Selling a Dental Practice

Dentistry Named a Top Job; That’s Good News for Texas Dental Practices for Sale

In a recent ranking of professions by US News & World Reports, dentistry came in as the second best option, just behind software developers in its 2020 rankings. This is a step up from fourth place in the 2019 rankings. For dentists with Texas dental practices for sale, this is good news, as what is being offered is not just a profitable business, but a solid and rewarding career as well.

While that ranking is for general dentistry, professions throughout the oral healthcare industry fared very well. Orthodontists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons were both in the top ten of overall jobs (at four and nine, respectively) and in the top five of best paying jobs (with oral and maxillofacial surgeons at number three and orthodontists at number five). Dental hygienists came in overall at 24th, prosthodonists at 56th, and dental assistants at 66th. In the more specific category of health care jobs, dentistry came in at number one, orthodontists at number three, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons at number nine.

The criteria US News & World Reports relied on for their rankings started with which jobs would have the largest number and percentage of projected openings between 2018 and 2028, as determined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Then, the publication ranked the jobs based on other criteria such as median salary, employment rate, ten-year growth, future job prospects, stress level, and work-life balance.

The Tangibles and the Intangibles

According to the BLS, dentistry has an expected 10,4000 job openings with a 7.6% employment growth. It also reported that dentists have a median salary of $151,850, up slightly from 2019 when the median salary was $151,440 (although this is down from 2016 when the median salary was $153,900)

Here in Texas, we have two cities where dentists’ median salary is the highest. Topping the list is Amarillo, where the median salary for a dentist is $279,920. This is followed by Longview, where the median salary is $275,530. This indicates it may be a good time to put Texas dental practices for sale as potential buyers may be looking to build their careers where the fields are fertile.

The top five is rounded out by Fond du Lac, WI ($268,920,  Reno, NV ($267,410), and Sebring, FL ($259,660). If you look at the mean salary, the highest amounts are in Delaware ($264,440), Alaska ($259,350), Rhode Island ($254,190), Minnesota ($227,280), and New Hampshire ($226,300). 

And, of course, the specialists can earn even more. Orthodontists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons earn a median salary of $208,000, while prosthodontists have a median of $176,540.

It’s not all about the money, though. Measurements of dentists’ flexibility in schedules and work-life balance were both found to be above average from all of the professions reviewed. Also, the upward mobility and stress levels were found to be in the average range. Meaning, you can have an average to above-average experience in the profession while earning a well above average salary.

How Well Does This Reflect the Reality of Being a Dentist

The answer to this question, of course, is that it depends. The US News & World Report ranking is encouraging for the future of the profession of dentistry. It is, however, based largely on statistics and does not really give a full picture of what it means to be a dentist. 

As your experience has probably shown, while you can earn a high salary, what isn’t always apparent is the cost of getting that salary. After all, in 2018 the average dental student graduated with a student loan debt load of $285,184. When coupled with a dental practice loan to start or buy a practice, debt payments can take a big chunk of your potential earnings. However, when viewed as an investment and properly organized, a smart doctor can service their debt and still enjoy a high income.

There are also many aspects to practicing dentistry that can provide satisfaction beyond just meeting career milestone goals or earning potential. A successful practice keeps the doctor busy all day, every day, providing a sense of satisfaction in the work accomplished. Also, the work being done is a kind that genuinely has a positive impact on your patients. It’s possible to look back at the end of each day, week, month, year, or career, and see how you’ve made peoples’ lives better. 

At the end of the day, the real value of Texas dental practices for sale is the goodwill that the practices have built in the community. This goodwill doesn’t come from how efficiently you’ve organized your practice in order to maximize production out of each of your chairs. It comes from the care you provide to patients and the relationships you form with your community through that quality of care.

ddsmatch Southwest Has Texas Dental Practices for Sale

ddsmatch Southwest are dental practice transition specialists with an expertise in finding the right match for New Mexico and Texas dental practices for sale. We help visualize your future, set achievable goals, and devise strategies to start you in the direction of your post-transition dreams, well in advance of your intended transition time frame. If you are considering transitioning your dental practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment. Contact us today and find out how we can help you achieve your practice transition goals.

Tap Your Hygienist’s Production Potential Before Putting Your Dental Practice for Sale

We recently posted an piece suggesting you set production goals to help maximize your earnings per day and hour as a way to boost your income both as a way to increase your profitability and to build value before placing your dental practice for sale. Relatedly, you can make the same adjustments with your practice’s dental hygiene production. 

In most practices, aside from what you produce, the only other major source of production are your dental hygienists. Some consultants recommend that you have a goal of having hygiene make up about 25% of your practice’s overall production. That’s a significant amount, but it is something that is achievable if it is well planned as part of overall scheme to create efficiency. Below are five suggestions for how to get more out of your dental hygienists.

1 – Patients Past Due for Hygiene Treatment

Who do you think will have a greater impact on patients overdue for hygiene treatment: your administrative staff members or your dental hygienist? We mean no disrespect to your staff members. They may be highly professional and capable people who excel in their capacity. However, they are not providers of clinical treatment. That is, they are not seen as having knowledge and expertise in hands-on dental care. The difference this makes to patients might surprise you.

You can leverage this in two ways. First, if your hygienist has time in their schedule (due to a gap or a no-show), they should have a list of patients ready to contact to encourage them to make an appointment. Second, they can also create a script for the administrative staff members to use, relaying a message from the hygienist about the overdue treatment, encouraging them to set an appointment. This script might focus on the importance of regular, ongoing hygiene treatment that will enable them to keep their teeth for their lifetime, one that educates about dental care and periodontal health in a positive and helpful way.

2 – Elective Procedures

As you know, your dental hygienists have more time with your patients than you or any other member on your team. Over the last several years, there is more of a focus in our society on whitening and, among adults, straightening of teeth. While these procedures may not be clinically necessary for ongoing oral health, many of your patients may find an appeal in these procedures. Many practices are underperforming when it comes to cosmetic procedures, implants, and adult orthodontics. You can leverage the time your dental hygienists have with your patients to offer and discuss these options. 

