Part 1 of 2: Negotiating Dental Practice Contracts & Agreements

Benjamin Franklin coined the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In our line of work as practice transition consultants, we see many types of contracts and agreements. Some agreements do a better job than others of spelling out the critical details of a set of mutual promises. Thus, all contracts are not treated equal and is not simply a matter on filling in the blanks. These promises between two parties define their mutual and respective rights and obligations, along with consequences in the forms of rewards and penalties.

Ideally these promises create a win-win outcome in which both parties are pleased. However, problems often occur when one or both of the parties seek only their own interests with little or no consideration for the other’s or without considering the longer term impact of their actions. Sometimes negotiations result in one party getting their ideal result, but at the expense of the other party.

Unfortunately far too often we see contracts that are not designed to create win-win outcomes and end up failing miserably to meet the respective or mutual needs of the parties. Most could have been “cured” with “an ounce of prevention.”

To avoid such undesirable results, regardless of which side of the equation you are on, ask yourself the following questions before entering into any agreement:

  • Does the agreement further your personal long-range goals? Does the outcome of the agreement fit into your objectives?
  • Have you considered and are you attempting to meet the other party’s goals and objectives without compromising your own?
  • Does the agreement fall comfortably within the goals and limits that you set for this particular negotiation?
  • Does the other party feel good about and comfortable with the terms of the agreement? Has any possibility of resentment as a result of uncomfortable compromises been removed?
  • Can you perform your side of the agreement to the fullest?
  • Do you intend to meet your commitment?
  • Based on all the information, can the other side perform the agreement to your expectations?
  • Based on what you know, does the other side intend to carry out the terms of the agreement?

Obviously a best case scenario would involve answers in the affirmative to all of these questions. If you are unsure about any one of them, take some extra time and review the entire situation. Assess how the agreement could be changed in order to create a yes answer to each question.  

Watch for Part 2 in November, "Negotiating Dental Practice Contracts & Agreements: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"