Bringing a 90-Year Old Business Up-To-Date

Doctor Manish Lamichane might not have gone to school for business, but when he became co-owner of Lancaster Orthodontic Associates (LOA), he needed to think like an entrepreneur. In taking over the over 90-year-old orthodontic practice, he set about modernizing, growing, and improving the practice. But first and foremost, Dr. Laminchane was a doctor, providing high quality care to patients in the Lancaster and Lititz areas. He quickly found he needed partners who could advise on fiscally responsible practices and provide a sounding board for discussions on growth opportunities.

Learning from Past Mistakes

When Dr. Lamichane became co-owner of LOA, the practice already had an accountant. However, with changes in ownership and goals for the company, it became obvious they needed a team that could evaluate key business decisions, such as establishing pensions, a growth model, and restructuring the corporate ownership. According to Dr. Lamichane, “We came to realize we wanted someone who would be more of a partner on the business side. Not just an accountant, but someone to help with business planning and strategies.”

The doctors initially tried to find this with a large firm, but quickly regretted their decision. “It was a complete disaster,” reported Dr. Lamichane. “Communication was terrible. We never knew what they were trying to do with the business. It was a very damaging year in terms of explaining things.” It was also damaging to the business: mistakes were made in handling the pensions and mismanaged tax filings.

Expressing Needs and Goals

Having learned from past experiences, Dr. Lamichane approached the search for an accounting partnership with due diligence. He sought a firm who:

Was ready to support an aggressive growth model in the orthodontic and dentistry industry

  • Could translate “accounting speak” into a language he could understand
  • Understood and could plan for the cash flow in the industry
  • Had the knowledge base to handle higher business questions than those strictly related to taxes and payroll
  • Kept a professional ethic

Technical Expertise, Spoken in Plain English

Dr. Lamichane was introduced to the Walz Group through several recommendations. In interviewing the Walz Group, Dr. Lamichane said he knew right away Walz Group would be a better fit.

The Walz Group team immediately sprang into action to correct the mistakes made by the previous firm. “The first thing they did was they ended some of the damage caused by the previous relationship,” said Dr. Lamichane. “They took it on at a very fair and reasonable fee, and cleaned it all up in a very professional way…I can’t speak enough to how professional they were.”

The relationship quickly grew from fixing previous accountants’ errors to taking on more and more responsibilities. Soon the Walz Group team was managing corporate tax returns, payroll, and using QuickBooks support and bank reconciliation experience.

With Tim Kershner acting as LOA’s primary point of contact, the Walz Group team provided invaluable analysis of current operations. Tim spelled out any areas of cash inflow and outflow, as well as opportunities for growth. “Tim definitely makes an extra effort to understand who we are and what we need,” explains Dr. Lamichane. “And thus far, he’s been able to communicate with me in a way I understand.”

In this way, Dr. Lamichane was able to understand the business’ financial status, and with the help of the Walz Group, plan for opportunities to expand.

Becoming Part of the Strategic Team

The doctor’s early decisions helped to grow the practice, nearly doubling it in seven years, and led to the introduction of new, modern technology. When he approached the Walz Group for accounting services, Dr. Laminchane also wanted a partner with the ability to advise him on the path to continued growth.

The Walz Group provided an entire team behind their go-to-guy, Tim, so that a wide base of expertise supported every recommendation. In their meetings together, Tim, and Dr. Lamichane would discuss capital purchases, building locations for possibilities of expansion, and targets for overhead and salary. Sometimes the meetings were scheduled, and sometimes he needed an answer on the fly.

“Tim is available every single time we decide to run something by him. I can’t overemphasize that,” explained Dr. Lamichane.

The partnership has helped Dr. Lamichane keep a close watch on their growing business and plan for a profitable future. Dr. Lamichane reported that their relationship, “only continues to get better and better. I trust [Tim] implicitly in all business planning meetings. There’s not a move we’d consider making without him. He’s a part of our team now. He’s part of our strategic planning team.”

Would You Do It Again?

Dr. Lamichane was clear with his recommendation of the Walz Group for doctors and other medical professionals. “Just yesterday I referred someone who is thinking of opening their own practice, and the first name I thought of was Tim,” related Dr. Lamichane. He went on to describe that even with their experience in running an orthodontic and dental practice, Tim continues to raise questions and points of negotiation he didn’t consider.

“It’s really important that the advisor doctors end up having is capable of advising on things we’re not experts in,” said Dr. Lamichane. “And typically I would say that I’d mainly expect accounting advice from my accountant, but because their firm has experience with other dental and medical companies, the analysis Tim brings is far more than any other accountant would bring.”