When the decision to sell is made, one is thinking from the logical, left-brain side of the mind. There are numerous practicalities to take care of and the owner knows that selling will help achieve personal goals. However, deciding to sell can be difficult and many cannot imagine things could become any more difficult. But they can. Selling a practice is fraught with a myriad of emotions.
The Emotional Peaks
We know selling a practice is always emotional. We do remind our clients though, that there are two particularly challenging periods once the listing agreement is signed. The first is while we wait for offers to come in and the second is while we wait for conditions to be waived.
During the initial stage of waiting for an offer, one cannot help but feel exposed. After all, potential buyers are reviewing your information and deciding if this is a good opportunity for them.
A vendor cannot help but feel as if he/she is being judged. When an offer does not come quickly, the owner asks, “why is my clinic not good enough”. Of course, it is good enough. In fact, it is a good option, but it must be the right option for a particular buyer.
Any time in life when we are waiting on someone else to make a decision that affects us, it is very difficult, it makes us doubt ourselves and why our practice has not been chosen. As a vendor, it is critical you remember that you cannot appeal to everyone. And that is truly okay.
There is always the right buyer for your office, and it is impossible to appeal to all. It may take time, but the key is not to second guess everything that is or is not happening. Your practice is unique, and the right buyer will have their own unique set of circumstances that make them the right fit.
For many owners, the first emotions experienced around the offer for the practice will be excitement, exhilaration, and pride.
The fact that there is a buyer for your office validates that you have created something of value and your clinic is wanted. As such, once an offer has been placed, many start to celebrate. We encourage owners to simply wait.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
Even with an offer being accepted, there are still hurdles that the purchaser must over come.
The toughest two are financing and assigning of the lease. Financing is certainly more difficult during this pandemic. Largely because bankers are scrutinizing the purchasers far more than pre-COVID days. They want to ensure when they grant a loan that they have confidence in the buyer.
The assignment of the lease can be challenging for many reasons – for example if an owner has had a difficult relationship with the landlord over the years, the landlord may not be willing to be so co-operative. Perhaps during the assignment of the lease, the purchaser may use this opportunity to ask for things that may not be granted.
Should any condition not be met, unfortunately, the offer becomes void, and deposit is returned. This is difficult for the vendor as now things start over.
This does happen but it does not mean your practice will not sell. You just need to be patient. The right buyer will be motivated and never stray from the motivation that drew them to your practice initially.
Another stress a vendor may not be prepared for is the actual transition once all the conditions have been removed and the closing date is in sight.
It is normal to start to question the initial decision to sell. Is it right for your staff and patients? How will things run once it is in new hands? How will the owner really fill their time after the sale?
A sale brings up strong emotions particularly when an owner has been owning and operating for many years. If the vendor stays on, the realization that new management is now in place and that a say in the day-to-day decision making is no longer part of their responsibility.
Many do not realize how a large part of the vendor’s identity is tied to the clinic.
Rest assured that these thoughts and feelings are normal. Preparing ahead of time is the best way to handle the emotions connected to selling your practice.
While some doubts and fears are normal, preparation and planning for what life will look like post sale, will help an owner navigate the transaction as smoothly as possible.
Jackie Joachim is Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at email@example.com or 1-844-764-2020.