Case Study: Harris and Allen Dental

Making a Difficult Practice Transition a Win-Win

Seven years after Dr. Scott Allen had bought into the practice, his partner and friend, Dr. Jay Harris, was preparing to retire. Dr. Harris wanted to sell the remaining half of the practice to Dr. Allen, and Dr. Allen wanted to buy. However, they both understood that doing business with friends can be tricky and wanted to keep their friendship in tact. They reached out to Bob, whom had facilitated the transaction when Dr. Allen bought in seven years earlier. Bob was already aware that Dr. Harris had started to taper off his patients to Dr. Allen so he could make the transition as smooth and natural as possible. He was also already aware that this would cause some conflict between the two doctors while negotiating the price. Dr. Harris was now only seeing about 35% of the patients, while Dr. Allen was seeing 65%. So while both doctors owned half of the practice, each felt they deserved a different price. All were also aware that if a fair price could not be found, Dr. Allen had no obligation to stay with the practice, and could leave Dr. Harris to start over from scratch. They needed Bob to put together a win/win agreement. They understood neither of them could get everything they wanted, but they needed a fair outcome where they could leave feeling respectful, collegial, and knowing what both parties obtained was fair.

Bob’s goal was to set both parties up to succeed in going forward, being respectful of needs and ensuring the outcome would preserve the relationship. To do this, he followed the basic rule "seek first to understand". He met individually with both doctors regarding the desires for the outcome and concerns about the process, most importantly looking for any deal breakers that would end the process. Over time, it evolved into Dr. Allen not only buying the practice but also the building, which allowed some give and take throughout the process. The two doctors had a difference of opinion over the worth of the practice, and Bob met with them and worked through the financial analysis to find the point of equivalent value and compromise. Once Bob found that equal middle ground he terms the "strike point", and both parties agreed, he put all the documents together, worked with attorneys and CPA’s, and the deal was finished by their deadline of March 31, 2015. Through the process, both doctors told Bob, "Without you, we know we would not have been able to do this." They had developed enough trust, individually and collectively, that they knew Bob would be a fair representative of both sides. And in the end, they reached their ultimate goal of facilitating a fair deal that preserved the relationship and was a genuine win-win for both.