You only get to sell your veterinary practice one time. Especially if you’re considering selling soon, but even if a veterinary practice sale feels like it exists in a far away future, there are actions you can take now to increase your chance of a successful partnership and cement the future of your practice and its legacy.
Preparing for a successful veterinary practice sale happens over time with intentional growth, strategy, and employee stability. Reaching financial goals, establishing and maintaining strong relationships with doctors and clients, and aligning your entire team are all part of setting your practice up for long-term success and an advantageous sale. Even if now isn’t the right time to sell your practice, learn how to be a good seller when the time comes below.
Grow Your Revenue Base
Striving for growth and increasing your practice’s book of business are essential in preparing your practice for eventual sale. Primary growth drivers for any veterinary practice are to hire and retain more doctors, optimize your service mix and costs, and gear services toward the geographics and demographics where there is demand.
Since your doctors are your best asset in acquiring and keeping new business, the longest-lasting way to drive growth is to ensure your doctor team is fully bought into the business and that they’re happy at work. Make sure to check in with doctors one-on-one on a regular basis, be observant and know how to recognize the signs of burnout, and be proactive and supportive when you sense that a doctor may be struggling.
Another tip for boosting your profitability is setting clear, specific goals based on trackable metrics and uniting doctors and staff under these practice goals. For instance, instead of focusing on the vague goal of trying to increase revenue, try setting a more measurable goal like increasing your client base by 10% in one year’s time. Include doctors in the goal-setting and strategic conversations to ensure goals are realistic and reach team alignment. Then, make sure to consistently communicate and check in on goals at regular intervals leading up to the deadline.
Keeping closer track of what you’re selling, when, and why is also helpful when it comes to goal-setting, predicting trends, and growing sustainably over time. For instance, if you recognize that dental cleanings are bringing in a lot of revenue at a certain time of year, promoting these ahead of time can help you achieve higher profitability in the following year. Keep your eyes and ears open constantly to identify creative ways to improve your business, like partnering with a local related business like a groomer for cross-promotion, or selling complementary pet care products at the front desk.
Stabilize Your Team
Keeping your team well-informed and feeling supported is an important foundation for achieving doctor buy-in for an eventual veterinary practice sale. Make sure all associates know that your intentions are to sell at some point. If the sale is a complete surprise to them when the time comes, doctors may feel unimportant, overlooked, or even betrayed. Avoid this negative outcome by keeping doctors in the loop and including them in strategic conversations and decision-making.
Along the same lines, bringing associates into the conversation with a potential buyer earlier can provide you with valuable input while easing the doctors’ buy-in process. Associates aligned with the seller and buyer transition stand to i) do well economically and ii) be more likely to stay at the practice during the growth phase after the sale, where the new ownership’s operations team will really start turning dials to drive growth. This is critical not only to the buyer, but also to the seller economically, and it will help to ensure a positive practice culture and environment for all post-transition.
While these conversations can be financially risky for all parties involved, working with a buyer that understands how to communicate with associate doctors about the sale and achieve buy-in can help to ease any tensions. The VetEvolve team is an incredibly qualified buyer to handle these risky conversations deftly because there are so many veterinary representatives at the top level of our leadership.
Avoid Long-Term Contracts
If you’re even considering selling your practice at some point in the near future, don’t sign up for long-term contracts, especially with equipment and service providers. The new ownership team may have its own established relationships with area equipment and service providers that can provide the practice with cost savings, or differing knowledge that will affect these decisions. A long-term obligation gives the buyer less flexibility to move numbers for the seller.
Additionally, being locked into a long-term contract can directly impact how your financials are evaluated during a sale. Accountants will treat long-term contracts as debt obligations of the seller when finalizing the accounting for a practice purchase.
If you are already locked into a long-term contract, this may make the ownership transition more complicated than necessary. Since a contract for services can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to get out of, avoiding signing a long-term contract upfront can help save the post-sale transition process from unnecessary complexity.
Prepare Mentally and Emotionally
Selling your practice is a huge milestone and it can be an emotional process both for you and your team. As mentioned above, communicating consistently with doctors about your goals and intentions for the future is essential for ensuring team alignment and doctor retention when the time is right for a veterinary practice sale. By keeping associates in the loop, you’ll grant them the time and space to prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for the transition, and secure buy-in easier for the sale.
Whether you’re planning to still work at the practice as a veterinarian or retire, selling your practice represents a huge change in your day-to-day role and overall career. Making sure you’re mentally and emotionally prepared for the shift is just as important as preparing your practice financially and logistically.
Having a good support system in place both in and outside of work, building a better work-life balance, and focusing on the positives of the change are all ways to ensure you’re ready when the time to sell comes along. Partnering with the right buyer who is empathetic and supportive will also improve your experience throughout the process, and help ensure personal success following the transition.
VetEvolve Can Help You Achieve a Successful Veterinary Practice Sale
When the time is right to discuss transition options, reach out to VetEvolve. Whether you’re ready to sell now, or plan on waiting a long time, it’s never too early for a conversation. We take a low-pressure approach and are 100% confidential.
If you’re interested in an initial conversation to discuss the options available to you, connect with our team here.