Informing Staff of Your Dental Practice Sale: The Probe

Informing staff of your dental practice sale

You are likely to have carefully considered and planned your exit strategy for years before putting your dental practice on the market. There are many elements that you will take into account before, during and after the sale, but a key area of concern will be your staff. You will have invested a great deal of your time and resources into assembling and maintaining the right team to support you and the long-term success of your business. Moreover, you will have worked closely with your staff for years and developed a strong relationship with them.

As such, it’s only natural to worry about their wellbeing when you come to sell. However, you don’t want these concerns to jeopardise the transaction or your team’s jobs, so it is important that you are careful about informing them of the sale and supporting them throughout the transition. Confidentiality is vital to the process, which is why steps should be taken to protect against a breach, as this has the potential to delay or even sink a deal. With that in mind, let’s consider some of the concerns you may have about your staff as you proceed to sell.

Put yourself in their shoes

It is important not to assume that a prospective buyer will want to replace staff. On the contrary, buyers are likely to have a particularly strong interest in retaining your team. After all, they know the ins and outs of the business, including its systems, protocols and, most importantly, its patients. As such, prospective buyers will typically be keen to avoid disrupting the flow of a smooth-running practice, which is a crucial component in what makes it successful and, therefore, valuable and desirable. Furthermore, a buyer may conclude the same as you that a change in staff could negatively impact patient retention.

Nevertheless, you have probably contemplated the practice sale on numerous occasions from the perspective of your team ­– it’s a major change that can be alarming for some. Especially under the current climate of uncertainty and financial instability, it is not unreasonable that your team members might be concerned about their job security. Indeed, individuals may take a practice sale as an opportunity to immediately seek other employment. Although this isn’t necessarily a significant issue, having a substantial turnover of staff during a transaction can be problematic for various reasons.

For instance, it means you will need to fill any vacated roles quickly with the most suitable staff to maintain the efficiency and value of your practice, thus ensuring buyer confidence. Of course, the process of hiring and training new team members without the support of a reliable dental recruitment agency can be challenging enough, but even more so during a practice sale. This is a headache that you don’t want to be handling on top of an already stressful endeavour, nor is it one that you want a potential buyer to witness you grappling with.

Time it right

Many practice owners, quite rightly, are loyal to their staff and wish to let them know of their practice sale as soon as possible. Although you may not relish the idea of keeping such news from your team, it is in their best interests that you do so until the time is right – typically, when certain aspects of the transaction have been completed. A general rule of thumb is that you inform staff after the buyer’s financing has been secured and a purchase agreement signed. This provides you, as the vendor, a reasonable degree of confidence that the sale will proceed as planned.

Timing is vital, from when you take your practice to market, to when you hand over the keys. As well as informing staff of the sale too early, there are risks of doing so too late. Your staff may feel hurt, betrayed and devalued if you wait until after the sale has been finalised. Therefore, it is important that there is a period of time before transaction completion that you inform staff of the sale and introduce them to the new owner. This provides you the opportunity to address any queries and allay any fears or concerns your team may have. Additionally, staff members will be able to get to know the new owner and better prepare for the change.

A great team will support you no matter what, which is why it is important to do right by them and ensure peace-of-mind among staff members when you come to sell. By taking a considerate approach to the process, you can introduce a buyer as a thoroughly vetted candidate who has the best interests of your team and practice at heart. You can also present the new owner with confidence as a positive change for the business, patients and staff. This can go a long way to making the transition easier for everyone. If in doubt, you can always seek additional support from Dental Elite, who can provide expert advice and guidance on the practice acquisition process.