If Only I Could ….
Throughout each year we meet with numerous practitioners who are weighing up whether now is the right time to depart their practice. For many that means an external practice sale. This is often a combination of evaluating likely price and proposed activities post sale, versus what could or would be achieved by hanging round for a bit longer. Often the story goes something like this.
As explained by the practitioner,
I’m now ‘X’ years of age (commonly in their mid- sixties to early seventies) and I’ve had my practice for many years.
Revenue has tended to be around the same level for at least the last couple of years, I find growth tough and some of my older clients are starting to sell their businesses and retire which will reduce their annual fees. I am getting tired, I would ideally like to work less and not attend the offices quite as much.
I have some good staff however they are or may get frustrated that I’m not around as much. I do no marketing and don’t utilise any paid advertising. I’m not on social media etc. BUT, if I could just start attracting some new, perhaps younger clients, I could get some fee growth and would perhaps feel a little more revitalised to continue on for another couple of years.
Now, I’m sure as most of us read the scenario above we are nodding our heads because this is either us or we know colleagues just like it. Of course, the first point that we like to raise in such discussions is how are you going to achieve whatever the proposed task is likely to be?
Secondly, how likely are you to actually move forward and implement the proposed actions? This is probably the hardest point. If you are tired, out of energy, prefer to spend less time at your firm and so on, how likely are you REALLY to turn all of that around, implement a desired plan and see out the endeavours to achieve the desire outcomes?
The difficulty is that this question can only really be answered by each practitioner individually. However, from experience, when the practitioner is at the point in their life described above, the likelihood of really seeing through the change to achieve the benefit and outcome is less than 50%. In fact, I would say way less than 50%.
Then the question comes back to this; Are you better to take whatever value is available now, or do you push on to try and achieve that growth and a better value BUT at the risk of not achieving the desired outcome and actually harming value further?
Timing and planning are the key. All too often by the time a practitioner is considering the sale of their firm, the opportune time for practice improvement has long passed.
But, with ongoing planning, much can be done in advance to achieve better values in the future.