Dentists probably understand better than most people that some endeavors should be left to trained professionals.
Patients trust dentists to provide expert care precisely because they have special training and expertise in dentistry.
Similarly, selling and appraising a dental practice requires special expertise. Practice transitions vary from bringing on an associate or partner to selling the dental practice outright. Each practice transition involves several facets, such as accounting, legal, and tax considerations. A successful transition depends on expert guidance to represent your individual interests, reduce unnecessary legal and tax liabilities, and maximize the sales price. Since each practice transition is unique, all dentists should hire a team of trusted advi- sors to help them avoid potential pitfalls.
The Clear Advantage
Watson Brown is a dental practice transition firm that specializes in practice appraisals and brokerage services for dentists at every stage of their professional careers. Founded by Dr. Terry Watson in 1992, the firm has facilitated hundreds of transitions and has extensive experience with practice sales, startups, partnerships, associateships, dental practice appraisals, refinances, and debt consolidation.
In June 2005, tax attorney and accountant Frank J. Brown, J.D., LL.M. (taxation) teamed with Dr. Watson to form Watson Brown. Their team provides an exceptional combination of accounting, marketing, legal, and tax expertise and is the only transition firm in the United States with both a tax attorney and dentist. The firm’s skill set is complemented by Dr. Terry Watson’s 23 years of success in private practice.
Jeremy Brown, J.D. joined the firm in 2008. His experience with web-based technologies, banking, and marketing has streamlined the firm’s data management capabilities and increased overall office productivity, resulting in faster, more efficient dental practice transitions.
Dr. Joe M. Piazza, Jr. joined the team in 2015 and brings 37 years of private practice experience to the firm.
Surpassing the Traditional Broker
Dental practice brokers have vastly different levels of knowledge and experience. Practice brokerage is an unregulated industry that does not require any formal training or professional licensure, thus several brokers have little training or experience. Watson Brown is based on a distinctly different model – serving clients as a team of trusted advisors with deep reserves of expertise and unparalleled resources.
Where a single broker might divide his or her time between multiple clients, Watson Brown clients are served by a team. Their staff, including a legal assis- tant, technical writer, and closing agent, works together to represent each client’s interests and market the practice every day, around the clock.
The team’s combined dental, legal, account- ing, and tax expertise is an invaluable resource for doctors preparing for a practice transition. “We believe that our combined experience across multiple dis- ciplines offers our clients a unique level of expertise that affords a clear advantage,” Frank Brown points out.
Every practice transition involves tax issues. Watson Brown continually moni- tors changes in the dynamic legal environ- ment and tax law to avoid costly errors or oversights. Their firm properly structures all transitions to minimize tax conse- quences and saves their clients thousands of dollars.
Beyond negotiating the complexities of legal contracts and tax planning issues, there is an unexpected personal side to practice transitions that often goes over- looked by brokers. As Dr. Piazza explains, “A practice transition can be charged with emotion, but expert coaching from a team you trust helps to reduce anxiety through- out each stage of the transition and inspires confidence in the outcome. We make sure both the seller and buyer are well-prepared to make informed decisions. Our team is qualified to handle every detail, including financing, legal, and tax planning. We plan for every contingency ahead of time to reduce the risks.”
Frank Brown cautions against the old model of using a single individual to handle a transaction, also known as dual representation. He explains, “The single broker approach to represent both sides of a practice transition is flawed. A trusted advisor must represent the interests of a single party and not compromise the client’s interests.”
Confidentiality of a practice transition is a common concern for both the seller and buyer. “We understand the importance of strict confidentiality in any practice transi- tion,” notes Jeremy Brown. “Our clients can feel confident that their private infor- mation is secure and protected at all stages of the transition process.”
Financing the sale of a practice is a critical element in the transition. Watson Brown has established strong relations with lenders who specialize in dental practice acquisition financing. Their firm can help buyers obtain 100% financing so that the selling doctor does not incur the liability of carrying the note.
Nationwide, 24/7 Marketing
In today’s market, prospective buyers search for practice opportunities at all times – between prophy checks, during their lunch break, and long after midnight. Prospective buyers primarily use the inter- net to find available practice opportunities. Watson Brown recognizes the importance of using online campaigns to advertise their client’s practices.
“Our marketing campaigns effectively advertise our clients’ practices for sale 24/7,” notes Jeremy Brown. “However, our best marketing tool is our reputation and network in the dental industry. Our past clients tell other dentists about their suc- cessful transitions using our firm which brings exposure for our current practice listings and attracts qualified buyers.”
ADS Member Network
Watson Brown is a member of American Dental Sales (ADS), a national organization comprised of the most recognized and respected dental practice transition firms in North America. As members of ADS, Watson Brown represents the nation’s foremost experts in dental practice transitions. ADS members are held to high ethical standards by peer review and must regularly complete continuing education to keep abreast of the latest knowledge and trends in the industry. Watson Brown is currently the only ADS firm in the state of Texas.
