My father, Joseph Salierno, DDS, retired in late 2018, and it was a somewhat complicated transition. He owned two orthodontic practices and the real estate with his partner. One practice would go to a local group; the other would go to his partner, who didn’t want to hang up his spurs just yet.
My dad has always been an energetic man whose hands were never idle for long, so I wondered how retirement would suit him. Could he handle not running from chair to chair tweaking wires every few minutes? Would he drive my mother crazy at home? Only time would tell.
But a little over a year later, the unpredictable happened: a global pandemic shut dentistry down. My dad, always the thoughtful planner, had to admit that the timing of his practice transition was extraordinarily lucky.
Not everyone in his generation has been as fortunate. At the time of this writing, we do not yet have hard statistics about the number of dentists who have had to accelerate their retirement due to COVID-19. However, there have been numerous anecdotal reports of such a phenomenon, and it certainly makes sense. Dentists without a clear exit strategy and who had been seeing declining revenue for the past few years could look at the coronavirus crisis as the final straw. Dentists who have lost the thrill of private practice could have looked at PPP and EIDL applications, new PPE requirements, and the prospect of furloughing their teams and just said, “Enough is enough.” Some practices closed in March, never to reopen, while others quietly sold their charts and other assets.
And what of the seasoned practice owners who do have exit strategies and are thrilled to still be in the game? Some practice transition experts believe the valuation of dental practices may be negatively affected if dentists are looking to sell in the next few years. In this issue, we’ve invited some of those thought leaders to share their perspectives and to help us navigate the choppy waters.
Dad adapted to retirement just fine. He misses his team and his patients, but he was ready to ride off into the sunset. Selling a practice is about more than just getting the most money possible out of a transaction. It’s about moving on to the next chapter of your life. It’s about legacy.