Suki Singh, Regional Support Manager for the North at Practice Plan, shares his tips for implementing changes after buying a new practice.
One area that practices often come to me for advice and support on is when they have bought a new practice and are planning to introduce some kind of change. This is something that is happening more and more, which is great as it means practices are thriving and growing.
However, it is important that you do spend time beforehand planning how best to begin making those changes as it can be challenging when working with a new team with an established way of doing things.
The details might vary depending on what exactly it is that you want to introduce or do differently, but there are a few things you can do to ease the transition for yourself, your new colleagues and your new patients:
Get to know your new team first
When you begin working with your new practice team, spend some time right at the start getting to know them. Take a genuine interest in them and what their priorities are professionally, find out if they have any ideas about how the practice could be improved – they most probably will have. You can then implement the team’s smaller changes (assuming they’re acceptable) first, which will help you to get off to a positive start and smooth the way for bigger changes later on.
Stay positive and communicate
Your new team are much more likely to rally behind you and embrace change, if you talk to them about the reasons behind your actions. Before you actually do anything, meet with your staff and tell them why you think the changes will be good for the practice and the benefits for the business, the team and the patients. Nine times out of ten you will be making changes to improve the care and service you provide to patients, so make sure you keep that at the forefront of your discussions.
Take your time with big changes
When you begin working in a new practice you might have lots of exciting ideas about what you want to do. However, I would advise giving yourself time to settle in and get to grips with the way the practice currently runs and to understand the team dynamic and your new patient list. If you’re planning a significant change, such as a re-brand, you might be itching to get going but it can be worthwhile to delay for a few months so you can appreciate what would work best in your new surroundings.
If you are looking to implement something that’s new to you, it makes sense to ask the advice of someone who has experience of it. For instance, I have worked with practices who want to introduce more focus on hygiene visits, rather than having the treatment carried out by the associates, and I have brought dental consultant Sheila Scott in to help them successfully make that change.
Introducing change can be tricky, and can be even more so when you are doing so in a new practice – with the added sensitivity of managing a new team. However, with planning and forethought you can smooth the way to transform your vision from ideas into reality.