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The First Steps Every Dentist Should Take Before Selling a Dental Practice

After a career spent building a practice, caring for patients, and being an active member in the community many doctors find retirement a bittersweet time. Selling your practice to another doctor brings the fruit of all the hard work you put in, but it is understandable to be cautious about who you sell to. You aren’t simply selling the equipment or real estate, you’re selling your legacy, and watching it live on under another doctor’s care. When it comes to dental practice transitions one thing is certain: it is never too early to start thinking, planning, and preparing for selling a dental practice. Clearly mapping out your transition at least five years ahead of your planned retirement date will not only bring you peace of mind as you move on, it will give you a roadmap to success and help you avoid transition potholes.

If you’re planning a dental practice transition in the next five years you need to start thinking and planning for it now. Below we outline the first steps you need to take to ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.

Set Your Transition Goals

When we ask our clients about their goals during their dental office transition the first thing that comes up is typically the sale price, or net profit they hope to gain. In instances where the selling doctor is retiring the sale price is often driven by what he or she needs to live on after retirement. While this is one of the most important factors when selling a dental practice, it certainly is not the only one. Before listing your dental practice think about these additional factors:

  • Do you want an outright sale? In an outright sale the selling doctor hands over the keys as soon as the deal is done. This type of sale allows you to move on quickly and fully enjoy the benefits of retirement, or whatever is next in your life.
  • Do you want a slower transition out of your practice? Rather than selling outright many doctors decide to take on an associate who will purchase the practice over time in what is known as a buy-in. This gives the selling doctor time to help the office staff and patients adjust to the new owner, and provides a less abrupt life change. Taking on an associate can also help doctors who want to take a step back and slow down their own production without affecting the value of their practice. Learn more about what goes into a buy-in, including the pros and cons you must consider, on our dental transitions blog
  • What are your hopes for your legacy? After years of building a thriving practice it can be difficult to watch someone take on that practice and run it differently. The buying doctor may choose to change the practice’s name, switch which insurance companies they work with, or bring in their own staff. While selling a dental practice always means handing over control to someone new, there are some steps you can take to choose a buyer who will take care of your legacy and your staff. However, choosing a buyer who will run your practice how you want may mean passing up a slightly more lucrative purchase offer. Decide what is more important to you: a buyer with deep pockets or a buyer who will run the practice the way you built it.

It takes time to determine what your priorities are during a sale, which is why it is beneficial to start thinking about your goals early. Talk with your team of advisors and do some research of your own into the benefits and drawbacks of certain types of sales. The ddsmatch Southwest dental transitions blog is a good place to start looking for answers to common transition questions, whether you are on the buying side or the selling side. If you’re headed toward retirement the ddsmatch Southwest Practice Optimizer Experience is another useful tool that will give you concrete steps for a smooth transition into retirement.

During the goal-making phase of selling a dental practice we recommend keeping an open mind about the future, and thinking through multiple options for your eventual transition. Nothing is set in stone, and you still have time to change your mind. You may think you want to hand over the keys and get on with your retirement, but when the time comes to put your plan into motion you find yourself wanting a slower exit. The important thing here is to determine what your priorities are and discuss your options with trusted professionals. Knowing your priorities and options will help you with the next phase of the transition process.

Planning Ahead for Transition Success

When you’ve nailed down the goals for your eventual transition it is time to start planning. Dental practice transitions are complicated and hinge on several factors, some of which may be competing. You need to determine which factors, such as selling or holding on to your real estate, take precedence, and be flexible with the other aspects of the sale. No two transitions are alike, which is why it is so important to work with experienced transition specialists. 

When you are five years away from selling a dental practice it is time to get a practice assessment. Why do you need a practice assessment so far in advance? Assessments, performed by a dental broker or dental business valuator, provide a full picture of your practice and give you an idea of how you can prepare it for a successful sale. Planning ahead gives you plenty of time to make changes in order to get the most from your practice when it is time to sell. 

At ddsmatch Southwest we work with third party business valuator, Blue & Co., to provide accurate assessments. Working with a third party valuator gives some needed distance, as most business owners tend to overestimate their practice’s assets. This isn’t bad, in fact it is expected because of the amount of work, both emotional and physical, the selling doctor has poured into the practice throughout the years. However, it is something to keep in mind when you are selling a dental practice. The experts at Blue & Co. will take an objective approach to valuation, making note of factors such as your practice’s production over the past few years, overhead costs, and equipment included in the sale. Learn more about how practices are valued on our blog. 

What happens when your initial valuation isn’t as high as you would like? There are changes you can make around your office in the years leading up to a sale that will help boost its value. However, not everything you do around the office will result in a higher sales price. For example, repainting your office is typically quick and inexpensive, and gives older offices a fresh look. On the other hand, replacing large pieces of equipment in your office is not worth the money, unless you are bringing your practice up to date with digital technology. Before you make changes to your practice speak to your team of experts about investments that will yield a return when it comes time to sell.

Another factor you need to plan ahead for is your transition timeline. Selling a dental practice means negotiating financial, legal, and real estate details, which can drag on and on if there is not a non-negotiable closing date. In real estate this is called a “time is of the essence” clause. If one party fails to meet the set deadline the deal is off. Your dental practice transition specialist can help you set a non-negotiable closing date that gives the buyer plenty of time for due diligence and negotiations, while still ensuring the process moves swiftly.

However, even with a non-negotiable closing date, it is important to remember each transition is different. Factors such as whether your practice is in a big city or rural area play into how quickly the deal can be done. Again, this is where you need to speak to an experienced professional. In order to get what you want out of the deal you may need to change the schedule. An experienced transition specialist will be able to advise you on whether or not change would be wise. If 2020 has taught us anything it is to be flexible with our expectations.

Selling a Dental Practice With Expert Help

As we’ve mentioned several times, speaking with a team of trusted professionals is essential throughout your transition process. If you’re just getting started you may be wondering who to include on your team of advisors. We recommend at minimum working with a dental CPA, dental attorney, and dental broker. 

Most dental professionals already have a dental CPA helping them with accounting and other financial aspects of owning a small business. If you do not, or you have a CPA who does not specialize in dental practices, it is time to find one. During a dental office transition your dental CPA will be invaluable. They will be able to parse out the tax implications of different types of sales, and help you allocate funds in a way that is advantageous to you now and in the future. This is especially important for dentists moving into retirement and looking to maintain a certain lifestyle. An experienced dental CPA will save you thousands of dollars, and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Next, you need a dental attorney to help in your transition. We recommend using an attorney who works specifically with dental offices rather than a general attorney. The reason for this is that there are many aspects of owning and selling a dental practice that are not present in other industries. There are standard practices your attorney should be aware of, as well as unique situations in each sale they will have to deal with. Working with an experienced dental attorney will reduce your costs as they will already be familiar with the ins and outs of the dental industry. In addition, their in-depth knowledge of dental transitions will protect you from legal issues that can delay the process.

Finally, you need an experienced dental broker. Your broker is your advocate throughout the transition process. They will help you set realistic goals and expectations, and walk you through the process from start to finish. Experienced brokers have been through the process countless times, and know how to make a deal that will benefit everyone involved. 

Your dental practice represents years of time and investment, and carries your legacy. Selling a dental practice is not something you do on a whim, or with frequency. That is why it is so important to choose your team of experts wisely. The right team will not only help you get more out of your practice, they will help you avoid mistakes and roadblocks for a smooth, stress-free transition.

Working with the Transition Experts at ddsmatch Southwest

Your dental practice isn’t simply a job, it is your life’s work. Unfortunately, many dental practice transitions are derailed, the selling doctor doesn’t get the full value of the practice, or their goals are not met because of inexperience. With the right team in place you can avoid these outcomes, and protect your life’s work. 

At ddsmatch Southwest our experienced dental brokers have worked with dentists from around the country helping them set their priorities, reach their goals, and complete their transition process efficiently. Our Trusted Transition Process™ gives clients a clear and consistent roadmap so they can have confidence in the next step of the process.

If you are considering selling a dental practice in the next five years call our office to learn about planning ahead. If you are approaching retirement ask about our Practice Optimizer Experience. This unique service will help you plan for retirement and identify areas of improvement in your practice so you can get the full value of what you’ve built. 

Are you ready for the next step in the process? We’re ready to help you in your journey toward a successful dental practice transition. Call our office today for a free, no-obligation Practice Transition Assessment.

What is Buying a Dental Practice Really Like?

How do you make sure your dental practice transition is successful? Whether you are buying or selling it is important to know the process, and find experts you trust to guide you through it. We recently spoke with Jordan Mortensen, DMD, of Austin, about his experience buying a dental practice in Texas. Dr. Mortensen explains how he was able to acquire a dental practice in just 3 weeks, and why it is essential to have a trusted professional advocating for you during a dental practice transition. 

Q: When did you start looking for dental practices to buy?

Dr. Mortensen: “As a third year dental student, I knew I wanted to buy a practice coming out of school. And so I reached out to several practices that were on the market here in the Austin area and happened to meet Randy Kinnison and Andy Edmister at that time. I’ve basically met every broker in the Austin area. All of them know me by name, and so, coming out of school, I actually closed on a practice with a different broker.” 

Q. After your first experience buying a dental practice in Texas you made plans for growth. How did the experts at ddsmatch Southwest help with those plans?

Dr. Mortensen: “I was planning on making some different growth plans here in the Austin area. And it was right around the COVID time. This is when the state of Texas was shutting down several dental offices. I felt like it was important for me to reach out and see, ‘Hey, what’s the pulse on some of these older doctors in the area that are selling their practices?’ And so I sent Randy a text and I asked him, ‘Hey, anything new going on in the Austin area? If you have a moment, I’d love to hop on the phone with you today.’ He said, ‘Actually, we have a practice that’s a couple blocks away from you that we think you should look into. Andy is there in Austin right now. He’d love to meet with you.’ So I met with him that night and we got a merger done. I merged my practice with this other office where they were representing the selling doctor. We got this merger done within three weeks.”

Q. Three weeks is a short timeline for buying a dental practice in Texas. What role did ddsmatch Southwest play in making it happen so quickly?

Dr. Mortensen: “Having two people that understand the market and understand the needs of the selling doctor. They presented it to me in a way that was very advantageous for me to come in and try to get things done in a very quick, efficient way. They were stellar, so we were able to get this deal done. Not only did they represent the doctor and got the selling doctor what he wanted and helped protect the selling doctor in the value that he brought forth with his practice, but I felt like they were a strong advocate for me and what I was trying to do in growing my practice.”

Q. Did you look to anyone else for advice before or during the process of buying a dental practice?

Dr. Mortensen: “I’ve always been a strong advocate of learning from those that have come before us. I find that I can make all my own mistakes by myself. That’s the importance of having a mentor. So coming into this acquisition, this growth by acquisition if you will, I actually hired a mentor that’s gone through about seven of these acquisitions in his own practice. I basically used the outline of what he’s gone through, step by step. From how he sent out a mailer to all the old doctor’s patients, to the verbiage that he used in that mailer, to even the training for the internal team here to handle the influx of patients and even handling an older doctor. The transition would not have gone as smooth had I not hired an outside mentor to walk me through this growth by acquisition process.”

