Hiring for Your Dental Start Up: A Comprehensive Guide

Author: Grace Rizza

Are you in the exciting phase of opening a new business or practice, but feeling the pressure to find the right staff before the grand opening? Don’t worry; you’re not alone in this endeavor. The key to success lies in creating a system, careful planning, clear communication, and making informed decisions. In this blog post, we’ll share valuable advice on how to navigate the process of hiring your dental team before your opening.

1. Start Early

First things first, start your hiring process well in advance, ideally 1-2 months before your opening date. This gives you ample time to identify suitable candidates and ensures that you don’t rush into hiring decisions. It also allows you bring in an administrative support person sooner than later to support in scheduling, choosing and setting up software, credentialing support and more. It will show you if you’ve hired someone proactive and communicative or if you need to keep the door open for a stronger leader. After all, most applicants say all the right things in interviews, but their true work habits shine only after they’ve started in the position.

2. Create a Clear Timeline

Develop a detailed timeline that outlines the key milestones leading up to your opening date. This can include tasks such as licensing, facility setup, and marketing efforts. Sharing this timeline with potential employees provides them with a sense of the overall plan and your commitment to a structured approach. It also allows them to be a part of an exciting new venture. Make sure however that you don’t fall into the trap of getting approval from every employee before you make decisions. Your success partly on your ability to make wise decisions, quickly. Stopping for approval at every turn will slow you down and may cause problems. Consider a person’s true credentials and expertise before eliciting their opinion.

3. Craft Comprehensive Job Descriptions

Each role you’re hiring for should have a well-defined job description. Clearly outline the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations for each position. This clarity helps candidates understand the role and whether it aligns with their skills and goals. Include expectations in regards to communication, your core values, and your unique selling proposition. You’ll want to attract employees with similar values, which will improve retention. We recommend posting the jobs on Indeed as it has the biggest audience for active job seekers. Also, don’t make overly creative job titles for each role, as your best candidates may not find those job titles as easily as the more recognizable titles. Make sure before presenting a formal offer letter and agreement that you’ve considered things such as a non-compete, non-disparagement, non-solicit, as well as benefits and processes for requesting time off.

4. Thorough Screening and Interviews

During the interview process, conduct thorough assessments of candidates’ skills, experience, and cultural fit. For positions like administrative support, prioritize candidates with strong organizational and communication skills. Test their ability to think on their toes while under pressure. Ask a question such as, “What would you do if a patient came in while in front of other patients and demanded a refund. I’ll be the patient, you be you.” If the applicant won’t play the role and gives a vague response such as “First I would ask the patient if she has an appointment.” Gently remind her that you’d like her to respond exactly how she’d respond as the office manager if you were the patient, in first person language. If she can pivot and play the role, you’ll be able to gauge if she’s stumbling and tripping over words or keeps her composure while professionally setting boundaries.” It’s important to see how a patient interfacing employee communicates when under pressure, so putting them on the spot is important. Listen not only to their answer but their ability to stay composed and professional. Perfection is not expected, but seek the person who is coachable and can keep her cool.

5. Provide Information and Updates

While you may not have all the details finalized, be transparent during interviews. Share your progress and expected timelines with candidates, reassuring them that you’ll keep them informed as things develop. This transparency builds trust and maintains their interest. Ask them how quickly they’re looking to make a change and how soon they’d be available to start. Gauge if the timing works for you both before putting your eggs in that basket.

6. Set Firm Start Dates

Based on your timeline and progress, aim to set firm start dates for each employee. This demonstrates your commitment to the hiring process and allows candidates to plan their transitions accordingly. You must always honor your financial commitments with employees. This includes PTO and any benefits your promised. If you tell someone there’s potential to earn more in 6 months, make sure it’s in your calendar to discuss the raise potential in 5 months. Empty promises will cost you good employees, even if your intentions are good.

7. Leverage Administrative Support

Consider having an administrative employee available before your opening. They can assist with setting up your practice, answering calls, and supporting marketing efforts, easing the initial workload when things may be hectic.

8. Prioritize Training

Once you’ve hired your staff, ensure you have a training plan in place to get them up to speed quickly when they start. This investment in their development pays off in the long run. Additionally, having an accountability plan in place is crucial. You can train a team with perfect guidance but if their work is not being evaluated and reported upon, they will not likely keep the skills shared in the training you’ve provided. We use a digital delegation system (project management system) that allows for total accountability on every task delegated. It requires a great deal of administrative support, but has allowed our marketing agency to grow without losing any attention to detail for each and every client.

9. Maintain Communication

Finally, maintain open and regular communication with your new hires. Provide updates on your progress and any changes in the plan. This keeps them engaged and invested in the success of your practice. Keep a spreadsheet with your list of applicants and their status, link to notes from the interview. Do not rely on your memory. Allow yourself at least one night of sleep before making a hiring decision. This allows you to avoid rash decisions which can cause pain later. In the same sense, give yourself a hiring deadline. Don’t expect perfection, but truly consider which weaknesses can be strengthened and which attributes are more difficult to coach. The number one quality of an excellent employee is coachability.

In conclusion, hiring staff before your opening can be challenging, but with careful planning and effective communication, you can build a strong team to support your business or practice from day one. By following these steps and staying proactive, you’ll be well on your way to a successful launch. Subscribe to our newsletter for our next blog about the best interview questions for dental professionals!

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