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10 Transition Tips for Chiropractic Clinic Buyers and Sellers

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Buying a practice is one of the on ramps [LINK] to business ownership and career success for chiropractors. A huge benefit of buying is that it comes with a built-in transition process between buyer and seller.

Here are 10 tips to get the most out of the transition:

Buyers

Buy from someone with a similar philosophy and personality. “If you’re buying from a guy who’s really gregarious and he can get up and give talks, and he’s extremely motivational and has a lot more energy and personal power than you do, I would not buy a practice from that person, not without a really long transition,” says Kevin Misenheimer, a broker with Progressive Practice Sales in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Look for a seller who would be a great mentor and who has time to give a proper handoff. Typically retiring doctors are best for longer transitions. They have the time and they’ve often put decades into building their practice, so they really care about patient handoffs and long-term success.
Start treating patients on day one. A classic transition will have the new doctor observe a few times before they begin to treat patients. This unnecessarily opens the door to snap judgements and bad first impressions. “I want that patient to walk out that door thinking, ‘Wow,’” says Sam Reader, a practice management consultant.
Build in time to train new office staff if necessary. In the best case scenario, a buyer will be able to hold onto to office managers who are known and loved by patients. However, retiring doctors may work with a spouse or have employees who are also nearing the end of their careers. If that’s the case, be sure to build in transition time for those key staff members.
Don’t forget there’s more to the transition than meeting the patients. Ask for warm handoffs to established referral sources, especially attorneys and physicians. Be sure insurance credentials transfer over as well. These are two major benefits of buying a practice, so be sure to build them into your contract.

Sellers

Get your practice appraised a few years before you sell. Start the process early to understand what changes you can make to maximize value, how to clean up your books and prepare for a sale.
Update your practice name if necessary. If your practice is eponymous, update it to something more generic or related to the community a few years before you sell. This adds value for the buyer who doesn’t share your name.
Work with a broker or consultant. “Most people we talk to have no concept of how difficult it is to sell a practice,” says Mr. Misenheimer. “They think you just throw up some ads … but there’s so much to it with these young, apprehensive buyers and getting them through the finance process and then having both sides understand what a proper transition looks like.”
Build a transition period into your sales timeline. Buyers tend to be young and purchasing their first business. If sellers can offer a generous transition period, it can be a helpful selling point for buyers who may be apprehensive.
Don’t tell staff about the sale prematurely. Waiting until a buyer is confirmed will save them from months of stress. “It’s torturous because they don’t know if they’re going to lose their job,” says Mr. Reader. “Unbeknownst to the staff, the buyer is as nervous about keeping them as they are nervous about losing their job.”

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