Additionally, as you grow closer each day to the time when you will place your dental practice for sale, building this into your practice will be a selling point—having employees who are invested in and critical to increasing the practices overall productivity.

3 – Ongoing Treatment Reminders

You probably have a number of patients to whom treatment plans have been suggestion but that haven’t accepted your recommendations or haven’t completed the treatment. Too often, dental practices will provide a treatment plan recommendation and then simply leave it to the patient to decide. Consider, however, how many of those patients would be more likely to accept or complete the treatment plan with follow-up conversations?

Presenting a treatment plan is often not just a two-step process where you present the plan and the patient opts to accept it or not. There may be myriad factors as to why a patient chooses to accept or complete a treatment plan. The best way to boost your case acceptance rate is to have, in essence, an ongoing conversation about the treatment plan.

Your hygienists should make it regular practice for each appointment to review the patient’s file, see what treatment has been recommended but not completed, and to discuss that with the patient. Even if the patient’s reason is related to the annual renewal of dental benefits, it’s important to remind them of what is needed and why it is to their benefit. This way, you can leverage the time your hygienists spend with patients.

4 – Periodontal Diagnostics

Whether you know it or not, periodontal disease is a widespread problem, affecting about 65% of all patients, yours included. Most people don’t understand what it is, really, even though they may be experiencing its symptoms (such as red, swollen, or tender gums; bleeding when brushing; bad breath). This lack of awareness is an opening for your hygienists to be recommending care through a periodontal diagnostic program. If you create the program and train your hygienists on how to educate patients, you’ll be providing them with additional level of care and using your hygienist’s time to get closer to that 25% production goal. And, again, if you have a program like this being boosted by hygienists, that will only help you when you decide it’s time to place your dental practice for sale. 

5 – Dental Hygienist Assistants

You have employees for a reason: you simply don’t have time to do everything and, because your time is valuable, you need to delegate the simpler tasks to someone with less training, skill, and experience. The same can be true for dental hygienists. 

Not everything your hygienists are doing needs to be done by a hygienist, such as preparing rooms for treatment, developing x-rays, and performing other administrative duties. If you run your hygiene program like you run your work— having hygiene appointments in multiple chairs with an assistant doing prep work while the hygienist moves between chairs performing their work—you might be surprised at how much more productive it can be. If you have a high volume practice and available chairs, you might be able to increase your hygiene productivity by as much as 33%. Again, imagine how this will look to prospective buyers when you are ready to put your dental practice for sale

Selling a Dental Practice? We Can Help

ddsmatch Southwest are dental practice transition specialists committed to helping doctors meet their practice transition goals. If you are considering transitioning your practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment during which we will review with you the current, local dental practice transition market, best transition options for your practice, physical and image improvements to increase value, potential practice investments, and present and future staff integration. Contact us today and find out what we can do for you!

Four Steps to Increase Production Before Putting Your Dental Office for Sale

It’s 2020. A new year, a new decade, and a great time to get your dental practice on track for its most successful period yet. To make that happen, however, you’ve got to have a plan and the sooner you get that plan in place, the better. Ultimately, the day will come when it’s time to put your dental office for sale and the time to start building value for that transition is now. In the meantime, you can enjoy the rewards that your increased success will bring.

There are different ways to measure success. It can be in increased overall production revenue (a good measure for a young or mid-career doctor). It can be in increased production per hour, leading to having to work fewer hours (this might be better for an older doctor who is looking to work less but maintain a steady income). Whichever measure you use, the following steps will work for any doctor who wants to increase earnings for their practice.

Step One: Make a Production Plan

First things first, you’ve got to have a specific plan that includes your ultimate goal and the steps along the path to reach it. For instance, if you want to reach $1.5 million in production, that will require you to bring in $31,250 each week (based on 48 work weeks in the year—you can, of course, adjust that for more or less time off). Breaking it down even further, if you work 40 hours each of those 48 weeks, this will mean you need to be producing around $721.25 each hour you work.

Next, how do you do this? First, you should set daily production goals and work with your scheduling coordinator to arrange appointments that will enable you to meet those goals. Their job is not just to keep the chairs filled but to do so in a way that maximizes your production per hour. This means that they need to be trained on each procedure you perform, how long it takes, and what it’s value is in production. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, figuring out which piece goes where to create the overall picture. If all your scheduling coordinator is doing is fitting patients into open spots on the calendar, you don’t end up with the picture you want, just a jumble of pieces. But when they know how to look for the right spot to schedule the right procedure, the vision of your production goals will come into view.

Second, you should have a designated treatment coordinator who is effective at presenting the treatment plans for all of the producers in your practice, and they should be able to meet, at a minimum, an 85% acceptance rate. Determining and providing clinical treatment is your skill. This is differentfrom being able to help patients understand the importance of accepting the treatment plan. You want the best person for each job. This team member should be able to spend as much time as necessary sitting face to face with your patients, to answer questions, resolve concerns, and address any perceived barriers to acceptance of the plan. Your treatment coordinator should also follow up with patients after the initial presentation as part of their regular responsibilities. This is how you get more patients accepting treatment, scheduling the next appointment, and boosting your production.

Related to increased reliance on your staff is raising your overall customer service standards. When your patients feel seen, heard, and well cared for in every aspect of their experience with your office, that boosts your reputation and increases your word of mouth referrals (and, remember, when you put your dental office for sale, most of the value falls into the nebulous category of “goodwill,” and you will be well served by being able to demonstrate the goodwill you have built through superior customer service). You can become known as the best doctor in town when your patients feel that they are cared for. This leads us to the next step.

Step Two: Remember the Patient’s Needs

Too often when patients are presented with treatment options, the plans are presented on an assumption of what the doctor or office believes the patient can afford. This is the wrong approach. It assumes the best option to present to the patient is the one the doctor is betting the patient is most likely to accept. This puts the doctor’s interest (in getting the patient to accept further treatment) above the patient’s (in getting the best treatment for them). Your office should be presenting all available options to the patient and letting them choose for themselves.

This approach, however, involves a little more time and patient education (which is why it’s best to have a designated treatment coordinator, who can put in that time). Your treatment coordinator should present all available treatment options and address the patient’s immediate needs, their long-term needs, and any other treatment options that the patient may have asked about. When patient’s understand what is available and how the options do or do not address their needs and desires, they are more likely to accept further treatment. Its empowering them to make a choice in their best interest, rather than have only one option dictated to them.

