Sale Disclosure: Telling the Team

22 Nov 2021 - Simon Palmer - Practice Sales Vet Practice Sales

When a practice owner is looking to sell their practice, they will often put off telling their staff about the sale for as long as possible.  There are many reasons for this. Sometimes (often) they won’t want to tell the staff at all until after a deal has been locked in with a buyer.

When the sale is locked in and it’s time to tell the staff, the conversation is not always an easy one for the vendor to have (especially with long-standing staff). We often get asked for guidance and best practice about how to tell the staff. 

We find that this isn’t a conversation that you want to have multiple times with different staff members at different times. News travels fast within a workplace and staff members talk to each other. Telling them one at a time may mean that the people you tell last have already heard (an unreliable account) of your message.

We find that best practice is to schedule a meeting to let as many staff members know at the same time as possible. Here is an example of how this conversation with your team might be structured.

 

What to say

How to say it

  1. Introduce the meeting

“I have asked you to come here because I have some news that I need to share with you all about some changes that will be happening in the practice in the near future.

I have decided that the time has come for me to sell the practice. I have found a suitable buyer and we have recently come to an agreement.”

  1. Telling them the reason you have come to this decision to sell

“This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, but it is a necessary one due to my fatigue/health issue/desire to retire or relocate in the future.”

  1. Tell them about your plans

“Before you ask, don’t worry, I am not leaving the practice any time soon, just cutting down my days for now, and plan on taking some longer than usual holidays in the near future.”

  1. Tell them why you didn’t disclose earlier

“I would have told you earlier, but I wasn’t sure that I was definitely selling (it was only if I found the right person) and I didn’t want to worry you all needlessly.”

  1. Reassure them about the buyer

“I want you to know that the decision was made with some quality control. This practice and team are something that I am very proud of and that I would never leave it in the wrong hands.

The success criteria for finding a buyer was not just a financial decision; I also needed the buyer to be of a high calibre clinically, professionally and personally.

I feel very lucky to have found such a person.”

  1. Tell them specifics about who the buyer is

“His/her name is Dr Pat Jenkins. He/she is 40 years old, lives/is moving close by in Smithville, is married with 3 kids in a local school, loves tennis and skiing”.

  1. Tell them their jobs are secure

“I want to reassure you that the buyer wants you all to stay and will be offering you employment on the same/similar terms to your current position.

The buyer and I:

-  want to show the clients as much continuity as possible, so that their loyalty and trust in the practice continue
- will be counting on you all to help make the transition as smooth as possible. “

 

If you end the meeting here, the staff will leave with all kinds of questions and concerns in their heads about the new owner and what lies ahead. They are usually concerned that they won’t like the new boss, that their new boss won’t like them, or that their job will somehow be in jeopardy.

It is not a good idea to let them have these concerns for long. The best practice is to have a meeting set up for the staff to meet with the new owner for an introductory morning tea or lunch as soon after the above meeting as possible.

 

  1. Tell them when they can meet the new owner

If I was in your shoes, I might be anxious to meet the new buyer and see what they are like. They are keen to meet you too. We will be meeting them for lunch today across the road at XX/we will have a getting-to-know-you morning tea tomorrow”

  1. One last thing…patient communication

“When we meet them tomorrow, they will have a strategy for when and how they want to be introduced to the patient base. I am going to ask that you hold off on telling anyone until then.”