Mentoring Your Way to Selling Your Dental Practice One Day

Inside dentistry, there is some uncertainty as to what dental practice transition specialists actually offer, what services they provide, and how complex a transaction they can handle. The simple answer is that a dental practice transitions specialist can do just about any type of transition. Before undertaking the challenge though, the viability must be determined for each of the parties involved.

Here is a very common scenario:

A senior doctor has been practicing dentistry in a location for about 30 years. When she first began practicing, she joined the dental office at that location as an associate. Eventually she bought the office from the mentor in the dental practice.

Since then, she has continued working in the office as a solo practitioner, making a comfortable living by keeping the overhead “low.” The practice is a golden opportunity for a fresh, new dentist, and the senior doctor feels that the mentored person is ready to begin the transitional process.

Generally, the senior doctor is looking for is the kind of dental practice transition she experienced decades ago when she started in dentistry.

The senior doctor wants to find an associate to come in, earn his keep, bide his time and be willing to take the reins on the day when the senior doctor decides to retire. The senior doctor wants somebody in the office who is young, wide-eyed, willing to learn, and looking for the opportunity to shadow her while he waits in the wings. Generally senior doctors remember the time when they started, when sweat-equity was just that, and expect that since their practice has not changed much since that time, that it is still a viable way to find a successor.

Does Taking on an Associate Dentist Work Well Today?

Without the proper analysis, there is no feasible way to tell anybody if their ideas are reasonable. Without looking at the most obvious issues, including office size, staffing and new patient flow, it is impossible to know if an associate could be adequately supported.

Many questions arise such as:

  • Is the production of the practice sufficient enough to support two doctors?
  • Beyond that, is the staff willing to adapt to another doctor?
  • Is the senior doctor able or truly willing to mentor and relinquish some of the patients and responsibility?
  • Will the patients accept being scheduled with a new doctor?

Possibly the most important consideration, is that the junior doctor will be coming in with massive debt unheard of at any time in the past. In a world where a $150,000 debt is the low end of the range, “sweat equity” takes on an entirely different definition.

What Does Your Golden Opportunity Look Like?

Every opportunity is a golden opportunity for the right doctor. What is most important is finding the right dental practice transition structure for your own golden opportunity. Without a professional analysis, how can anybody tell you that your office is ready for an associate or that it could sell for a specific price? You cannot diagnose and treatment plan dentistry without looking in a patient’s mouth.

Transitions can take on many forms, and Henry Schein transition specialists have seen most of them. Why do I say ‘most’? Because the next phone call will probably bring something new to adapt to and include in the progressive realm of dental practice transitions.

In coming months, we will look at real-life transition studies—the good, the bad and the specifics.

Keep in mind that dental practice transition strategies start the day a practice begins. Managing that practice as it evolves will allow for smoother and more profitable transitions.


Greg Auerbach, MBA


Henry Schein Professional Practice Transitions, Inc. is a national leader in dental practice transitions. A subsidiary of Henry Schein, Inc. they provide expert guidance for selling and buying dental practices, dental practice fees and management, assessing partnership and associate-ship opportunities, and performing dental practice appraisals and valuations.