GP practice clients are having significant problems recruiting new partners. They are therefore looking for new ideas and advice from their accountants.
A good starting point in supporting them has to be the practice accounts. What do the practice profits look like? Do they present an attractive proposition? If not, why not?
If changes can be made to improve profits, or if changes are already in hand, then think about providing the practice with a report illustrating these changes. If you do not do this then prospective partners will be given the most recent set of accounts and may walk away from discussions when they see low profits, being unaware of the changes in hand for future improvement.
So, if past performance is not representative of future profits, make sure that the practice can demonstrate this. Highlight key strengths and explain weaknesses and how these may be improved upon. Support your data with comparisons to benchmarks to give candidates confidence in the financial understanding of the practice.
Make sure that the panel is properly briefed and appears very professional. As their accountant this may not be considered your territory but in our own businesses we are experienced in recruitment and can help a practice which may only be recruiting at partner level very occasionally. It's a bit different from interviewing for a receptionist! Perhaps you could suggest that taking professional HR advice might be a sound investment.
Frequently, the practice has not thought through the package they intend offering. They might use a previous arrangement that is no longer an attractive proposition. Go through all the components of the intended financial package, including buy-in, with your clients so you can advise on whether it is market competitive.
Is it unrealistically high? Do retiring partners want to retain their share in the property to help out? Is this a good idea for the practice? Could the practice refinance to reduce the equity buy in? Watch existing loan arrangements. You do not want to disturb an existing good deal but the practice may have some opportunity to borrow up towards the property value.
Being able to illustrate that the practice has strong management skills will help to persuade new GPs that the team is well organised in all regards. New partners want to be reassured that the practice is managed well clinically as well as financially.High earning practices usually have robust clinical processes too.
This can often be by word of mouth from local contacts. Remind your GP clients that locums and trainees have a strong peer group network. Particularly remind them that a locum or trainee who hasn't worked out in a practice will have lots of pals who might be their ideal candidate. But they may have already been put off talking to your client by the bad experience of their friend.
Local community reputation will be a big factor for candidates who are in a strong position. Be sure that the practice's reputation is all that they would wish it to be.
Make sure that the practice premises are the kind of place where a new GP might wish to work. As the visiting accountant you are in the ideal position to stand back and offer advice as a critical friend. Would you want to work in the building? Sometimes improvements are way beyond an affordable budget but frequently quick fixes can be put in hand to not just impress potential new team members; staff and patients might also enjoy a newly emulsioned surgery!
Helping your client to recruit in a difficult market sets you apart as going just that extra mile in supporting your clients and this will, in turn, help you to win new business from client referrals.