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Dental Practice Mergers: What You Need to Know

Merging your dental practice with another practice often sounds good on paper. Theoretically, it will reduce competition, grow your patient base and production numbers, and improve your bottom line. In reality, though, not all mergers are the right choice. Like any major business transaction, it is important to think through whether it is right for your practice at this time and what you will need to do to make it successful. Here is what you need to know.

Due Diligence

Once you find a practice you like, it is time to perform your due diligence. Analyze the details of each practice, from philosophy of care to operational details to software and technology. If the two practices are wildly different, consider the possibility that it simply isn’t a good match. If you decide to go ahead with the merger, sit down with the owner of the other practice to develop a new business plan that keeps the best of each practice while developing new methodologies that work well for both practices.

Identity and Branding

One of the most important aspects of a successful merger is the development of a cohesive new brand. Remember that each practice has been following a singular vision for a long time, but it is now time to create a new, shared vision. Involve both practice teams as much as possible to help them feel like part of the whole.

Communication

During a merger, many employees become nervous and the rumor mill heats up. Keep morale high by keeping your team informed. Explain the benefits of the merger, both for your practice and for them as individuals. Ask for their opinions and contributions, and let them know what you need from them. Keep them posted as to the progression of the merger and discuss how things will change at every step.

Collaboration

It is only natural for team members from each practice to feel loyalty to that practice, but this can quickly spiral into an “us vs. them” environment. Focus on building a culture of engagement by bringing both teams together frequently in a mix of meetings and teambuilding activities. Work with the other practice owner to reassure team members that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that everyone is working together for the same shared vision.

Preparing for New Patients

A top benefit of a merger is an influx of new patients, but if you aren’t prepared for them, it may feel like a curse rather than a blessing. Develop a plan based on forecasts, but remain agile and ready to make changes on the fly. Get your team members involved in the planning rather than springing such new changes as extended hours on them without warning.

A merger can be an excellent choice for your dental practice, but it can quickly go south if you do not take the proper steps. Start by ensuring that the specific merger is truly right for your practice, and then work hard to make the transition as seamless as possible for everyone involved.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

How to Beat Burnout in Your Dental Practice

No matter how much you love dentistry, burning out when running your own practice is not uncommon. Problems unrelated to actual dental care, from staff turnover to low patient retention rates, can make you wish you could just sell your practice and work for someone else. While this is always an option, especially as corporate dentistry becomes more and more common, don’t take such a drastic step right away. In many cases, following a few simple tips can make you fall in love with your practice all over again.

Be the Leader

It is easy to get dragged down by the many responsibilities of being a business owner, but it can also be fun. Take this opportunity to think through how you can better empower your team members. Shift your focus to creating helpful tools, such as detailed job descriptions and transparent performance measurements. It’s a bit creative, and once these measures are in place, you will find that your staff is happier, more focused, and more motivated. Their improved mood can raise your own spirits. For a quick boost, you could even take your team out to celebrate putting the new measures in place.

Focus on Hygiene

Hygiene appointments are a win-win for both you and your patients. They are highly profitable, but they also help patients avoid expensive and uncomfortable treatments down the line. If your hygiene production has slipped, find out why. Most problems with hygiene production can be fixed relatively easily.

Make sure your scheduling coordinator is maximizing the hygiene schedule. Be sure your team is following up with reminders two days in advance, and determine whether your patients prefer reminders by email, text, or phone. You could also add online scheduling to the mix, allowing patients without an existing appointment to simply schedule their own.

Double down on patient education. They are less likely to cancel last-minute or no-show if they truly understand the value of hygiene appointments. After each appointment, provide the patient with a written summary that details what you did, what products you sent them home with, areas to pay special attention to between visits, and the date and time of their next appointment. Seeing everything in written format will reduce the likelihood of skipping the next visit.