ADS hosts one of the largest online databases of practices for sale and conducts national marketing campaigns to attract a diverse pool of buyers. The ADS website – ADStransitions.com – attracts thousands of qualified buyers nationwide for local practice listings. Additionally, every practice listed for sale by Watson Brown is featured on the websites hosted by Dental Economics and Dental Town. ADS members across the nation refer qualified prospective buyers who are relocating to Texas to Watson Brown.
Recognized as the leader in Texas for dental practice transitions, the firm frequently presents at state and regional dental confer- ences and has authored several articles for Dental Economics and the Texas Dental Journal. In collaboration with other ADS mem- bers, Frank Brown and Terry Watson have authored the book, “The Affluent Dentist.” This book has been noted as an invaluable resource to help dentists build, grow, and transition a dental prac- tice. The firm is regularly invited by dental schools to speak to stu- dents preparing for their future careers.
Planning Today is the Foundation of Future Success
An accurate valuation of a dental practice is one of the most important and complex components of a transition. The fair market value of a dental practice is not equated using a simple equation or multiplier. A reliable practice valuation demands a comprehensive understanding of both the objective and subjective factors that comprise the value of a dental practice.
For Frank and Jeremy Brown, character-building started early. The father and son duo have both earned the distinction of Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. Eagle Scouts exemplify a rigorous code of ethics and morals. Both men attribute their work ethic, integrity, and character to their scout- ing experience and believe the lessons learned in Boy Scouts have carried over into their professional lives. Frank and Jeremy Brown continue to be actively involved in Boy Scouts and mentoring young men in their communities.
Dr. Piazza emphasizes that practice valuation is more than examining the financial records of the practice. “A practice’s true value is composed of many factors, including the location, equipment, staff, patient base, and cash flow, but the main advantage and value of a practice is derived from people and relationships. To truly determine fair market value, you have to evaluate every facet of the practice, both tangible and intangible. When a transition is handled well and the important value of relationships is recognized, patient confidence in the new practice ensures that it will continue to thrive.”
The team at Watson Brown encourages dentists to begin planning far in advance of any transition to build a foundation for the best possible outcome. The first step in the planning process is to have your practice appraised. An in-depth analysis of your practice is key to determining whether you are well-positioned for a successful transition. Pre-transition planning can identify areas in the practice that need improvement and allow time to develop and implement strategies that enhance the value of the practice. You may be advised to attract new patients, adjust your fees, evaluate your office lease or real estate options, properly structure associate agreements, or evaluate staff salaries. Conducting an evaluation early will help you determine the most favorable timeline for the transition and proceed with confidence.
Watson Brown also helps clients with contingency planning for an unexpected death or disability. Pre-planning for an unexpected death or disability is a preventative measure to ensure that, in such an event, all facets of the sale of your practice will be handled expe- diently and efficiently to preserve the practice and maintain the practice value. This specific, step-by-step plan protects your family members from shouldering a difficult burden during a highly emo- tional time and ensures that such matters are being handled com- petently and according to your wishes.
Allies in a Successful Transition
You do not have to – and should not – manage the complexities of transition planning alone. There are clearly many considerations involved in total preparedness. However, the single most important step may be to select a team of professional planners known for integrity who are also market leaders with a proven track record in successful dental practice transitions. By focusing on service, integrity, and advocacy, Watson Brown assures that your transition needs will be handled competently, equitably, and with your best interest as a central priority.
For more information, call Watson Brown at (469) 222-3200 or visit ADStexas.com.
Frank Brown graduated with a Business Degree from Arizona State University, and went on to earn his law degree from the University of Arkansas. Brown contin- ued his legal and business education by earning his Master of Laws in taxation from Southern Methodist University School of Law.
Brown began his professional accounting career in the tax department at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Company, one of the big eight international accounting firms. He received a broad exposure to tax, accounting and busi- ness matters while at Peat.
Brown went into the private practice of law as a tax attorney where he handled his first dental practice transition in 1990. After several years in the private practice of law, Brown ventured out into the private business sector. He was involved in the transportation, insurance, finance and medical supply distribution industries. Active in these industries, Brown held positions as the Past Chairman of the premium finance division of the American Financial Services Association, Past President and Director of the Insurance Premium Finance Association of Texas, Past Chairman and Director of the Texas Motor Transportation Association Allied division, Past Director in the J. Rueben Clark Law Society Dallas/Fort Worth chapter and of the B.Y.U. Management Society Dallas/Fort Worth chapter. Brown is a licensed attorney in the States of Texas and Arizona.
Brown is the past president of ADS, a national organization of 25 brokers across the country. ADS generated in excess of two hundred million dollars of dental practice sales this last year. Brown is a frequent lecturer at dental conferences, national seminars, and dental schools. He has published articles for the Texas Dental Association’s Texas Journal, Dental Economics, Houston Dental Journal, and is a contributing author in the newly released dental practice transition book The Affluent Dentist.
