No Surprises: How to Prepare for a Smooth Practice Transition

An illustration of a mentor

I was recently on the Best Practices Show podcast with Kirk Behrendt. We had a great conversation about how to avoid unwanted surprises during the dental practice transition process. Listen in to our conversation or read on for some key points.


What to do before the letter of intent

The best way to avoid surprises is to do your homework.

If you’re buying a practice, that means getting your finances in order before you even begin looking. (See 5 Financial Must-Dos Before Buying a Practice.) On that must-do list? I recommend talking to (at least) 3 banks to find out what they’ll need from you and what you can expect.

Sellers should also take steps to ensure the practice is ready for potential buyers. This includes everything from evaluating your fees and documenting your policies to setting reasonable expectations. (See: 10 Ways to Prepare Your Practice for a Sale.) This also includes getting a valuation.

What to ask before signing an associate contract

Doing your homework can also help avoid surprises after you start your associateship. Make sure you understand what you’re signing, especially how you’ll be paid and any restrictive covenant/non-compete clauses.

Check out:

Read Beyond the Dollar Amount: How to Get the Contract You Deserve

More Than Meets the Eye: How Associate Pay Can Vary

What Went Wrong: My Restrictive Covenant Was Too Restrictive

ADA Practice Transitions members get access to a free Associate Contracting Toolkit that helps you think through the typical, and not-so-typical, contract terms.

How to build an integration plan

How can you ensure that the new doctor — whether associate or buyer — will be successful in the practice? Creating a detailed Integration Plan can help you think through what you’ll need so that:

  • The new doctor is properly licensed and credentialed
  • Staff members are ready (and eager) to work with the new doctor
  • Office systems are updated
  • Patients aren’t surprised
  • The new doctor has everything they need to be successful

Download our brand-new ebook to see how to build your own. (It even comes with a sample integration plan!)

Download Integration Plan

Transition trends

We discussed current transition trends, including why more dentists are ready to retire and why now is a great time to buy a practice. I also explained how the Mentorship-to-Ownership Pathway can help doctors on both sides reach their goals.

And then we explored a common debate: When should you tell your staff that you are transitioning your practice? I contend that a happy staff is vital to retaining patients and creating a positive atmosphere for the new doctor coming into the practice. In fact, involving your long-term staff in the actual process can help them feel invested in a successful outcome. Put yourself in their shoes: if they’ve been with the practice for a long time, they likely feel that they have helped build its success. Have them talk with the potential buyer or associate to make sure they feel like they can successfully work together to continue treating patients. (See Shhhh, I’m Selling My Dental Practice.)