Timing is everything. If you would have invested $1,000 in Nike stock at its initial public offering in 1980, your investment would be worth over $190,000 today. The same can be said for many other stocks or investments. You see, the tides of the economy ebb and flow. But how does that relate to your veterinary practice?
We have been experiencing a perfect storm of sorts over the past several years. The economy has been doing well, interest rates are at all-time lows, buyers are plentiful with both corporate and individual buyers and capital gains and income tax rates are relatively stable. We’ve been on the “flow” end of ebbing and flowing with practice values at an all-time high. But when do the tides start to recede?
We can’t predict the future. But there are several things we know with relative certainty. Corporates have been paying incredible prices for practices. How long will this last? According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, corporates expect to own 25% of all veterinary practices by 2023. After that, they will slow down their purchasing of practices as fewer practices will generate enough revenue to peak their interest. Practice values will in turn go down.
We also know with a high level of certainty that both capital gains and income tax will be going up. President Joe Biden explicitly stated this during his campaign and is currently proposing this as we speak. This will affect practice sales as it’s not uncommon for a practice purchased by a corporate to sell for $2 million and higher. The proposed capital gains will be on amounts over $1 million. This will reduce the amount of funds that you take home after taxes. It could be by as much as 20% or more.
As I stated, we can’t predict the future, but we do know the present. If you are even considering selling your practice in the next 3 years, we believe it would be well worth a phone call to us for a free consultation. Selling in 2021 instead of waiting a year or two could earn you a significant amount of extra money. The cost of a phone call = $0. The cost of waiting = potentially $100,000+.
PS: If you have an offer from a corporate, call us anyways. We’ve helped a number of veterinarians get a much higher offer than their initial corporate offer.Read More
There are many reasons why veterinary practices are put up for sale. Some of the more common reasons actually have little to do with the practice’s general performance. For example, many veterinarians discover that they need to sell for health reasons or personal concerns, such as divorce or partnership issues. While a business downturn might prompt many veterinarians to sell, economic drivers are not the only issue. Owners may want and need to sell, but often it isn’t always that simple.
Many veterinarians are looking to retire but are unpleasantly surprised to learn that they simply can’t afford to do so. Still yet, many veterinarians don’t truly want to retire or sell, but instead, they just want more freedom in their lives. The day-to-day responsibilities of owning and operating a practice can take their toll. Many veterinarians are looking to make a change and would love to be free of this burden. This class of owner has already “checked out” mentally, and this can have profound negative consequences for their businesses.
When a veterinarian wants out but discovers that he or she simply can’t afford to sell or retire, it will come as no surprise that there is usually an accompanying drop off in enthusiasm. Ultimately, the vast majority of practice owners will start to lose focus. Often, we find that they stop investing the capital necessary to continue the growth of the business, which can trigger other events, such as the loss of key staff members and/or customers. The failure of the practice to maintain its footing and competitive advantage can lead to a more aggressive posture by existing competitors or even encourage a new competitor to move into the market.
In time, the practice owner may come face-to-face with the harsh realization that they have no choice but to sell if they are to salvage any of the practice’s value. The best way for a practice owner to safeguard against this situation is to sell when his or her practice is doing well, as this helps to ensure an optimal price.
Working with a practice broker, even years before one is interested in selling, is one of the single smartest moves any business owner can make. The time to think about selling your practice is now, as no veterinarian knows what life or the market will bring.
To help figure out where to start, contact us today – phone: 877-866-6053 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
In my experience, sellers get concerned with the “correct” time to tell their team about the transition. We recommend informing them when all documents or some are signed and there is no doubt the sale will go through. It may be 2 weeks or 2 days before closing, it depends, and your transition advisor will assist you.
If you tell your team too early, they may become stressed, confused, and unsure of their future, so they may panic and find another job and possibly tell clients or other veterinarians. None of this is good! Your team and clients are important to the goodwill of your practice.
When you do announce the new buyer, remind the team that they love their teammates and patients and that isn’t changing. Explain a bit about the new veterinarian and schedule time for them to meet. Help them feel confident that the transition will be great, and the new veterinarian will need their assistance for everyone to be successful. If you are going to continue to work for a period of time in the practice, let them know that and say, “I’ll be here to assist in the transition to make sure it goes smoothly”.
A letter to clients is typically sent from the seller with the buyer’s approval. Depending on both the buyer and seller and the unique area, a newspaper ad can be placed, and an open house can be scheduled. The letter should emphasize your appreciation of serving them as their veterinarian over the years and also tell clients how happy you are that you found a great veterinarian, or group if it’s a corporate buyer, to take as good of care of the clients and patients as you did. Your transition advisor will provide ideas and examples to help you choose the best method for announcing the transition.
