I get nervous about dentists who complain to me, “I can’t find a practice to buy and the brokers won’t call me back!”
I get nervous because asking that question means they’ve already broken the inviolable rule of practice searches – the best practices are often off-market, and can only be found by networking with other dentists.
Thus, I recommend you only spend 20% of your time searching for practices with brokers.
That said, brokers are a good source of potential practices to purchase and you should have relationships with the top brokers in the area you want to live.
Just don’t rely solely on them to find your practice.
Brokers can be an excellent way to find a practice but not if you reach out to them the way most of your peers do.
There’s a best way to do it and it’s not hard.
Here’s exactly how I recommend reaching out to brokers to create a relationship.
Brokers are busy and talking to people constantly. A cold call from a buyer they’ve never heard of who doesn’t know the first thing about purchasing a practice is a time waster and a call most brokers will avoid. One broker told me, “I won’t even talk to buyers now because of the number of idiots who want 40 minutes on the phone with no discernable agenda.”
Earlier I provided 4 Tips to Use Brokers to Find a Dental Practice for Sale. In that post, I reminded you of the simple fact that most brokers probably don’t want to talk with you, but that a little respect will set you apart from other buyers. Make initial contact with a broker via email or voicemail, keep it brief and give them information they can use.
Mainly, brokers care about when you can buy, whether your qualified and if you would be a buyer for any of the practice they currently have listed.
Here’s an example of a voicemail or email I would send if I were reaching out to a broker for the first time:
“Hi Ms. Broker, I’m a buyer on the hunt for a practice in your territory. I know you’re busy and just wanted to introduce myself. I’ve been out of school 2 years, have an annual production history around $700k/year. I’ve been preparing to buy a practice since I got out of school, have great credit and some cash saved up. Ideally, I’m looking for a practice collecting at least $800k in the South Sound area, but am open to any listing you have around that size. You’re busy, so please don’t feel the need to immediately respond. I’ll watch your listings and if you know of something coming up, I’d love to get a heads up.”
In that message you’ve given the broker all the information they need about you. Whether you can buy now. What you’re looking for. And how likely a bank is to approve you for financing. On top of that, you showed respect for their time and role.
Brokers that get that message will love you. And you might be the first call they make on that new, shiny, excellent listing they get next month because they know you’re prepared and ready to go.
It’s unlikely that a broker you reach out to will have your ideal practice ready for you the first time you reach out. You’ll want to stay in touch (again, respectfully) with the broker with semi-regular follow-up. Respectful follow-up will keep your name top of mind and will show your level of commitment.
The first way to stay in touch with a broker must be through the methods they have set up. If they have an email sign up on their website, use it. If they have an ‘interest form’ on their website, fill it out.
From your perspective, those methods are passive. Use them.
If you’re courteous, you can also be more active in your follow-up. It would be appropriate to check in with the broker semi-regularly to remind them that you exist and ask if they’ve heard of anything that fits the criteria you’re looking for.
Depending on how long you have before you can close on a practice, here’s what I would recommend.
More than 6 months before you can close on a practice: I wouldn’t contact the broker more than once a month. I would focus the contact, whether voicemail or email, on the steps you’re taking to be ready to buy and how your production numbers are shaping up for the year.
2-6 months before you can close on a practice: It would be reasonable to follow-up every other week. These check-ins would be focused on updates relative to your transition team, contact you’ve had with bankers and status of the timeline driving your reaching out. Let them know you’re close.
Ready to close now: If you could conceivably close on a practice today, go ahead and follow-up with the broker weekly, as long as they’ve indicated that is okay to do. Remember, it’s not the broker’s job to find you a practice. You’re updating them on your search, any steps you’ve taken to solidify your transition team, and if any listings have popped up recently or are imminent.
Keep things respectful, keep the conversation focused on what the broker needs to know about you, and you’ll have more success than the average buyer in working with brokers to find your dream practice to buy.
Good luck and thanks for reading!
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