How to Find a Practice For Sale

On September 9, 2012, in opportunities, by Dan

If we’ve made a good enough case for the benefits of buying a practice, then you might be wondering how to find one.

The classifieds sections of your association website or professional journal are obvious places to start. These “listed” practices have a couple of benefits. They’re clearly for sale, and the sellers may be quite motivated–they’ve made up their minds, and are ready to take action.

There are a few of drawbacks to these listings, though.

  1. Not all practices are listed. In fact, my sense is that, like jobs, most available practices aren’t listed at all. The one we bought wasn’t.
  2. Listed practices aren’t necessarily the best ones. Practices for sale may have more people competing to buy them–that tends to drive up the price and complicate the process. They also may be for sale because they’re difficult to run successfully.

So while it’s smart to check the obvious listings, it’s also smart to look elsewhere.

But…where exactly is elsewhere?

Practices for Sale That Aren’t “For Sale”

The best place to find a practice for sale is to look at all the ones that aren’t for sale. The truth is that many people don’t consider selling their practice–not because they wouldn’t, but because it seems unlikely, or too difficult. And many people who have considered it haven’t done anything about it–often because it’s a big commitment leap, and also because in some markets, they don’t want the word to get out.

Your job is to plant a seed of possibility in the minds of these practitioners.

When you do that, two things can happen:

  1. A practitioner who has never considered selling begins to consider the possibility. They talk to their friends or family, perhaps. They start to imagine retirement, moving to a new area, starting again, or changing careers.
  2. A practitioner who has considered it but never done anything about it suddenly is presented with a very real, very simple, opportunity.

Planting the Seed: How to Comfortable Approach Other Practitioners

What we’re essentially talking about is asking other practitioners if they want to sell their practice. The challenge is that the idea of calling someone up out of the blue and asking feels kind of squishy. And asking someone point blank doesn’t really give them a chance to think it through. What we want is a way to reach out and plant the seed, but make it comfortable for everyone. Here it is:

Step 1: Build a Local Practitioner Database. This is easy. Get an email address and phone number for every practitioner in your field. Put them in a spreadsheet.

Step 2: Email Each of Them IndividuallyThe simplest, non-squishiest to make contact is to simply email people. The idea is simply to ask them if they know of anyone else who might have a practice for sale. This is a far easier pitch to make for you, and it’s very non-confrontational. Doing it by email gives them a chance to think about it, then you can follow up with a call. Here’s some sample text you can use. You can tweak to fit your scenario. In this case, we’re a new practitioner, fresh out of school, moving to the area:

Hi Susan,

I recently  completed my licensing exams, and will be opening my first practice in Healthsville this fall

I know that attracting new clients could be expensive and time-consuming. I thought I might be able to find a practice for sale that I could buy to help me get started.

Do you happen to know of anyone who might be retiring, or considering selling their practice for any reason? If you have a few minutes for a short call, I’d love to get your advice.

Thanks for your help,

Dan

Non-threatening, simply asking for help. Easy to break the ice, but enough to plant the seeds.

Each email should be personalized – don’t send your email out in bulk to everyone. You can use similar text, but send each one individually. It takes no time at all to send personalized notes to twenty people.

Step 3: Arrange a Follow Up Phone Call. The follow up call is important. Even if they don’t have any ideas, they might suggest you ask someone else local. You can then approach that person with a reference name, which makes things even easier.

One in Six?
With students, I use the completely-unsubstantiated figure that any place with six or more practitioners has a practice for sale–it just needs to be found. I’m making that number up based on some vague spider sense, but I’ve had several new practitioners tell me that it’s held up for them. Regardless, there are almost always practices for sale that aren’t listed. You just need to plant the seeds!

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