One Doctor Explains Why You Should Consider a Rural Dental Office for Sale

We’ve posted an interview with one doctor, Bill Dean, that we assisted with selling his dental practice. We also posted part one of an interview with the buyer, Dr. Kevin Shively, about his experience on the other side of the deal. Here, in part two, Dr. Shively discusses why he was looking for a rural dental office for sale. 

Let’s talk about the benefits of buying a rural dental office for sale. There are a lot of dentists out there that just think a city is where they need to be to have the practice they want. What would you say to people about considering smaller towns? Has it been good for you?

Oh, absolutely. I wholeheartedly support and agree going rural for opening a practice. Trying to make it in the big city, especially as someone new-ish coming out of dental school. “New-ish” being, you know, five to maybe seven years out of school.

Everybody’s business background is going to be different and, for me, being in the military, I never had to worry about the money issue. It was, “Okay, you need a crown. Let’s do a crown,” kind of thing. But trying to make it in a bigger city like Lubbock, or Odessa, Midland, somewhere like that, it’s going to be a lot harder and you’re going to have to look into participating with insurance, figuring out how to do reimbursements, things like that.

So, can you open a practice in a big city like Lubbock just on your own? Yes, you can. But it’s going to be much more difficult. I would wholeheartedly support and suggest looking into rural practices. The people need the treatment. They will come from, in some cases, hundreds of miles away to get the treatment. And at the end of the day, they know how much work went into it and they are so, so appreciative.

When you’re in the military and you have a bunch of 17 and 18-year-old kids, they don’t necessarily really understand how much work goes into things. They’ll say things like, “Yeah, I don’t know what I’m here for today. My leadership told me I had to come for an appointment today.” While they cooperate and do everything, here’s a case where you worked hours and hours on something, and they take a look at it and they’re, like, “Yeah, looks okay, I guess.”

So, you really kind of lose that love and that drive to do dentistry. Within the first week or two being in Floydada, I found that I was loving coming to work. I found that I loved getting to know and interact with my patients, and just having those moments where patients will cry because of how beautiful their teeth look again, and how they’ll fall over themselves to thank me for the work and everything that I’ve done. It really, really helped me reaffirm why I got into dentistry in the first place.

Let’s talk about your hopes for the future. We’ve talked to a lot of retiring dentists, and they have all sorts of plans of all the fun that they’re going to have. But we haven’t talked to a lot on the buying side. What are your hopes for this practice? How you see it playing out throughout your career?

I definitely want to grow the practice. Being out in the rural area, the patients … They understand there’s some procedures they can’t get around going to Lubbock for, but if they can stay in Floydada, they would appreciate it.

I want to grow the practice and ultimately start doing more procedures and make it a true … as much as possible, a true one-stop shop to be able to get everything done. That’s my hope for the future, is to grow the practice to really make it a well-rounded family dentistry practice.

Going back to rural practices, people might be worried about, “How do I market myself? How do I get more patients?” How are you getting patients to your practice?

Well, I would say rural is going to be more word of mouth. Those first few patients are going to be very leery, which mine were as well, because I’m not Dr. Dean and it’s a situation where you have to trust in yourself. You have to know that you’re doing the best for the patient and also treat them as you want to be treated. Treat them with the kindness and respect that you would love to have if you’re the one sitting in the chair. If you do that, it will come back to you a thousand-fold.

I do a little bit of marketing on Facebook. Dr. Dean, one of his main marketing ploys was, he would … There was a local restaurant in Floydada. He would frequent it, and if he noticed that one of his patients were sitting somewhere in the restaurant, when he went to pay he would also pay for that patient, as a sign of goodwill and “Thank you for your patronage with my practice.”

Because it’s such a wide area that you pull from, you’d want to have some face recognition. Word of mouth obviously would be huge.

We do have a website that we’re starting. It’s still a work in progress. But I want to, for those patients that are, let’s say, 45-50 miles away that are looking for a dentist, I’d like for them to be able to look at the website and look at what the practice looks like. And get to know our staff a little bit more, and what we can and can’t do for them, before having them make that trip out there.

