The Buying a Dental Practice Guide

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The Most Exciting Time of Your Life

Buying a dental practice is the most thrilling and the most difficult aspect of your professional life. Providing vital oral healthcare and cosmetic treatments to the public rewards you and helps local communities.

Whether you are buying your first practice or you are building a dental group, Samera Business Advisors are here to help you to achieve your goals and build your future.

We’ve been helping the UK’s dentists start their own dental practices for nearly 20 years and, as dental practice owners ourselves, we’ve learned a thing or two about buying dental practices.

For our friends and colleagues who are looking to embark on the journey of dental practice ownership, we hope this guide helps to start you on the path to your future in dentistry!

Click here to read more about why dentists want their own practices.

How Long Does it Take to Buy a Dental Practice?

The short answer to this question is: it takes as long as the buyer and seller allow it to take.

Like any important transaction, buying a dental practice hinges on whether or not the buyer and seller can agree upon a price and contract terms. As the buyer, you are expected to make the initial offer on the practice, with negotiations to follow.

However, there are many tasks that you, or a representative like Samera Business Advisors, must perform in order to make sure that your transaction is legal and your resources are secure. These include:

  • Care Quality Commission (CQC): The timing and execution of your CQC application is crucial to ensure that you are ready to begin operation of your practice after ownership is transferred; without CQC approval you won’t be able to trade.
    Click here to find out more about registering with CQC
  • Funding: Unless you plan on financing your transaction in cash, you will likely be using your bank for funding. Banks are notoriously cautious. Both parties will need to agree the terms of borrowing with a business manager, and the contract will need to be approved by the bank’s Securities Department. Using a finance broker will help you ensure you consider all the funding options available in the market.
    Click here to watch our free webinar and find out more about financing your first dental practice
  • Property and Leases: Often, the property side of the transaction can slow the deal down. It’s important you have a property lawyer that can assist in ensuring any lease in place can be assigned to you as new owner.
    Click here to find out more about property finance

So, how long does it take to buy a dental practice? From start to finish, buying a dental practice can take up to eight months. However, with the right dental practice sales agent like Samera, you will be able to purchase your dental practice in less time.

Click here to find out more about how a dental practice sales agent can help.

Dental Practice Valuations

You must get a valuation from an established provider to receive an accurate purchase price of the dental practice for sale. Always remember, the valuation from the seller needs independent assessing. Do your own homework and employ your own valuer to ascertain if the dental practice for sale is really worth what the sellers wants to sell it for!

Watch our webinar on dental practice valuations in 2020 to find out more.

Due Diligence

Keep in mind you are not just buying real estate, you are buying a business. This may be the foundation of the next 30 years of your professional life! You must take the time to learn every facet of the dental practice for sale.

From the accounting to the exterior bricks and mortar, a magnifying glass must be applied everywhere. A specialist dental lawyer will know the right questions to ask so you can assess the business and plan for its growth.

You will also want to ask an experienced accountancy firm to review the financials and check the numbers for validity now and potential in the future. Management information, details from the software system and other important financial information will help you get a much better picture of the health of the business too.

Click here to find out more about what to look for in a dental accountant.

As part of the due diligence process, your solicitor must request the seller to guarantee that the supplied information is correct in order to protect against any loss caused by misrepresentation.

Click here to find out more about the process of due diligence when buying a dental practice.

Raising the Finance to Purchase a Dental Practice

A deposit of at least 10% is standard when buying a dental practice, whilst the remainder can be financed from a bank.

Click here to watch our free webinar and find out more about financing your first dental practice

When a lender assesses your loan application they will be looking at a variety of factors. These include:

  • Your earning history as an Associate Dentist
  • Your financial track record and how you have managed your personal finances e.g. do you have high credit card balances is always a bad time to apply for a loan.
  • Your current living situation i.e. do you own your own house or rent?
  • Your management experience and number of years you have from leaving Dental School
  • Your ability to repay the loan with a comfortable margin of error if interest rates rise
  • If you place an offer for a practice and do not have available funds (or a finance agreement in place) you risk being unable to buy a practice whilst losing credibility with a seller.

