After graduation from dental school, we were torn between living near one set of our parents that lived in the east and another set that lived in the west. We decided to first practice in Illinois, in Chicago and suburbs, working for other dentists. We enjoyed living in a world-class city with all its attractions and cultural benefits. This decision came to an abrupt crossroads when our first child was old enough to go to kindergarten and we had two more children at home. We found it very difficult to envision sending our child to an inner-city school with a blacktop playground covered in broken glass. Our decision to leave the city was reinforced after we found that parents were not allowed to come into the school building at all. We decided our dreams needed some revision. Our major goals in life became focused on our children’s opportunities to have a good life, good schools, and good friends that would help them to attain their highest potential in life.
We traveled on weekends to cities with dental practices for sale in downstate Illinois. When we first came to Bloomington/Normal, Illinois, we were very favorably impressed with the twin cities and all they had to offer us, and it just felt like the kind of community we sought. The two major universities, Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University contributed many educational and cultural events. Community colleges and branches of nearby universities were also available. The universities plus other major employers such as State Farm Insurance corporate headquarters and others provided stable employment opportunities for the community. For decades the cities have been among the very best places in Illinois to have a business and raise a family.
While we missed the vast shopping resources of Chicago, we found the local businesses and two shopping malls met most of our needs, and we were about an hour away from Peoria, Champaign, Springfield, and Decatur, Illinois, and about two and a half hours away from Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. Nearby state parks, rivers, and lakes, as well as recreation resources within Bloomington-Normal provided many opportunities to spend family time and enjoy the out of doors. We visited a local church of our denomination and found a congregation with many children the same age as our children. This turned into a good support group as they advanced through their teenage years and as our family grew to six children. Our children did indeed thrive in the Bloomington/Normal atmosphere, found great friends, and all of them as well as their spouses completed college. Many have advanced degrees.
Buying an established dental practice was a great decision for us. Having worked in the offices of other dentists for four years in Chicago helped give the dentist confidence in doing dentistry. We began earning a good income from day one. Having staff members who were already working together well helped make the transition into being a successful business owner quite an easy one. And having an established working office saved weeks and months of decisions about buying, planning, and setting up the office. As time passed, our patient base has grown, our office has been enlarged and remodeled, and the facility has been upgraded to four operatories used by one dentist and two hygienists. The community has also grown to a population of over 130,000. Our office has an advantageous location immediately across the street from State Farm Insurance corporate headquarters, which makes it possible for many State Farm employees to walk to our office for their appointments.
Our patients generally have high dental IQs and accept our treatment plans very readily. They faithfully return for recall appointments which nearly all set up six months in advance. The great majority has employer provided dental insurance, and pay for their dentistry quite reliably and promptly. The selling dentist has not advertised services other than phone book advertising and a little recent Internet advertising. Our long-time receptionist, dental assistant, and hygienists know our patients well, and the patients respond to the personal atmosphere of the office. Hygienists routinely have an hour to treat adults and a half hour to treat children. Patients often comment on the thorough attention and treatment provided. Jan, the receptionist, has dealt with dental insurance for thirty years since its beginning so knows more than most insurance employees about how claims should be handled. That knowledge plus her knowledge of the patient base make her invaluable.
The dentist has stayed quite busy four days a week doing primarily restorative dentistry, fillings, crowns, bridges, partials, dentures, pedodontics, and minor periodontics – then helping patients maintain good oral health. We're always happy to help patients with dental problems progress to good dental health. But especially pleasing are the ninety-year-olds that come in from the assisted living facilities with healthy restored mouths that need only a cleaning and exam, and then return to their homes without dental problems to add to their geriatric challenges. We have never resorted to HMO or capitation programs to supply us with patients. We do accept Delta Dental patients as a premier provider, not PPO.
The retiring dentist has mostly referred to dental specialists the patients who needed periodontal, orthodontic, endodontic, TMJ, and oral surgery treatment. He has restored implants, but hasn’t placed implants himself. He generally doesn’t place veneers or emphasize cosmetic procedures. We have enjoyed treating many young patients. Currently the youngest patients with problems or youngsters with major problems are referred to pedodontists.
Our opinion of the outlook for a new dentist to earn more income than the seller is a good one. A dentist trained in these "referred" procedures may be inclined to take on these types of cases instead of referring them. Additionally a new dentist who establishes him/herself in the community and brings in new patients should be able to build this established practice into what they want it to become. Adding increased advertising would also help build the practice.