Why ADA Practice Transitions Isn’t Just Another Broker

Posted by Bill Robinson, ADAPT President & CEO on 10/1/19 9:03 AM
Bill Robinson, ADAPT President & CEO

Blog_Images_695x320_trio_contractsIn April, the American Dental Association launched a pilot for a new service: ADA Practice Transitions. Our goal is to make the process of joining, expanding, or leaving a dental practice more predictable and successful. The pilot is currently available in Wisconsin and Maine for all dentists looking for opportunities in those states. (We will soon be expanding to other states – sign up to be notified of the program’s growth.)

Some have said that the ADA is just replicating the current broker market. While there is some natural overlap, ADA Practice Transitions takes a completely new approach that’s designed to address a major need: finding the right person or practice for a successful transition.

Solving for philosophy of care

The ADA researched what dentists want (and need) when selling their practices. Overwhelmingly, selling dentists agreed with the statement: “I plan to sell my practice to a dentist who has the same philosophy of care to provide continuity to my patients and staff.” That is what ADAPT solves for – a match for the elusive philosophy of care.   

ADAPT solves for a match for the elusive philosophy of care.   

Of course, there are other things that matter, such as financial health, similar training, location, etc. Those issues will always come into play, but ADAPT starts with what dentists have told us is most important: Finding a dentist who has the same approach to patient care so that the practice can continue seamlessly throughout the transition from one dentist to another.

It seems that most practice brokers have a different starting point. 

Not just practice sales – ADAPT also works with associates

Most brokers focus exclusively on selling dental practices. Because ADAPT begins by matching philosophy of care, we also are a perfect way to find an associate to help a practice grow. Sometimes this will turn into a practice sale down the road, and sometimes it is a way to help a practice meet the community’s needs and offer more services by hiring someone.

Similarly, ADAPT helps job seekers find their ideal position. We can help dentists think through their priorities to determine the best type of practice for their workstyle and future career plans.  

Focus on the individual

One of the ways that brokers justify their higher pricing is the money they spend advertising available practices. Brokers often have a website where they list practices, similar to real estate listings, by describing the practice at a high level so that potential buyers can compare.

ADAPT does not offer a list of available practices. Instead, ADAPT focuses on matching individual dentists with similar philosophies of care rather than hoping a dentist can find a practice for themselves. This approach requires an entirely different focus but helps dentists determine exactly what they want – and what type of practice will best fit their needs.

An ADAPT participant begins by filling out a profile that consists of over 100 questions. It starts with what you would expect (desired location, number of operatories, services offered, etc.), but quickly shifts into questions you may not expect. The answers provide insight into the core values of the practice and patient interaction. A combination of a filter (and algorithm) and the expertise of the ADA Advisor identify potential matches of dentists who share a similar philosophy of care and have mutually aligned goals.

Beyond a broker with an Advisor and a training curriculum

As soon as a dentist submits their profile, they begin to receive training material specific to their situation (buying or selling a practice, hiring, or becoming an associate).

More importantly, they receive a call from their assigned ADA Advisor who will review their profile with them and seek to fully understand their goals and aspirations. That ADA Advisor stays with them through the entire decision process and transition, then continues to provide guidance and expertise as long as the dentist desires that help.

A new approach to transparency and exclusivity

ADAPT discloses all of our pricing upfront and throughout the process. While brokers discuss pricing with their customers, ADAPT pricing is published on the website and available to potential clients even before they decide to participate. 

The first interaction does not involve a stack of contracts demanding exclusivity. An ADAPT participant agrees to the Terms & Conditions before entering into the relationship. If a participant finds a buyer, associate, or job on their own, ADAPT will not expect to be paid if we did not suggest the match and facilitate the meeting.

Education, not negotiations

Some (not all) brokers represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction. ADAPT will never do this. In fact, ADAPT does not participate in financial negotiations related to the sale of a practice. ADAPT will educate but not negotiate. For example, ADAPT and the ADA Advisor will share best practices and tips about what you should look for in a contract, how to avoid common pitfalls, and how you can protect your interests.

ADAPT can also connect the buyer and seller with the professionals necessary to complete the transaction, including lawyers, accountants, bankers, and even brokers (in states where a licensed real estate broker must be part of a business sale). 

A different goal – with different results

At first glance, ADAPT and brokers have the same goal: to transfer practices from buyer to seller. But in reality, the goals are very different. A broker wants to ensure (and maximize) a financial transaction. Once the paperwork is signed and the check has cleared, you may not hear from a broker again.

ADAPT launched our pilot to answer a very real need. We heard from many practice owners who, whether they were selling or bringing in an associate, wanted to find someone who shared their philosophy of care. When dentists sell, they are particularly concerned about providing continuity of care to their patients. Yes, they want to get a fair price for their life’s work, but finding the right person is essential.

Sellers want to get a fair price for their life’s work, but finding the right person is essential.

We also researched the transition process itself. Dentists spoke about how the real challenge can be integrating into a practice, agreeing how to manage the practice (particularly in a longer-term associate-to-owner buyout scenario), and making the process seamless for patients and staff. That’s why we built a model that supports dentists long after the paperwork is signed.

Our goal isn’t just to help dentists buy and sell practices, but rather to help facilitate successful transitions, thriving practices, and satisfying careers.

If you’re approaching your own transition, start your profile to learn how we can help you take the next step.   

Topics: owner dentist, associateship, purchase a practice


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