Thinking about hiring an associate?


Before hiring an associate, ask yourself these questions.

What is my motivation for bringing on an associate?

There are typically two reasons why a dentist decides to hire an associate: growth of the practice or desire to slow down. If the reason is growth, make sure you can explain the growth and quantify it if possible. For example, if you are turning away new patients, make sure you know how many you are turning away each month. Or, if you acquired a satellite office and need another provider, have production figures available to show a potential candidate what they can expect to take on. If your motivation is your desire to slow down, do some soul searching to determine exactly how many days you want to give to a potential associate and what you are willing to give up to support them. Keep in mind, most associates are not going to be willing or able to “build their own patient base” inside your practice. They are going to have financial obligations that will prohibit them from taking a job where they have to start from scratch.

What does an associate cost?

With the rise of the DSO, this is a tricky question. Historically, associate dentists have been paid around 28-30% of collections. However, as a hiring dentist, you are now competing with these DSOs for associates. DSOs are able to offer lucrative compensation packages to new dentists that are hard to match for private practices. These DSOs are offering benefits, loan repayment programs, and guarantees; things most small businesses can’t afford to do. If you are looking for a high-quality associate, be prepared to pay up to 35% of collections and potentially a daily minimum. Make sure you are prepared to convey the non-financial benefits of working in private practice to potential associates, benefits that they won’t get in corporate dentistry. Educate them on the patient relationships, autonomy, and mentoring opportunities that more frequently come with working in private practice. Money is important, but it is not everything.

How do I know if I can afford to hire an associate?

If you are slowing down and can estimate the amount of production the associate will be taking over, you can calculate the cost. If your overhead is 60%, you can break even by paying 40% of collections. Anything less should be profit to you. If you are in growth mode, it is a little trickier. If you don’t know what the associate’s collections will be, you need to calculate how much they will need to collect in order to pay for themselves. This requires taking a look at your current fixed expenses, adding the cost of additional staff members including the minimum guaranteed compensation for the associate, and adjusting for variable expenses. Contact us if you need assistance with this calculation.

How do I get started?

Once you have decided that you are ready to hire an associate, spend some time defining the opportunity and figuring out who would be a good fit. Then, plan on spending the next 6 months to one year looking for the right person. Don’t settle, especially if this is someone that you want to have a long-term relationship with. There are more jobs than associates, so be patient! The right one will come along. Call us today to get started finding your perfect associate!