“If you are a general dentist, the last thing you want is for your patients to know that you are looking to retire.”
Recently a dear friend of mine was on “Master Chef.” This was someone who I’ve known for more than 25 years; we even help raise each other’s kids. Although I knew from the beginning that she was in Los Angeles taping “Master Chef,” she could not tell me what happened while she taped the show.
It seemed like forever until the actual season was aired. Each week I would watch intently to see if she made it to the next round or if she got booted off the show. My friend had to keep the outcome of the show confidential, and she could not share with me the most exciting thing going on in her life.
Why do I bring this up to you? Because my friend set a wonderful example: Sometime things just need to be kept confidential. When you are about to embark on the selling of your practice, there’s no reason for everyone, or really anyone, to know what the future holds. If you happen to be a specialist, confidentiality is even more critical.
If you are a general dentist, the last thing you want is for your patients to know that you are looking to retire. If word gets out that you are seeking your replacement, there is a high probability that your patients will also seek a new replacement dentist, and you can also be assured that they won’t refer anyone new to you. If you are an endodontist or other type of specialist, your referrals may think that you will no longer be there for them. If your referrals perceive that there is a chance you will abandon them and just retire, then there is a high probability they will go and find another, or at a minimum an additional, specialist. Obviously, all of these scenarios affect the practice negatively.
How about your staff? The easy thing is to tell them, especially if they have been with you for a while and seem more like family than staff. No matter how trustworthy your staff is, however, the burden of maintaining confidentiality shifts to them if you decide to tell them that the practice is for sale. These people that you care about and who are also the “voice” of your practice now have to ensure that your secret is kept confidential. It’s a lot to ask. Now that you have told someone, who might they tell?
A broker or consultant’s job is to work for you, and one very important role he or she should provide is to protect your confidentiality. This allows all of the advertising for your practice to be handled in a confidential manner. When someone inquiries about your practice, your broker should get a confidentiality agreement before sharing any details about your practice. In addition, he or she can make sure that what you are selling does indeed fit what the potential purchaser is looking for without revealing your identity. This minimizes the amount of people who know your big secret. The fewer people who know your practice is for sale, the better.
Transitions can be stressful times but maintaining confidentiality throughout the process does make the process flow more smoothly. Change is less frightening when you have more information. Wait until you have a potential purchaser and you are moving toward closing to share this highly confidential information with others. It’s a secret worth keeping.
Lisa Radman White is the president of Radman, White & Associates, Inc., a transition firm solely focused on transitioning endodontic practices. She has lectured at the AAE and many of the endodontic residency programs. She is the national endodontic representative for ADS. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (972)386-7222.