Choose the right people to be in your corner
Updated on February 21, 2022.
A dental practice transition can feel like a rollercoaster—filled with highs and lows, twists and turns that you don’t see coming. Luckily you don’t have to go alone on this ride. As you gear up for the process of buying or selling a practice, build out a team to help you smoothly navigate the nuances of this journey.
Because dental practices are their own niche within the healthcare industry, with unique characteristics, the ideal situation is to connect with individuals or companies who specialize in the various aspects of dental transitions. When building your team, be mindful of their experience in this type of transition to ensure they are a good fit.
Your Transition Advisor or Broker
An advisor or broker can fulfill many roles on your team, serving as a business Swiss army knife. Typically, this individual will consult you on all aspects of the transition and guide you through the best route that fits your needs. Your advisor or broker should be able to effectively communicate with other members of your team as well as the other party’s team.
This individual should also have a comprehensive understanding of appraisal methods as well as knowledge of legal and tax implications of various sale structures. With the right qualifications, your transition advisor or broker can help value a practice, understand the current cash flows of the opportunity and show estimates of the potential cash flows based on the practice’s historical financials.
If your advisor or broker holds specialized certifications, similar to how NDP’s team consists of Certified Public Accountants and Certified Valuation Analysts, this can encourage stronger collaboration with your accountant or financial planner. Overall, this role can wear many hats to keep your best interests in mind, so finding one with these additional qualifications can be a big advantage.
Buyers and sellers will likely maintain their respective legal representation before, during and after the transition. Your attorney drafts, negotiates and exchanges the legal documents defining the terms of your transition. Because practice transitions are a rather extensive process, the legal documentation can prove equally extensive with highly verbose language. How terms are defined will undoubtedly impact the transition and what happens after closing should issues arise.
As the attorney’s primary responsibility is to protect their client’s interests, be cognizant of the relationship between you and your counterpart during the legal negotiation process. While a good attorney should ensure they don’t mess up a deal in negotiations, an attorney playing “hardball” can easily sabotage your relationship with your buyer/seller and bring what was an agreeable situation to a screeching halt.
It’s also important to understand that you often don’t need to involve an attorney until both parties have reached a set of terms via their transition advisor or broker. Sometimes getting attorneys involved too early can be costly and cause the deal to take longer than necessary.
From a seller’s perspective, your accountant will assist you in determining the overall financial health of a practice as you prepare to transition. This might mean gaining an understanding of your overhead or discretionary cash flows to see how a sale would impact your long-term financial goals. If the numbers are less than favorable, you will still gain valuable insight regarding how to improve the practice’s financial health and prepare for a future sale.
For buyers, having a strong accountant post-closing will be critical in devising and maintaining systems for your books during your ownership. Without a strong command of your numbers, it’s near impossible to maximize the value of your practice or fully understand its worth. A good accountant will deliver monthly financials, providing you with the proper data to make your practice as efficient as possible. In addition, your accountant can serve as a lifeline during tax season and advise you about the tax implications following certain business decisions.
Most people utilize the same accountant for their financial reporting and taxes, but it’s not a requirement. If you use two different individuals or firms, make sure they are communicating and on the same page. A financial planner, which we discuss below, can also communicate to all members of your financial team, ensuring they’re on the same page.
Your Financial Planner
While you may think your accountant and financial planners have similar roles, financial planning often has its own place on your team. Think of your financial planner as your personal Chief Financial Officer.
This individual can play a critical role in ensuring the cash flows from the practice—your greatest financial asset—are used wisely and that your tax and retirement planning is proactive rather than reactive. Especially for doctors entering ownership, it’s critical to be mindful of future plans, entry and exit strategies and retirement intentions. These matters frequently go overlooked.
NDP’s affiliate company, Cain Watters & Associates (CWA), offers financial planning specifically for dental practices. With their expertise and comprehensive financial services, CWA can be an incredible asset to your team.
Align your team with your objectives
When choosing your team, it’s important they have a clear understanding of your priorities and intentions as a buyer or seller. Ultimately, the team you surround yourself with is a reflection of you.
A smooth transition is key to starting or closing out a professional chapter in your life, and your team can play a significant role in the success or failure of your transition. If you’re interested in adding NDP to your transition team, contact us today.