A Partnership Charter: Part 2

April 2, 2018 Brad Weiss

When a dental partnership fails, it’s natural to want to keep the truth quiet. The dissolution of relationships, especially business relationships, is often seen as shameful. In Part 1 of this series, I decided to openly discuss a partnership that ended. Here, I continue that story.

When Dental Partnerships Go Awry

After negotiation and mediation failed, our contract stated we would have our case settled by the American Arbitration Association. When the dust settled three-and-a-half years later and the final appeal ruling of the Arbitrator’s decision came down in my favor, it ended up on the front page of our local Daily Law Bulletin.  

I had multiple texts come in that morning from attorney friends and patients congratulating me on the victory. Even an arbitration victory can feel like a loss with the stomach lining and energy that it takes to go through the process.  

I know that some lessons will never be learned out of a book and need to be experienced, but please add this one phrase to your existing or upcoming contract: The loser of any appeal of binding arbitration shall pay the other party’s attorney fees. That alone would have prevented many years of stress, a whole lot of money spent on attorneys, and some gray hairs to boot.  

Creating a Partnership Charter

Recently, I was introduced to a book entitled ‘The Partnership Charter’ that has energized me around new possibilities for a partnership with my current associate. A partnership charter is a cooperative document meant to instill a spirit of collaboration into an agreement between parties.  

While not legally binding, it provides a framework for the partnership that is highly individualized and contains no boiler plate standard clauses. The process is the most important outcome and the document is secondary. It is meant to be reviewed and revised throughout the partnership, becoming a true living document that creates continued conversation over synergy and fairness.  

Though not every scenario can be planned for, I am confident that getting in and out of my next partnership will be spelled out much more clearly than my last. The charter will provide a process of collaboration that will guide us toward fairness for all concerned.

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Brad Weiss

Following dental school, Brad practiced in Kenilworth and Winnetka and gained experience with Lasers and Computer Aided Design and Machined Dentistry. Brad continued his education and the L.D. Pankey Institute in Florida and is honored to be a part of the Visiting Faculty since 2008. Brad has also been co-facilitating a study group for dentists interested in developing relationship-based practices in Vancouver, B.C. since 2010. Brad practices in Evanston, IL.

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A Partnership Charter: Part 1

March 30, 2018 Brad Weiss

In part 1 and 2 of this candid blog series, Dr. Brad Weiss discusses the dissolution of his partnership with an associate and how he believes others can avoid falling into similar situations.

In July, I finished my term as president of my rotary club. I termed it a “planned hardship,” much like a camping trip where you know you will be better for having experienced it.

Each week for the rotary club meetings, I ended them with Rotary’s Four Way Test: First, is it the truth? Second, is it fair to all concerned? Third, will it build goodwill and better friendships? Fourth, will it be beneficial to all concerned?  

My vision of what defines a successful partnership aligns with the rotary club mindset. I believe a partnership in the dental practice is where each of the four above criteria can be met. My patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of a well-functioning agreement.  

A Broken Dental Partnership

I am not a practice transitions expert, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn last night, but I did go to the school of hard knocks. I have been an associate, worked as an employee for a corporate entity, shared space as my own S Corp, and eventually merged my small practice with a much larger one to become a 50-50 partner with an associate as our employee.  

There is shame attached to the failure of any relationship. As my partnership split after six-and-a-half years, mine is no exception. The more I tell my story, the more I hear such similar stories from other dentists. It is eerie and disappointing to know that more is not done to improve the odds of partnership success.  

My belief is that the shame attached keeps others from knowing how to avoid potential strife between two otherwise reasonable people.

To be continued…

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About Author

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Brad Weiss

Following dental school, Brad practiced in Kenilworth and Winnetka and gained experience with Lasers and Computer Aided Design and Machined Dentistry. Brad continued his education and the L.D. Pankey Institute in Florida and is honored to be a part of the Visiting Faculty since 2008. Brad has also been co-facilitating a study group for dentists interested in developing relationship-based practices in Vancouver, B.C. since 2010. Brad practices in Evanston, IL.

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