Buy or Sell Your
Optometric Practice

Sellling Your Practice or Optical Shop

Are You Considering Selling Your Optical Practice?

If you are, there is much to consider, and some preparation that must be done before you place your practice on the market.

Finding A Buyer

One of the most important aspects to consider is where you are going to find a buyer. You can try approaching folks you know, but depending upon how large your pool of acquaintances, and their readiness to buy, you may have limited success. You may not find a buyer among them, or you may be offered far less than what your business is worth. The longer that your practice or shop is known to be up for sale, the lower its perceived value. You'll be offered less for it. When your practice goes up for sale, you want to find a buyer quick. Better yet, you want to find several buyers. The prospect of missing out on a good deal is very motivating for a buyer, and you'll be able to accept the best offer.

General Business Broker

You can try selling your practice through a general business broker. That may increase exposure and the pool of prospects. General business brokers, however, won't have many qualified prospects for a highly specialized field such as ophthalmic optics. You are likely to spend time waiting for an interested prospect, and then find that they are less than motivated because what you offer doesn't match their expertise. And while your wasting time and energy with tire kickers, your practice is losing value.

Specialized Business Broker

A niche specific broker is the best choice for selling specialty businesses such as optometric practices and optical shops. Experience in the field, and a list of pre-qualified, ready prospects makes selling through a specialty broker a much quicker and easier process. A quick sale, and perhaps multiple interested parties, will help insure you get the best value and best terms for your practice.

Why Choose Web OD to Sell Your Practice or Shop

Web OD is a specialized business broker of optical shops and ophthalmic practices. Our staff has years of experience buying, selling, and owning optometric practices, and working in the legal and ophthalmic optical fields. We know how to market your business to prospective buyers - how to present its attractive features, and whom to present them to. We know the selling process and how to guide all the parties through that process to closing.

Costly Mistakes When Selling A Practice Or Shop

Keep in mind that your business has a shelf life; that it loses value the longer it stays on the market. Buyers will sometimes wait until a Doctor or owner is desperate to sell. They'll delay making an offer, and even drag out the buying process with delays and outrageous demands. As a seller, your best defense is to sell quickly and have multiple suitors.

By using Web OD as a broker, you can get better value out of the business you worked so hard and so long to build. You're specialty broker will be able to show your practice to the right buyers, in a timely manner, and facilitate the sale. Through our experience, we know the pitfalls, and will guide you around them.

Reasons To Sell Affect The Sale Conditions

Sometimes personal reasons can affect the need for a speedy sale. Speedy business sales are not ideal conditions, but proper contigency planning can mitigate the negative influence. Common contingencies calling for speedy sale include:

  • Health Issues
  • Deceased Principal
  • Family Issues (including health)
  • Financial Issues
  • Other Personal Reasons

Reasons to sell a practice other than these allow for a more relaxed pace and better bargaining position. Retirement, relocation, or even change of career allow more time to find a more motivated and suited buyer. The absense of distress on the part of the seller generally leads to a higher sale price of the business.

What's Your Goal In Selling The Shop?

One might assume that the goal of selling a practice is to get the highest value for the practice. We know this is a very myopic view. Looking at the big picture, there are other factors at play. Knowing these will help you when it comes to negiating the sale, and may even guide you in the choice of purchaser when there are competing buyers.

For instance, if your goal is to relocate, you may not even consider staying on in a part time capacity at all. Or perhaps you are tired, want to retire, but would like to keep a little busy, and would prefer to stay on in a part time capacity. Perhaps you want to liquidate your holding in the business to persue an adventure or lifelong goal. Perhaps you want to relax and would welcome the spread income of a promissory note. Perhaps the kids have grown and moved to another region, and you'd like to be around and take part as the grandchildren grow up. Selling your practice or shop would leave you comfortable and give you the free time you've worked so hard for and looked forward to for so long.

A planned exit is favorable to finding a buyer that is most suitable. You'll leave your life's work, and your trusting patients, with the best candidate to continue on. Just as importantly, you'll get your deserved value from the sale of your practice.

Preparing To Sell Your Optometric Practice

Any serious buyer is going to take a long hard look at your business. They are going to be turning over rocks and looking underneath. This may feel like an intrusion, and that is natural. Their probing questions may feel like an affront. Handling this badly can sour a sale.

