Dentistry is an analytical profession and at practice level it is right and correct that clinical decisions are made based on appropriate evidence and generally conservative in nature.
In business operations however, it sometimes pays to make quick decisions, particularly in attracting and retaining quality staff.
When recruiting, we all like to work to an ideal of say half a dozen or more applications, arrange perhaps 3-4 interviews and end up with two good candidates – the best of which is offered the job and accepts.
The reality for many practices is more likely that they receive 25 CVs, 20 of which are wholly unsuitable. 5 are okay but only 2 are worth interviewing – one of which has accepted another job by the time you ask them in for interview. Sound familiar?
If you are looking to recruit, it helps to have a plan in place to enable you to respond to any quality applications that you might receive. If you work with a good agency, they’ll work with you to discuss appropriate timescales for receiving/reviewing CVs, arranging interviews etc. But if you’re recruiting directly, make sure you have time available to bring candidates in for interview and you’re not off on holiday for 2 weeks just at the adverts go to press. Even better, why not include suggested interview timescales within your adverts.
If it is appropriate to do so, speed up the decision making process at interview stage as well. If you know you’ve found a cracking candidate you’re really keen on don’t let them get away. They could well be going to other interviews, so why not discuss potential packages and possible start dates with them at the interview. You don’t have to make an offer there and then (although you could), but you could certainly gauge their interest and assess whether they’re likely to take the job if they were offered. At the very least you should conclude the interview knowing whether they have got other interviews/offers, when they could start, when they might be looking to hand their notice in and with a very good idea of whether they would accept an offer at a salary/package which you can afford.
There is nothing more wasteful than investing time, money and effort in to the recruitment process to find a great candidate and enthusiastically offer them the job after you’ve interviewed everyone else – only to find out they’ve found a new job elsewhere.
Blue Sky People
There is absolutely no doubt that social media is having a dramatic effect on how people do business. Consumer led FMCG businesses are now spending hundreds of millions on managing their social media campaigns and often have dedicated recruitment teams using social media to identify potential hires.
Even within the dental sector here in the UK dental practices are fast appreciating the need for a high quality on-line presence and better still are also working hard to create a relevant and positive social media presence.
Those practices that are spending time thinking about creating a social media space for their business are generally focusing on keeping or attracting new clients/patients and creating an opportunity to engage more freely with their existing client base.
But, there are many practices out there with a stable patient base of good loyal customers who regularly turn up for their check-ups and hence see little or no reason to devote time to create an on-line or social media presence.
From a patient acquisition perspective, that is all well and good, but if you’re looking for staff due to expansion or just natural turnover, a lack of on-line or social media presence could well be the reason that you are struggling to recruit.
When talking to candidates about opportunities, the first question we’re asked is who and where the practice is. The most proactive and motivated candidates will do their own research, quickly looking for the practice website as well as for reviews on sites like NHS Choices.
If they find little or no presence on-line, average or poor reviews with no follow up from the practice or a poor or outdated website you’ll quickly find them withdrawing from the process. On-line, first impressions still count.
If you want to attract talented and motivated staff to your practice, there needs to be something in it for them. Yes, salaries are important and will generally be a considered factor in the decision making process, but if your social media or on-line presence isn’t up to scratch – you’re unlikely to get to as far as discussing salaries with the best people out there. They’ll create an opinion of your practice/business well before the interview process.
But what about using social media to advertise positions and recruit? There is no doubt you can reach a wide audience with clever targeted advertising, but you can also become inundated with responses and therein lies the problem. How do you start to identify the right candidates? One of primary reasons our clients list for having ceased to advertise directly is the sometimes overwhelming response levels – combined with frustratingly poor quality.
While your business should have a suitable on-line presence, recruitment agencies are generally the experts in recruiting through social media. As such you may be better to recruit key positions through an agency or via more traditional direct recruitment methods.
If you would like to talk to us at Blue Sky People about how to recruit for a key position within your dental practice then do call or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help start 2016 with less overwhelm and more direction.