There was also a transition letter that was sent out to all the active patients from the last five years. ddsmatch helped with that, but Dr. Dean and myself crafted it and then we sent it out to all the patients. So that was, I think, the biggest initial marketing plan that we had.

Looking for a Rural Dental Office for Sale? ddsmatch Can Help!

If you are considering a rural dental practice, here at ddsmatch Southwest, we have several available dental offices for sale in Texas and New Mexico, as well as across the country. Check out our listings online. Contact us today for more information— it starts with a conversation.

From the Other Side: A Doctor Discusses Buying a Dental Practice

We recently posted an interview with one doctor, Bill Dean, that we assisted with selling his dental practice. To shed light on the other side of the transaction, here is part one of an interview with the buying doctor, Kevin Shively, about working with ddsmatch Southwest, dental practice transition specialists, and his experience with buying a dental practice.

Could you please talk a little bit about your background and how you came to hear about ddsmatch?

My name is Dr. Kevin Shively. I’m originally from Louisville, Kentucky. How I came upon ddsmatch was, I was serving on active duty in the military in Germany and was contemplating my next step. I had found a job opportunity in Lubbock, Texas, that wasn’t everything that I was hoping it would be.

I had heard about ddsmatch when I was in dental school and it was a company that had interested me, and, ultimately, I knew that I was going to own my own practice one day. When I reached out to ddsmatch, they helped make that dream become a reality for me.

Can you just talk us through how the process went for you, from the time you first got in contact and how it proceeded?

Yes, absolutely. I accessed the ddsmatch website, the Contact Us portion, and put in some information, some basic information, name, things like that, email address. I was promptly called, I believe, within 48 hours by Andy. He started getting some background information on me, and trying to figure out exactly what I was looking for, and things like that. Because they don’t just help match up people wanting to buy practices, they also help find associateships and things like that. So, he was finding the best fit for me based on all those questions and everything. Going forward, we looked into some practices and went from there.

How long did the process of buying a dental practice take, from when you first started looking until you finally found a seller?

Well, it’s a little misleading, because I was dragging my feet. I had a little bit of cold feet in making such a big purchase. But all in all, I would say from the first conversation I had with Andy until the closing of the practice, no longer than about seven, eight months.

Did you look at several practices or did you find the right one early on?

Based on what my criteria were that I gave Andy, we found two that were the best fit for what I was looking for. At the time, with ddsmatch, there were several practices, but not within the Lubbock, Texas, area. And being that I had just moved halfway across the world, I wanted to stay in one place.

What were the major factors for you? What were the things that you felt were important to you in finding a match?

Well, you always have to trust your gut and your instinct on things … I toured both practices. I enjoyed and liked both practices, but I had a strong sense of one practice, which ultimately was the practice that I ended up purchasing. Once I started going through the numbers and doing the due diligence, it just further bolstered my decision to want to proceed with that practice.

Did you have any “deal-breakers” that you were looking out for?

I don’t really know if I had a whole lot of deal-breakers, this being my first time purchasing a practice. I had things that I really wanted in a practice which, going forward, if I were to do this again, they probably would have been deal-breakers. But with the practice that I ended up acquiring, it was, again, like the stars kind of aligned for me for that practice.

If someone were where you were a year ago, do you have any words of advice?

I would say it is a big step. There are a lot of unknowns, but it is a wonderful path to walk down. It is challenging work, but at the end of the day it’s extremely rewarding, and it really affirms my love for dentistry, with having patients that are extremely appreciative, and just doing what I love.

In terms of staff, do you have any thoughts on the experience of coming into a completely staffed-out and ready-to-go office? Has it been challenging?

Not so much. I learned early on in the military that a lot of change right out of the gate usually backfires on you. So, that was a lesson that I learned and implemented with this practice. I acquired all the staff from the outgoing doctor, and they were very, very hesitant and leery of the transition because change is hard for everyone. I think taking incremental steps in making changes has been very well received by the staff.

