Laboratory expenses are very telling as to what is being done in a practice and what is not... See More
Laboratory expenses should be approximately 8% of annual gross collections for an average, but well-run, fee-for-service general dental practice. A low percentage such as the 4% of annual gross revenues you asked about indicates that this seller probably has so many active patients in this practice that he is working too hard just to keep up with this high patient count and he does not take the time to offer more comprehensive services to those patients. This type of practice would be considered a "Diamond in the Rough" and would be considered a great buy if it is located in an area that you find desireable. There will be a lot of work that can be done in this practice (as a rule) for the purchaser with good case presentation skills.
On the other extreme, if you are looking at a general dental practice with laboratory expenses in the 10% to 12% range, you are most likely dealing with a lower active patient count whereby most (if not all) of the comprehensive dentisry has already been completed on those patients. This is usually a beautiful office and is visually desirable and located in a high-end demographic market, but you should approach this practice with great caution. It might be a good buy for a prosthodontist or someone who has completed some Panky or LVI courses, but the doctor taking over a practice like this will need extraordinary clinical and case presentation skills in order to make a living.
So remember, the lower the laboratory percentage, the greater the opportunity is as a practice acquisition; the higher the laboratory percentage, the greater the clinical and case presentation skills will be needed by the purchaser. This is just one of many considerations to review when considering acquiring a general dental practice. See Less