While the financial aspects of any job opportunity play a significant role in swaying a candidate’s decision to accept an offer, a dental practice owner must take into consideration more than just salary when selling an opportunity. Since more than 60 percent of our placements relocate to the area after accepting an offer, the practice owner needs to put themselves in the associate candidate’s shoes and start asking themselves questions about the opportunity before a candidate ever walks through the door.
What does the neighborhood look like? How are the schools? What are selling points of the community? If the candidate was interested in living in the city and the practice is located and hour or two out, the owner should talk about how easy it is to pop into the city whenever they want to. Is the outside of the practice presentable? Is the candidate welcomed with a smile from your front desk or office manager? Is the staff smiling and enjoying themselves while they work? Is the candidate’s name on the welcome sign? Do you understand any barriers the candidate may have to moving to your community? What’s the cost of living? What is their spouse’s career? Are their kids involved in sports, dance, academic, or other extracurricular activities? Have you noticed I haven’t mentioned money or anything dental related yet?
It is also important to realize that there are going to be things about your practice or opportunity that the candidate does not like. Maybe it’s being on call. Maybe it’s working some weekends. Maybe your practice isn’t in the most desirable neighborhood, suburb, or community. The best way to overcome these obstacles is by communicating your mission. Explain that you’ve developed a growing and loyal patient following by your absolute commitment to serving the needs of your community. You may not like working periodic evenings or weekends, but you would only be asking the associate to do this because it is consistent with your mission. If you sell them on your mission and ask them to help you serve that mission, many of the little issues disappear.
Keep in mind the best candidates have many options. Treat every candidate like he or she could be your partner or the buyer of your practice, even if you initially think of them as your second or third choice. Many make the mistake of only treating their initial first choice candidate well. Unfortunately, many practice owners find out that candidate is also the first choice of two or three other practices. Sometimes the first choice candidate turns out to have baggage, a negative attitude, or simply isn’t able to accept your opportunity. In the meantime, a practice owner has likely ignored equally qualified candidates. Having multiple candidates interested in your opportunity is a great problem to have. It also strengthens your negotiating power. You’ve heard the saying that most interviewers make up their mind about a candidate in “x seconds.” The same is true for candidates. Let’s face it, you are in competition for the best candidates with regional and national practice management companies. Many can offer more money, better benefits, more training, or newer facilities. What these organizations can’t offer is the things that set your practice apart. Your practice has a special place in the community you serve. Play that up.
If the technology or equipment in your practice needs some updating, use this to your advantage. Let the candidate know you’ve been holding off on updating until you locate your new associate. Since he or she is going to be a big part of the practice’s future, you want them involved in selecting the next generation of equipment and technology. Signal you are willing to teach, but you are also willing to learn. Many early career dentists have received specialized training that simply wasn’t available previously. Make sure you are signaling that you want this to be a win-win opportunity. Show you have a genuine interest in their career, their interests, and their family. These are things that practice management companies often miss.
During the interview, you expect a candidate to be personable, confident, and organized. You expect them to keep commitments, stay motivated to constantly improve, and always have the best interests of their patients in mind. Did you know candidates are looking for the same qualities in you as a practice owner? If you aren’t prepared, you are late, the office is a mess, and you speak poorly of previous or current associates and staff members, expect to watch your candidate turn and walk away from your opportunity. Interviews are a two lane road, so remember that the candidate isn’t the only one on the spot.
Finally, remember that paying attention to the little things will save you money. Although money is important, it often isn’t a candidate’s top priority. We use the acronym CLAMPS: Challenge, Location, Advancement, Money, People and Stability/Security. If you score high on Challenge (always improving clinically) , Location (your community is appealing to the candidate), Advancement (possibility to buy-in), and People (upbeat team environment), you stand a very good chance of landing an associate who is also considering a position in an impersonal corporate environment with higher income potential.
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
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