Looking to buy a dental practice? Here, corporate law and dental specialists Eugene Pena and Kirsty McKenzie-Hopkins explore the six key steps in the purchase process, answering the most common questions from budding buyers.
1. Find the right legal team
In our experience, no transaction is ever the same. Once you have found the right practice and are in a position to start the buying process, your first step should be to find the right lawyers to represent you and guide you through the process. You can instruct lawyers even before you’ve made an offer.
You should consider working with lawyers that specialise in the dental sector — in particular, those with significant experience in buying and selling dental practices.
Most sellers are keen on a speedy transaction, so having the right team in place will put you in the best possible position.
2. Consider funding
Next, you’ll need to know how the purchase is going to be funded. Most lenders will require you to have a deposit, so having this ready and being able to show how this amount has accumulated will save you time further down the line.
The more information you have available at the outset, the better. Knowing what type of security the bank will take will also help your lawyers to determine what additional work (if any) will be required.
3. Terminate your contract
Buying a practice can be a lengthy process. Most first-time buyers are also associates working elsewhere and are required to give notice to terminate their contract.
Timing when to hand your notice in is key. While this decision is ultimately yours, having expert lawyers who are aware of the process and the intricacies involved in dental transactions, as well as the potential issues that may arise, can help to ensure that you aren’t left without work. They can provide guidance and help to reduce the risk of you being left without a source of income.
4. Recruit your team
You may be eager to make your mark as soon as you get the keys to the practice, but recruitment is a big issue in most sectors and dentistry is no exception.
You may be acquiring a well-established practice with members of staff that have worked there for many years. While there are regulations that protect employees’ rights, it’s possible to implement certain changes (known as measures) — but you’ll need to consider how any changes (whether big or small) would affect the workforce.
It’s usually a good idea to maintain the status quo (provided that it’s working) until you’ve embedded yourself with the team.
5. Register with the CQC
Be prepared to go through a CQC (Care Quality Commission) registration process. This may differ depending on the type of practice you’re looking to acquire.
First time buyers may be asked to attend a fit person interview with a CQC assessor, so preparation is key. Again, having lawyers who are familiar with the CQC process is crucial to enable a smooth purchase. Your solicitor may even be able to make the application for you.
6. Manage time effectively
Finally, a simple but critical piece of advice — don’t leave things until the last minute. Set time aside to deal with matters related to your purchase — sometimes, the last thing you want is to read an email from your lawyer or action any documents, but always try to keep your end goal in mind. Make sure that you know what you’re signing up to and allow time to negotiate any points that you’re not fully comfortable with.
If, for example, you have agreed that the seller will be remaining as an associate, try to finalise the agreement in advance of the exchange of contracts. Even if you have agreed headline terms with the seller, circumstances may have since changed — so you don’t want to be renegotiating terms late in the transaction.
How we can help
Buying a dental practice may well be one of the biggest decisions you ever make. Avoiding common pitfalls by having an expert legal team with specialist dental experience makes a huge difference. You need a team that can calmly guide you through each step of the process.
We are proud to provide market-leading legal solutions to dental practices across the UK. Our dental team contains true specialists who understand the unique pressures you face.
We play an active role in the market for dental practice sales and purchases, working alongside third-party brokers to ensure smooth transactions. Advice is provided across multiple specialist practice areas, including practice sales and acquisitions, property acquisition or leasing, property disputes, regulatory (including a CQC application service), fitness to practise, litigation, international recruitment, employment and litigation.
Talk to us by calling 0151 600 3000 or complete our contact form and have a member of our team get in touch.