Dr. Mitch Conditt, a dentist from Fort Worth, Texas, found himself in an unexpected and unfortunate position: he was having increasing difficulty holding a handpiece, and he knew it wasn’t going to get better. Retirement wasn’t yet on his radar, yet it was clear he needed help with something he’d never done in his 30-plus-year career: selling a dental practice. He didn’t know where to start, but he knew that DDSmatch Southwest did. Here, in his own words, was his experience.
“My Hands Just Were in Real Bad Shape”: How Dr. Conditt Came to Need Guidance in Selling a Dental Practice
“I’m a general dentist in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve been practicing since 1985, mostly a restorative and cosmetic practice. Been in the same location, everything, since day one. Noticed probably about three or four years ago that I was starting to get some ailments with my body. Had some neck surgery, shoulder surgery, hand surgery, different things like that. I could see the writing on the wall that this wasn’t going to go on for a long, long time before I couldn’t really work much more.
“I started getting into a different field of dentistry, which was sleep and TMJ [temporomandibular joints], where I didn’t really have to hold handpieces, use my hands so much, do things like that. I started getting into that, knowing that this was going to happen, that one day I would need to sell. Actually, it happened a lot faster than I thought. It almost happened overnight. All of a sudden, I couldn’t hardly hold a handpiece. My hands just were in real bad shape.
“Interestingly, I had talked with Andy [Edmister] with DDSmatch [Southwest] probably about a year and a half earlier. Ran into him at Chicago Midwinter Meeting. He just showed me what he was doing. He just took me over to his booth, because I’ve known Andy for a long, long time. He just showed me what was going on, how things were doing, and what he was doing now. He said, ‘If you ever want to have your practice evaluated,’ he goes, ‘We’ll come in and evaluate it to see what’s going on.’ I kept that in mind. Then literally it must have been about the summer, maybe even the early fall of the following year, it hit me and I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to happen really, really quick.’
“I called Andy and I said, ‘I’m ready,’ and he said, ‘Well, thinking, what, another six months?’ I said, ‘No, I’m ready, like, tomorrow.’
“He got out here, he did the evaluation on the practice and all this stuff. I said, ‘Look, if you can just do this for me and let me keep doing what I’m doing, that would be great.’ He said, ‘Don’t even hardly need you,’ and he just did everything he needed to do. It took very little effort from me or my time.
“It’s not maybe two months later, he calls me up and he says, ‘We’ve got someone that I think you might want to talk to.’ I said, ‘Great.’ He said, ‘Let me get everything really kind of figured out before we even pull you in on it, but we think we may have a possibility.’ Weeks later he said, ‘This thing is, I think, going to work.’ Apparently he was working with Dr. Blair, who bought my practice. He was working with her and they were getting their ducks in a row and all that. I didn’t even know if I knew who it was back then, but I know that I didn’t do anything. Basically at one point, not much longer, he said, ‘Well, I think we’ve got a done deal.’
“Then we got a couple of attorneys to wrap it up, and in no time at all it was done. It could not have been easier. I’ve had several of my friends that I’ve talked to that have gone through prospective buyer after buyer after buyer after buyer, and nothing ever panned out, things fell through. It just didn’t work out for some reason, whether it was funding or whatever it was. This thing just went smooth as silk. Literally by March 2, we closed.
“Literally, there was no way it could’ve gone any better.”
Putting Your Dental Practice for Sale Doesn’t Mean You Have to Stop Practicing
Although Dr. Conditt was selling a dental practice, he still wanted to practice, and he “still wanted to do sleep and TMJ.”
“It wasn’t even really in the contract that I had to do that, but . . . [w]hy would I really want to leave here? This is where I’ve been coming for 30-something years, every day. We had a spot where I had been doing sleep and TMJ out of this office. I kept the same little place I was at. It’s worked out great for me. . . . I wouldn’t say I’m looking at full retirement for a good while, but I only practice about eight days a month. . . . That’s not a lot of work really. I would practice more if I wanted, if my body’s fine, and I’m doing something that I could do for ten more years if I wanted to do it.”
Why Having Trusted Advisors is Critically Necessary
When selling your dental practice, you need a professional team with experience in things like dental accounting and valuation, real estate, legal transactions, and more. Because your speciality is dentistry, not in dental brokerage, DDSmatch Southwest can help you find the right team to get you what your practice is worth. DDSmatch Southwest has a strategic partnership with Blue & Co., an accounting and consulting firm with dental CPAs and certified business valuators.
Dr. Conditt explains his experience with Blue & Co. and the other professionals DDSmatch Southwest matched him with and why its essential to follow the advice of experienced professionals:
“The terms of the deal were exactly what we asked for. [Blue & Co.] came in and did all the work. . . . As far as I can remember, and I’m almost positive, we didn’t change one single thing in the contract. It went just exactly as Andy and them put it out there. That’s how it went.”