Q. Even though the team at ddsmatch Southwest worked for the selling doctor, were they also helpful to you during the process?

Dr. Mortensen: “Andy has a lot of experience in managing practices. So, when we closed both of them were also in it for my growth and my experience. And that’s one thing that I’ve loved about them. You know, they’ve constantly checked in and said, “Hey, how are things going? Can we help you out with anything?” And Andy, with a lot of his experience in the dental industry, he has personally said, “Hey, if you need anything, let me know. You know, I’ve got some templates, and different things like that.” I ended up using a different mentor of mine, but they were every bit an advocate for me and my growth in this deal. I very much could have utilized their help in making sure that this acquisition was successful.” 

Q. What was the evaluation process like? Did the team at ddsmatch Southwest give you access to all the information you needed to make a good decision?

Dr. Mortensen “For sure. They got me all of the reports that I needed. They gave me access to the older doctor’s space to make sure that I had done my due diligence. And then they even verified that I had done all the due diligence I needed to make sure I made a smart decision. They were very much strong advocates in making sure proper due diligence was done before we pushed this deal done in three weeks. They said, ‘while, yes, time is of the essence, and we’d love to get this done soon. At the same time, we have to be respectful to you and the due diligence process.’ Like I said earlier, I’ve been in contact with most brokers, it’s kind of what I do. So, I kind of knew coming into it what I was needing. But they met every expectation in regards to what I needed to make an educated decision.”

Q. Has buying a dental practice brought the growth you were looking for?

Dr. Mortensen: “Since we closed in about mid-June, my practice has tripled in growth due to that acquisition. For a lack of a better way to explain it, we’ve gone gangbusters. It’s just been very busy, which is something that I’m very grateful for. I’m very grateful for Randy and Andy for keeping me in the loop. But more importantly for being a strong advocate for me and understanding my desire to grow. And their ability to just keep me in mind. They reached out to me and we got the deal done in three weeks.”

Q. Many doctors are cautious about selling or buying a dental practice in the near future due to COVID-19. Your transition process, however, was smooth and successful. What do you think made your transition go so well?

Dr. Mortensen: “I believe there’s really two types of people out there. I think we’ve all heard the analogy of the glass half full versus the glass half empty. COVID has been a very scary thing, there’s been a lot of unknown things about it. There’s been a lot of things that I think make a lot of us just kind of shake our heads a little bit and ask, ‘what’s going on? Are we really going through this right now?’ And I definitely am a glass half full person, I’m very optimistic. I try very hard to look at different circumstances and look to the positive.

“My first thought was that there are going to be people, companies and individuals, that come out of COVID better than when we went into it. In every event in the history of the world, there are people that look at these opportunities and come out better. I wasn’t going to be one of those that was scared or that was going to look down on it. We followed every rule to the T here in Texas. They shut us down and we shut down. We only saw emergencies, one day a week. We followed every single rule. But the last thing I was going to do was spend my time twiddling my thumbs, waiting to get back to work. And I felt like Randy and Andy, they were in very much the same way. They’ve looked at this like, ‘Hey, you know what, this could be an opportunity to represent some doctors and to help some younger doctors grow.’ 

“I very much appreciate their attitude towards a worldwide pandemic like COVID. They’ve viewed this as an opportunity. An opportunity to help doctors grow, help them cash in on the value by selling their practice, and maintain their value during the selling of their practice. I’m just thankful that I was one of the doctors that they were able to reach out to, that they were able to sell one of their practices to.”

Q. After buying a dental practice with the help of ddsmatch Southwest what are some of the impressions you have of their team? 

Dr. Mortensen “You know, the one thing that I have loved about Randy and Andy, and seriously, I’ve talked to every broker here in the Austin area, but one thing that I have loved about them is their transparency. They’re not hiding anything. If I asked them, ‘Hey, is there another buyer behind me if I can’t pull this trigger?’ They’re like, ‘Absolutely, we’ve got two lined up.’ Transparency is everything. I believe those that could really benefit from Randy and Andy and their services are those that appreciate transparency, that appreciate straight talk. Letting them know, ‘Hey, this is what this deal is. This is what this doctor is expecting.’ 

“They’ll also go to bat for you. If you’re the buyer and you’re looking for something else, they will try to help prime the seller to make sure both parties meet. They’re a strong intermediary and advocate for both sides. Randy and Andy were very helpful in just helping me learn about the buying process. They are just classic West Texas; just good people. And it’s just nice to work with people that care about others. But more importantly, they just really stand by their work. They want to make sure that both parties are having a good experience. While, yes, they represent the selling doctor, I also felt like, in many ways, I had an advocate on my side.”

Q. Would you recommend ddsmatch Southwest to other dentists considering selling or buying a dental practice?

Dr. Mortensen: “Honestly, I think if dentists are looking for somebody to represent them, I don’t think they could find a better team to represent their practice than the two of them. They are very transparent and they are looking to achieve what the doctors want. You know, the doctor that I did this acquisition with, he needed to be out in a month and they said, ‘Well, let us try our best.’ It was advantageous for me, but it was also advantageous for the selling doctor in the sense that they represented him and met his goals. They’re there to help the selling doctors, represent them in their goals and desires, and they do it in a very transparent and honest way.”

Planning a Dental Practice Transition?

As Dr. Mortensen points out, successful dental transitions are due in large part to the team of experts advising you. This is true whether you are selling or buying a dental practice. Find an experienced dental CPA, dental attorney, and transition specialist such as those at ddsmatch Southwest. With the right team advocating for you and helping you clearly define your goals, everyone will benefit from the transition.

At ddsmatch Southwest we focus on making the transition process advantageous for everyone involved. Through our Trusted Transition Process™ sellers feel confident their practice is in good hands, and buyers know they are buying a practice that will provide stability and room for growth. If you are considering selling or buying a dental practice in the next five years contact our team to start planning now.

Preparing for Retirement: What You Need to Know Before Listing Your Dental Office for Sale

As a small business owner, planning for retirement includes much more than saving money in a retirement account. For dentists who are reaching the end of their careers and trying to plan well for retirement, knowing the current market trends is vital. It is the first step they should take before deciding when to list their dental office for sale.

ADA Statistics About Retirement

The ADA reports on the average age of dentists, and can offer those reaching retirement age a roadmap to retirement. According to a Dental Workforce Study the average age of United States dentists in 2015 was 50 years old. This number is up from an average of 48 years old in 2005. In addition, the average age of retiring dentists in 2015 was 68 years old, also up from 66 years old in 2005. What do these statistics tell us? While most dentists are waiting a little longer to retire, almost half of all dentists currently practicing will reach retirement age in the next 10 years.

With so many dentists reaching retirement age soon, the market is expected to be flooded in the next five to ten years. If you are one of these dentists you must start planning and strategizing now for your retirement so you don’t put your practice on the market at the wrong time. In fact, your practice is likely worth more today than it will be in 2025 when more doctors decide to list their dental office for sale.

Answering Questions About Retirement

We address some common questions and concerns dentists approaching retirement age have below. However, these questions and answers are helpful to dentists at any stage. Even if you are not reaching retirement age in the next five years it is a good idea to think through these questions and create a retirement plan.

How much is my practice worth?

Finding the true value of your dental practice is a complex process. While you can find plenty of general rules or calculators for finding your practice’s worth, these estimates are largely inaccurate. To find your practice’s true value you need to speak to a dental practice transition specialist. Specialists, like those at ddsmatch Southwest, take into account a wide variety of factors when determining your practice’s worth. Our team works with dental CPAs and business valuation experts with experience in the local Texas and New Mexico market to determine your practice’s value and help you get the most out of your sale.

Is adding an associate a good idea?

Many dentists aren’t ready to put their dental office for sale, but do want to cut back on their hours. Adding an associate can help dentists who desire a slower transition out of their practice. However, it is important to consider whether or not your practice can financially take on an associate. The ddsmatch Southwest transition specialists can help you determine whether or not your practice is prepared to take on an associate, and help you find the right one when you’re ready. Whether you’re adding an associate as a retirement strategy, or simply want to grow your practice, talk to the ddsmatch Southwest transition specialists to get the process started.

Is it a good idea to sell to a DSO?

A Dental Service Organization, or DSO, will manage the non-clinical work in a dental practice. There are several pros and cons to selling to a DSO, and it is a highly personal decision. Owning a dental practice means managing a lot of business decisions in addition to handling the clinical work of dentistry. If you dislike managing the business side of things, selling to a DSO rather than listing your dental office for sale to another private practitioner may be a good option. It can also make your practice more attractive to associates, because these practices often pay more than private practitioners. 

However, a DSO’s management will be different and many dentists find it difficult to watch how the practice they built changes under new management. If you’re curious about more pros and cons of selling to a DSO visit this post by a dental and medical law firm

How can I find a buyer?

If you decide not to sell to a DSO, how do you find the right buyer? For dentists practicing in Texas and New Mexico, ddsmatch Southwest helps match buyers and sellers. The Trusted Transition Process used by the ddsmatch Southwest practice transition specialists will determine how much your practice is worth, as well as your wants and needs as a seller. Then, we find a buyer with the skill set, experience, and personality to take on your practice and continue your legacy. If you’re considering listing your dental office for sale speak to one of the dental practice transition specialists at ddsmatch Southwest for more information about this process.

How do I prepare for retirement?

If your retirement is three to five years away now is the time to start planning. A financial advisor can help you determine whether or not you have enough money set aside to retire with the lifestyle you desire. Read this dental economics post for more information on planning to retire on time. After creating a personal financial plan speak with a dental transition specialist, such as the experts at ddsmatch Southwest. They will help you create a step by step plan to guide you smoothly through the years before retirement. 

What if I own real estate?

If you own the real estate your dental office sits on, you should know that the deal you make when you list your dental office for sale does not automatically include that real estate. If you choose to sell both the practice and the real estate at the same time it is not a difficult process, but that could change who your buyer is as the buyer will likely need financing for both transactions. While separate, both transactions can often be closed at the same time, making the process easier for both parties. 

What if you don’t want to sell your real estate? Another option is to keep the real estate and start collecting rent. This post reviews the options available in more detail so you can make an informed decision. You should also sit down with your dental CPA and dental attorney to discuss the tax implications, and how owning the real estate will affect your lifestyle and budget.

When should I sell to get maximum value?

There is no straightforward answer to this question, as it must be answered on a case by case basis. The values of dental practices, and local market trends, vary greatly. However, taking into consideration the ADA statistics shared above, listing your dental office for sale before the market floods with retiring doctors will help you get the maximum value. The best course of action is to speak with a dental practice transition specialist with experience in the local market. Your transition specialist will be able to advise you on when to sell your practice for maximum value.

What do I do if my partner won’t buy me out?

