Practice Sales, Like Baseball, Are About the Legacy

I’m sorry for consecutive blog posts to have a baseball theme but the timing seemed right. I recently used the glove pictured below in the Royal’s “Relay the Way” fundraiser on opening day at the “K.” (Kauffman Stadium – for those who either don’t follow baseball or or not from Kansas City.) This is not just any glove.  If you look carefully you can see where my father burned my name on to the thumb area somewhere close to 55 years ago. I wore this glove when my Little League team won the area championship in Fort Worth, Texas back in the early 60s. I was a weak-hitting second baseman on a team full of kids I never saw again – but I was none the less hooked on baseball.

The glove that has accompanied Dr. Steve Wolff from Little League play in the early 60s to (watching) the 2015 world champion Royals

The glove that has accompanied Dr. Steve Wolff from Little League play in the early 60s to (watching) the 2015 world champion Royals

My grandfather, this glove and I saw a lot of games together at the old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. And what I wouldn’t give to have another game of catch with my dad, a la Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. (To me, plowing up a corn field to make a baseball diamond seems perfectly reasonable.) The tradition continues. To me it’s great fun to watch everything from T-ball to playoff games with my kids and grandkids. After catching thousands of balls in its webbing, and after we attended the infamous American League Wild Card game in 2014, Debbie had the glove repaired. She finally understood why I listened to or watched 140-plus Royals games every year.

So what in the world does this have to do with dental practice transitions and sales? Well, the fact is that the same emotion that brings baseball fans together is what motivates many of our retirement-aged clients to ask for our help. Finding someone to continue the legacy of care that they have provided to their patients and staff for decades is their primary charge to us. Our clients “have enough” monetarily, and are not relying on the sale of their practice to be the cornerstone of their retirement account. If they are, we will probably disappoint them as working for a couple more years will almost always result in more money in their pockets than the proceeds of a sale.

On the contrary, our clients are concerned that patients can continue to be treated in a place where they are known and respected. Retaining staff members (sometimes including single moms) and their jobs has kept more than one client working chair-side long after they “had enough.” While no one wants to give away their hard earned practice assets, in our experience, retirement-aged docs cherish the memories and relationships that 35 or 40 years of practice has brought them – more than money. I’ll tell you that helping them carry on their legacy and getting newcomers started on a history of their own is our greatest reward.

Practice sales, like baseball, are indeed about the legacy.

Steve Wolff, DDS, UMKC Class of ‘77