The best defense is to be prepared. Have all your books in order. Clean up your business. Discard junk.

First impressions count for a lot. You want to treat the first contact with a prospective buyer like a first date. Real estate agents do something similar when staging a house for sale. The house gets emptied of junk, cleaned up. The goal is to remove distractions so the buyer can imagine possibilities.

Cleaning up is not as easy when you are running a business at the same time. But there is an advantage; the buyer can see that the practice or shop is running efficiently and is busy. So clean up working areas. Clean up the lab if you have one. Make sure the decor is clean and bright. Have the staff dress professionally and speak courteously. Don't expect to accomplish this all in one afternoon. It may take a little while to get things in order, but continue to make progress with the end goal in mind.

Proper Valuation Of Your Practice

One of the most important factors for a successful sale of an optometric practice or optical shop is having set a reasonable asking price.

Assessing the value of an optometric practice is not a simple thing. You can't just double gross revenue and expect that you'll get a ready buyer at that price. Some optical practices may sell for that, some will sell for less, and many may sell for more.

There are many factors that we look at when assessing valuation.

  • Location
  • Gross Revenue
  • Cash Flow
  • Revenue Momentum
  • Neighborhood
  • Competition
  • Reputation
  • Staff

These are just some of the factors we look at. Through 25 years of experience valuing optometric practices, we're able to come up with a good estimate of what the eventual sale price will be. The more realistic the asking price, the quicker and easier it is to find a buyer and conclude a sale. Experience has shown that unreasonble valuation results in a floundering offer that eventually sells for much less than it's reasonable value. Remember, optometric practices for sale have a shelf life. If they don't move quickly, they lose perceived value, and the available buyer, sensing desperation, will try to take advantage of the situation. Getting best value always hinges on setting the right asking price.

Ultimately, an optometric practice is worth what a qualified buyer is willing to pay for it. You want to look your best to be desirable. It's up to you to do so.

Do You Want Discretion?

If your optical staff has been loyal to you for years, as most have, they may be in shock to learn you're selling your practice. This can lead to lower morale, and sometimes performance problems. You certainly don't want strangers walking in, asking questions that upset the staff, and you don't want staff finding that their place of employment is listed for sale on the Internet.

So discretion is paramount

For most employees and competitors in a niche field such as ophthalmic optics, figuring out the identity of a business listing is not that hard, especially if they are familiar with the business listed. The listing photo is often enough for a positive identification. Sometimes the town is all that is needed to make a positive identification.

Web OD guards your privacy more carefully. Our public listing photos are obscured to prevent easy identification. We won't reveal any information to a buyer until they have completed registration with us that includes a comprehensive non-disclosure agreement and assurances that they will not engage in any disruptive behavior.

About Your Staff

In most cases, doctor and staff have been loyal to each other for many years. A doctor will want to preserve the livelihood of loyal staff.

Transitioning staff to a new practice owner is best handled gradually. When you inform them that there is a new owner coming in is up to you, and the disposition of the staff may affect the timing and the pace. You'll want to know the plans of the new owner - if they intend to retain the staff. Inform the staff that they will be meeting the new owner shortly before handover. Let them know when the handover occurs.

If the new owner does not intend to retain staff, you may decide to inform them, and let them look for other employment. There is a risk that they may leave early, and you could end up short staffed. You'll have to weigh the risk and your best interests against your loyalty to staff.

The Selling Process

The selling process for with Web OD starts with a phone call to 516 433-4224. Our receptionist will take your basic contact information and relay it to one of our specialists, who will call you back at a time convenient to you.

Our specialist will take additional information from you, and arrange for you to receive a document package including several agreements that need to be signed and returned to us. We'll also be requesting several business documents from you, which we will keep in strictest confidence. What information we disclose, and to whom, will be laid out in the document package

From that point, our specialist will perform an analysis of your practice, and determine a fair market value for your practice. You'll then have the option to proceed, or decline to proceed at the determined price.

