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  Posted by: The Probe      3rd March 2020

As a practice principal there’s a lot to think about when it comes to retirement. Indeed, between organising paperwork and accounts ready for the next owner, devising an exit strategy and making sure there’s enough in your pension pot, you’ve got a lot to contend with. Still, your responsibilities don’t stop there.

As part of your retirement preparations you should also consider your goals for the future – not just what you plan to do with your time once you’re no longer seeing patients eight plus hours a day, but what you hope to achieve with the business. For instance, do you plan to leave a legacy? Do you want to build a practice that will benefit patients for years to come once you’re no longer in charge? Do you want to walk away knowing that you’ve created a profitable business that can operate sufficiently on its own? If so, there’s a lot you need to do before you can actually retire. That’s why experts recommend that you start preparations at least five years before you sell.

If you’re looking to build a stable business and maximise profitability, creating a brand and image that extends beyond you is a good direction to take. This will help to ensure that patients remain loyal once you eventually take a step back from your clinical responsibilities. It should also allow you to reduce your time in practice before you retire and give you time to make the necessary preparations. The trick is to introduce this gradually and reduce your clinical involvement in the practice slowly to give everyone time to adjust. What’s more, if you were to take on fewer patients and reduce your working hours too quickly you might actually see a decrease in your profits, which is less attractive to prospective buyers.  

Another way to maximise business is to utilise the full scope of practice of a dental hygienist or dental therapist. Besides adding value to the patient experience, which encourages loyalty and promotes compliance, hygienists and therapists are able to deliver a wide range of services thus freeing up your time to deliver more complex treatments. Together, you can see a greater number of people, meaning you can extend your patient list and grow your bottom line.

Of course, retirement is as much about leaving a legacy as it is about preparing the practice for the next principal. Indeed, just because you’re leaving it doesn’t mean your work can’t continue to benefit patients for years to come. Technology designed to stand the test of time and benefit patients on a more personal level can help you to achieve this. A good example of this is the CALCIVIS Imaging System – a unique device that uses bioluminescence to generate visual evidence of the very early signs of active demineralisation on the surfaces of the teeth. All too often it is the case that caries progresses in to the dentine of the tooth rendering remineralisation measures useless. Now it is possible to catch caries at an early enough stage to be able to initiate effective preventive treatment. Imagine the impact this would have were it used in your practice? The number of teeth that could be saved and surgeries prevented? Not only would this help your patients, but assist in the ongoing fight against dental caries. What better legacy than to be known as a practice that revolutionised the management of caries and dental erosion?

The CALCIVIS Imaging System is also a great communication and educational tool. So, if you are worried about what will happen to some of your patients once you’re gone; if you have a good rapport and they respond well to your chair-side manner, don’t. This technology displays a live glowing map of ‘hot spots’ on the surfaces of the teeth and patients can actually see the problem in a format that they understand.

All in all, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to retirement. It might involve a lot of time and effort, but if you take the trouble to plan ahead, progress your practice, embrace technology and prepare the business so that it is profitable for the future, you can rest assured that you’ll be retirement ready when the time comes. What’s more, you will know that you did the very best for your practice and your patients, and no-one can ask for better than that.


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