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Looking Toward the Future: 10 Steps You Must Do Before Selling Your Practice

In the course of your career, you might decide to sell your practice. There are ten important aspects of your practice that you should consider NOW, so that when the time arrives, you will have developed a truly marketable practice.

1. MAINTAIN STRONG REFERRAL SOURCES

Professional respect has value. Do you have good relationships with other professionals in your community? You should. If so, are those relationships so strong that you can transfer them to a new owner?

For example, if you have several professionals who continually refer patients/clients to you, you would want to ensure that those referral sources will continue to send patients/clients to the new owner. Otherwise, the buyer might want to discount the practice price by the amount that would be lost from not getting referrals from just those few sources.

Most professionals will continue to refer to the practice after your departure, as long as they are assured that those clients/patients they refer will receive the same good care that you currently provide them. It is also important for your referral sources to know that the new owner will reciprocate with referrals to them (assuming that is the type of relationship you currently have).

Keeping up with and then transferring these relationships will help your patients/clients too. That maintains continuity and quality of care for them, which will help them to always think well of you.

2. MAINTAIN FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT

Everyone is inclined to pay more for something if it looks attractive. The same principle applies to buying a practice. If your facilities are pleasing to the eye, you might be able to command a higher price. While a clean carpet is only just that, it might demonstrate to the buyer that every aspect of your facility and practice is probably well maintained.

Well-maintained, state-of-the-art equipment also speaks well of you. It says that you have a growing practice that is keeping in step with technology.

3. INCREASE YOUR GROSS SALES

The best indicator of the value of a practice is its cash flow. Your successor will want assurance that he is acquiring a reliable income stream. Now is the time to concentrate on reactivation of old patients/clients, increasing your marketing budget to attract new patients/clients, setting goals for the staff and moving the practice toward maximum productivity.

4. IMPROVE YOUR BOOKKEEPING RECORDS

Part of selling a practice requires that you develop and present an accurate picture of what you have accomplished. You will want to be able to disclose good financial figures. Plan to have at least five years’ worth of good financials because the buyer wants predictability. Have an outside professional prepare “compiled statements.” That adds credibility. The practice buyer will find that well-maintained, accurate accounting records help with forward planning. Additionally, good records can even help you explain a slump period.

5. DEVELOP A TRANSITION PLAN

Very few practice owners supply the buying owner with a transition plan. If you were to do that, you will be far ahead of other owners who want to sell their practices. You should develop a plan because it not only can increase the worth of your practice, it can make life easier for everyone. Put the transition plan in writing, then review and outline all the systems and how they work. The marketing plan, referral sources, management policies and accounting systems should all be put down in narrative form.

Indicate a time frame in which the practice will be transferred to the new owner. That will give him an idea of how long he will have to learn the ropes. Don’t expect to make the deal and run with the money. An adequate time frame to transfer a practice in which you will be working side-by-side with the new owner, will range from 30 to 120 days, depending on the size and complexity of the practice.

Part of an effective, valuable transition plan can involve a good loan package. It shows that you have put together a transition plan that is easily understood by a third party. It indicates that you have a good relationship with the bank. That can enhance the value of your practice, since the banker knows that the systems will remain in place and generate cash flow to repay any loans.

Fill out the form to the right to continue reading “10 Steps You Must Do Before Selling Your Practice – Part II”(highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Fill out the form to continue reading this article 10 Steps You Must Do Before Selling Your Practice – Part II (highly recommended).








Strengthen Your Appointment Control

Minimize Cancellations

Cancellations and missed appointments are one of the biggest frustrations in any practice and result in lowered production and lost revenue. Cancellations and missed appointments are typically symptoms of other underlying problems. This may be a nonverbal way that the person is telling you that he or she is not satisfied with the service received.

Shown below are some suggestions to help reduce no-shows, cancellations and reschedules. The first key to controlling appointment compliance and smooth patient or client flow is for the receptionist to fully understand that the appointment book has been placed in their hands, and they are fully responsible for its handling. The following points will help the receptionist perform their duties in this regard:

  • Ensure that you are fully aware of what the appointment policies of the practice are, and see to it that you are trained to apply those procedures.
  • Utilize your “General Policy” statement to educate patients or clients on the necessity of keeping their appointments.
  • You must have the honest and genuine attitude that you really care about this person, and you know why it is important for them to set and keep their appointment for their recommended care. You must be committed to good health and good service for the patient or client, and know that the appointment for the recommended treatment is necessary. Fully communicate this attitude with the person that you are talking to, especially when setting appointments.
  • Always call any patient or client immediately if they do not arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled appointment. Find out from the person if something is wrong that caused him or her to miss the appointment. Convey a caring “time is valuable” attitude to the person, and let them know that you want to work with them to ensure that they can make it in.
  • When a patient or client calls to cancel, investigate diplomatically to discover the real reason why they are canceling. Many times you’ll find it is a financial consideration, or a lack of understanding about why they need the recommended care.
  • Really listen to what they are saying to you. In this way you will be able to work with the person to help resolve the real underlying problem. Never assume you know what the problem is. Work with your patients or clients to remove the barriers that are preventing them from adhering to the scheduled appointments. When you have found the real reason for the cancellation, you then must handle it so that the person does, in fact, keep the appointment.

