Retirement is your chance to enjoy the rewards of all your years in practice, but dentists can sometimes miss out on making the most of their ‘golden years’. That’s because often, and understandably, during the final few years of work people begin to wind down.
However, I believe there is a more financially rewarding approach that can help to ensure you begin retirement in the best possible position. By spending those last few years ramping up, instead of winding down, and focusing on growing patient numbers and income you can maximise goodwill value and ease the way into retirement. The good news is that you can still do this whilst reducing your working hours, if this is your preferred option.
The key to this is planning – starting with sitting down and thinking about what retirement means to you and the kind of approach you want to take. For example, some key considerations would be whether you want to leave the profession altogether or remain a dentist in some capacity? Do you want to work full-time until your last day or take a semi-retired approach? Who might you sell your practice to?
Whichever of these paths you take, the best preparation is to ensure you have strong profits and turnover – and ideally that these are increasing so there is scope for future expansion. In order to do that you need to remain focused on not only maintaining your patient list but also growing it.
If you take a more relaxed approach and allow your patient numbers to decrease naturally, that is your prerogative, however this will also lead to a reduction in turnover and profit. Ultimately this can devalue your practice and mean that any income that you earn in those latter years may be offset against this drop in practice value.
By continuing to build your patient list in the last few years of your working life you will demonstrate a solid, and growing, financial base, and show that there is opportunity for future development. This will ensure a higher valuation and make your practice more attractive to potential buyers, whoever you choose to sell to.
You can also remain focused on growing your patient list, and therefore keep your goodwill value high, and still take a semi-retired approach by bringing in an associate to support you.
I appreciate that actively trying to attract new patients and all that entails, such as additional staff training, marketing campaigns, improving your website, may seem like a lot to take on when you are coming to the end of your career. But it can be made more manageable with careful forethought and planning, expert advice, and the impact on raising your goodwill value, and supporting you into retirement, will make it all worthwhile.