Chiropractic Practice Selling Interview

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

I received a phone call the other day from James Von Hipple, a chiropractor I attended CCCLA with in the 1990s. He was in the process of driving to the city of Temecula in Southern California, from up in the Bellingham area of Washington.

Dr. Jim had recently sold his chiropractic office and I remembered he had an advertisement on the classified ad system. Several chiropractors have asked me about buying and selling chiropractic offices, but I don’t have that much information, as I’ve never been involved in the experience personally. I sent an e-mail to Dr. Jim with some questions related to selling his office so I could share the results with you.

What’s involved in selling a practice?
Selling your practice brings up many different emotions! On one side you’re like a proud papa showing off his baby but on another hand you leave yourself vulnerable to criticism and rejection. For me, once I made up my mind to sell my practice and move away, my focus in the office disappeared. I decided to hire a broker to speed things up. Hiring a broker means that someone else is going to be taking 7-10% of what you sell your practice for right off the top, but it also means there is someone out there with a financial interest in finding a good fit for your office. All I could think about everyday was “would this be the day someone called to come see my practice?” Once someone is interested in your office, they need to go through your business and even personal info with a fine tooth comb. It can be a frustrating process, but you need to focus on the mission and let the processes happen.

Is their consideration for your patients?
There is absolutely consideration for your patients! You want to do your best to find a doctor who will be a good fit for your patients, not just for your patient’s well-being but this will also increase the odds that the new doctor will be successful with his new practice.

How do you best find the right doctor?
You find the right doctor by having a little patience and a lot of luck! The right doctor needs to be similar to you in both adjusting styles and in personality. This is also a big consideration when you are contemplating selling your practice. It will be harder to find a doctor who specializes in a specialty like Pettibon or CBP then it will to find a good diversified adjuster. The doctors philosophy is also important, he will have a hard time coming into a pain clinic if he is a philosophically minded DC. I spent many many hours on the phone with potential doctors discussing there philosophies and adjusting style. You must also remember that your patients will adapt and all you can do is your best to find a good fit. I think I really lucked out in this regard, I found a doctor who’s adjusting style is very similar to mine and he has a very easy going personality as well. I think he will be very successful.

Did you get any leads off the classifieds?
I got calls off the classifieds from Planet Chiropractic when I first listed it. The broker did not require exclusivity and encouraged you to place as many ads as you were willing. I switched brokers and they did require exclusivity, and required that I remove all the ads that I had placed. There reasoning was they didn’t want to be supporting staff to sell our practice and have me sell it out from under them, I guess.

Anything you would do differently?
If I were to do anything differently it would probably be to have my accountant go through all my financial information right away, because this is what took the most time. I would also learn to deal with the upcoming stresses better, it can get stressful, but mostly because you are impatient and want to move on but it is a process. I would often remind myself that there is someone on the other end of this that is going through the same stress I am and he is doing it so that he can live his dreams. That’s a HUGE compliment.

Thanks Jim! We’ll have a follow up when you open your new Murrieta Chiropractic office in CA.