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Saturday, November 6th, 2021 | by Christine Elliott

If something happened to you, who would know the value of your practice?


Do you know the value of your dental practice if something were to happen to you?

It’s important to know the value of your dental practice. We are emerging from the most surreal time that we are likely to ever encounter in our lifetime. All of us have paused to reflect on what has happened and what to expect next. For many of us, it has been the unexpected deaths of loved ones. The dental profession has been touched by these losses as well.

The core of a dental practice is the dentist. So, what happens when the owner dentist is no longer able to operate their practice? Patients are not being seen and treated, and what was once a thriving practice can quickly become merely a closed office.

Have you given much thought to how your loss would affect your survivors? If something happened to you tomorrow, would your loved ones be prepared to take the appropriate steps to efficiently and quickly sell your practice for its highest value?

Plan for the future

Knowing the value of your practice is not only essential for planning your practice sale and retirement, but also for estate planning, and most critically for being prepared in the event of a death or disability of the owner.

Valuing your dental practice for the first time.

Having your practice valued for the first time will be a daunting task. The amount of information that is needed for a professional valuation is considerable. You will be gathering tax returns, profit and loss statements, equipment lists, employee information, insurance plan details and much more information about your practice. It is literally a cone beam analysis of your practice. Also, this information will be required to market the practice most effectively by buyers, their advisors and lenders in order to be able to bring a sale to its conclusion.

Know the most current practice valuation

In the event of an unexpected loss of an owner dentist, if there is not a current valuation, at least within the calendar year or preferably semi-annually, this critical process must be accomplished by survivors who don’t know what to look for, where to look or who to call for help. Their attention is focused on grieving and making arrangements, so it’s no wonder many valuable dental practices are sold at fire sale prices, if at all!

I recently had this exact situation happen when the surviving spouse reached out to me, not knowing what to do. Another dentist in the area offered her what she felt was a ridiculous price for her husband’s practice. She had no idea what the practice should be worth, much less what the gross collections were. Know your the value of your practice by keeping up with a checklist.In addition, the practice had been closed due to the loss for weeks with no plan in place to re-open and the employees had already found other employment. As it turns out, the offer she received was actually a decent offer, due to the current status of the practice. If her husband had a valuation performed and updated yearly, and provided a contact to sell the practice, search for locum tenens dentists, and market the practice broadly, the outcome would have been much better for her.

“Free Appraisals”

Some practice transition consultants will offer a “Free Appraisal” or “Free Valuation” of dental practices. This is most likely an Opinion of Value based on a Rule of Thumb method rather than an actual valuation. To know the value of your dental practice, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

The Rule of Thumb valuation methods

To arrive at a value, a Rule of Thumb uses limited information accomplished my multiplying the gross revenues by an arbitrary percentage. “The practice is worth 70 percent of gross revenue,” or “The practice is worth one times net income,” are the most prevalent rules of thumb. Neither of these methods accurately reflect the worth of any practice, much less all practices.

A dental practice valuation is based on a great deal of extensive practice information and is presented in a professionally written report.

Prioritize Getting a Professional Practice Valuation Annually.

When you reflect on Who am I, really?, What worries me most about the future?, or What matters most in my life?, as uncomfortable as it is, reflect on What would happen if all of a sudden I am not here? Get a professional valuation performed by a professional transition specialist and have it updated at least annually. Having all of this information on hand and instantly available will relieve your survivors of a tremendous amount of stress and frustration.


About the Author

Christine Elliott

Christine Elliott is a Licensed Real Estate Broker specializing in dental practice transitions. Christine worked for over twenty years in the financial industry after graduating from Florida State University. She has held positions ranging from Investor Support Services Manager to Vice President in the Capital Markets division of JP Morgan Chase. With her transition experience and access to over 38 years of experience, Ms. Elliott is experienced in all aspects of transition management and possesses strong communication, problem solving and decision-making skills.

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