Buying or selling a vet practice: Part 4

For the acquired business – and those involved in it (whether employees or sellers with a continuing role) – the period immediately following completion will inevitably result in change of some sort, and require a degree of adaptation.

Business as usual

If you are a seller with a continuing role, clear communication with employees, suppliers and customers to avoid undue worry and disruption to operations, along with reassurance it is “business as usual” (if your role permits that), will go a long way to ensuring a smooth transition.

For the buyer, managing reactions to that change in a positive manner in the period immediately following completion will be key to the long-term success of the acquisition or merger.

It’s often said the first 100 days following an acquisition or merger is the most critical period, during which time the confidence of staff should be won, customers contacted and reassured, and systems integrated.

Hands on or off?

Generally, if former management have a retained role in the business (even if only for a few months), the integration phase will, of course, be much easier.

Otherwise, a hands-off approach from a buyer, without a physical presence within the business for the first few months, could have a negative effect on the business, from which it could be difficult to recover.

It’s often said the first 100 days following an acquisition or merger is the most critical period.

Large consolidators will very likely have a well-tested integration plan, which can be rolled out, but others should carefully plan for integration in advance of completion.

Given concerns customers might have following a sale, some integration plans of consolidators will involve not informing customers of the sale until some later.

It can often be easier to allay fears of change when people realise the change occurred six months ago and they haven’t noticed any difference in service.

Secret to your success

In short – and this may sound cliché – but success comes down to the people in the business – particularly for a veterinary practice – and how they integrate in to the new model immediately post-completion could be what makes a transaction successful.

As a final thought, two top tips to keep in mind include:

Buyers: have a plan prepared in advance of completion for the integration.

Sellers with an ongoing role: enjoy your new position as either an employee or consultant without the burden of being a business owner. Otherwise, enjoy retirement.

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