As stated, however, this requires time and education. Patients have to be informed about what the treatment options are, what they entail, and what clinical issues they will address (and what they won’t). When patients are shown what is happening in their mouths (with x-rays or other images), and when they learn about the conditions you’ve diagnosed (perhaps through videos), they have a much better understanding of why you are recommending a course of treatment. When they know what you know and they understand its importance, leading to a higher acceptance rate.

Step Three: Review Your Production Reports for Indicators of Problem Areas

Do you know how much money is owed to your practice right now? If not, you should be reviewing your practice reports carefully, looking at things such as your accounts receivables and outstanding insurance claims. You should know how much is owed, and from who, in order to better be able to collect and perhaps make changes to resolve any consistent problems in these areas. You also need to review your production, new patient flow, and patient retention for any recurring issues that need to be addressed.

If you have associates or other doctors working in your office, you should review these reports for their production, as well as your hygienists. If your software allows for production forecast results, use that tool to identify slow periods in production that may lead to shortfalls. As noted above, a key to increasing production is maintaining a consistent level across all providers each hour of each day of every week throughout the year.

Reviewing these reports with your team members will also help them to understand how each part of the practice impacts the others. That is, the success of each person in your office helps the other team members do their job better. Think of rowers on a crew team: maximum efficiency comes from precise, coordinated effort. One person out of sync will slow everyone down and require them to work harder to make up the shortfall.

Additionally, having this kind of detailed sense of your office’s production, and having all of your team members working together, will be a great aid when you put your dental office for sale. Prospective buyers will pay more for a fine-tuned machine than they will for something that needs work. 

Step Four: Reduce Your Overhead

If your practice is doing well in an overall sense, you may not have felt the need to look too closely at your overhead costs. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right? Sometimes, however, we don’t know something is broken until we examine it. 

What is reasonable overhead for your practice is going to be determined by a number of factors that are specific to your practice. That said, a good rule of thumb are the industry standards. Use these as guides and review your costs and see how close you are. If you are too far off these benchmarks, look at those expenses to see what’s happening and how they can be reigned in.

For the dental industry, the standard is about 55% of your collections. That means you keep 55 cents in profit for every dollar you make. To break it down further, here is about where you should be with specific overhead categories:

  • Payroll: 20%
  • Laboratory: 10%
  • Rent: 5%
  • Dental supplies: 5%
  • Payroll taxes and benefits: 3%
  • Office supplies: 2%
  • Miscellaneous: 10%

If your overhead is out of bounds with these standards, make the necessary changes to reign it in. You can then take the money you’ve saved on overhead expenses and reinvest it in things that you may have thought you couldn’t afford, such as technology that will increase your productivity and attract patients.

If You are Thinking of Putting Your Dental Office for Sale, We Can Help!

Here at ddsmatch Southwest, we are dental practice transition specialists with an expertise in counseling doctors on how best to position their dental office for sale. We’ve developed a Practice Optimizer to help doctors plan and prepare for their future. If you are considering transitioning your dental practice in the next five years, contact us today and find out what we can do for you.

The Advantages of Dental Associateships and Buy-Ins

It’s a great time to be a dentist that owns their own practice. Whether you are currently in a dental associateship looking to expand your interest in a practice, or an owner looking to sell or expand, a buy-in—also known as a minority interest transaction—can work to the advantage of both the buyer and the seller. 

From the point of view of the owner-dentist, a dental associate buy-in can be a good plan for a dental practice transition. Rather than just bringing on an employee, a dental associate becomes a partial owner. The benefit here is that the junior dentist has a greater investment (both literally and figuratively) in the practice. They are more likely to stay with the practice and work harder for its growth and success. By having more at stake, they will have more of a long term view. Also, when it comes time for the senior dentist to retire, there is already someone settled in the practice, who knows the staff, the patients, and the community. It makes for a smoother, simpler transition. By going through the process of hiring an associate and allowing them to buy-in, you are essentially hand-picking your successor.

Additionally, by creating a partnership agreement between the senior and junior dentist, the senior dentist is assured of the continuity of the practice in the event of their death or disability. Partnership agreements typically require the surviving partner to buy-out the other, meaning that the practice will continue. Without such an arrangement, it’s possible that the practice—something a doctor has worked to build over many years—may end up closing its doors without any of its value being transferred to the dentist’s family.

For the associate, a buy-in can be a tremendous opportunity. They get to share in the benefits of practice ownership, not just be a worker that clocks in and out and collects a paycheck. They get to learn how to manage and grow a practice, but do so under the tutelage of an experienced practitioner and business owner. It provides the opportunity to learn real world skills and business acumen that isn’t taught in dental school. Essentially, the associate gets to learn how to own a practice without having to take on the full risk of ownership.

How it Works

The dental associateship buy-in timeline usually takes place in two parts. First, the associate would buy a minority interest in the practice. 10-20% is a good starting point and is typical for these arrangements. A smaller percentage is beneficial for these types of partnerships because this will be a trial period for both parties. If it turns out to not work for whatever reason, it will be a lot easier to end a partnership that only involves 10-20% rather than half, most, or all of the practice.

The second part, then, is the complete buyout of the senior dentist’s remaining interest. This would probably occur when the senior dentist decides it’s time to retire, but, as referred to above, could be accelerated by the death or disability of the senior dentist. Although such instances are not common, its best for both parties to carefully consider what they would want to happen in such circumstances before finalizing a buy-in agreement, just to be sure this is a path they want to go down together.

After the junior dentist has purchased an initial stake in the practice, generally staff and patients take that doctor’s role more seriously than if they were simply an employee for hire. Although the junior partner is not on par with the senior partner, there is a clear difference when they have bought into the practice (literally and figuratively). Staff will view them differently, especially knowing that the junior will become senior one day. And when that day comes, it can be a more seamless transition than if a stranger is brought in one day and introduced as the new boss. The associate will have had ample time to earn the confidence of the staff and patients.

