Reducing this to “industry norms” may not take into account a CPA firm which also does payroll, maybe full-service bookkeeping, etc., a buyer may have to pay for the payroll processing and bookkeeping, therefore, automatically reducing this may be an oversight.
Many times, professionals fail to adjust (increase) insurance expense for some of the additional insurances that lenders may require to provide a loan to buyers.
This is primarily an issue when the practice owner also owns the space. We see some professionals completely overlook this missing expense or choose a very low rent assuming the buyer will buy the space or include the mortgage payment as the “normal” expense. We believe to maintain separation of the practice value and the value of the real estate, the normalized cash flow MUST include a fair market rent and related expenses that an arms-length tenant would pay. Buyers need to know what the fair market rental rate is, even if they’re buying the space.
We’ve seen situations where the seller is very handy and will do their own repairs to equipment and the space or, repairs and maintenance was included in dental supplies of office expenses that have been reduced to industry norms. Unfortunately, everyone can’t be a handyman & therefore, if a seller’s cash flow has very little repairs and maintenance, the buyer needs to understand why and include an amount for this, especially if it’s been eliminated from other categories.
If your locality assesses personal property taxes on the value or cost of equipment, many times the assessed value of a seller is very low or nothing. A buyer needs to understand this and determine how much they’ll have to spend due to state or locality regulations.
Here’s another category where professionals like to reduce it to “industry norms” without looking at the details to see if they should be doing this. We have seen practices combine their lab expense, office supplies, repairs and maintenance, etc. in dental supplies. For example, many supply vendors will issue their monthly invoices that include dental supplies, repair services and\or contracts, computer services and software and even equipment. Unless sellers are careful to allocate these invoices to the various categories, it winds up in dental supplies. The professionals simply miss this fact and reduce dental supplies to industry norms blindly. Also, if the practice uses a CADCAM/milling machine this will also explain “higher than normal” dental supplies, so you have to look at this area closely.
As noted above, we see situations where the professional has lowered dental supplies that include lab to “industry norms” and fail to INCREASE lab expense to an appropriate level. We’ve also seen situations where practices may use an in-house lab or employee, or maybe the doc creates some of their own “stuff” which makes this expense low for them, however, the buyer may not be making their own cases or choose to use an outside lab they’ve been using.
Here’s another area where many professionals fail to look behind the total wages to learn more about who’s getting paid & why. This is why we want to see the W-2s, to see how much is being paid for assistants, hygiene, front desk, and admin. We’ve seen situations where professionals will lower the wages to “industry norms,” then, when we get the W-2s we see they have the cleaning person and/or bookkeeper on payroll. These are expenses the buyer will likely need yet the professional has eliminated them to industry norms.
Here’s an area where we rarely see professionals ADD expenses to accommodate the need of a buyer to replace old equipment that’s either on its last leg OR is simply too old to even be used in dentistry.
While we don’t see many issues with these categories, they should still be looked at for reasonableness…we’ve seen reductions for “estimated” personal cell phone usage that’s too high or reductions for “assumed” home phone or internet connections and we find out they are legit office expenses. We’ve also seen sellers use utilities for all three of these expenses, and the professional will reduce utilities to “industry” norms without looking at the details and asking the seller about them.
Tim Lott, CPA, CVA has decades of experience working with dentists at all stages of their careers. He is a regular speaker at study clubs, societies, and dental schools. Tim is a frequent participant and a moderator on Dentaltown.com. You can reach Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of the other dental partners/principals at (800) 772-1065 or email@example.com. For more blogs, visit our Dental CPAS blog page.