By Steve Kikikis, Vice President, Broker
Money Pit or Cash Cow?
On occasion when a doctor purchases a practice there is also an option to purchase the real estate. Historically, real estate has been a good investment over time, but owning a commercial building has its own nuances.
There are a lot of similarities between owning a commercial building and a residential house. As the building owner or homeowner, you are responsible for paying the insurance, maintenance, and property taxes. Be sure to understand what your out-of-pocket costs are before you take on the responsibility of purchasing a property. Investing in a building or home inspection conducted by a reputable building inspector is always worth it.
Before you purchase a commercial building, know your demographics, and do your research. If a building is a steal, make sure you do some research to find out why. A commercial real estate broker that specializes in your industry can assist you in looking at the demographic information to fully understand the value of the real estate.
After you’ve purchased the practice, you are now the king of your castle and if you are business savvy, you can make a profit from owning your building. Having some knowledge of what to expect and what the pitfalls are of owning a building can save a lot of headaches down the road. For this article, we will consider that you are the owner and sole tenant of your building.
Maintenance – You’re now responsible for everything from the leaky roof, sweeping the parking lot, HVAC systems, lighting, ADA compliance, security systems, plumbing, and possibly the water and sewer mains underneath the property. The best advice is to adhere to a schedule with regular and preventive maintenance. Don’t skimp on issues that may seem small but that can turn into a bigger safety issue (both expensive and potential lawsuit if hazardous) in the long run.
A lot of potential challenges are dependent on the age of the building and how the previous owner took care of the property. You can hire a property manager to be the point of contact so you’re not distracted and can concentrate on your work. Some owners like to be involved in every decision, while others don’t want the hassle of being contacted for leaky pipes, clogged toilets, etc.
Insurance – a commercial building policy will differ from a residential homeowner’s policy on your home. A commercial policy will also have coverage for the business operations, its products, and operations liability. Much like homeowner’s insurance, the age and construction type of the commercial property will determine the premiums. Commercial insurance is also based on the neighborhood where the building is located.
Although chances are slim, some policies cover loss of income in the event of a fire or other loss of the building. These are usually additional policies that can provide peace of mind.
City ordinances – Although you may own the building, ownership doesn’t necessarily mean you can do anything you want. An example is a new building owner who wanted to utilize a specific size of a sign for his business, but the city ordinances stated a sign can be no bigger than 30 square feet. Be sure to reach out to the city before you decide to change or update the signage on your building and also verify if there are any restrictions for the exterior of your building such as signage, color, material, etc.
Taxes – There are two points on the taxes. First, for the building taxes, make sure your ownership is properly transferred to you during the purchase, and make sure that you keep up-to-date on your taxes. Set up an account directly within the municipality you are located or make sure your loan program is paying it directly. For your business taxes, owning your own commercial real estate has many tax advantages. Connect with your CPA, make sure you’re paying your real estate entity as a business expense, and more.
Money Pit or Cash Cow? There will be costs to owning your own commercial real estate, but taking the proper steps and working with an experienced commercial real estate broker that specializes in medical/dental purchases will save you time and a lot of money. Just think, if you are leasing a space, after 10 years you will be signing up for paying the landlord another 5 years of income. If you own, after 10 years, you will be working towards paying that building off and have the equity in the building.Read More
Why use a Veterinary Broker to Sell your Practice?
After many years of the hard work, long hours, and substantial investment that go into building a veterinary practice, you’re now thinking about selling the practice. It’s easy to assume that the practice will sell quickly and for a great price when you are ready to sell. Feedback from doctors who have recently sold their practices shows that the process is more complicated and stressful than anticipated. This is why it is essential to hire a veterinary broker to help guide you through the process.
Potential individual buyers and corporates will have experts who can help them navigate the sale. You will also need someone to advocate for you and help you understand the process from start to finish. In most cases, the last time you were involved in a practice sale was when you bought the practice, which means you need someone to help you navigate the process.
Benefits of Hiring a Broker
Here are just a few reasons why hiring a veterinary broker to assist with planning and selling your practice would be a sound investment.
