Q: Should I buy from a multi-practice owner?
A: In general, I recommend steering clear of any transition where the seller owns multiple locations for three reasons.
- You’re buying the worst location.
If the seller owns multiple locations and wants to continue practicing dentistry, she is going to drop the one that has the least desirable location and staffing issues; the one where they can’t attract new patients, or where a brand new competitor opened up down the street.
Though they may answer many of your questions, the seller is always going to know more than you can find out. There’s a reason they’re selling and unfortunately you run the risk that she won’t be perfectly transparent about all the reasons.
- Questionable patient loyalty.
Chances are the two (or three, etc…) locations are relatively close to each other. If the dentist can drive between the practices relatively easily, then so can the patients. Though a seller may sign a non-compete, patients don’t.
You’re an unknown to the patients. The patients remember the other guy and have Google. Some may follow the seller, some may stay, but some may reevaluate altogether and turn to Google.
- The transitions are always messier.
It seems there’s always some kind of unforeseen issue with multi-practice doctor sellers, whether a lien, staffing or equipment issue, etc.
These types of practices aren’t exactly selling themselves, so sellers often use a broker to offload the deadbeat office. So don’t rely on broker postings for the cream of the crop offices to show up.
It comes down to a seller being stretched way too thin, not having a good grasp of all the details of their businesses, and being busier than the average person.
Although I clearly recommend avoiding these transitions, if you try to buy one and the deal falls apart, you can still call me. I’ll have the tissues ready.
- Evaluating the Seller as much as the Practice
- 4 Tips to Use Brokers to Find a Dental Practice for Sale
- Are Your Future Dental Patients In the Right Demographics for You?