Why use a Veterinary Broker to Sell your Practice?
After many years of the hard work, long hours, and substantial investment that go into building a veterinary practice, you’re now thinking about selling the practice. It’s easy to assume that the practice will sell quickly and for a great price when you are ready to sell. Feedback from doctors who have recently sold their practices shows that the process is more complicated and stressful than anticipated. This is why it is essential to hire a veterinary broker to help guide you through the process.
Potential individual buyers and corporates will have experts who can help them navigate the sale. You will also need someone to advocate for you and help you understand the process from start to finish. In most cases, the last time you were involved in a practice sale was when you bought the practice, which means you need someone to help you navigate the process.
Benefits of Hiring a Broker
Here are just a few reasons why hiring a veterinary broker to assist with planning and selling your practice would be a sound investment.
Determining Fair Market Price
At Omni Practice Group, we have certified practice appraisers that put together a valuation to maximize a fair market sales price for the practice and real estate (if applicable).
Develop a Marketing Plan for the Practice while Maintaining Confidentiality
Omni provides confidential marketing and advertising services for your practice that do not identify you or your practice until a buyer is screened and signs a confidential Non-Disclosure Agreement. Omni also provides the financial prospectus for your practice along with confidential personal showings of the practice to potential buyers. Finding the right buyer that you will want to take over your practice can take some time. Good practices can sell quickly, but some can take months or even a year to sell.
Letter of Intent
Omni brokers negotiate on your behalf, a Letter of Intent with your approval for the purchase price of the Practice and the Accounts Receivable. Your broker will also guide you through the due diligence conditions for bank financing, help negotiate a new lease agreement, non-compete agreements, and other conditions that both the seller and the buyer will agree on. If real estate is included, your Omni broker will determine the value of the real estate with a “Broker’s Real Estate Opinion” that is used to market the real estate with the practice.
Finalizing the Sale
Your Omni broker works with you to determine a possible closing date based on whether your practice has real estate to sell or a lease that will be negotiated with the new owner. Omni’s brokers work with attorneys to finalize the Asset Purchase Agreement for both the seller and the buyer.
Omni’s 70-point-plus checklist helps guide both the seller and the buyer through the process of items to be completed prior to the sale closing.
A banker at one of the major banks recently said, “A high percentage of deals that fall apart is due to the seller not using a veterinary broker.” Using a broker typically saves sellers a lot of time, money, and headaches in selling their practices.
Omni Practice Group has been helping veterinarians for over 15 years with the planning and transitioning of their practices. If you’re thinking about selling now or in the next few years, give us a call for a “free consultation” to help you determine a plan that works for you and how we can assist with a smooth and profitable transition.Read More
By Corey Young, MBA, CVA
Let’s discuss the best approach:
- Financial Planner. A financial planner helps clients meet their current money needs and long-term financial goals. They use a structured process to guide clients toward prudent financial decisions to maximize their potential for attaining life goals. Using their knowledge of personal finance, taxes, budgeting, and investments—combined with analytical tools and data that can illustrate potential outcomes—financial planners make recommendations, which help clients make informed decisions.
- CPA. Almost everyone reading this article has a CPA. While they are an invaluable resource, over-relying on them on a consultant basis can put them in a conflicting role when it comes time to exit your business. Per Investopedia, “Although some CPA firms serve as business consultants, the consulting role has been under scrutiny following the Enron scandal where Arthur Andersen simultaneously provided audit and consulting services which affected its ability to maintain independence in its audit duties If the CPA firm is auditing the same company that the firm also does consulting work for, then there is a conflict of interest. This conflict voids the CPA firm’s independence for multiple reasons, including: (1) the CPA firm would be auditing its own work or the work the firm suggested, and (2) the CPA firm may be pressured into unduly giving a positive (unmodified) audit opinion so as not to jeopardize the consulting revenue the firm receives from the client.”
- Transition Consultant. A business transition consultant helps a business owner assess the current asset value of the business and establish its attractiveness to various buyers. A transition consultant also helps owners assess where they’re at motivationally, as professionals and business owners in their readiness to sell. The consultant then works together with practice owners to develop exit strategies that could begin in the immediate future or develop over a couple of decades. Frequently, transition consultants also serve as the broker of practice sales. This is a real plus because their work in the open market makes their recommendations much more meaningful. A widely accepted recommendation is to engage a transition consultant long before you are ready to sell. Analogous to this recommendation is diagnosis and prevention. Waiting to contact a broker when you are ready to sell is considered emergency care.
- Attorney(s). Two different types of attorneys need to be engaged at some point during a well-developed exit strategy. First, an estate planning attorney to help set up wills and trusts. Second, an experienced transition attorney when the time comes to exit the business.
- Banker. Developing a solid relationship with a banker can open doors of possibility both currently and into the future. Because of banks’ (mostly outdated IMO) hiring and retention policies, bankers tend to move around quite a bit. My recommendation is to focus on the banker more than the bank.
