Maximize The Value of Your Dental Practice Today! | Schedule Consultation

Retirement Minded: Coaching the Late-Career Doctor

By Patti Sooy, RDH, BS, VP of Business and Program Development

“I never want to hear people say, ‘I’m too old for that.’ You are never too old to learn new things.”
– Cynthia Hutchins

Do you have a retirement plan? If you’re within ten years of wanting to retire, now is the perfect time to take a good look at your numbers and get an exit strategy in place. “Wait a minute,” you might say. “Isn’t ten years a long way away?” Not when contemplating your exit strategy and sales options for selling your practice at a nice profit margin.  This takes time and planning to make sure everyone comes out a winner- you, your team and the purchaser.  Granted, we at Productive Dentist Academy have worked with doctors who have cut that time to much less, we have been successful in achieving a fruitful transition. However, that requires extraordinary effort from the doctor.

As you start thinking about your retirement plans, about seven to ten years out is a good time frame to strategize and maximize the potential of your office.  It’s all about buyer appeal. Typically, doctors who want help getting themselves ready for retirement need to increase collections, which is driven by productivity. Their systems may be less than stellar, and they say something along the lines of “I’ve had these same people working for me forever.  I’m not inspiring them anymore to grow and I’m not sure what to do.” The good news is, a PDA business development coach does!

The Numbers Game

There are a few reasons doctors don’t come into business coaching until they’re closer to retirement. Sometimes they need a fast sale because of health reasons. Whether they’re senior doctors or mid-career and have health issues, they come to us in a little bit of a panic since they have such tight requirements. Other times, I have doctors say their practice has been fine, it’s cruising along.  They may notice that collections have plateaued or gone down. AR might be a little out of control, meaning numbers are slipping and they are not getting paid for what they do.  This also shows a buyer that the patients are trained that they don’t have to pay their bills.  Any metric that is supposed to be growing but is instead showing a downward trend needs to be addressed before a sale transition.

When doctors express interest in a practice sale, we examine quite a few numbers:

  • If your collections, production, and new patient numbers are down-we want to know why. If your AR is up, what is the reason? Doctors feel this fairly quickly because it impacts their earning abilities- in other words, “I’m not making what I used to”.  Doctors may have been in a coasting mode, which often transfers over to team.  Team almost always follows the leader. Owner doctors know something needs to change, but they just aren’t sure what to do or how to do it.
  • Other systems to evaluate are your active patient base and your hygiene reappointment rate, as well as attrition. Take a look at what you have in the schedule over the next 6 months. If it’s less than the number of hygiene visits you saw over the previous six months, that can indicate a dying practice rather than a thriving one.

The big point is, you want your numbers trending up. When doctors come to me in panic-mode, what they don’t realize is all those numbers above are related to systems.  Production can be increased in many different ways.  It’s all about focus.  How you schedule, what you diagnose, your service mix options, case acceptance and financial options conversations can all make a big impact on productivity increase.

If your new patient numbers are trending down, you must look at:

  • Internal marketing strategies.
  • External marketing options and budget.
  • Customer service and WOW. Are you giving them a great patient experience or is it kind of humdrum right now?

Every office appreciates patient referrals.  What are you doing to give them a great dental experience? If your new patient flow is going down, you’ve got to look internally first, then look at what your budget is. Most potential buyers will want to know that your current patients are coming back to you and that you are attracting new patients that appreciate good dentistry.

A Look at Location and Facility

Many dentists overlook their location when they make their retirement plans. Is your practice in a location that provides its own parking, has good traffic flow and 24-hour signage? Facility appearance is also very important. Is everything up to date? Is the paint neat and tidy? Is the landscaping thriving? What is your technology like? Does the carpet and flooring look new and clean? Is your front office welcoming?

A well-presented facility can either be a real incentive for potential buyers, or off-putting. Some doctors might look at facilities that need an update and be fine with that. Others won’t want to have to put in the effort to redo and update on office in addition to new ownership.

You might think, “Yeah, I don’t want to update all this stuff just to sell it. Let the buyer do that.” And that strategy might be okay. But, what if you need to attract an associate who you hope to sell your practice to down the line? The more up to date you can be on service mix, technology, equipment, furniture, instruments, front desk appearance and reception area, the better you will look in the eyes of a potential associate or buyer. Remember: whatever is attractive to patients will be attractive to a buyer.