What has been your experience with the patients as they’ve come in and had a chance to meet you? What’s been your approach to making sure that you hold onto those patients?

Well, it is a small town practice. The city is only 3,000 people, but I pull from about 30 miles in any direction. Every day is a wonderful experience, in that the patients are so thankful. They are very appreciative. It’s very heartfelt. Here’s someone they don’t even know. I’m introducing myself, and the first thing out of their mouth is, “We are so glad you’re here.” And it’s such a rewarding thing to hear that.

Let’s back up a bit to the process of buying a dental practice itself. What did ddsmatch bring to the table to make the process easier for you?

As far as making the process easier, I could not have done it without ddsmatch. It’s one of those situations where you just don’t know what you don’t know, so Andy and Randy were absolutely instrumental in getting this whole thing going, as far as helping with going through the numbers, the due diligence, and they went beyond the scope of what they normally do to help.

They’re more than willing to do whatever they can to help. They’ll be the first to tell you, “Hey, this isn’t my area of expertise. Here’s my opinion, but I’m going to introduce you to so-and-so, who is the absolute expert in this.” Not only do they give you their advice, they set you up with professionals that have done this several times in the past and can guide you every step of the way. So, it couldn’t have been any easier using ddsmatch.

If someone else is in your shoes, and they’re trying to make the same similar decisions, trying to decide if they want to go with ddsmatch, what would be the selling points?

Well, my main advice with using ddsmatch is, they will guide you. They will help you in doing everything in the correct order … [If] you don’t have a strong business background, they can set you up with a CPA, with a business manager. If you’re wanting to change staff, they have connections with local dental assisting schools and hygiene colleges. If you need help going through the due diligence … It’s any and everything that you could need, they help you with. And if they can’t, they know the people that can help you with it.

Trust is a big deal. For anybody who feels like, “it’s just really hard for me to trust somebody in this situation,” what would be your thoughts for them?

The reputation of ddsmatch, in my opinion, is what can help bridge that trust gap, in that they’ve been around. There’s been, in my estimation, hundreds, if not thousands, of successful transactions and acquisitions using ddsmatch. The proof really is in the pudding, and it’s by far worked out for the vast majority of clients.

It sounds like you really felt like they had your best interests at heart.

Yes, absolutely.

With regard to the outgoing doctor, what was your timing in terms of transitioning him out and you in?

Well, mine was a little abnormal, in that I’m still in the army reserves. Uncle Sam said, you know, “You need to go to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for 30 weeks,” right in the middle of my transition. It was a little bit of a hiccup and, admittedly, it threw the process off a little bit.

But Andy and Randy were awesome at communicating between myself and Dr. Dean, the outgoing doctor, and working out an agreement to where Dr. Dean would be an associate for me while I was serving my country. Again, it was a wrinkle in everything, but without ddsmatch I would not have been able to get the agreement in place, and get everything situated and done to allow me to go on that mission.

In conclusion, what would be the bottom line for your advice to a dentist in your situation?

The bottom line I would give anyone is, yes, purchasing and acquiring a practice can be scary, it can be a very daunting task. There will be pitfalls in areas where you can get tripped up very easily, but that happens with everything. If you buy a car, if you buy a house, things like that can occur.

ddsmatch knows where those pitfalls can occur, and they can help you navigate around them. They can help you network with other local dentists. They can help you network with people to help grow your practice, and help you to make it as smooth a transition as possible. Ultimately, ddsmatch will make your life so much easier in acquiring a practice.

Looking at buying a dental practice? Ddsmatch Has Practices for Sale

If you are considering buying a dental practice, we have several dental practices for sale in Texas and New Mexico, as well as across the country. Check out our listings online. Contact us today for more information— it starts with a conversation.

