Case study

Selling a dental practice on the open market

Six months

from valuation to sale


interested parties


Agency fee paid by the buyer

Mark and Alison aren’t your typical vendors of a dental practice. Both in their 40s, they realised the value of their practice had increased substantially since they took over.

So they decided to cash in and carry on working as associates, free from the stresses of ownership - and with the financial security generated by the sale.

Full circle clients

It was great to get the call from Mark and Alison telling us that they were thinking of selling. A number of years ago, the PFM team had helped them buy their practice, valuing the business as it stood at the time, and arranging finance and insurances.

Our great relationship continued throughout the following years, when we helped with ongoing financial advice and arranged their surgery insurance.

PFM Dental supported us at every stage of our practice development, making sure we were appropriately protected to keep the business running, whatever happened. That’s why, when we thought about selling the practice, it was a no brainer to go straight to them.

— Mark Woodger, former practice owner, Birchwood, Warrington

Detailed valuation

Now they were ready to sell, we once again started by valuing the practice. This involved a detailed review of the business, accounts, fee income and staffing.

Putting together a fair and accurate summary was vital when it came to the next stage.

Drawing up the prospectus

Mark and Alison wanted to market their business through our agency, so our next job was to put together a full prospectus.

Director Martyn Bradshaw explained: “We made sure all the relevant information was compiled into a reader-friendly document. It’s important to paint the full picture for buyers, giving them confidence. It helps people to understand what the practice is all about - and it also means we get the best price for our vendors.”


Priority buyers

This was an NHS practice, so it was marketed first to our priority buyers.

These active purchasers get the details a week before we go to the open market - and for this advantage, they agree to cover the agency fee on behalf of the vendors.

Gathering the offers

We knew this would be a popular one - and we were right! Sending out the details generated 22 interested parties, five viewings and four offers, all from priority buyers and within a couple of weeks - good news for our vendors.

Having such a great choice meant Mark and Alison were able to sift through and choose someone they thought would be the perfect fit for their practice. It was important to them that their staff and patients would be well looked after by the new owner, so they felt reassured to be able to select the best person.

Having spent years building the practice, it was important to us we found someone to take good care of our team and patients. PFM Dental took the time to understand who we were looking for and helped us market accordingly.

— Mark Woodger, former practice owner, Birchwood, Warrington

Getting ahead of the legal game

Mark and Alison liked the idea of the whole sale being handled in-house and they’d let us know from the outset that they wanted to instruct our colleagues in legal.

That clear and early decision gave the couple a great head start. Due diligence is the most time-consuming part of every understanding the ins and outs of any dental practice for sale but in this case, we were able to set to work soon as we started marketing, without having to wait for a buyer to come along.

Even with this advantage, it’s always a waiting game at this stage, while the solicitors do their thing. Keeping it in-house meant our sales team liaised regularly with those legal colleagues to make sure everything was going to plan and keeping everyone fully informed.

Strict legal guidelines meant we couldn’t act for the buyer too - but we were able recommend another experienced dental solicitor who we’ve worked with before and that oiled the wheels too.

The legal team at PFM Dental was on it from day one. The detailed timescales they provided helped us to work to the optimum sales timetable, so it was a smooth process to completion.

— Mark Woodger, former practice owner, Birchwood, Warrington

Buyer’s finance negotiations

Although we can’t complete the legal work for both buyer and seller, it doesn’t mean we can’t help the purchaser in other ways. In this case, we advised on finance.

As dental specialists, our finance team knows where to find the best deals, so the buyer got a great interest rate and the seller knew we were in the driving seat, moving things forward efficiently.

How long did it take?

Making an early start on due diligence meant we hit the ground running but certain elements of any sale have set timescales that can’t be altered.

We know our way around this maze of paperwork though, so we were able to submit everything on time and without a hitch. If you’re thinking of selling your dental practice, it’s worth knowing that DBS checks take a month, CQC applications three months and NHS contract transfers a month.

But thanks to a happy in-house process, Mark and Alison were able to sit back just six months after they set the wheels in motion, knowing they’d got a good deal all round.

The property department was extremely thorough, avoiding those last minute surprises so often associated with selling a premises.

— Mark Woodger, former practice owner, Birchwood, Warrington

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Selling a dental practice to an associate

A seamless transition for patients and staff

The service has been fantastic and you truly provided a hand-holding service throughout. A must for anyone selling to a corporate.

— Adelle McElrath, retired practice owner, Cheshire