Should You Meet the Staff Before You Buy? | Is it a Good Dental Practice to Buy?

In multiple posts we’ve talked about how influential staff members can be to your success as an owner. This can be financially — through staff costs — or it can be through their established relationship with patients who are just meeting you for the first time.

When my team completes an assessment for the practice of interest, we always request a staff census. 

Does this report impact the worth of the practice? No, but it sure does impact your excitement and can be an indication of potential hurdles or triumphs.

If it doesn’t change what I’m going to offer, then how (and why) should I think about staff tenure?

You want a mix of employees that have been in the office for a notable amount of time, but you also want some that are a bit more green.

If the staff pendulum swings heavily towards one side, you can have issues implementing the changes you want to make (more tenured staff) or having the help you need to know what works in this particular office and having the skill set to accomplish that (more recent hires).

Going solely off staff tenure reports is helpful, but a bit superficial. Wouldn’t it be better if you could meet them in person? 

Absolutely! 

How can you meet the staff before the purchase?

This is a very situation-specific question. Honestly, there is no sure fire way to get in that door and shake all their hands. Oftentimes, the seller doesn’t allow you to meet the staff until you have a signed letter of intent or you’ve shown proof that you can get financing for the practice.

Is it a red flag if the seller won’t let you meet the staff prior?

Nope!

Think of it from the seller’s perspective. There’s a chance that there have been other interested parties in the past that obviously didn’t pan out. The seller could be hesitant to allow you to meet the staff simply because they’ve been burned before. 

Some sellers don’t tell their staff about the transition. While I generally encourage transparency with employees, I’ll play Devil’s advocate here for a second. The seller may be afraid that once he tells the staff “I’m out”, they’ll quit or start slacking before the transition is complete. Either scenario can impact production which would subsequently affect collections, cash flow and ultimately the offer you bring to the table. 

It doesn’t hurt to ask to meet the staff, but don’t be offended if the seller declines your request. 

If the seller says “Yes,” will my interactions with the staff impact my chance to purchase the practice?

Honestly, it might! 

One of my friends is a hygienist. She worked for a doctor she was very happy with. The doctor was purchasing a new office with a shorter commute. He was honest and sincere with the staff regarding his desires to be closer to home but emphasized that he wouldn’t continue with that plan until he could make sure this practice continued to thrive and that the staff would be in good hands. 

So right away the doctor was honest, sincere and thoughtful.

He continued to tell the staff that he had been speaking to a few different interested buyers and that one may come into the office. He shared some details about him and why he felt like this buyer was a potential fit. The seller then asked the staff if they would be willing to meet the potential buyer and give their opinions.

This doctor was putting the potential buyer in a positive light right away and giving the staff the chance to share their opinions.

The buyer visited, talked with the team and opened himself up for questions.

Ultimately, he purchased the practice. Each member stayed and welcomed him graciously. Because they met him prior, Day 1 with patients went smoothly for all involved and has progressed nicely since.

If you’re given the chance to meet the staff, just do a few simple things. All it really takes is a little sincerity and being a good human. 

Learn their names and positions prior. Bring a box of donuts. Ask questions about themselves. Invite them to ask you questions.

If the seller is bringing a couple different people through the door, the thing that will make you stand out the most is sincerity and approachability.