Brown has worked extensively with local troops of the Boy Scouts of America in positions as Scoutmaster, Troop Committee Chairman and fund raising chairman for high adventure activities. Brown has enjoyed taking scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch, is an Eagle Scout and has two sons who are Eagle Scouts.
Brown enjoys family outings with his wife Jennifer and their five children. He plays squash and fits in an occasional round of golf. One of his real treats is to get out and wet a line fly fishing.
Jeremy Brown earned his law degree from Texas A&M University and completed his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University. Prior to joining Watson Brown, Jeremy served as marketing director for a software company and a personal banker at a major financial institution. In his current position with Watson Brown, Jeremy performs practice appraisals, drafts contracts and purchase agreements, provides transition consultation, and oversees the marketing of each practice opportunity, as well as qualifying buyers for each practice listing.
Since joining the firm in 2008, he has implemented web-based technologies to improve the firm’s ability
to manage client information and increase staff productivity. The end goal with these systems improvements is to put the client first and deliver exceptional brokerage, appraisal, and consulting services.
Before finishing his undergraduate studies, Jeremy spent two years on a mission in Guatemala as a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After his return, he resumed his education and served in various student leadership positions in college. Upon graduating from BYU, Jeremy embarked upon a career in marketing and sales, holding a number of positions with major health care and financial service providers. In these roles, he supervised marketing campaigns, participated in strategy development, and oversaw national product launches. In addition to these professional accomplishments, he participated on the Board of Directors for the local Chamber of Commerce.
In his personal life, Jeremy enjoys following college football and backpacking. He and his wife Audrey have four children and enjoy spending time outdoors with their kids. An Eagle Scout and an Assistant Scout Master, Jeremy continues to contribute his time to the Boy Scouts of America and mentoring youth.
Dr. Terry Watson is a graduate of Baylor University College of Dentistry and practiced general dentistry in the Dallas area for over 23 years. Prior to selling his dental practice, he enhanced his business knowl- edge with courses in accounting and business plan- ning at Southern Methodist University. In 1992, Dr. Watson founded Watson & Associates, Inc.
Dr. Watson remains an active member of the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, and Dallas County Dental Society and has served on numerous boards including those of ADA Financial Services, TDA Board of Directors, and TDA Financial Services. He is a Past President of the
Dallas County Dental Society. In addition to his consulting work, Dr. Watson is a frequent lecturer at dental conferences and national seminars, speaking on practice transition and retirement planning. He has published articles in TDA Journal, Dental Economics and Dallas Academy of General Dentistry.
Dr. Watson has given back to the community by serving as a Board member of the Dallas Trees and Parks Foundation and the Trinity River Mission. As President and Board member of the Dallas Dental Health Programs, he guided and contributed to the organization’s con- tinued influence on health care in North Texas.
Dr. Watson and his wife Carolyn are active members of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church. Dr. Watson has been engaged in all levels of service at the church from teaching youth Sunday school to serving as President of the Church’s Foundation. As a father, he was involved with his sons in Indian Guides, Scouts and Sports where he served as a Nation Chief, Cub Scout Pack Master and Coach. Now Dr. Watson has the opportunity to be part of his sons’ families and to enjoy his grandchildren.
Even with this busy schedule, the Watsons enjoy getting away to their lake home and spending time on their boat. Dr. Watson enjoys fishing in the company of a good friend. He is a respected father, husband, dentist, consultant and community leader who always makes time to serve and give to others.
Dr. Joe M. Piazza, Jr. graduated from the University of Texas Dental Branch in 1979 and practiced family dentistry in West Houston for over 37 years. After selling his Houston practice in 2014, Dr. Piazza assisted the buyer of his practice and continued to work in the practice for another eight months. Shortly after the sale of his practice, he began volunteering at the University of Texas Dental School and in December of 2015, he became a part-time Clinical Professor.
Dr. Piazza is a member of the American Dental As- sociation, Texas Dental Association, Greater Hous- ton Dental Society and the Academy of General Dentistry. He served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Houston Dental Society and in 2014 served as President of the Society. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the University of Texas School of Dentistry Alumni Association. He has par- ticipated in many volunteer activities in the community such as caring for patients at Casa Juan Diego House of Hospitality, Texas Missions of Mercy and San José Dental Clinic, and also provided dental care on a Dental Mission of Mercy to Honduras. Through the years he has coached Little League baseball and parochial school baseball and now assists his son who coaches baseball for a parochial school league.
Dr. Piazza and his wife, Ann, have three adult children with whom they enjoy a close relationship. The Piazza’s enjoy saltwater fishing on Galveston Bay and Cabo San Lucas, hiking in Colorado, traveling, and going to Astros baseball games. Dr. Piazza is an active member of the Knights of Columbus and St. John’s Vianney Catholic Church and is a founding member of the Bear Creek Kiwanis Club.