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. Dave's Top Ten List for Buyers (Vendors should read this too!)
  19. How Well Do You Know Your Practice?
  20. Dave's Top Ten List for Vendors
  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 41: Successful Dental Practice Transitions

Download the PDF version now!

Over the last several months I have been speaking at various Study Clubs and Dental Societies on the topic of Successful Dental Practice Transitions. This article condenses my presentation into a quick read of the current dental practice sales market and what you can do to be successful as a buyer or a seller.

The Drivers of Dental Practice Value.

You can probably quickly come up with statistics relating to your gross production, number of operatories, size of your office or the number of team members you have. All of that is important but these elements are minor contributors to value. You really should know how many active patients you have and what your adjusted net income is. The two main drivers of dental practice values are Patients and Profit. The absence of either of these factors makes your practice very difficult to sell. Some of the other factors that contribute to value are location, productivity, hygiene department, assignment, competition, overhead, and reproducibility of results.

Equipment and leasehold improvements are also factors buyers consider. They are in a different category though because they are easy to change. If a buyer doesn’t like your old equipment or dated decorating they can easily call their dental supply company or contractor and have them changed. Who do they call to order more patients?

The following actual examples illustrate how the real drivers of value work:


  • $1,300,000 Gross
  • 1000 Patients
  • Lab
  • $200K Hygiene
  • Professional Bldg-Midtown Toronto
  • $816,000 Gross cash flow
  • Non-assignment
  • 3ops-$90K assets
  • Value-$680,000/52% of Gross

Practice 2

  • $1,100,000 Gross
  • 2800 Patients
  • 6.4% Lab
  • $330K Hygiene
  • Professional Bldg- Mississauga
  • $645,000 Gross cash flow
  • Non-assignment
  • 6 ops-$390K assets
  • Value-$1,390,000/ 125% of Gross

As the examples show the biggest contributor to practice value is the patient count followed closely by profit. In Practice 1, the value is held back by the low patient count relative to the gross production even though the cash flow is strong. What would the outcome be if a buyer followed one of most misused rules of thumb and paid 80-90 per cent of gross for this practice?

In Practice 2, the value is enhanced by low productivity relative to the patient count coupled with stable, repeatable earnings. Imagine how much the vendor of Practice 2 might have left on the table if they didn’t know the true value of what they had.

In valuing dental practices all of the factors must be considered and the numbers analyzed against each other to produce a meaningful report. Nothing is more important than Patients and Profit.

Considerations for Sellers

It is best to begin planning for the sale of your practice well in advance. Ten years ahead is not too early but most people don’t plan that far ahead. If possible planning should begin at least five years before you sell. You should analyze the productivity of both the hygiene and dental departments. Both should be optimized prior to a sale.

Your premises lease is a key element in creating value. A buyer will not want to buy your practice if the tenancy is not secure for at least seven years. Further, the banks and finance companies will not finance the purchase of your practice without a good long term lease. Patient charts should be purged so that you have a limited number of inactive charts mixed in with your active charts. A professional valuation will give you insight into these and many other factors of your practice and can be an excellent start to making the necessary adjustments to ensure your practice is positioned in the best possible way.

Considerations for Buyers

First and foremost, don’t do this alone. Accountants, lawyers, consultants, bankers, and brokers, have all been through this many times. Employ them to help you make the right decision. Remember thatPatients and Profit make value so you should have complete confidence in the numbers you are reviewing in these two important areas. Review the valuation with your trusted advisors, and make sure you have a good understanding of the contained information. You should also take time to do your own chart audit. It is also important for patient retention that there are similarities between you and the vendor. For instance, if the vendor only uses amalgam for posterior restorations and you only use composite, this would be a problem.

Invest enough time to become educated on the market and understand what you want and what you don’t want. It may be very difficult to find the perfect practice so be prepared to compromise on the “nice to haves” while making sure you don’t forgo the “need to haves”. When you find the right practice, act swiftly.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like me to come to your Study Club or Dental Society meeting to do the full presentation on Successful Dental Practice Transitions.