The five paths to practice ownership

A lot of time is spent talking about the “why” of ownership, and although this is critical to keep in the forefront of your mind, looking for answers around the “how” is the next logical step.

During ASDA’s National Leadership Conference earlier this month, Christy Ratcliff of National Dental Placements and Charles Loretto of Cain Watters & Associates had the opportunity to talk about ownership and the five paths new doctors can take to get there.

  1. Civil service: Civil service is something you must have in your heart.  It can provide flexibility and financial opportunities, yet with a trade-off of being an employee. You’ll be ready for ownership when you are discharged. Your biggest hurdle will be determining where to go and being able to plan accordingly.
  2. Associateship: This is the most common path. An associateship — whether private or corporate — can be a great avenue to build up personal savings, clinical skill and speed. Keep your eye on the ownership prize, and don’t get stuck in this phase. When you join a practice and discuss your intentions on the front-end, the more likely you will be to get the opportunity when promised.
  3. Start-up: A start-up is difficult because of the time it takes to build the patient base and cash flow from scratch, versus an established office.  There are exceptions (certain specialties and locations, etc.), but you will need to understand your unique case and be prepared with a detailed business and marketing plan.
  4. “Walk away” purchase: Buying 100% of a practice and having the seller work back is the traditional route to ownership. Most will have the ability to do this in one to two years post-graduation. Ensure you have built up your clinical skill, and have enough money saved to get lending.  Having the support of a good team of dental professionals — both inside the office and out — can also ensure you know what you are buying and help make the practice profitable and productive.
  5. Partnership: Most are ready for partnership one to two years after graduating. Partnership offers the ability to share the wealth and responsibility of ownership, at the cost of sharing control. Much like marriage, a partnership with the right person can be a desirable experience; but partner with the wrong person or set up your partnership without consideration of the future, and it can lead to a bumpy road.

With student debt looming and the business side of dentistry daunting, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. There will be hurdles but have confidence that you can own a practice. Regardless of the path you choose, the goal is ownership. Get started early. You can do it.

~Christy Ratcliff, National Dental Placements

Cain Watters is a Registered Investment Advisor. Cain Watters only conducts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded from registration requirements. Registration is not an endorsement of the firm by securities regulators and does not mean the adviser has achieved a specific level of skill or ability. Request Form ADV Part 2A for a complete description of Cain Watters investment advisory services. Diversification does not ensure a profit and may not protect against loss in declining markets. Past performance is not an indicator of future results.

This blog post is sponsored by Cain Watters.

Cain Watters and Associates

Cain Watters and Associates (CWA) is a financial services firm providing comprehensive financial planning, accounting and tax services for more than 1,900 dental practices across the nation. With 30 years of specialized experience, they understand the business side of dentistry.

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