Evaluate Your Treatment Presentation

Did you know that how you present treatment recommendations can have a huge impact on whether patients accept them? The most effective way of presenting recommendations is to move from the treatment room to a comfortable, quiet, private conference room. Patients need the time and space to digest the information and ask questions. If your schedule does not allow enough time, consider hiring a treatment coordinator whose only job is to help patients work through their treatment options.

Also refine the actual treatment pitch. Perhaps you or your team members are making assumptions about how much patients are willing to pay, presenting necessary treatments in a way that makes them sound like they can be put off, or otherwise giving patients a reason to say no instead of yes. Make sure each patient is thoroughly educated about his or her condition, all available options, and the consequences of refusing or delaying treatment, but present this material in a way that does not sound too “salesy” or high-pressure.

Invest in Continuing Education

Carving out a few days to learn some new skills can help you relax, recharge, and remember what you love about being a dentist. You will then be able to bring your new knowledge back to your practice, offering new services or better processes that will bring value to your existing patients and even help you draw in new ones. This can help boost your revenues and meet your production goals, removing some of the stress that led to your burnout.

Running a business is not easy, and many dentists start to feel burned out and run down by the administrative side of their practice. Fortunately, getting yourself back on track may be a simple matter of redirecting your thinking and implementing a few tweaks.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at

No matter how much you love dentistry, burning out when running your own practice is not uncommon. Problems unrelated to actual dental care, from staff turnover to low patient retention rates, can make you wish you could just sell your practice and work for someone else. While this is always an option, especially as corporate dentistry becomes more and more common, don’t take such a drastic step right away. In many cases, following a few simple tips can make you fall in love with your practice all over again.

Be the Leader

It is easy to get dragged down by the many responsibilities of being a business owner, but it can also be fun. Take this opportunity to think through how you can better empower your team members. Shift your focus to creating helpful tools, such as detailed job descriptions and transparent performance measurements. It’s a bit creative, and once these measures are in place, you will find that your staff is happier, more focused, and more motivated. Their improved mood can raise your own spirits. For a quick boost, you could even take your team out to celebrate putting the new measures in place.

Focus on Hygiene

Hygiene appointments are a win-win for both you and your patients. They are highly profitable, but they also help patients avoid expensive and uncomfortable treatments down the line. If your hygiene production has slipped, find out why. Most problems with hygiene production can be fixed relatively easily.

Make sure your scheduling coordinator is maximizing the hygiene schedule. Be sure your team is following up with reminders two days in advance, and determine whether your patients prefer reminders by email, text, or phone. You could also add online scheduling to the mix, allowing patients without an existing appointment to simply schedule their own.

Double down on patient education. They are less likely to cancel last-minute or no-show if they truly understand the value of hygiene appointments. After each appointment, provide the patient with a written summary that details what you did, what products you sent them home with, areas to pay special attention to between visits, and the date and time of their next appointment. Seeing everything in written format will reduce the likelihood of skipping the next visit.

Evaluate Your Treatment Presentation

Did you know that how you present treatment recommendations can have a huge impact on whether patients accept them? The most effective way of presenting recommendations is to move from the treatment room to a comfortable, quiet, private conference room. Patients need the time and space to digest the information and ask questions. If your schedule does not allow enough time, consider hiring a treatment coordinator whose only job is to help patients work through their treatment options.

Also refine the actual treatment pitch. Perhaps you or your team members are making assumptions about how much patients are willing to pay, presenting necessary treatments in a way that makes them sound like they can be put off, or otherwise giving patients a reason to say no instead of yes. Make sure each patient is thoroughly educated about his or her condition, all available options, and the consequences of refusing or delaying treatment, but present this material in a way that does not sound too “salesy” or high-pressure.

Invest in Continuing Education

Carving out a few days to learn some new skills can help you relax, recharge, and remember what you love about being a dentist. You will then be able to bring your new knowledge back to your practice, offering new services or better processes that will bring value to your existing patients and even help you draw in new ones. This can help boost your revenues and meet your production goals, removing some of the stress that led to your burnout.

