North Texas Dentistry Volume 4 Issue 4 - Page 22

practice transitions TRANSITIONING TRUST G Deciding Whether to Transition Your Practice or Sell Out to a Commercial Buyer by Richard V. Lyschik, DDS, FAGD oodwill is the relationship between a doctor and his/her patients. It is a relationship that is built over many years and based primarily on trust. Patients are not clinically qualified to determine whether the services they get are good or bad (that is why bad dentists can stay in business), so the reason they keep coming back to the same dentist is because they trust that the patients’ interest is always being considered first and foremost by their doctor. When a dentist visits with me to sell the practice, the most frequent concern expressed by the doctor is the desire for a successor who is ethical and clinically qualified to take over the practice. These doctors feel that they owe it to their patients to choose a successor who will continue to put the needs of their patients first, and will deliver good clinical services. They know their patients will trust their judgment as to who will take over their treatment once the current owner retires. As a result, we are not only transitioning the physical assets of a practice, we are transitioning that trust-based doctor/patient relationship. A practice transition is personal and can be emotionally and financially satisfying if handled properly. The alternative to a traditional practice transition is a practice sale made to a commercial company. There have been some doctors who have chosen to sell out to these commercial entities instead of transitioning their practices for various reasons. Commercial practices are investor owned, and as a result, they must put a focus on efficiency and economy rather than personal service. Staff and doctor turnover is often rampant and as a result, it often depersonalizes patient delivery. The patients will no longer experience that personal, long-term trusting doctor/patient relationship, it is more like – well, commercial dentistry. The seller does not know who will be treating their patients, and there will be doctors with uncertain or unknown clinical qualifications treating those patients. When you combine that with frequent doctor turnover, patients are not 22 NORTH TEXAS DENTISTRY | likely to receive the same trusting dental experience that they became accustomed to with you over the years. There always has to be a price to pay by someone for selling out rather than transitioning a private practice. When an owner of a private practice sells to a commercial buyer, it is usually because they are approached directly by a commercial buyer and the seller thinks that he/