Determining Fair Market Price
At Omni Practice Group, we have certified practice appraisers that put together a valuation to maximize a fair market sales price for the practice and real estate (if applicable).
Develop a Marketing Plan for the Practice while Maintaining Confidentiality
Omni provides confidential marketing and advertising services for your practice that do not identify you or your practice until a buyer is screened and signs a confidential Non-Disclosure Agreement. Omni also provides the financial prospectus for your practice along with confidential personal showings of the practice to potential buyers. Finding the right buyer that you will want to take over your practice can take some time. Good practices can sell quickly, but some can take months or even a year to sell.
Letter of Intent
Omni brokers negotiate on your behalf, a Letter of Intent with your approval for the purchase price of the Practice and the Accounts Receivable. Your broker will also guide you through the due diligence conditions for bank financing, help negotiate a new lease agreement, non-compete agreements, and other conditions that both the seller and the buyer will agree on. If real estate is included, your Omni broker will determine the value of the real estate with a “Broker’s Real Estate Opinion” that is used to market the real estate with the practice.
Finalizing the Sale
Your Omni broker works with you to determine a possible closing date based on whether your practice has real estate to sell or a lease that will be negotiated with the new owner. Omni’s brokers work with attorneys to finalize the Asset Purchase Agreement for both the seller and the buyer.
Omni’s 70-point-plus checklist helps guide both the seller and the buyer through the process of items to be completed prior to the sale closing.
A banker at one of the major banks recently said, “A high percentage of deals that fall apart is due to the seller not using a veterinary broker.” Using a broker typically saves sellers a lot of time, money, and headaches in selling their practices.
Omni Practice Group has been helping veterinarians for over 15 years with the planning and transitioning of their practices. If you’re thinking about selling now or in the next few years, give us a call for a “free consultation” to help you determine a plan that works for you and how we can assist with a smooth and profitable transition.Read More
By Corey Young, MBA, CVA
Let’s discuss the best approach:
- Financial Planner. A financial planner helps clients meet their current money needs and long-term financial goals. They use a structured process to guide clients toward prudent financial decisions to maximize their potential for attaining life goals. Using their knowledge of personal finance, taxes, budgeting, and investments—combined with analytical tools and data that can illustrate potential outcomes—financial planners make recommendations, which help clients make informed decisions.
- CPA. Almost everyone reading this article has a CPA. While they are an invaluable resource, over-relying on them on a consultant basis can put them in a conflicting role when it comes time to exit your business. Per Investopedia, “Although some CPA firms serve as business consultants, the consulting role has been under scrutiny following the Enron scandal where Arthur Andersen simultaneously provided audit and consulting services which affected its ability to maintain independence in its audit duties If the CPA firm is auditing the same company that the firm also does consulting work for, then there is a conflict of interest. This conflict voids the CPA firm’s independence for multiple reasons, including: (1) the CPA firm would be auditing its own work or the work the firm suggested, and (2) the CPA firm may be pressured into unduly giving a positive (unmodified) audit opinion so as not to jeopardize the consulting revenue the firm receives from the client.”
- Transition Consultant. A business transition consultant helps a business owner assess the current asset value of the business and establish its attractiveness to various buyers. A transition consultant also helps owners assess where they’re at motivationally, as professionals and business owners in their readiness to sell. The consultant then works together with practice owners to develop exit strategies that could begin in the immediate future or develop over a couple of decades. Frequently, transition consultants also serve as the broker of practice sales. This is a real plus because their work in the open market makes their recommendations much more meaningful. A widely accepted recommendation is to engage a transition consultant long before you are ready to sell. Analogous to this recommendation is diagnosis and prevention. Waiting to contact a broker when you are ready to sell is considered emergency care.
- Attorney(s). Two different types of attorneys need to be engaged at some point during a well-developed exit strategy. First, an estate planning attorney to help set up wills and trusts. Second, an experienced transition attorney when the time comes to exit the business.
- Banker. Developing a solid relationship with a banker can open doors of possibility both currently and into the future. Because of banks’ (mostly outdated IMO) hiring and retention policies, bankers tend to move around quite a bit. My recommendation is to focus on the banker more than the bank.
