Eric Stavoe, DDS
"That was easy, Doctor." Debra was my last patient of the morning. We had just finished prepping a couple of crowns, taking impressions, and making temporaries. She was right; it was easy, and at this point in my career, it should be easy. Like most of the procedures, I do every day, I have repeated them thousands of times. Debra wasn't there for all of the previous procedures; nor was she there for the hundreds of hours of continuing education that had made it easy for her today.
We hone our skills through the years, making even the most difficult procedure appear easy. We also assess each patient and procedure to minimize the possibility of exceeding our professional limitations. The most successful practitioners realize it is better for both the patient and doctor to refer out some procedures to those with more expertise. Throughout our careers, we seek the advice of mentors with skill and experience (Pankey, Spear, Kois, Pride, to name a few).
Similar preparation is necessary as you plan for retirement and the transition of your practice. Now that your professional and financial goals are met, which experts will you call upon to assist you in transitioning into retirement? Who will make it easy on you?
I've met with doctors who started down the road to transitioning their practices on their own. While some are successful, I have assisted many doctors in the 11th hour of their chaotic sale, and even more who hit roadblocks that resulted in failed transitions. After interviewing the doctors, I realized many of these transitions could have been much easier and many could have been saved with sound advice from an experienced broker.
I recently met with a very successful doctor who "sold" his practice. Everything seemed to be ready: there was agreement on price and conditions, date of sale was set, the contract was signed, the doctor even had his retirement party! However, the doctor was in a space-sharing arrangement and some major equipment was co-owned (compressor, vacuum, panoramic machine). The space-sharing doctor refused to allow a lender's lien on co-owned equipment on the small chance that the buyer might default and the lender repossess the equipment. The sale fell apart, and the buyer has since purchased another practice. This sale could have been saved by setting up an escrow account with a portion of the purchase price that guaranteed replacement of equipment in the event of default.
The best way to minimize the chance of a tumultuous sale is to list with a seasoned broker who has a great team. There is no substitute for experience, someone who has been down the road dozens of times and knows where the potholes are and how to avoid them before the sale becomes derailed. The process may appear easy, but the seller and buyer are generally unaware of any issues that are resolved before they impede the transition of the practice. Every sale is different, with its own unique set of pitfalls. In the end, it is essential to dot all the i's and cross all the t's.
The more resources available to you during a transition, the better. Brokers that are members of large organizations, such as ADS Dental Transitions, have a decided advantage. Their teams include the experience of dozens of brokers who have centuries of combined transitioning experience. If a unique and challenging circumstance develops, your broker can tap into the experience of any of the brokers in the ADS Transitions network to get the problem solved and the transition done.
Eric Stavoe, DDS, has been practicing dentistry for 30 years. At the end of his clinical day, his gloves come off and his dental consulting hat goes on. Dr. Stavoe joined forces with Western Practice Sales and ADS Transitions in 2004. Contact him at email@example.com or 888-419-5590 ext. 602.