Whether you are an associate dentist considering purchasing your first practice, an existing practice owner purchasing additional practices or a later career dentist considering selling to the next generation; knowing the following seven things when buying or selling a practice can make a huge difference…
1. General Practice Information
• Ask for a practice profile – an information sheet about the practice, building, employees, office hours, procedures and makeup of the practice.
• Investigate what is going on in the immediate area as far as development or changes.
• Research area demographics, local growth and existing competition.
• Contact the city office that handles development or access the city / county web site to read about the community master plan. This maps the future growth and where it will occur. It lists areas of future development and expected zoning changes. This is an excellent resource for long term potential of any practice.
2. Financial Data
• Request a recent Profit & Loss statement to measure current income and expenses.
• Request a production by department and provider reports to determine where the production is generated.
• Ask for the past 3 years of complete tax data as this is a good reference to establish past performance but the last 12-18 months of data offers more information as to the health of the practice.
• Request a report to determine how many patients were seen in the last 12 to 18 months.
3. Building Lease / Purchase
• Is the office in a setting where it can be expanded if needed instead of having to relocate?
• Is the building lease an assignment to you or will the landlord require a new lease?
• If a new lease – will the terms and costs change?
• Inquire about renewal options for both an assignment and a new lease.
• A minimum lease of 10 years will be required by most lenders but you should also secure as many options as possible to best allow for your future growth plans.
4. Staff / Associates
• Ask for the payroll records to determine what the staff were paid for the last few years and current year. This is helpful to accurately understand the net cash flow if there have been any recent changes.
• If the office manager, associate dentist or any other key staff are new, why did the prior staff leave?
• Determine if there has been any patient erosion since the departure of these key employees.
• Based on the cash flow of the practice, will there be a required payroll change?
• If the cash flow is weak, what options are there to reduce the immediate costs without losing staff?
• If it is known in advance that a reduction in staff will occur determine the potential risk of patient loss.
5. Associate Dentists
• If the seller employs an associate dentist make sure there is an assignable non-compete in place or if the associate will sign a non-compete prior to the closing. This is normally required by a lender to ensure minimum impact on the patients and practice revenue post sale.
6. Procedures and Patient Approach
• Does the seller seem to have a similar philosophy as to patient treatment and procedures?
• Is the office adequately equipped for the procedures you plan to offer and will there be any additional equipment needed and at what cost?
• Will the seller offer you a comfortable transition as you feel is needed to get familiar with the practice operation, systems, patients and staff?
• Is the seller available to provide support for several months after the sale?
• How long is the seller willing to offer assistance or possibly fill in for you after the sale?
There are many factors which come into play when considering purchasing a practice and we encourage you to consult with your team of advisors as you navigate this exciting and stressful process. Please keep in mind that each practice is its own unique entity and offers its own individual opportunities and challenges. We act as a resource for our clients and their team of advisors as they move into practice ownership and this is a great starting point for any potential buyer or seller.