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Articles

The Professional Advisory

  1. Is it Time to Move?
  2. Staging A Dental Practice
  3. The High Cost of Dying
  4. Deal-Busters
  5. Patients - Attract and Retain
  6. Should I Stay or Should I Go?
  7. Is There a Buyer for Every Practice?
  8. Good, Better, Best - The Market has Spoken
  9. Smooth-Sale-ing
  10. Buying Time
  11. Patients, Patience, Patients
  12. A Real Patient
  13. Why Do a Practice Valuation? I'm not Selling
  14. Irrational Exuberance or The New Normal?
  15. Do dental equipment and dental technology affect a practice value?
  16. Finding and Being a Mentor
  17. Bigger is Better
  18. Daves Top Ten List for Buyers (Vendors should read this too!)
  19. How Well Do You Know Your Practice?
  20. Dave
  21. What will happen to dental practice Values in the next 10 years?
  22. Your Premises Lease is an Important Asset
  23. What are Associates Thinking?
  24. There is Life Outside the GTA
  25. When Is the Right Time to Sell My Dental Practice?
  26. Mergers are a Viable Option
  27. Is Your Associate an Asset or a Liability?
  28. Has your Practice Facility Kept Up With Your Billings?
  29. The 100 per cent of Gross Myth
  30. The Past, The Present and The Future
  31. Caveat Emptor
  32. Overpaid Long Term Staff
  33. Selling your Practice in Stages
  34. A Potential Pitfall of Selling Shares
  35. Value in Your Practice Through Balance
  36. Only Trusted Staff Can Defraud You
  37. To Own or Not to Own Practice Real Estate? That is the Question.
  38. Coping With A Large Patient Base
  39. Successful Dental Practice Transitions
  40. Taking Care of Business
  41. The Investing Dentist Phenomenon
  42. Two areas to focus upon that could negatively impact the value of your practice
  43. Organize your Debt in Order to Sell your Practice
  44. Having a Better Team
  45. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale
  46. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 3
  47. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 2
  48. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 1
  49. Advice to My Son or Daughter Graduating from Dental School
  50. Transition - What to Expect
  51. Discussion on Digital X-Rays
  52. Partnerships and Shotguns
  53. Strategic Planning - How to Get Started
  54. Calling All Vendors - Practices have Gone Up in Value
  55. Purchasers: Expect to Pay More for a Practice because of Lower Professional Corporation Tax Rates
  56. Matrimonial Practice Valuations
  57. Purchaser's Guide to Affording a Practice
  58. Location Improvements Throughout Your Career
  59. Small Practice Valuations
  60. Partnerships – The Best and The Worst
  61. Changing Location When the Opportunity Comes Along
  62. Visual Presentation of Your Practice
  63. Presentation of Charts
  64. Your Premises Lease Can Be Your Worst Enemy
  65. How to Select an Appraiser for Your Practice
  66. How Are Your Billing Ratios?
  67. It Pays to Invest in Your Tangible Assets
  68. The Importance of Separate Financial Statements
  69. Five Time Frame Levels to Sell a Practice
  70. 12 Suggestions to Safeguard Computer Data
  71. How to Buy a Visible Practice
  72. Why is there a shortage of good practices today?
  73. The Importance of Equipment in the Purchase of a Practice
  74. The Balanced Practice
  75. Will My Practice Be Saleable in The Future?
  76. Buyer Be Aware
  77. Excess Profit - The Second Key
  78. Patients and Profits are the Keys
  79. Plan Ahead

Volume 74: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Download the PDF version now!

The 80’s rock group The Clash made the saying “Should I stay or should I go” famous with the release of the song with that name in 1981. Around the same time, dentists wondered the same thing with respect to their practice. They still do to this day. That is, upon the sale of my practice - should I stay and associate with the buyer, or should I go.

This is naturally one of the topics we discuss very early with our selling clients. Most have an opinion on it, but we have found that many would like our opinion on the subject.  While there is no answer that is right for every situation - in general, it is better to stay. The main objective for the buyer is to transfer the goodwill to themselves. This task becomes easier if the previous owner of the practice is there to assist and provide guidance. It is also effective if the buyer is introduced by the seller to the patients in a positive light.

It is important to note that what the buyer does after being handed the goodwill “on a silver platter” is not the seller’s responsibility. Smart buyers will not make quick changes, they will not diagnose huge cases, and they will certainly not comment on the dentistry in the patient’s mouth! They will act professionally, be friendly, and earn the trust and respect of the patients and staff every single day.

Just as it is the main objective of the buyer to assume goodwill, we also find it is the main objective of the seller to ensure that someone will care for their patients and their staff as they have done. The transition period will be a time of immense change for all constituents: buyer, seller, staff and patients. Change can cause stress but it is the one constant most of us have in our lives now, so we become adept dealing with it. When the process is handled well with open and honest communication, the results can be very rewarding. Here is a quote from a client who recently sold his practice, “The transition process was flawless and the match has been perfect.”

Why did this transition go so well? And, of equal importance, why do others not go as smoothly? In this case, the seller had been preparing for the sale of his practice for a few years. He had the facility in good shape, had a very good team, had his legal and accounting factors all organized, and he was mentally prepared. His practice life and personal life were ready for the change. I mention the personal side because it is also very important. He was going to have more time on his hands and he knew what he was going to do with it. He was looking forward to the change.  He also knew what he wanted in a buyer. When the right one was found (who was not the highest bidder incidentally), he was very helpful during the diligence and closing process. Further, he helped her assimilate into the practice and gave her guidance with patients and treatment planning. He let her deal with the staff and important decisions relating to the practice, while always being available if needed. The process was smooth and we have a happy buyer and seller and the practice is flourishing. We know of situations where sellers, who intended to stay for a year or two after closing, are still there ten years later because they are enjoying it so much.

There are times when things do not go so well for the dentist who decides to stay. We can learn from those situations too. Most of the problems seem to come down to the three “F’s” - fit, form and function.  

  • Fit - it is important that the buyer and seller have similar philosophies regarding practice management and patient treatment. One of the first things we often do, even before legal documents are drafted, is facilitate an in-depth meeting to help determine the “fit”.
  • Form -the physical plant of the office is what it is. The seller, staff and patients are all used to it. Buyers must resist the temptation to make large changes to the facility in the first six months. Focus on the goodwill first. 
  • Function - This is a two-way street. The buyer has to be willing to assume control. The dentist selling has to be willing to give up control. This is far easier said than done. Control has been the trouble spot for many situations that should have worked. If you are not willing to let go, then you are not ready to sell. Expect the buyer to do things differently that you do. That does not make them wrong. It is vitally important that you are mentally prepared to let go of the day-to-day management of the practice and accept that things will change. Be open, the changes may be good!  

If you cannot let go of control, but you want to sell, then perhaps the answer to  guitarist Mick Jones of The Clash’s original question in 1983 is clear to this day …”You should go”.

David Lind is a Principal and Broker of Record in Professional Practice Sales Ltd. (www.ppsales.com), which specializes in the valuation and sale of dental practices.  He can be reached at (905) 472-6000 or 1-888-777-8825 or e-mail at: david.lind@ppsales.com

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