Should You Add an Associate?

Many of the dentists who call to discuss the sale of their dental practice realize later in their career they are trading quality of life for income received. Make no mistake. There is a trade off between the more the dentist works and the more their quality of life suffers.  This burn out syndrome will affect every dentist at some point in their career. At this point, you might want to add an associate.

Some of the sacrifices might come in the form of a dentist never taking a vacation from the dental practice.  If a practice is collecting $90,000 a month, a two week vacation is a proposition that does not make sense to the dentist.  The practice will possibly lose $45,000 in revenue and the overhead will continue, costing the dentist approximately $25,000.  If the dentist spends $10,000 for the vacation, then the total cost to the dentist is $80,000.  Its obvious why many of our clients never take a vacation.  At some point in a dentists career, the extra dollar earned is no longer worth the extra minute that it takes.

Some dentists at this point may decide to add an associate who earns approximately $100,000 to $150,000 per year.  However, the associate does not have the same risk the owner of the practice does. Long after the associate goes home, the owning dentist will still have to deal with staff issues, facility issues, practice finances, management etc.  The associate can also leave at any time taking valuable time, effort and possibly goodwill with them.

So this brings us back to the trade off.  You, the dentist, are trading time for money.  Whether the trade is worth it depends on the situation.  The first step in making a good decision involves a clear understanding of what the dentist is giving up or getting in return.  What is one more year in the chair worth to you?  Once you know the answer to this question, the next decision will be easy to make.


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