Since you are reading this article, it's safe to assume that you have a pretty successful practice. You are probably in your mid-to-late thirties or forties, and your practice is grossing in the mid to high six figures. You should be feeling pretty secure, comfortable, and pleased by your success. Maybe, however, you are wondering, “So, what's next?”

“Solo Economic Dependency”… you are doing all the work yourself, and that's the trap. Okay, you can take some courses and learn how to work more efficiently, shave some valuable seconds from a procedure. You can learn how to manage time, staff, and patients are better. You can increase gross revenues somewhat, but the truth is, you've peaked out. You are about as successful as you can be going it alone, so what's next?

Consider the following realities of Solo Economic Dependency:
• Working for every dollar your practice earns
• Losing money every time you are absent from the office
• Taking the chance of losing the entire value of your practice because of death or disability
• Not having a successor in place

If these are not a concern to you, then you don't need to read any further.

However, if these issues are a concern to you, then consider the following advantages you could enjoy:
• Increase your income and make money without doing all the work yourself
• Eliminating financial loss when you are absent from the office
• Securing the value of your practice

If these things are important to you, then you can't just sit and do nothing. It's time to decide to begin your next phase of development.

Adding an associate to your practice is one of the most common attempts a dentist will make to solve this problem. Some doctors think it causes more problems than what it is worth. Where will he work? The patients will come from where? How can I support him until he's busy? How can I be sure he won't go down the street in a few years and compete with me? Why do I need this headache? Well, if you do it wrong, it is a major headache. However, it can provide incredible benefits and solve many problems if done right, but it's got to be appropriately handled.

You most likely need more patients than you currently have to support an associate; you don't want to decrease your income to support one. Don't have unrealistic expectations like expecting an associate to build a practice. New patients aren't going to come out of the woodwork; you need to acquire a nearby practice and merge it into your office. That gives you the production potential to support an associate.

A good associate does not want to be an employee forever. You don't want your office to be a revolving door for associates, so you need to develop a long-term equity participation plan. You will want to establish a compensation method that rewards productivity and provides for a return on investment. Then you provide a mandatory order of succession. When you want to sell, the associate must buy…that's security.

“So, what do I do next?” First, explore practice merger opportunities in your area. If there are none, then consider acquiring a nearby satellite office where you and your associate can work between the two offices. Then find the right associate with a good attitude and a willingness to commit to a long-term, mutually rewarding relationship. Then make sure you have an agreement that addresses both parties' long-term needs and makes sure it is fair to both.

Then sit back and enjoy the benefits that you've earned: more income, more freedom, more security, and fewer, not more headaches. See for yourself what it is like to participate in a truly symbiotic relationship that will benefit both doctors for life. It won't happen overnight, and it won't seem easy at first, but if it is appropriately done, it ultimately works to your benefit. Is it worth the effort? You'd better believe it!

AFTCO has opportunities for you to explore that can begin this beneficial process. It's your future, and it’s decision time. Call AFTCO today at 800-232-3826 or visit our website at for more information.

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