Considering a merger? Here's what you need to know

2014 10 28 15 00 54 287 Mc Kenzie Sally 200

Dental practice mergers often make sense. Merging with another established practice in your area offers plenty of benefits, from reducing competition to expanding your patient base to gaining more referral sources -- all factors that can lead to growth and increased profits.

But a practice merger isn't a business transaction you should jump into lightly. There's a lot that goes into a successful merger, and joining forces with another practice will lead to significant changes that both you and your team members must be prepared for.

Think a merger might be best for your practice? Here are a few tips to help ensure your merger is a success.

Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

Analyze both practices

Once you find the right practice to merge with, an analysis of both the seller and the buyer's business operations, employees, and job descriptions must be done. What if the two practices have different software, different philosophies, and different job descriptions? From there, develop a business plan of action that combines the best of both practice systems.

Create a new identity

When you merge your practice with another, it's no longer just your vision and your goals that you have to think about. Work together to expand your vision from "mine" to "ours," and create a new practice identity from this shared vision. Remember for a successful merger, you have to meld the best of both practice's systems and employees.

Communicate with your team members

When your employees hear the word merger, they might start fearing for their jobs. Make sure your team members understand why you've decided this is the best move for your practice.

It's also important to get employees involved in creating the practice's new identity and to keep them up-to-date on everything that's happening. Make them feel involved in the process, not like they're outsiders waiting to be told their fate.

If you aren't transparent, your team members will likely become disengaged from the practice -- and that not only means their performance will suffer (which could cost you patients), it also means they might start looking for new jobs. Bottom line, while focusing on financial and business systems is important during the merger process, you simply can't forget about the human factor.

Encourage collaboration

After a merger, all too often employees from the two companies develop an "us versus them" mentality. Don't let that happen in your new practice. Focus on creating a culture of engagement from the beginning, and get everyone involved with developing the practice's new identity and shared vision. Schedule team events and regular meetings once the merger is complete, and let all employees know their opinions are valued. This will help foster loyalty and commitment and will also lead to a sense of collaboration between both teams -- and that's key to a successful merger.

Prepare for more patients

While gaining patients is one of the benefits of merging two dental practices, you have to think about how you're going to handle these new patients. Keep in mind this growth will result in changes to the schedule. You might need to expand practice hours, for example, especially if there aren't enough treatment rooms to accommodate the increase in patients.

Merging your practice with another is a big decision that will result in many changes for you and your employees, but if you find the right match and create a collaborative culture from the beginning, it could lead you to the success you've always wanted. Just remember you have to develop a plan from the start and communicate with both sets of teams about the merger and how important their role is to the new practice.

Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, which offers educational and management products available at Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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