Selling Your Practice to the (Right) Associate

About 50% of late-career doctors I’ve worked with, have an associate they are hoping to eventually sell to. There can actually be a big difference in planning the last years of a dentist’s career when a doctor already has an associate, verses one who is still working solo. First, the doctor who doesn’t have an associate might be a little more panicked, because they don’t have somebody that they can shift some responsibilities to, or partner with, or sell outright to. I’ll address this problem a bit later.

If you have an associate, you’ve usually had a conversation around partnership or full ownership at some point.  Some associates are not interested in owning.  They are completely content working for a paycheck.  Be very clear about what you are looking for as the current owner when you interview and hire another dentist. If they are interested in purchasing the practice discuss a timeline and when that opportunity will be available. Sometimes there are productivity goals attached to purchasing. Leadership can also be an important trait. The team needs to feel that this dentist will continue leading in a positive way and take great care of both the team and the patients. Make sure you know they’re a good fit for this practice? When you retire, will they be successful on their own?

Let’s say you have an associate who has been working with you for three years. They seem to get along with the patients, but don’t seem to be super driven or interested in taking on any more responsibilities. At that point, you may need to mentor them in case presentation or to take on more responsibilities.  If they want to put in their hours and go home, they may not be the best choice.  Remember, you often have to groom associates for business ownership. It’s not uncommon for doctors to approach us for coaching and assistance with vetting associates as potential future business partners or buyers.

Finding the (Right) Associate

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you hire an associate if they will end up being the right personality to buy your practice in five or ten years. It really starts during the interview. When a doctor is looking for a specific type of associate – like one who will be ready to own the practice down the road – we are able to support the doctor in the interview process. Business coaches are trained in what to ask, what to watch and listen for and how to read the doctor during the interview. It doesn’t stop there, however.  If the doctor chooses to hire that doctor, they need to be willing to learn and grow as an employee first.  The team can be a big help.

For example, I helped a practice just recently who had their associate choices down to two prospective doctors: One of the owner doctors was leaning toward one applicant and the other owner doctor and spouses were leaning toward the other. When we reviewed all the specifics surrounding what the owners wanted in an applicant, we were able to have a better definition of a personality type we were looking for.  We had each applicant take a personality survey that told us how they best work with others and how they would interact with the owner doctors and their individual personalities.  After evaluating the results, it was pretty obvious which direction the office should go.

The fact is you may go through a few associates before you find the right one to buy your practice. But if you can get the right person in from the beginning, you’ll save yourself time and stress later. Unfortunately, some doctors who are looking for an associate get frantic. They may hire a doctor and trust they’re going to do a great job, they don’t look much at personality. They also choose not to mentor and train.  This is a big mistake.  Make sure you are clear about your expectations right away and have meetings surrounding responsibilities and treatment philosophies. A business coach can help with the hiring process, training and getting the doctors and team members on the same page. Your goal should be to find someone that is a good fit with your practice goals.

I Need Out…Now

One of the most challenging scenarios a doctor can find themselves in is wanting to be out of dentistry quickly. I’ve had doctors share with me that they are burned out.  They just want to be done, but are not sure of their exit options.  If you’re in a panic, that’s OK! You just have to refocus and get dedicated to the process of getting the practice ready to sell. It’s very doable! In fact, if you’re committed, you can double your practice in 18 months with the help of a good business development coach.

For doctors who are very close to retirement or need a quick out for health reasons, I usually tell them we can’t come in, wave a magic wand and make this better. But we can help them reach the goals they want and set a strategy if they are super committed to the process. They must work hard to make the changes happen. Having their team on board is an absolute must because if they aren’t, it’s going to be a much, much slower process. So, yes, you can double your practice in 18 months and sell, but you must be 100% dedicated to making that happen.

It’s kind of like training for a marathon. If you find a training schedule and stick with it, race day will be much more predictable. If you only train a little here and a little there- guess what- race day may be incredibly tough.  Same with losing weight or training to climb mountains. Whatever it is, whatever you set your goal on, if you’re committed to it, you’re going to reach it faster when you commit to the process.  When a business coach makes a suggestion based on your goals and you choose not to implement that suggestion, it will be difficult to get it done in the time line you set. You’ve got to be open to changing some things and then actually do it. Especially if you want to achieve aggressive goals.

