When selling your dental practice, the transaction can be damaged if the process isn’t kept confidential until the sale is complete. You may be conflicted about keeping this secret from your staff. We’ve seen this dilemma before - but trust us, it’s for the best. We, as your broker, will take the necessary precautions to keep the sale of your practice confidential. We require every dentist interested in buying your practice sign a confidentiality agreement. We want to protect you, your practice, your staff and your patients. We are sharing our tips on confidentiality that we have learned first hand, to help protect the sale of your largest asset.
Don’t Tell Your Office Manager or The Staff
Really, this could be your biggest mistake.
These are the people you’ve worked with for a long time. This is your team - and no doubt, you have a high level of trust for them.
But does your staff return that trust? In many cases, we’ve seen that trust comes with a paycheck. When it comes down to relying on them in a situation of this gravity, your staff may not carry the weight the same way you will as the practice owner. It can be too tempting for staff to share this information.
You may think that you need to tell your office manager when you have decided to sell your practice because you run your dental practice together. Your office manager is highly in tune with the rest of the office. Can you guarantee this information won’t trickle down to the rest of the staff, then to the patients, and then to other practices?
Consider this: what happens when your hygienists know that the practice is being sold? A large part of your hygienists’ job is chair side, interacting with and getting to know your patients. In chatting, it could come up that the dental practice is for sale. Then what? Can you guarantee that your patients will stick around to see what happens? (See the section below on losing your patients.)
The only way to protect your practice’s value and patient base is to prevent this fear from being planted in the first place, for both your patients and staff.
Losing Your Staff
The Myth: “No matter what, the dentist who buys our practice is going to come in and lay everybody off."
Many hygienists and other staff members believe the sale of a practice means a staff purge. If your staff hears you are selling your practice, they are going to think, “well, I’m not waiting around to get fired… I’m going to find a new job now.” This simply is not the case!
The Truth: We always advise new practice owners to keep the staff the same - and they listen.
Your staff is crucial to how your practice runs and have an incredible goodwill factor with your patients. Part of the value of your practice is the foundation you’ve laid in building a strong staff and patient base. Your patients trust your staff because they spend more time with your hygienists and front desk than they do with you.
It also costs a lot more for the dentist buying your dental practice to replace your staff. This means you won’t get as much for the sale because of the added work the new doctor will have to put into hiring to keep the practice running after the transition.
It is very hard to convince your staff to stay once they know you will, eventually, no longer be in charge.
If your staff does find out about the potential sale and starts looking for new jobs, they are putting their information out into the local dental community, submitting applications and going on interviews. They will be asked why they are leaving your dental office. At this point other dentists in the area will know that you are selling your practice.
Losing Your Patients
A similar thing can happen with your patients. If they find out your are selling your practice before you know who the new doctor is, they may not wait around to find out. They will have questions that you aren’t prepared to answer yet.
- Who will the new provider be?
- Will they still take my insurance?
- Will my treatments cost more?
- Will they suggest different treatments than you?
As soon as your patients and your staff start leaving your dental practice, the value of your dental practice starts dropping. And at that point, there is nothing you can do to recover the value.
Losing the Sale
It gets worse… if you are already talking to a buyer and they pull out of the sale because your patients and staff are leaving, you haven’t just lost that one buyer. Your dental practice is now damaged in the market.
Making an Easy Dental Practice Transition
Don’t worry. We will prepare you for all of this! For all of our practice sellers, we propose a thorough dental practice transition plan for after the sale is complete. We encourage an extended time working side by side with the new dentist, introducing him or her to the practice and patients, for as long as you both agreed to in the sale. This helps smooth the transition from one owner to another.