Tips for Navigating Dental Practice Transitions to New Ownership

As a dentist, selling your practice may be an emotionally-charged experience. It’s not easy to hand over to new owners a business that you poured your heart and soul into.

Although the transition process may be daunting, you should approach it with the same energy and dedication that you devoted to running your practice. 

Ensuring a smooth ownership transition is an act of kindness to all parties involved, including the new owners, your former patients, and your former staff. Setting up the new owners for success also helps to protect your own legal and financial interests while strengthening the legacy that you’ve already built. 

In this guide, we’ll cover some basic tips for navigating each stage of an ownership transition. 

Learn About the New Owner

During the sale process, you learned that the buyer possesses the financial capacity and the sense of commitment necessary for taking over your practice. As you prepare to hand over the reins, learn more about the new owner so that you can be of service in setting them up for success. 

Learn about the new owner’s experience in the dental industry, their approach to finances, and their plans for the future of the practice. The better you know them, the more guidance you can offer. 

Make a Transition Plan

In collaboration with the new owners, draft a written plan for executing the ownership transition. Specify who will be responsible for key transition tasks, how patients will be notified of the change in ownership, and what training will be provided. To eliminate confusion, establish a timeline that specifies when key transitions, such as changes in staff roles, are scheduled to take place. 

Keep Your Staff Informed

Your staff deserves to be kept in the loop while major changes are brewing. Provide regular updates to your staff about the timing and details of the coming transition. 

If accurate, reassure your employees that they will not be losing their jobs and that their roles won’t be changing under the new ownership. If you are aware that the new owners are planning any staffing changes, share as much information with your employees as possible. 

Notify Your Patients

Patients don’t need to know every detail of your ownership transition, but it’s important to engage in  some basic outreach. You can communicate the news of your departure via a letter or email plus a posted notice in your office. Include contact information for the new owner so that patients know how to direct their questions or concerns. 

If your transaction involves the transfer of medical records, assure patients that all applicable laws and policies were followed to protect their confidentiality and privacy. 

Train the New Owner

The new ownership team is free to make whatever changes they see fit, but your obligation is to bring them up to speed on how the practice functions currently. Provide training that equips them to maintain business as usual. 

Be sure to include overviews of your accounting and billing systems, patient scheduling systems, and any other software or systems you used. You should also provide training, if needed, on how to manage the staff and coordinate the completion of dental procedures and other daily operations. 

Update Your Legal Documents

Legal documents that require updating include your business license, insurance policies, leases, and contracts. You may need to transfer some licenses or permits to the new owner. As you review your files, be sure to close out any contracts or accounts that involve automatic payments. 

Follow Up With Staff and Patients

After the ownership transition is complete, you may choose to check in on your former staff to make sure that everything is going smoothly. Coordinate with the new owners to make sure that any communication you have with the staff is appropriate and welcome. 

You can also send a follow-up message to your former patients, reiterating the basic facts about the ownership change and providing a friendly update about your career transition. 

Transition Your Practice to New Ownership with Confidence

At Duckett Ladd, our CPAs and advisors work exclusively with the dental industry. Along with accounting, tax services, and financial planning, we offer planning and administration services for dental practice owners that are pursuing mergers and acquisitions. 
To learn more about how we can help you navigate a smooth and profitable dental practice transaction, contact our team of dental industry experts today.


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