A Plan for the Future

If you walk away from this article with anything, I would hope it would be the understanding that you need to start planning for retirement 7-10 years before you’re ready to walk out of your practice for the last time. The more time you give yourself, the fewer stress points you’ll have and the easier and more enjoyable you’ll make your last years in practice. But I also hope that if you’re close to retirement you know that there is hope for you getting your numbers up if you’re willing to put in the effort.

Whatever your goals are – fully retire, work one to two days per week, etc. – call on a Productive Dentist Academy Business Development Coach. We can help you achieve your specific goals so you have the retirement you want, while having the peace of mind that you are leaving the practice you worked so hard to build thriving in the hands of the next generation.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, many dentists who are in late-career are burned out or unsure of their next steps. Partner with a business coach to help you run numbers, make a plan, find the right people, and set yourself up for an easy transition. Fill out the form below to request your Complimentary Practice Discovery and see how a PDA Business Coach can help you accomplish your goals.

Get Your Complimentary Practice Discovery Today!

Have a great experience with PDA recently?

Leave a Review

Menu
Need help?
Accessibility
Accessibility Options
Accessibility On Our Website

We are committed to continuously improving access to our goods and services by individuals with disabilities. If you are unable to use any aspect of this website because of a disability, please call (800) 757-6077 and we will provide you with prompt personalized assistance.

If you have trouble seeing web pages, the US Social Security Administration offers these tips for optimizing your computer and browser to improve your online experience.

If you are looking for mouse and keyboard alternatives, speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking may help you navigate web pages and online services. This software allows the user to move focus around a web page or application screen through voice controls.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, there are several accessibility features available to you.

Closed Captioning
Closed captioning provides a transcript for the audio track of a video presentation that is synchronized with the video and audio tracks. Captions are generally visually displayed over the video, which benefits people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and anyone who cannot hear the audio due to noisy environments. Most of our website’s video content includes automated captions. Learn how to turn captioning on and off in YouTube.

Volume Controls
Your computer, tablet, or mobile device has volume control features. Each video and audio service has its own additional volume controls. Try adjusting both your device’s volume controls and your media players’ volume controls to optimize your listening experience.

Read More About Accessibility and Why It Matters

Appointments
Need help?

Oops! We could not locate your form.

Do not include sensitive personal, financial, or other confidential information (Social Security, account number, login, passwords, etc.). This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Helpful Resources

Below are links you may find helpful when scheduling an appointment with us.

Notifications
Podcasts

Episode 209 – Requested Replay: What Does PDA Do?

“We didn’t set out to do it, it was our members who said we want...

Episode 209 – Requested Replay: What Does PDA Do? (featured image)

Episode 235 – Empowered Voices

“There is a privilege of standing at the podium. It’s not about...

Episode 235 – Empowered Voices (featured image)

Episode 112 – Requested Replay: Your Philosophy of Care

“Figure out who you are, who you serve, and then develop your...

Episode 112 – Requested Replay: Your Philosophy of Care (featured image)
In the Press

I’ve Arrived: From $100 in the Bank to Generational Wealth in Less Than 3 Years.

from Dental Entrepreneur – Winter 2023 By Dr. Maggie Augustyn...

I’ve Arrived: From $100 in the Bank to Generational Wealth in Less Than 3 Years. (featured image)
From Our Blog

Investment Grade Practice™ News – May 2024

Dear Doctor, Spring signals a time of renewal and re-energization....

Investment Grade Practice™ News – May 2024 (featured image)
Follow Us On Social Media

Facebook

Stay informed on updates and upcoming events from our office.

LinkedIn

Connect and learn more about Productive Dentist Academy.

YouTube

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Instagram

View fun photos and follow our team on Instagram.

Your Privacy
Privacy Policy

This privacy notice discloses our privacy practices and the use of Google Analytics 4(GA4), an analytic advertising feature. This privacy notice applies solely to information collected by this website and the GA4 platform. It will notify you of the following:

  1. What personally identifiable information is collected from you through the website and GA4 platform, how it is used, and with whom it may be shared.
  2. The choices available to you regarding the use of your data.
  3. The security procedures in place to protect the misuse of your information.
  4. How you can correct any inaccuracies in the information.

