Avoid the "No, but ..." trap

Feb. 1, 2003
Now that you have decided to buy your own practice, beware of the first major pitfall. I call it the "No, but ..." trap.

Dr. Michael Gradeless

Now that you have decided to buy your own practice, beware of the first major pitfall. I call it the "No, but ..." trap. As soon the word gets out that you are going to spend some money on a dental practice, everybody is going to try to sell you something. Practice brokers will have the perfect opportunity for you — so exceptional that of course the price is 100 percent of the yearly production. Dental equipment manufacturers have the perfect new technology that a savvy young doctor such as yourself absolutely should not practice without. And, of course, lenders have the perfect loan package for you.

Now, a high-priced practice may be a great deal. Technology can increase your profits, and lenders really try to put together a good loan package for you. The real question is — are these opportunities right for you? When you answer "No, but it's a really good deal," you've fallen into the "No, but ..." trap.

Recently, a new graduate consulted me about a practice opportunity he had found. The practice was for sale for an asking price of $8,000. I asked him, "Is this the type of practice you want to have?" He replied, "No, but it's only $8,000." I.then asked,"Can you build this into the practice you want?" His response? "No, but I can make some money off of this." This was the worst case of "No, but ..." I have ever seen!

If you want to avoid this trap and take the step towards practice ownership, you must develop a mission and philosophy statement. Your mission statement will be the opening segment of your formal business plan. This document will not only help you arrange financing for your project, but it also will inspire you and give you direction. Acquiring a dental practice is the true beginning of your life's work. Something so monumental requires a roadmap.

The mission and philosophy statements are two separate documents. The mission statement is two or three sentences that define your loftiest aspirations, and should contain phrases such as "The finest dental implant practice in the world," or "exceptional technical skill." If you make your mission a compelling inspirational force to you, your employees, and your patients, you will ultimately achieve incredible success.

The philosophy statement describes how you will achieve your mission. It should describe your personal views on how your dental practice will be run. Your mission statement should be visible to everyone, while your philosophy statement should strictly be for you and your staff. Determine your philosophy about such things as continuing education, new technology and innovative procedures, and what your ideal patient and target market will look like. Clarify your thoughts on fees and how they relate to staff pay and office furnishings and equipment. When you take the time to articulate your philosophy before you begin searching for a new practice, you can avoid buying a practice that will not support your long-term goals.

Dr. Michael Gradeless, a 1980 graduate of Indiana University, practices preventive dentistry with an emphasis on cosmetics and implants in Indianapolis. He is an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University and lectures at Marquette University School of Dentistry where he teaches the Pride Institute university curriculum of dental management. He is also the editor for the Indiana Dental Association Journal. Contact him at (317) 841-3130 or email [email protected].

Action Agenda Write a mission statement. Use one of these kick-off phrases:
We believe that...
Our practice is committed to...
Our mission is...
Write your philosophy. It may be helpful to think about some of these questions: Where do you want to live? What part of the country? Small town, big city, or rural? What areas of dentistry do you enjoy the most/least? (endodontics, periodontics, oral surgery, pediatrics, or prosthodontics.) Describe your ideal patients and how they will be attracted to your office.These ideas are only suggestions to get you started. But all new dentists should develop an awe-inspiring and compelling vision — because only those who risk going too far will ever find out how far they can go.

Sponsored Recommendations

Clinical Study: OraCare Reduced Probing Depths 4450% Better than Brushing Alone

Good oral hygiene is essential to preserving gum health. In this study the improvements seen were statistically superior at reducing pocket depth than brushing alone (control ...

Clincial Study: OraCare Proven to Improve Gingival Health by 604% in just a 6 Week Period

A new clinical study reveals how OraCare showed improvement in the whole mouth as bleeding, plaque reduction, interproximal sites, and probing depths were all evaluated. All areas...

Chlorine Dioxide Efficacy Against Pathogens and How it Compares to Chlorhexidine

Explore our library of studies to learn about the historical application of chlorine dioxide, efficacy against pathogens, how it compares to chlorhexidine and more.

Enhancing Your Practice Growth with Chairside Milling

When practice growth and predictability matter...Get more output with less input discover chairside milling.