We are often asked the question: “Should I take on a partner or hire an associate for my dental practice?” Ultimately, our advice and your eventual decision depends on various factors that are specific to your circumstances and goals.
Here are a few points to consider:
- Ownership timeline: How long you intend to continue practicing. Do you envision working for several more years while expanding and/or growing the practice, or are you more interested in maintaining sole ownership and control with a sale in the immediate future?
- Financial implications: Taking on a partner means sharing ownership, profits, and expenses, whereas an associate would be an employee on a percentage of collections arrangement. Assess your financial situation, including the potential costs and benefits of each option.
- Workload and responsibilities: Determine whether you would benefit from sharing the workload and responsibilities of running the practice. A partner can contribute to management tasks, marketing efforts, and overall practice growth. Alternatively, an associate can help alleviate your patient load and allow for more work-life balance.
- Skill set and expertise: Consider your own strengths and weaknesses and identify areas where you may benefit from additional expertise. A partner can bring complementary skills and knowledge to the table, whereas an associate may primarily provide additional clinical support.
- Compatibility and trust: In a partnership, it’s crucial to find someone who shares your values, work ethic, and vision for the practice. Trust and effective communication are vital for a successful partnership. With an associate, you’ll need to focus on finding a reliable and skilled professional who fits well within your practice culture.
- Effect on future sale: If you are contemplating a sale to a Dental Service Organization (DSO), bringing in a younger partner may limit your ability to sell to a DSO, whereas hiring an associate may increase the desirability of your practice.
- Legal and contractual considerations: Consult with professionals who specialize in dental practice sales as well as partnership agreements and/or associate contracts to understand the legal implications, costs and requirements for forming a partnership or hiring an associate.
It is advisable to seek guidance from professionals like attorneys, accountants, and dental practice consultants who can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.