Dental practice transition landscape, 2012 and beyond

Jan. 1, 2012
Natural disasters, political campaigns, searing economic news — what else can we possibly use as an excuse to distract us ...

Sarah K. Lynch

Natural disasters, political campaigns, searing economic news — what else can we possibly use as an excuse to distract us from focusing on our personal goals? Some of you may feel stuck in a rut. The simple answer is to redirect your attention and know your energy.

Here is some insight on the transition landscape for your planning purposes. During the last 12 months, transition activity has picked up, at least at our firm, and we are seeing more buyers who are entrepreneur dentists. They have an appetite for acquiring more than one or two practices, are paying decent prices, and in many cases are keeping former owners on as associates until they’re ready to retire. Bank interest rates are low, and should remain this way for the next two years, making acquisitions attractive. Lenders are competing to make loans. What a perfect world. The interest in the business of dentistry is booming, and savvy dentists are expanding their dental enterprises in choice areas.

Doctor, I want you to be successful and enjoy your practice and its rewards, and when you’re ready to transition, to do it right and go out on top. I have had the good fortune of transitioning many doctors who lead fulfilling lives and had fulfilling practices. Many of these doctors did not always feel fulfilled; however, they tuned in to their personal desires and made the decision and commitment to embrace change. Many brought in consultants to help tune up their practices, to flush out old systems and processes that were no longer working. Even more impactful were those who invested training in staff to empower behavioral changes. One of the major stressors we frequently hear about from our clients is managing an easily distracted staff. Recognize that unclear intentions produce unsatisfactory results.

My colleague Liz Lord, a practice management consultant, states, “Many doctors have good people but either they don’t have them in the right spot or they don’t know how to fully utilize their skills. People want to be inspired, to be part of something that is the sum of its parts and greater than any one individual, even the doctor. Leaders need to make the time to learn their staff and what unique talents they have. Everyone should share a common purpose, and then they can design together, as a team, specifically how the ideal practice will be. Pair that with a solid plan of action based upon a comprehensive examination of where your unique opportunities are in your practice, and use proven strategies and tactics to create results. When all this comes together, magic happens. Your team is your No. 1 investment in your practice and you are the primary shareholder. What will you do to ensure that your investment has all the tools and resources necessary to pay out massive dividends? What will it cost you if you don’t?”

Notice whether or not you are on autopilot and gliding through, or whether you’re paying attention to the metrics of your practice. What is your resistance to changing your practice? If your major complaint is “I don’t have time,” then write down five to 10 ways you waste time every day. I guarantee you will find time to do what is truly important if you choose to do it.

The bottom line is, the better your practice is for you, the better it will be for your buyer. There is no better way to build value and enjoy your practice in the process. There are some excellent and qualified professionals in the industry who are ready to guide you to your next achievement.

This may be the best year ever. That is up to you. Have fun and prosper!

Sarah K. Lynch is a partner in Jim Kasper Associates, LLC, a practice brokerage and transition firm serving dentists in the Northeast since 1981. She is coauthor of “Profitable Practice,” and lectures nationally on practice transitions and speaks frequently for state and local dental associations. Sarah can be reached at [email protected] or (888) 419-5590 ext. 603.

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