At present there sometimes seems to be a surfeit of dental jobs out there but the market for choice dental associate jobs is becoming very competitive.
Many young dentists aspire to work in the private sector and we are often asked for advice on how to be able to compete for these types of positions.
Jan Clarke BDS is a Business Mentor/Coach with Rose & Co and was a Practice Principal for 17 years. We asked Jan for some pointers on what Principals might be looking for when comparing CVs or throughout the recruitment and interview process:-
- Keep up to date with CPD and not just core CPD, you should start to invest in yourself by attending good quality courses that show an understanding of career and self development.
- Qualifications matter but are not the be all and end all. A good depth of knowledge and being able to demonstrate that, is more valuable.
- With that in mind invest in some good photographic equipment and start to keep a portfolio of cases. This will help with patient education anyway, but it is no longer accepted to expect a practice to supply you with all the equipment for photography. It will be an expense you will not regret.
- Join a study group. Peer review is essential for growth and development as a clinician and a dentist who can show he regularly shares his cases, successes and failures, is a dentist who can show he is learning and growing.
- Find a mentor, someone you look up to and admire and ask them if they will help guide your career. Most older dentists are delighted to support younger colleagues. I know I have enjoyed seeing my young vocational trainees move on to buy their own practices or specialise in their chosen field.
- Network, attend local meetings, participate in social media sites. Some of the best jobs never get to be advertised or are being discretely marketed by specialist agencies.
- Get involved with your practice. An associate who helps within the practice and can be seen to be a team player will stand out. Consider taking responsibility for audit or help train the rest of the team in a new procedure you may have started. This will also help you get more out of the job you are already in. Participate!
- Don’t get involved in any team gossip/politics. Team members may come to you with gripes about the “Boss”, try and help them see the problems and the solutions and encourage them to go to the Principal with solutions. A happy, proactive team is a productive team and will generate a better working environment for all. Sometimes associates forget they can help improve this and you might just learn some very useful skills for your next positions.
- And of course, register your CV with a specialist recruitment agency such as Blue Sky People, so when the perfect job comes on the market you can be one of the first to be contacted about it.
We would be delighted to hear from you and discuss your employment requirements so when the time is right….
We’ve recently undertaken a number of recruitment assignments with dental practices or small groups specifically undertaking searches for business management & marketing expertise from outside of the dental sector.
Clearly there are significant changes going on within the dental market at present with greater consolidation, on-line marketing and social media and with the recent acquisition of DPAS by Weslyan, changes are also taking place within the Private/Plan space.
I took the time to have a conversation with Kevin Rose of Rose & Co about some of the challenges facing dentists and what they’re doing to meet those challenges.
Q Paul – Kevin, it’s well documented that dentists are facing what to some might seem like a perfect storm of increased regulatory burden, staffing/HR issues and overall business costs at the moment, what’s your view on some of the biggest challenges faced by dental practices today?
A Kevin – I think that we could be heading towards some kind of ‘super regulator’ such as that we have seen in financial services. The implication will be that smaller independent dental practices will have to outsource large areas of their supervision and regulation to third parties. We have seen how well this can work and I don’t think it’s anything to be scared of. In the meantime, remember that a regulator has to deal with the lowest common denominator who in turn will always try and find a way around the regulation. My advice is to lead and run your business in a way that is congruent with your own values and integrity. It may be that you will then have to fill more forms in to prove that you are on the right side of the regulation, but at least it just be confirming your position rather than requiring a fundamental U turn in the way that you operate.
Q Paul – Given that there is so much going on in the Private Plan sector with Denplan looking to move in to practice ownership, Bupa acquiring aggressively and recent acquisition of DPAS by Wesylan, do you have a view on where things might be heading?
A Kevin – We are seeing all of the signs associated with a market that is maturing and by that I mean the small and independent practice. You have a choice to either differentiate away from the corporates or try and compete directly. This reminds me of how we have seen independent retailers wiped out by high street chains. For many it has been too much to handle and yet we are now starting to see independent retailers thriving in the high street again. The formula seems to be to focus on differentiation rather than to compete on price. Competing on price is a downward spiral to failure.
