Friday, May 2, 2008

The associate

I told you all me associate starts on Monday.

I want to tell you the story about the whole thing.

My dad is almost 64 years old. About a year ago I started talking to him about what he is thinking about doing about the big "R" word.
This is a great time for us, because we really are getting along great. He is loving practicing but sees that he has a lot of interests other than dentistry and realizes now that he has the money to take off whenever he wants.
But also this is a great time to bring someone else in.
We have the luxury of doing this on our time schedule.
So I asked him, "how much longer do you need to practice (moneywise)?" He said about 3 years.
I said, "Well, why don't we start looking for an associate now. I think it will take a long time to find one. And when we do find one it may take a long time to get him (I will tell you about the HIM thing later) going."
I told my supply rep. to spread the word that we were looking for someone.
I put an add in the local dental society newsletter.

It said something to this effect...
Father and son practice looking for an associate. The practice is fully digital and excited about the opportunity to have someone join our family.
We work in a great community and have a great staff. In anyone is looking for a place to call home and become part of this practice and community and is looking for a career not a job, please call John blah, blah, blah.

I thought I would lay it on the line with the ad. I wanted people to know what they were getting into.

I can say that my ideal was something like this. I didn't want a new grad but I wanted someone younger than me. Not that I don't love new grads and there spunk. I remember how hard it was coming right out of school and how little I knew about real life dentistry. For some reason I thought it would be a male. I always thought my partner would love sports and I would come to work and we would talk about the game. We would talk about our next trip to whatever sporting event.
I hope this doesn't sound like I am being a sexist because I am not. I just had this mindset. I go to study clubs and me and the dudes (in the study club it is 8 to 1 guy to girl) talk about teeth and the latest game and what games so and so went to. We talk about stats and stuff like that.
I thought coming to work with an associate would be more of the same.

So the resumes started to come in. Dental students, residence, associates, displaced dentists. All women and NO men.
I interviewed about 11 women and zero men.
I thought about this alot. Why no men?
Do they not want to partner with two other dudes? Are they opening up there own places more than woman?
Do women appreciate associateships more than men?
Do they want to be with other dentists so they can have a family and still have a place to work?
I don't know the answers but I didn't dare ask one of them.

I did have two guys that I knew in town that I talked to about it.
One guy is a big Gator fan and is real unhappy with his associateship, he came by just to see how the magic happens here and we talked for a little bit. Then I never heard from him again. (I guess there was not much magic).
The other guy goes to my church. He is also unhappy in his present situation. We did a lot of talking and he says that my office was too far for him (10 miles from his house. I hear my BS meter going off).
That was it for the men.

So I started to change my mindset. What would it be like working with a woman?
I never really thought about it, but it was becoming more and more evident that it was going to be a woman. I started to warm up to it (it not her...that is how rumors get started).
Also, my staff is convinced that some mothers would prefer a woman dentist for their kids. And some people would prefer to have a woman dentist for themselves (I guess I could agree with them. If that is true, good. Then my patients will have that choice. Old, young, girl or boy).

The way I handled the resumes was, the people that said they were interested I first talked to them on the phone. I kind of felt them out for the kind of thing they were looking for.
Then if I enjoyed talking to them on the phone I would ask them for their email address. I had about 40 questions that I emailed to them and told them I wanted them to think about before we talked in person.
They were questions that were going to tell them about our practice and get them thinking outside the box a bit.
Like, How would you classify your management style?
What part of school did you love? (I was thinking if they loved the first two years of school and didn't like the second two, then we are not going to jive).
I asked them if they are passionate about dentistry.
What do they love and hate about dentistry?
How do you deal with conflict?
Things like this.

I interviewed at my office about 8 people.
To say the least I was very impressed. The problem I was having was they are very smart. I don't know if you have got this by now that I am not an intellectual. I am relationship kind of guy. I am a tooth kind of guy not a sum cum laude kind of guy. YouknowwhatIsayin?
Can my associate be smarter than me? I guess they are going to have to be.

As an aside, I was telling my wife about the process. When I told her they were all woman her ears poked up. What do you mean they are all women? Honey I don't know, they are the only ones that are responding to the ad.
As you can imagine my wife would rather me not spend alone time with another woman. I mean she realizes as a partner there might be many times that me and this dentist would have to spend a bunch of time together after work and stuff like that.
I have always been cautious of spending alone time with woman, other than my wife.
But at the office it is almost impossible. I stay after hours to do my work. So does some of my staff. Then all but one goes home. Then it is me and her for 20 minutes or so.
I always thought that the less you put yourself in bad situations the better.

Back to the search...
I narrowed it down to two.

Now up until then my father wasn't involved. So I told him, I have the top two and now I want him to get involved.
So we were going to have both candidates to our house for dinner with everyone"s spouse (at different times. Can you say CAT FIGHT?)

They were both super. But one stood out.
It was time to pull the trigger.
I mean to me, this is a big deal. I don't like change and this is a BIG change.
I called her and we made a start date.
By the way, my wife really like her as well. She was impressed by her and the way she carried herself. I guess it is a woman thing...I wouldn't understand.

Now, we have an associate. What the hell do we do now?

We have a practice that is doing well. We do not have a practice that is bursting at the seems.
I am very busy. We live in a town that is really growing. They are putting in commerce all over the place. For instance, there is a Home Depot 200 yards down the street and they are building a Lowes across the street from Home Depot.
There is a neighborhood across the street from us that has 600 homes in it. The neighborhood our practice is in front of has over 2000 homes in it. There is only two dentists on this side of town and we are one of them.
But we don't market ourselves. I don't have time. I haven't even been to a school in 8 years.
There are probably 10 elementary schools within a five mile radius of our office.
My thought process is that she starts at 2 days a week (she has another gig three days a week). My thought process is that I will give her all the new kids.
Now if she could build like I did it would look like this. See the kids and do a great job. The kids have parents and grandparents. The parents have neighbors and the parents have bosses and colleagues. And so on and so on.
So she has a couple of things on the books but really what I have her doing is going to a bunch of schools. This is the last month of school so I say hit them hard now and have a real busy summer.

You know, just getting yourself out there. Letting people know you exist.
Maybe Rotary, maybe Chamber of Commerce.
Junior League, stuff like this.
I thought about getting a website.
Stuff like this.

Just something going on in my life that I thought you should know about.
I could tell you all the ins and outs (like the other job she has is 5 miles away and she hasn't told her present boss about me or that she lives about 700 yards from our practice).
but it would really be way too long.

Have a great weekend,
I don't know about you but in Florida we are in our pool everyday.
Be jealous, be very jealous.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great planning and execution, John. Change is difficult. Putting someone new in you and your Dad's 'space' is asking for change in a BIG way. But you covered the bases (particularly with your wife! Great idea to share face time with all parties over mealtime.)

Can't wait to see what you learn from the new Associate. My guess is that your waiting room is going to be full very soon.

Kyle DeLoach
Life Coach for Dental Professionals


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