new practices, there’s practice, purchases, there’s, it seems like dental practices are constantly going through some kind of a transition one or some kind of a transition. This is just one of the different kinds of transitions. And this is how to set up your dental practice.

Now, there are I can’t, I don’t think we’ve counted the number of ways you can customize or personalize a retirement transition. I don’t think we’ve done two that were exactly the same, but they seem to all follow general rules. So, let’s go through that. And again, this isn’t us, this isn’t our advice. This is what clients tell us they want. Normally about, I don’t know, somewhere between 50, somewhere around 50 to 55, 58 years old, the dentist gets to the point where if they have to do another to surface composite, they’re going to stab somebody in the eye with a pencil. And, and they just want to do challenging dentistry, find dentistry, life changing dentistry, whatever, whatever the doctor gets their creative juice from

Howie: The sexy stuff.

Mark: The sexy stuff, right, they want to do more of it, right. So, there’s a transition there in their marketing, for sure. And normally, that’s the window to retirement, normally, the dentist will, you know, go another eight to 10 more years and pretty soon. I’m many times by the urging of the spouse. Um, someone says, Okay, it’s time to slow down time for us to do other things time to travel time to whatever, spend more time with our grandkids, whatever, whatever the issue is. And they say, okay, you know, that’s fine, I gotta make a plan. But I don’t want I don’t want to alienate my patients, I don’t want to carve my schedule from 32 hours to 18 a week. Um, I really want my practice to go on, and I want to get the value out of my practice.

So now we get to the point where we begin to plan the transition of an dental associate in, and we decided that this podcast is not going to be about personality tests and how to choose an associate and, you know, I would, will leave that to the, to those professionals, let’s assume that you found where you can find the right dental associate that we all believe, is going to ultimately transition into a buy in buy out kind of arrangement, to where you can continue to practice 18, 20 hours a week doing the fun sexy dentistry that you want to do, while the new dentist brings the practice up, and does more of the bread and butter gets their speed going and gets the staff in alignment and all the whole, let’s say all that stuff.

Um, you know, what kind of a marketing transition is needed. Well, if it was a solo practice, before the dental associate came in, and you were spending most of your money on, let’s say, you were spending half your money on the higher end family market, and then you were spending another half of your budget on, you know, trying to get those bigger cases, are those more challenging or fun or financially rewarding cases out of the local dental market. There’s going to be a pretty, pretty abrupt shift to your advertising and your marketing. As soon as that dental associate comes in you are your existing patients are likely not going to want to see the associate.

Howie: Right, that I think, I think we can say here, at this point that the, you know, we’ve seen this over and over again, the reason associates ships fail, or this this this transition doesn’t go through is it’s always a lack of patience. somebody’s not making enough money. And that’s usually the new guy, or gal. And that’s, that’s the reason for the divorce. So usually, if a divorce happens, so your capacity is going to double.

Mark: Well, yeah, we’ll all get could if the if the retiring dentist is going to stay on for the full 32 hours a week and the associates going to come in for their 32 hours a week, then yes, you have you have added 100% capacity to your practice.

Howie: Yeah, it won’t be that that much in practice. Yeah, yeah, good point.

Mark: But what you really need though, is ultimately, this dental associate is going to need 750 active charts to support a 30 hour work week for them. This might be your emergency patients, they might be the hygiene patients that are willing to see the new dentist, there’s going to be some of those. But for the most part, many of your existing patients are going to say, but I want to see my Doc, I want you know, the doctor that’s been here with my family for 10, 15, 20 years, I don’t want to see the new guy or gal. And that’s just perfectly natural.

So normal, understandable. So, the point is, is that when the dental associate comes in the volume, the volume of new patients has to increase, you can actually go down in quality a little bit, just to get the volume on a temporary basis. And get like if you were, you know, if you were focusing your advertising dollars before only on the top 20 or 30% of the local market, you could go down to the top 50% to temporarily and pull more volume from the market to feed the new dental associate. You could also have the new associate doing some hygiene to get to know the new patients, there’s little tricks that you can do.

