Typically I interview dentists who have accomplished exceptional numbers in terms of marketing, but today I wanted to take a slightly different route and interview someone who is just getting into practice ownership. Dr. Ed Schrader, who recently purchased West Mobile Dental Care in Mobile, AL, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his recent practice acquisition as well as give some insights about his intended growth strategies. So let's jump right into the interview!
Ed, tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey in dentistry.
Well, as you mentioned, my name is Ed Schrader, and I grew up in Clinton, Mississippi, prior to earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Wake Forest University. My wife, Brooke, and I met in dental school at UAB. Following graduation, we moved to San Antonio, Texas, where I received an Advanced Education in General Dentistry at the Audie Murphy VA Hospital, and Brooke completed a residency in Pediatric Dentistry. We enjoyed eight years in Raleigh, North Carolina, as associates in a large group practice. It was with bittersweet emotions that we left behind such great friends and happy memories; however, we found a great opportunity to purchase a well established general dentistry practice and were excited about reuniting with friends and family in Mobile where Brooke spent her childhood.
Can you tell us some of the criteria that you had when looking at different practices prior to
It was extremely important that I perform my due diligence when evaluating dental practices in order to ensure a smooth and productive transition following the acquisition. I highly valued practices that had been well established (20+ years) and possessed an experienced, tenured staff. The location of the practice was also of paramount importance. I evaluated traffic patterns during the day and looked for new construction (commercial and residential) to determine if this was a thriving and developing area of the city.
And how did you decide on the practice that you did?
After months of communicating with the current owner of the practice, we decided that it would be prudent for me to visit and interact with staff and patients. I spent a few days meeting with the assistants, hygienists, and front desk staff as well as introducing myself to a few of the current patients. I knew it was an immediate fit as everyone was so welcoming and accommodating.
So now you have a practice, do you have a practice growth plan in place? If so, can you give us an idea of what that looks like?
Immediately upon acquisition, I am focusing all of my attention on ensuring that the patients and staff are comfortable with the transition, limiting any patient/staff loss or attrition. I am bringing new services to the practice in the form of endodontic, orthodontic and advanced surgical procedures; however, I know that with patient-centered, quality care and by treating patients well, with respect and care, growth will naturally follow. In Raleigh, I was part of a large group practice and assisted in its growth from five practice locations in 2010 to nearly thirteen in 2017. While I do not anticipate this type of exponential growth, I would be comfortable pursuing additional practice locations should the opportunity arise that yields a successful practice that does not take away from our focus on patient-centered quality care.
What are some of the lessons that you learned in your practice purchase efforts?
I chose to shy away from brokers and practice opportunity firms and conduct the search for a practice on my own. Others may not choose to take this path, which is totally fine. A practice acquisition is certainly a very big and difficult decision and you should do what you feel is most comfortable; however, I opted to get my nose into a lot of articles and blogs/message boards and speak with classmates and colleagues about their acquisition experiences. Without using a broker I was able to personalize my search and evaluation of each practice being considered.
I have seen more and more people leaning that way these days. So, for someone who is considering going about it without a broker, what would you suggest?
I simply Googled practices in Mobile, AL, and cold called them to see if they would be approaching the age of retirement and considering a partner or sale. If they were not interested, often they may suggest someone who is close to making that decision. My interest sometimes was the tipping point to encourage them to consider retirement.
If you are going to have an insurance or PPO practice, it is imperative that you start the credentialing process EARLY. You will want to be a provider the minute the doors open so that you can start filing claims.
This is some great advice, Dr. Schrader. I really appreciate you taking some time with me today.