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Would You Ever Try to Sell Your DSO on Shark Tank?!

Posted by Kevin Cumbus on Nov 7, 2017 5:37:49 PM

Doubtfully, but the Dentist Entrepreneur Organization led by Dr. Marc Cooper and CEO Jacob Puhl recently created a similar experience – and let me assure you, it was an EXPERIENCE – for four of their lucky members.dreamstime_xl_32694726.jpg

Swimming with the Sharks

TUSK was fortunate to be part of an all-star panel of “Sharks” at a DEO event in Atlanta, GA last month.  Here’s the set up:

  • They took four volunteers from their group who were willing to prepare a 30-minute presentation about the merits of their business
  • They asked the volunteers to individually present details about their business through Powerpoint and Excel
  • The Sharks challenged each presenter about specific points of their presentation over the next 30 minutes
  • Then the finale was constructive feedback from each Shark on areas where each presenter might be able to improve their business and improve their “pitch” for the next time – the next time when a possible sale might be on the line!

The Sharks

Honestly the presenters all did a tremendous job, but the audience was the biggest winner over the weekend.  How many times do you get to hear pointed feedback from a panel comprised of people like:

What did they have to say?  Buckle up and away we go…


Nuggets, Gems & Jewels from the Panelists


  • Can have a huge impact on acquisitions – does it limit your targets?
  • How does your culture impact the cost of employee wages and the cost of recruitment? 
  • Does your culture allow you to recruit more effectively and efficiently? 

Internal Growth

  • Develop your core competency and figure out how to deploy that as a growth catalyst
  • Be disciplined about internal growth - 20% increases in same store sales can come from expansion of services
  • Have you considered the cost of infrastructure required to support aggressive growth (from an operating expense standpoint, not just a “cap ex” standpoint)?
  • Expanding your hours is all fixed-cost leverage – what can you do to expand them? 

External Growth

  • How have you structured your acquisitions and how has Medicaid impacted those decisions? 
  • Squeeze the juice out of what you’re doing to get the most out of what you have before you go buy another one
  • Anybody can buy an office (that’s a capital question), but can you prove repeated, predictable performance over time (that you can take a $500K practice and turn it into $1MM)


  • Be wary of too much leverage too early in the process


  • Stay coachable because there’s a lot to learn


  • What are your best areas for improvement inside of your P&L? 
  • Get your systems straight early on before you get too big
  • What are you going to systematize in terms of priority? 
  • Where are you currently in terms of centralized services and where do you plan to end up? 

Private Equity

  • What are the top 3 things you’re looking for in a capital partner? 

If you’d like to dig into any of these areas, you can learn more about TUSK and our services on our website HERE.

And if you’d like to stay up to date on all things related to DSOs and the Dental Industry, then connect with us here.

Join the Herd

Concluding Thoughts

I think there are far too many Emerging DSO owners who are only focused on making acquisitions when they could get more return at little to no additional cost if they focused more on their own operation and culture.  I really got the feeling from the panelists that the greatest gains are almost always found internally and not externally. 

One more point to consider is from the leadership perspective.  Owning and running a growing business is a daunting challenge and it can be rather lonely.  Who do you confide in?  Who do you share ideas with?  Who do you learn from and collaborate with?  And do you have resources that can actually teach you?  If you’re currently going it alone, then my strong suggestion would be to look into a group like the DEO

To continue discussion on these topics or any others related to trends in our industry, please feel free to contact me at perrin@tusk-partners.com.  TUSK is the leading dental middle market M&A advisory firm providing best-in-class services and flawless execution for clients worldwide.  Advising Industry Leaders on growth opportunities, capital sourcing and exit strategies are what we do best.  We combine historical experience with a progressive vision for our evolving industry in order to create the greatest value for our clients.  

Tags: Company News, Dental Practice Brokerage, Growing Your Dental Practice or DSO, how much is my dental practice worth?

TUSK Partners

TUSK provides Industry-Leading Resources to Group Dental Practices and DSOs, such as:

  • Full Day Deep Dive - Built to Sell
  • M&A Advisory Services 

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