Dental practice partnerships have many benefits, but they can also make things more complicated when there is a transition. However, ddsmatch Southwest also helps dentists sell part ownerships. We match dentists wanting to sell a part ownership with buyers who wish to buy into a partnership. To learn more about the process of selling a part ownership, and get your specific questions answered, schedule a consultation with our dental practice transition specialists.

Who can I trust to help with my transition?

After a lengthy career you need a trusted advisor to help you get the most out of your sale, while also protecting your legacy. Before listing your dental office for sale it is important to find a dental practice transition specialist with years of experience in the local market, and a proven track record of successful transitions. In Texas and New Mexico dentists trust the specialists at ddsmatch Southwest. Our team of transition specialists will guide you through the process, so your transition into retirement is as smooth as possible.

Think Ahead Before Listing Your Dental Practice

At ddsmatch Southwest we do much more than simply list your practice when you’re ready to sell. Our Practice Optimizer Experience helps you realize the fair market value of your practice and determine whether or not you are ready to enjoy retirement. The Practice Optimizer Experience prepares you with these services:

  • Conceptual Transition Experience: Create goals and strategies that will help you map out your road to transition and retirement.
  • Trusted Valuation Analysis: Two valuations, one at the beginning of the process and one when you are ready to list your dental office for sale, give you a clear picture of the value of your practice.
  • Dental Insurance Navigator: With our insurance advising partner you will get advice on new insurance plans to consider, plans to discontinue, and more.
  • Clinical Opportunity Blueprint: We analyze your practice and provide you with a blueprint for potential additional earnings.
  • Critical Metrics Analysis: A customized practice report on critical items is provided, with annual reviews and updates until your transition is complete.

In addition to these services the Practice Optimizer Experience also includes services for overall retirement planning including:

  • Ideal Retirement Calculation: In order to establish the best timeline for your retirement we offer a financial review of your investments and future income projections. This can be done either in tandem with your financial advisor, or as a third-party supplement.
  • Estate Preparedness Gameplan: We refer our clients to a local attorney with experience in estate planning in order to create or update important legal documents. These documents are essential to protect you, your family, and your practice’s assets and value in the case of an unexpected death or disability. 

Listing your dental office for sale takes planning and preparation. If you are considering retirement, or will be retiring in the next five to ten years, now is the time to sit down and consider your options. Carefully planning now will ensure a smoother transition down the road. To learn more and set up a consultation contact the dental practice transition experts at ddsmatch Southwest today.

A Step By Step Guide to Prepare Your Dental Practice for Sale

When you began your career in dentistry you were no doubt optimistic about where it would lead you. However, as 2020 has reminded us all, life-changing events that are out of your control can change the course of the future you planned. You may even have friends and colleagues who planned well in advance to finish their career strong, only to be caught off-guard by an unexpected illness or injury that caused them to put their dental practice for sale sooner than anticipated.

While we acknowledge that there are plenty of circumstances beyond our control, we can also plan as best as possible for whatever life brings our way. We can take into consideration best and worst case scenarios, and recognize there are no guarantees when it comes to the future. This way, if an emergency arises forcing you to sell your practice early, you will be ready.

Below we share five steps every dentist should take now to help prepare your practice for an emergency sale.

Step One: Thinking About Every Scenario

You have likely heard the phrase, hope for the best but plan for the worst. We all eventually come to the realization that we do not control everything that happens to us. An accident, illness, or even the careless actions of others can alter the path we are on. So, while you hope to be able to retire strong after a lengthy career, you should also plan for unexpected circumstances that may cause you to put your dental practice for sale. 

Obviously, it would be impossible to plan for every unknown situation, but thinking through some “worst case scenarios” and planning generally for them will give you and your loved ones peace of mind. It is always better to be over prepared than underprepared. That is why the first step is to simply set time aside to think through uncertainties you could face in the future.

Step Two: Defining Your Retirement Goals

When you start planning for retirement, rather than thinking about how many years you want to work before you retire, you should think about what you need to get out of the sale of your practice in order to retire well. If an emergency arises forcing you to sell your practice early you need to be able to live the life you planned and support your loved ones. Your retirement plan should be reasonable and attainable. In order to do this, you must plan ahead and work with a team of experts.

First, if you do not already have a trusted dental CPA or dental attorney, don’t wait until you are listing your dental practice for sale to find one. Next, a dental practice transition specialist, such as ddsmatch Southwest, should be part of your planning team. Other experts that you may want to add to your team are an insurance advisor and practice consultant. If you’re wondering how to find trusted team members try reaching out to your dental practice transition specialist. The team at ddsmatch Southwest can refer you to one of our strategic partners, based on our experience working with dentists in Texas and New Mexico.

After gathering your team of experts, you can work to determine the amount you need to net from the sale of your practice. Your dental CPA, practice consultant, and insurance advisor will look at your practice’s financials to decide if your practice can bring in that number, or if you need to make some changes to increase its value. They may advise an increase in cash flow or collections to help you reach your goal. They will also be able to help you identify which changes, investments, or growth opportunities will bring in the best returns, while also minimizing costs and taxes.

Step Three: Maximize Value Before Listing Your Dental Practice for Sale 

If you need to expand your practice in order to meet your retirement goals make sure you invest well. One common mistake dentists make is to invest in certain aspects of their practice without protecting their current assets. Your team of experts will help you determine how to invest in a way that brings value, without losing any of your current value.

Cost cutting is a big issue for any dental practice looking to expand. It is important to free up money to invest in expanding your practice, which will provide more income down the road. Remember that when it comes to cutting costs it pays to have an open mind and be creative. Take a look at things like your insurance, tax planning, and how you protect your assets. Make a plan with your advisors to cut costs and maximize value, without burdening your practice or putting your savings or income at risk.

This step is not only about increasing your cash flow, but also making sure you’re prepared to list your dental practice for sale unexpectedly. Increasing cash flow can be done in several ways including growing your patient base, improving patient retention through customer service, and increasing treatment plan acceptance. One often overlooked way to increase your cash flow is to review your fee schedules and renegotiate with insurance providers. A professional insurance advisor can help you increase your revenue by up to 10% simply through these negotiations. 

The final aspect of this step is to support your staff. Make sure your office has a positive culture, and inspires your staff to be committed. When it comes time to transition your dental practice, communicate clearly with your staff and work to ensure they stay on through the process.

Step Four: Determine the Type of Sale You Want

This step may change based on the timing of your sale, and the personal circumstances surrounding it. However, you should have a general idea of whether you want to list your dental practice for sale outright, or take on an associate with a buy-in agreement.

Not sure which type of sale is best for you? In an outright sale you will receive a lump sum payment for the value of the practice. These dental practice transitions are typically faster and less risky financially. However, there are a few things you must watch out for during an outright sale:

  • The deal isn’t done until you close escrow. While you still own the practice, even after you have a closing date planned, don’t move into retirement mode or slow down production.
  • Hiding information, especially bad information, from the buyer is a bad idea. They will eventually find out, and when they do you will lose their trust.
  • Know the difference between hiding information and keeping confidential information safe. If you aren’t sure what is appropriate to share with the buyer or your staff speak with your team of advisors.
  • Remember you don’t need to take the first bidder who comes along after you list your dental practice for sale. Finding a buyer who will uphold your legacy is important. The dental practice transition specialists at ddsmatch Southwest match buyers with sellers who are like-minded, making the transition smoother.
  • Don’t rush to market your practice before it’s ready. A business valuator (such as Blue & Co., a ddsmatch Southwest strategic partner), a transition specialist, or a dental CPA can offer advice on ways to maximise value before you list your practice.

If you know you aren’t ready to stop working, an inside transfer may be the right path for you. You can sell your practice to an associate over a period of years, rather than all at once. Three to five years is typical, and allows you time to grow the practice and take time for yourself. 

However, just like listing your dental practice for sale outright, it is important to watch out for a few things with a buy-in agreement. Most importantly, you need a lawyer who is experienced in these situations. Create an agreement that clearly lays out the terms of the transition such as when it will take place, how the value will be measured, how everyone will be compensated, and the conditions under which the agreement can be cancelled.

Step Five: Planning for the Unknown

Create a Contingency Plan for Your Practice

The four steps we laid out above apply to any dentist planning a sale in the future, on their own terms. This step, however, is all about how to prepare for an unexpected transition, one that happens on life’s terms. A sudden injury, disability, or death does not have to mean your practice’s value suffers. By planning well you can protect the value of your practice, and ensure it continues to operate at the highest possible level. That way, you and your family will get the full value when you list your dental practice for sale, and your employees and patients will continue to be cared for.

Your contingency plan may include a buy-sell agreement. In this agreement a formula is agreed upon to sell a share of the business to a company or the remaining members of the business if the owner dies or leaves. Life insurance and disability insurance can also be used in these situations. For instance, the proceeds of the insurance can be used to hire an associate to run the practice until completion of the sale.

Creating a contingency plan is one of the reasons we recommend working with a team of experienced dental practice transition specialists. Knowing what to do when a dental practice must transition under unexpected circumstances is part of the job, and your team will likely have experience in this area. Ask your team to use their expertise and put together a plan to protect your loved ones and your legacy.

Create a Contingency Plan for Yourself

Estate planning is never fun, but always necessary. It is especially important to review your estate when you are planning to list your dental practice for sale. If you have not already reviewed your own affairs with a dental lawyer or CPA, now is the time to get everything in order. If you made a plan years ago it is a good idea to revisit it with your advisors to ensure your plan still meets your needs. Your current financial situation should be able to cover your family’s needs, and cover the costs of long-term disability should that become necessary. If your current assets will not cover these costs look at life insurance and disability insurance to make up the difference. However unpleasant it is to think about, you should also include important documents like a power of attorney and an advance medical directive so your family knows your wishes should the worst happen.

Start Planning Now for a Successful Dental Practice Transition

At ddsmatch Southwest our goal is to help dentists successfully transition their practices, and we have been meeting that goal for years. Our expertise plays a big role in this success, and has helped us create a proven process for dentists who are listing their dental practice for sale. Each new practice we work with helps us revise and perfect our process with new information and important insights gained.

One process we use is the Practice Optimizer Experience. This program is excellent for dentists who are trying to prepare their practice for the unexpected. Whether or not you are considering a sale in the near future, this program can give you invaluable insight into how to optimize your practice for best performance. The program includes:

  • Conceptual Transition Experience: What will your transition look like? We help you visualize and set goals for your transition, and create strategies that will help you make them a reality well ahead of your planned transition.
  • Trusted Valuation Analysis: As part of your wealth management planning, we will analyze your practice two times. First, at the beginning of the process. Second, when you are ready to start your transition.
  • Ideal Retirement Calculation: A financial review of your current status and future income projections will establish the ideal timing for listing your dental practice for sale. If you already have a financial advisor this step can be performed in tandem with them, or as a supplemental third-party opinion.
  • Estate Preparedness Gameplan: Sit down with a local attorney to discuss your will, trusts, and estate planning. You should also review or update any essential legal documents that have bearing on your practice assets should you suffer from an unforeseen death or disability.
  • Dental Insurance Negotiator: Our partner Shelley DeGroff of Integrative Dental Solutions, a PPO Advisor, will review and consult with you on the dental insurance plans you currently work with. Ms. DeGroff will offer advice on new insurance plans to consider, or plans to discontinue, in order to maximize your practice’s value and cash flow.
  • Clinical Opportunity Blueprint: We analyze your practice to determine if there are underutilized earning opportunities. In our report you will see a blueprint of opportunities to help you achieve maximum growth before listing your dental practice for sale.
  • Critical Metrics Analysis: Our customized practice report provides information about critical items, and acts as a guide to keeping your practice at high levels of production. Your practice is always changing, which is why we provide an annual review of the results of our analysis. 
  • Trusted Transition Process: Sooner or later you will need to transition your dental practice. Our Trusted Transition Process guides you during this time, and helps you protect your legacy. Our complete range of professional services make dental practice transitions smoother by providing trustworthy information and advice from start to finish.