Dental Practice in Rural Areas: Better for You and Your Bottom Line

Typically, the plan for a recent dental school graduate is to practice in a suburban area around an urban city. A dental practice in a rural area is seen as less appealing. However, what young doctors are finding out is that these areas are already at or over capacity for dental practices and doctors. This means more competition for jobs and patients, lower salaries, and limited opportunity for growth. More often, practices are resorting to extended and weekend hours to try and capture more patients. Costs of living are higher. Participating in PPO plans may be necessary if the competition is doing it (especially when considering student loan debt, practice loan debt, and overhead and personal expenses).  So while the urban area may appear to offer more in terms of lifestyle, dentists practicing in these areas may not be able to enjoy those supposed benefits as they imagined they would.

Below we discuss some of the advantages of dental practices in rural areas. But don’t just take our word for it, read what a recent satisfied ddsmatch Southwest client has to say about his career in a Texas small town.

Dental Practice in Rural Areas Provide More Economic Opportunities

While high-density areas leave dentists scrambling for jobs and patients, and established dentists may have deferred retirement due to economic conditions, dentists in small towns are experiencing the opposite. Most small town dentists are doing quite well because they don’t have the same kind of competition. In fact, many rural areas are underserved, making patient demand for dental services high in comparison to urban areas. 

Dr. Bill Dean, recently used ddsmatch Southwest’s dental practice transition specialists to help him sell his practice. In a recent interview about his practice transition, he noted this benefit of small town dentistry,

“We’re a town of about 3,500 people, but we’re about 50 miles from Lubbock. It’s the nearest town, large town. And, I have a drawing area of probably 20,000 patients and coming from three or four different counties that don’t have dentists, and it’s hard for young dentists coming up to realize that they can come to a real community and have an instant practice when they start out.”

“Particularly if they’re buying a practice. There’s a ready-made client base that they can go to work from day one and be busy. They don’t have to try to develop a clientele, and they get to know their patients and the patients . . . Once they’ve won a patient over they will tell all their friends, and it just is an ongoing process of good people.”

Small Town Overhead with Urban-Level Fees

Fees charged by dental practices in rural areas are comparable to those charged in suburban and urban areas. But the overhead is much lower. A small town practice typically has its overhead expenses in the 50-55% range. Two major factors are lower wages and lower real estate or lease costs. Combined with less competition (meaning you save in your marketing costs as well), this means higher profits for your practice, and more money in your pocket. The faster you can accumulate wealth, the sooner you can retire, and the easier it will be to do on your own terms.

Dr. Dean also addresses the belief that being in a small town might make you feel isolated. To the contrary, given the realities of transit in sprawling urban areas, his access to larger city amenities wasn’t an issue, and the increased opportunities to earn and own a practice are accelerated by the built-in clientele and lower overhead:

“Lubbock is a town of about 200-and-something-thousand people, Texas Tech University is there, and they’ve got everything you could want. It’s 45 minutes away. If you’re living in Houston you may drive an hour to go eat somewhere and if you’re living in Floydada, you could be anywhere in Lubbock within an hour, and you’ve got anything you want. You got a major airport that’ll get you where you want to go, and, as I said, you’ve got an instant practice the day you open up your doors and in a large city you have to work to get people to come in. Or, go in as an associate and work for five years before you can actually become a partner.”

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Because many rural areas are underserved, some state agencies have established loan forgiveness programs based on the number of years a doctor practices in one of the underserved areas. So, in addition to earning more, you can also work to reduce your debt faster than otherwise, accelerating your savings. Some of the programs may require participating in Medicaid. Visit ADA.org for more information.

Small Town Life Style

Many dentists who do practice in more densely populated areas grow tired of the tough economics of urban life, the competition, and the stress. These are factors that are intrinsic to city life. We’ve discussed above how a dental practice in rural areas can increase your income. It can also greatly decrease your stress while increasing job satisfaction. 

The slower pace of life allows to you both be more flexible in your schedule and to get to know your patients better. Creating a personal bond who those to whom you provide care adds an additional dynamic to your work day that can make it more enjoyable, and less of a chore. You also will have more time to enjoy the things that make life worth living, like friends and family, and hobbies and recreation. The ability for better life balance will reduce the likelihood of burnout.

