Hindsight is 2020
Last week in Toronto at the ODA Annual Spring Meeting (ASM), I sat in on a session titled Transitioning Out of Your Practice. During the session, Dr. Bernie Dolansky shared a slide that contained only the following text:
Legal Considerations when Buying or Selling a Dental Practice
Consult qualified financial advisory, valuation, brokerage, banking, accounting, tax and legal advisors
This advice rang particularly true to me, based on my recent experience of conducting a series of interviews with a range of mentors for a Career Options resource that our CDA Knowledge Networks team is currently creating (the first phase of this resource will be launched in late 2019 – please keep an eye out for it).
If I were to boil down to the bare essentials the advice that these mentors would give to young colleagues about to make a major career decision (e.g. entering an associateship, buying a practice, or choosing a specialty program) it would be: decide what you want to do, conduct your research carefully and thoroughly, and surround yourself with a qualified and trustworthy support team. This final component of the mentor advice is totally in keeping with the text on Dr. Dolansky’s slide.
During the session, I snapped a photo of Dr. Dolansky’s slide and posted it to Facebook with a caption indicating that I thought this was a piece of good advice. Within a couple of hours, I had received the following replies:
When I was selling my share of a practice to my partners, they had their lawyer draw up their “standard agreement” (this was a corporate group) and said to me not to worry and just sign. I had my lawyer check it out and on first quick reading he noticed the sale could be restructured in such a way that wouldn’t cost my partners a cent but would save me 10’s of 1000’s of $. My ultimate bill from him was a small fraction of what he saved me…just an example. (PS: he was a very qualified corporate lawyer).
I’m a dentist, not a lawyer or accountant. Lawyers don’t do their own dentistry so why should a dentist attempt to do their own law?
This is essential advice. I’ve seen deals where the buyer or seller suffered post-closing remorse caused by something that one (or both) sides overlooked, or did not consider, during the diligence and sale process.
Both respondents certainly highlight the benefit of consulting qualified professionals when considering an important career move such as buying or selling a practice. Please don’t choose your cousin the lawyer or friend the accountant, just because they will give you a break on the fee.
Dr. Dolansky’s conversation opener when considering a professional for your support team is a simple question: “How many of these deals involving dentists have you done so far?” How many of us were glad when a patient didn’t ask us that question when we were in out first associateship or residency? Perhaps, in hindsight, they should have.
Dear colleagues, If you want to know more about the Career Options Resource we are developing, or if you have advice for young colleagues about to enter an associateship (traditional or corporate), choose a residency program, choose a specialty program or buy a practice, please don’t hesitate to meet me for a friendly, casual conversation at www.zoom.us/j/6136144798 (my video meeting space). I love learning the perspectives of colleagues, especially when I can share them. Sincerely, John