We've all heard colleagues complain about a dental consultant they hired who wasn't a good fit for them. Every dental practice has different goals and therefore unique needs.
The following are 7 tips for finding the right dental consultant for you and your dental practice.
1. Know what you expect to accomplish.
Consultants specialize in different areas, so you have to know what you want to get done so you will not be in conflict with the person you’ve hired to help you. Make sure they have experience in the type of problem you are facing. Ask them about the specific details of how they think they’ll be able to help.
2. Inquire about their method of consulting.
You may want to avoid any consultant who takes the one size fits all approach; your practice has specific goals, and you need someone who can help you get there. Some consulting firms invite you and/or your team to come to their learning center for training, where teaching is done in a group setting. Other firms conduct in-office consulting to work directly with you and your team. Others offer a combination of both. You need to decide which approach works best for what you’re trying to accomplish and your learning style.
3. Check references.
Hiring a consultant is just like hiring a new employee. Don’t just read testimonials on their website. Ask them for contact information from clients they have helped with similar issues. Call those clients, tell them about your situation, and ask them to share with you how the consultant helped them and if they would hire that consultant again. When checking references, ask how accessible the consultant is, how the consultant is with follow up and how clear the consultant is with expectations. How quickly will questions be answered? Does the consultant get to know you personally and really understand what you want to accomplish and what you’d like to see for your practice?
4. Understand and know the terms of the consulting agreement.
Usually, a one-time visit from a consultant will not fix the problem you’re trying to address. Consulting programs that yield the best results are offered over a specific time period. If it’s a 12-month agreement and you realize after 30 or 60 days it just isn’t a good fit, can you switch to another consultant in the firm or can you part company with the firm all together? This is something you should work out before you officially hire a consultant.
5. Check out the available options.
There are many types of consulting groups out there, and you need to find out what your options are. Talk to your colleagues at study clubs and call your classmates from dental school to find out who they’ve used and what they liked or didn’t like about the firm. Check out the trade magazines. Who is writing for these journals? Do you relate to what they are teaching in their articles? Look online and see what the differences might be.
6. Look for a consultant who has a structured follow-up program.
Having a consultant come in and identify your problems is great, but it doesn’t do a lot of good if that consultant doesn’t help you with a plan to implement that change. Find a consultant who will guide you through implementing the changes necessary to achieve your goals.
7. Find a consultant in the dental industry.
There are a lot of great consultants out there, but not all of them have experience in the dental industry. It’s best to work with someone who knows the operations of a dental practice and has experience working with issues or goals that are similar to yours.