If you decide to proceed, you'll be contacted by our marketing specialist, who will interview you on certain aspects of you practice, as well as photograph your facility. For best results, you should be certain to have at least one hour of uninterrupted time to devote to the marketing specialist. Interior photography will be done at a time when the practice is closed to patient traffic. It is best if the staff is not there at the same time either. The facility should be neat and organized for the photo session. You want to present your practice at its best. Exterior photos will be scheduled for around the same day, but exact time of exterior photography will depend upon weather and best lighting.

Web OD will then promote your practice through several venues. One venue all practices are marketed on is the Web OD web site. Your practice will have a listing on web-od.com. How much information we reveal about your practice on web-od.com will depend on the level of discretion you wish to maintain about the sale of your practice. The marketing specialist will discuss this detail with you before public listing of your practice on the Internet.

Once buyers have expressed an interest in buying your practice, and have met qualification, we will call you to arrange facility inspection, and a buyer / seller meeting. We may schedule multple meetings depending upon how many buyers have taken interest.

Once an offer has been tendered, Web OD will let you know, and you can either accept or decline the offer. Should you accept the offer, Web OD will provide both parties with all the documents necessary for transfer of ownership of the practice. We'll also co-ordinate schedules for a closing meeting.

At all times, Web OD maintains utmost discretion to avoid disrupting daily business at your active practice

Preparation

At each stage of the selling process, Web OD will advise you of the necessary preparation you have to take. Initially, you'll have to provide certain financial documents during the evaluation stage. During the showing stage, you'll have to neaten your facility and possibly your staff - called staging. We'll also coach you on poise for that meeting, and for poise and negotiation strategy for the closing stage of selling your practice.

Disclosures

It is mandatory that certain financial documents be disclosed to the prospective purchaser. Before the prospect receives any information, he / she has signed an agreement governing the treatment and confidentiality of disclosed information. Should there be a breach of contract concerning disclosure of information, Web OD will take legal action immediately. We don't expect this to be a problem, but you have our assurance that we intend to enforce confidentiality.

Concessions

It is common for buyers to try to gain concessions during, or prior to, the closing of a practice sale. Common requested concessions are:

  • Reduced Price
  • Owner Financing / Note Holding
  • Transition Period Help
  • Throw Ins (frame inventory, equipment)

Web OD will counsel you on wether to concede these demands or not, but final choice is up to you. Before we go in to closing, Web OD will counsel you on basic negotiation tactics. How well you follow them is up to you.

Lease Transfers

Co-ordinating the transfer of lease is a service that Web OD will provide in the sale process if the practice owner is not the building owner / landlord. If the seller is also the building owner / landlord, Web OD can arrange additional services such as legal services for the sale of the building, or drafting lease contracts for the new owner / tenant.

Legal Representation

Throughout the process of selling an optometric practice / optical shop, Web OD represents the seller. For expediency, we may assist the buyer with certain minor aspects, but we are contracted with and represent the seller of the optometric practice.

Tire Kickers

Web OD realizes there may be parties that are seeking information about your practice, but are only casually interested in buying it. They may not have the credit-worthiness needed to finance the purchase. They may be doing intelligence gathering for a competitor. Or they may just be trying to maneuver you into a desperate position to lower the price.

Web OD screens prospective buyers before we allow them to contact you. This firewall serves several purposes. It prevents you from getting unneccessary interuptions. It prevents the alarming of your staff or patients. It ensures their actual intention and ability to buy and run a practice. It increases the perceived value of the practice. And by having them invest effort in qualifying to buy your practice, makes them more likely to follow through with their commitment

Setbacks

Not ever deal goes through without challenges. Sometimes these challenges can be overcome through negotiations. Sometimes not.

You must always be willing to walk away from a deal if it is just not right. Web OD will never pressure you to take a deal you don't feel right about. We will counsel you honestly on the prospects of finalizing a deal, and if certain concessions need be made. We'll coach you on negotiation as well. But we will not pressure you to accept a deal that just isn't right. 

Devaluation With Time

Any practice that has been on available for sale for more than a few months has lost perceived value. No matter the reason for it remaining unsold, the perceived value declines. You never want your practice to go unsold for very long.

 Your best defense against a stagnating sale is to register with a specialized business broker. Web OD specializes in the sale of optometric practices, optical shops, and ophthalmology practices. Our resources and expert knowledge of this market makes us more likely to sell your practice or shop more quickly than you can do yourself. You'll get a better deal by engaging Web OD as agent in the sale of your practice.

