It is always a very sensitive time when a practice is transitioning to new ownership. Practice owners can feel a great attachment to their team, having spent time and resource on their development, as well as getting to know them on a personal level. When told the news, team members can feel vulnerable and anxious about what the future may hold and so delivering the right message at the right time is critical for success.
Before the transition
Whether the proprietor has decided to sell to an individual or a corporate group, the value of the dental team is recognised by potential buyers and they will often seek to retain staff. It is understood that the front-desk team’s relationships with patients adds goodwill, as does the approachable and professional dental nurses and hygienists. If the seller is unable to tell the team of the change early on in discussions, they may want to consider ways in which they can help the team to prepare for the change so that they do not feel exposed when they are told the news. Are the team up-to-date with their training and educational needs for confidence in what they have to offer the new owner? Is their appraisal detailed with all their achievements to date? Have their personal development needs been identified and an action plan put in place?
All in the timing
When to tell the team about the sale of a practice is a debated subject. Too soon, and it opens up a window for gossip and uncertainty, particularly if word gets out to patients who may then look to switch practices or be reluctant to commit to more extensive treatment. Too late, and the team might feel let down and shocked by the imminent change in management. Unfortunately there is no mathematical equation for working out the right moment and it will vary depending on the individual practice.
Supporting the team
The team emotions are often one of the heaviest burdens on a principal and so selling to an experienced purchaser who can be trusted to continue looking after all members of staff. Rodericks Dental, for example, offers a quick completion so that the “secret” does not need to be kept for a lengthy period. Further still, they can visit the practice out of working hours, even at the weekend, and they offer extensive training and support services for all professionals to advance their careers.
Selling a dental practice can opens up great new opportunities for the owner and the team. Managing the team during the transition can be challenging but with the right approach and support, it can go smoothly.
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