Selling a chair or even charts is easy. It’s just an object that you are giving to another doctor to own. But, I’ve had many doctors who realize their lives will be different going forward after their transition. They may have staff they have worked with for 25 years or more. They have seen patients grow from being a child to being a parent and some even become grandparents. Now their children and grandchildren are patients of the office. You have vendors and your CPA that you have gotten to know personally and confide in. Staff, patients, and the vendors have all become family and you will not be seeing them as often as you have in the past.
You will also be changing your life in that you no longer are the owner, manager, and decision-maker with people relying on you to lead them. You may no longer have to wake up and go to work every day. Believe it or not, you may even have “spare” time and have to find new hobbies, rekindle old ones or maybe even find take care of the honey-do list.
The good, if not great news, is that the staff, patients, and vendors are thankful for the years of service you have provided them in addition to your friendship. They want you to enjoy life and spend time with your real family – spouse, your parents, kids, and grandkids. Preparing for this emotional aspect of your dental practice sale will help make your practice transition into retired life a much smoother process.
Preparing To Sell My Dental Practice
By Megan Urban
Selling your practice can be a difficult decision to make for many reasons. Perhaps you aren’t ready to stop treating patients but want fewer headaches. Perhaps you don’t know where to start or how the process works. Start today by contacting us to provide you with years of experience to bring you comfort and understanding. Below are a few things to consider.
You can start by having us provide you with the potential value of your practice, without the cost of doing a full valuation. We can do the same for your property if you own it. These potential prices will assist you in working with your CPA and financial planner to determine what your retirement cash flow looks like. Be prepared to pay off any debt on the practice at the time of closing. Debt could be from recently purchased equipment or any loan you may have taken out against the practice. If you lease your space, please review your lease.
Start thinking about whether or not you want to continue working a bit. You may not be able to stay on at your office if there is not enough production for two providers. Perhaps you want to work at the dental school or cover for your friends when they are on vacation or sick. These important issues will need to be included in the purchase and sale documents if anything is outside the standard non-complete.
If you have a family member working in a main position in your practice who will be retiring as well or leaving the practice, consider options. We can discuss if it makes sense to hire and train someone new and if the wages you pay family are inflated, we need to consider that in the expenses and adjust potential income to a new buyer. The family member may also be held to a non-solicitation agreement or the like.
Preparing to sell also includes us looking at your dental software reports and tax returns. If dental reports don’t look accurate, they may need to be researched. If you refer out services, please start tracking this so we can provide a buyer with potential immediate increase in income if they can keep the services in-house.
Please look at your credit balances. Some dentists are surprised to see how high those balances are, and they will need to be addressed. It may be an error you can fix, such as unposted treatment or incorrect insurance adjustments. If it is truly a patient credit, get the patient in for an exam, cleaning, or any incomplete treatment. Any credit balances at closing will be directly reduced from the sale price.
If you have a lot of old accounts receivable, determine what needs to be written off, such as old accounts receivable that you know you cannot collect or family members that you don’t intend to charge. Accounts receivable are often purchased separate from the practice sale and aging amounts are reduced. If you allow monthly payments in your office and the patients are up to date on payments, you may decide to not sell these or negotiate for a higher price for this specific piece of accounts receivable.
Now may not be the time to get all new equipment if you are preparing to sell, but it may be time to shape up a few things. If you do not have digital x-rays and electronic charts, consider investigating the cost and process to determine if you want to take that on or not. We can discuss if painting or other minor aesthetic changes might make sense. Decluttering is always encouraged!
If you have a website, be sure to increase Google reviews. This is important to new young buyers.
Please do not tell patients and team members about potentially selling. We can discuss the timing of this for you and your specific situation.
If you are considering selling, let’s schedule a time to talk about the general process of selling your practice and how we are different in our approach to representing you and your best interests.Read More
There are many steps to selling your practice and your trusted advisors are here to help. Right now, I want to address just a few items that many dentists don’t think about and that can lead to surprises.
Contact your CPA and/or Financial Planner regarding the following items:
- Are you financially prepared to retire? Your transition specialist (broker) can assist you in determining the potential price of your practice and your real estate (if any).
- Depending on your entity structure and past depreciation, what taxes will you owe?
- Depending on your state, what taxes will you owe?
- If you have any debt against your practice or real estate the debt will be paid at closing from your sales proceeds
- What will you do with the final funds? Do you have a retirement plan to maximize or does a 1031 exchange on the real estate make sense for you?
Again, there are many steps to selling your practice, but please address the above items to help reduce surprises.Read More
You’ve made the decision to sell your practice, and with that comes the to-do list of tasks that can often feel daunting. One important task that is often overlooked is settling patient credit balances.
What are credit balances and where do they come from?
