I heard this song on the radio this morning, and it went really well with an email I received from a Dentist today:
Look here: I’m not a wine guy. I’m more of a tequila guy. You can read my blogs about tequila here and here. But I’d like to be a wine guy. It seems so cool to be able to open up a bottle (even during the week), pour yourself a glass, swish it around (the glass or your mouth), and then have it amplify whatever you’re eating. So how does one go from having no wine pallet at all (that’s me) to being a connoisseur (or at least holding their own at a Niagara Falls winery or at the LCBO Vintages section)? Well, here’s what I’ve tried so far to get up to speed:
Bottom line: I’ve taken up social wine drinking as a hobby. And I’ve only done so recently. And I only partake very occasionally. If you have a bottle of red (or white) wine that you recommend, let me know! I’m looking for a good education…
If you are a dentist, looking to buy or sell a dental practice, the first thing you need to do is assemble your legal team. You need them to advocate for your interests while protecting your rights. You need them to anticipate and address the various legal liabilities that lurk in the shadows.
What could go wrong, you ask? Well, a heck of a lot – like: staff not being on contract, the landlord / lease being brutal, the practice not being incorporated, the x-ray equipment never being approved, doing legal due diligence on the buyer / seller, and the sale proceeding as an asset or share sale when it should be the other way around! There are also lots of non-legal things that need to be addressed – like the equipment being in need of repair, the charts not being complete or accurate, the financials needing to be poured over, etc.
This is where a lawyer familiar with dental practices is worth their weight in gold. They understand the business of operating a dental practice. They shouldn’t just be paper pushers trying to get the deal done. They should invest in your success by educating you, protecting you, and helping you make / save the most money.
So here are the top 10 questions in my mind you might want to ask when canvassing a legal team to assist you:
So there’s my top 10 list. Make sure to do your research when hiring a legal team.
In a previous blog, I wrote about Team Building 101. If you read that blog, you’ll know that I challenged traditional views of the workplace environment. I talked about ‘blurring the line’, using the right language in the workplace, and adapting to the newer generation of employees.
In this blog, I’m going to take the concept of team a few steps furthers…
The Goal of A Team Leader
What is the goal of a team leader (i.e. the dentist in a dental office)? Some of you might say something like: to motivate team members, to strive for higher standards, or to have a vision of where the dental practice should be headed. Actually, I think these are sub-goals. The main goal of a team leader is to replicate themselves. To get team members to achieve their line of thinking, their qualities, their skills, their knowledge so that they can spread excellence throughout the dental practice.
Roles and Responsibilities
Efficient and effective teams have clear roles and responsibilities. This ensures that individual team members are not overlapping in the work (which is a waste of time and resources). Also, team members should know who to turn to on certain decisions. .
Each team member owns the dental practice; and the dental practice owns them. This is all about accountability. The buck has to stop somewhere. And this ties in with defined roles and responsibilities: everyone will know who is responsible for a particular role / responsibility if that is clear.
Reinforce the Brand
Your dental practice’s brand is the experience that a patient will experience, from the start to finish, and in all modes of communication, when dealing with your particular dental practice. It is very important for your team members to constantly reinforce that brand. This is done through the manner in which they talk on the phone (pleasant, smiling, etc.), the language that they use on the phone and in person (e.g. caring, talking about how the patient benefits, etc.) and in making sure that the office looks and feels and smells like the brand it is trying to promote. As your foot soldiers, your front desk team members can provide valuable insight into how to improve the branding. They might suggest, for example, that the office be re-painted, that new smells be introduced (smell is an important trigger of memories), or that furniture be updated. All to fit / reinforce the practice’s brand.
I’m a big fan of goal setting on a personal and practice-wide basis. A dentist who asks his team or her team member what their individual goals are for the next 12 months shows that they care. And if they REALLY do care, they will try to help that team member achieve their goals (or get close to achieving them). And what do you get in return: a long-term, motivated, loyal, trust-worthy team member. That’s right: an ideal team member who won’t want to steal from you (unless they don’t have a conscience) or harm you in any way. They will care about you and deliver results. And what more could you ask for?
Well, how about that they contribute to practice-wide goals. And you need them to do that, because you can’t do everything yourself. What are your practice’s goals? There are financial goals (e.g. bill $x this year or save $x this year), human resource goals (e.g. hire x team members), scaling goals (e.g. have another office in this geographic area), equipment goals (e.g. this year, we are going to purchase and market lasers), marketing goals (e.g. bring in x new patients this year, build a new website, redesign the office to fit with the brand), or technology goals (e.g. introduce a new software and have everyone get trained on it). By specifying most of these goals and sharing them with your team (perhaps you’ll hold back on sharing the financial goals because you’re simply NOT that comfortable with your team members?), everyone will be on the same page and understand what is expected of them for the dental practice to achieve its goals and be successful in the coming year.
