“Wrapped Around the Jawbone”

If you went to dental school, or ever let it slip at a social event that you are a dentist or practiced more than a week, you have no doubt had to sit and quietly listen to some tale about a brother/sister/mother/ father/ etc. whose lower molars had roots that “wrapped around their jawbone,” and what a gruesome procedure they had to endure in their removal. (Another favorite is the rationalization for a woman’s dental woes being that their baby, while in-utero, “sucked all of the calcium out of their teeth.”) Knowing that it is a waste of time to debate the anatomical or physiological absurdity of those stories, we sit quietly and listen while the meter continues to run on our life’s patience and energy.

We at ADS MidAmerica find ourselves in a similar situation when retirement-aged docs pull us aside and start telling us about their exit strategy of bringing in a recently graduated associate and integrating them in to the practice while slowly easing themselves out. We used to think this plan would work out about one time in twenty (The Five Percent Solution?) but have come to believe that we were overly optimistic. While not getting too deep into a discussion that is best done face to face, let me list a few reasons this strategy might be doomed. Rest assured there are more.

  • You don’t have enough revenue. Potential doesn’t count.
  • You don’t have a big enough facility.
  • You’re not really ready to share the revenue.
  • You’re not willing to share patients, nor do existing patients want to leave your care.
  • You don’t have a written plan with dates and trigger points.
  • You forgot to get a restrictive covenant with the associate.
  • You are not financially secure outside of this transaction.
  • You don’t know what you’re going to do after you officially retire.
  • In short order, the associate will not appreciate your company.
  • You risk the possibility that the staff may like the associate better than you.

While folks will argue with us that these rules don’t apply to them, the fact is that most if not all do. If this is the basic plan for your retirement, we need to have a cup of coffee NOW. There is no charge for the consultation and maybe, just maybe, we can point you towards a more likely outcome.

Dr. Steve Wolff – UMKC Class of 1977