A Tale of Two Vets
The following is a story about two veterinarians who had dreams of owning their own practice. While the story may seem a bit farfetched, it is based on true events. In fact, we have seen this story multiple times in today’s environment. Maybe this happened to you?
Shawn and Lilly graduated from the same veterinary school in 2010. They were good friends and always enjoyed talking about their plans after graduating from Veterinary school. Shawn had dreams of owning a practice in his hometown of Yakima, WA. Lilly had a goal of opening a large practice in Portland, Oregon.
Upon graduation, both had lined up associate veterinary jobs in their hometowns. Shawn worked for a veterinary clinic owned by a solo/single veterinarian. Lilly got an associate job working for Happy Pet, a corporate-owned practice with 25 locations on the West Coast. Shawn enjoyed his job working in his hometown. The doctor that owned his practice was a nice man, gave back to his community, and was fairly generous with Shawn as well. Lilly was not as happy as Shawn. Her corporate job required her to work weekends. She also worked on a lot of reptiles as the manager and one of the techs, whom they knew didn’t like her, also knew she didn’t enjoy working on reptiles. Yet, Lilly continued to go to work every day in the practice with a grin on her face. A fake grin, but a grin, nonetheless.
After three years, Lilly was asked to take the emergency calls for the rest of the summer. This was after Lilly had planned and paid for a two-week vacation in the Bahamas. Lilly went home and decided, enough is enough. “I’m going to buy my own practice, work when I want to work, and on what animals I want to work on.”
Lilly immediately went online and searched for practices for sale in Portland. Happy Pet wasn’t smart enough to have her sign a non-compete agreement, so she could buy a practice anywhere. Lilly saw three potential practices listed with Jim Vander Mey at Omni Practice Group. She called Jim. He was very helpful and explained the pros and cons of each practice. He showed her each of the practices. Lilly loved one that was across town from Happy Pet. Jim represented the seller but still helped Lilly with due diligence, obtain financing, and referred her to a good veterinary attorney.
Within a few days of closing on the sale of her practice, Lilly’s love for veterinarian work returned. She loved seeing the pets that came in. She adored her staff. There was an assistant that mutually parted ways, but Lilly hired a new assistant who was friendly and amazing. Lilly also adjusted the hours to work a schedule that allowed her to also have a personal life. After a couple of years, the practice was doing so well, that she hired an associate in her practice and expanded hours. The associate actually enjoyed working weekends! Lilly ended up paying off her practice loan of $500,000 in under 5 years.
Meanwhile back in Yakima, Shawn is content working his job for the owner-veterinarian. Sure, the owner has told him he would sell him the practice “when that time came”. But the owner is only 52, so it may be another 10 or 15 years. Shawn had an opportunity to purchase another practice that came up for sale 7 miles away from the practice. But the owner was smarter than Happy Pet. The owner had Shawn sign a 20 mile and 5-year non-compete agreement. Ouch! Shawn’s salary when he started in Yakima was $60,000 per year. Over the past 5 years, he had worked up to $70,000 per year with medical benefits! Shawn, of course, had no equity in the practice.
At the 10-year class reunion, Shawn and Lilly ran into each other. Lilly asked Shawn how things were going? Had he achieved his goal of practice ownership in Yakima? Shawn told her, “No, but I’m hoping to buy the practice I’m currently in someday.” He told her that the seller had promised him he would sell it to him when he retires.
Shawn asked Lilly if she had purchased a practice in Portland? Lilly lit up. “Yes! I purchased a practice 7 years ago. I paid it off in 5 years. I have an associate working for me that enjoys doing those things that I don’t like. I have an amazing staff that we get along so well that we occasionally hang out together outside of work. I was recently offered $2.5 million for my practice from a corporate buyer. I’m not sure I’m going to accept the offer though. I’m taking home $175,000 per year, I’m loving what I do, love my staff and associate, it’s what I dreamed of when I wanted to own my own clinic…” Lilly quickly shut up as she realized she was sounding like a braggart and felt somewhat sorry for Shawn. She told Shawn that she would be happy to introduce him to her broker, Jim Vander Mey from Omni Practice Group who would help him find a practice of his own. Shawn said he would think about it.
Fast forward three more years. Lilly receives a “Just Sold” postcard stating that the practice in Yakima that Shawn worked at and had been told he could buy when the seller was instead sold to a corporate group practice. To make matters worse, the corporate buyer was Happy Pet – the same group that Lilly had worked for and didn’t enjoy their management style. Poor Shawn, Lilly thought. If only he would have taken me up on my offer to meet my broker at Omni. He would have gotten him into a practice right away and Shawn would be enjoying practice ownership.
Don’t let this story happen to you. Fulfill your dream of practice ownership. Give Jim a call today for a free practice purchase consultation.