To people who broker dental practices it comes as no surprise how little thought some doctors give to the sale of their practice. Throughout your life there are major decisions that you are confronted with. The sale of your dental practice has to be one of the most important decisions — financially, personally, and professionally — that you will make.
You need to be able to answer the very important question — “Why am I selling my practice?” Are you selling it because you want to retire? Are you selling it because you want to change careers? Are you selling it because you want to relocate to a different part of the city, region, or country? Are you selling it because you are disabled? Are you selling it because you want to work for the buyer? Are you selling part of it because you want a partner? Or, are you selling for some other reason? Whatever the reason is, it will affect how you market the practice, how the terms of the sale will be negotiated, and how successful the sale will be.
As with all things in life, if you can’t write your thoughts down on a sheet of paper, you probably don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish … Share your thoughts with trusted friends …
The clearer you are with regard to knowing why you want to sell your practice, the higher the likelihood that the sale can be completed successfully. As with all things in life, if you can’t write your thoughts down on a sheet of paper, you probably don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t write in generalities, be as specific as possible. Share your thoughts with trusted friends, other doctors who have sold their practice for the same types of reasons that you are selling yours, and professionals who sell dental practices or set up transitions. Listen to what these people tell you.
If you are selling because you want to retire, ask yourself if this is the time to retire and why. Are you financially in a position to retire? What will you do after you retire? If you are selling because you want to retire, ask yourself if this is the time to retire and why. Are you financially in a position to retire? What will you do after you retire? If you are selling because you want to relocate to another part of the city or the country, ask yourself why. Will it help you financially or will there be some disadvantages? Is the move for personal reasons and will those personal reasons be met if you do move? Are you financially in a position to do so?
If you want to sell your practice and work for the buyer, is your practice large enough for both you and the buyer to meet your financial expectations? How will you feel about no longer being in a position of control? How long do you want to work in this relationship?
Once you decide what your expectations are, you need to determine what the expectations of the buyer might be. This will help you determine the profile of the ideal buyer for your practice. Once you sit down to answer all the questions, you will realize that many of the questions are not easy ones to answer. Seek professional help from your accountant, from your financial planner, from a consultant or broker who has done a number of successful sales. These people can help make sure you don’t make costly mistakes that financially, professionally, or personally might make the sale of your practice a time to forget. The magnitude of this decision is such that an error in judgment can affect your happiness and quality of life.
Tom Smeed is founder and president of Healthcare Practice Management, Inc., a dental broker, appraiser and dental practice-management firm. He is one of the founding members and vice president of American Dental Sales. He can be reached at (913) 642-1988. See ADS Classified ads for names and phone numbers of other ADS members.