At 25 years old, Dr. Jim Clark knew exactly where he wanted to begin his dental career. Fresh out of dental school at the University of Alabama, he found himself drawn to a private practice in Birmingham, Alabama. “They called me crazy for moving there,” he recalled, but he saw opportunity where others couldn’t. Dr. Clark built his first practice from the ground up, but when a practice in the then-declining downtown area came up for sale, Dr. Clark jumped on the offer.  

First Purchase 

When Dr. Clark and his business partner purchased the downtown practice, it was falling apart. The former owner was an elderly man in failing health and with a similarly failing practice. “We wanted to come in and redo everything, but we had to be careful; we didn’t want to scare the patients off. But the bottom line was the patients knew it and embraced the changes,” Dr. Clark remembered. Despite the deteriorating surrounding area, the practice was on the up with new equipment and new patients. “We were doing a lot of dentistry,” he said. Despite the early success, things between Jim and his practice partner soon took a turn. 

Partner Turmoil 

“He came in one day and said, ‘I want to move my whole downtown practice here. Either you buy me out or I buy you out.’ He threw out a price, but the number meant more for me to stay then to sell.” A back-and-forth ensued and lawyers became involved to mediate discussions between the two partners. “We had no agreement when we bought the practice. We split checks 50/50,” Dr. Clark said. “We were just jumping in as partners. He was very fair in that regard.” 

What would he do differently? 

“Looking back it was the best decision for me to sell,” Jim said. Two years after settling on a deal, the downtown area had declined so much, Jim’s former partner had to move to keep his practice afloat. “If I were to buy the practice with him today, I would have a laid-out agreement and a plan in place for a breakup. That was a huge mistake.”  

Why Dr. Jim Clark? 

At age 26, Dr. Clark completed his first practice transition. Now, with over three decades in the dental industry, Jim proudly claims the majority of his knowledge stems from his failures – not his successes. Benco Dental is lucky to have Dr. Jim Clark to help practices going through similar challenges using wisdom gained firsthand from his personal experiences. 

For more information on Practice Transitions at Benco or Dr. Jim Clark, visit https://www.benco.com/practice-solutions/dental-practice-transitions/