Clients may be unsure of the new buyer, so if you are in the office “brag” him or her up a bit. Post the letter at the front desk and have copies on tables so the clients can read about the new buyer while they wait. It’s important that the buyer of your practice not make any large changes in the practice and mirror you and your philosophy as much as possible. This will help make the transition seamless.
The new team will be concerned about the new buyer’s expectations so consider not changing much in the practice for a while, so they have a chance to transition and become comfortable. Provide information they won’t know such as how to schedule and what instruments you need for each procedure. Help everyone to be successful in their position.
Remember to remind your team often that everything is ok. Consider having one-on-one meetings with each new team member and ask specific questions. “What keeps you coming here every day? What’s one thing you would change in the practice if you could? Can I count on you to bring questions and concerns to me rather than involve the entire team?”
Transitions can be stressful. Work with your transition advisor that has many experiences and ideas to share to help everyone be successful.Read More
A recent and insightful Forbes article, “Study Shows Why Many Business Owners Can’t Sell When They Want To” penned by Mary Ellen Biery, generates some thought-provoking ideas. The article discusses an Exit Planning Institute (EPI) study that outlined the reality that many business owners can’t control when they are able to sell. Many business owners expect to be able to sell whenever they like. However, the reality, as outlined by the EPI study, revealed that the truth is that for business owners, selling is often easier said than done.
In the article, Christopher Snider, President and CEO of EPI, noted that a large percentage of business owners have no exit planning in place. This fact is made all the more striking by the revelation that most owners have up to 90% of their assets tied up in their businesses. Snider’s view is that most business owners will have to sell within the next 10 to 15 years, and yet, are unprepared to do so. According to the EPI only 20% to 30% of businesses that go on the market will actually sell. Snider believes that at the heart of the problem is there are not enough good businesses available for sell. In short, the problem is one of quality.
As of 2016, Baby Boomer business owners, who were expected to begin selling in record numbers, are waiting to sell. As Snider stated in Biery’s Fortune article, “Baby Boomers don’t really want to leave their businesses, and they’re not going to move the business until they have to, which is probably when they are in their early 70s.”
The EPI survey of 200+ San Diego business owners found that 53% had given little or no attention to their transition plan, 88% had no written transition to transition to the next owner, and a whopping 80% had never even sought professional advice regarding their transition. Further, a mere 58% currently had handled any form of estate planning.
Adding to the concern was the fact that most surveyed business owners don’t know the value of their business. Summed up another way, a large percentage of the business owners who will be selling their businesses are Baby Boomers who plan on holding onto their businesses until they are older. They have not charted out an exit strategy or transition plan and have no tangible idea as to the true worth of their respective businesses.
In Snider’s view, the survey indicates that many business owners are not “maximizing the transferable value of their business,” and added that they are not “in a position to transfer successfully so that they can harvest the wealth locked in their business.”
All practice owners should be thinking about the day when they will have to sell their practice. Now is the time to begin working with a broker to formulate your strategy so as to maximize your business’s value.Read More
By Corey Young, MBA, CEPA, CVA, ABI
Congratulations, you just accepted an offer on your practice! With all the emotions associated with the transition, when to notify your staff is surely at the top of your “to-do” list. Telling employees that you are selling your practice is an extremely delicate process. Breaking the news too early can come with many risks, so best to wait until all final closing documents are signed by both parties and no more than one week before the new owner takes over.
So, what are some potential risks?
One of the primary risks is that employees will naturally be worried about their job security the moment you make your announcement. Oftentimes if they have too much of an advanced notice they may start searching for other opportunities. Staff leaving could negatively impact the transition and patient experience because of how instrumental they can be in helping the buyer and the patients adjust to new ownership.
The other major risk is that nothing is final until its final. Veterinary practice sales are extremely complex and can be delayed for a multitude of reasons or fall through completely. Making the announcement before the sale is complete will cause stress and heartache amongst your staff during a time that you will be preoccupied with navigating a significant professional milestone. If the staff were to find out before closing was final, you wouldn’t be able to offer any reassuring answers because of unforeseen changes to the closing timeline.
Finally, regardless of your views of your staff’s maturity level, gossip will ensue. I have seen it countless times where a veterinarian tries to provide honest reasons on why they are selling, only to have their words misconstrued. Comments such as, “I’m selling my practice to focus on my health” can quickly morph into, “S/he is selling because the practice is going under,” or lead to unfounded conclusions such as, “After the new guy starts, we will all be replaced.” This kind of fear and uncertainty will have a profound impact on staff morale during a time where they will be needed to ensure a great patient experience during the transition process.
In the end, you probably have a deep and meaningful relationship with your staff. They deserve to know about ownership changes as they will be impacted, but it is best for them (and for you) that they be kept out of the loop until you have concrete answers to provide them.