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HS Financial Services - Navigating practice sales: Stuart Garton and The Dental House Liverpool
Navigating practice sales: Stuart Garton and The Dental House Liverpool

Navigating practice sales: Stuart Garton and The Dental House Liverpool

 

In the dynamic landscape of dental practices, The Dental House Liverpool stands as a testament to strategic growth and successful transition. Under the stewardship of Stuart Garton, The Dental House Liverpool evolved from a modest two-surgery NHS practice into a thriving fourteen-surgery complex offering a spectrum of services, including private care, specialised treatments, and even dental education, all while keeping NHS work at the core.

 

From Associate to Owner 

 

Dr Garton’s venture into practice ownership was unconventional, spurred by an unexpected opportunity. Initially content as an associate, circumstances led him to consider purchasing the practice he worked at. However, when the situation changed and the practice was no longer on the market, Dr Garton found that he had stopped thinking like an associate. The desire to own a dental practice had gained too much traction, and it was something he wanted to pursue. To start this journey, Dr Garton kept an eye on the market, and soon enough, The Dental House Liverpool was put up for sale, close to home, and with only two surgeries, it was a great starting point for any budding practice owner.

 

 After acquiring The Dental House Liverpool in 2015, Dr Garton oversaw a period of rapid growth, capitalising on the opportunities available. The Dental House's growth wasn't left to chance. Stuart strategically expanded the practice by acquiring neighbouring buildings and practices, transforming it into a comprehensive dental hub, offering a range of specialities and treatments, including the latest in digital dentistry.

 

As the sole proprietor of a significantly expanded practice, Dr Garton faced the inevitable complexities that accompany success. When initially taking on the practice, there had been five staff members and one other dentist to consider, now Dr Garton was looking at over sixty members of staff, all reliant on him. As a result of this, the split between time spent practising dentistry, and time spent managing the business, began to lose its balance.

 

After navigating the challenges of a global pandemic, Dr Garton decided to reevaluate his role and recognised the need to move away from being a practice owner as not only the best idea for the practice, but also the best option for himself. The decision to sell emerged from a desire to secure an owner who could share in the vision and elevate The Dental House to new heights, while giving Dr Garton the time he needed to get back to what he really loved: dentistry.

 

Deciding to sell a business he had nurtured for years was not an easy decision, and we talked to Dr Garton about the process.

 

 

Q&A: Navigating the Sale of The Dental House with Stuart Garton

 

Q: Did you have any particular worries going into selling?

 

SG: My biggest worries were, firstly, whether someone would want to buy the practice. I had no idea about the market. We had grown into quite a large practice, and I figured the interest might come from small groups or corporate entities. It was a pleasant surprise to see significant interest when we put it on the market.

 

Secondly, I was nervous about confidentiality. I didn't want staff to find out prematurely. Maintaining confidentiality was crucial, and MediEstates handled it exceptionally well. Nobody learned about the sale until the very end, allowing me to disclose it on my terms.  

 

The third concern, with two factors, revolved around the due diligence process. Having navigated the challenges of running a large practice, I was apprehensive about the additional workload during the due diligence. However, the company we sold to was remarkably supportive throughout the process, making it more manageable. 

 

Q: What made you decide to work with MediEstates?

 

SG: I approached several companies. Given that selling the practice was a big decision, I wanted a strong relationship with the people I was working with. MediEstates was the only company that arranged a physical meeting, which was crucial for me. While other companies exchanged emails, I felt that MediEstates prioritised building a personal relationship. They were so professional, and I could see their commitment to supporting and guiding me through the process.

 

Their expertise and track record working with larger groups convinced me that they were the right choice. Building that personal relationship with them, meeting for coffee, discussing the process—these factors gave me the confidence I needed to take the next step. 

 

Q: What was the process of working with MediEstates like? Did that level of support continue?

 

SG: Yes, absolutely. MediEstates provided great support, conducting valuations and viewings out of hours to maintain confidentiality. They facilitated approaching interested companies, gathering feedback, and coordinating everything. Once offers were on the table, MediEstates played a crucial role in negotiating the best deal with the most suitable company.

 

As an individual navigating this process, their support was invaluable. It can be very intimidating as an individual trying to deal with large companies who have specialists in sales and acquisitions, when you’re just you. 

 

And then through the due diligence process as well, there were times when we all needed to work together to make sure that we got the deal that we wanted and saw that through right away until the end, and I certainly needed a bit of help and support for MediEstates through that process as well. 

 

Q: How long did the selling process take?

 

SG: I began exploring the possibility of putting the practice on the market around May. Offers were on the table and accepted by June. Initially, the plan was to complete by the end of November, but due to unforeseen circumstances and the holiday season, it extended to the end of January.

 

The entire process took around nine months, which considering the size of the practice and the extensive due diligence required, was pretty good to be honest. 

 

Q: Were there any challenges that cropped up during the sales process that you weren’t expecting?

 

SG: Given our rapid growth, we found ourselves in a different position than more stable, long-standing practices. The challenge arose when explaining the accounting information to the purchasing company. We had invested significantly in refurbishing the practice, including new surgeries and equipment, the year before deciding to sell. This expenditure affected the accounting information they were considering.

 

Navigating this issue required stepping back, discussing the investment, and finding a common ground. The challenge was ensuring that we were all on the same page, considering the offer had been made based on the previous year's accounts. 