Focus on results. Is the work being completed in the way you want it to be and as quickly as you want it to be? You should make the practice results-oriented and hold your team members accountable to that.
Here is the article that appeared in today’s Globe and Mail about us. You can click on the image below or scroll down to read the full article:
Ivor Tossell, “Tech-savvy law firm caters exclusively to dentists”, The Globe and Mail, November 10, 2014.
With a hint of self-deprecation, but maybe only a hint, Michael Carabash notes that he wanted to be the number one criminal lawyer in Toronto, but for the fact that everyone else wanted the same thing too.
Just a few years out of law school, and with an MBA and a handful of law-related online ventures under his belt, Mr. Carabash found himself looking for a saleable niche. “I was doing everything under the sun as a general practitioner – and I was just spinning my wheels,” he says.
It was when he found himself with a dentist in his lawyer’s chair that he hit upon an idea for a novel practice that could fly with the help of some canny online marketing: A law firm that caters to nobody but dentists.
“He said you should only work for dentists, and I thought he was nuts,” says Mr. Carabash. “There’s only 9,000 dentists in Ontario, and people thought we’d starve.”
But they didn’t. Three years later, Mr. Carabash says his curiously-focused three-person practice DMC LLP – the only one he knows that caters exclusively to dentists – is set to double in size in the next year. It’s a testament, he says, to the way the web can help a firm dominate a niche market.
Dentists need lawyers, and not just for the reasons you might suspect. Mr. Carabash’s practice doesn’t do malpractice at all. “Just the happy stuff,” he says. “Buying and selling.”
Dentists are small business owners like any other, and have practices to buy and sell, properties to manage, and employees to hire. But they also have to deal with the particularities of working with their provincial college and its regulations, which might confound a generalist commercial lawyer.
Part of Mr. Carabash’s approach is to blend online DIY with in-person legal review. On his site, dentists can have legal forms for things like contracts and practice sales drawn up automatically after filling in a questionnaire. Their responses are fed into a template, which is then reviewed and finalized in person by the firm’s lawyers. Mr. Carabash says it’s a win-win: The client has their legal fees slashed to the tune of two thirds, and the lawyers are spared the dreariness of managing repetitive questionnaires by hand.
“We separate out the labour we don’t want to do, so we can focus on the more complicated areas of law we’re interested in,” he says.
(The dental legal forms service is an outgrowth of a general-purpose legal forms venture he started in 2012, called the “Will-O-Matic,” which does more or less what it sounds like it does.)
But part of Mr. Carabash’s approach involves a good, old-fashioned content strategy.
Dentistry is a tight community, with a finite number of trade publications and industry events. So, with an eye to dominating the search results for people looking for dental law (because really, how many could there be?), he started blogging, pumping out post after post on his given topic, even as David Mayzel, his more traditionally-minded partner in the practice, looked askance.
But for every 100 articles he’d put up, he’d gain about 1,000 unique visitors a month. And as the new firm started attracting clients – he says they now serve up to 100 a year – he found that almost half had found them through their website.
Soon, Mr. Carabash started playing a game with his doubting partner, quizzing him on whether any given new client had arrived via the blog. Invariably, they had.
“He hates that game,” says Mr. Carabash.
David Mayzel is your legal risk manager. He is a trained courtroom lawyer and has spent many years resolving disputes both in and out of court. He knows how to prepare documents and execute transactions in a way that avoids or mitigates legal risks. He can be reached at 416.528.5280. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Carabash is your business law adviser. He is an entrepreneur at heart who helps you see the big legal picture. He drafts clear and effective agreements that protect your rights while promoting your interests. He can be reached at 647.680.9530. or email@example.com.
Ljubica Durlovska is your transition lawyer. She helps you with staff and associates, maintaining your corporation, and other business matters. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan Borrelli is your employment lawyer. He helps you with staff and associates matters, including hirings, terminations, switching staff to written contracts and resolving disputes. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 204 or email@example.com.
Benjamin Kong is an experienced business law clerk. He assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Whitehouse is an experienced business law clerk. She assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 203 or email@example.com.
David, Michael, Ljubica, Jonathan, Ben and Julie are a truly dynamic team. Their diverse knowledge, skills, and experiences will help you get the best deal possible while promoting your interests and protecting your rights. You can read dentist testimonials here.