Dr Estella Exelby shares her experience of recently selling a dental practice alongside her partner Jonathan.
What were your initial motivations for selling and what were you looking for in a buyer?
We wanted to sell the practice as we were approaching retirement. We were looking for a buyer who had the same or similar ethos to ourselves and who would work at the practice as a dentist themselves after the sale. We were also keen to avoid a lengthy tie-in period.
How did you come across Dental Elite and why did you choose to work with them?
We met Luke Moore at a retirement/financial seminar approximately 10 years ago. We decided immediately that when we approached retirement we would, without doubt, use Dental Elite owing to his in-depth knowledge of the dental world, his personality, energy and enthusiasm for making things happen.
The first deal you agreed did not complete – would you have any advice based on this for others who may be in a similar situation?
We became too friendly with the buyers. We shared the same university background with one of them and allowed them to contact us personally rather than going through Dental Elite. We allowed the buyers to procrastinate and attempt a price reduction with us on a personal level and hence time slipped away and we ended up moving away from the deal entirely. I think it’s important to keep everything professional and to work with the external experts to ensure that all processes are correct and efficient. In our case Luke took control of the situation for the second deal and pushed the sale along and we did not become involved with the buyers on a personal level. We communicated only through Luke, the Dental Elite Team and the solicitors.
The final offer was still in line with the valuation and we were so very impressed with the deal Luke brokered.
How did COVID impact your experience?
It was challenging initially because Covid produced an unknown world for everyone in all walks of life. As dentists we had to reboot the running of our practice, which ultimately became more profitable and efficient.
We had a large Denplan list of patients who remained loyal and knew that we would take great care of them during a pandemic. This was very reassuring and we made sure that we were there for our patients continuously.
How did you find the due diligence/CQC changeover etc.?
Both the CQC changeover and due diligence for the first deal was appalling because the buyers took charge and claimed that they were progressing with it, when in reality they were not!
For the second and successful deal, the CQC changeover ran smoothly owing to the fact that we made sure that the Dental Elite team were in charge all the way. The due diligence was lengthy once again, owing to the way the buyer’s solicitor conducted her enquiries – emailing on a Friday night rather than during the week and taking holidays without informing us. Most challenging of all was answering all her questions and just when we thought that she was satisfied further minutiae were requested.
Have you remained at the practice, and if so, how has it been?
I retired on completion and Jonathan has worked four months out of his six-month contract. He has found the new owners very pleasant to work with and there have been no issues to date. All the existing dental team have remained and are pleased / relieved that we have found such a lovely husband and wife dental partnership to take over (thanks to Luke!)
Which Dental Elite consultant(s) did you work with and what was your experience with them?
Initially we worked with Luke, Phil Kolodynski and Carl Wetton – everyone was excellent, especially given the difficult circumstances in which we became too friendly with the buyers. When we realised that the deal was not going to happen, Carl composed excellent emails to the buyers highlighting their failures and thus bringing closure and enabling us to claim our deposit.
Luke was outstanding throughout the second deal. Every step of the way he was in-control of the situation and kept momentum going by keeping in touch with our buyers as well as ourselves. Luke also introduced us to our solicitor, Clare Emery. Together with her team at HCR Law she was always on top of the situation and putting pressure on the buyer’s solicitor to keep their side on track too.
Would you recommend Dental Elite to others?
Without hesitation! We would definitely recommend Dental Elite.
Do you have any general advice for others selling a practice?
Plan ahead and start early, particularly if you are at retirement age… and use Dental Elite!
Anything else you would like to add?
We have been delighted and so pleased with Luke and all the Dental Elite team that we have been in contact with over the past few years. Every one of them has been professional, friendly and taken the time to listen and advise.
Luke found us the perfect fit with our buyers resulting in a great deal thanks to his expertise in negotiating and Clare’s vast knowledge of the dental legal and business world at HCR Law.
Luke’s deal allowed me to retire immediately and Jonathan to work part time for 6 months. We cannot thank Dental Elite enough for enabling us to exit and retire and the whole process being skillfully negotiated during a pandemic. An outstanding achievement indeed for Luke Moore and the company.