As a follow up to Checklist For Ortho Practice Evaluation, I wanted to give you a to do list for the days, weeks and months immediately following the closing. This is certainly not the only way of doing things and it’s not an all-inclusive list but it is a good start and will get you moving in the right direction.

  • Since I’m sure you didn’t buy the stock and therefore didn’t buy the practice and instead you did an asset purchase (as discussed earlier), the employees are not your employees and therefore you need to interview each of them and decide if you will hire them.
  • Do a nice newspaper announcement about the transition with a hook and a deadline. Do at least 1/4 page size and run it at least 4 times – preferably on the largest circulation day of the week for 4 weeks.
  • Go through all the old files, computers, models, letters, boxes, etc. and collect every single name, address and email you can find in preparation for sending out mass emails and letters.
  • Write up a nice letter and send it to everyone and anyone who has ever had contact with the practice (email and snail mail). Print it on the old letterhead and send it in the old envelopes (so it will be recognized and opened) explaining that the new, awesome doctor is happy to see them for braces or a retainer check or whatever. Include a “free retainer replacement” or “free whitening” certificate or two and include them in the letter but make sure the certificates are printed with the new name and logo. If the seller charged for consults then include a “free orthodontic consult” certificate as well – even though I’m sure you’re not silly enough to charge for new patient visits…
  • Run reports and find every single new patient who didn’t show or didn’t start, every observation patient that stopped coming and every bond appointment that didn’t show and CALL THEM ALL! Offer them an incentive and a deadline to come back in and meet the new doctor!
  • Don’t spend a fortune on the place if it is working already. A fresh coat of paint, a good cleaning and throwing those sliding glass windows at the front desk in the dumpster is a good start. You can also add a scent machine to make the place smell nice. All of this can be done quickly and doesn’t cost much.
  • If the seller told a patient that he or she was getting braces off then take them off, no matter your opinion, and chart “removed braces as per Dr. Smith’s plan”. To do otherwise is a massive can of worms. You can always put the braces back on for free if they are unhappy…
  • If braces have been on 30 months or more and you can’t finish the case in the next visit or two (and it’s not an impacted canine case), take the braces off to give the patient a BRACES VACATION so they can get a dental checkup and take a break so you can finish them quickly when you put the braces back on in 8 weeks. The scripting to make this happen smoothly with happy parents is tricky but only until you get the hang of it. Plus it is the right thing to do for the patent.
  • Make sure you settle up all patient accounts with credits as discussed in the practice evaluation checklist post
  • Give away free retainers and custom whitening trays like candy over the first 6 months to solve any issues and create raving fans.
  • Go visit every single dentist and dental specialist in the area IN PERSON. Take some goodies and make nice with the front desk. Don’t try to force your way back to see the doctor, the people at the front desk are who you want to win over first anyway! Go back several times and always take something. Create a relationship with the staff and eventually the doctor will take notice! The further out of the way the general dental office is, the less likely it is that other orthodontists will visit in person and the more likely your visit is to result in referrals.
  • Spend time on your social media pages. You have the time!
  • Make sure your website is up to snuff. You don’t have to spend a fortune and it doesn’t have to be crazy fancy but it needs to be clean, easy to navigate and up to date.
  • Offer extended financing to get more cases started. If you need cash, you can increase your pay in full discount to get more people to do so.
  • Get involved in your community. Don’t spend money you don’t have – show up in person and pitch in!
  • Open at least one Friday per month to do treatment for dental referring staff. They are off on Fridays, they will come to you if you do the work for free, braces are cheap and you have time!
  • Determine your hours. Maybe do one later evening per week or a weekend?
  • Create, refine, examine and rework your schedule often. You don’t have to be open every day because your patients all have appointments. You will need time to work on practice and not just in your practice. Review how to create a schedule template by Bridget Burris.
  • Answer the question: why are patients going to come to you and not the guy/gal next door? What makes you different? Include that in your mission statement. Communicate that to your team. Include in marketing. Know your why and be consistent!
  • Give away free braces to local charities to raffle or auction off. It costs you virtually nothing and you have time.
  • Start a Smile for a Lifetime Chapter. It is famously said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  • Join Facebook study groups like Ortho101, Pragmatic Orthodontic Clinical Discussions and Orthodontic Exchange.
  • Read and The Progressive Orthodontist!



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