Rodericks Dental’s Rebecca Bird explains how selling your practice can make everyone’s future brighter
As a dental practice owner, selling may have always been your long-term plan. Alternatively, a change in circumstances, or seeing how a colleague has steered their business down this path – and is now thriving as a result – may have given you food for thought.
Whatever your goals and regardless of what you want to do next, selling a practice is a huge emotional undertaking. You will have poured years of blood, sweat and tears into the business and will, understandably, want your legacy to be fitting. Even the thought of the transition to a new ownership may give you serious concerns about the impact on your staff and patients; that they will be treated well, before, during and after and will not feel betrayed by your decision are all crucial.
Even in the current economic climate – with uncertainty hanging over many small/medium-sized businesses – there is still a demand for all types of dental practices. In the right location, with good planning, selling could be a positive step that breathes life into the business and benefits the people who work there and the patients they treat in many ways. Reconciling your decision to sell with the potential impact this will have on others should not be a source of emotional stress. There are so many things to take into account when selling, but emotional reasons should not be what are holding you back.
Leading up to the sale, you will need the entire dental team to be on their game. A good, reliable team will help you to get the best price and achieve a smooth transition. To maximise your practice’s value, its reputation for providing high-quality treatment and customer care should be second-to-none – and this means hard work. This is only possible with a committed, inspired and happy team and you will need any buyer to recognise it as the backbone of the practice.
When the time is right
Rumours of an impending acquisition can make people feel vulnerable. Every practice is unique and how you approach your team (and when) is a matter for every owner to decide for themselves. An open and communicative strategy is essential when the time is right.
You may also have concerns about your patients. Patient loyalty is a more elusive concept than it was in the past and consolidating and growing a patient base is a concern for every practice, large or small. You came into dentistry to support your patients – you don’t want to let them down by allowing them to think that standards will be compromised when the business changes hands. Even worse than going to a competitor is them not attending at all, for fear that their regular dentist is going to leave, or that it will be harder to book an appointment.
The problem is we are dealing with human nature – no matter how many times you tell people nothing is going to change and they won’t be affected by the sale, they may choose not to believe you! This is especially true if there have been years without any disruption to the status quo. The emotional impact of selling a practice is something that you might not have signed up to when you made your decision and the force of it could take you by surprise.
How to begin? Manage information properly. Not enough or too much information can be equally problematic, so keep staff and patients in the loop about your plans at an appropriate level. Let your team know the positives that can come from going through an acquisition and that you intend to manage the process with care, preserving the unique character of the practice and helping take it to new heights. If you are selling to a corporate that recognises the importance of home-grown talent, staff should know that they will receive opportunities for training and career progression that may have previously been out of reach. Tell patients how they will benefit from increased service provision, a continued high standard of care and an enhanced experience.
For the best outcome, selling to a buyer committed to the same ethics, values and intentions as your practice is vital. Rodericks Dental is experienced in acquisitions, as well as being dedicated to excellent patient care and meeting the needs of its professionals. The team offers completion in as little as 12 weeks, can visit the practice outside of normal opening hours, and will contribute towards legal costs when a recommended dental representative is used.
Selling anything that you have loved and poured energy into will always have an emotional impact. But selling your practice is not just about you going on to bigger and better things. By building on what has already been achieved, the right sale can also help your staff and your patients step into a brighter future.
For more information, visit www.sellyourdentalpractice.net
Rebecca is the Acquisitions & Tender Coordinator for Rodericks Dental. She graduated from The University of York in 2010 and began working for Rodericks Dental in 2015. Available to help with legal enquiries and advice on how to inform your staff of the sale, Rebecca is here to provide help with every aspect of a practice sale, supporting a smooth and stress-free transition.