After years or decades of building a dental practice, making the decision to sell the practice is a big one. Deciding how to facilitate that transition and with whom to work is an even bigger one. Dentist owners want to sell their practices to the right buyer, at the right price, and they want to make sure they understand the transition process from beginning to end.
Working with the right people is key to a positive experience for the dentist owner. Sellers want to feel comfortable and know that the people they are working with care about them and have their best interests in mind. Working with an experienced, down-to-earth neutral party not only brings peace-of-mind, it offers what practice owners want the most: trust and connection.
Viper Equity Partners of Palm Beach LLC acts as that neutral party. Finishing 2018 with over 70 dental practices under contract, they work with dental practice owners to explore available opportunities based on individual needs and interests. Their 25 years of experience has taught them that consolidation is a good and necessary process if it is done with research and patience.
Viper believes that besides a nice payday, there must be a common vision, culture and focus on staff and patient care. It is their goal to help all dental practice owners fully understand the benefits of the DSO opportunity. They are focused on educating dentists, dental specialists and orthodontists on the true benefits that a dental service organization or partnership can offer. In order to accomplish that, they are launching two new risk-free programs in addition to their established and successful Full Scope and Founder’s programs. New for 2019 with be Practice Exchange, as well as The Founders Plus, a quick to market version of the Founders Program.
Group Dentistry Now sat down with Viper’s founding partner, David Branch, at the Breakers Hotel on Palm Beach last Saturday morning to find out more.
GDN: It was an amazing year for Viper, what do you credit that to?
DB: Well besides lots of hard work, it comes down to listening to our clients. Our team members have all been practice owners. That gives us the ability to really communicate with the doctors. So much of the time the DSOs just assume the practice owners know how the whole Private Equity/DSO process works, when in fact, they have no clue. Why should they? With over 75% of dental professionals still viewing the DSO opportunity as a negative, it’s a real problem. We do a really good job of fixing that. In the end we are in a unique position because the dental practice owners are our clients and so are the DSOs. We identify what each side really wants and match them together. Unless the communication is wide open, deals are not going to get done.
GDN: What does the opportunity for a dentist or orthodontist look like in 2019?
DB: Simply put…amazing. But that is if joing a DSO is right for you. After 25 years in this business, we have the advantage of knowing how necessary and profitable consolidation can be when done right. We work with who we consider to be ‘the best of the best’ in terms of DSOs. These are companies that get it. Companies made up of people that love the business, believe in the future, and want the very best for the dentists they partner with.
GDN: Do you work with all specialists as well as general dentists?
DB: Yes. The trend has changed. The DSOs are looking for not only general dentists and orthodontists, but all specialists. It makes sense. They want to keep everything in the dental space under one roof. Why send out that revenue when you can accommodate any procedure?
GDN: For someone who has never heard of Viper, briefly describe what you do.
DB: We work to bring the private equity world (DSO) and dentists of all kinds together. We are facilitators. We have the relationships in place with the DSOs and PE firms. Most of them are friends we know well. We then work off direction we get from them. Meaning, a DSO may say, ‘We are looking for eight single office practices in Texas with over 2M in revenue and at least seven operatories.’ We then put our team to work and go find them. The practice owner would then contract with us if they choose and we would prepare them for sale to a DSO. This is done by choosing one of our programs that offer different approaches. We would then introduce that practice to the DSO and several others to make sure we find the right fit. We stay in the process through closing and beyond to facilitate a smooth process for all parties. We are extremely value added and necessary.
GDN: I have heard clients of yours say Viper was ‘the difference maker.’
DB: I believe that to be true. We just get it. I had lunch with the CEO of an elite top 5 DSO, and he asked me why so many of the great practices come to us rather than the DSOs directly. He admitted many of our customers had turned them down in the past. I said it’s all about trust. We are really necessary to the process. Would you go into court without an attorney or do your own root canal? Of course not. We help both sides get exactly what they want without stress or pressure. It can be an enjoyable process if you have the right people on your side. Our goal is to get each client the best deal possible.
GDN: I understand your Full Scope program was a massive success last year. Tell me about your two new programs.
DB: We launched the Full Scope program last fall and it just took off. That program takes a deep dive into the financials and overall practice health. We put a four-person team on each project, resulting in a data room, executive summary and full confidential information memorandum when finished. We get to the real heart of a deal. Full Scope has a closing ratio of over 97%.
This year we are launching a ‘bigger picture’ version of our Founder’s program. It will be a quick to market concept like the Founder’s program, but with much broader financials. It’s an amazing program for dentists with two-five offices.
We also are very excited about our new Practice Exchange. It is a smart concept. This is perfect for single offices that just want to put a toe in the water. We develop a three-page summary with financials and a tight EBITDA for each practice that qualifies. The exchange will offer invitation only access for DSOs who can shop the portal and look at the practices we’ve selected. Once interest is shown, we make introductions. We feel now we have a program for everyone. This again is our way of being value added to the DSO process which we believe in.
GDN: What do you want to say to practice owners who are reading this?
DB: I want to say congratulations for all you hard work and success. Next, I want to say, I know your time can be better spent than dealing with insurance issues, staff, costs and figuring out good marketing plans. The right DSO will take care of all that for you while leaving you in charge, your name on the door, and your staff happy and in place. What will change is your bank account, your new-found time to focus on procedures, and your work life balance. Let us show you what you need to know before you say, ‘No.’ It’s an amazing time to be a dental practice owner and we would love to work with you.
For more information on Viper Equity Partners and their four programs, visit www.viperequitypartners.com or contact [email protected]. For a free evaluation on your practice, contact [email protected] or call 561.530.4418.
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