Buying and Selling Established Dental Practices

There is a common arc to most dentists’ careers. Early on, younger dentists are working to establish themselves and build their reputation. Older, established dentists are often working toward retirement and leaving their practice. These transition periods can be difficult to navigate, at both ends of the spectrum.

That’s where Dr. Paul Goodman comes in. Paul is an expert in helping dentists smoothly work through these difficult periods, either by helping younger dentists find a fully established practice to buy or by helping older dentists prepare for retirement and selling their practice. Paul recently joined me on the Progressive Dentist Podcast to discuss the challenges and important considerations when looking to buy or sell a dental practice.

During our conversation, Paul discussed the unique concerns and opportunities dentists at either end of their career face, and he offered his sage advice for dentists looking to find opportunities to purchase a dental practice, and for dentists preparing themselves for retirement and looking to leave their practice.

Buying an Existing Practice

For young dentists, buying a practice is a great opportunity for their career to hit the ground running. An established practice will typically already have a team of experienced employees and a patient pool, eliminating much of the challenge starting a brand new practice poses. The challenge here comes from finding a dentist looking to sell and jumping on the opportunity at the right time. In this situation, Paul gave some great tips. One of the key recommendations he made was for younger dentists to begin networking with older, established dentists. Doing the right networking will open doors and present opportunities that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Even after purchasing a practice, there are a lot of things that need to be considered. Dental school does little to prepare a new dentist for the realities of running a business, and the business side of a dental practice is where so many dentists struggle. Paul suggested that young dentists read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, an excellent resource to help new practice owners navigate the sometimes challenging business administration side of their work.

Selling Your Practice and Getting Ready for Retirement

Conversely, older dentists often find themselves ready to retire but are unsure of the steps they need to take to transition themselves out of their practice. The problem is that too often these dentists failed to lay the groundwork for selling their practice and are unsure how to extract themselves from the business.

In this case, it is important to start preparing early. Get your finances in order, begin delegating work to your staff, and begin doing the work to make your practice attractive to potential buyers. Know your numbers, understand your financials, and have clear data about your patient pool ready to show a prospective buyer. Doing this work early will allow you to more smoothly transition out of your business and pass it into new hands, with minimal disruption to the business. A potential buyer will appreciate that you’ve “greased the wheels” ahead of time, and doing so will make it much easier to sell your practice.

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