Additionally, you can enjoy the esteem of your community. A dentist is a valued member of the community, providing a valuable service. You can be seen as a respected professional whose advice is valued. Diagnosis and treatment plans are more readily accepted by patients who know and trust you. 

Dr. Dean confirms these benefits. Speaking of the doctor who bought his practice, Dr. Dean noted that he was looking specifically for 

“[s]omeone that would be a part of the community, that was more than just drilling and filling and seeing patients. And, [Dr. Shively, the buyer, has] been with a corporate firm in Lubbock for the last six months and it wasn’t a matter of getting to know the patients, it was a matter of production, and Dr. Shively didn’t like that, didn’t want that. He wanted to be a part of the community. . . .

“He said when he came out there was little league baseball playing, and he said that’s what he’s looking for, and, you know, that’s what I’ve had for the last 27 years. We’ve known for two months . . . that Dr. Shively was taking over, and that I would be leaving. And, the last two months with patients have the most humbling and rewarding of my entire career. The patients just saying, ‘we appreciate you and love you,’ and that’s what dentistry’s all about. It’s getting to know people. . . . 

“Probably half of my patients call me Dr. D., the other half call me Bill, because I go to church with them, or I’m on the school board. I’m just one of them. Particularly for these that, like the Davidsons, where I see their kids and grandkids and great grandkids, they’re really more family than they are patients. And that’s the beauty of working in a small town. When you leave the office you may see them at the grocery store, you’re going to see them at the football game, or the basketball game.”

ddsmatch Southwest Has Rural Practices Available Now

The dental practice transition specialists at ddsmatch Southwest have dental practices in rural areas in Texas and New Mexico ready for buyers. If you are looking to start your career, or are looking for a change of pace where you can own your own practice and enjoy the benefits of that ownership, take a look at our available practices

If you are considering transitioning your practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment during which we’ll our experience to work for you, advising on how best to build value and get ready to transition on your terms. Contact us today.

“The Personal Touch”: Why One Doctor Used ddsmatch When He Put His Dental Practice for Sale

We sat down with Dr. Bill Dean, of Floydada. Texas, to discuss his dental practice transition, facilitated by ddsmatch Southwest. He had recently seen his last patients, who were, coincidentally, among his very first patients—they are part of a family, four generations of which, have been his patients. Dr. Dean makes the case for practicing dentistry in rural areas and for using the ddsmatch dental practice transition specialists. 

“ . . . they did everything that I needed help done. They supplied all the paperwork, all the forms. They did all of the listing and advertising, and all I had to do was be there to open the door when they brought someone out.”

When you first put your dental practice for sale, what did you have in mind for the type of person you were hoping for in a buyer?

Someone that would be a part of the community, that was more than just drilling and filling and seeing patients. And, [Dr. Shively, the buyer, has] been with a corporate firm in Lubbock for the last six months and it wasn’t a matter of getting to know the patients, it was a matter of production, and Dr. Shively didn’t like that, didn’t want that. He wanted to be a part of the community.

He said when he came out there was little league baseball playing, and he said that’s what he’s looking for, and, you know, that’s what I’ve had for the last 27 years. We’ve known for two months . . . that Dr. Shively was taking over, and that I would be leaving. And, the last two months with patients have the most humbling and rewarding of my entire career. The patients just saying, “we appreciate you and love you,” and that’s what dentistry’s all about. It’s getting to know people.

When he came out with Andy it was an instant bond with both of us, and we knew that this is what we were going to do.

It seems like it’s the kind of community that allows people to get to know each other as people, not just as part of commercial transactions.

Exactly. We’re a town of about 3,500 people, but we’re about 50 miles from Lubbock. It’s the nearest town, large town. And, I have a drawing area of probably 20,000 patients and coming from three or four different counties that don’t have dentists, and it’s hard for young dentists coming up to realize that they can come to a real community and have an instant practice when they start out.

