The average chiropractic practice takes about 12 to 18 months to sell, but sometimes sellers need to move more quickly. In the event that a chiropractor passes away and can no longer practice, or if a doctor is simply burned out and ready to call it quits, there are a few steps to take to get the most value out of the practice.
The first and most time-sensitive task is to find a cover doctor who will fill in and see patients in the interim. “If you close the doors for a period of time — even just a month or two — it’s going to be very difficult to get any value out of it. Once you close the doors, [patients are] going to quickly find their way to other chiropractors in town,” says Kevin Misenheimer, a broker with Progressive Practice Sales in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Even a part-time cover doctor will ensure patient retention, as most patients will be willing to give the new chiropractor a try before going somewhere else.
Second, the seller should try to retain support staff to help create continuity for patients. This retention is critical to maintaining the sale price of the practice because it enables a buyer to walk into an existing business, rather than have to put in work to rebuild.
“The banker wants to be in what’s called a ‘going concern,’ or what we call ‘turnkey,’” says Sam Reader, a practice management consultant who works with chiropractors around the country. Experience staff and active patient volumes are important intangible assets in determining value.
Lastly, sellers should be extremely proactive in marketing the practice. They can list the practice in classifieds on various chiropractic websites [LINK]. Direct mail is a great tool to reach potential buyers who live and work within a certain radius of the practice. “You’re going to get all the frustrated associates who may or may not be looking on all those sites with practices for sale, but they would say, ‘Oh this is nearby. It looks like I can afford it with the downpayment money I have, and I would make a lot more than I do at my current gig,’” says Mr. Misenheimer. Direct mail may also present an expansion opportunity to a nearby competitor, or get passed along to a connection who just graduated or is working in an associateship.
Even a fast sale that quickly attracts buyers may require 3 to 4 months of time. Sellers or families managing a late doctor’s estate should work with a brokerage to ensure this timeline is as efficient as possible, and maintains the most value possible.
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