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Audio
Bio

Dentistry has made many improvements and strides; we’ve broken many social barriers. That said, some dentists abide by a backward sort of thinking. Dr. Kari Mann faced such thinking firsthand when she was fresh out of dental school.

SHOW NOTES:

 

  • Dr. Glenn Vo was super excited to sit down with a good friend for this week’s episode of the Nifty Thrifty Podcast. Dr. Kari Mann has a lot of stories to tell and advice to give as someone who has evolved from owning a start-up to completing the acquisition of another practice.
  • If you tune into the video version of this week’s episode, you’ll quickly notice that Kari has been doing pretty well for herself. She tuned in from Cape Coral, Florida, where she sat in her lavish home. There was even a view of her private dock where her boat would be if her father weren’t out for a joyride.
  • After graduating from dental school, before Kari moved to Florida to start living like a queen, she was living in a very different environment: Seattle. 
  • Kari always knew she wanted to own a practice; she was so eager that she was already on the search during her fourth year of dental school. 
  • Kari’s father was also eager to help with the business side of things. He would visit practices throughout Seattle—probably about 40 or 50 in all—always video chatting with Kari as he scoped out each location.
  • Unfortunately, Kari and her father struggled to find a practice that was either realistically priced or willing to sell to a recent graduate. Kari was also surprised to experience sexism when she came across a guy willing to sell to a new graduate but not to a “young female.”
  • Eventually, Kari ended up finding a practice that was considered a “Pseudo Startup.” The practice had been owned by a dentist for 40 years who—instead of selling it and getting out of it at its peak—had let the practice just drop off.
  • In other words, his dental practice was struggling to stay afloat. There wasn’t much of a cash flow, thanks to a very small patient base. 
  • Thus, Kari was left with the “bones of an office” with outdated and unreliable equipment. She had very little to go off of, basically building a brand new dental practice within a failing one.
  • Kari and her dad made do with 1,000 square feet to host four ops, a three-person front desk, a patient lobby, a staff room, a staff bath, a doctor’s office, a sterile lab, and a laundry area.
  • No matter, Kari and her father got to work. Her father utilized his construction background to help Kari set herself up for success.
  • Kari owned this Seattle practice for four and a half years. It was on track to do $1.6 million when she sold it. She worked four days a week—seeing patients about 30 hours a week—taking two-hour lunches every day so she could work on the administrative stuff. 
  • Amongst Kari’s Seattle staff were two full-time hygienists as well as two full-time restorative chairs. And while there still was room for growth, Kari decided to walk away.
  • Kari had had enough with the weather in Seattle. She was having a hard time during the winters, especially, not to mention the living costs. 
    • The lack of daylight was a big factor for Kari, as the sun wouldn’t come up until 9 am before getting dark again at 3:30 pm. She wasn’t keen on going to work in the pitch black and coming home in the pitch black every day.
  • If Kari could say something to anybody looking to buy a practice, it’s this: set whatever prospectus a broker gives you on a practice aside and get an accountant—especially if you’re not a numbers person. 
  • Next, go through the numbers. Get to know your P&L, tax returns, monthly costs, cash flow analysis, malpractice, tax burden, and so on. But don’t forget to stay prepared for the future by understanding the expenses and numbers that’ll come with your objectives for the next year.
  • If the numbers don’t pass the “stress test,” it might not be worth taking practice on. If you’re not the type of person to go in and flip that practice, then it’s not a good fit.
  • For Kari, being in a group practice or owning a thousand practices just isn’t something she’d be interested in. One of the big reasons why Kari was all for owning her own practice was because it meant she could do as much of the clinical dentistry as possible—she loves the process of sitting in the chair and treating patients.
  • Learn about:
    • What’s the difference between a “true acquisition” and a “Pseudo Startup”?
    • What’s the difference between a “Pseudo Startup” and starting from scratch?
    • Why does Dr. Glenn Vo think that a “Pseudo Startup” is more difficult than a “traditional startup”?
    • How did Dr. Kari Mann’s father help her find not only an office location but also the actual construction of it? Why did Seattle prove to be a difficult environment for real estate for Kari and her dad?
    • Why did Kari decide to sell everything and start over? What made her walk away from the successful “Pseudo Startup” practice she turned around in Seattle? 
      • Hint: Living costs and a lack of sunshine have something to do with it…
    • What proved to be the hardest thing for Kari to walk away from after she decided to make a move from the Pacific Northwest to the vacationland down South?
    • Why did Kari decide to take the acquisition route?
    • When taking the acquisition route, what was the process for Kari as she found the right practice? What were some of the pitfalls she hurdled that would’ve scared others away from going for it?
    • What were the three routes Kari, her father, and her husband were considering before deciding to go with an acquisition?
    • What did Kari and her husband do with “really expensive paper and really expensive envelopes” in order to find the right practice for the acquisition?
    • Why do so many dentists make a mistake when they treat buying a dental practice like buying a house?
    • Why is it so important to have a mentor who can guide you through the process of acquiring a dental practice?
    • What was so special about Kari’s current practice in Florida? What made her choose the office she’s at now?
    • What did Kari’s criteria look like when choosing a practice for acquisition down in Florida?
    • What questions does Kari think you ought to ask yourself before making the leap to owning your own practice?
    • What advice does Kari have for doctors who feel their broker is blocking them from interacting with the team and doctors of a practice they’re interested in an acquisition of?
    • What signs did Kari look for in the office culture, team chemistry, etc., before she went through with the acquisition?
    • And more!
  • Kari agreed to come onto a future episode of the Nifty Thrifty Podcast, so you can bet on seeing her again. She’s currently remodeling her new practice down in the vacation land of Florida, so stay tuned to witness what path she chooses to take!