Do you feel that younger dentists coming out might not recognize the benefits of a rural community?

Particularly if they’re buying a practice. There’s a ready-made client base that they can go to work from day one and be busy. They don’t have to try to develop a clientele, and they get to know their patients and the patients . . . Once they’ve won a patient over they will tell all their friends, and it just is an ongoing process of good people.

You mentioned that the local newspaper ran a story about you putting your dental practice for sale?

The local newspaper came out probably three months ago now, and interviewed Dr. Shively and me, and ran an article in the paper, front page, half a page story about him coming in and wanting to be a part of the community. And, he’s been out a couple of times, shadowing me and then he came out one day when I wasn’t there and saw patients and then Wednesday will be his first day to see patients, and he’s got a full schedule for the rest of the week.

What is happening with your staff?

My staff will stay. My hygienist has been with me 16 or 17 years, Gracie, who’s the office manager’s been with me 13 and then [Kiera] is a new one, but they are all staying. And, they’re the ones that are going to make the transition for him. They’ve been building him up since the very beginning.

Was your staff involved in considering buyers or were they not really involved in that process?

They weren’t really involved, but some of the first ones that came out, they came out after hours, and it was obvious that they weren’t going to work, and so we didn’t do that. When I met with Dr. Shively, we brought him back out to shadow me, and I told them that he was coming and was probably going to be the one. And, there was a little apprehension until they met him, and then they were quite satisfied.

Let’s talk a little bit about the process with ddsmatch. If somebody came up and just said, “hey, you used a broker, why would you do that?” What would your thoughts be?

I’ve got a colleague in Plainview, that’s about 30 miles from Floydada, that’s tried to sell his practice, I think three times, and it’s all fallen through because he didn’t have the right, I don’t know, idea of how he needed to do it, what he needed to do, and with the ddsmatch they did everything that I needed help done. They supplied all the paperwork, all the forms. They did all of the listing and advertising, and all I had to do was be there to open the door when they brought someone out.

Did they help you out with getting your practice appraised?

They did . . . I supplied, I think it was bank statements and production figures for, I believe, three years. I don’t know now, but they went through and evaluated everything, and they came up with the figure of what they thought the practice was worth, and it was pretty much what I had estimated in my mind that it was going to be and took over from there.

How did that process work?

I supplied three years of bank statements and three years of production figures, and then they took production and expenses and came up with a percentage of office overhead, and lab fees and everything, and based their projected income off of that. They had one problem that they were concerned that my accounts receivable was very, very low. And, for 25 years or since I’ve been in Floydada, we’re a fee for service, we do file insurance but everything is paid by the patient and really the only accounts receivable we have is outstanding insurance.

At the time that Andy looked it was less than $5000, and they used that, and once they decided that that was legit, that we weren’t trying to pull something over, and then my office overhead is quite low for an average dental office. I had to justify the reason that we were doing that but we have a very low rent, or lease payment, and it includes everything, janitorial. They were able to take that and run with it. It’s almost a no-brainer to come.

Did you have a lawyer already in place or did you use one that they had referred you?

I’ve got a friend for the last 40 years and he looked over my part. They supplied or recommended a lawyer to Dr. Shively and he used a financial consultant that ddsmatch recommended, and they did most of the paperwork, and my lawyer looked over it. There were a couple of items that I wanted changed, took a week to do that, and everything was signed and ready to go.

If somebody were to say, “hey, I know of another guy who’s a broker, why shouldn’t I use him instead of ddsmatch?” Why would you recommend that they would use ddsmatch?

For the personal touch. Maybe it’s because I’ve known Andy for 25 years, but I’ve met some of the other consultants with the ddsmatch and I think they go above and beyond what has to be done to list a practice. I can’t say enough good about ddsmatch.

Did they help you with the transition with your staff? Do you feel like they saved you from anything?

