Choosing to Acquire a Dental Practice & Not Start One

Here are the top things to keep in mind after choosing to Acquire a Dental Practice & Not Start One

By: Bruce Bryen

So you finally decided to acquire an existing dental practice. There were likely many reasons why you made this decision.

The answer to whether to buy an existing dental practice or start up a dental practice was the constant question that was lived with for almost a year.

The Decision to Acquire a Dental Practice & Not Start One

The location of the practice geographically and the goodwill that remained after the seller left the office still existed.

The infrastructure including the existing staff, ease in finding the facility, and the location of the practice allowed for a stoppage in time spent searching for the correct spot geographically.

Concentrating on the clinical and administrative side of the practice acquisition became the enhancement of the dream. This became a reality right after dental school graduation and working as an associate dentist for another owner.

Letters were sent by the transitioning dentist to all the patients recommending that they stay. The selling dentist remained at the practice for about a month helping with the transition to the new owner.

The new dental practice owner got to meet many of the patients and was able to be involved in some socialization with them. Also, she was able to do some clinical work with them as well. 

Encouraging Existing Patients to Remain at the Practice

The jointly signed letter that went out to all the existing patients and the fact that the selling dentist remained long enough to see many of them and to physically introduce the new owner assisted in easing the transition.

There were many existing patients who could relate to the new owner who was quite a bit younger than the seller.

They were offered the opportunity to comment on what they wanted to see at the practice that may have been different than what they were used to with the selling dentist and his ideas for the office.

Those who listed many ideas that they had in creating more comfort and ease in reaching the new dentist and her office hours and wait time for the patients were favorably listened to by her. Retention of the existing patients and their ideas plus the recruitment of new patients was what was the goal.

Some of the patients hoped for at least a half day on Saturday for office hours and an extension of hours later in the day by an hour or two.

Increasing hours was a major enhancement for a lot of the patients. Many of them worked and could only schedule appointments by taking time off from their jobs. Enhancing the dental practice hours was a major relief for patients. 

Other Thoughts The Patients Wanted to Discuss With the New Dentist

The wait time to see the hygienist or the dentist was another critique that the patients were happy to discuss with the new dentist.

This concept was a major source of concern for the existing patients as well as laying the groundwork for the new patients to schedule their appointments and to be happy about showing up for their appointments and having the guarantee of good service whenever they did appear for an appointment on time.

It was always frustrating for a patient to have to wait for service. That of course, is a way to lose existing patients and to prevent the influx of new patients.

The acquiring dentist should appreciate feedback especially when the selling dentist is ready to leave the practice and travel to another area.

A newsletter and website that would answer questions for the patients was another item that the new dentist was going to institute anyway without even hearing the ideas of the patients. 

Many of the questions that the patients have can be answered by looking at a well-designed and informative website.

Telephone calls don’t have to be made and time does not have to be wasted sitting on hold or not getting the person wanted until a call back comes when the patient may not be available.

A newsletter keeps the practice name and the name of the dentist in front of patients who may offer the newsletter to a friend or family member when one of them is looking for a new dentist.

Once a month is enough time and it keeps the dental practice in front of existing patients.

It is also a good marketing tool for new patients to get a glimpse of what state-of-the-art dentistry is about at the practice where positive occurrences happen.

The important point is that if the acquiring dentist decides to put out a website, it is also important to have the design be a good one. Many dentists hire a professional website design person or team to present the website in the most favorable light. This means spending time with the designer. 

Prioritizing These Dental Patient Requests 

So, which comes first? It is probable that the dentist can only do one thing at a time. Making a list and concentrating on one of the areas is critical.

Multitasking is something that the dentist does not want to attempt since each item once completed may remain as it was finalized while moving on to the next item.

All these things take a lot of time. Nothing should be rushed to where the point under construction must be prepared again because the first attempt doesn’t look right and leaves out too much of what is trying to be conveyed to the existing patient as well as to a potential new patient.

The best advice may be to:

  • Hire a professional website designer and teach that person as much as possible about what the owner of the dental practice wants before the designer begins.
  • Hire a newsletter writer. At least for the first one or the first few should be prepared by a professional writer.

The return on the investment will be good compared to going on the cheap side and having the result look like it.  

Photo by fauxels

Bruce Bryen

Bruce Bryen

Bruce Bryen, CPA/CVA Dental Practice Valuation Analyst, Baratz & Associates, PA