Howie: Yeah, that’s an excellent idea, actually.

Mark: Right? You open up more convenient hours and have the patients who are choosing these new convenient hours. And it just so happens that the new dentist is the only one available Do I need convenient hours? Three

Howie: hours, it’s

Mark: exactly person,

Howie: you’re going to get

Mark: kind of amazing how that works out.

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: You can put online dental appointment scheduling on your dental practice website and only allow the new patients to schedule through the new associates chair, then in other words, don’t even put your retiring dentist on your online scheduling system. Don’t even make those opportunities show up. Okay. There’s all kinds of different ways that we can or you know, or you we can, you know, help manage this transition it but it always starts with increasing patient volume.

And then typically what happens is it ends up, there ends up being a handoff, it’s hard to tell what percentage of the patients will ultimately end up with the dental associate. But normally the retiring Dentist, like I said before, you may see a two surface composite on their schedule somebody, somebody Bell is getting wrong up at the front desk. So, a lot of times just the just a pure demand for minor restorative ends up being migrated over to the associate dentist because the retiring dentist is going to start to cut back.

Those existing patients who desperately want to see the retiring dentist simply aren’t going to be able to get any room in their schedule because the dentist is cutting their schedule back. And those patients most likely will choose the associate some begrudgingly, but many will. And sooner or later, you will have a full schedule on the dental associate side along with the schedule that matches the retiring dentists. Work, home, interests, hobby, travel, goals that they’ve set for their own family.

You could in order to get the additional patient volume again, this depends on the market, but you may or may not have to add another insurance plan to your participation list. If you don’t participate in any, you might want to choose one, if you participate in two, you might not end up happening to temporarily take three. Um, so there are many different ways to manage this transition. But Howie’s point is 100% dead on. And that is on these relationships between the dental associate and the dentist.

If you do enough of these conversations have enough of these conversations and you do enough of these interviews. And you dig down into the truth enough like we do 90% of these relationships blow up because the show associate doesn’t have enough patience to make a living. And then there’s the retiring dentist, you know, didn’t plan so they didn’t alter their marketing. They didn’t alter their advertising, they didn’t change their volume. They didn’t change anything. All they did was add a whole bunch of capacity and hope that more new patients come in and that that never happened hope is not it’s not a marketing strategy.

Howie: It’snot a strategy is no favors things.

Mark: It’s basically hope. That’s what it is.

Howie: You know what, we’re going to take a break here and come back and continue discussing this important topic. So don’t go away. We’ll be right back.

NPI Click: Hello, everybody. This is Howie Horrocks and along with me is Mark dilatory. She president of New Patients Incorporated. How you doing Mark? “Hey, Howie, how are you? This is the part of the podcast where we get to brag about our company.” Yay. So sometimes it gets lost and all these podcasts what new patients incorporated actually does. We have I don’t know how many podcasts 75, 81 a week for well over a year. And all of you listen to these a half hour at a time and it you might lose sight of what we do. So here’s the short answer. We do everything we’re talking about in these podcasts on behalf of our clients.

Okay, we do the podcasts are there for our clients, of course just so they understand what the heck we’re doing. But also for the doctors who are do it yourselfers. If you’re not a do it yourselfer, and you want someone to do this for you, newpatientsinc.com, there’s an icon in the dead center at the top of our homepage where you can get a complimentary marketing plan, a series of questions will need to be completed. And once you complete that, we will analyze your market area, develop a marketing plan and get on the phone with you discuss all the sections of the marketing plan just to make sure you understand a couple of things, what you’re up against, what your expectations should be, and what Mark and Howie would do if we owned your dental practice.

Howie: Okay, we are back we’re talking about transitioning about maybe the mature dentist bringing on dental associate and how to deal with these issues. And in, in going forward toward with the owner Dr. wants to do which is you know, cash out and have a great life. Right.