They saved me from a disaster of trying to do it myself. Because if I had done that, there’s several things I would not have thought of that had to be done, and they helped with easing the staff into the transition, to assure them that they would be taken care of and supplying all of the necessary forms for state board, radiation board. There’s a multitude of things you have to do to quit practicing dentistry.

Did you send a letter out to your patients informing them about the new doctor?

We did. Right after we had the interview with the newspaper, Dr. Shively and I together wrote a letter and we took the active patients from the last two years and did a mail out to them. We actually used patient families rather than individual patients because some of those would have four and five patients in a family. But, we sent that out about a month ago.

Have any of the patients mentioned the letter or say anything about their impression of Dr. Shively since learning about you putting you dental practice for sale?

They were, most of the patients, when they came in, they were more interested in talking about me leaving than Dr. Shively coming. But, the fact that he has devoted the last five years to serving our country in the military with nine months deployment in Iraq, speaks volumes for his character and what he’s going to mean to the community. I have no doubt that Dr. Shively will be an instant success in Floydada.

If somebody doesn’t know Andy or ddsmatch, could you reassure them about his character?

Andy’s the most honest person I know. I have no . . . I’d trust him with my wife and kids to go somewhere, and I don’t do that with most people.

Having practiced for so long in a smaller community, you’re watching kids grow up, then you’re treating their kids. What that is like from your perspective?

Probably half of my patients call me Dr. D., the other half call me Bill, because I go to church with them, or I’m on the school board. I’m just one of them. Particularly for these that, like the Davidsons, where I see their kids and grandkids and great grandkids, they’re really more family than they are patients. And that’s the beauty of working in a small town. When you leave the office you may see them at the grocery store, you’re going to see them at the football game, or the basketball game. The only problem I have is that we have patients coming from all the little towns around and at the basketball game, I forget and holler for the wrong team sometimes.

Dr. Dean and the Davidsons

It must be really nice to be able to regard your patients as neighbors and friends.

Exactly. I treat them like I would want to be treated because they’re coming back. Even though I’ve got a drawing area of 20,000 people, that’s a finite amount of people and if you don’t treat every one of them properly you’ll eventually run out and that’s what little towns are all about.

What is your case to make for doctors choosing smaller towns or rural areas over the city?

If you go to a small town, we are . . . Lubbock is a town of about 200-and-something-thousand people, Texas Tech University is there, and they’ve got everything you could want. It’s 45 minutes away. If you’re living in Houston you may drive an hour to go eat somewhere and if you’re living in Floydada, you could be anywhere in Lubbock within an hour, and you’ve got anything you want. You got a major airport that’ll get you where you want to go, and, as I said, you’ve got an instant practice the day you open up your doors and in a large city you have to work to get people to come in. Or, go in as an associate and work for five years before you can actually become a partner. 

The nice thing about being in Floydada is, I am my own boss. If I want to take Thursday and Friday off, I take damn Thursday and Friday off.

What you’re looking forward to next?

Got my four grandkids here. I’ll have them for the rest of the week, and two are from Virginia, and two are from about two hours away. I’ll play with them. I’m going to do some part-time dentistry in Lubbock, doing dental sleep medicine with oral surgeons that I’ve worked with, but just slowing down, enjoying life. 

Ddsmatch Southwest can also help you with your dental practice for sale 

At ddsmatch Southwest, our team members are dental practice transition specialists. Our aim is to help you get what you want out of your dental practice transition. We meet with you to find out or help establish your transition goals and work diligently toward them. With our experience, we know to cover all the details. You can be as involved—or not involved—as you’d like. If you are considering transitioning your practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment. Contact us today and find out what we can do for you.

Dentistry in Rural Areas: Higher Esteem and Higher Profit Margins

It’s a common idea: put in your time at dental school and in a residency, then settle into a practice in the big city where you can really enjoy the proceeds from your hard work. Urban living has a lot to recommend it–the cultural opportunities like symphonies and art museums; great restaurants and an exciting nightlife; trendy shopping boutiques and hip loft apartments. But there can be some disadvantages, especially when compared with dentistry in rural areas.