Fill out the form to the right to continue to read this article: “Strengthen Your Appointment Control – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Fill out the form to continue reading this article Strengthen Your Appointment Control – Part II (highly recommended).








The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys

Surveys can save you time and wasted effort. By properly utilizing surveys, you will not be shooting in the dark when you implement a new idea. You will not be left wondering why people are not coming back to your practice. You will know what your public needs and wants, so you can provide exactly that.

Have you ever come up with a “great” new idea, implemented it, and when nothing significant or productive occurred as a result, found yourself tearing out your hair wondering what went wrong? Or even worse, tearing out the hair of your staff because “new patients are down!”

Have you pondered over why new patients have dropped off even though you’re doing the same things that you have always done? It might be possible that the things you and others have been doing for many years are no longer effective. These scenarios are likely due to a failure to survey.

There are answers to marketing problems that you simply cannot procure from any source other than your clients/patients themselves. The motto in marketing is “know before you go,” if you don’t “know,” what the problem is, your patient surveys will tell you where to “go”.

Constructing the Survey

Although surveys will vary from practice to practice, there are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Indicate to your patient why you are doing a survey, and thank them for participating.
  2. Ask only relevant questions in your survey. Restrict your questions to important factors that will actually tell you if what you are doing is effective, or actions you can change for the better.
  3. Keep the survey brief. Write the survey so that it takes no more than 3-5 minutes to complete. If the survey is too long, your patients may feel annoyed, overburdened, bored or will not respond.
  4. Construct a survey that asks for specific answers. Create questions that provide you with information rather than having only “yes” or “no” answers.
  5. Allow patients the option to remain anonymous if they so choose.
  6. Provide a way for them to receive a response to their questions or input if they desire.
  7. If appropriate, set a deadline for the receipt of the surveys. Tell participants why you have a deadline and when it is.
  8. Graciously thank your patients for taking their time to fill out the survey.
  9. For mail-out surveys, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Recipients will be much more likely to send it back to you.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Survey of Optometrists

SURVEY OF OPTOMETRISTS SHOWS FINANCES AND STAFF AS MAJOR PROBLEMS AFFECTING GROWTH

In the second in a series of articles addressing surveys The Practice Solution Magazine has conducted on the optometry, veterinary and dentistry professions, we are releasing the results of the optometry survey. Our surveys are conducted one-on-one by our trained survey team with doctors all across the United States and Canada.

The benefit of doing these surveys on the phone, rather than by questionnaire, is the ability to get all the questions answered in detail. This makes the The Practice Solution Magazine survey a bit more unique as a thorough analysis can be done of the responses.

A wide diversity of practitioners was surveyed. This ranged from doctors just starting out to doctors who have practiced for over 40 years. Fifty seven percent of those surveyed are in solo practices. Seventy two percent of those surveyed have less than five staff members.

Our survey of optometrists clearly showed that staff and financial problems are what doctors consider the primary barriers affecting the expansion and viability of optometric practices. Nearly three quarters of the doctors surveyed believed those were their most serious problems. As discussed below, these two key problems are only the outward symptoms of a much more basic underlying factor.

These problems have resulted in time consumption and lost efficiency amongst 41% of respondents while 26% felt it directly affected their bottom line. Twenty two percent believed that it resulted in stress and an overworked environment

Most of the doctors surveyed stated they didn’t learn enough in graduate school to run a practice and one hundred percent wanted more business courses to be taught in graduate school. This is indicative of the overall responses that show staff issues and finances are the key problem areas.

This also addresses the true underlying reason why the great majority of our respondents experience these financial and staff management problems. Without proper business training, it is completely expected that doctors, on the whole, would be unable to truly manage staff or finances appropriately. And, thus, the above symptoms of this lack of training are so strongly evident. One doesn’t expect an untrained lay person to be able to perform the duties of a trained doctor. Likewise then, why should a person trained to be a doctor, but never trained in business management, be expected to be competent and conversant with all the issues and problems with running a business – which is what a healthcare practice is.

To rectify not gaining an adequate education in school, seventy five percent said they attend seminars, business courses, lectures and other forms of continuing education (CE). We’ve found that many doctors spend a tremendous amount of time pursuing the education they needed to receive in school.

One disturbing figure was that over one quarter of those surveyed forgo all training and attempt to learn the business side solely by trial and error. That one out of every four doctors surveyed are “managing by chance” is cause for concern. While not true in every case, a lack of pursuit of some form of practice management education is a significant contributing factor in the struggle and sometimes failure of so many practices and businesses in the first few years of operation.

The Practice Solution Magazine has already started a new evolution of surveys for optometrists and we plan on releasing the results of that in the coming year.