Who do you currently have on your team?Read More
A successful transition involves preparation and knowledge. There are numerous things you should do to get your practice ready to sell and making even one mistake can cost you. Here are five transition pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Letting your production and profitability go down prior to selling. We have seen many practices that were producing $300k to $500k a few years prior to contacting us, but collections and profit tanked when the veterinarians cut back on their hours and their associates didn’t make up the difference. This can result in hundreds of thousands in lost practice value. As you head closer to a transition, keep your production numbers, and your profit, up.
Counting on selling your practice to your associate. This always sounds like a great plan. But statistics show that over 70% of associate-to-own opportunities do not make it to a sale. What happens if your associate decides they want to practice in another town? Or your associate finds an opportunity in another practice? Protect yourself by getting everything in writing and using an intermediary if possible. In addition, consider having your associate put away money in a non-refundable escrow account.
Not evaluating all options. When we ask veterinarians if they are okay with selling to a corporate buyer, we often hear, “No way.” Here’s why you should keep an open mind. While an individual buyer may be limited to paying 2 to 4 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), some corporations are willing to pay 5 to 10 times EBITDA, and sometimes even more. We have negotiated sales to corporate buyers that got the sellers $1M more than originally expected. That’s a million dollars to help pay for grandchildren’s education, give bonuses to hardworking staff and enjoy retirement.
Telling your staff too early. A common question we get asked is, “When should I tell my staff about the sale of the practice?” We suggest waiting until the agreements are signed. Telling staff too early may result in them leaving for another opportunity. For those who stay, it creates a fear of the unknown. Who’s the new buyer? Will my job stay intact? Will my pay be the same? What about my benefits and hours? Waiting may not seem like the right thing to do, but it really is.
Going it alone. Corporate buyers are throwing out offers to potential practice sellers left and right. Some are even hiring DVMs to tell you that you do not need representation, that they will handle everything. But is their offer the best one you can get? Without representation, how would you even know? A good practice transition broker knows all the different buyer types and what kind of terms and pricing they typically offer. If you try to sell your practice on your own, you could sell to the wrong buyer for the wrong price.
These are just a few of the many pitfalls you might encounter when selling your veterinary practice. With experts on your side, you can avoid them – and other costly mistakes.
Want to make your transition as smooth as possible? We can help. Contact us for a free consultation.Read More
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
You’ve heard the stories of people doing their own electrical work on their house only to be electrocuted when they try fixing the bathroom light while standing in the bathtub full of water. Or the person who decides to fix his brakes on his car only to accidentally cut his brake line and end up driving off a cliff. They have awards for some of these mishaps. They’re called the Darwin Awards.
Deciding to sell your own practice may not give you a fate as extreme as the Darwin Awards, but it could cost you money, your staff, lose patients for the buyer, or end up in a lawsuit. That’s if the sale even makes it all the way to the closing table. I have been selling practices for 15 years. I keep thinking I have seen it all, but then something out of the blue pops up. For example, I was called as an expert witness to review agreements in a prior sale where the buyers were suing the seller. The buyers thought they were buying a practice and a building. They wanted to save money and not use a broker, or an attorney. The buyers showed up at the practice after closing only to find an empty space. It turned out, they just bought the building and not the practice. The agreement used was a real estate purchase and sale agreement and was not for a practice sale – a big and costly mistake on both sides.
Lenders and attorneys report that practices that are sold without a broker have a 50% chance of failing before the practice closes. I believe the failure rate to be higher than that. Reasons they fail include buyers losing interest, seller and buyer can’t negotiate a disputed item or clause, seller and buyer don’t know the steps to the transaction, and confidentiality is breached by one of the parties. A failed sale can disrupt a practice if the staff leaves knowing the practice is on the market.
When selling a practice, you need to wear a lot of hats and possess expertise in a wide variety of areas. Transition consultants need to be knowledgeable in law, accounting, tax, real estate, valuations, psychology, negotiations, design, equipment, technology, software, project management, sales, analysis, practice management, human resources, and mediation. In addition, you need to have a lot of extra time. On average it takes 200 hours to sell a practice a lot more if the sale is to a corporate buyer. That time includes gathering data to do the valuation. Putting the valuation together. Developing a prospectus or offering. Creating advertising, placing the ad, taking phone calls, meeting prospective buyers, doing background checks on buyers, talking with lenders, assisting buyers in due diligence, working with attorneys, negotiating bumps in the road, reviewing agreements, and more.
You also run a financial risk. You could undervalue your practice or get taken by a buyer who is good at talking and negotiating a good deal for themselves. If there is a corporate buyer involved, you need a broker even more. Brokers can assist in negotiating amongst several corporate buyers to ensure you get not only the best value for your practice but also the best terms. Corporate transactions require a lot more scrutiny, due diligence, negotiating, and time. Done right and with patience and you also can reap the reward.
Selling your practice on your own may not get you a Darwin Award. But, doing so comes with a lot of risks and requires a lot of time and expertise. Why risk the equity you have built up over the years to save money? Pennywise and dollar foolish could cost you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as non-monetary losses.
Give Omni a call today for a free consultation and learn how we can help. Call 877-866-6053 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More