Running a business is not easy, and many dentists start to feel burned out and run down by the administrative side of their practice. Fortunately, getting yourself back on track may be a simple matter of redirecting your thinking and implementing a few tweaks.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at

No matter how much you love dentistry, burning out when running your own practice is not uncommon. Problems unrelated to actual dental care, from staff turnover to low patient retention rates, can make you wish you could just sell your practice and work for someone else. While this is always an option, especially as corporate dentistry becomes more and more common, don’t take such a drastic step right away. In many cases, following a few simple tips can make you fall in love with your practice all over again.

Be the Leader

It is easy to get dragged down by the many responsibilities of being a business owner, but it can also be fun. Take this opportunity to think through how you can better empower your team members. Shift your focus to creating helpful tools, such as detailed job descriptions and transparent performance measurements. It’s a bit creative, and once these measures are in place, you will find that your staff is happier, more focused, and more motivated. Their improved mood can raise your own spirits. For a quick boost, you could even take your team out to celebrate putting the new measures in place.

Focus on Hygiene

Hygiene appointments are a win-win for both you and your patients. They are highly profitable, but they also help patients avoid expensive and uncomfortable treatments down the line. If your hygiene production has slipped, find out why. Most problems with hygiene production can be fixed relatively easily.

Make sure your scheduling coordinator is maximizing the hygiene schedule. Be sure your team is following up with reminders two days in advance, and determine whether your patients prefer reminders by email, text, or phone. You could also add online scheduling to the mix, allowing patients without an existing appointment to simply schedule their own.

Double down on patient education. They are less likely to cancel last-minute or no-show if they truly understand the value of hygiene appointments. After each appointment, provide the patient with a written summary that details what you did, what products you sent them home with, areas to pay special attention to between visits, and the date and time of their next appointment. Seeing everything in written format will reduce the likelihood of skipping the next visit.

Evaluate Your Treatment Presentation

Did you know that how you present treatment recommendations can have a huge impact on whether patients accept them? The most effective way of presenting recommendations is to move from the treatment room to a comfortable, quiet, private conference room. Patients need the time and space to digest the information and ask questions. If your schedule does not allow enough time, consider hiring a treatment coordinator whose only job is to help patients work through their treatment options.

Also refine the actual treatment pitch. Perhaps you or your team members are making assumptions about how much patients are willing to pay, presenting necessary treatments in a way that makes them sound like they can be put off, or otherwise giving patients a reason to say no instead of yes. Make sure each patient is thoroughly educated about his or her condition, all available options, and the consequences of refusing or delaying treatment, but present this material in a way that does not sound too “salesy” or high-pressure.

Invest in Continuing Education

Carving out a few days to learn some new skills can help you relax, recharge, and remember what you love about being a dentist. You will then be able to bring your new knowledge back to your practice, offering new services or better processes that will bring value to your existing patients and even help you draw in new ones. This can help boost your revenues and meet your production goals, removing some of the stress that led to your burnout.

Running a business is not easy, and many dentists start to feel burned out and run down by the administrative side of their practice. Fortunately, getting yourself back on track may be a simple matter of redirecting your thinking and implementing a few tweaks.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Reasons Every Dental Team Member Needs a Job Description

Creating and managing a dental practice is a lot of work, and it is tempting to let things slide that don’t seem too important to your bottom line or the actual practice of dentistry. Yet creating job descriptions is actually one of the most important things you can do to boost morale, get your staff functioning as a team, and boost the overall health of your practice. Here are a few reasons every dental team member needs a job description.

Morale

How can your team members possibly know what you expect from them unless you tell them? As the CEO of your practice, it is up to you to let them know how you define success and how each role contributes to that success. With a clear job description, each team member has purpose and motivation, as well as the creative freedom to decide how best to perform tasks to meet or exceed your practice goals.

