Why Every Dentist Needs to Think About a Transition Strategy
Here’s what I know about the philosophy behind dental practice transitions:
- It makes sense for the new dentist. Rather than being given the keys and thrown into a stressful trial and error experience, they get the chance to grow into the role of owner in stages, where their risk is minimized and their chances of success are optimized.
- It makes sense for the exiting dentist. They get to be in an enriching mentorship position. They also get to ease their way into retirement on their own terms, and more importantly, they get full recognition for the value of the practice they’ve spent a lifetime building.
- It makes sense for a busy practice. When a patient base outgrows the capacity of the dentist to serve it, important care gets delayed and growth stalls. A well-timed transition helps a practice fulfill its mandate of providing timely care for all patients.
- It makes sense for the team and the patients. Suddenly turning over a practice to a new leader can be disorienting to the people who work there and the people it serves. A graduated transition makes the process seamless and helps the practice retain staff and patients.
So if the transition model is such a “win” all around, why don’t more dentists do it? I think part of it is because it’s simply outside most people’s comfort zone.
Almost everyone can see that a succession strategy makes sense, but it’s a complex business decision compared to just selling outright. And because so few dentists have the business training to envision this kind of strategy, most don’t think about it all, wait too long, or get caught up on a few details that derail them into thinking it won’t work for them.
I think this is nothing less than a tragedy. If you are even 10 years away from retirement—or anytime you just have more patients than you have capacity—you should be thinking about a transition plan. You owe it to yourself, your team, your patients, and to the legacy you’ve built in the practice.
This is a subject that is very dear to me, because it represents one of the biggest opportunities in dentistry to create value on a large scale for all interested parties. I’ll be getting into more details in future posts.