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.