Click here to find out more about how the banks judge and assess you.

Check the Ratios and Find the Potential Profit

It’s important to chart the potential profit of your new dental practice. How much of an opportunity for growth do you see?

Make sure you ask how many active (seen in the last 10 months) patients the practice has. Out of those active patients, what are the ratios between check-ups versus treatments? That will give you a birds-eye-view of the type of work and, therefore, cash flow you are inheriting.

Ask the seller for a short (3-5 examples) list of their most outstanding treatments to gauge the effectiveness of their follow up system. If the seller is a member of a local business referral group or association, follow up with other members. After all, you are entering their community and early networking prevents many headaches.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like these reveal the day-to-day work being done to maximize the practice’s earning potential. There are a number of dental KPIs, but let’s look at a few basic numbers you must ask for:

  1. How many new patients have they generated in the last 12 months? Is this rate on the rise?
  2. What are the exam and hygiene recall rates? Are they rising?
  3. What marketing is working the best for the practice and which marketing avenues are exhausted?
  4. What’s the level of new patients received from direct referrals?
  5. What is the patient retention rate? How many patients did the practice lose over the last 12 months?

This will help you to understand how good the patient experience is and what you can do to improve it.

Click here to find out more about patient retention.

Why You’re Buying Their Dental Practice

Many dentists who are selling their practice factor in a sense of legacy to the transaction, and may be more willing to negotiate with someone who can show respect for their accomplishments – while also being conscious of their own ambitions.

Have a good conversation with the seller and explain your goals. Where do you want to take their practice after they’re gone? You will be caring for the sellers patients, and they want to make sure that they are in good hands as well.

Click here to find out more about why dentists want their own practices.

Dental Practice Marketing

Make sure to ask the seller about the marketing relationships they’ve forged during their time at the practice. Ask them what ways they’ve advertised in the past, and if there were any open accounts with dental marketing specialists that you could utilize.

It is important to check what their online presence is at the moment. How high does their practice rank in google in their area among dentists? Do they already have brand-awareness online? Do they have a large following on Facebook or Instagram that you can leverage?

If there currently is no marketing in place, that might be a point for contract negotiations further down the road.

Click here to find out more about marketing a dental practice.

Using a Specialist Dental Solicitor

Placing an attractive offer on your future dental practice is one of the most essential elements in completing a successful purchase. After all, if the seller doesn’t like your proposal, they will simply move on to the next buyer – there is no prize for second place.

To ensure that your offer is fair (to both you and the seller) we always recommend enlisting the services of a professional dental solicitor. A good solicitor will carry out due diligence, negotiate the property aspect of the deal and look at the NHS contract with you. In essence, they make sure all of the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted, so you don’t have to.

It is important to research the right solicitor for your transaction. Check in with colleagues to see if they have any firms that they’ve used in the past, do your research, and interview several providers until you find the “right fit” for you.

Contact us today for help with finding a specialist dental solicitor.

Buying a Dental Practice with Samera

When buying a dental practice (especially if it’s for the first time), you need the competent hands of qualified professionals. Not only have we been helping the UK’s dentists to buy, start and sell dental practices for nearly 20 years, we are dental practice owners ourselves!

With Samera Business Advisors you can rest easy knowing that your investment is secure and your future is brighter. Contact us today so we can help plan for your tomorrow.

Join our Buyers Advisory Service

The Samera Buyers Advisory Service is a hands-on programme designed to provide the advice, support and knowledge required to buy a dental practice.

Join our Buyers Registry

If you’re looking for the right dental practice for you, sign up to our buyers registration service. Let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll get to work finding your perfect match from our extensive list of dental practices for sale in the UK.

Further Information on Buying a Dental Practice

For more information please check out the articles and webinars in the buying a dental practice section of our Learning Center.

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You can hear about all our upcoming webinars here.

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