The most important question I ask practice owners preparing to hire their associate dentist is this one. This is also the number one question an associate should ask a practice owner before accepting an associate position.
Is your associate position a CAR or a BOAT?
Mismanaged expectations lead to practice owner-associate relationship breakdown.
One of the most common problems is not answering this question clearly (or even knowing to ask it) BEFORE you hire an associate or accept an associate position.
What is a a CAR associate position?
A CAR position is a need. The practice needs the associate working in the office to function. This is most often seen when an associate with a full-time schedule needs to be replaced for a “good reason.” (ex: going to a specialty program, moving across the country, buying their own practice).
What is a BOAT position?
A BOAT position is a WANT. The practice WANTS the associate to handle emergencies, do procedures the practice owner does not want (or cannot do) and create more time off for the practice owner.
(Dentisting) humans have both CARs and BOATs in their life. Boats tend to be returned or discarded more than cars. Sometimes people buy a boat and are like . . . this is not for me and look to return that boat because they do not need it to function.
Rarely do people with cars return a car without buying another car. They need that car to maintain their success and sanity.
Both types of associate positions can be successful and both can be stressful.
Knowing if the position is a car or boat before “jumping in” to one creates clear expectations for both the associate and owner. Clear expectations lead to better relationships.
Better relationships lead to more happiness and contrary to what we were taught in dental school . . . it is not illegal for dentists to be happy!