By Michael Kemp
Your practice is thriving, and you are proud of what you have built. Unfortunately, like all business owners, there is a steep price to pay in terms of lifestyle. Ownership consumes a disproportionate amount of your days, from early mornings and late nights to entire weekends – and those demands aren’t going away. Our profession continues to require the investment of more time, energy and financial resources than ever before. After talking things over with your family, you have finally decided that you are open to partnership, but you want to feel confident you are making the right decision.
I understand. You’ve built a practice that is uniquely yours and are proud of your staff and culture. When thinking about selling, you should take the time to explore all of the options available to you. There are many different types of buyers out there and you are in complete control until you sign a contract.
Here are 5 things you should ask yourself as you consider selling your practice.
1. Are you looking to continue practicing or phase yourself out of the day-to-day?
Partnership isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. With the right buyer, your level of involvement is open to discussion. Do you want a 3-day work week so you can spend more time with your family or a hobby that you haven’t had time for? Do you want to focus on simply being a vet and leave the “business operations” to others? The terms are up to you, not your buyer, so you can drive that part of the conversation. It’s not uncommon for previous practice owners to stay on board much longer than expected once they return to what they love – focusing on veterinary medicine.
2. Do you want to innovate and grow your practice in new ways?
When owners first consider selling, many don’t realize this could be an opportunity to expand, upgrade their equipment or fund new specialty training. Partnership also provides access a network of hospitals, giving you a larger professional community for sharing ideas and key learnings. Depending on your personal goals, some buyers will choose to invest in your career growth, offering mentorship programs, customized training or roles where you can impact other clinics in the larger community.
3. Would you prefer to delegate support and administrative services?
Administrative burnout is all too common in our profession. The right partner can offer support and alleviate many of your back-office responsibilities, so you can focus on medicine or enjoy more family time. You may even find a buyer with experts who can take on time-consuming tasks like HR, recruitment and managing online reviews.
4. Do you need a customized deal structure to accommodate other partners or promises you’ve made to those in your practice?
If you have business partners, or have been grooming someone to take your place, be sure to explore customized deal structures that allow you to proceed accordingly. It is important to find a buyer with flexibility – someone willing to tailor the terms of their deal to meet the unique needs of your practice, so it is a win-win for everyone.
5. Is it important that you maintain the culture you’ve built at your practice?
Your culture is what makes your practice unique and drives loyalty with your team and clients. It plays a key role in the care you provide, and the feeling people get when they enter and leave your office. If you want to preserve the culture you’ve worked so hard to build, find a buyer who values that too, with a track record to prove it.
Information is your best ally.
It is an overwhelming, but exciting time. We are happy to help explain the sales process so you can enter exploratory conversations and make informed decisions. Always remember that you are in charge. You have the unique privilege of deciding what happens next with your practice and what lies ahead for you personally. Careful planning and understanding the options available to you, will help you find your ideal partner and give you peace of mind.
I encourage you to really think through these questions and discuss them with your friends and family. You’ve worked hard to create something special. You have earned the right to decide what happens next and how you want to transition to the next stage of your career / life.