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Open up and say 'transition'

More dentists buying retiring peers' practices

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    Greg Scheier acquired his Millburn practice from a dentist who was ready to retire ... but not just yet.
    Greg Scheier acquired his Millburn practice from a dentist who was ready to retire ... but not just yet. - (AARON HOUSTON)

    When dentist Greg Scheier acquired his Millburn practice in 2011 from a dentist who was ready to retire, he made sure of one thing: The senior dentist wasn't ready to retire just yet.

    The two, in fact, worked side by side for more than a year, with the outgoing dentist introducing Scheier to his patients to help foster a smooth transition.

    It made all the difference in the world.

    “More than 90 percent of the patients stayed (after I took over),” Scheier said. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that there was a lengthy transition period.”

     Scheier said he and the established dentist always were in the office on the same days.

    “When he saw a patient he would make an introduction to me,” Scheier said. “Then I slowly started to see his patients, and they became comfortable with me and had no problems staying.”

    Scheier grew the practice significantly. His predecessor had slowed down and was seeing patients two and half days a week; Scheier works full-time and said he has doubled the revenue of the practice compared with where it was before he took over.

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    Greg Scheier

    Dentists have traditionally followed Scheier’s path, as the aging of the baby boom generation is yielding a steady pipeline of retirees eager to sell their practices to the next generation, according to attorney William Barrett of Mandelbaum Salsburg, who specializes in the purchase and sale of dental and medical practices.

    “The market has been steady for a while now — we close on the purchase or sale of 30 to 40 dental practices a year,” Barrett said.

    He said bank financing is readily available, largely because most transitions are successful, with the new dentist retaining most of the current patients and attracting new ones.

    Sale prices range from about $400,000 to $800,000, depending on the size, but Barrett said it’s worth it.

    “The younger doctor can purchase the practice and on day one have a patient base and a staff and a facility already built out,” Barrett said. “So you can see why this market has developed — and it’s a very consistent market.”

    Look no further than Scheier on that one.

    Scheier is in the process of acquiring a second practice in town — and that seller also will stay on board for a while to help his patients transition.

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    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald

    Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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