The corporate dental propaganda that arrives on my desk almost weekly paints a curious picture. It suggests that if I sell my practice to them then I will instantly realize my dream life: no responsibility, an endless support structure for “my practice” (which really then becomes “their practice”), the same income, and a seemingly endless amount of time to go play golf and vacation. It’s all about what I gain by selling out to them.
Does that picture depict reality? I think not.
Plus, there is something conspicuously missing from these brochures: a list of what I would be giving up by selling out. Perhaps that would-be list might read:
- Long-term assets
Corporations are looking to buy because they see significant profit in the transaction. If corporations are so eager to buy independent practices then that indicates that the independent dentists has a valuable and profitable asset under individual ownership and control.
The main message in this propaganda is that a dentist needs only to get training or help from other professionals regarding the business side of the practice. While running a business isn’t easy, it isn’t rocket science either. It certainly isn’t as hard as getting through dental school.
This is not to say that the independent dentist has to fly solo. In fact, most highly successful independent dentists hire experts smarter than themselves to handle the business and administration of their practices. For example, one practice might have each of these three experts on hand to help:
- Financial firm to handle bookkeeping, accounting and payroll
- Human resources expert to handle staffing, including hiring and firing
- Marketing firm to handle internal and external communications
Not sure where to start? Begin with a practice consultant who can help uncover which experts are most needed, and who can help forge those relationships. (Many have an arsenal of experts they can refer where and when needed.)
There is no silver bullet for making an independent dental practice profitable and fulfilling. But in my opinion, selling out to corporate certainly is not an option.