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Underwriters obsess over details these days, but loans are going through. Money is out there to lend, according to two local financial professionals. Here, a Chicagoland banker and a certified public accountant offer tips on landing a loan to buy equipment, purchase a practice or start one, refinance, consolidate debt or obtain short-term operating capital during a transition or to address other practice needs.
President and CEO of North Bank, Chicago, Mayo Walcott, has lectured to dental students and approved many a loan to dentists. He said that loan applicants can do a number of things in preparing to successfully secure a loan. Echoing this advice is Mark Pesavento, co-owner of Berwyn-based Pesavento & Pesavento. A number of his clients are dentists.
If organizing financial records is a problem, don’t wait until the day of your appointment with a banker. Gather and organize all records in the weeks or months before an appointment, as you may need to consult with a certified public accountant. To get a loan of less than $100,000, copies of two years of personal tax returns will be needed. An accountant can help to make a balance sheet and income statements for the last two years, plus an interim statement of income for the practice year-to-date. To get a loan of more than $100,000, a resume, background information, and a record of how long you’ve been in practice will be needed. Want to start up a new practice, which includes working capital? A business plan is required: leasehold improvements needed, salary projections, patient demographics, competition, services and fees, marketing details, anticipated patient load, and more.
Details on what any loan will go toward means documentation, such as quotes on equipment prices, appraisals, or information on promissory for consolidation. Spend time researching the idea behind the loan. Will new equipment or remodeling bring in extra revenue? If not, and personal collateral guarantees the loan, what happens at default?
Mr. Walcott advised doctors to go to an area bank in the neighborhood where they will be practicing. “Banks want to build their own community. We want to talk to you.” He said also to get recommendations on banks from other dentists.
Build a relationship with a banker over time instead of just when you need a loan. “When you are in need, if your banker already knows you, he or she wants to help you reach your goals.”
Added Mr. Pesavento, “If you go to a bank because they are at a 1 percent lower lending rate but they don’t work with dentists, they’ll be scrutinizing your assets. Banks that understand the business of dentistry know that 90 percent of a practice acquisition is buying goodwill. They understand cash flow lending.”
Mr. Pesavento said a credit score close to 700 is important. “In dental school and out in practice, meet your obligations. Small things could ding you in a big way,” he said. Errors on your credit report? Consider the services of an established credit cleanup agency to set the record straight.
Mr. Walcott also likes to see dentists work as associates for a few years instead of trying to buy a practice right out of school: “Establish a history of responsibly paying back your loans.”
Added Mr. Pesavento: “You can’t raise your debt ceiling like the government. Underspend. Student loan debt is ok, but young dentists should go with modest rent or small mortgage payment of a starter home. Buy an executive-driven used car or a nonluxury car.”
Both the experts said that a dentist, early on in his career, needs to build a “team”—an attorney, a CPA, a banker, a business broker—by finding those who primarily have a dental clientele. Ask other dentists for referrals. Meet with your team regularly to evaluate how you are moving toward your goals. In addition, find a dentist mentor and learn practice management skills. It can be a professor or a colleague that you respect.
And read dental practice management articles to pick up tips. You’ll be the kind of doctor lenders like.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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