Article Date: 12/1/2011

How Should You Prepare to Sell Your Practice?
o.d. to o.d.

How Should You Prepare to Sell Your Practice?

To put your best foot forward, retrace the steps you took when you started your practice.

By Walter D. West, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor

If you have considered selling your practice, keep in mind there is a lot more to a successful transaction than placing an advertisement online, telling someone at the state optometric association and then waiting for the flood of eager buyers to storm your door. The sale also requires preparation. And this preparation is similar to the work you undertook when you started your practice.

Analyze your market

For example, you surely did a market analysis prior to starting your practice, and, hopefully, you've continued to re-evaluate your market through the years. But now it's time to do it again. Here's why: If your practice has been successful, its need and place in the market have been established. But markets change in many ways. And part of what you're selling to the buyer is potential. So perform new market analysis, and create a vision of how your practice is poised to exploit the current and future opportunities found therein.

Be aware of transitional issues

Perhaps one of the best ways to sell a practice is to transition ownership from the selling doctor to the purchasing doctor through a period of time. During this period, both the buyer and you will work in the office. In order for this arrangement to succeed, you must plan to ensure your office design, furniture, fixtures and equipment allow the purchasing practitioner to easily fit into the clinic design and patient flow rather than be in the way.

As part of this planning, factor into your office design any changes, such as the number of total doctors and staff, as well as any plans for practice growth. Ensure through such planning that those qualities of your practice that attracted the buyer (say, enhanced patient flow) won't become compromised during the transition.

One consideration for the transition of a practice is that cash flow requirements will be different with salaries for two doctors now required, and many practices struggle with how to make this work. Where will you find the money?

One suggestion is to look beyond your practice to perform many key internal tasks. That is, many opportunities exist to outsource patient marketing and communications including recall, answering incoming calls, appointment confirmation, record reactivation and much more. By utilizing these outside resources at times, the costs associated with the tasks can be reduced. Reallocate these costs savings toward a new doctor's salary.

Continue your marketing plan

It is crucial to establish a marketing plan for a new practice, which continues throughout the practice's life. While the plan may include the most effective medium for advertisements, planning an open house and networking, it's perhaps most important that these efforts be stepped up as part of the sale preparation.

When O.D.s start their practices, they're very focused on putting their best foot forward, and then through time their focus begins to shift. If you're planning to sell your practice, it's time again to put your best foot forward. But, before you do, shine your shoes. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: December 2011