Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing that all? Life is still a little crazy. Lacrosse finished, but spring football started. Baseball is over, but now all the camps sign-ups are started.

We are sending our oldest on his first mission trip this year in July, but his passport expires a month earlier in June. Just one more thing to deal with. We are currently planning our summer and it is looking like we are going to go to the mountains during the first week in July. Yeah!!! I love the mountains. We are also planning a long weekend—five days—at the beach. I think we will have some great family time. A long drive in the van with four kids ... just thinking about it, it sounds like I might need a vacation from my vacation.

Anyway, I have had zero time to read. But I did sneak in a movie this weekend. I watched a movie called "The Town" with Ben Affleck. It was pretty good. I could go all into it, but just take my word: it's worth the rental.

Today I want to talk about these dental companies that are buying up private practices. I had a run in with one a couple of weeks ago. Lets go back a bit. I have spoken in the past about how students are graduating with tons of debt and not able to do what many of us did—come into a practice and be an associate. Then the owner grooms you as an associate for five years or so, and then there is a structured buyout. I think this is the most ideal situation.

I think someone fresh out of dental school is not ready to handle the type of dentistry that some patients require. And I think they don't have the life experiences that would make someone a good leader. Now, I am not saying a dentist fresh out of school is not a good dentist. I can just say from personal experience that I was not ready for "Big Time" dentistry when I got out of school. The associateship track is how a young dentist can mature under the guidance of an experienced dentist, and that dentist also gains a young, passionate fellow dentist that could one day take over a practice.

It is interesting how the lay of the land has changed in our profession over the years. So many things are causing this change ... student debt, baby boomers retiring. There are now more retiring dentists than there are dental students graduating. The economy is such that even if a young dentist wanted to pay top dollar for a practice, most banks would be very leery and may not loan them the money at all.

There is one other thing that I am going to throw in for consideration. We have older dentists that are loners. That sounds bad, but I'm just referring to people who like to work by themselves. And there has never been a time when these types of dentists thought about bringing someone into their practices. That means they are getting close to retirement age and want to sell. However, no one is looking. So in walks these companies—which are run by dentists—with a lot of money they can flash around. They tell the owner dentist that they are not like those other dental companies that make you change. "We are not looking to take over you practice," they say. "We just want to come along side of you and make your practice better. We can do this by owning a bunch of practices and then buying the supplies in bulk." They tell you that labs prices are lower and that they can help you save money. "Now what we will do is we will value your practice at 80 percent of production. We can buy you out for that money or we can work together and we will split the profits," is what they say.

Wow! That sounds so good, doesn't it?!! To the dentist that is wanting to sell and can't find any takers ... this is a godsend. To the dentist that is slow and is thinking they are going to fold soon if things don't change ... this company just answered all his/her prayers.

Does anyone have any experience with this kind of company? My experience has not been good. No. 1: They claim they will buy your practice. With what? Most of the time it is not 100 percent cash. It is usually some cash and some stock options. Which means when the company goes bankrupt, because they made all these promises they couldn't keep, the dentist that believed everything that they said now has nothing. This particular company that aprproached me is a "boutique" type of company. They have 13 practices in Florida. But they say they estimate that they will double your production from what it is now. RED FLAG!! Now how the hell are they going to double someone's production, without changing the type of dentistry someone is doing?

They have some magic formula to take your practice that you have been working at for 20 years and they are going to make it TWICE as good. They are going to make the dentist take all plans known to man. They are going to "suggest" a lab in China that will make a crown for $22. They are going to blitz market the dentist like crazy ... emails, mailouts, groupon ... and you will be doing $25 exams until the cows come home. And then, don't even begin to think you are going to be able to do large fillings. That tooth needs a crown!!!

Okay, I am jaded, I know.

But most importantly with these places, there will not be a lot of personal care. You won't have any time to talk to the patients. You will have to jump to the next room and prep a crown. Yes, a 15-minute crown prep ... then it's off to China.

Look, I know there are some good companies out there. If you have any experience with one, I want to hear about it. Prove me wrong.

Have a great one, john

1 comment:

Dr. Andy said...


Wow. I learned something today. I knew they offered to buy the practice but did not know they offered to pay in stock options. Now I'm aware. I'll insist on Apple or Facebook stock options ;-)



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