Why the heck would a veterinarian sell a veterinary practice? Here are some answers we’ve gotten from veteran DVMs.

Reasons for wanting to sell your practice

What they’ve said usually starts out with something like this:

“I love veterinary medicine, and I’m proud of the veterinary practice I’ve built…”

Then comes the inevitable ‘but.’

Most of these ‘buts’ fall into the same handful of categories. If you’re a veterinary practice owner, maybe one or two of them will resonate with you.

“…BUT I’m thinking about retirement. It may be time to sell my veterinary practice.”

Owning and running a veterinary practice is about as far from a 9-to-5 job as it gets. No one can or should keep going under that kind of pressure forever. Besides, there are roses to stop and smell! And hard-working, dedicated veterinary practice owners have truly earned and fully deserve that reward.

However, you absolutely need a plan that includes making a satisfying financial—and emotional—exit from your veterinary practice when the time is right and you’re ready. To figure out that plan, start by asking yourself what you want to accomplish by selling your veterinary practice. Then enlist the aid of a company that specializes in selling, buying, and being a partner to veterinary practices. That would be us: AmeriVet.

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“…BUT I’m dealing with a serious health issue and have to adjust my priorities. I really need to look at a potential buyer for my veterinary practice.”

Dealing with the impact of a major health problem can be life-changing—literally. It can drain away your time. Your physical and mental stamina. Your finances. And ultimately, your ability to run your veterinary practice the way you always have. Obviously, the best time to take control is before it gets completely out of control. So to sell your veterinary practice to the right buyer, at the right time, for the right price, enlist the aid of a specialist that can help you find a way through this. That would be us: AmeriVet.

“…BUT my partner, who was a DVM, has passed away. I can’t—and don’t want to—keep the animal hospital going by myself. I need to sell the veterinary practice.”

It’s hard enough coping with the loss of a loved one. When the grief and emotional turmoil is compounded with uncertainty and worry about the financial implications, it makes everything even worse. Sadly, it often leads to legal procedures that force those left behind to either shut down the veterinary practice—or rush and sell it at a too-low price. This is awful. This is unfair. This is not right. You need a company that sees it as an ethical duty and has the ability to protect and guide you through the process of selling a veterinary practice. That would be us: AmeriVet.

“…BUT I’m feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of owning a veterinary practice coming at me non-stop. I need to get out before I burn out. One thing has become very clear: I need to put my veterinary hospital up for sale.”

You know what any given day at a veterinary practice is like: The hours are long. The stress is high. The interruptions and emergencies never stop. Clients sometimes have impossibly high expectations of you. Then there’s the accounting, the legal stuff, the recruiting, the marketing, the hiring and firing, the supervising, the cost of keeping up with technology, the debt collecting, the governmental regulations, and the taxes. Plus, at times, the financial stability of just about any veterinary practice can be under fire. So it’s not all that surprising (and quite understandable) when a veterinary practice owner starts looking for an escape route. If that’s the case for you, take a moment. Breathe. Then call a company who can help you get through this and find a path forward—in a calm, rational way. That would be us: AmeriVet.

“…BUT at heart, I’m an entrepreneur, and I have this idea that I want to try—if only I had the time for both it and the veterinary practice. Now that would be sweet.”

Trying to find a balance between two important things can sometimes feel…well…unbalanced. There never seems to be enough time, enough resources, or maybe even enough of your own energy to make it work. Okay. Got it. But now, what if someone told you that there was actually a way to be both a veterinary practice owner—and also take that other leap into The New? What if they told you what you needed was a partner with a combination of creative thinking, financial pragmatism, and a deep and broad understanding of the veterinary business itself? And what if that partner was a company who had the experience and ability to pick up some of the burdens of your practice—which would help you find the time to give your idea a real shot? If your answer is “tell me more!”—well, you know what to do: Ask AmeriVet.

“…BUT I’m going through a major change in my personal life right now. The only realistic way out is to sell my veterinary practice.”

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that there is nothing certain in life. Marriages begin—and sometimes end. Good health is not necessarily forever. Long-time friendships that are also business partnerships crumble. You find out that what you always thought you wanted—really isn’t. And sometimes, expectations and projections slam up against unfortunate circumstances beyond your control. So if you’re experiencing one of those turbulent upheavals in life right now, hit ‘pause.’ Then take a step towards what can be a much better place on the other side of the situation. Ask for help and guidance in making the sale of your veterinary practice as streamlined and positive as possible. Ask AmeriVet.