The Closing

The closing meeting for the sale of your practice can be a trying and emotional time. If you've spent a lifetime building a practice, you'll be stepping away from a part of your life.

Being in an emotional state is no time to engage in negotiations without adequate representation. Emotions can keep you from acting in your best interest, or following through on a path you've already committed to yourself. With Web OD there to represent you, we can shield you from last minute contingencies designed to throw you off guard, giving up key concessions.

We'll also be providing you with the documents necessary to finalize the sale. With Web OD, you won't be going through this alone

Co-Ordination Of The Process

Selling an optometric practice requires co-ordination of schedule, and making sure all parties are prepared. Web OD handles co-ordinating all parites from the initial decision to sell through promotion, finding buyers, showing the practice, and scheduling the closing. It's our responsibility to be sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Transition of Staff

Usually, a new owner will want to retain the current staff of an optometric practice or optical shop. Once the commitment has been made to buy the practice, you'll want to find out if the new owner wishes to retain the staff. If they do, the new owner and the staff will need to be introduced to each other. This is something that's best not left as a surprise the day after closing the sale.

Sometimes the new owner has no intention of retaining the staff. This can put the owner in a difficult position of informing the staff and letting them go. You'll have to co-ordinate with the new owner, but in most cases, it is best, and the most decent, to inform the staff of the impeding change a few weeks before the transition. This give them time to find other employment. Ask them to stay on to the end if they can since you gave them the consideration of notifying them beforehand.

Liquidaton Of Unsold Assets

It is infrequent, but sometimes a new owner does not wish to take possession of all the assets of an optometric practice. They may have newer lab equipment, or wish to lease newer exam equipment. These unsold assets can present a disposal problem for the new or outgoing owner.

Through our industry connections, Web OD can sometimes arrange for the unwanted assets to be sold. If requested to find a buyer for equipment, we will try to do so, and charge a modest percentage if we find a buyer. Web OD can not be responsible for storing equipment while a buyer is located. If a buyer can not be found immediately, Web OD may opt to take possession of the equipment at a price to be determined.

Letting Go / Moving On After The Sale

Letting go of a practice you've built, something that's been your life's work, is not an easy task. You've got staff that have served you loyally for a long time. Some you may be friendly with, and will be sorely missed. You may not have made plans for what to do with all your newly found spare time.

Having plans for what to do after you retire is important. Hobbies, travel, and family can absorb much of your free time. As much activity as you can stand is also important - golf, fishing, tennis, hiking, skiing.

You may want to keep active in optical. If you are an optometrist or ophthalmologist, you may want to spend one or two days per week working. Sometimes the new owner of your practice might want to keep you on staff, and that is a frequent arrangement after the sale of many optometric practices.

Support Period For The New Owner

Some new owners may need you to stay on for a period. Sometimes this transition period is needed to show the patients you trust the new owners. Sometimes it is just to show the new owner the established office procedures, making the transfer more efficient and helping ensure continued viability of the practice. Showing the ropes is especially important if the new owner is a recently graduated optometrist or ophthalmologist. There are some things that school just can't teach, and you don't learn as a part time doctor. You'll want to make sure they are ready to manage - that they are ready to fly by the time they are fledged.

Staying on for a while is entirely a personal decision. You may not want to, or be able to. But if you can, it can be a rewarding way to transition into retirement.

Informing Your Patients

Turning over your patients to a new doctor takes a huge leap of faith. You want the best for your patients. You also want the new buyer of your practice to thrive. One way to help both is by preparing a letter or note to your old patients. They won't be upset to find you've turned over their records to new owners, and make them more likely to accept the now owners knowing that they have your blessing.

The exact detalis of this letter or note has to be co-ordinated with the new owner and how they wish to handle the transition. It's best to begin preparing a draft well in advance of the sale so it's ready for when ownership changes. It's not something that's best left as an afterthought.

 

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web od logo smWeb OD
55 Jericho Tpke.
Suite 204

Jericho, NY 11753
(516) 433-4224

© 2015 Web OD. All Rights Reserved.

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