There was a reason you went to to dental school. You wanted to go, prepared, got accepted, went, graduated, and began to practice. That takes a lot of internal motivation sustained over a long period of time to achieve a difficult end.
What was your motivation? Have you lost sight of it?
When you come into the office each day, do you look forward to your work? Or does one day blur into another, punctuated only by fluctuations of stress?
Put simply, when you think about putting your dental office for sale, is it with a sense of accomplishment? Or is it with longing for relief?
To be sure, being a dentist and running your own office is stressful. In addition to dental care, in any given day, you may also have to be a bookkeeper, a human resources office, and a general manager. No one is invested like you are. It can create a sense of being all on your own, and you’re not alone if you feel a little lost under the burden.
If you’ve lost your sense of purpose, it will affect every aspect of your practice—starting with your staff and bleeding out to your patients. Once patients sense it, they will be less likely to return.
But, you can regain the sense of purpose that you once had. In fact, you must if you want to maintain the long term success for your practice. The good news is, while turning this sort of ennui around isn’t the easiest thing in the world, you might be surprised to find a few simple things will set you back on a path you feel good about.
Remember Why You Did This
Think back to when you first decided to go to dental school. What were your reasons? Think about your education. How did that change your purpose and sense of your future?
Finally, think back to when you graduated and were preparing to start, join, or buy your own practice. Why did you want to do that? What did you imagine it would be like?
Those last two questions may be the most important. The reason why you wanted your own practice is still there. The problem is probably in the disconnect between what you thought it would be like, and how it is in reality. Take time to consider that just because something turned out differently than you expected, doesn’t necessarily mean its gone wrong.
Once you’ve remembered your purpose, consider where you are at now. What’s good about your practice? You have to have an accurate sense of both the positive and negative to make an objective assessment of your practice’s success.
Like many people, maybe you tend to look at what’s wrong over what’s right, and the human brain is wired this way. But in the modern world, happiness depends on taking time to appreciate all of the parts that make up the whole.
Once you have a sense of what’s working, then consider what isn’t. If the problems are easily identified, they are probably more easily solved with actions such as creating new office practices or policies, or by replacing or training staff.
If the problems are harder to pin down—indicating a more systemic problem—consider bringing in a business consultant to assess your practice and make recommendations. Often an outside observer can view the situation more objectively, putting them in a better position to identify what works and what doesn’t.
Consider having one-on-one conversations with your staff to get their perspective on where things are at. It’s important to do this one-on-one, rather than in a staff meeting. It takes more time, but you’ll be sure to get everyone’s input and they’ll speak more freely.
Once you’ve done these assessments, reconsider your original purpose. Is the way your practice is operating moving you toward that purpose, or away from it? Is the purpose still relevant?
Have the ways you’ve changed personally, especially after experiencing dentistry as a practicing doctor, changed? What it is you really want to accomplish? If so, consciously revise your purpose.
All of this is to make sure you are on course to achieve what you set out to accomplish (or move you toward your new goal). As noted above, a practice without purpose is likely to suffer.
When you put your dental practice for sale at the end of your career, you want to see that you are transitioning your practice at its peak, not when its fizzled out. Once you know what’s going well and what needs to be changed, you can create a plan to right the wrongs and move forward in a positive direction.
It Takes a Village (or, at Least, Your Staff and Advisors)
Once you’ve reengaged or revised your career purpose, you need to bring your team on board. You team includes all of your employees, your outside professionals (accountants, lawyers, consultants, etc.), and your informal advisors— those colleagues, friends, and family that you trust and rely on for advice.
Just as you can’t run the whole practice by yourself, you won’t be able to course-correct your office to meet your purpose by yourself. When you are discussing changes with staff, they need to understand the “why” behind the change so they’ll be bought-in. If the staff doesn’t understand the “why,” they’ll be more reluctant.
There is no need for anything but transparency here. In fact, staff can be more motivated by the idea that they are contributing to the success of the office—feeling like an important part of positive change, rather than just a replaceable cog in a system.
Another benefit of enlisting your team is that it forces you to clearly articulate your purpose and your goals for achieving that purpose. You’ll find out how well thought out your ideas and plans are. Gaps will be illuminated and can be filled in at an early stage rather than later when a problem arises.
You’ll also get feedback from your team. Are they enthusiastic or skeptical? That can indicate a sense of how realistic your plans are. Skepticism doesn’t necessarily mean your plan isn’t good, it may just be missing some intermediary steps to get from A to B before you can get to C, D, E, and so on.
Career Goals Impact Post-Career Goals
We’ve discussed your purpose for your career, however, there is something important that is largely depended on your career success— what happens after you put your dental practice for sale.
You can’t practice forever. You probably don’t want to. How do you envision your retirement? Where will you live? How will you live? What will you have to enjoy once you’ve set down your handset for the last time?
Being able to choose how you live in retirement is dependent on building value in your practice now. If you have an idea in mind of where you’d like to end up, you need to map out a clear path to get there. Without a path to follow, who knows where you’ll end up? Regardless of where you are in your career, it’s not too late to start charting that course. And it’s never too early.
DDSmatch Southwest Can Help Prepare Your Dental Office for Sale
If you are in the later stage of your career, you can benefit from a Practice Transition Assessment. This is a free service offered with no obligation and designed for doctors considering transitioning their practice in the next five years.
As part of this assessment, we will discuss with you the the current local dental practice transition marketplace and help you identify the best transition options for your practice. We will suggest practice physical and image improvements and advise on potential practice investments to increase value. This will help you understand where your practice stands and where you can get it to before placing your dental office for sale. Contact us today and find out how we can help you achieve your purpose.