Accountability

Job descriptions clearly delineate what each team member is accountable for. When combined with training, the tools to perform their duties, and logical performance measurements, job descriptions make team members more successful and more confident in their roles.

Reduced Conflict

If everyone is responsible for everything, three types of employees will emerge: the go-getters who take credit for everything that goes right regardless of who actually performed the task, the workhorses who take on tons of extra responsibility without claiming credit, and the finger-pointers who do very little themselves but are quick to call others out for slacking. This leads to escalating tension and a sharp drop in productivity.

Job descriptions put each team member in charge of specific tasks. Rather than in-fighting about who does what, each person has just the right amount of work and the team as a whole becomes more cohesive.

Improved Ownership

Team members who know their exact roles take more ownership of those roles. They feel more connected to the practice and are motivated to perform their jobs to the very best of their ability, as they realize the importance of their roles to the company’s overall success.

For best results, sit down with each team member to co-create that person’s job description. Let him explain how he sees his duties and contributions to the practice’s success. Also work with that person to set both individual and company goals. This further heightens the sense of ownership and lets your team know that their input is valuable.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

4 Common Ways Dental Practice Owners Cause Themselves Stress

Owning a dental practice can be a high stress life. Not only do you need to ensure that you give your patients the best possible care, you also have to be a responsible business owner. Paying the bills, collecting debts, marketing, equipment maintenance, and constantly trying to grow your practice can quickly make you feel overwhelmed. Many dental practice owners inadvertently add to their own stress. Here’s how and what you can do to alleviate some of the burden.

Disorganized Schedule

If you are like many dentists, your schedule may be out of control. One day you are overscheduled and running behind, and the next day you have several open appointment times. This constant back and forth between too busy and not busy enough can be a huge source of stress.

To streamline your schedule, consider hiring a scheduling coordinator. This position’s primary duty is to schedule patients in a way that meets your identified production goals. Your coordinator can also develop systems to reduce last-minute cancellations and no-shows, and to manage them when they occur.

Be sure to communicate procedure times with your coordinator to ensure that each patient has the time he needs without throwing off the rest of your day. Some dentists like to take it a step further and reserve one day each week for complex cases, scheduling only 2-3 patients for that day. That way, if a procedure runs long, there is plenty of time in the schedule to compensate.

Staff Conflict

Many dentists prefer to stay out of office drama, believing that everyone involved is an adult with the skills to work it out. Unfortunately, this rarely what happens. Instead, negativity tends to fester, leading to tension and gossip and killing productivity. If things get bad enough, staff members will start to leave, and those who remain will have to pick up the slack.

Minimize staff conflict from the outset by writing detailed job descriptions that delineate who is in charge of which tasks, and by providing enough training and support that all employees are able to perform their job functions efficiently and confidently. Strive to create an atmosphere in which all staff members feel valued and able to express their concerns. Consider implementing regular teambuilding activities, from in-house pizza parties to bowling nights.

When conflicts arise, take them seriously. Encourage both sides to present their arguments in a healthy and constructive way. Listen carefully, validate their concerns, and help them reach a solution without taking sides or assigning blame.

Patient Reluctance

Many patients are reluctant to accept treatments, even when those treatments are clinically necessary. Most of the time, this is because the patient doesn’t fully understand the treatment or why it is important. Financial concerns also play a big role in patient reluctance.

In some cases, you can provide the needed patient education chairside. Strive to always explain clearly and succinctly what your diagnostic findings are and how the treatment will help. Let your patients know that your experienced office staff will help them understand their insurance benefits and out of pocket costs for the needed treatment.

Unfortunately, some patients are not so easily convinced. A treatment coordinator can be extremely valuable to your practice. She can sit with patients in a conference room or other relaxed space, away from the dental chair, to discuss the procedure in more detail. Make sure the person you select is not “salesy” in her approach, but instead is extremely knowledgeable about dental treatments and committed to patient health and wellbeing. Part of her job should be following up with patients who do not commit to treatment before leaving, always with a calm and helpful demeanor.

