The sale of a healthcare clinic is a major milestone for any clinic owner after years of establishing & building up the practice. In fact, your possible clinic sale has likely been top of your mind for months, even years, and you’ve had ample time to process how the clinic sale will impact your personal, financial and professional life.
However, your employees (whether they be reception or clinical staff, employees or contractors) probably aren’t yet aware of your intention to sell. In fact, they might be shocked to learn that they will soon be answering to a new clinic owner. As a compassionate practice owner, you want to help ease the transition for your employees and contractors. But telling them that you’re planning to sell before a transaction is complete could jeopardize the timing and price of your clinic sale.
What do you do then?
Although there may be unique circumstances that require you to inform all reception and clinical staff about your clinic sale intentions early in the process, it’s almost always better to wait until the binding sale agreement has been finalised to bring your reception (including your Practice Manager) and clinical staff up to speed.
If you inform your clinic staff about a clinic sale too early, you won’t be able to answer many of their questions. Faced with an information vacuum, your clinic staff could fill the void with rumours or half-truths that can create panic and so disrupt the clinics productivity and maybe even to a degree harm best patient outcome. Another concern: too much advance notice may trigger mass resignation of your clinic employees and contractors. This loss of key staff can reduce the sale price of your clinic and lengthen the amount of time it takes to attract prospective buyers.
So as much as possible, it’s important to delay the announcement of the sale until a binding agreement with the purchaser is reached or even hold-off until settlement of the clinic sale.
The caveat is that it may be necessary to advise your Practice Manager or in-house bookkeeper on your decision early in the process so they can help provide information to prospective buyers. Make this decision wisely and emphasize that the information is confidential until you have advised them otherwise.
Once you’re ready to talk, there are a few things you can do to soften the blow for reception and clinical staff.
Reception and clinical staff need to be encouraged to take ownership of their roles and feel confident about their position in the clinic, no matter who owns the business. By encouraging your staff to become actively involved in important tasks, policies and procedures you are helping them build their value for the new clinic owner.
Once your clinical and reception staff recognize that the clinic can run without you, they will be better prepared to work for a new clinic owner. More than likely, you be involved in a transition period in which you’ll stay involved with the clinic after the sale has closed. This transition period allows you to make sure that the goodwill purchased by the new owner is retained as well as evolving and creating strong relationships between the new owner and your reception and clinical staff.
When you finally do sit down with your reception and clinical staff to break the news, it’s best to be positive and honest. Reinforce the message that the ownership transition is good for everybody and that you have full confidence that they will do right by the new clinic owner. If you’ve picked the new owners because they share your clinic values, culture and treatment style, explain that important fact to the staff as this will help put your staff at ease. Be prepared to answer their questions, as your clinic staff will likely have many concerns about how new ownership will impact them.