SHOULD I BUY THIS PRACTICE? – PART 4
The big question I have been getting is: How do I find these practices with a huge upside? Almost every dentist that has texted, emailed or called, agreed with me on wanting to find a practice with multiple upside benefits. The trick is how to find them and where to look. As a prequal to using my strategy for finding one, be sure you have considered the area or distance from your current practice or where you are willing to live. It would be foolish for a first-time buyer to not live in the community they practice in and it would be equally foolish for a doctor adding a satellite office to make it too far away.
On adding a second location or multiple practice model, make sure you have all reached all of the benchmarks for a Super General Dental Practice, have had success in onboarding and working with another doctor in your current practice, and have a strategy to train staff with the idea of them moving to the next location. Culture, systems, and the esprit-de-corps must follow into the next office.
Certainly, we can check with all of the brokers in the area to see the pricing and availability of practices. My suggestion would to be proactive and search out these opportunities in a target rich environment. 39 states are “open records” states. This means that you as a dentist can go on to your State Board website and look at anyone licensed through the state: doctors, hygienists, and assistants. While we will be talking about securing a new practice, this strategy works equally well to find the perfect assistant, hygienist, or associate. It drastically changes the quality of the candidates that you will get to see. Keep in mind that whether looking for the office to buy or any staff member, it is important that the quality of the office or person be the best you can find. In buying an office, you effectively get in front of the broker and their fee. This should lower the price and make the process go much more smoothly.
Back to the State Board website. Look up the doctor’s section. You will find that it is just a glorified spreadsheet with the doctor’s name, address or location, the year they fist got their license and whether or not it is still active. Knowing this, we can search and sort the spreadsheet by zip code, or licensing date. If you think about it, a target rich environment for finding a practice will probably be in the 55 year old age group and older or from license date about 29 years ago or longer. Since the average graduate is about 26 at graduation we can effectively guess at the age by when the license was issued. While not fool proof, you should be 95% or so accurate.
Once we have the list and you have found the locations you would be willing to work, just craft a letter and send it to them. Make sure the outside is hand addressed with just a return address, not your name. The goal here is to get them to open it. I would even consider an envelope that is not the color of your traditional business mail. With the advent of texts and email, we are seeing that “snail” mail stands out more. It is harder to ignore. The body of the letter should be just the fact that you are moving into the area, you love all forms of dentistry, and you are interested in speaking with them about a partnership or outright purchase of their practice and even the real estate. I would even include a photo at the top of the page, including spouse and/or kids if existing. Put a face to the letter.
You may get several or just a few responses but you never know what you will find. I have had spouses of dentists who are dealing with their death and this letter was an answer to their prayers. You will have doctors contact you that will say they had been thinking about it, but really never pulled the trigger. You just don’t know.
I would be glad to read your letters and make suggestions, but the most difficult thing is to start. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
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