“…BUT I just can’t see myself practicing veterinary medicine for the rest of my life. I’ve been thinking—a lot—about mixing things up. Or possibly selling my veterinary hospital and going in a whole other direction.”

Okay. So you went through veterinary school because you really wanted to treat animals. After that, you got experience working for someone else. Then you opened your own veterinary practice. But somehow, someway, something shifted and got away from you. Maybe you aren’t fully in control of your veterinary practice anymore; maybe, instead, it’s controlling you. Or maybe it’s just not satisfying and fulfilling enough anymore. You want to try something different. Something new. Or maybe you just want to find another way to treat animals that doesn’t include running your own veterinary practice. We get it—we really do. That’s why we have a lot of expertise in helping veterinarians like you free yourself from what you don’t want. And head towards something that you do. We can tell you about career options and opportunities that you may not have even considered as possibilities. If this sounds interesting, then don’t put it off. Ask AmeriVet.

“…BUT it feels like the time is coming to sell my veterinary practice and move on to what’s next. But here’s the deal: I’ve never sold a business before. So I think I need to get a handle on how to proceed. I don’t want to make any assumptions.”

There is a life cycle for every veterinary practice. Even if it’s big and successful, eventually the practice owner is going to have to find a buyer and sell it, or find a successor, or (if all else fails) shut it down. Which means there’s this critical gap between the time you first think about selling your veterinary practice and when you complete the sale. What you do during that gap—preparation-wise—can make all the difference in finding the right buyer. Now, there’s no set time as to how long the gap is. It can be several months or several years. Something else to keep in mind: what a potential buyer wants in the outcome is important, too. One example of that? It’s pretty common for a buyer to want an owner to stay on for a specified period of time and help make a smooth transition from one practice owner to another. This makes the changeover easier for all those involved—including your staff and your clients. So if that’s the case, this might impact your desired exit time. Yes, selling your practice is just like practicing veterinary medicine: thoughtful, thorough preparation is essential! And that’s what we specialize in at AmeriVet.

“…BUT I want to get the best possible purchase price when I sell my veterinary hospital. What goes into determining its valuation? The gross revenue? The EBITDA? The real estate? The equipment, technology, and furnishings? And what about the intangible assets? They’re ‘priceless’ but have real value—like my excellent, experienced staffers, the hundreds of loyal pet owners, and all the blood, sweat, and tears? They’re a huge part of what’s made this practice successful.”

But how much is your practice worth?

There’s a paradox, a phenomenon, built into veterinary practices that treat small animals: They all offer healthcare for pets. Yet no two are exactly alike. There are so many possible variables, so when you ask ‘how much is my practice worth?’, you can expect to have to factor in several things before you get a realistic veterinary practice appraisal.

Here are some of the assessments, methods, and tools that are used in establishing a fair market value for a veterinary clinic:

  • The EBITDA—the financial world’s acronym for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization
  • The potential market value in your area
  • Your cash flow
  • Your own exit strategy and how it meshes with the potential buyer’s
  • Payment terms
  • Your tax returns
  • Your financial statements
  • The quantity and quality of your competitors
  • The real estate “law” about price being based on 3 things: location, location, and location
  • Urban or rural practice / in a big city or small community
  • Your net operating income
  • Your profit margin
  • The capitalization
  • Any existing partnership agreements, lease agreements, vendor contracts, etc.
  • Your physical building, furniture, equipment, and technology
  • Any rental income involved
  • A clear-eyed, objective review of your practice management
  • The state of the veterinary industry when your practice is ready to be put up for sale
  • Even the general economy in your community, your state, and the nation at the time you put your veterinary practice on the market can have an impact.

What it all comes down to is this: If you want to get a better return on what you’ve invested in your practice, do your due diligence. Find the right people who’ll help take you through the sale process. They’ll know all the ins, the outs, and the roundabouts of helping you determine the right price at the right time when selling your veterinary practice. So that everybody—especially you—ends up happy, with no regrets. Just ask AmeriVet. We’ve been down this road quite a few times. And we can definitely help you avoid the potholes and dead-ends.

BUT now…it’s your turn.

Do you relate to any of this? Or know a veterinary professional who would? Then here’s a suggestion: Learn a little bit more about AmeriVet. Take a look-see at our website. Check out our social media. And feel free to ask around about us, too. You might be surprised at how much we understand. And how much AmeriVet can help. Just ask.