What Arrangement Should this Dentist Use for his First Hires?

Well, I did it..I started my 2 operatory “little-engine-that-could” practice! A little background – I work at a FQHC 2 days/per week which is located an hour from where I live and where my new practice is located. I’m at my new practice 3 days/week and have been doing so for a little over three months.

What’s that mean? You pay her a percentage of the total practice collections? Is there a min or max? I might need you to put some definition on that arrangement if it’s as loose as it sounds.

I started off with a good friend of mine as hygienist/assistant and have been paying her based on total collections.

So she’s not an employee either? You’re paying her as an IC? If so that’s also very risky.

She doesn’t really have a benefits package or vacation time, as she’s hoping that when we go full-time (~2 years) she’ll enjoy a nice %of the increased collections.

My wife was working as front desk/office manager, but really didn’t like it too much. However, she’s still going to come in briefly 1-2 days/week to take care of bills and payroll.

Is she getting paid? If not, does she have any earned income from anywhere? If not have you considered pros and cons of paying her something?

Anyway, I have a new girl who’s very qualified and fits in well with our little posse. I’ve agreed to pay her $14.25/hr.

I have her job description and everything, but what do I do about vacation, sick-time, personal days, continuing education, etc…

How many hours per week, 24? More? Generally, benefits like vacation, sick, personal go with full time, though sometimes those that have worked full time and received benefits might get pro-rated benefits when they cut back a little. you’ll also need to define “full” time at some point, is it 32, 36 or 40 hours? Consider CE your benefit, not hers. You should want to have your employees well trained. It’s your investment, just monitor that amount of investment and make sure it’s quality CE.

Our total production, on average, has been around $25k…this doesn’t leave much wiggle-room. I really want to be a good employer and make her feel valued but honestly I don’t know where to start.

A lot of making someone feel valued will come from your actions (how you treat people) and words, not necessarily benefits and comp.

Honestly, my hygienist is more like a partner in my practice. We’re a great team and she’s invested a lot into making this practice happen. For this reason I decided to pay her a portion of total collections, with no max. This way she can share in the profits of a successful practice (someday). She does not, however, legally own any shares of the company (we’re an S-Corp).

I will be putting my wife on the payroll per advice from my CPA.

The new girl will be working 30 hours/week. Would she get any paid vacation, sick time etc… We have a unique little ecosystem at this practice, and she’d be one of four people running the show (myself included). I want to give her some perks without breaking the bank.

Ok. If you want to give her some benefits she’ll have to earn them. Generally, after the 90 day probationary period she’ll earn 1/2 day of benefit time off for every month worked so in her first year she’ll earn 4.5 days. Give her the first 1/2 day after the 90 days to make it 5. The following year –give her 1 day per month up to a max of 10 days (two weeks). Make it personal time off (PTO) which covers vacation, sick, personal time. After 5 years maybe 1.5 days for each month worked up to 15 days. No carryover of days. Either use them or lose them or pay them out, most pay them out. Just remember, once you start this anyone working 30 hours will likely be entitled to the same benefit unless they have an employment agreement with different rules.

With only $25k in production/month I can afford to pay her $14.25/hr. My overhead for this practice is extremely low, giving me some leeway. Remember, I have a small 2 operatory practice (rent is $800) and only 1 other employee who I pay based on collections.

I’m paying her 8%, which is close to the benchmark percentage of hygiene overhead. What I’ll likely do is as we grow is put a cap on her salary. Right now she’s doing mostly assisting since we’ve just recently opened and haven’t established a solid recall schedule.

Keep in mind, of the $50,000, generally only about $12,000 is hygiene production and if she’s getting $4,000 she’s right where she ought to be and that’s about $3,000 of hygiene per week, or about 3 day. I know many hygienists who would take $1,000 on 3 days of work… it’s as close as you can get the $40/hour that a lot of hygienists make in this area.

This first appeared on Dentaltown.

Send your questions to Tim Lott, CPA, CVA at tlott@dentalcpas.com

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