Boomer Dentists Not in a Hurry to Retire
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your trust and confidence in permitting me to take care of your dental needs through the years. It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing my retirement from dentistry. Because I want to be certain that my patients continue to receive the best possible care, I have carefully evaluated a number of candidates who were interested in assuming my position…
The “announcing I am retiring” letter is less common than it used to be, with more dentists postponing retirement for more years or never officially retiring. I recently spoke with a young dentist who told me about the retired dentist he purchased his practice from who still drops by to visit patients and help with lab work. “I love dentistry and wish I hadn’t retired so soon,” was his lament.
Health care advancements are allowing many of us to live longer, and with that the question of whether our retirement nest egg will last till the end. It isn’t always about money, according to www.TheStreet.com . “In fact, six in 10 say they work for nonfinancial reasons -- because they want to, not because they have to. Those surveyed cite such reasons as staying mentally sharp (18%) and physically active (15%), as well as maintaining a sense of purpose (15%).”
But then again, it often is about money – and dentists who are healthy enough to continue working are in greater numbers. With that, the mindset must change from retirement mode to keeping up on all the changes happening in dentistry including technology, materials, practice management, insurance and the Affordable Care Act. Chances are the practice needs some updates to meet the demands of staying open another five to ten years. You must decide whether to invest in updates or just use what is already there for another few years.
I visited an office that has been at the same location for 35 years. The other dentists in the building had long since sold their practices and moved on to retirement or other endeavors. The décor in the office was frozen in time to the late 1980s when it was last decorated in a southwestern design. Amazingly they still used the old x-ray processor Peri-Pro. They were using a high end dental software system in the front office but still used paper charts for clinical charting. “I could use some new patients, a lot of my patients have been with me for decades but the numbers are shrinking. I am seeing more holes in the schedule.”
If you are a dentist who is not planning on retiring soon, it is recommended that you decide whether you are going to let your practice patient base dwindle into decline, or make improvements to attract new patients and net a sizeable profit when you sell. Or perhaps you have thought about managing the practice while other dentists do the actual treatment?
The perception in your community may be that you will be retiring soon because your practice is outdated and lacks newer technology. It will be necessary to do some updates and marketing to make sure you get new patients. Tell your patients that you are not retiring soon and you welcome new patients. Continue to be active in the community and with the local dental society so you maintain visibility and keep abreast of changes in dentistry. Instruct your staff on what to say to patients when they ask about your retirement plans. Scripting the response would help all to be on the same page. When asked, “When is doctor planning on retirement?” you might have the staff say, “Doctor has not made plans to retire. He enjoys his work and his patients and plans to work for many more years.”
Need help with assessing the value of your practice or help with management while you transition into a retirement plan? Call McKenzie Management and we can help you get the full value out of your practice.Forward this article to a friend
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