It’s likely most people don’t have to think too hard to recall a problematic experience such as buying or selling a property. Almost everyone will have their own saga about possibly the biggest financial decision of their lives. Buying or selling dental practices can, arguably, be even more fraught with additional factors such as navigating the legal minefield and the need to compromise. Hearing anecdotes of buyers leaving themselves over-committed by paying broker fees and sellers tied into ‘earn out’ contracts that fail to incentivise them to grow their businesses are worryingly commonplace. Similarly, valuers have attracted criticism for inflating prices and failing to set realistic price expectations in sellers.
Frank Taylor & Associates (FTA) have been working on a voluntary code of practice, the Practice Sales Promise, with the clear intention of making such episodes a thing of the past. PFM Dental and FTA are among the organisations who’ve already committing to adopting the code, and it is expected many others will soon follow suit. Managing Director of FTA, Lis Hughes, has been instrumental in the launch of this, “We very much hope to create a level playing field and to enable everyone to make fully informed decisions, having had access to all the relevant information”.
The code itself has fifteen separate promises; all are reassuringly straightforward. The first, underpinning all the others, sets the tone: “We respect and observe the highest levels of integrity, and respect confidentiality.” The others are centred around providing the best possible service to clients (e.g. “We will never put ourselves above the needs of our clients”) and creating an environment of openness and transparency (“no hidden fees”, “agree terms prior to engaging in any formal work”). There’s also the safeguard, should things not be to the client’s satisfaction, “easy access to the Directors should it be necessary to complain about any aspect of our service”.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling a practice, ensure you ask whether your agent adheres to the Practice Sales Promise.