How to Get Buyers REALLY Excited
As a business owner, what is the one thing we all look for, universally, year after year, with no exception? Growth of course! So it’s no surprise that when it comes to selling your business, buyers are looking for growth, too. A strong three-year growth pattern is a definitive way to increase not only the price of your practice, but also its desirability, often leading to a faster sale.
Unfortunately, too many doctors allow their practice to ebb and flow over the years, enjoying the good times and making it through the lean, before deciding to retire/move/etc and then they just pop their practice on the market, with no real forethought to strategically planning for maximum value. And that is why, unfortunately, so many practices for sale are exhibiting downward growth trends.
If this is your scenario, don’t despair; Regardless of whether you are thinking of selling tomorrow or ten years from now, here are some ideas to maximize your practice’s attractiveness, growth-wise.
Keep detailed practice stats and analyze them regularly. Ideally a staff member can track this, but if that’s not an option, it’s worth your time to do this. Of course you will want to track # of new patients, # of patient visits and collections, but it pays to delve deeper.
Use spreadsheet software like Excel so you can track such things as ratio of scheduled to kept appointments (for new and established patients separately), collections per visit, service sales vs product sales, and Case and Visit Averages. When you are tracking these numbers consistently, month after month, you can not only closely watch growth trends, but also diagnose where things are falling down (lower collections and fewer kept visits? Possibly need to do more training with scheduling staff. Lower collections and lower product sales? Maybe you could do more product promotion.)
Compare your marketing to your stats. If you are using a program like Excel you can create a graph showing the trend line of these crucial numbers. If you overlay your marketing on there, do you see bumps in your growth? If not you need to change your marketing strategy! But most likely you see increases in patient visits and collections for a period, and then a corresponding drop-off a few months or so later, depending on how successful your marketing has been. If you look at this data historically, you can see:
What marketing has been the most successful
How long the ideal timeframe is between your marketing campaigns for consistent growth
Use this to strategically market for maximum growth not only before you list your practice, but while it is listed. No buyer wants to see that the owner has checked out or stopped investing in crucial marketing dollars during the home stretch.
Up your internal marketing. Do you ask for referrals? Do you have an organized system to do so? You can have a big contest where every referral who comes in gets the referrer entered in the contest to win a nice gift certificate or prize. Or each referral who comes in gets the referrer a credit to use in your office towards products or services. Give the first visit away for free, or if you must charge, at an extreme discount. Either way you will come out ahead, both dollar wise in the present, and growth wise for your practice sale.
Every morning, you and your staff go through your patient list for the day with this in mind. See the patients who have been coming in forever. They love you- ask them. New patients should be asked at specific intervals when you know they will be feeling better and excited about you, your practice, and their progress. Have something they can give their friends, be it a specially designed card or one of your existing business card with “free visit” and your signature.
You may love how this works so much that you make it a regular part of your practice. You wouldn’t be the first to do so.
What areas of your practice have potential for growth? Are there untapped markets you haven’t marketed to? Is that a lot of room on your schedule that a new, hungrier doctor could use to see more patients? Is there room in your office that could be better utilized to bring in more income through specialized therapies or services? Could you expand your patient base by taking different patient types (creating a special program and marketing specifically to cash patients if you take mostly insurance, for example.)
Ideally you would be thinking of this three to five years BEFORE selling your practice, and thus have time to implement them and reap the benefits of this growth now and at the sale of your practice. But if you are thinking in your head that you do not want to do these things, that’s okay. But it’s important for you to highlight these opportunities to your broker, or if you are selling your practice independently, to promote these as potential growth opportunities.
Finally, look for your next Big Idea for your practice. Talk to your patients and see what they’d like to see added to your practice. You never know, their brother’s chiropractor in another town might be doing something amazing that would be a perfect fit for your practice. Talk to your colleagues and research online, and see if there is a new technique, therapy or service you could implement that would be exciting to your demographic. Think out of the box of what you normally would offer, while still considering the demographics of your patient base.
If you have time to fully implement this idea, great, do so- and then do this process again shortly before you sell. Because the idea here is to create opportunities for growth. You will need to start the idea, to show some evidence of success, but the key is for it to present an opportunity for the buyer to easily expand the practice and realize the growth themselves!
If this article sparks any great ideas for growth, please share them in the comments below!