Selling a home can be complicated but selling a business and practice is even more complicated. There’s a ton of logistics and legal paperwork that goes into selling a business or practice, so you’ll likely need all of the guidance you can get. There is no shame in seeking help.
You may be doubting your decision or fearing the future, but transition consultants can help you decide if you are making the right decision or not. They can guide you on all of the proper steps, take a significant portion of the work load, and help you be stress free in this very stressful decision. This is no easy decision and it is definitely no easy process, but it may be time for you to move on, retire, or start something new. Everyone needs guidance and this article is intended to help you start thinking about how you are going to go about this big decision.
Here are some legal tips you should consider before for selling a dental practice:
Get an Appraisal
If you own the property that houses your practice, it is important to get an appraisal before listing it for sale. Though purchasing a practice can be different than purchasing the property, it’s often that you will be selling the property with the practice and for this reason getting an appraisal is critical for knowing how to price your practice as a whole.
An appraisal will give you a realistic idea of what your practice is worth and will often give you negotiation leverage if the buyer is working to negotiate the practice price down than what you are asking for. An appraisal can give you confidence to hold your ground on the price you are asking for.
Even if the buyer walks away from purchasing the practice for this reason, it may be worth waiting for the right buyer to come along. You don’t want to just accept the first offer you get, but you want to get the right offer that reflects your practice and all of the hard work you have put into it. Most likely your practice means so much to you, so you don’t want to take accept the first offer that comes on the table.
Consider Your Assets
When you are selling your practice, you are not just selling your name, brand, patients, and property, but you are also selling your assets and all of the hard work that you have put into growing your practice to where it is today. You are also selling your equipment, tools, computers, and décor. You are also selling your strategies, systems, and management operations. These are critical things to consider when valuing what your practice is worth.
Valuing your practice can be one of the hardest things to do. You’re not just selling a business or practice, but you are selling a culture and reputation. Culture and reputation are arguably more valuable than asset and patients because they are the heartbeat of a business and what helps keep it alive and growing.
Negotiate A Transition Period
If someone is purchasing your practice, it is important that you work out a transition period before you leave the office. This is important because you do not want to be in immediate need of finances or work immediately after the transaction has been made, unless you are retiring. You may want to work out a transition period anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months.
It is also important that you work out a transition period because your dental patients need time to process the change. For business people, sometimes it is simple and straightforward to buy, sell, and move on to the next thing, but for faithful patients who have been coming to a practice for years and are used to a specific dentist may not take the transition well.
After the agreement has been made, it is important that you inform your patients of the change but give them a period of time to say goodbye and accept this change. Most people have a hard time with change, and you must take your patients into consideration when you are making a change this great. Most buyers will not have a problem with a transition for you or your team as a whole.
Another reason to work out a transition period is because it often takes months for lawyers to process the paperwork appropriately. Things never go as smooth as you hope, and there can be disagreements that could allow the agreement to fall through. The last thing you want to happen to is to make the announcement to soon and move out, before everything is 100 percent finalized.
Clarity on the Non-Competes
Selling a practice will often come with a non-compete agreement so that the previous owner of the practice does not decide to open up a brand new practice next door and steal all of the clients back. Unfortunately, this is a thing that actually happens in the world of business. For reasons such as getting out of debt, starting over, or someone who changes their mind.
Clarity on the non-compete can always help headaches down the road if things were to ever get messy or you decide that you want to stay in dentistry. Another reason you may want to clarify things on the non-compete is because you may want to go into the field of dentistry in a different fashion such as education or working in public health and sometimes non-compete agreements can limit things such as this.
Consider Your Current Staff
When one decides to sell their practice, they may negotiate for their staff to keep their jobs for a period of time. This has to be done in writing and done legally, because sometimes a buyer will promise to keep the staff but decide to fire everyone. Most likely the buyer will need your staff, because good experienced staff can be hard to find, but there is always a chance everyone can lose their jobs the moment that the contract is signed. Staff is critical in any transition because it can either ruin lives or better lives. Staff is what keeps the business going smoothly and staff have entrusted you with their lives and their families well-being. This is why it is very important to not forget about your staff when you go into negotiations. They are an important part of the whole process.
The reasoning it is important to work out a deal that keeps your staff working is because patients will still be relying on those relationships. While it can be hard for a patient to receive a new dentist, having the same nurses or receptionist can keep the change and transition digestible for patients who struggle with change.
Consult with your Lawyer
As a dentist your purpose is to be a professional dentist, not a business person. While business experience is crucial for any successful business and dental practice, this may not be your strongest arm. You may be feeling fear or doubt when you have entered into the process of selling your practice, but this is what lawyers are for, and you must utilize them for advice and the legal logistics that come with any major transition such as this. Your number one job is to take care of your staff and your patients. Let the lawyers handle the headache work that is complex. That is why they are paid the big bucks!
A lawyer can help you draft up the contracts, help you with your negotiating language, and help you think through things that you never thought would be involved with selling your dental practice. It is always to consult with a lawyer when it comes to making big moves, and it is always important to consult with transition experts. Leave the hard work with transition and legal experts.
Take a Breath
We know that big moves such as selling your dental practice can bring on stress and anxiety to you, your family, your staff, and your patients. It is important that you take a deep breath and keep calm. The future can be intimidating, and people can become fearful of the unknown. Your staff, your patients, and your family need you.
If you decide it is time to retire or move on to your next venture and walk into the process of selling your practice, contact your lawyers and a transition consultant today. This will allow you to be stress and anxiety free, it will ensure your family that everything is going to be okay, it will give your staff confidence about the future, and it will allow you to see your patients at your full capacity.