By Aaron Schulman
Running a small business is not an easy task – even for people who have business degrees. Dental graduates usually do not have business degrees or experience running an office, so while taking care of patients is a familiar task, running a business may not be. There is not a doubt that dentists are experts in their field, but when they need help selling or preparing to sell their business, it is in their best interest to hire someone who is an expert at selling a dental practice.
With the goal of financial freedom, newer dentists are looking for practices that will deliver. The latest trends indicate many new dentists will move in and out of a few practices in their careers – mostly because of the financial freedom that comes with buying, building, and selling dental practices. Long gone are the days of the local dentist working until the day he dies; and the new dentists are looking to be able to retire and enjoy a lifestyle they work hard to create.
It typically takes about 12 months to transition out of a dental practice. During that time there are a few wise moves that a dentist can make to create a more lucrative sale. By following the instructions of a typical dental practice broker, dentists can transition out of their practices in less than one year.
The one feature that each dentist office should have is a working, current website. The return on this investment is quite good as most people look to the Internet for information about medical and dental issues. Therefore, a good dental office website should be able educate patients and have the necessary forms for new patients. High-tech dental offices bring in well-educated clients who use the Internet on a regular basis.
Once the website is up and running, it is equally important and even less expensive to become active on social media. Facebook has more active users than many countries have residents, making the captive audience quite large. Along with a Facebook landing page, it is also important to have a Twitter page and a LinkedIn profile. All of these social media sites help dentists connect with new patients as well as other dentists – which is helpful when looking for new opportunities or for potential buyers and sellers. Like the website, social media has a big return on investment.
When you become active online, it is a good idea to follow the reviews that your practice receives. Customers will leave reviews on social media sites and on dental office review sites. Customers usually only leave reviews in three situations: when they are asked, when they receive outstanding service, or when they receive awful service. It is important to never give a patient reason to leave a review for awful service. In today’s world, the Internet has taken the place of the telephone book and patients do read reviews about potential dentists. If you do not have the time to maintain your online presence, you can hire someone to do that in the office or hire a company that specializes in web presence and social media reputation.
After you have cleaned up your online presence, the penultimate step is to clean up the office interior. When you are transitioning out of your practice, it is a good idea to clean the office of any personal decorations, like family photos or memorabilia. New dental offices are stark spaces with clean lines and modern equipment. You might not need to buy new equipment or furniture, but removing clutter and unnecessary décor can update the office so it looks attractive to potential buyers. If this is not your forte, you can always hire an interior decorator that specializes in office décor.
Lastly, potential buyers like to see a dental office that is actively pursuing patients. Whether they are brand new or inactive patients, your office should have a business plan in place to keep them coming in for dental care. That business plan should actively engage local businesses, non-profits, and other agencies. If marketing is not your expertise, there are plenty of people who excel in creating marketing plans for dental offices.
The keys to a successful transition include at least these four steps. Two of the steps involve using the Internet with a useful and educational website along with a powerful, yet subtle, social media presence. The third step involves creating a professional office space. The final step involves a strong marketing plan to bring in new customers. When these keys are met, dental offices tend to move quickly through the transitioning period and sell at a very satisfying price.
Aaron Schulman is a professional with 5th Avenue Acquisitions & Venture Capitalists – dental transition experts throughout the United States. For more information on how to sell or buy a dental practice, visit their website.
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