Dentists often hear they need to start planning for a transition three to five years ahead of time. However, it is never too early to start preparing for an emergency. At ddsmatch Southwest our team of dental transition specialists is prepared to help doctors putting their practice for sale, or those simply wanting to plan for emergencies. With our Practice Optimizer Experience you can set goals and create a roadmap for your future. Contact us today to learn more.

A Dental CPA and Business Valuator Discusses Preparing Your Dental Practice for Sale

You probably already know that listing a dental practice for sale takes time and planning. But another crucial aspect of any successful dental practice transition is assembling a team of experts. If you’re considering selling your practice in the next five years the first thing you need to do is find a qualified dental CPA. A dental CPA will provide you with invaluable expertise in the financial aspects of your practice’s transition, such as business valuations and asset allocation. To learn more about the importance of a qualified dental CPA we spoke to Matt Howard of Blue & Co..

Matt Howard is not only a dental CPA, he is also an accredited business valuator, and certified valuation analyst for Blue & Co.. The team at ddsmatch Southwest uses Blue & Co. to provide unbiased, third-party business valuations. Finding your practice’s true market value is more than just looking at the value of the real estate or yearly profits. The experts at Blue & Co. look at each practice from an industry perspective, determine what the practice is worth, and help the buyer and seller understand the fair market value.

If you’re planning to put your dental practice for sale you need to understand the importance of hiring an experienced dental CPA. Below, Matt explains the key services a dental CPA can provide.

What is Business Valuation?

Before you list your dental practice on the market you need to know its fair market value. A dental CPA will meet with you to help you understand what goes into determining that value. Blue & Co. provides sellers with a 70-page business valuation document detailing every financial aspect of your practice.

In order to get a true picture of your practice’s value a business valuator gathers financial data and asks specific questions about your practice’s performance. For example, if a certain expense jumped 10% from one year to the next they will try to understand why, and what effect it had on the practice. After collecting financial data and evaluating it they will enter it into their model.

Your Blue & Co. dental CPA will review the data they collected and create a draft report to discuss with you as you prepare to put your dental practice for sale. The draft report is used as a guide to discuss the different aspects of your practice’s business valuation. Your dental CPA will review the report with you to help you understand variables such as market factors, then give you an opportunity to provide additional input. After reviewing the report and incorporating seller input the dental CPA creates a final version to be presented to the buyer.

The business valuation report is intended to reflect both the true market value of your practice, and how its resources are being used. Some business owners are surprised to learn these two factors are not often the same thing. Matt explains:

“The biggest noise in [the business valuation of a] . . . dental practice would be the owner’s noise. And what I mean by that is anything that’s inside the practice that is not necessarily operational, or is basically something that the owner has decided to do at the practice that doesn’t exactly reflect the operations of the practice . . . 

“A lot of times, a seller will own the building, and in owning the building, they’ll pay themselves a leased rate for that building. And sometimes that isn’t a market rate. Sometimes it’s a little bit above, sometimes it’s a little bit lower. And so our job in this process is to really help really work through the practice financials, the historical financial statements, and just basically help sanitize or normalize the numbers as we see them [so] the true operations of the practice are reflected.”

When to Start Preparing Your Dental Practice for Sale

How long before listing your dental practice do you need to start preparing it for sale? The short answer is three to five years. The most important thing for selling doctors to keep in mind is how to line up the timing of the sale and slowing down their practice.

Oftentimes a selling doctor starts slowing down production before putting their practice for sale, typically because they are ready for retirement and want to ease into it. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to slow down your pace, you need to consider how this will affect your practice’s value. Slowing down your practice will decrease your revenue stream making it look like your practice is underperforming.

While your business still has the potential to ramp up production, a buyer’s lending bank may not know that. When a downturn like this appears in a business valuation lenders may look at it negatively. According to Matt, banks are looking for “a very mature practice that’s either consistently growing by inflation, or at least steady in the collection perspective.”

You can probably see now why you should start planning to put your dental practice for sale at least five years before you make the transition. You have spent your career building a successful practice and want to reap the benefits of your labor. As you prepare to wind down your career plan to keep up your current pace until after the valuation in order to maximize your practice’s value.

Not Ready to Sell? Consider Bringing on a Dental Associate

A busy practice is a sign that you’re doing something right, but it can also feel overwhelming. Many doctors who have built successful practices aren’t ready to sell, but still find themselves wanting to slow down. In this case it is a good idea to bring on a dental associate. A dental associate can increase collections and allow the owner-doctor to decrease their workload. They can even plan to take over the practice when the owner-doctor decides to put their dental practice for sale. However, your practice must be equipped to take on an associate. Determining whether your practice is ready is complicated, and unfortunately many doctors get this wrong.

Matt Howard explains, “Every practice has a limited amount of resources, of ops, of time for the staff to not hit overtime. So there’s a lot of variables at play here. Typically, we like to see over a $1.2 million collection practice in general. That way that there’s plenty of room for an associate to come in, inherit some of that revenue stream, as in, hopefully the seller wants to back off a bit and transfer some of their patient base over to the associate.”

For dental practice owners, bringing on a dental associate will bring several benefits when they decide to sell. A dental associate will not only serve your current patient base, but also expand the practice and increase its value, which is an important factor for dentists putting their dental practice for sale. For example, a dentist who is booked three months out may take on an associate to reduce patient wait time. The dental associate keeps patient satisfaction and retention high, while also increasing the practice’s value by bringing on more patients.

Dental associateships are also beneficial to the associates themselves. By joining a mature practice the associate is able to earn money right from the start. They do not have the pressure of building a new business on their own, and instead can focus on supporting your patient load.

When you decide to bring on a dental associate you need to determine how you will pay them. The typical method of taking on an associate is to provide guaranteed earnings for the first few months, up to the first year. After that the associate is moved into a production or collection-based compensation model. Dental associates are generally younger doctors in their first few years out of dental school with student loans to pay back, thus their income will have to cover their debt and living expenses.

Whether you are planning to put your dental practice for sale soon or you are simply bringing on an associate to help expand your practice, you need to have a formula in place that makes financial sense for your practice and the associate. Blue & Co. has a program called Associate IQ. to help dentists considering taking on an associate. Matt Howard explains:

“[We] systematically go through the practice. We have about ten different areas that we look at to make sure that it makes sense for the practice to bring this on. Does it make sense from the owner’s side, and does it make sense from the associate’s side? 

“Some things we’ll look at, is if you only have three ops, and you want to bring in two dentists a day, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. So after looking at a bunch of these different variables and intricacies of the practice, we will come up with basically a quotient of how you rate on a scale of zero to 100 for being a good candidate for having an associate.”

Just like putting your dental practice for sale, it is important not to rush into bringing on a dental associate. Carefully consider the implications for you and your practice should you bring on an associate. After a while the dental associate may leave the practice, and the owner-doctor is left with mounting expenses, a heavy work-load, and none of the benefits the associate brought.

If you want to expand your practice, or simply slow down your own workload, bringing on a dental associate is a great way to do that. However, it is imperative that you consult an experienced dental CPA before you take any further steps. A dental CPA, along with a team of transition experts, will look at your practice and help you consider both the long term and short term implications of bringing on an associate.

Do Practice Upgrades Help Valuation?

A question we receive a lot from selling doctors is: will practice upgrades boost value? While you should make some upgrades to make your practice more attractive to buyers, most upgrades won’t pay off when you put your dental practice for sale. Matt explains the nuances:

“If you’ve still got the shag carpet in the practice, that probably needs to go away before you start marketing it. So those types of considerations will bring it up to standard of care and that could make it more valuable. 

“However, you’re probably not going to get a one-for-one payback on your investment. So my end-all, be-all recommendation is, five years before the practice sale, unless you’re really making your practice digital or doing something that’s bringing it up to standard of care, any other significant remodels at that point would probably not be a complete one for one return on your money.”

As Matt touches on, one exception is making your practice digital. It is important to note that many younger doctors were trained on newer equipment and do not know how to use older equipment. Rather than learn a new system a younger doctor is more likely to pass up an out-of-date practice when they are looking to buy.

Asset Allocation When Putting Your Dental Practice for Sale

A dental practice transition, as Matt puts it, is “not just the price, it’s the overall deal.” He continues that, “the million dollar price is great and all. However, it’s not about what the price is, it’s about what you keep. And obviously what I’m referring to here is taxation.”

During a sale everything will be allocated as either an asset or as goodwill. Tangible assets are taxed as normal income while intangible assets are taxed at a capital gains rate. From the seller’s perspective, the more you can allocate to goodwill, the better, because the capital gains rate is more favorable.

The issue of asset allocation is typically more important to the buyer than the seller. However, everything in the sale, for the buyer, can be depreciated over time. This means that, in the long run, asset allocation does not have as great an impact on the buyer. On the other hand, the seller takes a one-time hit when they must pay their tax bill. 

The good news for dentists putting their dental practice for sale is that asset allocation is mostly an issue of negotiation. Buyer and seller must agree on a mutually beneficial arrangement. This is one more area experienced dental CPAs and lawyers can benefit you. Your team of experts will ensure your interests are represented, and no details are overlooked when agreeing on the value of your practice.

ddsmatch Southwest Can Help You Transition Your Dental Practice

If you’re considering listing your dental practice in Texas or New Mexico the team at ddsmatch Southwest is ready to serve as your transition specialists. Our experts are more than just dental practice brokers. By using our Trusted Transition Process we ensure you, your staff, and your patients have a successful transition. We work hard to find a buyer who not only has the skillset to take over your practice, but also the personality and drive to carry on your legacy. 

At ddsmatch Southwest we focus on helping each individual meet their goals, while avoiding common, costly mistakes. Contact our team today to learn more about reaching your dental practice transition goals.

Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Dental Practice

How much do you know about buying a dental practice? Whether you are ready to start the buying process or you are still in dental school it makes sense to familiarize yourself how dental practice transitions work. Unlike buying a house or a car, there are no for sale signs in front of dental practices or big stickers advertising the price on the windows. For access to the best resources and information about available practices, you need a dental practice transition specialist such as ddsmatch Southwest. The specialists at ddsmatch Southwest typically represent sellers, but there are plenty of helpful resources available on our website for buyers at any stage.