Information Collection, Use, and Sharing

We only have access to/collect information that you voluntarily give us via email or other direct contact from you. We will not sell or rent this information to anyone.

We will use your information to respond to you, regarding the reason you contacted us. Unless you ask us not to, we may contact you via email in the future to tell you about specials, new products or services, or changes to this privacy policy.

While Productive Dentist Academy is the primary data controller, Google, in the context of providing Google Analytics service, acts as a data processor. We use Google Analytics 4, a widely recognized web analytics service provided by Google, Inc., to track user interactions and gather data for advertising purposes. As a third-party vendor, Google Analytics operates independently and maintains its own privacy policy, which can be found at https://policies.google.com/privacy. We carefully select our third-party vendors for their commitment to user privacy and adherence to data protection standards. As part of our ongoing commitment to your privacy, we implement measures to ensure that services like GA4 comply with our high standards of data protection.

GA4 collects certain personally identifiable information from you as you interact with our website. This information includes but is not limited to your device ID, IP address, and geographic location. The information collected through GA4 is used to analyze user behavior, optimize our website’s performance, and tailor our content to better serve your needs. This data is compiled and anonymized, ensuring that it cannot be linked back to individual users.

Please note that GA4 may share the information collected with Google and other third-party service providers to enable data processing and reporting on website usage. However, we will not sell, rent, or share your information, especially your personally identifiable information, with any third party outside of our organization.

Your Access to and Control Over Information

You have certain rights regarding the data collected by GA4. You have the right to do the following at any time by contacting us via the email address or phone number given on our website:

  • See what data we have about you, if any.
  • Have us delete any data we have about you.
  • Express any concern you have about our use of your data.

In addition to opting out of any future communications from us at any time, you may also opt out of the GA4 feature if you so choose. You can opt out of the GA4 Advertising Features we use through Ads Settings, Ad Settings for mobile apps, or through the NAI’s. This link points to Google Analytics’ currently available opt-outs for the web https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout/ 

Security

We take precautions to protect your information. When you submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected both online and offline. GA4 also follows industry best practices to protect your data both online and offline.

To ensure data protection while we are using GA4, we are implementing additional security measures that include and are not limited to:

  • limiting data access, 
  • using secure protocols, 
  • managing data sharing with Google

Wherever we collect sensitive information (such as credit card data), that information is encrypted and transmitted to us in a secure way. You can verify this by looking for a lock icon in the address bar and looking for “https” at the beginning of the address of the Web page.

While we use encryption to protect sensitive information transmitted online, we also protect your information offline. Only employees who need the information to perform a specific job (for example, billing or customer service) are granted access to personally identifiable information. The computers/servers in which we store personally identifiable information are kept in a secure environment.

Contact Us

If you have any concerns about the use of GA4 or believe that we are not abiding by this privacy policy, please contact us immediately. We are committed to addressing any privacy-related issues promptly and transparently.

By using our website and consenting to the use of GA4, you acknowledge and agree to the data collection and processing practices described in this notice. For more information about GA4 and its privacy practices, please review Google’s Privacy Policy on this link https://policies.google.com/privacy.

If you feel that we are not abiding by this privacy policy, you should contact us immediately.

Read More About Our Privacy Policy and Why It Matters

Terms of Service
Terms of Service

Entering this site or the links accessible through this site, you agree to be bound by this agreement. The information and the resources contained on and accessible through this site are made available by Productive Dentist Academy and/or its suppliers and vendors, and are subject to your agreement to their terms and conditions.

All contents copyright (c) Productive Dentist Academy

All rights reserved, Productive Dentist Academy makes this website available to all users for the sole purpose of providing educational information on health-related issues.

The accuracy of website, information, and resources identified are not warranted or guaranteed, or intended to be a substitute for professional health advice, to contradict health advice given, or for health care of any kind.

Your use of this website indicates your agreement to be bound by the Terms of Use and you expressly agree to be bound to the foregoing terms and conditions.

All materials on this website, including the site’s design, layout, and organization, are owned and copyrighted by Productive Dentist Academy, or its suppliers or vendors, and are protected by U.S. and international copyrights.

Material on this site may be used for personal use only. Commercial use of any sort is strictly prohibited.