Low Fees

If you are undercharging by less than 10%, you are losing thousands of dollars per year. Many dentists haven’t raised their fees in decades, and may be undercharging by as much as 50%. You might be afraid to raise your fees for fear of losing patients, but the reality is that if you do not charge competitive fees, you will need to treat twice as many patients as the practice down the street. This is a recipe for stress and burnout.

Take a hard, clear-eyed look at your current fee schedule. Research your competitors’ pricing in your local area, as well as your patient income demographics. Also consider the quality of your dentistry and your customer service when deciding on your fees.

Stress is an inevitable part of life as a dental practice owner. However, there is no reason to add to your own stress levels. Hiring talented help and streamlining your practice can go a long way toward alleviating much of your stress.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

3 Reasons to Take Dental Patient Complaints Seriously

Complaints from your dental patients can be annoying, frustrating, and even hurtful. After all, you want only the best for your patients, and it can be hard to hear that you didn’t meet their expectations. Some patients are difficult, others have unrealistic beliefs about what is possible, and it can be tempting to simply ignore complaints, especially if you have a strong base of satisfied patients. However, it is extremely important to take every complaint seriously. Here are three reasons why.

Patients Will Leave

Patients want to feel like they matter to you. The majority of patients who are dissatisfied won’t bother complaining. They will simply find a new dentist. If someone goes to the trouble of complaining, he is likely a loyal patient who genuinely wants to help your practice improve. If you blow him off, though, he will no longer feel valued, and he will take his loyalty to another practice.

To keep patients in your practice, sit down and genuinely listen to what they have to say. Thank them for bringing up the issue, and then take active steps to improve the situation. This builds loyalty rather than destroying it. You don’t have to implement every patient suggestion, but you do need to take suggestions seriously.

Patients Will Talk

If your patients are happy with their experience at your practice, chances are good that they will recommend you to their loved ones. This is a valuable source of free marketing that can rapidly grow your patient base. If they’re unhappy, though, you can be sure they will spread that news as well. Whether they solely talk to friends and family or take their complaints to social media, you may find your patient list dwindling.

Avoiding this is as simple as making your patients feel heard. When someone complains, apologize and ask how you can fix the problem. Everyone gets complaints now and then, but how you turn them around makes all the difference to your reputation.

You Will Miss Out on Valuable Growth

Patient complaints let you know about difficulties that you might not even be aware of. Perhaps a patient is upset that he had to wait an extra half hour, or someone complains that the front desk staff brushed her off. You are in patient care all day, so you may not see what is happening in the front office. Or maybe a patient feels like you gave her an uncomfortable amount of nitrous oxide. You aren’t inside her body, so you can only see her outward reaction to the sedation.

Many times, fixing a situation that caused a complaint is easy once you know that the situation exists. Work with your scheduling coordinator to refine patient flow, coach the front desk staff in customer service, or ramp up delivery of nitrous oxide a bit more slowly. Complaints provide valuable feedback that can improve your overall efficiency and patient care.

Nobody enjoys hearing complaints, but patient complaints can be a true gift to your dental practice. Take the time to sit down and listen, apologize and validate the patient’s feelings, and work toward finding solutions. You will be surprised at how much positive change can occur.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

How to Hire Dental Employees You Want to Keep

Starting a dental practice can feel daunting, as you try to work your way through a mountain of paperwork and order just the right equipment and furnishings. In an effort to save time and trouble, some dentists rush through the process of hiring office personnel. Yet your people are absolutely vital to the success of your practice, and hiring sub-par employees could be an expensive mistake. Here are some tips for hiring dental employees you will want to keep for the long haul.

Take Your Time

Whether you are starting a new practice or your most experienced hygienist just moved out of state, the pressure is always on whenever a position is open. Still, it is crucial to slow down, conduct a lot of interviews, and think through how different candidates would fit into your practice.

