Dental Practice – Should I Sell, Merge or Stay?

I’m 42 and I’m two years away from completely owning my practice.

At that point my income increases substantially.

I was poor and in debt when I bought the practice (which was overpriced and underperforming.) Now, it’s productive but I’m questioning whether I want to stay. Right now I feel tired, burnt out, and not motivated to keep the leadership energy flowing. My question is – are group practices better?

For instance, I’d like to take a real vacation before I retire. (2 weeks would be nice) I’d like to discuss complex treatment plans, I’d like to share overhead, I’d like some company (an office manager would be nice.)

Yes, I’ve got a good staff but I’m their boss. Some have suggested finding a consultant – I’m burnt out on those. I’ve had three – and they really didn’t help much. (One was a mentor, one was getting started in the business and one was way overpriced) I’m still paying off the last one. I feel like I could sell this practice and make a profit. Then, I could work as an associate as I find a group to become partnered with. Have people done this? What are some pros and cons?

Not knowing you (personally anyway), it’s difficult to give any real advice, so I have to use assumptions.

Assuming you still want to own & work, it sounds like you want to have more time off, share the call (i.e. better quality of life) and hopefully maintain some ownership so you can maintain a share of the profits.

If those are some fair assumptions you could:

1. Look around for a younger dentist who currently owns their practice & wants to grow their practice, maybe with deferred payments & you could merge your practice into theirs & work out some type of deferred sale. For example, become 50/50 partners in one bigger practice, this way you’ll have some security knowing if something happens & you need to retire or sell, your partner will buy your half. Keep in mind you’ll have to buy theirs if something happens to them first. They can come into your space, or you there’s, whichever is a better location.

2. Find a young doctor looking to own a practice, hire them as an associate with the opportunity to buy-in.

I have 6 partners & have never worked alone, so I can only comment based on my experience. I was out of the office all last week and my other partners were able to handle any calls that came in for me that NEEDED attention. I can go away & not have to worry about a client’s ability to be serviced, just as my partners can do. If I were solo, last week would have been more stressful knowing that IF something came up that needed partnerowner attention the client would have to wait.

I doubt you really want to sell, that’s just a guess though.

This post first appeared on DentalTown.

Send your questions to Tim Lott, CPA, CVA at

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