In many cases, a patient will have a credit on their account when their insurance pays more toward their treatment than anticipated or you estimated a patient portion to be higher than was necessary and collected accordingly. In these instances, patients paid more out of pocket than necessary; therefore, the difference will show as a credit on their account and on your accounts receivable report or unassigned credit report. Credit balances can also result from patients mailing in a payment or making an online payment on a balance that they have already paid. These are duplicate payments typically made in error. When this happens, we recommend contacting the patients and advising them of the duplicate payment before posting it to their accounts. Many patients will request that you return their duplicate payment to them and some will elect to leave the credit on their account if they have upcoming treatment planned. If they have upcoming treatment planned, this can be an effective way to get them on the schedule. It can be difficult to reverse an online payment and, in those instances, you may have to post it to the patient’s account. In other cases, patients may pay upfront for larger treatment plans and due to unanticipated circumstances, they were not able to complete their full treatment, or perhaps less treatment became necessary. If you have a practice where patients with insurance are required to pay their patient portion due at the time of scheduling their appointment for treatment, then credit balances will appear on the patient account until the procedures are posted and until insurance has paid their portion, this is just the normal course of collecting patient portions upfront. The same applies to patients without insurance if you collect the patient portion upfront.
How should I be handling credit balances?
To keep your credit balances at a minimum I would suggest you come up with an efficient protocol with whoever is in charge of your accounts receivable, whether it be your office manager, bookkeeper, or yourself. Credit balances are typically handled by an office manager. It is our recommendation that your accounts receivable report or unassigned credit report be reviewed monthly. If there are outstanding claims on an account, no refund is due yet. If there is a credit balance and there are no outstanding claims, we recommend contacting each patient and advising them of the credit balance. And again, if they have been treatment planned for procedures ask each patient if they would like to keep the credit balance on their account and get them on the schedule for treatment. If they have no upcoming treatment, it is typically best practice to refund the patient as soon as possible to keep your accounts clean. Make sure to document these conversations about credit balances in patient notes. This will serve you well in the long run when reviewing your reports each month for credit balances. Some practices choose to monitor patient credit balances quarterly; however, if you are preparing to sell your practice, we recommend that you do this monthly. You’d be surprised how quickly credit balances add up and how often they are overlooked.
One important note of caution! When reviewing the credit balances on patient accounts, do not assume that the refund always goes to the patient! You want to look back to the last zero balance on each account and look at patient payments made and insurance payments made. Insurance companies make mistakes and sometimes they overpay and sometimes they make a duplicate payment on a claim. In these instances, the refund is due to the insurance company and not to the patient. Some insurance companies catch these errors quickly and request a refund in writing. Others do not catch them so quickly and they have up to a year to claim their refund (this may vary from state to state). Pay attention to this detail when reviewing accounts. Remember to make notes in patient account notes so you don’t have to repeat your efforts every month.
I have not been settling patient credits on a regular basis, I have thousands of dollars in credits now what?
Follow the detailed recommendations above and get your accounts with credit balances cleaned up. It is essential to do this leg work prior to the sale of your practice. Make every effort to contact your patients to refund any monies due to them. If the refunds are due to insurance company overpayments, contact them and ask that they send a request for refund letter. If you are unable to reach patients with credit balances due to them, these credit balances in many states must be reported to the state in which your practice is located. For example, in the state of Washington, credit balances over a certain dollar amount must be documented on an “Unclaimed Property Report” and filed with the state before November 1st each year. Do some research and find out what your state’s unclaimed property reporting requirements are.
*Disclaimer: The information above is not legal advice. Each state has its own rules and regulations. Be sure to review all rules and regulations as circumstances may vary.Read More
By Megan Urban, Practice Transition Advisor
Are you ready to sell your dental practice? This is always a difficult question to answer for most dentists. You may still love doing dentistry but want less stress. How is your body holding up? Do you have enough money to retire? How much is your practice worth?
Contact your transition consultant/broker and have a heart-to-heart about your practice, goals, and options. We have lots of experience to share that may be beneficial to you. We can do a complimentary quick look to give you an idea of what your practice may be worth and of course a full valuation will need to be done to determine the final value.
Once you have an idea of what you may be paid for your practice and associated real estate, you can talk with your CPA and financial planner to know what retirement looks like for you, as well as plan what to do with your sales proceeds. You may have practice or real estate debt to pay off at closing, or you may have a retirement plan you can utilize to save on taxes.
Many dentists don’t know if they want to sell their real estate with the practice. In our experience, the best person to own the space is the dentist working in it. If you happen to have a lot of rentals and enjoy that, maybe this is an option for you, but if your buyer leaves, empty dental spaces can be difficult to sell.
Sometimes dentists believe their practice is worth more than our valuation and want to stay on to increase collections that may have waned a bit due to slowing down. You can certainly do that but know that banks look at the last three years of tax returns so if you want to increase collections to increase practice value, you will need to increase and work another three years.
If you still love doing dentistry and want to sell and stay on part-time, you need to start thinking about how much you want to work and how you will build a practice that can maintain a schedule for more than one dentist. This can be done, but you need to have a plan and your transition consultant can assist with this.
Are you ready to sell? Give it some serious thought after talking with your advisors and make the decision with confidence. Contact us today!Read More