Archive for April, 2018

Nice Guys Don’t Get Sued

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Guest post by Aaron M. Layton DDS

Three years ago I purchased my practice. A nice, modern practice with a solid patient base and long-term employees – everything I dreamed of. But it wasn’t more than a few months before I knew managing a team was going to be my most difficult task to date. (You think Boards were tough…ha-ha-ha.)

I dove into every HR book in the Barnes and Noble business section and any Webinar associated with keeping a team happy. One thing stuck out: You are more likely to be sued by an employee than a patient. This bothered me, so I armed myself with the best possible thing I could imagine, KINDNESS.

I’m a nice guy. I made accommodations for employee medical appointments and vacations. I increased benefits and salaries. I was the nicest guy around. Who would ever sue the nice guy?  But I was wrong – very wrong in fact.

On my birthday of 2016 I was sent a letter from my State Legal Board saying a former employee was claiming she was terminated because of her mental health which made her disabled. I had wrongly let someone go who was disabled? After the shock and a few pieces of birthday cake, I located an attorney and began the process of disputing the claim.

As of today, I spent $6000 dollars, one appeal, and countless hours worrying about what could happen.  In the end, the claim was dropped with no marks on my record and all I lost was sleep and money.

From this recent experience I learned two important lessons.

1) Nice guys do get sued, and actually more often. When you’re the nice guy you often provide everything your employees want.  You make sacrifices and adjustments – in fact, you’re better than Santa Claus. If things don’t work out, these employees just want to keep getting at any cost. Keep an employee manual and stick to it. If someone breaks an agreement, hold them accountable. It doesn’t hurt to be a nice guy, just be a nice guy who follows all the rules. It’s good to be nice, but more important to be fair.

2) Everyone needs an Employment Attorney. I thought an attorney was only needed when problems arise, but just like in dentistry, a good Employment Attorney can provide preventative care to keep you out of trouble. A wise old dentist once told me, “When things don’t work out, just call it education.” This past year, with my education budget I got a live course in employment, handbooks, and dealing with disgruntled employees.

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Aaron Layton, DDS, is a 2010 graduate of Indiana University. He completed three years working at a large group practice in Vermont before buying his own practice in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he currently works and resides with his wife and their four children.  

What New Dentists Can Gain from Losing

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Guest post by Nelson Kanning, DDS

Why would anyone boast about being a loser, especially if losing involved money? Who in their right mind would consider losing money a gift? Most dental practice owners and even associates would throw a fit at the idea of setting a goal to lose money. But, I’m proposing being a loser can make sense, particularly if you’re a new dentist.

Until recently it was hard to admit that being a loser is one of my greatest gifts. The majority of my experience with teams has been as a loser. High school football; we lost. I played for a Division I football team that was bowl champ the year prior to me joining. Then, we lost. Losing used to be tough. However, now I’m finding being a loser is a joy.

I’d say this revelation happened about six years ago. I was sitting in the audience at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s (AACD) annual scientific session in Seattle. During one of the opening sessions, I became curious about the awards being given to offices who participated in their Whitening Challenge. Offices who participate in the AACD Charitable Foundation’s Whitening Challenge agree to donate a portion of profits from their whitening to the Give Back a Smile program, which restores the smiles of survivors of domestic violence. And one office received the award for donating the most profit from whitening to the AACD. That office’s benevolence inspired me. Their team was excited about the program. The doctors felt good about the service to their patients and to a much greater cause. That day, I realized that program had to be part of my practice.

It seems fit, here, to reveal that dentistry is my second career. Through my twenties, I made a living as a professional fundraiser asking people to donate money to leadership programs, support scholarships, and buildings for a private liberal arts college. During that time, I was always fascinated by the joy the donor received knowing their money was making an impact for someone deserving. The Whitening Challenge has given me that same feeling of joy. It is a whole lot more fun to give money away freely than it ever was to ask for money.

Does donating increase my bottom line? Who knows. But ultimately, who cares. You’re not a dentist solely for the profit. Remember, you said it yourself in your interview: “I really want to help people and make a difference.” Boom, here is your chance. Finding a cause for your practice, like the Whitening Challenge, can make instant connections with skeptical patients as well as entice new patients into our chairs. It has given my team a cause they are proud to stand behind and excited to share with our community. However, it mostly reminds me that when you do the right thing, despite your overhead, your monster loans, and your financial ambition, being a loser just feels good.

AACD.Blog.4.7.18.Kanning (002)Nelson earned a BS at William Jewell College, with an emphasis in Leadership and Biology. After graduating, he served two years as a leadership trainer and capital campaign consultant for Sigma Nu fraternity. Although he enjoyed his mission-driven work in the non-profit sector, Nelson decided to pursue his original desire for a career as a dentist.

Dr. Kanning served on the AACD Charitable Foundation Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2017 and served as the chair from 2016-2017. His office has participated in the Whitening Challenge since 2013 and won the Bright White award in 2014 for donating the most whitening proceeds of all participating practices in that year. Since his office has started participating in the Whitening Challenge, they have donated nearly $25,000 in whitening proceeds.