How to Build a Team for Your Successful Dental Practice Transition

An illustration of a young dentists

Are you staring at your to-do list, wondering how you can ever get through your practice transition?

You don’t have to go it alone. Build a team of professionals who can help you with the more technical or complex aspects of your transition. That will free up your time and energy to focus on the most important aspect of your transition: finding the right person to carry on your legacy or the right practice for your goals.

In my work at ADAPT, I sometimes hear a dentist say that they want to save money by doing the legal themselves, just adjusting a colleague’s contract. Or maybe they plan to enlist their brother-in-law/cousin/neighbor’s best friend as their real estate broker. While I applaud that DIY attitude, it can lead to expensive mistakes, missed deadlines, and, ultimately, failed transactions.

Plus, professionals can remain objective during negotiations and offer insight into what is reasonable, expected, or unusual. And rather than forcing you to deal with dozens of emails and documents as the transaction progresses, you can delegate the details to the professionals while you continue focusing on your patients.

Who should be on my team?

It’s never too early to begin building your transition team. Even if you’re a few years out, now is a great time to begin making connections, having initial conversations, and identifying the people who can help you take your next step.

Depending on your goals, your transition team may include:

A qualified attorney, with experience in dental practice sales in your state. Each state has such different laws that it’s vital to find someone licensed in your state.

A bank to finance the purchase. Interview at least three banks to determine what rates they can offer and how their lending process works — each is different. Also consider talking to a small local or regional bank. They’re often eager to help keep a dentist in an underserved community.

A certified accountant, with experience in dental practice sales. If you are selling, your long-time CPA may be able to help — or they may refer you to a colleague who is more familiar with sales. Your accountant may also help you with equipment appraisals and opportunities for tax credits. If you’re buying, this is a great time to establish a relationship with someone who can help you manage the business’ books long after closing.

A dental practice valuator who can provide an independent, objective assessment of the practice’s worth, the patient population, and equipment. They may also be able to handle the real estate valuation, or they may refer you to a real estate broker.

A real estate broker to manage the real estate transaction. Again, look for someone who understands sales of commercial real estate, not residential. Some states require a real estate broker to be involved with all practice sales, even when real estate doesn’t change hands.

A financial advisor to help you determine how to allocate the sale proceeds, or how to balance your personal financial priorities with a practice purchase. Look for a fiduciary, a fee-only financial advisor, who can provide comprehensive consulting without a conflict of interest.

As you interview your team, ask:

  • Are you licensed in my state?
  • How much experience do you have with dental practice transitions?
  • What will it cost to work with you? How will you be paid?
  • What can I do to streamline our work together?

Remember, you need to be able to trust your team. Go with the people who make you feel heard and understood — and who return your calls.

Finding the right people

Ask colleagues for referrals, especially if they have recently completed their own transition. Your state or local component can also provide recommendations for professionals in your area. 

Don’t let the thought of a practice transition deter you from starting. After all, now is a great time to buy a practice, with low interest rates and motivated sellers.