7 Questions that Tell You If It’s a Good Practice For You

I’m a numbers guy. I love spreadsheets, statistics, and the quantitative side of analyzing a practice. But just as important is the qualitative part of the analysis. Sure, it might be a great practice on paper. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.

Here are the top 7 questions I tell dentists to ask themselves about a potential practice to buy.

  1. Will your family like it?

This is the do-not-pass-go question. Once you find a potential practice, really dig into the question of whether you actually want to live there. Do you like the city? The neighborhood? More importantly, does your spouse/significant other like it? Remember, this is where you’ll likely spend the next few decades of your life. Make sure the soil is good for your roots.

  1. Do you and the seller match up well?

How well does your clinical style match the selling doctor’s? It doesn’t need to be exact, but clinical fit is important. If he’s a wait-and-see kind of doctor, and you’re a fill-everything-now doctor, your patients may have a bit of unwelcome whiplash.

Similarly, personality match matters, especially for staff. Again, you’re not trying to be a clone of the seller. You just don’t want the staff to feel like they’re going from one extreme to another with their boss. The transition will be stressful enough—for you and them—without making it harder.

  1. Do you like the physical facility?

On the surface, this one is simple: Do you like the office you’ll be working in? If yes, great! If not, can you bring it into line with your expectations with a modest investment, or will it take a huge, expensive overhaul? Another question here is around growth. Does it have the number of operatories you want? Does it have room for you to grow if you want, or are you limited in the number of patients you can bring through?

  1. Do you like the equipment?

Can you perform the dentistry you know you want to do with the equipment there? If not, how much would it cost you to bring it up to your minimum standard? What about the stuff that’s a little more behind-the-scenes? Delivery units, compressors, vacuums, nitrous, etc. If you’re far enough along into the purchase process, you can call in a specialist to give you an assessment. Meet at the practice (after working hours!) with an equipment rep who can give you their opinion and a quote if anything needs to be replaced or updated.

  1. How’s the staff?

The staff is a massive, crucial part of the evaluation. This will be your family away from home. Will they stay or go? What does the seller think about the current level of salary, benefits, etc. Ask why other staff have left. (You may not get 100% honest answers, but just have your grains of salt ready.)

If you have the opportunity, ask the staff members themselves about their goals, what they love about the practice, what they’d change, and so on. Partly you’re looking for actual answers to those questions, but even more, you’re looking to see if these staff members are engaged or checked out. Starting your ownership journey with a good staff around you will make your life much, much easier.

  1. Does the schedule look good?

How far is hygiene booked out? How far is the dentist booked? Hopefully it’s a minimum of 70-80% for the next two weeks. There should be room for emergencies and walk-ins, but not tons.

Also ask what the primary sources are for new patients. Does the practice have good internal and external marketing? How do you plan to do your marketing, and how aggressively? Will marketing eat into a lot of your collections? Your answer will depend a lot on how that schedule looks.

  1. Do you like the look of the production/patient charts?

Have a good look at any charts you can get your hands on while doing a site visit. Do your skills line up with the procedures that are being done in this practice? What percentage of income comes from hygiene? Have they switched to digital charts? (You’d be surprised!) Look at at least 30 patient charts with an eye toward how well you’ll be able to hit the ground running at this practice.