The Best Partnerships are True Partnerships

There is no doubt that a dental associateship and buy-in is a serious commitment by both parties. It requires mutual respect, open communication, and a solid legal agreement. The most heavily negotiated part of buy-in is not the purchase agreement, but, rather, the partnership agreement. Both parties must be clear on their expectations and those expectations must be aligned for it to work. 

These documents can be very detailed and technical. Whichever side you are on, you will need an experienced attorney to negotiate on your behalf and provide expert counsel on such things as voting rights, management responsibilities, CEO compensation, withdrawal provisions, personal guaranty requirements, matters requiring unanimous consent, deadlock provisions, drag-along rights, required chairside responsibilities, and several other issues.

You should be carefully considering each of these issues, along with the others raised by your attorney. And don’t just considering them in abstract, but within the context of a very real long-term working relationship that you are taking on. Unfortunately, not all of these partnerships work out. Most do, however, you will be well served by not going in blindly or with rose-colored glasses. As with any relationship, business or personal, If you proceed with good faith and your eyes open, you greatly increase your chances for success.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help You with Right Dental Associateships

ddsmatch has been successfully connecting the dentist’s present with their future for ten years. Recently, we’ve partnered with ZipRecruiter to leverage their proven employment solutions to expand your options, along with the continued support of our team of professionals, and the thousands of dental associateship candidates on our website.

At ddsmatch Southwest, we focus on dental practices in Texas and New Mexico. If you are interested in adding a dental associate, or are considering transitioning your practice, contact us today for a free consultation.

Start Planning for Retirement Before Selling a Dental Practice

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. As dental practice transition specialists, we here at ddsmatch Southwest know that selling a dental practice is often not enough, on its own, to support a dentist and their family through the period of retirement. Proceeds from the sale are significant, indeed. But consider, if you are accustomed to earning $200,000 or more a year from your practice, selling it for $1m will only support your lifestyle for five years or less.

If your practice consistently reports high earnings, it’s a good time for you to start an employer-sponsored, qualified retirement plan. In addition to good planning for your future, you can do it in a way that will also save you money on your yearly tax bill through deferred compensation.

The Devil is in the Details

First, you will need a dental accountant. The ability to maximize your retirement savings and minimize your tax liability is going to require an accounting professional with an expertise in your business. Using a general CPA might seem like it will be cheaper, as they may have lower fees. However, in the long run, what you save—both in your retirement accounts and from lower tax bills—will make a dental CPA specialists worth the extra costs.

The reason for this is twofold. First, you need a CPA who understands your business in the most detailed way. If you are the only dentist in your accountant’s portfolio, then you are paying for their learning curve. And you can’t be confident that they are picking up on and correctly incorporating all of the details that are specific to dental practices.

Second, you need a CPA who has a functional understanding of the full panoply of retirement plans, not just the most common ones (such as the ones you, as a non-accountant, can think of off the top of your head). Do you know the difference between a defined contribution plan and a deferred benefit plan? That difference could mean savings in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The specialist is worth the extra expense.

Is Your Practice Right for a Defined Benefit Plan?

Do any of the following apply to you?

  • Are you nearly 50 years old or older?
  • Are your earnings consistently on the higher side?
  • Do you have a relatively young staff?
  • Do you employ a high number of specialty employees (i.e. hygienists)?

If any of these apply to you, a defined benefit plan might be a good fit. Consistent high earnings are important because these types of plans are based on formulas. With a deferred contribution plan, you have a maximum contribution, set by law, for your allowable deductible contribution. If you can save more, with higher tax savings, through a defined benefit plan, you should be making use of one. However, you need to review your financials with a dental CPA to be certain.

Also, if you are nearing 50 or older, you should be considering what position you want to be in when it comes to selling a dental practice. The better prepared you are now, the better prepared you are when that day comes (especially if it comes sooner than you think because of an unexpected life change).

Here’s How it Works

If you paid yourself $300,000 dollars in salary and paid your taxes on those wages, this can be essentially the same as claiming $150,000 in salary and your business organization contributing $150,000 to the defined benefit plan as a deductible contribution made on your behalf as an employee of your business. This would save you money on your state, federal, and Medicare taxes for the first year you claim it (even if you wait until the very end of the fiscal year) and every subsequent year, as you would only be taxed for the $150,000 claimed as salary.

If you are paying close to 50% in taxes, considering the double Medicare tax as the owner of the business, and the extra Medicare tax on earnings above $250,000 for a married couple filing jointly, this can translate into at least $75,000 each year that you will save in taxes. Instead of paying that to the government, you are paying it into your defined benefit plan for your retirement. This means that half of your $150,000 retirement plan contribution is being made of tax savings.

How this will play out for your specifically is dependant upon a number of factors, a major one being how you have organized your dental practice (as an S-corp, LLP, LLC, etc.). That factor, after consultation with your dental CPA, can be combined with other methods of savings to fund the balance of your retirement account. 

Finally, a defined benefit plan, like most qualified employer-sponsored retirement plans, are immune from creditors. Regardless of what happens after you set it up, the contributions will appreciate without being taxed until the funds are disbursed, which will likely be after selling a dental practice.

What’s the Downside?

Of course there is a downside. An employer-sponsored defined benefit plan is different from other retirement funds because the employer knows the formula calculating the benefits ahead of time. This means that if there is a funding shortfall (due to either faulty assumptions or poor investment returns), the employer is legally obligated to make it up with a cash contribution. As the owner of your business, this would mean you would owe yourself the difference out of your business’s earnings.

Because of this potential liability, it is essential that your carefully consider your options after a thorough consultation with an experienced and reliable dental CPA.

Selling a Dental Practice? We Can Help

Ddsmatch Southwest are dental practice transition specialists committed to helping doctors meet their practice transition goals. If you are considering transitioning your practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment during which we will review with you the current, local dental practice transition market, best transition options for your practice, physical and image improvements to increase value, potential practice investments, and present and future staff integration. Contact us today and find out what we can do for you!

