Purchasing a Practice Post COVID-19
OMNI Practice Group
A lot of “experts” have been giving their own predictions on the Covid-19 Pandemic. The truth of the matter is, no one has a crystal ball and knows what tomorrow will bring. So far, most experts have been off on their predictions. What we do know is that there will be a “post-Covid” and life will get back to some form of normal in the relatively near future.
We as a society have historically been through pandemics such as the Spanish Flu, HIV/Aids, Hong Kong Flu, and others. Pandemics are definitely game changers and force us to look at how we live, work, educate, etc., This pandemic will be no different. Some states are beginning to open up as I write this article. Some veterinary clinics and hospitals have already made some changes. Dropping off animals outside the office, taking patients directly into exam rooms, using telemedicine, etc. are just a few examples of changes made in some practices. Some of those changes will be short lived but some will be permanent. But the truth is there will be changes.
One thing that I promise you will not change is that animals will continue to exist and people will still have pets. I’m 100% certain of that. As such, animals will continue to need care. Unless plumbers start doing veterinary work, that means they will need to see a veterinarian in a veterinary hospital! It will just be a matter of how the new game of veterinary practice will play out with new rules in place. In sports, rules change all the time. Players and coaches just adapt to those rules and adjust to playing under those new rules.
Another rule that may change is valuations on practices in the near term. I have heard a gamut of theories from brokers, bankers, veterinarians and the grocery store clerk. But they are just that… theories. My advice would be to stop listening to your friends, relatives and others who don’t have any more knowledge than you do about the future of practice valuation. Here’s what I know for sure, good practices with good margins pre-Covid will be good practices with good margins post-Covid. They will sell for a normal value, even post-Covid. I also know patients will come back to the veterinary hospitals. This will be true for most all offices. I’ve spoken to several veterinarians who have told me they have full schedules already in the immediate future. For those practices that are below average to average practices, there may be some adjustments to values in the near term. Banks have told us that they may adjust their valuations as well. I don’t expect huge discounts, but perhaps a discount to account for some of the new expenses or reduction in production.
As a potential buyer of a veterinary practice, you should look at the practice as if it was pre-Covid. In the long-run, that practice will get back to “normal”. If you find a practice that has been what you’re looking for, you need to do your due diligence and be confident that normal will happen again. Those who do will be ahead of the game.