Have you thought about merging your dental practice with another practice, or multiple practices? This is not a decision to be entered into lightly. Here are some things to consider before making the big move.
The thought of merging your dental practice with another can be pretty attractive. After all, joining forces with a successful practice will help you expand your patient base, reduce competition in your area, increase your production numbers, and ultimately grow your bottom line.
While that’s all true, this isn’t a business transaction you should enter into lightly. For you to reap the benefits a practice merger offers, it has to be done right, and that means preparing yourself and your team for change. If you’re thinking about a merger, you have to make sure it’s the right move for your practice and, if it is, follow the appropriate steps to help ensure success.
I put together a list of some of those steps to help you get started:
Take a good look at both practices—Once you find the right practice with which to merge, your work isn’t done. In fact, it’s just beginning. At this point in the process, it’s important to complete an analysis of both practices’ business operations, employees, and their job descriptions. During this analysis, you might find the practices have different job descriptions, different practice management software, even different philosophies of care. Once those differences are identified, work together to develop a business plan that combines the best of both practice systems.
Develop a new identity—After a merger, you have to keep in mind it’s no longer just about you and your vision for the practice. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve been practicing solo for a while. Start using words like “we” and “our” instead of “me” and “I.” With the help of both practice teams, work to develop a new practice identity and shared vision. I suggest you get all team members as involved as possible to help prepare them for the transition.
Keep your team in the loop—Most employees become nervous when they hear the word merger and worry about losing their job. Don’t let your team members’ imaginations run wild. Talk with them about the merger and why you’ve decided it’s the best move for the practice. Make sure they understand the benefits and how they can help make the transition a success. Keep them up-to-date on the merger’s progress, and let them know you value their opinion and appreciate the contributions they make to the practice. This will help them feel like the important members of the team that they are.
Trust me, if you don’t keep team members informed they’ll think you’re hiding something. The rumor mill will churn, and staff morale will take a nosedive. When that happens, customer service suffers, and that could cost you patients. Unhappy team members might also look for new jobs, which will leave you with open positions to fill. There’s a lot involved with this important business transaction, but if you want it to be successful you simply can’t forget about the human factor. That will only lead to problems.
Create a collaborative environment—The last thing you want to do is develop an “us vs. them” mentality. All that does is create conflict and damage the new practice and everything you’re trying to build. To avoid this I suggest you create a “culture of engagement” from the beginning. Schedule regular team meetings and events so that everyone has a chance to get to know each other. Make sure team members understand how important it is for everyone to work together toward the same goal: practice success.
Develop a plan to handle more patients—Yes, one of the benefits of merging with another dental practice is more patients, but you have to be prepared for them. If you’re not, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. Create a plan beforehand while keeping in mind that you might need to make changes to the schedule, such as adding hours to accommodate increased demand.
Practice mergers offer many benefits, but they also mean a lot of changes for you and your team members. It’s important to prepare, and McKenzie Management’s Dental Practice Merger program can help with that. The program will take you through the process to ensure you stay on the right path. Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in learning more.