Blind Spots: After practice purchase, now what? Part 1

2014 04 22 15 07 02 651 Keller Jan 200

In this three-part series, practice management consultant Jan Keller explores what dentists who have recently purchased a practice can do to avoid common pitfalls and facilitate lasting success. In part one, she offers a four-point checklist of what needs to happen first.

You've done it, bought your own previously established practice. You feel exhilarated, excited, and, of course, more than a little nervous. After all, you've likely not only acquired debt, a building, and hopefully a bunch of patients, but an existing team as well. Will they like you? Will you like them? What now?

4-point checklist

If you find yourself in this position, here is a four-point checklist of things you should do right away.

Practice management consultant Jan Keller.Practice management consultant Jan Keller.

1. Assemble your own team of advisors

Your team might include, for instance, a certified public accountant, a banker, a lawyer, and dental sales rep, and a dental consultant who provides advice and assistance in learning to run your practice as a successful small business. While a good team may already be in place, you face the risk of being seen by them as an associate rather than an owner. It's important to choose people who understand and agree with your philosophy and vision for your practice, as well as to get independent and unbiased advice.

2. Team meeting

Have a team meeting to review the philosophy of the previous practice and owner and also to discuss how your philosophy may be different. Explain your vision and where you want to go. Get feedback from team members -- how do they view the practice as it is now?

Questions to ask the team members include the following:

  • Do they have the systems and tools in place they need to not only do their job, but enjoy their job?
  • What, if anything, would they like to see changed or modified?
  • Do they feel the practice is growing or stagnant and why?
  • What personal goals do they have for the next year?

3. Review your expectations

Expectations for each team member and each system in the practice should be reviewed.

For instance, consider the following questions:

  • What are your expectations when it comes to negotiating payments arrangements?
  • What questions and conversations do you want the clinical team to have with patients?
  • How do you want the handoff between you and the hygiene department to look and sound?
  • How does the handoff look like when moving patients from the clinical area to the admin area to handle future appointments and also financial and insurance issues?
  • What questions do you want your assistants to ask before the onset of treatment and on completion of treatment?

4. Website and social media

It's important to ensure your practice website and social media sites are current. Take some time to ensure the following:

  • Your bio is up to date and includes a good photo. The About the Doctor and About the Team pages are the first- and second-most read pages on any dental website, according to research by numerous industry sources, and well-stated in this post from Sesame Communications. Don't lose this important and affordable opportunity to introduce yourself to your new patients and tell them about your vision for your practice. Encourage them to call with questions, or invite them to a "meet and greet" or open house.
  • If you find your social media options daunting, start with Facebook. It's easy to use and it's free. Take advantage of this. Make sure your posts are well-written and personal. Generic posts about general dental topics that are provided by a third party are OK once in a while, but the more you talk about your practice and your patients, the better. (Make sure to get permission before you use names or photos.)

If you have been an associate and have now bought an existing practice, most likely you have some ideas you want to implement that you have not had the authority or approval to act on before now. Ultimately, you must decide early on what you want to see your practice look and operate like, and take steps to put that vision into place immediately.

In the second part of this series, Jan details how to lead and work with an inherited team.

Jan Keller has more than 25 years of experience in dentistry as an office manager and a software trainer. She is a member of the Speaking Consulting Network and the Academy of Dental Management Consultants. Contact her at [email protected]. If you need help writing your bio, Jan recommends contacting her colleague, Jill Townsend, or visit her website at

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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