4 Fundamental Tips to Maintaining a Happy Partnership

Whether you’re a co-owner in your practice, mentoring an associate, or considering the support of a DSO, you will face challenges that can fracture the “partnership” relationship. The good news is that with the right tools, you can work towards overcoming common obstacles and building a happy partnership to have a prosperous practice. 

If you’re considering a partnership, the first step is to determine your wants, needs, and goals . Then, find a partner whose vision aligns with your own, as most partnerships ultimately fall apart due to mismatched expectations. Once the partnership is established, you must remain proactive in realizing your big-picture focus on patient care, team productivity, and your practice legacy.

At Apex, we have a family of over 100 supported clinicians in various stages of their careers at the 42+ dental practices we support. To maintain our great partnerships, we implement four strategies that can benefit you. 

1. Communicate Regularly 

Partners should have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings. We recommend you use this time to discuss high-level strategy, long-term goals, and practice growth.  The cadence of these meetings will vary depending on your communication style and partnership model, but at Apex, we make it a priority to touch base at least once every month with our supported dentists. This format ensures our partnerships have continued alignment, vision, and roadmaps to success. 

At the end of each week, regroup with your partner and leadership team to reflect on the successes and learning opportunities that arose. Acknowledging room to improve is necessary in maintaining your practice’s growth. In our partnerships, this approach achieves two goals. First, it sets the expectation that frequent and consistent communication is necessary, which trickles down to the entire team to make it their standard too. Secondly, these conversations provide space for the leaders of the practice to acknowledge and seek assistance with any resources, training, or support the practice may need.  

2. Prioritize Mutual Respect 

You and your partner can show respect for each other by having clearly defined roles and expectations. For example, if a doctor is training an associate, the lead doctor may be responsible for the practice budget, while the associate guides the marketing and advertising strategy. Together, they may facilitate morning huddles but split the talking points so that they share the load equally. 

Without this distinction, it’s easy to find yourself in muddy waters. Your partner and team may have an unclear understanding of your roles and responsibilities.

However, an environment where partners feel respected and valued will not only improve efficiency but also positively influence the whole team. Because of your example, team members will want to be a critical piece of the practice’s success. We encourage you to engage with your team by keeping the following top of mind:

  • Goals and vision for the practice: This includes your long and short-term goals. When mentioning the main objectives for the practice, make sure your team feels invested in the future of its success. 
  • Recent achievements: Acknowledge team members who excel in patient care and are dedicated to exceeding goals. 
  • Motivators that drive you to excel: Share why you and your partner are driven to succeed every day. Also, consider implementing an incentive plan to further boost team morale. 

When mutual respect thrives in your dental practice, it will ensure everyone is committed to doing their best, leading to outstanding patient experiences and limitless productivity. 

3. Pursue Professional Development 

Your team looks to their clinical leaders for guidance on providing an outstanding patient experience and thriving in the workplace. That’s why it’s imperative for partners to lead by example in patient care, effective communication, and good daily habits. To set an excellent example, we know it’s crucial for dentists to prioritize professional growth in every stage of their careers. However, we also know this can be difficult, depending on the type of partnership you pursue. 

With the associate-to-joint-ownership model, associates may naturally assume they’ll be mentored by the successful owner-dentist they’re working for, but oftentimes, the dentist is too busy to provide regular one-to-one training. As the associate transitions to full ownership, they may still struggle to learn new skills because the tenured dentist wants to tackle more complex cases before retirement. 

If partners are intentional about their expectations for growth and time limitations, it’s possible to maintain a positive partnership. At Apex, we support our dentists’ professional growth by learning their goals and discussing ways to achieve them, whether that’s providing clinical counsel, shadowing opportunities, or continuing education. By offering technology support, in-house CE events, and empowering full clinical autonomy, we push our clinicians to exceed their goals, while offering the tools and resources to achieve them. 

4. Celebrate Milestones 

Balancing your professional and personal life is key to a rewarding career and healthy partnership. When you invest in the implementation and celebration of work successes as well as the personal wins of your partner, like birthdays, baby showers, weddings, and graduations, you will foster deeper relationships and camaraderie between you and your partner. This will lead to a better workplace, exceptional patient care, and productivity that benefits the whole team. 

Also, if you’re unaware of any immediate milestones to celebrate, your team may be due for a team-building activity. This can encourage partners and team members to bond and connect. Examples of great activities are potluck parties, escape rooms, mini golf, and icebreaker games during meetings.

However, don’t forget to highlight the day-to-day achievements as well. At Apex, we believe that every day is worthy of celebration. We acknowledge outstanding patient feedback, birthdays, and work anniversaries, as well as personal team highlights on our company-wide social platform. 

Prioritize a Positive Partnership 

The success of any dental practice depends on its leaders. If partners intentionally build and maintain a happy relationship, the entire practice will thrive. Your teams will feel safe and excited to work, and patients will be comfortable, cared for, and loyal. With those pieces, your practice can achieve stability and success that will stand the test of time. 

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By choosing the right partner, selling your dental practice can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your professional career. At Apex Dental Partners, we work closely with you every step of the way to ensure you feel comfortable and confident you're making the best decision for your future.