Getting due diligence right is an important step in buying a dental practice. A lot of buyers get really nervous with due diligence as the full weight of what they’re doing really starts to sink in.
“Wait…so I’m going to pay a million dollars for…what’s this?…wallpaper from 1970?”
I’ve talked elsewhere about the best time to do due diligence and 77 questions to ask during due diligence, but both of those resources are from the point of view of a dentist looking at another dentist’s practice.
Sometimes the best due diligence you can do is not from the perspective of a dentist, but from the perspective of a patient.
That’s right. I want you to look through your practice as if you were a patient about to be treated.
Look at the following:
- Ask for the new patient forms. A lot of practices forms have been photocopied multiple times. Badly. The lines aren’t straight, the gaps to write in are inconsistent, and they have those weird blotches you get when you photocopy a photocopy of a photocopy. If the practice has forms this bad and still sees financial results good enough to get you interested in buying – that’s low hanging fruit you want to take note of.
- Call the office during working hours. Did they pick up? How was the conversation? Then…call the office during off-hours. How long did it take for someone to call you back, if at all? Again – maybe the front desk is lights-out here, but probably not. How much more confident will you feel as the owner if you know the simple act of returning messages will keep your patients happy and bring new ones in the door?
- Ask your mom to google the practice, look on their website and give you her honest opinion. What stands out to someone who consumes dentistry instead of practices it?
- Take a walk from the front desk to the furthest operatory. What did you see along the way? Was everything tidy? Any dust bunnies in the corners? Garbage cans not cleaned out?
You could argue that appearances shouldn’t matter, but they do. And these are the things patients are judging your practice on – not what quality of bonding agent you have in the supply cabinet or what model chair you’re about to buy.
Looking at the practice from the perspective of a patient can give you confidence you can easily improve areas of the practice to retain old patients and attract new ones.
But even more important, that patient-centered look will give you a sense of who you’re buying from and their level of management acumen. Are you filling the shoes of an amazing business person? Or are you buying a practice from a dentist who had a good business despite herself?
I mean, how hard is it to return voicemails and print off crisp, clean forms at Staples instead of the alternative? But most practices aren’t even doing these basics.
More often than not, when my buyer clients take this patient-centric due diligence approach their nervousness about the transition goes WAY down.
“I see what’s happening here,” they think, “and I know I can at least do X, Y and Z better and patients will love it!”
Try it out and let me know what you see.
I created a guide called “77 Questions to Ask to Avoid Buying the Wrong Dental Practice.”
Get the guide here for free (all I ask is a quick share in return).
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