How Asset Allocation Helps When Buying a Dental Practice for Sale

It’s easy to think of buying a dental practice for sale in a monolithic way. For instance, you might think, “What am I buying? I am buying a dental practice and it costs $500,000.” But, in reality, you are buying several different components that, together, constitute the dental practice. These things include: 

  • Equipment
  • Supplies (dental and office)
  • Improvements to the office or property
  • A covenant not to compete by the seller
  • Patient records
  • Goodwill

Each of these can be valued separately. When negotiating the price of each separately, you can get away from just talking about one number—the overall value. By breaking each item out by individual value—known as asset allocation—you can do a couple of things.  First, you can actually make negotiations go smoother by not just dealing with one big number that a seller (or buyer) can get hung up on. Second, your dental accountant or tax professional (and the IRS) will not categorize all of these items in the same way. By using asset allocation, you can save yourself from overpaying taxes. These two factors, together, result in a better conclusion to the deal for both you and the seller.

The Depreciation Rule

The rule the IRS will use when looking at the assets in the sale is depreciation. Depreciation is the allocation of value to an asset over its useful life. The goal with depreciation is to try and match an asset’s expense to the revenue it helps generate. For instance, if you spend $1,000 on a computer, you will likely use that computer for several years. Because of that, the cost of the computer will be viewed, for tax purposes, as spread over the period of its useful life, not just in the year it is purchased. This rule applies to any asset with a value over $600 and a useful life of more than one year.

Using the assets identified above, the IRS will typically view them as follows with regard to the buyer of a dental practice for sale:

  • Supplies (dental and office) – expensed in the year purchased
  • Equipment – depreciated over five to seven years
  • Improvements to the office or property – depreciated over 15 years
  • A covenant not to compete by the seller – depreciated over 15 years
  • Patient records – depreciated over 15 years
  • Goodwill – depreciated over 15 years

For the selling doctor, the IRS will typically tax the sale of these items like this:

  • Supplies (dental and office) – ordinary income
  • Equipment – ordinary income
  • Improvements to the office or property – long-term capital gain
  • A covenant not to compete by the seller – ordinary income
  • Patient records – long-term capital gain
  • Goodwill – long-term capital gain

Because long-term capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate than ordinary income, the seller will want as much of the value as they can get assigned to goodwill.

The Fair Market Value of an Asset is the Negotiated Price for Each Asset

After a transaction to buy a dental practice for sale, when it comes to tax time, both parties are required to independently report the values of the assets included in the sale. Both parties must be in agreement in what the value for each is. However, what values they assign to those assets is negotiable. 

The rule applied by the IRS to the valuation of assets is their fair market value. But fair market value is simply the price that an independent buyer and seller can agree upon. So, basically, you reach an agreement on overall price for the practice, then negotiate the value of the supplies, equipment, improvements, covenant not to compete, and patient records, and the rest of the value is assigned to goodwill. As long as both parties agree on the value assigned to each asset, then that is the asset’s fair market value.

Why Negotiating Asset Allocation Matters

Negotiation asset allocation is important because it allows you, when buying a dental practice for sale, to negotiate points beyond overall price. It allows you to find areas where your interests and the interests of the seller are aligned—or, at least, aren’t in opposition—and work toward a mutually beneficial final arrangement.

Here at ddsmatch Southwest, we believe a good deal is one where both parties walk away from the table satisfied with the terms of the deal. Asset allocation allows you and the person on the other side of the table to move pieces around to find the combination that works best for all involved. For instance, if a seller feels strongly about getting the full asking price, they may be willing to move some value out of the goodwill category and into equipment, which would benefit the buyer. Or, if the seller is concerned about their tax bill, they may be willing to come down on the overall price and keep more of the value in goodwill.

Everything is Negotiable

Saying everything is negotiable might be an overstatement, but, remember, there may be a lot more that is negotiable than you might first think. What we’ve discussed here has focused on the money involved in the sale of a dental practice for sale. There are a lot of things that don’t impact the valuation of the practice that can be negotiated to facilitate a successful transition. These include the buyer’s starting date, the seller’s letter to patients, ways to protect current staff, other restrictive covenants beyond the non-compete, or a right of first refusal on purchasing real estate (if the seller owns the building).

The key takeaway is that the more knowledge you have about your options, the higher the probability that you will close a successful deal. After all, both parties want essentially the same thing: the sale of a dental practice in which they have confidence. The seller wants confidence that the buyer will take care of the practice, patients, and employees—that their legacy will be protected. The buyer wants to own a dental practice with a steady income stream that they can feel good about.

We Have Dental Practices for Sale in Texas and New Mexico?

If you are ready to make this next step in your career, we have available dental practices throughout Texas and New Mexico. You can view our listings here. If you see any your are interested in, or have any questions, please contact us— it starts with a conversation.

Why You Need a Marketing Plan Before Putting Your Dental Office for Sale

Marketing is not always something a busy doctor wants to spend their limited time on. Regardless of the relative success of your practice, without adequate marketing, you may see your busy practice become less so. Whether you are just starting out (looking to draw patients and build a reputation), are comfortably ensconced in your practice (looking to maintain or enhance your reputation and continue to draw new patients), or are preparing to put your dental office for sale (looking to bolster your practice before the transition to a new doctor), marketing is an important part of maintaining a successful practice.

Consider this: of the major brands out there—such as McDonald’s, Coke, Nike—how often do you encounter their advertising? Constantly. Is it because they lack customers? No. Its because they understand that by keeping their brand in front of consumers’ eyes, that recognition will translate into customers. People are drawn to the familiar, as it seems reliable. And when it comes time to choose a dentist, you want people in your community to see your practice as familiar and reliable.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is basically anything that you do to make potential patients aware of your practice and promote your expertise, reputation, and quality of care. It includes a wide variety of communication tools: signs on your building or on the street near your parking lot, advertising (increasingly this is online, however, depending on your market, it may also include billboards or other outdoor ads and local tv or radio spots), sponsorship of local events, social media, your website, email, direct mail, and in-office brochures. With a small business like a dental practice, your focus should be on targeting your local community. Advertising outside of the area from which you draw patients will be wasted money. Look around at other successful local business and see where are they putting their resources.

