I believe that dentistry, when practiced at its best, is an entrepreneurial profession. It has always been my dream that every new dentist ends up owning his or her own practice.
Traditionally there have been three ways to go about doing this. You can build a new practice from the ground up, you can buy an existing practice in a brokered deal or you can transition into ownership over the course of a few years while the existing owner transitions out.
Any one of these methods can offer a path to success and each one comes with its own advantages and risks. Itâs no secret that I have spent a good portion of my career counseling dentistsâboth new and retiring dentistsâon how to do a prosperous transition. Thatâs because I have seen the great results that can happen for everyone when taking this kind of systematic, measured approach to transferring ownership.
What are the risks?
The greatest risk of going the transition route for a new dentist is the possibility of entering into an agreement with an owner who isnât in the right position of abundance or who is unable or unwilling to offer the right support to the incoming dentist. However if you make an arrangement with someone who has the capacity to be a generous mentor and you get proper coaching from a third party on executing the details of that arrangement, a transitioned approach can deliver great reliable results.
Think about it.That exiting dentist has probably spent 30 years or more building that practice and figuring out what works and what doesnât. Why wouldnât you want to spend some time absorbing that knowledge before you take over?
Then there is the question of the transfer of goodwill. An older, retiring doctor is likely to have older patients and older staff members who are less inclined to stick around for a change in ownershipâunless you are given the opportunity to become part of the family and earn their trust before taking over complete ownership. There is also less pressure on a young dentist to produce at a high level right out of the gate in order to service a large debt.
Will I be successful after the transition of ownership?
By structuring a buy-in over three to five years, you have the opportunity to build goodwill over time and to really get to know the patients in a low pressure situation. You build strong working ties with the staff. Best of all, you buy yourself time to increase your productivity as you grow under the guidance and mentorship of the established dentist. When the time comes for the final transfer of ownership, you and the practice are ready for each other and the transition is practically guaranteed to succeed.
In my experience, the transitioned approach greatly improves the new dentistâs chances of getting the practice of their dreams. Letâs face it, the most sought-after practicesâthe ones with the best technology, a thriving patient base and a proven capacity for generating growthâare out of reach for most first-time buyers. The only way to get into this kind of practice is to work your way into ownership over time through a process that provides the economic support you need and protects the value of the practice for everyone. It may take a little longer, but in the end youâll be way ahead of others who settled for less just to get their name on the door right away. And three to five years is not too long to wait if it means getting the practice of a lifetime.