Who do you currently have on your team?Read More
A successful transition involves preparation and knowledge. There are numerous things you should do to get your practice ready to sell and making even one mistake can cost you. Here are five transition pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Letting your production and profitability go down prior to selling. We have seen many practices that were producing $300k to $500k a few years prior to contacting us, but collections and profit tanked when the veterinarians cut back on their hours and their associates didn’t make up the difference. This can result in hundreds of thousands in lost practice value. As you head closer to a transition, keep your production numbers, and your profit, up.
Counting on selling your practice to your associate. This always sounds like a great plan. But statistics show that over 70% of associate-to-own opportunities do not make it to a sale. What happens if your associate decides they want to practice in another town? Or your associate finds an opportunity in another practice? Protect yourself by getting everything in writing and using an intermediary if possible. In addition, consider having your associate put away money in a non-refundable escrow account.
Not evaluating all options. When we ask veterinarians if they are okay with selling to a corporate buyer, we often hear, “No way.” Here’s why you should keep an open mind. While an individual buyer may be limited to paying 2 to 4 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), some corporations are willing to pay 5 to 10 times EBITDA, and sometimes even more. We have negotiated sales to corporate buyers that got the sellers $1M more than originally expected. That’s a million dollars to help pay for grandchildren’s education, give bonuses to hardworking staff and enjoy retirement.
Telling your staff too early. A common question we get asked is, “When should I tell my staff about the sale of the practice?” We suggest waiting until the agreements are signed. Telling staff too early may result in them leaving for another opportunity. For those who stay, it creates a fear of the unknown. Who’s the new buyer? Will my job stay intact? Will my pay be the same? What about my benefits and hours? Waiting may not seem like the right thing to do, but it really is.
Going it alone. Corporate buyers are throwing out offers to potential practice sellers left and right. Some are even hiring DVMs to tell you that you do not need representation, that they will handle everything. But is their offer the best one you can get? Without representation, how would you even know? A good practice transition broker knows all the different buyer types and what kind of terms and pricing they typically offer. If you try to sell your practice on your own, you could sell to the wrong buyer for the wrong price.
These are just a few of the many pitfalls you might encounter when selling your veterinary practice. With experts on your side, you can avoid them – and other costly mistakes.
Want to make your transition as smooth as possible? We can help. Contact us for a free consultation.Read More
Timing is everything. If you would have invested $1,000 in Nike stock at its initial public offering in 1980, your investment would be worth over $190,000 today. The same can be said for many other stocks or investments. You see, the tides of the economy ebb and flow. But how does that relate to your veterinary practice?
We have been experiencing a perfect storm of sorts over the past several years. The economy has been doing well, interest rates are at all-time lows, buyers are plentiful with both corporate and individual buyers and capital gains and income tax rates are relatively stable. We’ve been on the “flow” end of ebbing and flowing with practice values at an all-time high. But when do the tides start to recede?
We can’t predict the future. But there are several things we know with relative certainty. Corporates have been paying incredible prices for practices. How long will this last? According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, corporates expect to own 25% of all veterinary practices by 2023. After that, they will slow down their purchasing of practices as fewer practices will generate enough revenue to peak their interest. Practice values will in turn go down.
We also know with a high level of certainty that both capital gains and income tax will be going up. President Joe Biden explicitly stated this during his campaign and is currently proposing this as we speak. This will affect practice sales as it’s not uncommon for a practice purchased by a corporate to sell for $2 million and higher. The proposed capital gains will be on amounts over $1 million. This will reduce the amount of funds that you take home after taxes. It could be by as much as 20% or more.
As I stated, we can’t predict the future, but we do know the present. If you are even considering selling your practice in the next 3 years, we believe it would be well worth a phone call to us for a free consultation. Selling in 2021 instead of waiting a year or two could earn you a significant amount of extra money. The cost of a phone call = $0. The cost of waiting = potentially $100,000+.
PS: If you have an offer from a corporate, call us anyways. We’ve helped a number of veterinarians get a much higher offer than their initial corporate offer.Read More