One way buyers benefit from the ddsmatch Southwest website is our flexible search function. You don’t have to be in the market to buy a dental practice to use our database. Available associateships, partnerships, and practices available for merger are also listed. Simply create a profile on our website and you can filter results by location and size, see a practice’s revenue, staff size, number of operatories, advanced equipment, and more. So whether you are buying a dental practice or simply looking for an associateship you can find new opportunities on our database.

In addition, our algorithm tracks the areas you are looking at so when a new opportunity arises you will be in the know. This is beneficial to individuals who want to stay up to date with current market trends and industry conditions.

If you’re starting to consider buying a practice read our helpful tips below. Learn more about the buying process, and how to determine which practice is the right fit.

Types of Dental Practices

Before you start searching for a dental practice to buy you need to think about the type of practice you are looking for. Do you want to take over a practice from an individual? Are you interested in buying into a partnership? Do you want to become an associate? Before you start the process of buying a dental practice think about the following:

  • Atmosphere. Every office has a different vibe, which is typically dictated by the owner. The staff and patients are affected by the way the office feels. This vibe informs the flow of the office and attracts new patients.
  • Insurance. The business model you choose informs your client base, so it is important to consider how you plan to process payments and insurance. You may choose to base your payment plans as a fee for service, PPO, Medicaid, or HMO. It is important to note that if you choose to change your billing practices after taking over an existing office you will likely lose patients up front.

If you are fretting over whether you should acquire real estate when buying a dental practice you should know that the decision does not matter as much as you think. According to Thad Miller, founder and president of ddsmatch, owning real estate is more a matter of where you live. “In Indiana and Louisville . . . there’s a lot of dentists who own their own building,” says Miller  “. . . Whereas maybe [in] Los Angeles, Chicago, some of the bigger cities, Atlanta, they may not own their building as much and . . . you’ve got to weigh what does that real estate do for you?” 

Before purchasing real estate for your practice, you should research the tax benefits versus the upfront costs. Additionally, do not assume that every selling doctor wants to sell their real estate along with their practice. Many decide to keep the property as an investment, or sell it later as part of a separate transaction.

Location, Location, Location

Buying a dental practice is not something you will do often, so it makes sense to think carefully about the location of your practice. You probably have a general idea of the area you want to buy in, but you can narrow down your choices by thinking about the following factors:

  • Your Personal Home. If you own a home, or are planning to buy one before you buy a practice think about how close you want to live to your practice. How far are you willing to commute? Would you be willing to move your personal residence closer to your practice?
  • Your Lifestyle. What kind of lifestyle do you envision for yourself? Do you enjoy living in rural communities, or do you want access to the amenities of a city? If you plan to have children think about the neighborhood you want to live in and the school district they will attend. Buying a dental practice will affect your family as well as yourself, so it is important to think about these things even if they are years down the road.
  • Expanding Your Practice. Even if you are only looking to buy a practice with one location try to imagine your future wants. Your practice’s location may limit your expansion opportunities. If you think you will want to add another location or two in the future think about where these locations would be, and if traveling between them would be feasible. 

The location of your practice should match the way you want to practice. Urban, suburban, and rural practices have significant differences not only in atmosphere but in overhead costs, profitability, and patient base. Thad Miller explains “there are more profitable practices in rural parts of the States because it’s a percentage of dentists per patient, correct? So with these DSOs not setting up in these rural areas, there’s less competition.”

According to Miller, younger doctors should consider their thresholds when it comes to things like commutes and workdays before buying a dental practice, “if they can handle a 45 minute drive there and back, would they rather sit in traffic or they would rather drive straight there and drive straight home. It just depends.” 

However, just because the selling dentist ran their practice a certain way, doesn’t mean the buying dentist has to run everything exactly the same. Miller continues, “…say they buy a rural practice, they don’t have to run it exactly the way the rural dentist ran it. If they want to go from 6:30 in the morning until 3:00, two days a week and they’re home by 5:00, they can do that. You own your business. You can make those changes. If you want to see your son’s tee-ball practice on Wednesdays, don’t work Wednesdays. Work Fridays or just go from, like I said, 6:00 A.M. to noon. That’s what’s great about dentistry, you can do it a little differently than other people and still be very profitable. You just got to weigh how many patients you’re working on.”

Buying a Dental Practice With Financing

When you start your search for available dental practices remember that you are limited by how much financing you qualify for. If you create an online profile just to keep an eye on market trends, as many users do, you may not want to filter available options by price. But if you are planning to buy a practice in the next few years you should find out how much you can afford to spend, and familiarize yourself with how dental practices are valued. Visit this post on Dental Economics to learn the basics of dental practice valuation.

Both buyers and sellers are concerned with fair pricing during a dental transition. That is why ddsmatch Southwest uses a trusted, third-party accounting firm to perform dental practice valuations. In addition to a reliable business valuation we offer clinical appraisals using Dr. Charles Blair’s Clinical Treatment Analyzer. This appraisal looks at untapped revenue opportunities within a practice so the buyer knows where he or she can expand. As a buyer, it is important to review these details so you can make the right choice.

ddsmatch Southwest can also help individuals buying a dental practice by referring them to local dental practice lenders. As Miller explains, our brokers “have relationships in every area . . . so they’re going to actually work with these individual buyers and banks. If it’s national banks, if it’s regional banks or if it’s local banks, we do a lot of that in our process.”

If you are worried about qualifying for financing you should know it is easier than it seems. Historically, dental practice lending has been a favorable investment with low default rates. Even during the economic uncertainty of 2020 dental practice lending has remained steady.

However, like any loan, the lending bank will want assurance that the buying doctor can keep up with payments by maintaining production levels at their new practice. According to Dr. Howard Farran, of Dentaltown, “the big banks are telling the graduates who just walked out of school . . . that you needed at least a year’s experience before they’ll even talk to you” about buying a dental practice. Farran notes that, for banks, that year of experience is an important indicator of future production. He continues that banks are not “as concerned about the debt as they are with the speed of the dentist keeping up with the practice, being able to do the procedures that the selling dentist has. If they work for a year, that usually gets them over the hump to where they can keep up with the hygiene schedule. They can do the restorative and be able to keep up with the schedule. That’s their biggest concern. It’s not necessarily the debt as much as it is the speed.”

Understanding the Transition Process

There is more than one way to transition into a dental practice after a sale. Some selling doctors are ready to move on and leave as soon as the paperwork is done. Others stick around and work at the practice for a certain amount of time while the new doctor transitions into his or her role. There is no one “right way” to go about a transition, as long as there is clear communication on both sides. Before you start the process of buying a dental practice you should understand what is involved with each of these scenarios and be open to discussing them with the selling doctor.

Turn to Transition Experts When You’re Ready to Buy

Is it possible to go through a dental practice transition without expert help? Yes. However, just like in any legal or real estate transaction buyer representation is important if you want to get the most out of your experience. Thad Miller elaborates:

“It’s important to build your team. And most of the people that I encourage them to work with, they’ll sit down with [the potential buyer] in advance and they won’t charge them to talk about how they do things. They don’t need them until there’s an opportunity . . . Even if they’re not ready to buy right now, they need to build their team. 

“I had a great practice that was in high demand, we had six or seven people that wanted to buy this practice. And the dentist who took my advice—that had a team—he sat down with the selling dentist who needed to sell. He was actually ill, he had cancer and he needed to sell, but he had a great practice and he wanted it to go to the right person. 

“The person who sat down and said, “I’ve got an attorney in place, I’ve got an accountant in place, and I’ve got my bank financing in place. I would love to buy your practice,” that’s what sold my seller . . . Because they were ready. Because he knew he could move quickly, he knew he wasn’t just kicking tires, he knew he was ready.”

Buying a dental practice is not something you do every day. It is a large investment, and determines the path your career will take. That is why you need an expert team like the one at ddsmatch Southwest. The complicated financial and legal processes need careful attention by someone familiar with the specifics of dental practice transitions. Your team should be able to advise you along the way so you can avoid pitfalls and take advantage of opportunities you may not have known were present. At the end of the transition, you should be able to say you did your due diligence at every step, understood the information presented to you, and made informed decisions. 

Search Available Practices from ddsmatch Southwest

When we find the right buyer for our clients, everyone wins. So, while we typically represent selling doctors, we have an interest in finding buyers who are not only qualified, but will thrive once they take over a practice. The selling doctor has spent their career building up their legacy and solidifying their practice’s place in the community. That is why, when buying a dental practice, you are buying much more than the equipment or the real estate. You are committing to continue to grow and thrive in an established practice.

After years in the industry, we know that successful transitions are only possible when both sides are fair and transparent. Clients trust ddsmatch Southwest to provide up-to-date information and reliable resources so they can be sure they are making wise decisions. Our experts are ready to help you, too.

Visit our website today to search for available practices. Contact us today by calling 855-546-0044 to discuss your dental practice transition.

Buying a Dental Practice? Why Now Is a Great Time to Buy or Sell

How do you know when is the right time for selling or buying a dental practice? Many dentists ask us this question and, in the current economic climate, we are seeing it even more. Though it sounds counterintuitive, now is actually a good time for dental practice transitions. Older dentists are increasingly interested in selling their dental practices in order to retire. Younger dentists are also recognizing that the time is right to take their career into their own hands by buying their own dental practice.

For both buyers and sellers, there may be concern about whether the industry will survive the current economic uncertainty. However, according to founder and president of ddsmatch Thad Miller, “most of our clients have had an incredible June and beyond and it looks good going on . . . We’re seeing really good results.” 

One reason that the dental industry has been able to weather the current crisis is that they are an essential business. As offices have reopened, patients are returning for their regular treatments. Sterilization and PPE have always been part of regular operating procedures, and dentists offices are known as safe and clean places to receive care. While patients may be hesitant to go into a restaurant at the moment, they will likely see their dentist as both safe and essential.

Buying a Dental Practice: The Time is Right

Of course, dentistry has been impacted by the current crisis. In a recent interview with Dr. Howard Farran, founder of Dentaltown, the number of practices for sale and job postings at dental offices have changed drastically since 2019. Dr. Farran explains between 1999 and 2019, “there [were] usually about 1,000 classified ads of a dentist selling their practice and about 5,000 ads of dentists looking for an associate” on the Dentaltown site. However, Dr. Farran continues, “now it’s 2,000 dentists selling their practice with only 1,000 jobs.”

What does this mean for dentists wanting to transition their practice, or those looking to buy? There are two major impacts. First, many offices were forced to shut down at least partially for several months, stopping cash flow and making it difficult to pay employees. When dental offices reopened, they were often forced to reduce the number of visits per day to accommodate social distancing and new sterilization requirements. All of these factors mean less work per dentist, so practices that had planned on adding a new associate in 2020 held back. In addition, some associates who couldn’t wait several months to go back to work sought other opportunities.

