Part 3: "Drivers" vs "Cruisers": The Search for Fulfillment as a Dental Practice Owner

So the big question, then, is how can a cruiser enhance their quality of life? On the other side, what opportunities can a driver utilize to achieve his or her professional goals? There are viable, time-tested solutions to each challenge and different practice transition options that you may not have considered before.

If structured properly, these options can give you more time and freedom without sacrificing your income needs. They can give you the time to explore other vocations or spend more time doing what you enjoy most.

Structuring the right transition to meet the complementary goals of each professional can enhance the quality of life for both parties. A practice merger transition is one option that can meet the needs of both a driver and a cruiser. For example, Doctor A, a cruiser, merged his practice with a younger dentist, Doctor B, age 32, a driver. Doctor A sold his practice to Doctor B for $400,000 and put the proceeds from the sale in his pension, while working back for Doctor B for three 6-hour days. Doctor A was now able to give up administrative and management responsibilities.

Due to lower stress, his production jumped from $250 to $350 per hour and he was able to take home $3,000 per week. He was also able to take longer vacations without worrying about the drop in production or overhead expenses. Before the merger, Doctor B was doing $400,000 in his own practice and taking home $160,000 a year, after the merger, Doctor B takes home $225,000 (after all overhead expenses and debt service of the practice purchase) and still has the same work load as before the merger. Other options could include basic office sharing arrangements, associateships with deferred buy-outs, selling the practice and continuing to work as an associate at your office, etc., with each transition customized to meet the needs of both parties.

Cruisers rarely become drivers, no matter how hard they try to talk themselves into it. The longer they wait, the worse it will become. However, once the burdens of ownership are taken off their backs, we have seen many cruisers really begin to enjoy dentistry again, and the more they enjoy it, the more relaxed and productive they become.

Perhaps it is because they can take a stress-free vacation for the first time. Perhaps it is because they don’t have to see every weekend emergency patient. Perhaps it is because they can really focus on the quality patients in the practice. Perhaps it is because they can now take more time pursuing their other interests. Perhaps it is a little bit of all these reasons.

The key is to take a step back and recognize whether you are a driver or a cruiser and take the necessary steps to ensure that you are fulfilled both personally and professionally.