 

Q: Would you work with MediEstates again? 

SG: Absolutely.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for dentists considering buying or selling a practice?

SG: For those buying a practice, thorough research is critical. Look beyond what companies present and conduct your own due diligence. Examine patient feedback, appointment books, and patient records. One thing I’ve learned from the sales process is how thorough companies are in their due diligence, and really, individual buyers should be the same. The company I sold to brought someone in to do a mini-inspection of the practice and a really comprehensive assessment of all the information that was needed. It’s a huge investment, if you're buying a practice you've got to make sure you're happy and confident with what you're buying.

 

Similarly, those selling should consider reaching out early, even if you’re only contemplating the idea for the future. Seeking feedback on accounts, evaluating areas for improvement, and preparing the practice for sale well in advance can significantly enhance the selling process. Personally, I wish I had engaged in this process earlier; it likely would have made the transition smoother.

 

 

Why not reach out to us today to schedule a practice valuation? Contact our team today.

 

 

Posted by: Guest Speaker - Stuart Garton on

General Buyer Terms

This agreement is in relation to MediEstates Limited whose registered office is at 1st Floor, Pacific House, Stanier Way, Wyvern Business Park, Derby, DE21 6BF acting for and on behalf of our clients ("the Vendors"); and yourself (Buyer's Name) in relation for an introduction to a prospective sale of a business as a going concern. By registering through this agreement I agree to all terms set out below:

  1. Definitions
    In this Agreement the following terms and phrases shall have the following meaning unless the context otherwise requires:

    Business
    Dental Practice business providing dental care. This business is under the MediEstates Ltd sale terms.
    Confidential Information
    Means the actual Vendors identity and all confidential information in respect of the Business, including, but not limited to, any ideas, business methods, prices, accounts, finance, marketing, research, development, manpower plans, processes, market opportunities, intentions, design rights, product information, customer lists or details, employees’ details, trade secrets, computer systems and software, and other matters connected with the products or services manufactured, marketed, provided or obtained by the Vendor, and information concerning the Vendor’s relationships with actual or potential clients or customers and the needs and requirements of such clients’ or customers’ operations.
  2. Obligation of Confidentiality
    The Prospective Purchaser agrees to treat as confidential, information supplied by or on behalf of the Vendor in connection with the sale of the Business.
  3. Exclusions
    The obligation of confidentiality set out in clause 2 does not apply to:
    1. any information received from a third party who was legally free at the time of disclosure to disclose it;
    2. any information which was already lawfully in the Prospective Purchaser’s possession prior to receiving it from MediEstates Ltd on behalf of the Vendor; and
    3. any information which is in its entirety already in the public domain.
  4. Duties of Prospective Purchaser
    1. The Prospective Purchaser shall take such a reasonable security measures to protect the Confidential Information and trade secrets.
    2. The Prospective Purchaser shall not, without the prior written consent of the Vendor, permit any of the Confidential Information:
      1. to be disclosed, other than in confidence to its legal or professional advisors;
      2. to be copied or reproduced;
      3. to be commercially exploited in any way;
      4. to be used for any purpose other than in connection with the prospective purchase of the Business;
      5. MediEstates is registered under the Data Protection Act 2018. Upon Signing this agreement you agree to follow the legal obligations of this act to protect the details of the information supplied to you, with it no to be passed outside of the control of you the prospective purchaser.
    3. The Prospective Purchaser agrees to keep a record of Confidential Information received.
    4. The Prospective Purchaser will return to MediEstates or the Vendor all documents containing Confidential Information and all copies of those documents on demand at any time which are in its possession or under its control, and for this purpose the term “documents” includes computer discs and all other materials capable of storing data and information. The Prospective Purchaser agrees that such documents remain the property of the MediEstates on behalf of the Vendor.
    5. The Prospective Purchaser must not jeopardise or re-direct the sale under any circumstances.
    6. The Prospective Purchaser must not contact the Local Area Team or CCG regarding any practice sale, by any means of media unless written permission is granted from the Vendor.
    7. To carry out own due diligence on practice purchases and accepts that any information MediEstates has supplied is information provided by the vendor and is not responsible for its accuracy or completeness.
  5. This Agreement
    The existence of this Agreement and its terms are confidential and neither MediEstates nor the Purchaser may disclose anything about this Agreement or its subject matter or implementation to any person other than in confidence to their legal or professional advisers.
  6. Duties of Prospective Purchaser
    When buying Dental practices, finance is normally needed. Our organisation operated over more than one of the MediHoldings brand, by completing this from you agree that the information can be shared to our other organisations to avoid the need to register independently and provide the best possible service.

    MediEstates will refer you to the specialist dental lending team and MediFinancial who will contact the necessary banks, whom have preferential healthcare lending rates in some cases, to ascertain which funding is available to you.
    By signing this agreement you do not have to use any of the banks MediFinancial contact, it is just another service which we provide.
  7. Deposit for Dental Practice
    If you are interested in putting forward a formal offer in for a practice, once the offer is accepted there will be a deposit required to secure the practice sale which is dependant of the practice size. This deposit is held in a client account and will be returned to the buyer on completion of the practice sale. You the buyer, will be required to sign a deposit schedule which will cover the buyer and the seller in the event that the practice sale does not proceed.
  8. Changes to this Agreement
    Any changes made to this agreement must be authorised and signed by one of MediEstates Ltd Directors.
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