Q Paul – While there is no one size fits all solution, what do you think practice owners can do to take control of their own destiny in the face of a still challenging marketplace?
A Kevin – You are right, there really isn’t a one size fits all solution and often I think that searching for one can send dental practice owners along the wrong path, where misguided quick fixes do at first look tempting but rarely work in the long term.
I think that we have to brave enough to ask bigger questions. For example, at a local level I hear loads of dentists asking how they can get more patients and sell more treatment plans and to a point I understand this, but in doing so they risk not asking the bigger question. The bigger question is to look at overcoming the memes and prejudices that people have about seeing the dentist. How come we hear phrases like “I have never met a poor dentist” and yet many dentists are searching for answers to “fill white space’. Something doesn’t stack up. We have to look at the cause of this problem first and great business owners, great leaders, apply this principle in all areas of their businesses, recruitment, marketing and planning for example.
Q Paul – Finding the right staff continues to be a challenge for practices particularly in urban areas and we appreciate not every practice wants to retain an agency to recruit. Can you lend an opinion on staffing and retention?
A Kevin – Well, unless you have the time and resource to recruit yourself why wouldn’t you outsource this? It is a specialist role within any business and not something that you can do in a hurry. If you get it wrong once or twice then you have a recruitment issue, but if you keep getting it wrong then you have a leadership issue. Think about why somebody would want to work for you and again focus on differentiation not money. Then think about recruiting for talents not skills. By talents I mean those ineffable qualities that set apart the good from the great within your team.
Q Paul – A number of our practice owners would consider selling their practices but are often cautious to market their practice – despite many potential buyers out there?
A Kevin – When I have bought and sold businesses in the past, I think it is always attractive to see that the business had a plan and then is able to demonstrate how they measured performance to that plan. This allows a purchaser to understand in what direction or trajectory the business is heading.
If you would like to discuss any of these matters with Paul or Kevin they would be delighted to hear from you.
There’s no arguing that the dental profession has gone through a period of rapid change not least the advent of UDA contracts within NHS dentistry and the rise in popularity of cosmetic dentistry and facial aesthetics. In fact I am probably not alone in having more than one friend in their forties who are currently having adult orthodontic treatments.
There are now estimated to be some 60-70 dental businesses with over 10 practices in the UK, with possibly as many as 140 owning 3 or more practices. The 5 largest UK dental businesses alone are said to account for over 1100 dental practices, employing in the region of 4000 dentists.
Like any industry, the big players are constantly in the press for good and bad reasons and are often an easy target for negative opinion. But whatever your view on corporate dentistry, it is one of many factors changing the shape of UK dentistry today and it is here to stay.
One thing that can be said for employees working within a larger corporate framework is that they increasingly benefit from the superior training and career development that larger businesses typically provide. Practice managers, administrative and dental nursing staff in particular may have received additional training which might not have been funded working for a smaller independent dental practice.
In addition, those who’ve benefitted from specific business or HR training have also found an outlet for their skills through career paths in to multi-practice management or training and development roles which 10-15 years ago were simply nonexistent within the dental industry.
While everyone within the sector has a view for or against dental industry consolidation and it’s impact on UK dentistry, it could be argued that the advent of corporate or chain dentistry is actually helping to up-skill the market as a whole.
By offering increased training and development opportunities within their own businesses along with other benefits they are often able to attract high caliber candidates – looking to improve their career prospects. But increasingly we are seeing more and more independent dental practices upping their game as well.
There does seem to be a general focus on commercial aspects of their businesses by improving their customer service experience, increasing their offering of private, cosmetic and aesthetic treatments and the options for private payment plans. We’re also seeing a larger number of forward thinking independent dental businesses offering their staff better training, increased responsibilities or even specifically targeting the recruitment of highly trained staff from outside of the dental industry or from their high profile corporate neighbours.
What are your views on the changes facing the profession? Good, bad or indifferent?
A month ago, we received a marketing email from a company specializing in marketing. My initial reaction was to delete the email as spam marketing, but having read it in more detail I was actually quite interested in what this particular marketing firm had to offer.