Write a Complete Job Description

Step back and take a critical look at the open position. What technical skills are required? What about soft skills such as communication and compassion? How is the position classified? What are the essential functions that the employee will provide? What are some secondary functions that occasionally need to be performed? The more information you provide, the easier it will be for both you and the candidate to assess that person’s fit.

Advertise the Position

Write a compelling ad that explains not only what the position is, but why your practice is an excellent workplace. Place ads on your website and social media pages, and also reach out to your network. Your patients, staff members, or colleagues might know someone who would be a perfect fit.

Customize the Cover Letter and Interview Process

Ask for a cover letter with each application. This allows you to assess each candidate’s writing and communication skills and get a sense of his or her personality. Ask for a few specifics, such as a short paragraph on why the candidate wants to work for you and what he or she brings to the table.

Develop a list of interview questions in advance, and ask each candidate the same things. Remember to keep it professional, sticking only to topics that affect the workplace and steering clear of such personal matters as hobbies, religion, politics, or family. Focus on the person’s career progression and how the position fits into it. Also consider asking some hypothetical scenario-based questions. Pay close attention not only to the answers candidates give, but also their behavior and body language.

Consider calling back finalists for an hour or two of job shadowing. This allows candidates to get to know your practice and your existing staff, and it allows your existing staff members to act as additional eyes and ears in assessing the candidates. Be careful not to have prospects perform any actual work, though, or you could be on the hook to pay them.

Check References and Validate Credentials

Attach a release form to each application that gives permission for you to check references and credentials. In a dental practice, you can’t afford to hire someone who was fired for negligence or whose professional license was revoked. Though the majority of applicants are truthful, your business could be on the line if something slips through.

Onboarding

Your new staff member is part of a team, so it is essential that your current staff members are comfortable with your hiring decision. It is also vital that you provide full onboarding support to help the new staff member make a successful transition.

Provide essential forms ahead of time to avoid bogging down your new employee in paperwork. Set up a well-defined training schedule that includes time to get to know both the staff and the systems. Clear your own schedule as much as possible to give you time to check in throughout the first days and weeks rather than leaving the new employee feeling stranded. No matter how skilled a new staff member may be, the first few days at a new practice are always stressful, and feeling supported can help your new employee start down the road to success.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

6 Ways for Dentists to Boost Workplace Happiness

Happy employees not only mean happy patients, but they can actually significantly improve your bottom line. Yet it can be tough for busy dentists to figure out how best to increase employee morale. Here are 6 easy ways to boost your staff’s workplace happiness.

Communication

Dental staffs work very closely with each other, but that doesn’t automatically translate to open communication. Set the tone by making yourself more approachable. Institute an open-door policy. Implement both scheduled and impromptu check-ins with staff members, in which you seek genuine feedback on everything from staff policies to patient care. Encourage your team members to speak up, and they will start to feel more valued.

Break Time

A busy dental office is a successful one, but it is vital to take breaks during the day. While a quick lunch in the back may be a necessary evil now and then, it should never become the norm. Promote an office culture in which everything shuts down for a full lunch hour. Whether your employees choose to go out to eat together or take the time for personal errands or even a nap, they will return refreshed and better able to focus on the job at hand.

Celebrations

A party boosts everyone’s morale, not just the guest of honor’s. Get into the habit of celebrating work anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, and other important milestone events. If you’re not much of a party planner, assign this task to the most social person in the office. Even small things like cupcakes for the entire team and a gift card for the celebrant can make your employees feel special.

Raises and Promotions

Develop a clear, transparent path to raises and promotions. This shows your team that you have nothing to hide, and it holds you as well as them accountable. Today’s workers are far more likely to feel good about your practice, and to stick around long-term, if they see a way to achieve their goals. You can also give small bonuses, such as an extra paid day off, to those who reach certain milestones within the company.

