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Dr. Sampada Deshpande: Five Things Associates Should Do Right Now to Buy a Practice in 2021

"Are you putting together goals for 2021? Is one of your goals that of acquiring a practice? If so, here are five things you need to do right now as an associate."

Dr. Sampada Deshpande

Dr. Sampada Deshpande

Are you putting together goals for 2021? Is one of your goals that of acquiring a practice? If so, here are five things you need to do right now as an associate.

Review Your Notice Period

Review the notice period of your existing associateship. Having a notice period of 30-45 days is ideal. If you find a practice on the market, or off-market, you should be able to give your current owner doctor enough time to find a good replacement for you. Go the extra mile and ask them if they would need help in finding your replacement. The dentist community in any city is very small, so be respectful and courteous!

Learn About Your Demographic

A demographic study helps you understand which neighborhood has the best dentist to patient population ratio, how many families are entering or leaving the area, what is the median income, and how many languages are spoken on a given block. Demographics are an important tool every entrepreneur should use. Ever wondered why the Starbucks you go to for your morning cuppa’ joe always has a line? Demographics.

Invest in Business Education

For every hour of clinical CE you take, read a book on leadership, take a business course or join a business club meeting. Clinical dentistry alone is not going to help you run a successful business. Hiring a stellar team, building case acceptance, learning about insurances, and writing your employee manual, among other things, will reduce the incidence of embezzlement, improve patient outcomes, and lead to more fulfillment in your career.

Assemble Your Team

There are three people on your team apart from yourself. An accountant, lawyer, and mentor. These are the only people who will give you advice based on your best interest. When you select who is on your team, ask for referrals and speak to at least three other dentists your teammates have worked with in the past. Take your time reaching out to every referral. It is almost like performing a background check — it will serve you well and protect you in the long run.

Everyone needs a mentor. A mentor is someone who can lend you a second or third set of eyes on a practice you are about to sign an LOI on. It always helps to have a trusted confidante in on your process who has no vested financial incentive. A mentor is that person. It could be a colleague, a retired dentist, or a friend from your business club who knows how to read numbers and look at a practice objectively. Find your mentor.

TIP: It took me more than six months to find people I was comfortable working with. Find people who will be willing to teach you, without any agenda.

Secure Financing

You need at least 10% of the practice loan in your savings account to qualify for a good loan. You’ll never have to use the money for a down payment, but the bank needs to see you have a habit of saving, so they know you can take care of yourself and your family on a rainy day. Start speaking to banks now, at least two — a big bank and a small bank. You don’t have to get a pre-qualification, and many will not even offer you one now, but begin developing a relationship with them to the point that they at least know you exist. Once you have a practice, you will know exactly who to reach out to from each bank to get the best bank terms and rates to compare.

Best of luck, go crush 2021!

Dr. Sampada Deshpande is a general dentist based in Seattle. A foreign trained dentist from India, Sampada earned her DDS from the University of Washington in 2018, where she is also a current LEND trainee. Outside of clinical dentistry, she enjoys hosting the New Dentist Business Club, going on hikes with her husband, and reading books on Finance & Management. You can reach her directly at @dr.deshpande on Instagram or visit her website for more information.

The views expressed in all WSDA publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions or policies of the WSDA.