All of these “channels” make both your current patients and potential patients aware of your practice. The most effective way to make use of these channels is, first, be sure to have a strong logo with a consistent use of colors so that its recognizable wherever it’s seen (again, think of the McDonald’s yellow M, Coke’s red and white colors and font, the Nike shwoosh). And, second, consider what you want associated with that logo. What defines your practice? Quality of care? Sensitivity to patients’ needs? These two together are your brand identity.

Having a strong brand identity is particularly important when it comes time to place your dental office for sale. The brand should transcend simply the identity of the individual doctor, but represent something larger than one person: an idea of the practice, a philosophy to which the practice, as an institution, is committed. This way, when you have a change in doctor, or staff, your patient base can feel reassured that they’ll receive the same quality of care to which they are accustomed.

If you don’t already have a strong logo and practice identity, it may be worth hiring a local marketing consultant to help you develop them. This consultant will also have unique insights into your local market to help guide you towards the messaging and channels that will be most effective in your community. This will certainly require some capital, but, remember, this is money invested in boosting your practice. 

On that point, be sure you can track the effectiveness of your measures (for instance, ask new patients how they heard about your practice). If your marketing efforts aren’t bringing a return, you’re on the wrong path.

How Marketing Helps

The bottom line of marketing is getting patients into your chairs. This is done by making your community: 

  1. Aware of your practice.
  2. Aware of your particular services, skills, and other practice attributes.
  3. Aware of how these services, skills, and attributes will be of benefit to them.

You make people aware of these things by:

  • Building brand awareness – As discussed above, whenever a patient or potential patient sees your logo, you are making them aware of your practice and planting a seed in their mind.
  • Targeting specific audiences – This can be based on the location of the audience or it can be further targeted to sub-demographics such as more affluent patients, budget-minded patients, families, patients focused on obtaining the best services, etc. What audience you want to reach will largely determine which channels to focus on and where to place your ads.
  • Connection with Community – social media is a great way to communicate directly with your community. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms allow a back and forth with patients outside of the clinical setting in which you can express your practice’s “personality.” Don’t be afraid to be informal or funny if that reflects you and your practice.
  • Develop Your Practice Identity – As you identify your practice values, you can express these through your marketing efforts. Potential patients get a sense of what your practice represents and how they can connect to those values. You can emphasize these through consistent use of keywords such as “compassionate” or “gentle.” Your website and social media channels can also show what your office looks and feels like, so people know what to expect and can be reassured their making a good choice in choosing your practice.
  • Showing What Sets You Apart – Its important that you distinguish yourself from other practices in your community. Do you have technology or tools that are different? Do you have any promotions or pricing programs that might make you more attractive? Do you offer unique services or procedures? Do you have amenities that other providers don’t? Showcase these differences. You don’t have to be negative about it—there is no need to call anyone out. Just show what you have that patients want.

It’s never too early, or too late, to start a strong marketing program. As mentioned above, it will pay off when it comes time to place your dental office for sale, because you’ll have something of value that goes beyond just a patient base. You’ll have an identity that represents ideals that are valuable in your community.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help Prepare Your Dental Office for Sale

At ddsmatch Southwest, we believe that the right buyer for your dental practice is not just one with financing, but a doctor who is the right fit for your practice. You’ve spent your career building a reputation in your community and the right buyer can help to protect your legacy. If you are considering transitioning your dental practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment to help you get ready to place your dental office for sale. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

Hot Trends in Dentistry for Anyone Buying or Selling a Dental Practice

Wherever you are at in your career—whether you are looking at buying a dental practice, selling a dental practice, or somewhere in between—it’s a good idea to stay informed about dental practice and industry trends. If you are just starting out, you want your practice to be up-to-date. If you closer to the end of your career, you may want to boost the value of your practice by making it attractive to younger doctors who may be more aware of current trends. And at any time, it’s smart to see how you can improve your practice—either with tools that boost efficiencies, new technology, or ways to provide better patient care. To help out, we’re going to discuss some of the hot trends for dental offices in 2019.

3D Printers

3D printer technology is a major innovation that can have a huge impact for dentists. They can slash the time and money that you have to spend on the production of aligners, veneers, crowns, and tooth replacements. Owning your own 3D printer will allow you to manage production of these things on your own, without having to pay a third-party lab, which keeps more money in your pocket. You may need to hire someone experienced with the technology to operate the printer, but, in the long run, you may save thousands of dollars by being able to keep the production in house.

Additionally, by being able to produce items in-house, you will be measuring wait times in terms of minutes rather than days. A patient can have treatment completed in a single appointment whereas, if you rely on an outside lab, they will need to reschedule another appointment. This will be better for the patient and for your practice. It improves patient satisfaction and reduces your administrative costs.

If you are buying a dental practice, this is a great piece of equipment that you should consider acquiring.

Natural Products

More than ever, people are concerned about the materials they use, especially those they put into their mouths. Products like bamboo toothbrushes and charcoal toothpastes are becoming more popular. Consequently, practices that have integrated natural product options will attract patients for which these things are important. It’s a simple, low-cost change, and can easily be added to your existing marketing techniques. 

Even if you don’t want to fully commit to this, it’s a good idea to review the products you do have for the inclusion of unnecessary chemicals and see whether there are better options for your patients. Consider whether you can provide options that are healthier and more sustainable. 

Digital Impressions

Any dentist with experience knows the frustration of dealing with cracked and deteriorating casts. You don’t have to put up with this. Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software can be used to create more reliable impressions. The fact is, this is the way the industry is going, it’s simply a matter of whether you are coming along. New doctors are going to want this technology, so if you are looking to add a dental associate or considering selling a dental practice, you should consider this upgrade. It will make your practice more attractive. 

Laser Technology

Laser technology is a growing trend and for good reason. It’s a technology that has a major impact on the quality of patient care you can provide and its benefits are readily apparent to the patients. For this reason, it’s a good thing to consider if you are looking to add value before you sell a dental practice, if you are looking to expand your practice, and if you are looking for ways to add value after buying a dental practice. 

Among the many uses of laser technology, you can whiten teeth, remove tooth decay, repair enamel before filing, reshape gums, remove bacteria during root canals, and eradicate lesions. All of this makes your job easier and reduces the amount of time you have to spend on a patient. Less time in the chair also makes for more satisfied patients. Other patient benefits include less sutures, less reliance on anesthesia, reducing infections, less damage to gums for faster healing times, and less blood loss.