Second, and important for those buying a dental practice, dentists who were within a few years of retirement have decided to retire now rather than deal with the current crisis. New sterilization procedures, special equipment, and changing practice methods take time and money that may not be worthwhile so late in one’s career.  Rather than deal with adjusting their practice to a post-COVID19 world, many dentists are moving up their retirement and putting their practices for sale.

Looking at these factors, Thad Miller notes that dentists looking to buy a practice right now are in a unique situation. “There’s going to be opportunities out there.” Miller states, “We all know that the baby boomers in our society are retiring in all different sectors. In accounting, in legal, in appraisers, whatever it may be. There’s a large group of our population that are retiring and there’s fewer buyers because there’s just the mass number of dentists that are transitioning over the next 10 years. I think there’s opportunity out there.” Even dentists who previously thought buying a dental practice was a few years off are realizing that now is the time to take charge of their career.

In addition to these two factors, dentists who are considering buying a practice should know there may be hidden opportunities available in the practices currently coming up for sale. At ddsmatch Southwest, part of our transition services includes Dr. Charlie Blair’s Clinical Treatment Analyzer. Using this tool we can determine what hidden revenue builders may exist in a practice. For example, as Miller explains, for example, “the dentist who’s selling, they stopped doing root canals 15, 20 years ago, and they stopped doing oral surgery.” The Clinical Treatment Analyzer will show opportunities like this, and other revenue builders, without increasing the sale price.

Selling a Dental Practice? Why Now is a Good Time

If you are looking to sell your practice, you may be wondering if now is really a good time to put it on the market. The answer is related to the above discussion on buying a dental practice. The pandemic caused professionals in many areas to reconsider their career paths. For dental associates working for an employer, this meant finally deciding to go into business for themselves. Owning a dental practice means doing things on your own terms rather than being subject to the decisions of your employer. Dentists who were waiting until the “right time” to buy are starting to realize they don’t want to wait to take control of their careers. As dental practice transition specialists, we can confirm there has been growing interest from buyers recently.

Before you think about placing your dental practice for sale, there are a few things you should do to make it more attractive for buyers and boost your practice’s value. First, focus on low-cost, high-impact cosmetic upgrades. Your office should make a good first impression on buyers so if your carpet or paint are looking worn it may be time to update them. If your practice is experiencing a lighter than usual patient load due to the transition back from closure it is a good time to jump on these types of projects.

Second, up to date equipment will attract more individuals buying a dental practice. If you are hoping for a certain selling price but haven’t switched to digital systems, it may be hard to reach that price. Newer dentists are trained primarily on digital systems and are less likely to be interested in upgrading out of date equipment after buying a dental practice. 

Third, if you do not have an updated website, now is the time to make one. Many established practices don’t need websites for marketing purposes, but, when it comes time to sell your practice, a website is the first thing buyers will look at. Your website does not need to be flashy or fancy, but if it doesn’t exist with basic information potential buyers will move on quickly. If you’re setting up a website for the first time you should include pictures of your office, information about yourself and your staff, and details about your sterilization processes. ddsmatch Southwest can refer you to a professional website builder who will create a basic website at a reasonable price.

Why Dentists Choose ddsmatch Southwest for Selling and Buying a Dental Practice

Expectations and Transparency

If you are in the process of buying or selling a dental practice, ddsmatch Southwest has the transition experts you need to reach your goals. Our team of specialists has in-depth knowledge of the industry, making us more than just business brokers. We pride ourselves on staying up to date with the latest market conditions, so each client has a successful dental practice transition.

Beyond our knowledge of the industry, we take pride in our dedication to transparency and finding the right match between buyers and sellers. Selling a dental practice is much more than money and titles changing hands. The selling doctor has poured their life’s work into building a successful practice. They want to make sure that legacy is preserved, and the patients they have come to know are taken care of. Our transition specialists work hard to ensure those selling and buying a dental practice are satisfied with the deal that is made. We accomplish this in several ways.

First, we offer transparency about every aspect of the deal by issuing a comprehensive letter of intent. This letter helps clients know exactly what to expect as the transition progresses. “We have about a five page letter of intent,” explains Thad Miller, “which was unique to the industry nine years ago, where they usually just got a price and then they kind of fought about everything until closing.”

In the letter of intent “we address every single thing that’s going to go on in the transaction,” Miller continues. “From the price, to the asset allocation for taxes. What are we doing for real estate, the lease, the breakdown of what they’re buying and what they’re not buying, noncompete . . . all in writing, ahead of time. Even though a letter of intent is a nonbinding agreement, we want that expectation set for our buyer.”

Second, we offer transparency to those selling and buying a dental practice through our Trusted Transition Process. This process provides a clear and consistent path which remains the same from seller to seller. In addition, we add a reliable business valuation from the team of certified valuation analysts at Blue & Co.. The analysts at Blue & Co. are experts in their field, having received training specifically focused on business valuations. Each detailed, 70-page report provided by their analysts includes details about production, collections, overhead, taxes, and other financial aspects a buyer needs to know. The report gives buyers much needed information about why the practice is worth the asking price.

What We Do For Buyers

Although we do not represent buyers during dental practice transitions, we still offer important services to them. The ddsmatch Southwest website is free to use, and is a great resource for dentists looking to buy, or even ones who simply want to keep an eye on the market. After creating a profile individuals can search a wide range of available practices. After searching for practices our algorithm keeps users up to date with opportunities in the area they were searching.

So, whether you are planning on buying a dental practice this year, or you are still in your second year of dental school, creating an online profile is a good way to stay up to date with current opportunities and trends in your area. We are always updating our website with new resources and opportunities, which is why even dental students benefit from registering and creating an online profile with ddsmatch Southwest.

What if you aren’t looking for a practice to buy? Our website allows you to search numerous opportunities including partnerships, associateships, and practices available for merger. Our search engine allows users to filter by location and size of practice. When you are logged in to your profile practice information such as revenue, number of operatories, size of staff, local area information, and details about equipment such as digital radiography and cone beam imaging, are available to help you decide if a practice meets your needs.

We are also committed to protecting our clients’ privacy and interests. To ensure the integrity of our transitions our website does not include doctor’s names.

Transitions are a big step for anyone selling or buying a dental practice. Our team of transition specialists is committed to making sure both sides are satisfied with the transaction. Our goal is to find the best fit so our clients can be confident with their choice to sell, and the buyer can take over the practice knowing they will find success. As Thad Miller puts it, “if [our clients] see a patient in the grocery a month after transition, they want to feel good that they don’t have to hide behind a stack of things because they didn’t have a good transition.”

Search available practices in your area by creating a profile on our website. If you are considering transitioning your dental practice contact us today. Our dental practice transition experts are ready to help you achieve your goals.

Post-COVID Strategies That Focus on Patients

Trying times give us the chance to discover our strengths and weaknesses and reevaluate our practices. In dental care, it’s a good idea to reevaluate how you’re doing from time to time. When you make an extra effort to show compassion toward your patients and their individual concerns, not only will they be grateful for your empathy, but it can also secure their long-term support. The steps you take to reshape your approach to dental treatment and patient communication post-COVID can work in your favor and help your patients see you as a healthcare provider who’s willing to adapt and work with them no matter the circumstances.

When you decide to list your dental office for sale, your financial “value” is measured in numbers. But no number can truly quantify the positive impact you can have on your community and your patients. Be an influence for good during this unpredictable time! Vow to give your patients the care they need and provide them with a sense of safety. 

Dr. Jessica Meeske, vice chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, said, “My advice is not to practice in fear . . . patients need dental care and we have the responsibility and privilege to provide it.” In a time when patients are worrying about so many other aspects of their lives, you can help lessen some of their fears by offering safe, reliable, compassionate care.

How to Practice Compassionate Care

Your goal as an established dental professional should be to provide patients the best possible treatment while prioritizing their safety.

Maybe you’ve never taken advantage of technology in the past, but now’s a great time to start. Utilize tele-dentist visits and electronic communication with patients to show you’re willing to take extra precautions. Sometimes patients simply have questions that can be answered over the phone or over the Internet, so let them choose that option if it’s appropriate. You can save time and money with virtual visits because you won’t have to worry about sterilizing equipment and finding staff to be in the office.

Surveys can also be a helpful tool in determining what exactly your patients need from you at this time. You can give your patients the opportunity to rate their experience at your office or simply ask them after the visit if there’s anything that could have been done differently. Promote the idea of patient-centered care by implementing patient feedback in your daily practices. Many patients are concerned about infection control, so do everything you can to fulfill their safety expectations. 

With so much information available with the click of a button, patients may question your practices and want to know what measures you are taking to protect them. Don’t shy away from their questions. Take the time to discuss your new safety protocols and explain why you feel these measures are necessary and effective. Talk to your staff and be sure everyone is on the same page and knows what these measures are. In short, continue to provide your patients with a higher standard of dental care while increasing the amount of time spent disinfecting patient rooms and equipment between appointments.

Be Understanding in Your Patient Communication

What do you want your dental practice to be known for? The first time a patient sees a sign on your building, you are communicating with them. What kind of message do you want to convey? Marketing plays an important role in patient communication. Be sure your brand is known for the right reasons.

Many factors will come into play when you place your dental office for sale. Patients and other dentists will want to know just what you did post-COVID to establish more effective practices. Patients will want their questions and concerns answered, even if to you they may seem repetitive or mundane. Be upfront with your patients and share your protocols for infection control, treatment, PPE, etc so they can feel confident in your processes. To establish empathetic patient communication, strive to do the following:

  • Don’t act too casual about any topic a patient brings up. There is a lot of misinformation out there and patients want to know you take their concerns seriously.
  • Listen to what your patients are saying to you and respond to their questions. Be interested in what’s interesting to them.
  • Share your professional observations about the situation and explain the steps you and your staff are taking to address their issues.
  • Try to stay upbeat and positive and don’t dismiss a patient question or concern. 

You should always try to be empathetic with your patients, but go the extra mile to alleviate fears and concerns that may crop up due to the pandemic. Patients are already a little nervous and uneasy about going to the dentist, and may appear even more so post-COVID. If you can’t personally address their concerns, work with your staff to develop a more effective patient outreach program where patients can be heard and express their fears.

Think about your marketing goals and if they need to change. If your patients are primarily considered with equipment sterilization, trying to market your practice by emphasizing your background and experience as a dentist may not be enough. A simple message on Facebook like, “At our practice we protect you and your family with our thorough equipment sterilization procedures” can go a long way toward making patients feel comfortable with choosing your office for their dental procedure. If Twitter has been effective for you in the past, use that social media platform to connect with your patients. Engaging with your patients through social media is a great way to receive feedback to help guide your marketing.

If your business has declined dramatically since the pandemic, reach out to local news organizations to see if your office can be featured. In a news article or TV spotlight you’ll have the opportunity to talk about your health protocols and safety measures and ease the minds of your patients and potential patients.

