For A Successful Dental Practice Transition, the Key Is to Match Personalities

Did you ever notice when you walk into a successful dental office, you sense a trend? If the receptionist is talkative and friendly, the hygienist seems to be the same way. If you require a restoration, the assistant who seats you is smiling and inquisitive. You can distinctly discern that the patients in the rooms close to you are having a good time. Then, the dentist comes in and is relating humorous anecdotes during the procedure. Everyone seems to be in a good mood, and they all seem to be in sync. Before you know it, the procedure is done and you’ve enjoyed yourself.

This is not by accident. Dentists usually have many resumes to choose from, and during the hiring interview, we can sense in about the second minute if we like the personality of the prospective employee. And if we like it, it is because it is very similar to ours. So, all of the employees end up having generally similar personalities. Patients that come to a dental office are typically apprehensive about having dental work performed on them. The one thing they don’t want to worry about is getting along with the staff; and the dentist. So…patients end up staying with dentists and their employees who match their personalities. They then refer their best friends and acquaintances, who fill those roles because they have similar likes and preferences. So, in the end, the vast majority of everybody in the office; dentist, staff, and patients; approach life similarly. This is the practice personality. Every practice has it, and it is as special and unique as that of an individual person. Some practices are serious, and quiet…and very successful. There is no right and no wrong; there is just a difference in practice personality.

When a dental practice is going through a transition, it is essential that the personality of the new member be similar to that of the practice. The personalities have to match to a significant degree. There will obviously be variations in routine and procedure, but the core personalities (which are what they are) had better be in the same sphere. If they aren’t, it doesn’t matter if everything else is right about the practice; there is a much greater likelihood of dissension, and patients and staff may be lost. Conversely, even in a practice that appears financially stressed at the time of transition, a harmonious tenor in the office will almost always succeed in rallying the practice. So; keep this in mind if you are selling a practice (because you will always want your practice, even in the past tense, to be successful), buying a practice (because you are paying for it, and you’ve got to live and thrive every day with these patients and staff), merging practices (because now patients and staff will be intermingled), or becoming an associate in a practice. You married your spouse because you have similar personalities. Your dental practice is your other spouse, and your immediate family, for eight or more hours a day; and for decades. You are married to it. Treat it as such before you propose to it.

  • Kim A. Sena DDS
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Cell: 616-450-3890 (preferable #) Office: 800-334-9126
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