The Day After Completion – What Now?
The practice is sold, the money invested, the holiday taken and you are back to reality and the rest of your life just started.
When you sell your practice there are usually just two choices. Firstly, there’s the “that’s it, where’s my pension? I’m never going to pick up a mirror and probe again” camp. That used to be the vast majority of people but these days I’m not so sure. I’m seeing relatively young people who realise they are close to burn out, have had a health scare or are just fed up with the headaches of practice ownership. They want to carry on enjoying dentistry and so they realise the value of their business and then carry on working.
In this article I want to explore a couple of problems that can emerge and the steps to take to avoid them.
Allow some time to grieve. No matter who you are there is an attachment to the business that you have built, to the people you have served and to the building that you have visited day after day, year in year out. To turn your back on that completely can be traumatic. I was given some very good advice, “be prepared to grieve for your loss”. It’s hard to imagine when you are longing for release from the routine, but it’s true.
Don’t go back. It is very tempting to nip in now and then for a chat with the staff and perhaps to pass the time of day with a patient. Surely the new owner will want the benefit of your experience? Unless your purchaser is exceptional they will want to make changes. Unless you differ from the norm you will have an opinion and it often won’t be favourable. You are a disruption to the new team. If you had sold your house, your home of 25 years you wouldn’t turn up on the door would you? You certainly wouldn’t want to see them ripping out features that you treasured. If you are invited, then sure, after six months or more show your face but that’s all.
If you do carry on working and at the same site then learn two things. Firstly the words,”not my problem”. You had the management, the repairs, the responsibilities and the profits for many years it’s someone else’s turn. They have paid you for that privilege. So when a nurse, receptionist or manager asks for your opinion or a decision, learn to say, “sorry, it’s not my problem, you have to ask the boss.” Smile and mean it.
Secondly learn to swallow and count to five, this also applies if you work anywhere else. Things are no longer under your control, you must not make decisions on the running of the place, stay away from staff disputes, don’t take sides.
If true retirement beckons, plan for the future but presume things may go wrong. There are heaps of books, courses and websites dealing with retirement and this isn’t the place to explore the options. Stay busy, look forward, turn the TV off and give thanks that you have got out of dentistry alive!
Alun K Rees BDS is The Dental Business Coach. An experienced dental practice owner who changed career he now works as a coach, consultant, troubleshooter, analyst, speaker, writer & broadcaster. He brings the wisdom gained from his and others’ successes to help his clients achieve the rewards their work and dedication deserve.