When is the right time to sell

August 16, 2021

When is the right time to sell my veterinary practice?

A new approach to veterinary management has arrived in Canada. Over the last few decades, the trend of consolidating practices has gained strength in the United States. Today, owners across the country are discovering the same opportunities. 

Retirement dreams that had seemed distant may now be within arm’s reach. Doctors who’ve thoughtfully built practices to serve their communities are seeing increased valuations. Learning what those years of hard work are actually worth on paper—especially to a buyer with a reputation for protecting local legacies—can raise an emotionally complex question. Is now the right time to sell? 

If and when to sell your business is one of the biggest decisions of your career. Besides impacting your own future, your plans have implications for peers, potential partners and team members. Just as importantly, you probably feel protective of all the pets and families you serve. For someone who spends every day caring for others, it can be tough to keep your personal goals front and center. You deserve to take a look at where you’ve been, where you are today, and where you’d like to go next. 

The realities of ownership

Where you were: Being your own boss sounded like a great idea—and in so many ways, it has been. You were up for the challenge of taking on HR, accounting, recruiting and other aspects of running your practice. Even if you shared the responsibilities and expenses with partners, you were committed to carrying the weight of countless decisions, always considering what’s best for your teams and the pets you care for every day.

Where you are: Ownership is a lot. The day-to-day demands of managing your own business may be cutting into your time with family and friends. You chose this field for your love of animals, yet that passion often takes a back seat to less engaging business matters. Or perhaps you enjoy the details of management, while one of your partners wants out. And of course there are always twists in life, from a parent’s health concerns to a long-awaited grandchild in another province. There are many reasons you could be relieved and happy to exercise new freedom. From scaling back your involvement to walking away with confidence, now is a great time to learn about the possibilities.

Your retirement timing

Where you were: You might have targeted a date for retirement, and find yourself counting down the days until you’re financially free to pursue a new dream (even if that dream is to finally relax). That date could have been within a year, or a decade. You might have already considered which junior associates would be interested in negotiating a partial or total buy out.  

Where you are: You’re realizing you may be ready to achieve all of that and more. Your practice has likely grown in value faster than you’d previously planned, accelerating the prospect of retirement. You could explore the option of keeping your owned real estate and leasing it back to the new owner for additional financial security. If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye, you can look at establishing a part-time schedule or slowly phasing out. And your junior associates have more options to step up, making good use of financing and management support.

Taking an honest look at your goals

Where you are: You’ve reached this point because you’re an achiever. The practice you built has created meaningful jobs and given so many beloved animals more time with their families. The student you once were would be impressed to see all you’ve accomplished. Are there any goals you haven’t reached? Consider which ones still matter to you, and where your priorities have changed through the years.

Where you could go: The capital investment of a joint venture would allow you to reach even higher. Are there treatments or technologies you’d love to offer your patients? Helpful training and resources you’ve longed to provide for your hardworking team? And what about you? Perhaps there are medical discoveries or collaborations just waiting for your attention, if only you had the bandwidth.

On the other hand, you’re hearing stories from doctors who’ve cashed in on their hard work and are enjoying a new life chapter. Is this the moment for you to unlock the potential you’ve built into your business? Every owner has unique factors to weigh in answering these questions.

 The bottom line

The idea of significant change can be so overwhelming that it gets pushed away, sometimes at the cost of a good opportunity. 

Fortunately, learning about options isn’t the same as committing to them. Speaking with a flexible partner about your specific scenario is a good first step. Exploring real-life possibilities together might give shape to a dream you’ve hardly dared to define.     

You’ve spent years building your legacy. In the light of a rapidly changing professional landscape, this is a good moment to step back and take a fresh look at your options. Regardless of what you’d planned or where you are, you have the option to reset and spend more time on what means the most to you. 

About NVA Canada

At NVA Canada, we’re creating a Canadian community dedicated to you. Our integrations team partners with the hospital from the first welcome meeting until many months after close to support the team. Lori Dunn, Integrations Manager based in Eastern Ontario and former manager of three NVA Canada hospitals, describes her role: “I’m a little bit like the tour-guide. My job is to be open, approachable and to find the answers for them so that their transition process goes smoothly.”

NVA Canada affords team members many new growth opportunities, plus personal and business-building benefits, including: DVM recruiting, IT support, medical/dental, CE, focus on well-being, student debt relief, mentorship, access to marketing tools (including online reputation, web design, social media, reminders, etc.), real estate expansion and capital equipment.