Practice Transitions with Matt Porter : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran on Dentaltown

Expert Practice Transition Advice with Matt Porter : Dentistry Uncensored with Howard Farran on Dentaltown



Dentist Money™, Industry Expert Series: Interview with Matt Porter, transition specialist and dental practice consultant at Menlo Dental Transitions

The Thriving Dentist : Demystifying the Process of Buying or Selling a Practice | with Matt Porter

Shared Practices | Your Dental Roadmap to Practice Ownership

Case Studies

Case Study #1 – “Should I Sell to a DSO?”

In today’s market, DSO offers can feel flattering and lucrative, which was the case with a recent dental practice owner. He was offered 95% of last year’s collections from a DSO, which on the surface seemed like a large amount of money, and significantly more than individuals were currently paying for similar dental practices on the market. Before he made a decision, he consulted with Menlo. As we delved into the details with him, it became obvious that what looked too good to be true, in fact, was.

Upon closer examination of the economic details of the offer, the DSO offer only paid 70% of the purchase price (66.5% of collections) at the time of the sale. The offer also required the seller to continue working at the practice as an associate for an additional 2 year period after the sale. Only if the seller was able to keep the practice production above a certain number for that 2 year post-sale period, would he receive the remaining purchase price. This caveat would prove difficult since during those two years, the DSO would be in control of the practice performance. During this 2 year period, the owner would need to continue working full time, receiving payment on 30% of his operative collections. 

After running the real numbers scenario with all the facts, the seller realized he would make significantly more money over the next two years by continuing to own and work at the practice. He plans to pursue a private party sale with a brief transition period in two years. With Menlo’s help, he will be earning significantly more over the next two years and will have full control over his practice while retiring in the same time frame. He also knows what to focus on over the next few years to ensure a high profit on the final sale.  (ADD CHART)

Case Study #2 – “Is a Dental Practice Broker Worth It?”

A skilled and successful dentist came to Menlo mid-career to sell his practice. He needed to relocate across the country for family reasons, and had been told by his dental CPA that his practice was worth 75% of the last three years of average collections.

Dental CPAs are very skilled within their scope of core competency and have knowledge of general rules of thumb, but an experienced practice advisor completes dozens of local transitions each year, and understands both the qualitative and quantitative factors at play. We wanted to make sure he would receive the best sale price possible. 

We scheduled a time to visit the practice, run practice reports and review the financials.  The facility was immaculate and recently remodeled.  The equipment was in like-new condition, with a $140,000 cerec onmi-cam purchased in the last 18 months.  The last years’ collections were roughly $810,000 (2015) $830,00 (2016) $1,100,000 (2017). 

The CPA’s rule of thumb would have yielded a sale price of $685,000. The CPA had not visited the practice, had not seen the new equipment or remodeled facility and had not run the practice report to see that hygiene was booked out weeks in advance and all implants, endo, ortho and OS were being referred out. The CPA also didn’t ask what had driven the collections’ increase in 2017. 

These are crucial details to take into account when valuing a dental practice. When we asked the owner about the 2017 increase, he indicated that he equipped 2 more operatories in the office and opened up 3 more days per month in the office schedule in late 2016.  From a proper valuation approach, that material change in the practice performance in 2017 was driven by an infrastructure investment, indicating that 2017 was realistically the only previous year that should be used in determining value.  We proposed listing the practice for $990,000 and produced multiple, full-price offers within 2 weeks, including one all cash offer. 

By using Menlo, he received $300,000 more from the sale of his practice, had full confidence in the process, and very little hassle. His choice to use a brokerage more than paid for itself.

Case Study #3 - “Can’t I do it on my own?”

After a speaking engagement at a highly respected Arizona study club, a dentist approached Menlo for a complimentary evaluation of his practice. He had been trying to sell it on his own practice for the past 3 weeks for $880,000 without any luck and was becoming frustrated.

After touring the facility, running practice management reports, and reviewing financials, we were able to confidently tell the dentist that the practice was worth approximately $1,000,000 based on recently completed practice sales of a similar nature in the same city.  The dentist immediately engaged us, and we brought him 3 full price offers within 3 weeks. He selected the best fitting offer and closed the transaction for all cash within 60 days of our listing. He was thrilled with the fast time table and extra $120,000 for retirement.

Case Study #4 – “What About My Building?”

Menlo was interviewed by a husband/wife dentist team with a 2-doctor practice to sell.  At our initial visit, the dentists indicated that they also owned the real estate, a 4,200 SF, high end, free standing building with major street frontage and monument signage.  When we asked what their plans were for the building upon sale of the practice, they said they hadn’t thought through that. 