I duly replied to their email and also left a brief message on their answer service suggesting I would be interested in a more detailed conversation – particularly as their MD was in the area the following week.
A month later and nothing! No response at all. No phone call, not even a courtesy email to suggest they’d been “overwhelmed by the positive response” (or similar marketing speak) and would get back to me soon.
Day to day many small businesses and dental practices in particular do exactly the same thing. Spend time, effort, and money on marketing their business or services, promoting themselves on Google with SEO, or Adwords with very little thought given to how they might actually handle new enquiries or monitor their return on investment (ROI).
Often their reception and admin teams aren’t aware the practice has adverts or promotions running, are not able to appropriately handle calls and enquiries and very often don’t convert the enquiry in to revenue as a result.
More and more we’re being asked to recruit customer service management or business management professionals for our dental practice clients as they realise the merits of moving away from a patient centric to a customer/consumer led approach.
There are thousands of talented practice managers within dentistry, however very few have customer service or management training and in modern dentistry many are now expected to be marketing experts and social media gurus with little or no training and support. Thankfully there are some great businesses out there specialising in the dental sector who can help, whether you are after a comprehensive business support through Rose & Co or simply want some fresh training through the likes of NBS Training.
Whilst there are literally dozens of marketing companies who’ll gladly take your money to put together an attractive and eye catching campaign for your practice, before you look to attract more clients – or share a promotion, you should give some thought to whether your team is appropriately geared to handle a positive response.
The particular marketing company we were keen to do business with clearly weren’t prepared at all. But by making sure you’re geared for a positive response to any practice marketing campaigns – you can deliver that brilliant first impression which can, and often does lead to long standing customer loyalty.
We regularly talk to clients and candidates with pre-conceived ideas of what an agency does often resigned to the fact that having tried everything else to try and recruit a candidate, or having searched all the usual media to find a job – end up talking to a recruitment agent as a some what last resort.
It is fair to say, I understand the frustration and spend a lot of my time reassuring practices and candidates alike, that all is not lost.
As a principal of a practice, you’re likely to have spent your money placing an advert, your evenings reviewing countless CVs only to realise that there isn’t a single candidate worth interviewing. Recruitment can prove not only frustrating, but hugely time consuming.
Likewise as an enthusiastic, driven job-seeker, you can spend countless hours looking through the hundreds of adverts out there (many of which are out of date) only to find the same old jobs advertised again and again, or nothing in the locations you are keen to work in.
Now, we certainly wouldn’t profess to being able to solve everyone’s recruitment problems, but where recruitment agencies can offer a genuinely valuable service is giving you some of your time back.
If we’re marketing your job, we’ll advertise across a multitude of different media as well as to our extensive database of candidates and when we do send a CV, you should expect each candidate to be worthy of consideration.
Over 40% of the people we place in jobs, were not actively looking for a new post when we made contact with them about a new opportunity and frequently the very best jobs we have on our books don’t even get advertised. They are simply filled from contacts within our existing network, or from our CV database.
Fascinating opportunities like a Locum in the Cayman Islands or a stint in the Falklands or even a specialist role in London’s Harley Street district might not be for everyone, but interesting and varied opportunities come across our desk daily and you’d need to be registered with us or be part of our social media networks on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ to be updated on some of the terrific jobs we get to recruit for.
We would be delighted to connect there so do join us and let us help get your workload to achieve a better work life balance for you.
How comfortable are you really talking about your dental practice?
Todays dental practices are often modern, well equipped, air conditioned, with digitised surgeries, staffed by experienced, qualified dental nursing and support staff – many of whom benefit from ongoing training and development well beyond the minimum expected for their CPD cycle.
When advertising for staff, particularly for Associate Dentists, practices frequently have a fantastic story to tell about their working environment, the contract on offer, access to great labs and materials. But like the majority of dental business out there, the job specs which are being advertised all tend to blur in to one another.
With huge numbers of associate jobs being advertised across the web, significant numbers of jobs are simply ignored as the pattern is so familiar. Even if the job spec is highly detailed (which many aren’t).