Dr. Conditt’s Tips to Dentists Looking to Retire in a Few Years
Get an Evaluation
“Obviously I’d ask Andy to make sure on something like this, but I’m thinking if you’re even close to a year, maybe even two years out, why not go ahead and get your practice evaluated, have Blue [& Co.] come in and take a look at it and see what’s going on for one, there may be things that they find that they say, ‘You know, if you change this or if you did this a little better, we could get more money for your practice down the line.’ Andy told me that. He said, ‘Probably with your practice it’s not,’ because mine was basically a cosmetic practice, so it’s a little bit different, but he said a lot of times there are things that they can tell you to do that will increase the value of your practice. That would be one.”
“I don’t know if they would suggest that to be two years out or three years out. [NOTE: DDSmatch Southwest recommends dentists begin the planning process 3-5 years ahead of retirement.] The fee to have that done was not very much. I don’t know if they still do it, but that fee was refunded back to me once the practice sold. That was a no-brainer.”
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
“The second reason is you don’t know when anything’s going to happen. You don’t know when you’re going to need to sell. From everything I’ve heard, it takes a long time to get everything in order. Particularly if something happens, it’s a little bit of an emergency to go in and try to get everything you need to get done in a short period of time. Then you go through a lot of different people to see who’s going to work best, what’s going to happen and what have you. When you’re going through all of that, that can become a little bit of a hassle. If you get that done and get completely prepared, I think everybody’s going to feel a whole lot better about everything.”
Keep the Sale Under Your Hat
“The other thing, I don’t think everybody does this, at least the friends I’ve talked to didn’t do that. One of the things that they do, or at least Andy did, maybe this is the philosophy of DDSmatch [Southwest], and I never heard of this before, was don’t tell anybody you’re going to sell. Don’t tell anybody you’re thinking about it. It was all one of those things where if everybody knows and your practice has been on the market for a year, I guess it’s like if your house has been on sale for a year: ‘Nobody’s bought it? Something’s wrong. It’s either priced too high, there’s something wrong with the house.’ Everybody gets to thinking, ‘Well, how come nobody’s bought it in a year?’ If no one even knows your practice is for sale, and all of a sudden they bring someone to the table, they have no idea what’s going on.
“I found out with a good friend of mine in Tennessee, that’s exactly what happened to him. He had just whoever come out and evaluate it. The evaluation was fine. It’s almost like he put it up in the paper that the practice was for sale. He didn’t do that, but it was certainly not kept a secret. He didn’t sell for probably two years, and that’s exactly why, because everybody thought, ‘Now, wait a minute. This guy hasn’t sold his practice in a year. Something must be wrong.’ There wasn’t anything wrong with it. It was a great practice. I don’t know if that’s [DDSmatch Southwest]’s philosophy or if that’s Andy’s philosophy, but that was tremendous to do that right there. Just keep it silent, let Andy do all the work, and it worked out beautifully.”
Dr. Conditt’s Advice to Anyone Considering Selling a Dental Practice: ”Call DDSmatch”
“Without a doubt, I would have them call and talk to DDSmatch [Southwest] and just ask them, ‘What do I need to do? Should we get evaluated now?’ I’m sure they’ll ask you, ‘How long out do you think you are?’ I would literally tell anyone, call those guys up. Follow exactly what they say to do, and just let them do it. There was zero effort on my part to do this.
“DDSmatch [Southwest] . . . were very honest. They were very forthright in everything they said. There was no hiding anything. They let you know exactly how the process is going to work, what’s going on. Blue [& Co.] . . . has a great reputation. They did everything very well. What I noticed afterwards is that once some of the banks and the lenders saw who was evaluating the practice, there was no discussion on what the evaluation. Was it really worth that? Was it not worth that? I guess they had the reputation that you just take their word for what it’s worth. That was great.
“Andy actually hooked me and Dr. Blair, who bought my practice, hooked us both up with attorneys. Even I asked her about her attorney. Both our attorneys were fantastic. They didn’t drag anything on. They were not expensive. They said everything exactly like it ought to be. They actually knew each other. They had done this before, so they knew how to get this handled. That was incredibly smooth. Andy was a dream to work with because literally, like I said, I did nothing. When he had to get some numbers, he just basically said, ‘If you don’t mind letting me go into your computer, I’ll do it while you’re working. I’ll just get the numbers, and you can go on.’ They’re asking us to pull numbers off of our software system, and it’s like, ‘We don’t know how to do that. We have no idea how to get these numbers you’re asking.’ They just go in it and do it themselves. Those things right there are really, really invaluable for us when, particularly, we don’t know how to get that stuff, and we don’t want to jack with that. We don’t know, are the attorneys good? Are the evaluations going to be good? Are the people behind the evaluations honest and everything?
“Everything was completely on the up and up and even above that.”
“Call DDSmatch [Southwest] and just say, ‘Look, hold my hand. Walk me through this thing. Tell me what to do.’ It’s the easiest thing you can do.”
If you are considering putting up your dental practice for sale, DDSmatch Southwest will give you a free, no obligation Practice Transition Assessment. Contact us today to learn more about their Trusted Transition Process and what DDSmatch Southwest can do for you!