Buy an Existing Practice or Build a New One?
We speak with hundreds of practice buyers each year. Many are looking for that gem of a practice in their desired area; a practice with new or newer equipment, digital technology, great location, recently remodeled, etc. Oftentimes, that practice either doesn’t exist; or if it does exist, it’s not for sale. So what’s a buyer to do?
Omni is a rare breed in the practice broker world. We not only provide practice transition and valuation services for veterinarians – both buyers and sellers – we are also experts in helping veterinarians with their real estate needs. We are often asked in seminars, at conferences, or over the phone, “Should I buy an existing practice, or do a startup?” I often suggest that veterinarians spend some time looking for a practice in their desired location. If they can’t find one, they should consider starting a practice, especially if the doctor is 100% certain of the area in which they want to practice.
I recommend that veterinarians do a bit of demographic analysis on the locale. See how many vets are currently practicing in the area. A good ratio is 3,000 daytime population for each doctor in an urban population. In a rural population, the ratio is 10,000 daytime population for each doctor within a 20-mile radius. There is a difference between the daytime population and the regular (nighttime) population. The daytime population includes the workforce. For example, if you look at the population of South Lake Union during the day vs. the nighttime population, you would see a big difference. Another demographic to pay attention to is the age of the population. For a companion practice, a middle-aged to an older population is generally better. Homeownership is another good indicator of practice success. You want to have more homeowners than apartment renters. You can obtain detailed demographics either through a company that will charge a fee and provides data such as the average annual dollar amount spent on veterinary services per person within a zip code and other more granular items. Or, Omni has information that we can provide.
If you perform the necessary research and find that opening a new practice in the area you like makes sense based on the numbers, we suggest that you go for it. We have helped many veterinarians over the years do demographic research, find a space, and negotiate a lease. Steve Kikikis is our go-to person for real estate leasing and sales. You can reach out to Steve anytime by sending him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.