Buying a Dental Practice: Tips for a Successful Transition
By David Hudnall, DMD
Practicing dentistry is not just about providing services. It is about forging relationships — with your staff, your patients, your peers, specialists who can help you out of a jam, your chosen dental laboratory, and so on. But what about the relationship that you have with the selling dentist? This may be the most important of all as it sets the tone for your future success.
When you buy a dental practice, taking the time to form a good relationship with the seller can be a real asset. The selling dentist wants to feel comfortable leaving everything in your capable hands when they turn the keys over to you. If he or she is retiring and will continue to live nearby, the former owner can be an excellent source of future patient referrals and goodwill in the community at large.
How to Buy a Dental Practice with a Smooth Transition
Buying a dental practice and transitioning to ownership is a process, not a single event. There are many details to consider, both personally and professionally. Let’s discuss some of the overall themes that are important for a smooth practice transition.
Patience Is Key
Take adequate time for due diligence — legally and personally. When you buy a dental practice, you inherit the philosophy and quirks of the previous owner. If your approach to practicing dentistry and your thought process is wildly divergent from the seller’s, you’re going to regret the purchase. It will feel as if you are fighting an uphill battle every day. Buying a dental practice is a long-term investment in your happiness. That consideration should never be underestimated.
Take the time to find a seller who has a similar philosophy as yours. This can make the entire transition much easier for everyone involved. When you finally find the right dentist, everything will fall into place. The practice will have the types of patients you want to work with and a staff that seamlessly runs everything.
If you and the selling doctor are on the same wavelength, there will be fewer obstacles while you transition. The better you get to know one another personally, the more likely you are to have long-term success.
The Financial Health of the Practice is More Than Meets the Eye
Scrutinize and dive deeply into the practice’s financial health. Sellers and practice brokers will only provide you information that makes the practice look good on paper to maximize the selling price. To make a wise decision, you need to understand the underlying factors that produce the financial results presented.
Has the seller recently completed all of the work on the current patients and left you with nothing to do? What are the characteristics of the patient population, and what are the demographics of the area surrounding the practice? How many new patients come in per month, and do they become regular clients?
Buying a dental practice that sees $2 million in revenue per year could be located in an affluent area with mostly cash-paying patients. On the contrary, the same practice could be fraught with Medicaid and PPO patients that require more of your time and energy, only to produce less net gains. You need to know how the practice’s revenue is generated to fully understand what a typical day will look like.
Change Is Hard
You’re eager and filled with amazing ideas for the practice. Resist the urge to make big changes, at least for a while. Develop a five-year plan, and consider investing in new technology and offering new procedures that bring you closer to your goal. In the interim, take time to build relationships with staff and patients and improve your clinical skills. Figure out what makes the practice tick from the inside out. Audit charts are helpful to gain a better understanding of your clients.
Your new employees and patients are typically not ready for sweeping shifts. A change in the dentist is huge, so expect at least 20% turnover of both patients and staff in the first year. While all this is happening, know that this is not a personal attack on your character. Some people don’t handle change well and will not give you a chance. They will go elsewhere simply because you are not the dentist they chose to work with many years ago.
Stomadent Makes Your Transition Easy
With so many changes taking place while assuming ownership of an existing dental practice, the last thing you want to worry about is finding the best dental lab to work with. Whether your newly purchased clinic is at the forefront of the latest technology or relies solely on traditional impressions, we can help.
Stomadent Dental Laboratory has restorative solutions and is the premier source for CAD/CAM-produced fixed and removable appliances that offer a precise fit without the need for labor-intensive adjustments. Your patients deserve to experience all of the comfort and beauty that Stomadent has to offer!
For our full line of Stomadent product offerings, check out our PDF Booklet.