The dentists were also interviewing a national dental brokerage firm. When Menlo inquired what the national firm recommended, the dentists said they suggested just focusing on selling the practice now and sign a generic lease with the practice buyer. As we ran our own calculations, we determined that this was a faulty strategy. The dental practice was worth approximately $980,000, but the real estate was worth well over $1,200,000 as an investment, with a strategically structured, proper lease. Without a well written and properly priced lease, the building would have been worth less than $950,000, a decrease in value of almost $250,000 in building sales price. By choosing Menlo, a local advisor who understands both the dental practice and real estate market, they were able to ensure that the building wasn’t devalued as an afterthought to the practice transition and ended up thrilled with the extra profits.

Case Study #5 – “The Wrong Advisor”

After lecturing at a CE class at the annual Western Regional Dental Convention, one attendee stopped us to ask a few questions. His practice had been listed with another broker for the last 18 months, but there had only been a few showings and 1 low offer. He had been referred to us before by a friend and banker he trusted but hadn’t been quite ready to make a change.

After attending our class, he terminated his contract with his current broker and hired Menlo to list and sell his practice. The location was more remote, but the equipment and technology was top notch and had steady collections and high cash flow. Within 2 months, we had a full price offer (at the same price the original broker had listed the practice) from a young dentist moving to Arizona from out of state.  The sale closed in 45 days, making the total time from listing to closing less than 4 months. The owner was incredibly relieved and grateful to be able to retire so quickly and feel great about the sale of his practice.

Case Study #6 – “The Perils of For Sale By Owner”

In 2015, Menlo was contacted by a dentist and his wife who were looking to sell their practice and retire. The practice was in a newer facility, with newer equipment, and great fundamentals (revenue, cash flow, hygiene, etc).  After giving the owners a high preliminary valuation, the dentist and his wife decided to post a few online ads and try to sell the practice on their own. 

After a year of unsuccessful efforts, the dentist reconnected with our firm and asked us to help transition the practice. Concurrently, they were contacted directly by a credible ‘FSBO’ dentist-buyer from out of state that expressed interest in the practice. The buyer and seller worked without a broker and agreed upon a sale price of $971,000. The dentist worked with his own attorney, the buyer, buyer’s attorney and the buyer’s lender for almost 6 months before negotiations finally broke down over contract details.

After intense frustration, the dentist again contacted Menlo and formally engaged us to help sell the practice. In 10 days, we had a fully executed Letter of Intent from a local dentist at a cash price of $1,070,000, almost $100,000 more than what the seller was originally trying to sell the practice for. 

By leveraging our market presence and contacts, we knew the perfect buyer for the practice – a dentist who was financially qualified and intrinsically motivated to buy a practice in that particular city. It was the perfect match and a highly successful sale for both parties. This is the benefit of a qualified advisor.

Case Study #7: “Sale in a Hurry”

A dentist came to Menlo after hiring another broker to sell her practice. She wanted to transition from full time dental practice to part-time dental teaching and motherhood. She held an expensive lease that would be up in 14 months, and she didn’t want to renew. After 12 months her current broker had not found her a buyer, so she contacted Menlo with an impossible request. She needed to be out of her current space in 30 days and hoped we could help find a buyer. 

Our bank of dentists and prospective buyers was a huge asset in this situation. We knew of a practice in the area that had too many dentists and not enough work. The close proximity of the practices made it an ideal fit. She could infuse their business with 800 new patients and walk  away with a hefty profit and no tie to the expensive lease. The buyers paid full price for the practice, happy to so quickly increase their patient load, and were able to close in 30 days. Our seller was thrilled to be able to move on to the life she had been looking forward to.

Case Study #8: “The Right Fit”

We met a dentist at a study club who needed help drawing up a fair contract. He was planning on selling his practice and working back for a few years until he was ready for full retirement. He had a buyer and an agreed upon price of $1.6 million.

As we worked on the contract, we noticed that the seller was leaving a couple hundred thousand dollars on the table. When we brought it up, he decided he wanted to honor the price and was fine with the profits.  

As negotiations began, the buyer was demanding, asking for multiple freebies and added concessions on top of the generous price. His personality was difficult and arrogant. The seller realized that working side by side with this dentist would not be something that would be enjoyable at the end of his career, so we unwound the deal and made a new plan.

Menlo worked with the seller to ensure that, when he was ready, his practice would sell for $2 million. We broke down production by each provider in the office, tracked monthly performance and set quarterly goals. The doctor and staff worked exceptionally hard for 18 months, and when we strategically put the practice on the market at the right time, and notified motivated buyers, it sold for $2.125 million, $125,000 over asking price and $525,000 over the previous offer.

But the best part of the transaction wasn’t the significantly higher profit. It was receiving 3 full price offers which allowed the doctor to interview and think carefully about who he would want to spend the next few years working with. He ended up with more money in his pocket and a dentist he has thoroughly enjoyed partnering with. Menlo helped him find success in every way.