Do values and principles come at a price? At what point do you make the decision to compromise them for financial reasons? Of late, corporate dentistry has been courting a number of sole proprietor dentists with whom I have worked for a very long time. Every one of their situations and circumstances is different; age, location, type of practice and the corporate offers.
In every case, there is one common denominator; every one of these dentists feels that they don’t have a choice other than to sell out to the corporations. Really? I find it very interesting that that each of these dentists feels that their options are limited and I can’t help being curious as to whether that idea or limitation was part of the corporate persuasion technique. In every case, the reasons are varied, however they all smack of fear and scarcity. Perhaps you are familiar with some of these limiting beliefs;
- There are no dentists out there who want to buy practices any more
- New dentists just want to be associates or can’t get financing to buy in
- Most associates don’t want to own practices
- My practice is in too rural an area to attract buyers
- I won’t get nearly as much for my practice as corporate is offering
- I don’t have an exit strategy – this is my exit strategy
- It’s too much hassle to sell a practice and the broker’s fees are too high
There are many more that I am hearing. They all may have a modicum of truth. However, when I hear them as justification, I understand that they are fear-based selling techniques.
I also hear the sweet talk from the corporations which can sound wonderful to a dentist who feels their options are limited. The corporate jargon is beyond belief. When they say “partnership” I know that dentists hear that as affirmation that life and daily practice will be status quo after they sell out. I don’t believe for a moment that that is the reality and the forums and feedback groups I have researched confirm this. Life changes dramatically. So, partnership and status quo language should be listened to with caution. Another jargon word is “hurdle” used in place of quota. This is almost laughable if it didn’t make my cry. The corporate expectation is that selling dentists continue to work the practice in order to meet numbers. I don’t believe for a minute that Corporate Headquarters would say to a non-performing dentist, “oh well, it’s just a hurdle…try again”.
Lastly, I believe in this industry and I do not like what is happening to it. I don’t like how corporate dentistry is changing the face of what we all offer patients and the community and I don’t like how the relationships are changing as well as the values and principles that have been our glue. I also understand that it’s easy for me to be an armchair quarterback when it isn’t my practice or my money at stake. One of my favourite clients recently said to me, “Kristin, I am not sure I can afford to be principled here. I agree with you, but my financial future is at stake. At what point are values and principles a luxury?” I can’t answer that for anyone. What’s your tipping point?