How to Find Out if Your Brand is Working For You

Just like the McDonald’s golden arches are recognized worldwide, your brand says a lot about what your practice stands for. If your brand is not a great reflection of your practice, now is the perfect time to adjust it. Your brand includes your name, the name of your practice, and any other terms, designs, symbols, or marks that identifies your dental practice as distinct from all of the others. You want your brand to be recognizable and earn the confidence of patients everywhere. 

Ask yourself if your brand is who you want to be, and spend time reflecting on the values and services you want people to associate with your office. 

If you’re struggling to create an effective brand, write down words to describe your practice. Are you patient-focused? Do you create a friendly environment? What do patients feel when they walk into your office? This exercise will help you determine what your brand should look like.

To have an authentic brand, you have to be honest and accurate. You want your branding to be a reflection of your core values as an organization. You want to build trust among your patients. Trust is essential in fostering goodwill when it comes time to list your dental office for sale. Inaccurate branding can cause you to lose business, turning patients away from your practice before they even meet you or your staff. 

Now that you’ve established a reliable brand, look at your marketing to see if you’re presenting the kind of image you want others to associate with you. Your Facebook page, for example, should not be at odds with your website. Both platforms should highlight the positive qualities of your practice and your staff and maintain a consistent theme throughout. If you want to be seen as involved in your community, engage in community activities that promote your brand identity. Share pictures of you and your staff at the local food bank or whatever it is so your patients will know that you practice what you preach.

Helping Patients Find Financial Solutions

Currently in the United States, 11% of people are unemployed. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits over the last four months is worse than any other time in modern history.” from CNBC.com

Many people who have lost their jobs recently have also lost their health insurance coverage, meaning they’ll likely postpone dental cleanings and appointments for the time being. During this unprecedented time, you should be extra sensitive to your patients’ financial needs and be willing to offer financial assistance if possible. Some things you can do to help ease their financial burdens include: 

  • Offering incentives beyond the usual past promotions, such as dental cleanings at a set cost without insurance for a limited time. Encourage your patients not to put off their exams and remind them you care about their dental health.
  • Third-party financing can help patients in some cases. Find out which third-party financing options will work with your clinic and offer them as an option. Be aware of payback periods and interest requirements. Take time to do your own research and only pick a company you feel comfortable working with.
  • Membership plans or in-house financing can offset the cost of major procedures such as root canals or fillings. Allow your patients to make smaller payments so they can get the needed treatment without stressing about the cost.

For the past few months many dental practices have operated at a loss, and the financial solutions offered above take this into account. When you work with your patients to help them find the right financing options, you show them you’re invested in a long-term dental-patient relationship. 

Easier Scheduling Options 

With people out of work and kids home for the longest summer ever, some patients may have difficulty figuring out a time to see the dentist that works with their new schedule. Giving your patients a variety of options for their appointments will definitely be appreciated. 

Many dentists have made the decision to only see patients one at a time to prevent a crowded waiting room. Some have patients wait in their car until their temperatures have been taken and their face masks are in place. Be sensitive to your patients’ concerns and do all you can to make them feel safe while in your office. 

Consider the following options:

  • Offer early morning, evening, or even weekend appointments
  • Allow more of a time gap between appointments to limit the number of patients in your reception area. This will also give you adequate time to disinfect and sterilize your necessary supplies.
  • Use teledentistry if you need to pre-screen or diagnose patients. This option provides physical distancing and the opportunity to schedule their treatment when it fits their schedule (and yours).

Though the above-mentioned practices will require extensive time and planning, reinforcing great relationships with your patients is worth it. You want patients to leave your office feeling like you have their health and safety as your number one priority. They’ll be more likely to come back and see you for their next dental procedure if they feel you’re doing all you can to earn and keep their trust.

Want to List Your Dental Office for Sale? ddsmatch Southwest Can Help

ddsmatch Southwest are dental practice transition specialists focused on assisting dentists in the Texas and New Mexico areas. For buyers looking for a dental office for sale, you can view our available practices here. Our specialty is making your dental practice transition as smooth and rewarding as possible. Our benchmarks for success are your unique, individual goals being fulfilled. We are here to work for you. Contact us today. 

Recognize and Address COVID-Related Stress in Your Dental Office

Across the nation dental offices that were closed for weeks or months due to the COVID-19 pandemic are finally back up and running, at least part time. However, they are back with several profound differences that make a big impact in the lives of dentists and their staff. For the health and safety of the community it is important to follow the safety protocols set by your local government. However, we must still acknowledge that the current state of things may lead to increased stress and anxiety. When your staff returns to work it is important to be aware of how they are performing their daily tasks. Running a successful dental practice depends on having reliable staff members. If your employees are acting differently or seem distracted it can be a serious problem, especially if you are considering selling a dental practice in the next five years.

Stress and anxiety can come from many different factors related to the pandemic. Financial pressures from weeks or months without work may be mounting. You or your staff members may know someone who is sick, in the hospital, or has died due to COVID-19. Concern about keeping at-risk family and friends safe may cause your staff to feel unsure if they should return to work. Finding safe and reliable childcare options is especially difficult with schools and daycare centers closing or reducing their capacities. The bottom line is, COVID-related stress and anxiety affects everyone in some capacity.

For dentists, hygienists, and other dental office staff members, fears over contracting COVID-19 are not unfounded. A recent study looked at how likely individuals in certain occupations are to contract the disease. After evaluating data that considered the job’s frequency of contact with others, physical proximity, and exposure to disease, researchers assigned scores to different occupations. These scores revealed that dental hygienists are at the highest risk for contracting COVID-19 at work. In fact, dental hygienists scored 99.7 out of a possible 100. Dental assistants and dentists were not far behind at 92.5 and 92.1, respectively.

As a small business owner and healthcare professional, whether or not you plan on selling a dental practice in the near future, the health and safety of your staff and patients is vitally important. In order to reopen, many dental practices have spent thousands of dollars on new PPE equipment and cleaning supplies, and invested hours of time into training staff members. However, the health and safety of your staff relies on more than following physical safety protocols. The new normal of increased risk puts a psychological strain on your staff members who must quickly learn to work in this environment.

Speaking about the link between physical and mental wellbeing Bernadette Melnyk, dean of the College of Nursing and chief wellness officer at Ohio State explains, “physical and mental health are closely intertwined” which is why you must take time for both. Melnyk continues, “while you practice good hygiene and physical distancing in the office, you should also practice stress-reduction.” In addition, Dr. K. Luan Phan, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, explains that the current situation can affect everyone. According to Dr. Phan, “uncertainty and unpredictability can really create an unhealthy amount of fear and stress, especially when it’s sustained over such a long period of time.” 

It can be easy to take one of two approaches to working during the pandemic. Either ignoring the signs of stress and anxiety, or responding with fear. However, ignoring the signs and symptoms of stress, in yourself or your staff, will not make it go away. In fact, it can make it worse. In addition, anxiety the coronavirus has introduced is real, and for many it is scary. But responding with fear will not allow you to manage your stress in a healthy way. 

We want to encourage you to respond to stress and anxiety appropriately, by neither ignoring nor giving into fear. Below we will help you recognize the signs of anxiety and stress, and provide tips on how you and your staff members can manage your wellbeing. These tips are helpful for all doctors and their staff members, whether or not selling a dental practice is in your five year plan.

Identifying the Problem

Most of us can admit that even if we love our jobs, they are often a source of stress. Now that the day-to-day stress is compounded with COVID-related stress you and your staff are likely feeling its effects across multiple areas of your lives. However, not everyone will feel stressed about exactly the same thing. Here are some of the COVID-related factors that lead to added stress and anxiety:

  • Potential exposure to COVID-19 at work
  • Spending time away from family
  • Finding safe and reliable childcare
  • Lack of proper tools or equipment to do your job effectively
  • Adjusting to unfamiliar tasks and a different office rhythm
  • Concerns about job stability and the future of the industry
  • Fears that your efforts are not making a difference
  • Concerns about your practice’s valuation if you plan on selling a dental practice soon

As we mentioned above, stress and anxiety manifests itself mentally and physically. A recent survey of dental office workers revealed a wide range of discomforting symptoms in those who are now using PPEs due to pandemic protocols. According to the survey “workers… reported experiencing dry eyes, sore throat, rash, runny nose, pressure blister on nose bridge, coughing at night, TMJ discomfort, eyestrain, tight chest, chapped lips, ear pressure, occlusion changes, clogged ears, bloating, itchy tingling skin, bloody nose, intermittent PVCs, facial muscle twitches, and sleep apnea.” In addition, over 50% of respondents reported experiencing a sense of dehydration, headaches, mental fatigue, profuse sweating, and exhaustion.

The goal in identifying these stress factors is not to instill fear, but to help you and your staff members address them head on. As a dental practice owner it is important for you to create an environment where your staff feels safe to express their concerns and get help. When your staff is calm and confident your office will run smoother and it will be easier to ensure your patient’s safety and wellbeing. If you are selling a dental practice soon you should be concerned with creating stability for your buyer.

Be Aware of the Signs

How do you recognize the signs of stress in your dental office staff? You have likely worked with your staff day in and day out for years. Think about how they act in normal situations, and whether their “normal” has changed since returning to work. If their behavior and demeanor seems off it may be a sign that they have concerns about returning to work. Here are some of the signs you should be aware of in your staff:

  • Decreased productivity and difficulty meeting deadlines
  • Inability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Pulling back from work related activities
  • Changes in emotional behavior such as irritability, anxiousness, and depression
  • An increase in missing work or calling in sick
  • Difficulty adapting to changes around the office
  • Struggling with sleep
  • A general feeling of exhaustion and being overwhelmed
  • Difficulty concentrating while at work

Of course, everyone has bad days here and there whether or not there is a pandemic. But if you notice the above signs in your staff for longer than a week it is time to step in.

How You Can Help Your Staff

Creating a safe and stable environment in your office is important whether or not you are selling a dental practice. Make it a point to talk openly about stress and anxiety at your weekly meeting. Remind your staff members that you are here to help, and open to suggestions on how to lower stress in the workplace. Offer encouragement and understanding. Be open to staff members who come to you with problems.

If you notice any of the above signs in your employees take time to personally sit down with them and discuss how they are feeling. If your employee seems reluctant to share their concerns try relating your own stress and anxieties about the pandemic. Let them know it is important to talk together honestly so you can find a solution together. Be an active listener, and let them know you are looking to help them. You should also ask for recommendations on how to make changes that will make a difference. 

A major area of stress may arise from wearing additional PPE, a procedure which was likely unfamiliar to you and your staff pre-COVID. In order to cope with wearing additional PPE, consider the following measures:

  • Schedule frequent breaks in PPE for hydration, healthy snacks, and stretching
  • Require every staff member (including you) to take a lunch hour
  • Make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables, and stay away from salty foods
  • Consider putting off or delegating tasks if workloads are too high
  • Teach nasal breathing techniques
  • Make a habit of taking deep abdominal breaths when washing your hands
  • Encourage your staff to know and communicate their limits
  • Get outside daily for fresh air and exercise
  • Find activities you enjoy outside of work
  • Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night
  • Know that feeling a variety of emotions is normal
  • Take time to ensure children and other family members are being cared for
  • Seek out resources when you need help – check the ADA website for resources by state

Whether or not you have dealt with stress and anxiety in the past, the current pandemic presents a new dynamic for us all. With such a great amount of uncertainty it makes sense to feel anxious about the future. Remind your staff that it is ok to feel stress, fear, or anxiety, and that they are not alone. Open and honest communication will help your office work together for the good of everyone. Take time to tell your staff that they are an integral part of the work you do, and you recognize their dedication every day. 