Mark: Exactly. Exactly. And they and they want it they want their patients to be taken care of right. So, another thing you can do with the associate dentist is they get all the emergency calls.

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: Another thing you can do with the dental associate is, “Hey, buddy, I’m, I’m going on a two week vacation to France with my wife. You’re covering everything.” Yeah, okay, now to the dentist out there who who’ve been doing this for 15, 20, 30 years, who are forgetting or can’t remember what a real vacation looks or feels like. You know, that’s one of the benefits of having someone having an associate having someone buy in and ultimately buy out your practice from you, is you have that freedom now, right? You don’t have to be the guy or gal on call every night and you don’t have to be the one who practices 50, 51 weeks a year, you just it’s you don’t have to do that anymore.

So anyway, as you get down to the buy out part, which is where you know, the by the dentist buying in normally begins to take control, they take control of decisions, they take control of staff, they take control, they take control of basically ownership of the practice. A lot of times that’s a, that can either be a big sigh of relief. Or it can be quite a shock to some dentists.

Howie: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to give up the reins.

Mark: Yeah, and it’s a shock to the staff too. Right. So just be cognizant of that we’re not telling you how to manage it, we’re just saying we’ve seen, we’ve seen by in and by our arrangements that they were just perfect, right? The dentist that was retiring was ready not to have to deal with staff, they were so ready. Mark on their calendar for the day, they didn’t have to deal with staff anymore, right. And then, you know, the incoming dentist, of course is going to want to have their say, their decisions, their systems, their changes, they’re going to want to you know, they’re going to want to be the boss, and they’re going to have to and they’re going to make mistakes, no doubt.

They’re gonna, they’re gonna have to learn from them. And you’re going to have to be okay with them making mistakes and then learning from them. Because you know what, when you were coming up as a young pup, you didn’t have all the answers either. And even in retirement, you don’t have all the answers. You know, neither do Howie and I so, we’re not making fun of anyone. We’re just, we’re just saying, you know, expect these things to happen.

But some other good things that you can expect to happen is, you know, this wouldn’t be really neat. If you’ve been practicing for 15 or 20 years, maybe 25 years. So just come on into the practice and just do what you want to do. The type of dentistry you want to do the type of patients you want to treat. Like, wouldn’t it be? We had a podcast a little while ago with a doctor named Kent Smith?

Howie: Oh, yeah, rememberthat?

Mark: It was like two months ago, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, he just he does nothing but six months smiles. You know, short term ortho and sleep apnea, sleep apnea. That’s all he does. Yeah. And the guy just walks around all days whistling got big smile on his face. He

Howie: Doesn’t have to touch a handpiece.

Mark: Yeah, I mean, he’s a cowboy. He’s a Dallas Cowboy fan. So, besides that, you know, everything else in his life is just fine. And, you know, so I guess here’s the message. It’s absolutely possible. To get that, um, you have to manage it. Right? I mean, you have to it just doesn’t happen. None of this happens by accident. But I think everyone listening to this wants it to happen. as right as it can happen as it can be. And that takes a little planning, a little shifting a little logic, a little measurement, a little application, little finesse. A, you know, a little experience. I mean, it does. It’s not impossible.

Kent certainly not the first guy or gal to have, you know, the practice they want in the well, hell, I’m not gonna say Kent’s in the twilight of his dental career. Yeah. No, no, he probably wouldn’t take offense to that. I mean, he’s got he’s a young guy. Really? Yeah, he’s got kids in his late teens, early 20s. I think so he’s probably, you know, we won’t call that Twilight will call that early afternoon, early afternoon of his career. Um, you know, these things are all possible. They’re not, they’re not only possible there. They’re manageable there. I’m not going to say predictable, but I’ll say definitely manageable. You know, yeah,

Howie: you’re right. You know, and another thing we should probably mention, I know we’re not going to get too heavily into you know, the nuts and bolts of exactly how you should do this. But when you do choose an dental associate, you want to choose somebody who’s not like you. In other words, you hate molar, endo, your associates should love it. You hate kids, your associates should love kids, you know, that sort of thing. Right? So, that you can during this transition, you won’t be stuck doing things that you don’t want to do. You follow me on?