Urban living, for all of its excitement, can be taxing both psychologically and financially. Cities are crowded. The crowds and lack of open or green space can make some feel claustrophobic. The competition for living and work space drives up costs. And when it comes to a dental practice, there is a lot of competition for patients. If other dentists are open early and late on weekdays, or take patients on the weekend, then you might feel pressure to do the same.

Why it’s Smart to Consider Buying a Dental Practice in a Rural Area

On the one hand, as said above, city living can be exciting, but it’s not called the rat race for nothing. If you asked your dental school classmates, probably 9 out of 10 would say that they wanted to practice within 30 minutes of a major city. By contrast, rural dentistry doesn’t have nearly that level of competition. The rural areas are often underserved, which means you have a ready patient base without much, if any, competition. This translates into several benefits that can greatly improve quality of life.

  • Less stress and more free time. Patients in rural areas tend to not miss appointments. There is less pressure to participate in discount insurance programs. If a patient declines a treatment option because of a financial concern, you can offer a third-party financing option. Also, there is less expectation of evening and weekend hours, meaning you can be home for dinner every night and your weekends are your own.
  • High profit margins. Real estate tends to be cheaper, which lowers both your living costs and operating costs. Wages are lower. Overhead overall tends to average out at 50% in rural areas, while pricing is consistent with urban areas. Do the math.
  • Respect in the community. The town dentist is a valued member of the community performing an essential function. The community is more likely to treat you as a person occupying a position of respect.
  • Student loan repayment. New dentists who practice in underserved areas may qualify for student loan repayment programs that reduce the amount you have to repay. It may require some participation in Medicaid programs. More information can be found through the ADA.

You may be concerned whether you can retain existing patients if you are buying a practice in a rural area. However, many small towns only have one dentist. This means the practice will have a built-in patient base, without any local competition. In rural areas, patients are less likely to drive 45 minutes out of their way to see a dentist in the big city.

Plus, living in a rural area doesn’t mean you don’t get to enjoy what a larger city can offer. What you save in overhead and living expenses can be turned into weekend getaways and vacations. A rural dentist can enjoy the quiet life while indulging in city life when they choose.

Associates Should Also Consider Dentistry in Rural Areas

If you’re not yet ready to buy a practice but are more interested in an associateship, dentistry in rural areas can be a great option. Many of the benefits listed above also apply to associates. Lower stress levels and shorter hours means more time for you to enjoy your hobbies and free time. If your compensation is based on collections, in a rural area your compensation can go further.

When you begin your career in a rural area, especially if you have an eye toward eventually buying into or acquiring the practice, you can create lifelong community ties. Rural areas and smaller towns have less anonymity, meaning that the services you provide are not simply transactional, but can be more meaningful on a personal level. You’ll treat the school teachers, the civic leaders, your children’s friends and parents. A rural dentist can be embedded into the fabric of their community in a way that’s not possible in the city. It may ultimately become one of the most personally fulfilling aspects of your professional life.

Selling a Rural Dentistry Practice

If you are one of the dentists who practice dentistry in rural areas or small towns and are thinking about transitioning your practice for retirement, you have a lot to offer potential buyers. But also take time to consider updating your office equipment, furniture, and decor. Has your practice gone digital or is it still paper and filing cabinets? Younger dentists looking to buy an established practice often want the latest technology and service options already implemented into the running of the business. No doubt your office runs well, but be aware that expectations have changed about how offices operate and information is managed.

At ddsmatch Southwest, we offer a free Practice Transition Assessment where we can advise you how to get the most value out of your practice. We’ll look closely at your practice, being mindful of the community you serve, and offer advice based on the hundreds of transitions we’ve facilitated across the country. We want to help you get the most for your practice and find the buyer best suited to match.

If you are considering transitioning your practice within the next five years, give us a call to arrange your free assessment. Find out what ddsmatch Southwest can do for you today.