The sale of your practice is one of the most significant transactions you will ever make. It is therefore important to make any decisions about a sale of all or part of your business from a fully informed position.
Sadly, the reality is that many of the owners that have gone before you have failed to do this and have come unstuck. We know this, because over more than two decades of helping owners of optical businesses to prepare for and to execute sales, we are often asked for help when a deal has come off the rails. In addition, a good number of owners have suffered from poor advice or guidance.
This guide is designed to address this issue and to ensure that you have a credible source of knowledge to help you utilise the right strategy.
The following high-level guide sets out to provide the answers to the mostly frequently asked question on the subject of optical practice sales.
When should you start to plan your practice sale?
In an ideal world, the sale of a practice is done as part of a carefully planned and executed exit strategy. The earlier you engage with us, the greater the value we can potentially add.
For this reason, we often work with clients anywhere from 2-7 years prior to their planned sale to help them build and prepare their practice to achieve an optimal outcome.
However, we understand that life does NOT always go to plan - and that plans change.
Practice sales are sometimes triggered by unexpected events. These include things like divorce, ill health or even the death of an owner or partner, as well as less dramatic events, like a change of attitude or motivation by an owner towards their business.
To address this and serve the needs of our clients, we have developed a fully managed practice sale service that can still add significant value to our clients - even when they have not engaged in any formal exit planning prior to selling.
Do I need to use a broker or intermediary?
In some circumstances it may be possible to sell a practice without using a broker or other intermediary.
On face value this may sound attractive as it avoids paying a fee or commission to a 3rd party. Indeed, many acquirers will highlight this as a key benefit of selling to them direct.
However, brokers are in business for a reason. A good broker can add significant value to your transaction in a number of different ways.
How do I choose a broker or intermediary, and what services should they offer?
The role of business brokers is frequently misunderstood as being simply a matching service or introducer. A credible specialist optical business broker should provide the following roles and associated benefits:
- Provide a professional confidential service
- Providing an up to date and accurate valuation of your optical business
- Acting as a "market maker"; identifying any potential strategic purchasers and pitching the price and terms at the right level, then introducing you to the right potential buyers, in the right sequence to put you in the driving seat to create optimal competition.
- Ensuring that all of the key commercial terms are clearly set out BEFORE an offer is accepted and passed on to you
- Help source finance for buyers
- Manage and troubleshoot the deal
A good broker should be able to provide you with a demonstrable track record of delivering on all of these services, with experience of selling practices in a similar location at a similar scale to your business.
In life you tend to get what you pay for. If you are take short cuts, or opt for the cheapest option then it is likely to prove to be a false economy.
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