What About Accounts Receivable?

Alan Clemens


So you’ve decided it’s time to sell your practice. You’ve found the right buyer, worked out all the details, and are ready to close the deal. The goal is to make your transition as seamless as possible. One of the key factors in that process is what you do with your accounts receivable (AR).

The best answer depends on your particular situation. The amount and “quality” of the receivables is most important. In this sense quality refers to the age: 30, 60, 90, or more than 90 days. Here are three options, one of which is right for you.

Option 1: You Sell the AR

In this scenario, the AR is designated a cents on the dollar value, again based on quality. This is where a seasoned transition specialist can be of great help in getting your best deal. This amount is added to the total purchase price and paid at closing.

On day one, the AR belongs to the buyer, and it’s up to the buyer to collect it. This can be best for a few reasons, but the most common is that the buyer has reached the borrowing threshold with the purchase price and can’t get a “working capital” allotment from the bank.

The capital from the AR, which the buyer purchased for less than face value, will provide funds to run the business while waiting for the payments to come in on the work that has been done. Effectively the working capital gets built into the long-term financing. This is a much simpler method for the seller, but the seller will lose some of the value of the AR.

Option 2: You Keep the AR and The Buyer Collects It

The money is still yours after close. The buyer’s administrative staff will collect the AR for you, along with the buyer’s AR. Almost always the buyer will charge a nominal fee to the seller for the collection. There are some details to be negotiated about how the money that comes in will be dispersed, but it’s cleanest and most beneficial to the seller to use a “first in, first out” method. This can be done whether the seller stays on for a transfer, or longer, or not.

Option 3: You Keep the AR and You Collect It

This is similar to option 2, but the obligation to collect the AR is on you. It can be used to get the most value out of the AR and works best if the AR is minimal, of good quality, and from fewer patients.

This option is done different ways, such as collecting it yourself, or paying administrative staff out of your pocket to collect it on their non-office time. It usually works best if you are staying on in the office long enough to oversee the collection.

Your Decision

The right way to handle the AR is just one of the many things the right transition expert can simplify for you. Making all the right decisions on the details, with the expert’s help, will add up to getting you your home run deal.

Mr. Clemens, founder and president of the Clemens Group, has been providing dental practitioners with services related to practice evaluation and transition for over 40 years. He is a charter member of the Practice Valuation Study Group, professionals dedicated to providing quality and timely appraisals and valuation services, and is a founding member of ADS American Dental Sales, a national network of independent brokers/consultants specializing in dental practice sales, consulting, and appraisal services. He can be reached at alan@TheClemensGroup.com or (212) 370-1169.

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