Are You Prepared for the Future? Succession Planning for Your Practice

The practical reality of the situation is that so very often professionals spend most or all of their waking hours working on or in their practice. The seemingly endless needs of the practice tend to get in the way of the time required to focus on future succession planning. But it is too important to ignore. What were to happen, say, if you as the sole owner of a practice passed away without a succession plan in place? Trouble, definitely. Chaos, most likely. Missed opportunities and tremendous loss of value, certainly.

Every practice owner should take the time to adopt a plan for his or her practice that will properly provide for ongoing proactive management and succession upon his or her passing. Call it an emergency plan, a disaster plan, or otherwise, but it is a focus on succession and it should be well thought out and on-hand in the event it is time for you to step away. Follow these next steps to get prepared for those future events, whether known or unknown:

  1. Stop the Procrastination! – No seriously, stop putting it off and set aside some time to get out of the office and start considering the ‘what-ifs’ for you as a person and how those will impact your practice.
  1. Schedule Those Meetings – Not with your patients, you are now the customer. Reach out to your financial advisor, your trusted attorney, your CPA and a law practice consultant or broker to start the discussion. No idea who to start with? Anyone. The key is to start and the pieces will begin to fall into place. Talk to your advisors. Open up about what your goals are and what your personal and financial needs are so that you can lay out a plan that truly works for you.
  1. Document Everything– You hold the information so make sure you are taking notes and preparing a war chest of information, goals, ideas, disaster planning info and all those other items you or someone else would need to complete your succession plan.
  1. Address the Contingencies – Have you heard of a Will? Do you have one? How about one for your dental practice? It’s called an assumption, buy-sell or partnership succession agreement. Some form of agreement should be in place so that your practice, your clients, your family and most of all your professional legacy are not lost by just a winding down and shuttering of the client matters. Review and implement a transition or succession plan for each of the following events at a minimum:
    • Retirement
    • Disability or Death
    • Relocation or Other Transition

Just like the saying in estate planning goes; it is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ this same mindset should be used to motivate your succession planning. Whether you control the decision or not when retirement, disability or your passing occurs make sure you have a plan that takes care of your practice, your clients and preserves the value built for your loved ones.