Use of Resources & Information
This site may not be used as a supplement or alternative for health care, and is not intended and does not warrant or guarantee the quality or quantity of any services of any of the advertisers identified; further, the information provided is merely for educational purposes, and its accuracy is not guaranteed. Do not use this site as a substitute for health care. Please consult with your doctor or other health care provider regarding any health questions you may have. This site may not be used for health diagnosis or treatment. Do not use this site to disregard any health advice, nor to delay seeking health advice, because of something you read or see in this site.

You understand and agree that neither Productive Dentist Academy nor its suppliers or vendors or linked domain names are responsible or liable for any claim, loss, or damage of any kind, directly or indirectly resulting from your use of this site or the information or the resources contained on or accessible through it.

Productive Dentist Academy expressly disclaims any implied warranty or representation about the information or accuracy, relevance, completeness, timeliness or appropriateness for any particular purpose of any kind. Your use of this site is also subject to all additional disclaimers that may appear throughout the site.

Other Internet Sites Links
This site also includes links to other internet sites created and maintained by Productive Dentist Academy’s suppliers, vendors, affiliates, or subscribers. Be aware that Productive Dentist Academy does not control, makes no guarantees about, and disclaims any express or implied representations or warranties about the accuracy, relevance, completeness, timeliness or appropriateness for a particular purpose of the information or the resources contained on these or any other internet sites.

Further, the inclusion of these links is merely for your convenience and is not intended and does not reflect Productive Dentist Academy’s opinion on the accuracy or the importance of these other sites; further, Productive Dentist Academy does not endorse in any manner any of the views expressed in, or products or services offered by these other sites. All information in any site by Productive Dentist Academy, or associated or linked site, is extracted, read, used, or relied upon by you at your own risk.

Disclaimer of Warranty
Productive Dentist Academy and its suppliers and vendors disclaim all express or implied representations or warranties regarding the information, services, products, materials, and any other resources contained on or accessible through this site, including without limitation any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. All information provided by Productive Dentist Academy is made available “as is” and “as available” without warranty of any kind, or any express or implied promise, including, by way of example, its continuing availability.

Limitation of Liability
With respect to products, goods, or services purchased from any entity identified, listed, named or contacted through Productive Dentist Academy’s website, or any links to Productive Dentist Academy’s website, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, in no event shall Productive Dentist Academy or its suppliers or vendors be liable for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, incidental, exemplary, contractual, or consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever of any kind, resulting from any loss, which by way of example, includes loss of use, loss of data, loss of profits, business interruption, litigation, or any other pecuniary loss, whether based on breach of contract, tort (including negligence), product liability, or otherwise, arising out of or in any way connected with the use or performance of this site, with the delay or inability to use this site, or with the provision of or failure to make available any information, services, products, materials, or other resources contained on or accessible through this site, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

You acknowledge and agree that the limitations set forth above are elements of this agreement, and that this site would not be provided to you absent such limitations.

Indemnification
You agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Productive Dentist Academy and its suppliers and vendors from any liability, loss, claim, and expense (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to your violation of this agreement or use of this site in any manner. Your use of this site shall constitute your acceptance of the terms of this Agreement, as revised and modified, if any, each time you access this site. Productive Dentist Academy may modify this agreement at any time, and such modifications shall be effective immediately upon posting of the modified agreement.

Miscellaneous
Productive Dentist Academy’s failure to insist upon strict enforcement of any provision(s) of this agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.

This agreement and the resolution of any dispute related to this agreement or this site shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington, without giving effect to any principles or conflicts of law. Any legal action or proceeding between Productive Dentist Academy or its links, suppliers or vendors and you related to this agreement or this site shall be brought exclusively in a state or federal court of competent jurisdiction sitting in Skagit County, Washington.

Copyright
All materials on this website, including the site’s design, layout, and organization, are owned and copyrighted by Productive Dentist Academy or its suppliers or vendors, and are protected by U.S. and international copyrights.

Links
This site contains links to other sites. Productive Dentist Academy is not responsible for the privacy practices of other sites that are linked to us.

Questions
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding Productive Dentist Academy’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, please contact us.

Read More About Our Terms of Service and Why It Matters

Search
Search the Website

Use keywords in the search box below to find what you're looking for.

Go to the Top of the Page