With more graduates coming out of our dental schools, surely that should have had some bearing on a practice’s ability to recruit high calibre, enthusiastic associates – even if they are less experienced?
And yet, vast numbers of jobs are simply being ignored by younger dentists in rural or semi-rural locations in favour of city or town based opportunities. Someone even told me recently that a practice was “too far away” for them to consider. As it was only 25 miles from their home address, what they really meant was it was “too far out of town”.
Where we believe you can significantly improve your chances of recruiting the right people, is to spend some time communicating what your practice really has to offer. And we don’t mean how many UDA’s or the new digital x-ray system.
Where is the practice? Is it close to a train station, making it easy for people to use public transport for their daily commute.
Are you surrounded by coffee shops and other local amenities. What about the people who already work at the practice? Do they get on with each other socially and organize any out of work activities (for example – one of our clients actually has a 5 a side football team that plays).
Do you attend international conferences and reward your staff by taking them along?
Is the annual staff bbq or Christmas do well attended because you’re such a great place to work.
It may all sound trivial, but some thought given to who you are as a group of people and the community in which your practice thrives, could – if accurately described – be the difference between you hiring your next associate or not.
That’s a really interesting question!
Everyone who’s ever been for an interview (particularly for a job they really want to win) will have been on the receiving end of the tricky question.
Sometimes, it’s a question out of left field or one you simply didn’t prepare for, however well researched and rehearsed you are.
This is where many people start to panic. But don’t, there’s no reason for you to break out in a cold sweat just yet.
Simply buy yourself a few seconds of thinking time by replying something along the lines of “that is a really interesting question” (if you were offered a glass of water before the interview, now is a good time to take a sip – to give yourself even more time to compose yourself).
Buying the time to think for few moments during an interview, is less likely to result in a waffle, so as much as you do your research and prepare for your next interview do give some thought to techniques you can use to manage the pace of an interview and give yourself time to think.
At Blue Sky People, we work with dental clients of all types, from single surgery specialist private practices, to multi practice groups offering general dentistry to NHS and Private patients.
When discussing their recruitment projects, the financial implications of recruiting through an agency are often the focal point of discussions closely followed by the question of what agencies actually do for their fees.
Here at Blue Sky People, unless we are acting on a retained basis for our clients, all advertising, marketing and the associated financial risk is born by us with no fees payable unless we are successful in recruiting someone for our clients.
When undertaking a new assignment, we generally start off with a search of our own database of over 14,000 CV’s. At the same time, our team formulates our external advertising. We advertise across a broad range of on and off line media, including 15 different internet job boards – some specialist and others which cover a broad range of industry sectors.
Our research team is then briefed on the client and the role we are recruiting in order for them to start searching external databases and social media outlets for other potential candidates – some of which may not be actively looking for a career change. In fact, most of our clients are surprised to find out that a typical recruitment project – for a role such as a Practice Manager – takes an average of 50-60 hours to research, screen and select candidates for interview.
No single search is the same. In fact on occasion we may even have a candidate or two in mind when we take on an assignment.
When working with a recruitment agency, there are a few things to consider to help the process run smoothly.
- Having a good job description outlining the duties and responsibilities of the role is essential. A wish list of attributes and skills is great, but people want to know what the job entails day to day.
- Take some time to consider the recruitment process and timescales. Many a recruitment agent has undertaken an assignment only to find the hiring manager is going on holiday just as they present their short-list.
- What is the recruitment process and who is going to be involved? If several stakeholders or partners need to be included in the process, you could break the process in to first and second interviews for example. If that is the case, it is useful for candidates to know there could be multiple interviews and it also helps you plan diary dates efficiently with everyone involved.
Finding the right person to join your team takes time, experience and knowledge of the industry. By involving a recruitment agency such as Blue Sky People we help guide you through this process every step of the way and free up your time to continue running your business whilst we ensure the right fit for your team.
If you would like to chat to one of our team about our services then please ring 01491 411504 or visit our website for more information.