Transitioning From Principal to Associate
Selling your practice and staying on as an associate seems to be a growing trend. Who can blame a principal who is fed up with dealing with the demands of compliance, and a recent rise in practice values but still wants to enjoy their dentistry? But there may well be generational challenges with the potential for conflict.
So here are a few tips.
For both parties:
- Acknowledge that there are likely to be differences of opinions and philosophy but don’t assume it. Try to be positive.
- Get a good “pre-nup” agreement in place so there are no doubts about your business relationship.
- Arrange to have a regular conversation in a neutral venue, away from the practice, over lunch or a cup of tea. Put it in both your appointment books and keep it.
- As this is an arranged relationship, accept that you may not actually like each other but keep the relationship professional – it isn’t a real marriage, you are not partners.
- Walk a mile in the other’s shoes – imagine what they are going through and acknowledge and accept their feelings. One brings experience the other enthusiasm.
- You’re going to get further faster and better if you work together.
- Start as you mean to go on; so don’t tolerate anything undermining your authority. You have the facility to replace your successor but it is the last resort.
- Remember the buck stops here, any mistakes are your problem; step up and deal with them, and don’t blame on the past.
- Be completely honest with the previous owner; share your ideas, your dreams and goals.
- Be prepared to support your ideas for change with facts, science and evidence.
- Involve the old boss and maintain a dialogue, ask for opinions and advice but be prepared to ignore them.
- The previous owner has put in decades of work it is OK for them to feel some sense of loss.
- Accept that you can be sacked.
- Prepare to button your lip about changes, only give your opinions when they are sought.
- Try to become the associate that you wished that you had for all these years. So be prepared to go the extra mile.
- Get used to saying, “it’s not my problem” when other team members come for help.
- Don’t encourage dissent, don’t get ideas above your pay grade and above all when you are leaving at the end of the day and the new boy or girl is just getting to grips with paperwork, just smile and think how lucky you are.
- The new person is likely to feel intimidated, out of their depth and nervous, but remember how it was for you.
Good luck to you both, but of course, luck has nothing to do with it!
Alun K Rees BDS is The Dental Business Coach. An experienced dental Practice owner who changed career he now works as a coach, consultant, troubleshooter, analyst, speaker, writer & broadcaster. He brings the wisdom gained from his and others’ successes to help his clients achieve the rewards their work and dedication deserve.