Five things to think about before selling your dental practice

There could be a number of reasons why you might be considering selling your dental practice: perhaps you’re nearing retirement and thinking about how best to ensure the continuity of your business? Or maybe you’ve become tired of certain elements of running a practice, which seem far removed from the reason you entered the profession in the first place?

Our acquisitions team is often approached by principals, keen for guidance on what they need to know when debating whether to sell their practice. Here’s a run down of their key advice:

  1. Do your research
    Speak to your accountant to check your finances are in order, before starting the process of selling your practice. Contact a lawyer and ask if there are any legal issues with selling, for example whether your lease is secure and has security of tenure. Also, speak to friends, colleagues or peers who have been through the process of selling their dental practice: find out how they went about it, what worked, what didn’t and what they would do differently.

  2. Value
    Consider what you are hoping for in terms of the value of your business, and whether it will help you achieve your own personal financial goals: ask yourself, ‘what do I want to be able to do once I’ve sold the practice?’ For example, are you selling to plan your retirement, or are you looking to release capital and reinvest in other areas?  As a principal dentist it is unlikely that you have been paying yourself an Associate rate of pay; consider what you might potentially earn if you became an Associate in your own practice. You may find that your potential Associate pay rate is similar to the dividend payments you received as the owner – depending how substantial your clinical involvement has been.

  3. When do you want to sell?
    Perhaps you’re planning for retirement and are thinking about an exit strategy, or maybe you’re years away from your planned retirement, but would like to put plans in place early or change the focus of your input in the practice as you approach the next stage of your life? Whatever your preferred timing it is never too early to begin confidential conversations with friends, families and professional contacts.

  4. Post-sale involvement
    Start thinking about the level of involvement you would like to have in your dental practice following its sale; while some will prefer to step away completely, others want to continue working within the practice in some capacity. The answer to this question will determine the type of buyers interested in your practice. If you are keen to stay on with the practice post sale, consider how you view your role going forward: perhaps you’d like to continue as a figurehead of the business with a say in strategy, procedure, development and growth? Or maybe you’d prefer to focus on your dentistry and the patients, leaving elements like administration, marketing and development to someone else.

  5. Legacy
    For many principal dentists, their practice has been a huge part of their professional and personal life. Whether you bought your practice from someone else or started it from scratch, you will have put a lot of time and hard work into growing it and making it a success. So when the time comes to sell it, you need to think hard about its legacy: are you comfortable that a potential buyer – whether an individual or a company – will protect the team you’ve built, your brand, name, patients and everything that has made the practice a success? Is it going to be in safe hands and looked after? Will you continue to feel proud of what you created, even after you sell or retire?

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