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Assembling the Right Team for Your Practice Acquisition

By: Wendy Catone

Whether you are acquiring your first dental practice or purchasing a second location, you have a significant project ahead of you that requires careful oversight. You want to ensure you are investing in a practice that fits your budget, is compatible with your practice style, and has potential for long-term sustainability and growth. One way to achieve these outcomes is to assemble the right team of professionals to help you through the acquisition process.

Working with a proven team of experienced advisors can help provide a solid foundation for your success as a practice owner. Your team can look out for your best interests and help ensure your goals are met. Typically, they will ask questions about what you are looking for in a practice, taking the time required to genuinely understand both your personal and professional objectives. They can work with other members of your team to keep your practice acquisition moving forward towards a positive outcome.

Consider including these professionals on your team as needed to meet your particular needs:

Practice broker

Your broker can play a central role in your practice acquisition by presenting qualified purchase options for you to consider, and providing consultation and support throughout the acquisition process. A good broker should be able to deliver the following services:

  • Identification of practices available for sale
  • Negotiation of the sales transaction including terms of agreement
  • Referrals for practice valuation and appraisal services
  • Working with your attorney to develop the sales agreement
  • Assisting with structuring the transition
  • Coordination of financing

Lender

Your lender can present information about financing options that may work with your budget. In general, your lender may:

  • Provide funds for acquisition
  • Service financing agreements
  • Provide business planning tools and resources that can help you manage and grow your new practice

Before choosing your lender, it's important to understand the distinction between different types of financing companies.

Collateral-based lenders:

  • Typically make credit decisions based on the value of your assets and may use personal items such as your home, money market accounts and Certificates of Deposit as collateral

Cash-flow lenders:

  • Typically use the historical performance of a practice to make credit decisions and use the practice as collateral, not your personal assets
  • Tend to be specialty lenders focused on a particular business or industry

Attorney

Business owners may need an attorney to represent their interests and function as their advocate. Ideally, your attorney will fully understand the laws that impact your business. Attorneys can:

  • Assist in forming your business entity
  • Prepare and execute contracts, leases and employment documents
  • Assure contracts and legal documents comply with legal requirements
  • Provide tax advice and planning, as well as estate planning and will preparation
  • Be a critical participant in setting up employee handbooks and standard operating procedures that may help mitigate potential HR liabilities for you as an employer

Accountant or CPA

A professional accountant or CPA may help protect your business by providing accurate practice accounting and filing of tax documents. It would be beneficial to find an accountant or CPA with dental practice experience for this role. The accountant/CPA typically:

  • Makes sure your books and accounts are properly set up so you can efficiently run your business
  • Develops tax projections, plans and estimates
  • Prepares and files tax documents
  • Helps establish financial procedures
  • May advise on tax and accounting implications of business and investment decisions

Insurance broker

An insurance broker helps preserve the value of your new practice by insuring against loss. Services typically include:

Evaluation of any existing insurance to make recommendations for additional policies and/or coverage that may be needed. If you are new to dental practice ownership and staff management, it may be wise to also consider adding these two specialists to your team:

Practice management consultant

This professional advisor specializes in dental practice management processes, and helps you determine whether a particular practice is a good match for you. Having a practice management consultant on board may also help relieve some of the stress that can come with new ownership and management responsibilities. Services may include:

  • Evaluation of the strength of practice systems such as scheduling, case acceptance and financial arrangements¬†
  • Identification of potential areas of improvement such as cash flow systems, staff management, and general productivity¬†
  • Working with you and staff members to develop a plan for implementing change

Local mentor

As a new practice owner, it can be invaluable to learn from the experience and insights of a seasoned local practitioner. Finding an unbiased advisor to answer your questions and guide you through the challenges of a practice acquisition may save you time and money, and help reduce stress. Look for a local practitioner who:

  • Has several years of experience practicing in your community
  • Has completed a practice acquisition
  • Is willing to share advice and insights about what to do, and what to avoid

Acquiring a dental practice can be one of the biggest and most exciting steps you may take in your career. So, by all means, engage a team of professionals that is prepared to help you secure a great deal on the ideal practice for your needs. The investment will likely feel well worth it as, together, you identify, purchase and develop the practice you've always wanted.

About the Author

Wendy K. Catone is the Florida Business Development Manager for Wells Fargo Practice Finance. She is an experienced consultant and finance professional who has been servicing the financial needs of healthcare practitioners for over 25 years. Ms. Catone speaks at seminars and professional schools throughout the year. With a variety of financial products, Wells Fargo Practice Finance helps dentists start, build, grow, and transition their practices throughout their career. She can be reached at 800-708-0279 or wendy.catone@wellsfargo.com

View all articles by Wendy Catone


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All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.