Ask Anne: “Why should my broker become my best friend?”
One of the things that can deter would-be vendors from selling their practice is the prospect of dealing with a wide variety of third-party organisations. For many sellers, particularly those still working in practice, the thought of having to juggle accountants, solicitors, brokers and other agencies as well as maintaining a normal case-load, is simply overwhelming.
As a broker with over 17 years’ experience in the market, and as someone who recently sold my business (when MediHoldings became a Henry Schein company), I can empathise with this. However, there are various things that can be done to mitigate the sheer volume of work involved in selling a practice and in this process a good broker can really be your best friend.
Time is of the essence when selling a practice and it’s important to be surrounded by professionals who understand your needs and wants and who are as committed to a speedy process as you are.
Choosing the right solicitor is vital if time lines are to be met. Recommendation of a solicitor based on their current workload is made easy through a dedicated ‘Solicitors panel’, giving the ability to put forward those who are able to work at a pace set by the vendor, rather than that set by their other clients.
Similarly, with accountants it’s important to work with a broker who will do much of the hard work for you. Your broker should know if your practice is going to take 12 weeks to sell - or even a year - and should advise you accordingly so that a realistic exit strategy can be planned.
Like price, deal structure is negotiable, but is also essential to any deal progressing to completion. It’s not just about finding the right buyer, it’s about brokering the deal. Both the individual needs of the sellers and buyers must be taken into account in structuring the transaction in the most appealing manner for both parties’ and to ensure “a fair deal”. A respectable broker should have an in-depth knowledge of buyers in your area, be able to identify who is most hungry for the business in order to maximise the sale and be capable of obtaining a price that is deemed fit in order for the Principal to either retire or reach an agreed “earn out” period.
Planning the transition of a practice sale is one thing, but navigating a way through the lengthy CQC application process is something else entirely and thanks to its complexity there are many aspects that can go awry. Many agencies and solicitors can charge anything between £400 to £1200 for this service which is why it makes sense to look to a company who are willing to take on the task themselves by offering a complementary CQC consultancy service to their clients, to ensure that the process can be completed as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
Transparency and communication are key values for brokers and keeping clients up to date with progress is essential. It’s important to keep sellers engaged in the process and the more the broker can help to streamline, the better result we achieve in the long run. Once a practice is for sale I would expect that the vendor is contacted every day if necessary but at least once a week for a progress report.
When acting as a broker it is incumbent on me to establish a relationship of trust with my client. I do this in order to understand what the client wants, so I can best advise on the route to take, ensuring the seller is fully aware of the sales journey they need to travel and to help remove as much aggravation and stress as possible along the way.