Take It Out of the Office

A dental practice is, by definition, a sterile place. While you can certainly add some life to the office with upgraded seating and artwork, it can still be hard to truly relax in the office. Get to know your employees as people and lower their stress levels by taking the entire staff out now and then. Hold staff meetings in a local coffee shop. Invest in team building by treating everyone to a monthly escape room, mini-golf tournament, or other group event. Get everyone out of the office and having fun.

Partner Up

Reach out to local businesses close to your office and ask about reciprocal employee discounts. Your staff will love feeling like part of the community, and you will get new patients for your practice. You will also build your local reputation, and you will have great new perks to advertise to potential new employees. It truly is a win-win.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Keys to Selling a Dental Practice for the Maximum Price

Dental practice valuation is a highly complex blend of art and science. Ultimately, though, any practice is worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it. If you want to maximize the selling price, there are a few things you can do to make your practice more attractive to potential buyers.

Accounts Receivable

The majority of dentists are happy with an accounts receivable cycle as long as 45 days. Still, if yours is significantly lower, it can prove that your practice has a healthy cash flow. Upgrading your revenue management technology and procedures can help.

Location

While the real estate idea of “location, location, location” does not fully apply when selling a dental practice, there is no denying that location matters to prospective buyers. In particular, buyers are interested in the demographics and population trends of the area, as those affect the patient base. For example, a buyer interested in complex restorations would likely prefer an affluent area with an older demographic, while someone who specializes in pediatric dentistry will want to be in a neighborhood with lots of young families.

You don’t need to move your practice in order to sell it, but you will get the best price by focusing on buyers whose primary interests match the demographics of the area. Of course, if your practice attracts patients who are willing to travel a long way for your services, that can be a selling point on its own.

Practice Philosophy

Everyone has a different philosophy and approach to treatment, and you certainly don’t need to change yours. However, if you are looking for the maximum selling price, you should be sure to discuss these topics early on with each potential buyer. Every buyer is hoping for a strong, existing patient base, as well as to focus on the areas of dentistry that most interest him or her. It might be that a buyer can see a new direction for your practice in the form of additional services or new technology, but if your approaches are wildly different, some of your existing patients might leave after the sale. Buyers are aware of this risk, and will likely not offer top dollar for practices that do not naturally mesh with their ideas.

Intangible Assets

Dental practices generally have a wide variety of tangible assets, such as equipment and furniture, but intangible assets can add tremendous value to the practice. Brand equity and intellectual property are typically the most important. Brand equity includes, but is not limited to, such factors as reputation, perception of service, and loyalty from both patients and employees. Protecting the brand can be a very important element in the sales process, and a top brand can bring a significantly higher price.

Intellectual property includes anything that you developed that is unique to your practice, such as codified policies and procedures, treatment methodologies, and ways of managing the business side of your practice. The more successful your practice is, the more your unique intellectual property is likely to be worth at the time of sale.

Technology Considerations

It would seem obvious that sophisticated dental technology automatically raises the selling price of a dental practice, but this is rarely the case. At the time of sale, technology is really only worth the demonstrated financial impact that it has on the practice. In other words, you may get a premium for a piece of technology that demonstrably improved processes and, in turn, revenue. But simply running out right before the sale to buy new software will not get you much return on your investment.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there is a plethora of dental technology on the market, and most dentists like to equip their offices with the technologies they like best. Second, used equipment has a very low cash value. Finally, the buyer may be entirely unfamiliar with that shiny new program you installed, and unimpressed with your claims of what the salesperson told you it could do. Being able to point to results is key.

Ultimately, the best way to obtain the maximum price for your dental practice is to start long before you are ready to sell. Build the best practice you can, constantly refine and improve your processes, and create a strong brand. When you are ready to sell, focus on buyers who are looking for what you have to sell, and whose philosophies mesh well with your own.

Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.