Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 09 Merge 1

Want more new patients? What dentist doesn't? What 'senior' dentists might be selling?

Sept. 28, 2016
Thinking about expanding your practice? New patients always help. One way to find those new patients is to find out which "senior" dentists are preparing to retire and sell their practices. Do your research and be the first in line.

Thinking about expanding your practice? New patients always help. One way to find those new patients is to find out which "senior" dentists are preparing to retire and sell their practices. Do your research and be the first in line.

Many experienced dentists who had planned to retire during the past eight years decided against it after the economic fall of 2008. They continued to practice, realizing that dentistry provides a steady income and good lifestyle.

Now these senior doctors are able to rethink their plans and their practices are coming up on the market. Your job is to be first in line when a practice goes on the market. How do you do that? Call all the dentists within a reasonable radius who fit the description of “senior.”

You may throw up your hands and say, “Too much work,” or “This won’t work,” or “I don’t know how to proceed so I'll just do nothing.” Someone is going to buy that practice. Why not you? Quit allowing the “how” to stop your dreams of 30 or more new patients a month.

Every dentist wants new patients. Every merger is different. But you can actually purchase a practice bigger than yours, and perhaps the space is better than yours, and you can take over the lease. Patients are creatures of habit. To purchase another dentist’s practice is a no-brainer because these are good patients who regularly seek care. Every patient in a merged practice is new to you.

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But remember that if you find a bigger practice, this does not necessarily double your practice. Just as in your practice, there will hygiene patients who are not solidly committed to their care. Give them a chance or two, but let the less-than-enthusiastic hygiene patients float away.

Now, make the decision to find a practice. Make that decision known to a broker, your neighboring dentists, your lab tech, and your dental supplier. Get the word out that you are seriously interested. You're not obligated to anything at this point. You can always say no. Each practice possibility deserves your inquiry. If you do implants, a small denture practice would be terrific. If you are fee-for-service, you'll want to look for a practice with low insurance usage. If you take all insurances, do you want to continue to do so?

You need someone in the field who can help you evaluate a practice. You need tax returns for two years. Do not allow the seller to neglect this important part. Look at the new patient flow. Does the doctor receive a majority of patients from something you could not duplicate, such as friends or relatives sending patients for a particular treatment? Are there treatments the selling doctor does that you could learn, such as IV sedation?

Many buyers feel they need all the information before they sign a letter of intent. A letter of intent is a signal you are serious, and during the time between the intent and actual purchase, you can do your due diligence. The letter of intent takes the practice off the market while you research. There is competition for buying the practice. Do research after you sign a letter of intent. You might find discrepancies that mean you no longer want the practice. But if the practice has real potential, sign a letter of intent.

Then call someone to help you evaluate this practice. Brokers like to list and sell practices. They are numbers people, so it is up to you to decide if this is the right practice for you. Practices are selling in competitive areas for two times net. But some selling doctors are more concerned about the purchasing dentist’s abilities and sense of care rather than the money.

We've helped hundreds of dentists enlarge their practices through mergers. Call us when you have the numbers, tax returns, and practice information, and we'll help you decide if it's the right practice for you.

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Drs. Christina and Bill Blatchford, America’s dental business coaches, just published No Nonsense Transitions to help guide dentists into a successful merger or sale. Watch Mornings With Blatchford on YouTube, and contact us, (888) 977-4600, or [email protected].