Group Practices

You don’t need to be told that consolidation of practices has been on the rise. However, the impending death of the individual practice has been greatly overstated. Group practices can be good for reducing costs but what makes you a good doctor may be lost in a more rigid corporate model.

That said, if you like the treatment side but hate the business end, you may want to consider selling your dental practice to a group practice. You can have a regular paycheck and lose the headache of running a business.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, however, you probably will still be best suited by buying a dental practice that you run on your own. 

Automated Patient Tracking and Management Software

Chances are you’ve already experienced this—getting appointment confirmation notices by text, pre-recorded follow-up calls, online portals for patients to schedule appointments and send and receive messages with your office, and using handheld tablets to complete forms. These things reduce the workload on your staff and, thereby, save you money. It also allows patients to manage their appointments and treatment on their own schedule, which is appreciated in an increasingly busy world.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help You Know What is Best for Your Dental Practice

Here at ddsmatch Southwest, we are dental practice transition specialists and our nationwide organization has experience with hundreds of successful transitions from around the country. For ten years we have been advising doctors on how to best prepare for transition. If you are considering selling a dental practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment, part of which is helping identify areas of investment that will add value to your practice. Contact us today to find out how we can help you—it starts with a conversation.

Should I Sell My Accounts Receivable when Selling a Dental Practice?

When selling a dental practice, there are a lot of things to consider and details to manage. Among those are how to value your practice. However, one thing that is generally not factored into the selling price is the accounts receivables. Accounts receivable are the amounts owed by patients who have been provided service but either they or their insurance (or some combination of the two) have not yet remitted payment. Accounts receivable are generally handled as a separate item as a transitioning dentist may or may not want to make them part of the deal.

Similarly, when buying a dental practice, the buyer might not want to buy the accounts receivable because they can impose an unwanted administrative burden and cost. Typically, however, it may be to the advantage of a buyer to try and get them. They are usually sold at a discounted rate (for reasons explained below) and can provide a source of operating capital from day one as opposed to borrowing additional funds from a bank.

In this article we’ll discuss the three basic options you have when and the advantages and drawbacks of each. Whether you ultimately decide to sell or not sell your accounts receivable will depend largely on the particulars of your practice and, importantly, the counsel of your financial adviser and dental practice transition specialist.

Sell the Accounts Receivable

If you include the accounts receivable when selling a dental practice, you are doing two things. First, you are releasing any claim you have on payment for work you did prior to the sale. It now belongs to the buyer. Second, you are also getting rid of the responsibility of trying to collect those outstanding payments. Under this scenario, you get to walk away with no further responsibility with regard to the accounts (except having to possibly endorse some checks over to the buyer).

As mentioned, this can be advantageous for the buyer who can use the funds as operating capital. If your buyer has reached the limit of their borrowing capacity, this can be a good way for them to make sure they have funds to keep the practice operating in those early days after the dental practice transition. If they need the accounts receivable for this reason, it may also be to your advantage to sell them, to ensure that the sale closes.

And while you will receive some compensation for the sale of the accounts, it will not reflect their full face value. This is for two reasons. First, simply stated, an agreement by a patient or insurance company to pay for your services is not the same as cash in hand. There will always be risk involved in collecting payment and this risk is reflected in the discounted rate. If you use dental accounting software, you probably know that it groups your accounts receivable into different categories, 0-30 days outstanding, 31-days days, 61-90 days, and so on. The longer the account is outstanding, the less likely you are to collect, and the more expensive it will be to do so. So a buyer may offer 85% for accounts that are due in 30 days or less, 75% for 31-60 days, 50% for 61-90 days, and so on.

The second reason, acknowledged above, is that there are costs involved with collections, costs which increase with each billing cycle. This will be discussed in more detail below.

Don’t Sell the Accounts Receivable and Have the Buyer Collect Them

If, when selling a dental practice, you and the buyer choose to not make accounts receivable part of the overall deal, you still have to have someone collect on those accounts. Basically, this can be either you or the buyer. Administratively, this is a more complicated option, but it means you get to keep the payment for the work you actually did.

Two things have to be considered. One, how the buyer will keep your accounts separate, making sure you get the funds that belong to you. The administrative staff will have to keep track of your accounts and the new doctor’s accounts separately. This will become increasingly complex for patients with ongoing treatment that you started and that the buyer is completing.

Second, when buying a dental practice, the buyer may not relish the idea of running a collection and accounting office for a retired doctor. The new doctor will be incurring the costs of collections and will rightly expect you to compensate the practice for this work out of the money being collected. Some of the expenses (in terms of either employee time or actual money spent) may include: electronic statements or paper statements, electronic claims (or in rare cases manual insurance claims), postage, labor, phone calls, secondary insurance submission, and communication time with patients or account holders. These costs can take between 5-12% of the revenue being collected, with an additional 5% convenience fee (that is, you are paying for your convenience and the practice’s inconvenience), and an uncollectable debt percentage of 3%. Therefore, you could reasonably expect about 83-85% of the money that is actually collected.

Whether this is more advantageous than simply selling the accounts receivable along with the dental practice will depend on how much you have outstanding, how long its been outstanding, and who is obligated to pay (insurance companies likely being more reliable than individual patients).

Keep the Accounts Receivable and the Responsibility for Collecting

Under this option, your only costs are your own and you get to keep everything that ultimately gets paid out, less whatever administrative costs you incur. This option is really only best in circumstances where you have a minimal amount of accounts receivable and from sources that are likely to pay.

Resources are also a factor. You may be able to do it all yourself. You may also be better off just paying your (former) administrative staff to work on the project on their own time. It is also most easily done in circumstances where the person selling a dental practice is staying on in the practice for a period of time after the dental practice transition.

Get Expert Advice on Selling a Dental Practice 

A big takeaway you should get from this article is that there are a lot of factors particular to your dental practice that will determine whether selling the accounts receivable is the smart move. For help in navigating this decision, you should rely on expert advisors with experience in dental practice transitions who can help you identify and weigh your options. 

