The Cost of Waiting to Sell
Everything has a cost. If you hit the snooze button on the alarm one time, your cost could potentially get to work late. If you get up early and don’t hit the snooze button, the cost is not being able to sleep an additional 10 or 15 minutes. But what about holding onto your practice for a few more years and not selling? You get the opportunity to work more and make more money, right?
I’ve been around the block long enough to know timing is everything. If I would have bought $10,000 worth of Microsoft stock in 1985, I would have stock worth $3,000,000 today. On the flip side, how many near-death experiences can you account for where if you would have stepped off the curb a split second earlier, you would have ended up in the hospital?
How does this relate to selling your practice? Right now, practice values are at an all-time high. Corporate buyers are paying up to 10 times your earnings before interest, taxes, and depreciation (EBITDA). The historical figure is 1.5 to 2 times EBITDA. They have been lowering their threshold on annual revenue requirements and have been looking at practices with values as low as $650,000. But, we have recently seen a small shift in their tone. The corporate buyers have been scrutinizing practices a bit more. Their offers on practices have been a bit less than they have in the past. Few groups are looking at smaller practices. It seems their buying frenzy has slowed just a little bit.
What does this matter to you if you’re holding onto your practice? Well, if you currently have an EBITDA of $300,000, your offer today may be 8x EBITDA, or $2.4 million. If the trend continues and corporates lower their offers, your offer may go down to 5X EBITDA, or $1.5 million. You just cost yourself $900,000 by waiting a few more years. Sure, you made $400,000 in income over those few years, but you could have still made an income had you sold the practice and continued to work for the corporate acquirer.
Granted, we don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know how quickly the corporates are going to reduce their offers and by how much. However, we do have economic history, a bit of analysis and common sense. Corporates want the bigger practices doing over $1 million. Approximately 33% of practices collect over $1 million per year. The corporates and small groups already own a large portion of the practices that are high producing practices. They make the highest margins on these types of practices. As they use up capital and run out of large practices to buy, their focus will then be on making their practices as profitable as possible, thus, lowering their offers on practices as this happens.
So, just like choosing to hit your snooze button versus continuing to sleep in, there is a cost in holding onto your practice. The smart thing to do would be to sit down with your trusted advisor. Whether it be your accountant, financial planner, or your friendly neighborhood broker, someone can help you analyze how much it may cost you to hold onto your practice. We can always be reached, at no charge at firstname.lastname@example.org.