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Essentials for Expanding from 1 to 2 Dental Locations

It seems so easy from the outside looking in.

Doesn’t it always though?

I remember the first time I worked with a doctor adding another location to his practice. I thought I knew everything until I started to search online for blogs and books and forums about it. Suddenly, I realized I knew very little.

And so, it goes with time you make a lot of mistakes. You use trial and error and talk with a lot of other doctors that have been in your shoes before to see what has worked for them in hopes that your practice can just mimic someone else’s practice.  Every practice is different but there are some key essentials. 
Here are 5 Key Essentials I wish someone had told me!

  1. Commit to a Software
  2. Develop ALL Organized Systems
  3. Create A Hiring Plan
  4. Consider branding for the future
  5. Developing training manuals, HR documents, roles and responsibilities

Committing to a software which will allow you to view both practices simultaneously is essential for reporting purposes. Remote cloud access is preferred for ease of use. The more “tools” you must use to log into your PMS, the more risk for data breaches and ransome hacks. Identify a software that will meet your needs for future expansion and allow direct internet access. My favorites are Dentrix Ascend and Carestack. Open Dental has a Clinic setting where you can toggle between the different offices. I make this recommendation because of the AR in the old software. In an acquisition, many times the old AR is not sold with the practice. The selling doctor still wants to collect what is owed to him by his patients and insurance companies. It is easier to keep the previous AR separate from the “New Company” AR with new software. New software will convert all the patients over and their insurances but will not bring over their balances. Essentially, the “old AR” payments from insurance companies and patients will be applied to the old software and that AR balance should be worked until it is down to $0 or as close as it can be. It is the cleanest way to keep everything separate if the AR is not purchased in the sale of the practice. 

I would recommend you develop all systems in your flagship office. There are more than 80 systems working together in a DSO organization. Having a well thought out plan of action for all those systems from the beginning will prevent confusion and any new employees from “doing it the way I’ve always done it”. We can talk more about these systems one-on-one if you would like. 😉

A hiring plan is one of the most essential pieces of this puzzle. You will be hiring new employees for this office; even the acquired employees should go through an interview process and their employment agreement should be updated with you. A hiring plan consists of:

  1. Interview Process
  2. Role Review/Expectations
  3. Skills Assessment for initial knowledge base
  4. Proficiency Assessment 30, 60, 90-day reviews

Not only is a hiring plan important, but also creating a hiring pipeline is equally as important. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen it has become an employee’s market in the job world. Experience is low and the asking price per hour has increased. With the lowering of insurance payments the only one who is losing here is the doctor/owner as the profitability of the office is decreasing. 

Rebranding your flagship office to incorporate your newly acquired office may need to be considered at this time. There are benefits to branding locations under one name. Name recognition in the same city can boost referrals across the town which will grow your locations rapidly. However, you must consider customer service as poor performance at either location will adversely affect all locations. If you choose not to brand all your offices together, the costs of advertising and marketing for each individual location will be more expensive. 

Clarity is one of the most important pieces of communication in a multiple location entity. Providing excellent training materials and trainers for your onboarding processes is essential. Having HR software that will organize your team’s CE hours, their licenses, certificates, annual training, time clock, tax withholdings etc. can save you so much time. Outlining the roles and responsibilities of all team members and making that available for your team can provide clarity when your team has a question and needs to know who to ask. There will need to eventually be a chain of command as you bring in more upper-level management. It will be important to update your team members when it is appropriate to go to those management members. 

When you have taken the time to select a software, develop your systems, and outline the hiring process, you will be exceptionally organized and have the first steps ready to open your second location. Going to two locations can seem like an easy step and will likely propel you to moving to acquire a third location. Having a team of leaders who will stand behind you and support you through the process will make the difference between a successful venture and a tough one. Surround yourself with the best team you can and empower them to lead with you!

Success Stories

Without the guidance and constant support from Danya, I don’t feel that I would be on this particular path this soon in my career.

- Farless Dental Group

Together we took a team who had been practicing dentistry as a group without any changes for 20 years to a new level where change took place on a daily basis.

- Dr. Jennifer Wohlers

Read More Stories

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