Practice Transition Planning: A Model For Success
Dentists always go into Practice Transitions full of good intentions and wanting quality results that will improve their practices, reduce stress, create new practice owners, enhance prospects for the future and positively impact the patients in the practice. Yet Practice Transitions, in general, do not have the successful track record that these intentions might suggest.
The results of unsuccessful transitions most often include frustrated dentists and team members, extraordinary costs associated with the failed venture, significant disruption to the practice and a loss of focus. They are usually the result of a lack of planning and attempts to “make it up on the run”. We will all be better served by heeding Stephen Covey’s recommendation to begin with the end in mind when working with Dental Practice Transitions.
Effective Transition Planning Incorporates FIVE Essential Phases
Personal Clarification. Dentist and spouse begin by individually doing their own personal life plan updates and identifying their personal objectives in order to formulate a clear vision of their preferred future together. The essence of effective life planning is to make a determination as to how you would see your ideal life circumstance five years from now. Richly describe what you want your life to be like at that point and then use those insights to create an updated vision of where you ideally want to be. The process looks like this:
- Dentist clarifies.
- Spouse clarifies. It is important for her/him to be formally involved in this process even if they have no active participation in the dental practice itself.
- Then they come together as a couple to clarify in the areas of faith, family, friends, fitness, finances and fun.
Professional Clarification. Personal clarification illuminates professional direction. In this second phase of Transition Planning, your practice is evaluated in the light of your identified personal objectives. You use your new vision to define a professional direction with outcomes that are appropriate for you, your team and patients.
Transition Planning. With personal and professional objectives clarified, it is possible to tailor a transition plan that fits your practice’s unique characteristics. Phase three of Transition Planning provides you with a custom operational plan that identifies specific steps for achieving your preferred outcomes and prepares you and your practice to take those steps.
This then becomes a team-based planning process. Your bring your updated personal plans and vision back to the practice, share it with your team and begin the process of additional planning with the team fully engaged. The team can help flesh out the vision and importantly must be included in the implementation of any action steps. Contrast this with the more typical model of the dentist (spouse excluded) and advisors sitting behind closed doors making big personal and practice transition plans and then sharing them only at the last minute with those who must help act them out.
Implementation. Your plan now becomes reality for both you and your team. You have identified a set of strategic action steps, set timelines for achievement, identified ideal outcomes and delegated responsibility for implementation to individual team members and other trusted advisors.
Plan Follow-Up. Your plans and priorities may change during this process. Continued effort and review are necessary. If your target changes, you will want to make course corrections involving all other stakeholders in the process.
Successful practice transitions require thoughtful planning. Remeber to begin with the end in mind and take the necessary time to move through each of the five phases of planning. That way, everyone involved moves forward with a clearly identified personal vision and series of action steps. This ensures that you will live a life by design, not by default. You will live a life that brings you all that you plan for and hope to achieve!
The On-Site Visit
The purpose of our on-site visit is to see the practice functioning in the suite and in the community. We schedule our on-site visits for two days.
We spend time getting to know the team members on an individual basis. We facilitate a team meeting that focuses on their full inclusion in the transition process. We ask them to describe the qualities of the ideal candidate from their perspective. We find this information to be invaluable in the candidate selection process.
We ask our clients to give us a thorough tour of their community. This helps us understand the lifestyle they enjoy and the lifestyle available for anyone we might recruit to join the practice. We want to be familiar with the community so we can convey our impressions to associate and buyer candidates. We look at the competition that is available from other dental practices. If the existing practice has a need to grow in order to support another dentist, we look at nearby practices that might be available to merge in with the client’s practice.
We pride ourselves in tailoring our services to the unique needs of our clients and always listen for characteristics that make the practice unique.
After returning to Colorado, we provide our clients with an extensive written summary of our discussions and our recommendations for the next actions steps.