When it is time to retire, most dentists who own a practice experience a single transition. But there are many exceptions. In Part 1, I addressed four important items that are sometimes subtle, yet always vital in dental practice transitions. I addressed the importance of starting early, developing a trusted transition team, getting a certified practice valuation early to find ways to increase the enterprise value of your practice before you sell, and the ongoing interviewing process/due diligence to ensure peace of mind. These following three items are not exhaustive, but will help you establish a firm foundation for a solid transition action plan as you approach your personal practice exit strategy.
READ PART I:Dental Practice Transitions: 7 important considerations for your retirement goals: Part 1
5) Set weekly and monthly goals — You have perhaps heard the adage, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” While planning may not be one of your weak points, there may be a few ways to adjust your planning strategies to make them more effective. What is most important to you now is ensuring a smooth and profitable transition to capitalize on your life's work while ensuring a sustainable and comfortable lifestyle for your future. Track your progress and plans on a month-to-month basis, setting small and well-informed goals and using a calendar, while turning to your team of counselors for insight, leverage, and accountability.
This may seem very basic, but relying on basics is what has often carried you through the challenging times in your career when other variables were unpredictable. Working backwards from a planned retirement date instead of forward can help some dentists plan more effectively because it can be easier to establish realistic benchmarks. This will help you have plenty of time to handle complex financial transactions, tax issues, legalities, contracts, and other matters that will require your time and expertise. Also, inquire at least monthly with your team of experts so that they can give you realistic timeframes for handling these necessary transition tasks. Your dental transition consultants will be able to give you realistic goals and timeframes for most of the tasks you’ll need to accomplish to reach your goal successfully, while still maintaining your day-to-day responsibilities.
6) Schedule regular down time — One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen many dentists face is in allowing themselves down time and even mini-vacations in the midst of challenging business circumstances. The majority of dentists tend to obsess and overwork when faced with major challenges. While planning your transition well ahead of time (two to three years minimum), you will want to maintain your sanity so that you can enjoy the rest of your life, and so that your loved ones can enjoy you. For many reasons, the dental professional community seems to place a lot of unnecessary professional and social stresses on dentists (along with the stresses faced daily on the job). This adds to the fact that dentists are some of the highest-rated professionals at risk for heart attacks, divorce, and other stress-related tragedies. It is important to allow your friends and relatives to encourage you to take regular breaks and get your mind off the business of dentistry. Your quality of life depends on it, as well as the quality of life for those who work with you and are close to you.
CONSIDER READING: A few things to think about before starting a retirement plan
7) Trust is a 2-way street — Now that you’ve set a foundation of proper counsel and relationships to guide you through this process . . . trust them. Trust the experts to do what they do best, and trust your colleagues and family to be honest with you. Your due diligence will pay off, but you will have to trust those you’ve appointed to do their job. Setting a calendar of benchmarks, allowing close relationships to give feedback, and maintaining your own honesty and transparency with this team all requires trust. Be aware of how you interact and the tone you use when you ask questions of these people. Oftentimes, your tone or the wording of your question may convey a sense of mistrust, even if the tone is because of a different event altogether. Perhaps you had a tough day or are facing some health or personal challenges, but try your best to convey trust and let your team know you’re counting on their truth and consistency. Do your part, schedule in true breaks and relaxation, and move toward your new lifestyle after dentistry. Trust those you have appointed to serve you so that you will receive your reward in peace and good health.
Aaron Schulman is an Advisory Board Member for 5th Avenue Acquisitions and Venture Capitalists, specializing in dental practice transitions and valuations. He has worked as a business adviser and strategist for years, a number of them with dentists and dental professionals. You can access more of their resources at 5thaavc.com.