Hi there, Brian here. 

Quick question for you. Would you be interested in paying me multiple thousands of dollars to work together? 

I promise that I’ll do some good work for you. 

No? 

Too awkward? Too forward? No context?

I thought so. 

Then why do I ask? Because too many of you are doing the exact same thing when you’re looking for a practice. 

Allow me to explain.

For those of you looking for a practice to buy, you already know that you should be only spending 20% of your search time with brokers and passively searching the web. The other 80% of your time should be spent building a strong network of grey-haired dentists who know, like, and trust you and know you’re in the market for a practice for sale in their area. 

But how do you build that network? 

What specifically should you say to those dentists?

You could just call them up and go the awkward route:

“Hi Dr. Nguyen, my name is Brian Hanks and I’m a newer dentist looking to buy a practice in Seattle. Do you want to sell me your practice?”

I mean, c’mon. 

You know exactly what Dr. Nguyen is going to say, right?

What if, instead of going directly for the ask, you took the time to build a relationship with the doctor first? 

What if you took the time to notice something about their practice that you admire? 

What if you took the time to ask their advice about an ownership question you have? 

That might sound something like this: 

“Hi Dr. Nguyen, my name is Brian Hanks and I’m a dentist new to the Seattle area. I heard a colleague say good things about your practice, and I have to say I was really impressed by the number of positive Google reviews you have. Would you be willing to let me take you to lunch sometime in the next few weeks and pick your brain a little bit about how you’ve been successful in this area? I’m looking to be an owner in the next few years and I’d love to get your advice.”

Picture yourself as an owner dentist who is over 50 years old, just happily working away in your practice and some smart, talented, discerning young dentist took the time to notice how successful and amazing you were! How would you feel about that dentist?

AND they want to pay for your lunch?!

Robert Cialdini in his seminal book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” calls this the principle of reciprocity. Cialdini explains that the principle of reciprocity is a powerful social force dictating that we try to repay favors to those who have done favors for use. 

Thus, by reaching out and doing a grey-haired doctor the “favor” of asking for a small amount of their vast wisdom and experience, you’ve done them a favor. 

And you mentioned that you’re looking for a practice to buy. 

So they’ll want to repay your favor. 

Voilà!

To be clear, this strategy of taking the time to get to know people and create relationships takes time. It takes effort. 

(And if you’re going the mailer route, where you’re going to send out 500 mailers to all the dentists in a few zip codes, this might not be the approach that makes the most sense.)

But for those of you who want to find the great off-market practices that haven’t been shopped around to DSOs and been passed on by a bunch of other buyers, this is probably your best (and quickest!) way to find a good practice for sale. 

Take the time to get to know people. 

Sincerely flatter them a little, ask for their advice, and get to know them.

Then let them know you’re in the market for a practice, but don’t make that the sole purpose for reaching out, and you’ll find a good practice for sale. Probably quicker than you’d think!

Let me know how it goes.

-Brian