Nine times out of ten, a client comes to us and asks: I’m five years out from selling. When should I start my practice transition?
And they’re not wrong to think of it like that: dental consultants ask the question, attorneys ask the question, and other brokers ask the question: how far out are you from selling? And regardless of the answer, those same professionals often say the same thing: start 2 years out.
The problem with that answer is that it doesn’t take into account how long a dentist wants to stay on – if at all.
So instead of asking our clients how far out are you from selling? We ask: when are you ready to be done? Like, done done.
And that opens up a much bigger, messier, but more powerful conversation. When you answer “When are you ready to be done,” you get to the heart of why you’re selling, what you want your future to look like, and how you want to spend your time when you’re not practicing. And those are much harder questions to answer.
But how clients answer drives how we advise them – for timeline, for buyer partners, for day-to-day business decisions they’re up against at the moment.
When a client has really done the thinking around why they want to sell, they can often answer when they want to be done practicing medicine or dentistry, and then we can help them plan a timeline for listing.
When we ask “When are you ready to be done?”, here are the answers we’re hearing most often:
Not anytime soon – I like practicing dentistry but I’m sick of HR and coding.
Someone just quit and you simply don’t have the space to deal with it. Insurance reimbursement just went down (again) on one of your bread-and-butter procedures. We work with clients every day who want to keep practicing and keep owning but need a business partner. We help them find the right partner to take the weight of solo entrepreneurship off their shoulders.
A couple of months, maybe a couple of years… I’m tired of running my practice but I’ll stick around if I need to.
About a third of our clients are ready to sell – maybe near retirement, maybe not – but are happy to stay on a few months … up to a few years to ensure their people are treated well and the patient experience is smooth.
I’m ready to retire in the next year and when I’m done, I’m done. I’m hanging up my coat the day the money comes in.
It’s not uncommon for a doctor – especially near retirement – to want a clean, final feeling transaction. We get it. And there are buyers that want the same thing – to walk into a practice on day one and know it’s fully theirs.
Which are you?
Regardless of how far out you are from selling, we strongly encourage you to think about how long you want to keep practicing and let that answer and that honesty inform your selling timeline. Combined with knowing your “why”, it’s one of the most powerful exercises you can do before calling a dental consultant, transitions broker, or going at it on your own.
Want someone to talk it through? Email Thomas – email@example.com