6 Tips for Finding a Buyer

Tips for Finding a Buyer

Place your dental practice in the right hands

At some point in your career, you may consider selling a portion or all of your dental practice. If you don’t have a buyer already in mind, the act of finding the perfect candidate can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

You may not have an associate in your practice or a doctor you’ve previously worked with to consider as a candidate, but with your life’s work on the line, you want the right individual filling the shoes.

Before you start sending out smoke signals, stock yourself with the proper insight to feel prepared for the road ahead. Take these tips as a starting-off point to your search.

1. Have a Plan

If you’re feeling lost with how to hit the ground running, creating a roadmap of your plan and vision will help guide your decisions and simplify the process.

Ask yourself: What would be your ideal transition? Are you completely ready to retire and want a quick walkaway sale? Do you want to cut back on your workload and bring on a partner? Are you looking to hire an associate with the intention of transitioning to a partnership in the future?

“Think about your goals, what you want and how you picture the transition playing out,” NDP Senior Listing Specialist Catriona MacLachlan said. “The more you’re prepared, the smoother your transition will be.”

Having a plan also requires you to determine your timeline. Are you looking to transition within the next year or within the next five years? Consider how long you can keep doing what you’re doing and if you need a change soon or would like to hold off. Your transition timeline will ultimately affect the sense of urgency, if any at all, and the amount of time you have to fully prepare.

2. Be Financially and Emotionally Ready

While you may think you’re ready to sell, sometimes the financial and emotional components are overlooked.

Take an in-depth look at your financial plan and ask yourself if you can afford to sell a portion or all of your practice. Be prepared for your personal cash flow to decrease during your workback period or when you bring in a partner.

In a partnership, you’ll also want to consider how much revenue you need to bring in to cover the cost of another doctor. Think about their compensation, benefits package, additional build-out, increase in supplies and lab costs, additional staff and any other expenses you wouldn’t have incurred without this doctor’s presence. Ensure you’re financially able to support the total cost of those items.

The emotional piece of selling your practice can be a tough hurdle to overcome. Handing over your practice to an individual also means you’re giving up some form of control, and you have to become familiar with another individual making the decisions. This can be difficult especially for single practice owners who have worked alone for years.

“We often refer to the buyer-seller relationship as a work marriage, whether it be a short-term one during a workback period or a long-term one during a partnership,” NDP financial analyst Matt Doyle said. “For sellers in a walkaway sale situation with a workback period, they’re going to be an employee for that buyer, and there will be a difference with what they bring to the practice post-sale.”

With any dental transition, there are emotions involved. Being cognizant and understanding the emotional implications of a transition upfront will help reduce any discomfort when the emotions come into play.

3. List Your Must-Haves

Take your vision and set the parameters for your search to determine what type of doctor would fit best for you as well as the practice, staff and patients. Consider the candidate’s goals, transition timeline, clinical skills, managerial skills, personality and even their life situation, such as their marriage status and children.

Maybe you need a doctor who’s comfortable raising their kids in a rural location. Perhaps your practice would benefit from a bilingual doctor. Maybe you’re looking for a recent graduate with the mentality and work ethic of a business owner.

Determining your list of must-have qualities for your ideal candidate is meant to guide your search. Just know that setting specific parameters will narrow the pool of candidates, and it could consequently increase the timeframe of finding a buyer.

4. Know That Good Things Take Time

When you’re ready to put your practice on the market, know that it’s often a waiting game.

“A lot of sellers think it’s much easier to find a buyer than it is,” Catriona said. “It’s not as easy as sending out an email and the buyers come flooding. There are challenges even with the perfect location and great financials.”

Various pieces are at play here. Anything from the market’s current state, lending and interest rates to timing of when your practice is listed on the market can factor into how quickly your practice sells.

For instance, buyers tend to show more interest in purchasing practices around June or July because their kids are out of school, and it’s generally a good timeframe to move cities or even states. Meanwhile, there’s typically less interest during October, November and December as several buyers start to focus more on the holidays.

5. Leverage Your Network

Oftentimes, sellers can find a great candidate through mutual connections. Think about the various people you know in the industry, such as doctors, vendors, service providers or dental schools, and communicate your vision and goals to these individuals. This may lead to an introduction with the individual you’re looking for.

It’s also helpful to have a trusted friend or colleague who understands how both you and the candidate operate. They can see how backgrounds and goals align and envision how the relationship may play out. Especially in a partnership, where the relationship is more than a cursory one, a mutual connection can help validate that the doctors can thrive working together.

6. Utilize Your Resources

You don’t have to go alone on your mission to finding your buyer. Fortunately, there are resources you can utilize to do the heavy lifting.

Taking personality, clinical philosophy and your expectations and goals into consideration, NDP’s listing service connects you with the right candidate for your practice. When NDP works for you, we take on the responsibility of marketing your opportunity, screening and vetting candidates as well as facilitating all communication.

In addition to traditional marketing methods, such as email marketing and dental website listings, we leverage our relationships with dental schools, residency programs, key dental leaders, business vendors, dental brokers, national study clubs and dental-specific CPA firms. The primary objective is to find the best match for your practice and your goals.

Reach out to our team today and let us know about your practice opportunity.