Taking Care of Yourself

It makes sense to be proactive about the wellbeing of your staff, but remember that without you there is no practice for them to work in. The increased pressure and stress of the pandemic, which may coincide with selling a dental practice, will likely impact your performance and your ability to lead. But it can be difficult to recognize the signs of stress in your own life. However, as we mentioned above, ignoring these signs does not make them go away and will often make things worse. Take some time to think about your life over the past few months. Have you felt more tired or irritable? Are you sleeping less than usual? Are you drinking more or eating less? These are all physical manifestations of stress and anxiety. Read through the advice given above and take some time to implement it in your own life.

It is important to remember that significant changes need to be made in your life in order to adjust to the current situation. We are still in control of how we respond to each new problem that comes our way. Responding immediately with an emotional reaction will only serve to heighten your stress and fear. When you accept the reality of these changes and adjust accordingly you will be much better off. 

If you are having trouble dealing with the current situation don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for help. A trusted friend or family member may be able to help you sort through your feelings and find a solution. If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or discouraged you should consider seeking out a professional for help. Use the ADA resources to find someone near you.

Selling a Dental Practice? ddsmatch Southwest is Here For You

At ddsmatch Southwest we are not experts in mental health. But we do know that transitioning your dental practice can come with added stress and anxiety, even in normal times. Our experts are investing in helping you successfully transition your practice. If you are considering transitioning your dental practice in the next five years, you likely have a lot of questions. We encourage you to reach out to our transition experts to learn more about selling a practice during the pandemic, or preparing your practice for sale in the future. 

As industry experts, we are here to help you make the best choices for the future of your practice. Call us today to learn more.

Building Patient Trust: Protect Your Most Valuable Asset Before Placing Your Dental Practice for Sale

If you are like most dentists, your office is open, but it is not like it was before the pandemic. 

If or when things return to “normal,” it’s unlikely they will be exactly as before. Right now, we are in a time of transition, with new information and guidance each week. The key to keeping your practice going smoothly is the ability to adapt with the changing circumstances. 

This is especially important if you have been considering listing your dental practice for sale. As we’ve previously written, you are going to want to hit a production goal of about 80% of your monthly 2019 production average within the coming months. Below, we discuss some ways you can help your patients feel comfortable coming to your office, confident in their treatment, and will help you keep your office on track toward this goal.

As a doctor, you are in a unique position to engender patient trust through reassurance.. Dr. Jessica Meeske, vice chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, recently said “My advice is not to practice in fear,” she said. “Patients need dental care and we have the responsibility and privilege to provide it.” In doing so, you can be a reliable and trusted leader in your community on issues related to infection control.

Recognize the Stress

Everyone has been rather stressed out by what we’ve seen and experienced over the last few months. In addition to the concern about becoming ill, your patients have had compounded stressors by the economic impact of stay at home orders and social distancing. According to a recent survey, “60% of U.S. parents say they’ve had no outside child care during the coronavirus pandemic” and “millions have spent the duration attempting to work from home while also caring for kids,” including being responsible for their home education. 

There are also medical issues not related to, but impacted by COVID-19. People with illnesses have gone untreated or had treatment postponed. Families have been separated from each other, often to protect elderly or immunocompromised family members. Families have also laid loved ones to rest without a traditional funeral service and the comfort that can provide.

As a healthcare provider, be prepared for patients to have these things on their minds. They may raise some of their concerns, even if unrelated to dental care. Look for evidence of unhealthy responses to their stressors, such as increased drinking, smoking, and overeating. 

With so much upheaval, avoiding the obvious struggles all are dealing with feels inauthentic. Don’t be afraid to just ask them straight out how they have been doing during the pandemic. You may be the first healthcare provider they have encountered in a long time, and your professional expertise and knowledge can be very helpful. You may want to consider scheduling patients for longer appointments to allow time for conversations you may have not had with patients before. Have compassionate, validating responses ready: “Wow, that sounds very hard,” and “Of course you’d feel that way,” are simple acknowledgements that help people feel heard and seen.   

Dentistry is a profession built on relationships. Your patients trust you. This is a time where you can make good on that trust and build even stronger community connections. From an economic standpoint, your patients are your most valuable asset. When you treat them as such, you will be rewarded—both immediately by strengthening your bond with them, and also when it comes time to place your dental practice for sale and pass on the goodwill you have created to the right person who will maintain that level of trust.

Let Patients Know What to Expect

Start educating patients on how their experience in your office will be different before they arrive. Either when appointments are scheduled, or when calling to confirm appointments, have a script ready for your office staff to explain the check-in procedures, whether the reception area will be available or not, whether they can have a family member or not, whether masks are required for non-patient family members, and so on. Going to the dentist can be stressful for some patients and providing information about how they are being protected will be reassuring. 

The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) has released a new checklist to help people prepare for their next dental appointment, What to Expect: Going to the Dentist After Stay-at-Home Order Is Lifted. This helpful document was produced by doctors who own practices across the nation and have followed infection control procedures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for years. These practices now are implementing extra steps to protect patients and employees.

Be proactive in communicating your sterilization measures. The OSHA guidelines are essential and effective, however, patients may still be worried. When they arrive for an appointment, you can explain or show your patients what measures you have implemented to keep them safe. This will bolster their trust in you, show your diligence in the care you provide, and increase the credibility of your dental practice. Again, this will pay off when it comes time to place your dental practice for sale.

Define Your Protocols and Train Your Staff

For many of your patients, it will be imperative that they see a smoothly functioning operation to feel at ease. Given that you and your staff are having to modify your office procedures, take the time to specifically delineate what needs to happen for each appointment and train your staff to run the new procedures effectively and efficiently while maintaining a friendly atmosphere. Some things you may want to consider include: 

  • Verbal check-ins for appointments rather than requiring patient contact with touchscreens, keypads, or pens. 
  • Scheduling consistent disinfection throughout the day of your reception area and front-desk, the places that have the most traffic. Also, make sure there is a thorough disinfection occurring after you see your last patient in preparation for the next day.
  • Remove anything from your reception area that people can handle, including magazines, television controls, toys, books, or any beverages.
  • Rearrange your reception area to allow for adequate social distancing. Space out your chairs. Remove some if necessary. 
  • Allow space in your schedule for flexibility, to accommodate social distancing, and to reduce the number of patients in your office at a given time.

These kinds of measures will both help keep you, your staff, and your patients safe and healthy, and will communicate to your staff and your patients that you have their well-being in mind.

Use Social Media to Inform and Educate

Social media is a great way to get the message out to your patients about how you are taking precautions to safeguard their well-being. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to pivot your messaging to focus on building trust and maintaining your reputation. 

Let patients know if you are offering extended office hours or will be open on weekends, or whether you are changing the availability of services to focus on the most critical needs, such as teledentistry options. Also, you can post the safety measures you and your staff are taking to protect patients. You are also advised to consider putting a notice about the safety measures on your website’s homepage and social media channels. 

While doing this, however, be careful to not make it sound like everything is different. Be reassuring about what remains the same. Some suggestions include: 

  • Keep the focus on dentistry, but with a sensitivity to health-related concerns. Let patients know what services you can provide and why your patients can have confidence in their safety while under your care. 
  • Keep your content relevant. Use your channels to promote oral health education along with more general information about infection control. Promote the safety of dental appointments. Provide practical home care tips. Highlight the connection between your patients’ overall health and their oral health.
  • Use social media to keep patients updated to any changes to your office’s procedures, services, and availability. 
  • Be sensitive to current circumstances. It can be helpful to make patients aware of what services you are offering, so they know their options. But if it feels too much like advertising, you may get a negative response. Your messaging should be one of helpfulness and compassion. 

Protect Your Practice 

While this is less directly related to building patient trust, you won’t be able to follow through on that goal if your practice isn’t prepared or isn’t operating effectively. You may need to take some steps to make sure you are in full compliance with the best practices regarding infection control and are ready to adequately provide treatment in a safe environment.

  • Regulations: Be informed about what you can and cannot do under your current local regulations, as well as any national guidance on when and how to safely operate a dental practice. The ADA offers an interactive map detailing current state regulations. Keep in mind that each area is being managed differently and the timeline for expanding the reopening will be different for each state and sometimes for individual cities.
  • Safety: Do not assume that simply because you are allowed to have your office open that it is necessarily safe to do so. Infection rates vary from state to state, county to county, and city to city. Be informed about whether cases in your area are increasing or declining and why. Consider your patient base and staff and how many of them may be vulnerable to infection. Don’t open or expand your services unless you have confidence that you are doing so in a way that can guarantee the safety of everyone who walks through your door. 
  • Supplies: Masks, gloves, disinfectants, and other personal protection equipment are in short supply. Take an inventory of what you have on hand and verify your ability to restock. Train your staff on being careful with how your supplies are used to safeguard against needless waste. Keep a close eye on your supply levels and track how they’re being used. Build up a surplus, if you can responsibly. You don’t want to start seeing patients only to have to shut down again because you were not properly prepared. That will send the wrong message.
  • Staff: Clinicians and employees who are ill, who have been exposed to COVID-19, or who are immunocompromised, may not be able to work for some time. Others may have issues such as lack of childcare. Communicate with your team, verify their availability, and address their concerns compassionately and wisely.

Be Patient

Your goal is to re-establish a successful and thriving practice. If you had one before the pandemic, you will likely have one again, but it will be a gradual process. Don’t try and rush it. There are many areas where we must simply wait and see—supply levels, infection and testing rates, and safety precaution effectiveness, both in terms of not spreading infection, and in terms of creating a functional office setting. Once you have a better handle on those issues, you can consider relaxing restrictions and treating more patients. While it can be inconvenient, in the long run, your patients and staff will appreciate the cautious approach.

The situation is still very fluid. Social distancing and extra precautions may be necessary until a vaccine is available. Because of this, you need to stay flexible in order to be functional.

Do You Have Questions About Listing Your  Dental Practice for Sale? ddsmatch Southwest Has Answers

If you have considered listing your dental practice for sale, we here at ddsmatch Southwest are here to help. You likely have a lot of questions about what a dental practice transition will look like post-COVID, or if they are even possible right now. We are part of a nationwide network that has been actively consulting with dental industry professionals, including dental CPAs, dental attorneys, dental lenders, and other dental practice transition specialists, to keep up-to-date on how the landscape is changing. The good news is that dental practice transitions are still happening, and however difficult change may be, it always comes along with new opportunities. 

If you are considering transitioning your dental practice in the next five years, call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation—it all starts with a conversation.