Mark: Yeah, we get that question. Well, I see that question on dental forums. Like I’m interviewing for an associate, so somebody give me a list of questions that I can ask during the interview. Yeah, I can think of like five right away. Do you like molar endo? The answer better be yes, you just stare at them when they’re when they’re answering the question. Do you like dentures? Do you like dentures? How about how about three-year-old kids who are screaming and their parents are yelling in your ear? Um, how do you like working an evening and an early morning each week? And that I mentioned worth though I think I did. Okay, in other words, all the things that I don’t like about dentistry are the first five questions I’m asking somebody coming right

Howie: Things you don’t like or don’t do.

Mark: I try it? Yeah, it doesn’t it’s not a matter of not liking them. It’s a matter of you have to measure the associates willingness to take on those challenges. Um, for two reasons mean, they got to pay their dues right into your practice. And they have to participate in being marketable. Right, you’re a dentist that doesn’t do endo and doesn’t do ortho. But you can bring something, but you do everything else. And you bring somebody in that all of a sudden does endo ortho and maybe is willing to treat children. Your practice now can basically provide dentistry dental services to anyone three to 103 years old. That’s unbelievably marketable.

Howie: And that will grow the practice and grow the outcome, and make the associate happy.

Mark: Now, we’re not telling you now this is for all the associates out there. This is your time to shine what I’m about to say they’ll pump your fist and go Yeah. So, we get, we get associates calling us up all the times are emailing us or going online and filling out our client survey. And they say, Well, my, the owner dentist says I should be out promoting the practice

Howie: Huh? Yeah,

Mark: No, that’s not your responsibility. At that point in your career, that’s the owners responsibility is to have enough patient volume, to make you sick to have you be able to earn a living and have the practice, earn some profit on you being there. That is not the associates responsibility. However, having said that, and getting many high fives from many associates, I will also tell you that it is to your benefit associates. If you’re willing to treat children if you’re willing to do ortho if you’re willing to do molar endo, if you’re willing to do the early morning and maybe the one evening in the week and being flexible. If you’re willing to do all those things you become exponentially more valuable to the owner.

Howie: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Mark: Okay. Are you Your, your chances of success in that practice? Go up, the more things you will are willing to do that they are either tired of doing or are unwilling to do or haven’t received the training to do whatever one of those are multiple ones of those that you can do. Then you bring them to the interview. Okay, and when you get there, follow through with them. Because that will help the owner be more marketable. And if the owner is more marketable, to practice as a whole is more marketable, you become busier, you earn more money, and ultimately, you end up buying into positive momentum and growth in the practice, rather than buying a practice and having to restart it.

Yep, buying a declining practice and having to restart it is almost always going to be far more expensive than buying a practice on a momentum upswing.

Howie: Well, yeah, there you are.

Mark: For all those reasons. I’m the associate dentist and the selling dentist should be aligned in the services, the amenities, the times the conveniences that the entire practice can provide in advertising, marketing dental practice website, whatever to put out there for the consumer to see, so that everyone benefits, that’s the bottom line.

Howie: Yep. Okay, well, I think we’re going to wrap this first podcast of 2018 up, and we wish you all a terrific New Year. We’ll be back again, very soon.

Mark: Hey, before we go, everybody. 2017 was a rebound year for dentistry. 2018 is going to I think it’s going to be a rebound plus year. I think everybody’s going to do wonderfully. I hope everybody obviously does do wonderfully. Whether you’re a client or not, that’s what we want. We want more patients to get the dentistry done that they need. And so, grab on to 2018 with grab the last Oh, and let’s ride 2018 because I think it’s going to be a great year.

Howie: Yeah. Yeah, I do too. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you again soon. Bye now.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can find more podcasts on our YouTube channel, on Stitcher and iTunes. Also on our websites, dentalwebcontent.com and newpatientsinc.com.