Transition Announcement and Patient and Team Retention
By Rod Johnston, MBA, CMA and Jim Vander Mey, CPA, ABI
In my experience, sellers get concerned with the “correct” time to tell their team about the transition. We recommend informing them when all documents or some are signed and there is no doubt the sale will go through. It may be 2 weeks or 2 days before closing, it depends, and your transition advisor will assist you.
If you tell your team too early, they may become stressed, confused, and unsure of their future, so they may panic and find another job and possibly tell clients or other veterinarians. None of this is good! Your team and clients are important to the goodwill of your practice.
When you do announce the new buyer, remind the team that they love their teammates and patients and that isn’t changing. Explain a bit about the new veterinarian and schedule time for them to meet. Help them feel confident that the transition will be great, and the new veterinarian will need their assistance for everyone to be successful. If you are going to continue to work for a period of time in the practice, let them know that and say, “I’ll be here to assist in the transition to make sure it goes smoothly”.
A letter to clients is typically sent from the seller with the buyer’s approval. Depending on both the buyer and seller and the unique area, a newspaper ad can be placed, and an open house can be scheduled. The letter should emphasize your appreciation of serving them as their veterinarian over the years and also tell clients how happy you are that you found a great veterinarian, or group if it’s a corporate buyer, to take as good of care of the clients and patients as you did. Your transition advisor will provide ideas and examples to help you choose the best method for announcing the transition.
Clients may be unsure of the new buyer, so if you are in the office “brag” him or her up a bit. Post the letter at the front desk and have copies on tables so the clients can read about the new buyer while they wait. It’s important that the buyer of your practice not make any large changes in the practice and mirror you and your philosophy as much as possible. This will help make the transition seamless.
The new team will be concerned about the new buyer’s expectations so consider not changing much in the practice for a while, so they have a chance to transition and become comfortable. Provide information they won’t know such as how to schedule and what instruments you need for each procedure. Help everyone to be successful in their position.
Remember to remind your team often that everything is ok. Consider having one-on-one meetings with each new team member and ask specific questions. “What keeps you coming here every day? What’s one thing you would change in the practice if you could? Can I count on you to bring questions and concerns to me rather than involve the entire team?”
Transitions can be stressful. Work with your transition advisor that has many experiences and ideas to share to help everyone be successful.