How to Find a Decent Prospect to Buy Your Clinic- Part One
We speak to a lot of doctors who have been trying to sell their clinic for months- sometimes years- and some have never had a single interested prospective buyer. Many have had only terribly unqualified buyers who really want to become associates, or want the seller to owner finance 95% of the purchase price. And all of them are utterly dismayed at how long the process of even finding a prospect is taking.
Does this sound familiar? And if you aren’t currently living it, does it sound like your worst nightmare?
Unfortunately, all of the above scenarios are really common.
So how does one go about finding a doctor who is qualified to buy your clinic on all levels: experienced, financially has the resources or is able to obtain financing, and will be a good fit to treat your patients?
Well, whether you are represented by another broker or you are trying to sell your clinic yourself, there are a few things you can do to increase your odds. Today we are going to
just get into one of them, because it is so important…
List your clinic more frequently!
How often has your practice listing been posted to the online listing sites (the schools, planet chiropractic, relevant techniques, associations, etc)? Go to these sites and so some searches and see what you can find- if you have a broker, you might be surprised by the results.
It’s sad to say, but many brokers, instead of frequently listing your clinic for sale, are relying on prospective buyers to search through months of ‘practice for sale’ listings to find your clinic. They are counting on the fact that a prospective buyer will use search terms to find your clinic, so they think it doesn’t matter how long ago it was listed. And they are counting on the fact that ‘everyone else is doing the same thing’ so it’s okay to just list a practice every few months or a few times a year.
But this is NOT okay if you want to sell your clinic.
Let’s look at what is wrong with these assumptions. Practice listing sites all have different structures, making them hard to search in a consistent way, so many prospective buyers just browse new listings. Additionally, the buyers we most frequently deal with are doctors who are actively treating patients, frequently associates; this is not a demographic known to have an excess of free time. Do you really want to rely on them sifting through dozens of pages of practice listings to get to your clinic details? And if they actually make it to, say page 37, will the prospective buyer be so burnt out on the process and possibly skip right over a listing that would have interested them if it had been on an earlier page? I think it’s highly possible.
And let’s not forget a valuable opportunity you are missing if you are counting on someone searching out your clinic: the geographically open-minded buyer. Almost every prospective buyer we talk to has several states they are considering for clinics, and many of them are open to attractive opportunities we present to them in areas that weren’t initially on their list. If your listing is not fresh and near the top of the list, you never know who might have been interested had they seen it.
Also, relying on prospects using search terms to find you means your listing needs to be optimized with all possible words someone might use, and this is a pretty time consuming process that typically only someone very familiar with the area can adequately accomplish.
For example, I live in Austin, so if I was listing a clinic in Austin I might include ‘Austin, Texas’ in my ad. But what about the people searching in San Antonio, which is only 1 hour away? They might be swayed by my clinic if they knew about it. Or what if they searched for ‘TX’ but I didn’t use the abbreviation in my listing. Or what if I listed my clinic as being in Cedar Park, Texas (a suburb of Austin) forgetting to mention Austin altogether? Not to mention typos in either my ad text or the persons search terms. Typically, if an ad is optimized for search terms it will have a list of areas and keywords at the end to encompass any possible iterations someone might search for- and I have never seen a chiropractic practice for sale listing optimized like this.
And lastly, let’s address the ‘this is what everyone else is doing’ idea. Historically, it’s true that listing clinics every few months has been the status quo, with a couple times a year being all too common as well. In fact, many doctors who have paid a broker $1000 to represent their clinic actually list their own ads just to keep the postings fresher! Of course, there are around 20 possible site to list a clinic for sale, all with different postings schedules, so most doctors don’t have the time to keep all of those postings fresh and current.
But guess who does? Us.
We post more aggressively than anyone else in the industry, optimizing your exposure on each relevant site by posting as often as they will let us. Why? Because I remember having my own clinic for sale and trying to find the listing… and it was around page 20! I was FURIOUS- and that’s where the seeds for Progressive Practice Sales were first sowed. It was time for someone to do better because selling your clinic is a big deal and it needs to be treated that way, not as someone’s afterthought.
But, in some ways, I actually understand where these other brokers are coming from- they have never stood in your shoes, practicing in a clinic when you really need to be somewhere else, trying to keep the numbers up while you are sick, or suffering from burnout, or really should have retired a few years back. They don’t know what that feels like, praying that the investment you have poured your heart into for years won’t drop in value as the process of finding a buyer drags on. We have sold three of our own clinics, each time with a pressing need to do something else. We get it. It’s personal to us. So we treat your clinic sale like we wanted someone else to treat ours. It’s that simple.
There’s more to finding a prospective buyer than this, of course- but this is a really solid start. Do some investigating to see when your clinic was last listed, and on how many sites. Then check out some of our listings by searching those same sites for ‘www.progressivepracticesales.com’. I think it will be obvious there is room for improvement.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect buyer for your clinic, we’d love to talk with you and see if some of our marketing strategies can speed up the process for you, and help you to move on to your next adventure!
And stay tuned for part 2 of this article, where we further delve into how to find not just a decent prospect, but an ideal candidate to buy your clinic.