Now at my home office for the fifth week of the stay at home directives, we are taking in information daily about what the dental practice market will look like when offices return to daily operation. Will the value of my practice go down? Will patients have to be socially distanced in the office? Will repeated PPE changes be mandated? Once again the honest answer is, no one knows what is really going to happen but for those of us in practice after David Acer infected Kimberly Bergalis with HIV in 1987 will remember, infection control of blood borne pathogens became an all-consuming issue. There is no post-pandemic playbook or data set to refer back to but surely dental practices and their management of aerosols in the operatories will be part of a new normal.
We may be noticing a few early signs of how the world might work going forward and can draw a few commonsense conclusions about how all of this going to play out in the sale and transition of your practice. Part two of a four-part series will focus on “what I would be doing if” I were a Metro or Suburban Dentist.
As I noted in Part One, technology is going to become much more important going forward as are demonstratively higher standards of infection control. Those that are behind the curve will find themselves with patients who are reluctant to come to your office. Until a reliable vaccine is found and made universally available, patients who have endured weeks if not months of quarantine will be very demanding.
Here’s what I would be doing if I were in a Metro or Suburban practice and hoping to retire in the next three years…
- I would call our office tomorrow morning and schedule a meeting (probably still virtual for a while) to discuss a strategy for maintaining your practice and its value.
- I would quit listening to war stories and anecdotes from people who have very little, if any, experience in practice transitions. The tea leaves are suggesting that there is likely to be considerable competition among sellers who have decided that the time to hang up the handpiece has come.
- I would want to know how I fit into the market and what I needed to do to remain attractive to what may possibly be a large and hungry pool of scared buyers.
- I would want to know if my building could simultaneously be sold to the buyer of my practice and on what terms. Do It Yourselfers are going to have a hard time putting together an appropriate information package about their practice as, while some will not say enough, some will say too much.
- I would want to know what lenders are requiring of potential borrowers and if financing is even available for my practice and building.
As for me, I would want to be at the head of the line of opportunities in what will no doubt be a very interesting market over the next few years.
Steve Wolff, DDS
UMKC Class of 1977