Lose a million without trying — Part 3

Feb. 1, 2004
A good friend of mine once said that his practice was so busy he had no choice but to stop accepting new patients. He was certain he had all he could do to manage and treat those already in his flock. He made a terrible mistake.

Tom Orent, DMD

A good friend of mine once said that his practice was so busy he had no choice but to stop accepting new patients. He was certain he had all he could do to manage and treat those already in his flock. He made a terrible mistake. Regardless of how jam-packed you are today, and how hard you've shut the back door ... every growing practice needs a constant new-patient flow. If you're not growing, you're dying.

Not only did my friend not continuously seek out new sources of patients, he did just the opposite. His only source of new patients was word-of-mouth referrals. At about the same time his practice began to suffer from attrition, his referral system shut down like a car on a wilderness highway plumb out of gas! His patients literally stopped referring to him!

Not only do you always want to be open to new patients, but also you must be able to see them within 48 hours! If not, then add new-patient blockouts into your book, ASAP. A couple of my Gems Gold Dozen personal coaching clients purchased entire practices and merged them into their own! Be on the lookout. At some point or other, there will be a dentist motivated to sell. He might have the perfect fit (and price) for you to acquire his entire patient base. This could be the most rapid and profitable way to skyrocket your practice. Regardless of technique, continual growth and new-patient flow are key to increasing the value of your practice.

Use of a personal vs. a corporate name

Your practice name is everywhere. The average practice today has its name on letterhead, business cards, and the sign in front of the building. For many, it's on Web sites, Yellow Pages, and often other forms of marketing, such as brochures, direct mail, or a monthly patient newsletter. It's literally everywhere.

What's in a name? Everything. Be careful not to build your practice solely on your own name. Choose a corporate name or a "Doing Business As" moniker, one that the community will associate with your practice from the beginning. If you think about the dental practices run by some of this country's brightest business minds, these practices are routinely called by a name other than that of the doctor who owns them. If everyone within a few miles of your location knows your intersection or corner by the name of the statue or other identifiable landmark, all the better. Everyone in Newton, Mass. instantly knows where "Four Corners Dental" can be found. In Boston, finding "Faneuil Hall Dental" would be easy, even for tourists with an emergency need.

More important than locating the practice based upon the name is being able to sell the name along with the practice. It's pretty tough to transfer "Bob Jones, DDS, PC." On the other hand, the transition need not skip a single beat when the practice always was and still remains, "Lexington Center Dental Associates."

Nonsolicitation and restrictive covenants

Don't be fooled by the position or brevity of this final word of caution. Whoever told you that you don't need "restrictive covenants" and "nonsolicitation" clauses was either lying or a fool. Both are required for you to even sell your practice if there's another doc working in your practice, on your patients! It's not too late ... but could be soon. It's better to do this as soon as possible, and definitely before another doctor ever sets foot inside your practice. Correcting this oversight now rather than later may just save you a fortune. Speak with a pro who has experience "fixing" and creating this type of agreement.

Conclusion

I've been incredibly lucky. Between my two practices, I have recently protected and recouped well in excess of that million dollars' value. Time and time again I hear sad stories from docs who relied heavily on the eventual sale value of their practice only to find themselves virtually unable to sell. A little planning now will go a long way tomorrow toward cashing in on and stashing away the nest egg you deserve.

Dr. Tom Orent, the GEMS GUY, is a management consultant and practicing dentist. He is a founding member and past president of the New England Chapter of the AACD. He has presented his "1,000 Gems Seminars™" in four countries and at state and national meetings in 46 states. He has lectured at numerous dental schools and is the author of four books and numerous articles on aesthetic dentistry, practice management, TMJ, and "Extreme Customer Service." Dr. Orent may be reached by phone at (888) 880-4367, by fax at (508) 872-0020, by email at [email protected], or visit www.1000gems.com.

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