Where I Was, and Where I am Going

In Spotlight by Dental Entrepreneur

Boarding the plane at 6 a.m. bound for Tokyo, I had no idea of the challenges yet to be faced and the doors of opportunity that were about to open. It was 2002, I was recently married, and my husband was starting his career with the United States Navy in Yokosuka, Japan. While job searching, I discovered the American Red Cross Volunteer dental assisting program. Participating in this program, I gained excellent hands-on experience, and I was able to witness first-hand the results of a caring doctor-patient relationship. This unique opportunity reinforced my interest in the field of dentistry.

After four years in Japan and taking the DAT in Guam, I started dental school in 2006, at the University Of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss. The following year, my husband fulfilled his commitment to the Navy and started a civilian career in Jackson. I graduated in 2010 and was finally ready to start my dream career in general dentistry.

I was fortunate to start my career back in my hometown of Picayune in a pediatric-focused Medicaid clinic. This was a great first job that allowed me to serve my community while gaining more confidence and efficiency. After two years, I wanted more out of my career and knew I would not be completely fulfilled until I was a practice owner. Also, during this time, my husband’s job did not transfer. Therefore, I moved back to Jackson.

While working at my new job at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and Affordable Dentures, I put my focus on researching practices for sale. I started my search on the Internet and contacted brokers according to their practice listings that caught my interest. The brokers were very helpful in sending me practice profiles, tax returns and profit and loss statements. They also helped me decipher the meaning of the practice numbers, taking out the seller’s personal expenses that were run through the business, looking at overall expense compared to total income. Determining the most accurate number of active patients, number of new patients per month, production per patient and overall production vs. collection helped me compare multiple practices with their varying business and practice philosophies.

I also learned a great deal speaking with different banks. In my experience, local banks had no clue in how to evaluate dental practice sales. It paid off for me to get offers from several banks that deal with dental practice transitions. This taught me that there were many different options on financing a practice purchase. Don’t settle!

Because of all of my research, when I found the practice that matched what I was looking for, the closing process moved very quickly. Brokers attempt to be neutral, but I felt more confident going into negotiations with a financial advisor, attorney and bank on my support team.

In March of 2014, I became a very happy and proud practice owner. I know it was meant to be, because my husband’s job transferred locally shortly after the purchase. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to purchase an incredible practice, with an impeccable reputation back in my hometown of Picayune. Looking back, I certainly did not have the most direct route to dental school and practice ownership. I am so thankful for having all of those experiences and mentors that got me exactly where I needed to be. I feel beyond blessed to be able to serve my community from which I grew up. Growing corporate dentistry, I am so glad I have direct control over my practice. We focus on providing high-quality dentistry and customer service in a relaxed, caring environment. This journey has been beyond my wildest dreams, and I am ready to see what opportunities the future holds.

Adrienne Penley graduated University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry 2010, Started working in a Medicaid clinic immediately following graduation Purchased current practice in March 2014 renamed to Penley Family Dentistry. When she is not busy with home renovations, she enjoys exercising and spending time with family and friends.