Here are ddsmatch Southwest, we are dental practice transition specialists with experience in hundreds of successful practice transitions from across the country. We find out what your goals are for your transition and bring that experience to bear to help you meet those goals. If you are considering transitioning your practice in the next five years, we offer a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment, including advice on how best to prepare your practice. It all starts with a conversation. Give us a call today and find out what we can do to help you. 

What to Consider When Selling a Dental Practice to a DSO

Our two most recent client testimonial interviews are with doctors at very different stages in their career, who sold their practices but either aren’t retiring or will continue to see patients under limited circumstances. If the idea of selling a dental practice is appealing to you but you don’t know that you are ready to retire or stop doing clinical work, a dental service organization (DSO) can be a good fit.

Some Pros and Cons of DSOs

For instance, if you are nearing retirement—just not quite there yet—the thought of being free of the business and administrative side of a dental practice can sound very appealing. If this sounds familiar, but you don’t think retirement is the next step, you probably are still interested in clinical work, just not everything that comes from running a small business. A DSO can be a good option because their goal is not to replace doctors but to take over the business and administrative side. Because of their size, they have economies of scale, which means that setting up their practice models around your clinical work can be mutually beneficial. They see the profits to be had from your practice and you don’t have to worry about the business side.

Even if you aren’t near retirement but have found that running a business is not something you are cut out for, a DSO can still be a good choice. You’ll make a good living doing what you do best—practicing dentistry—in the practice you’ve built, but without the headaches and extra hours needed to take care of the business side. Because of those economies of scale, DSOs can, under the right circumstances, do better than individual dentists with collections, strategic marketing, and reducing supply costs, all of which can increase the practice’s profitability. You may also have the option to transfer to other practices within the DSO’s network.

On the other hand, not all DSOs are created equal. Some have gotten in trouble with industry oversight organizations and regulators. Some have pressured dentists to work more than they agreed to. And if the DSO is not well managed, the lower costs won’t be realized.

Also, after years of being your own boss, you have to seriously consider how well you would do as an employee. You may lose flexibility in your scheduling or be compelled to comply with policies and procedures that you might not think are right. Before you sell a dental practice to a DSO, you need to be sure it’ll be a good fit for you and your practice.

Finally, you also have to consider your legacy and what it means to you. With any buyer, you are giving up control over your practice and how it functions in the future. But with a dental practice transition specialists, like those at ddsmatch Southwest, you can put the effort into finding the right buyer who will be the best fit for your practice, your staff, and your patients.

With a DSO, you are getting more of a one-size-fits-all approach to running a practice. The changes may have a negative impact on your reputation if they result in a lower quality of patient care, especially if you continue to work in the practice. That said, DSOs also can provide a number of features patients like, such as flexible financing, or expanded services and hours. 

What to Look For in a DSO

When you are selling a dental practice, whether to a DSO or private buyer, you need to look closely at who you are selling to. This is much more important when you are going to continue to work in the practice. You need to decide what is important to you about your practice and how to preserve that. The answer to that question will be quite personal. 

There are some practical things to consider and you’d be well advised to look and them closely as well. At ddsmatch Southwest, we always recommend that you retain a dental practice transition specialist, and that you have an attorney and accountant with dental practice-specific experience to review your documents and advise you on your decisions. 

Remember that no matter how well you get along with the buyer and their representatives, no agreement that is not in writing is unenforceable. Be sure that everything you need to have as part of the deal is recorded in the deal papers. Not only does this protect you, your patients, and your staff, it also makes sure everyone is on the same page about how you are moving forward.

Some things you should consider include: 

  1. Terms of payment. Will you be paid for the practice up front? Or will you be paid when you separate from employment? What is the impact of your current liabilities on the payment? What accounting methods are they using to calculate the sale price or commissions? Be sure that you are clear on these details to avoid unpleasant surprises and to be able to double check anything that seems off.
  2. Employment status. Its typical for a DSO to require the seller to stay on for a minimum of two years after the sale. You should have an employment contract that explicitly lays out how you will be paid your salary, whether commissions are based on your personal production level or the practice’s overall profit, whether those calculations are based on net or gross revenue, what the exit strategy is, and whether you will have any say in your replacement.
  3. Practice model. You won’t really have much room for negotiation here, if any. The practice model is what drives the DSO’s profitability, so they aren’t going to want to tinker with it to accommodate your preferences. You just need to make sure its a model you can work within. Do they use reliable vendors? Will budget restrictions interfere with your ability to provide quality care? How much freedom to you have to make clinical decisions and discuss the available treatment options with patients?
  4. Support services. This refers to the business and administrative side. This is what the DSO is supposed to be good at but you need to make sure it’s going to be a help to you and your staff, not a hindrance. Speaking of staff, be sure to be upfront with them about the changes that are coming and make sure the DSO is hands on during the whole transition process. Good support services will make it much easier to run and grow your practice.
  5. Capital resources. Because of the nature of the business, dental practices can experience significant fluctuations in cash flow since many services are not being paid for as they are provided. A well-capitalized DSO can alleviate the pressures from fluctuating cash flow. They can also advise on streamlining operations and other ways to increase profits.
  6. How helpful and flexible will the changes be? Be sure to have as comprehensive of an understanding of the changes that are coming and when to expect them. Have regular meetings (at least monthly) with your DSO support team to review performance and address any issues that arise related to the transition. You DSO support team should be helpful and flexible, not a thorn in the side of you and your staff.
  7. Exit Strategy. If you have an idea of when you want to leave the practice, let that be known up front. Be clear on the process and, if you want, ask to be guaranteed that you will have a say in your replacement. 

As with any time someone is selling a dental practice, you should take your time and research your options. Talk to other doctors who have sold to the DSOs you are considering and find out their experiences. A good DSO is one that gives you peace of mind that the practice is growing and well run while allowing you to focus on dentistry.

Considering Selling a Dental Practice to a DSO? We Can Help!

At ddsmatch Southwest, your dental practice transition goals are our goals. An essential part of our process is working with you to learn and define those goals so we can use our expertise to best help you. We bring the experience of hundreds of successful dental practice transitions from all over the country and put it to work for you, to get you the best match for you and your practice. Contact us today and find out what we can do for you.