Tips for Buyer on Maximizing Patient Retention
Generally, the buyer’s biggest fear is that he will not retain the seller’s patients after the closing, yet be straddled with huge acquisition debt. The manner in which the transition is handled can cause the buyer financial hardship, or create an environment for the buyer’s success. Here are our 13 tips that will assure a smooth transition of seller’s patients to buyer.
- Introduction to the seller’s staff, preferably 3 weeks before the closing;
- Seller’s letter to patients announcing his retirement and enthusiastically recommending buyer, preferably before the closing.
- Announcements in local newspaper, 3 successive weeks after closing. Also, article about the transition in a local newspaper is helpful;
- Shadow seller in the practice for a week before the closing. Observe the seller and the practice in operation;
- Request seller send letter to specialty dentists announcing retirement and encouraging them to work with Buyer;
- Send letter to active patients after closing advising them of any added procedures, increased office hours, etc. and letter to inactive patients welcoming them back to the practice; Buyer will be pleased when some of the inactive patients return to the practice.
- Place a photograph of buyer and his biography on an easel in reception room for 6 to 8 weeks after closing. This is another way of introducing buyer to patients who may not meet buyer on their first visit after the closing;
- Have Seller review patient charts with Buyer for 30 days after closing. Seller can offer input re. Patients’ treatment, phobias, family news; this will help buyer become acquainted with his new patients.
- Have Seller telephone those patients who will be coming in the first couple of weeks after the closing if seller’s letter is mailed on the date of or after the closing;
- Obtain permission to use Seller’s name on Buyer’s stationary for 12 to 24 months after closing;
- Have receptionist answer telephone using Seller and Buyer’s name for a period of time after closing;
- Buyer should meet with staff separate and apart from Seller. Reinforce with staff that their jobs are secure. Consider meeting them socially as well. Bond well with the staff, and they will be the buyer’s biggest supporters and boosters with patients.
- Request that seller be available for consultation after closing for a limited period of time with respect to any staff, patient, or management issues at no additional cost. If seller’s spouse works in the practice, determine what role sellers’ spouse will play in the transition. Also, determine if seller will remain as an associate and treat patients after the closing.
- I suggest implementing some of the above activities before the closing, provided the Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed, the buyer’s deposit is nonrefundable, and buyer’s financing is approved and in place. If the seller and buyer coordinate a transition plan, the buyer should expect to retain 95% of seller’s patients.