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Reflections of a Seller 18 Months Post Sale

Reflections of a Seller
…18 Months Post Sale
 

 

 

We recently had lunch with Cameron Dyal, a former client of DMY, whose practice we sold in late 2020. Cameron is a fantastic individual and very generous with his time. He was happy to share his unique perspective on what he went through selling his practice to help other owners in a similar situation.

If you looking to sell your practice, or struggling with the decision to sell, the following interview is one of the best five minute investments you could make, to hear from someone who has gone through your journey and is out the other side. Read, and enjoy!

You sold your practice in late 2020 when you were aged just 47, what was your motivation for selling? 

The major reason was to spend more time with my wife and eight year old special needs daughter and, in particular travel around Australia. I also have two older boys (20 & 17) who I didn’t spend as much time with growing up as I would have liked, and I didn’t want that for my daughter. We originally wanted to travel around Australia for 12 months, this has now turned into a three year timeframe. 

Other reasons for the sale included (in no particular order): I was getting very tired of the 60+ hrs per week grind and everything that went with it, disenchanted with the industry in general (very difficult to get staff and those we did get we faced continual battles to keep them – very stressful for a small practice like mine) and I also had some health issues (not major but 3 hospital visits in 6 months) which definitely played a part in the decision to change my life.

Why didn't you sell the practice yourself, and what made you specifically chose DMY to represent you? 

 I’m a big believer in you do what you do best and you get an expert in to assist you with things that you don’t do or know.  I also did not have the time (being a sole practitioner running a $1.4m practice) to properly invest the time into the process.  This was our biggest asset and it was critical to my wife and I that we maximise the proceeds from the sale and I thought that to do that I would seek the assistance of professionals. 

 Daniel was highly recommended by a close colleague of mine and, upon doing some research, I soon discovered that DMY would be the perfect fit. I am also a massive believer in gut feel, and I was very impressed with the initial phone discussions with Daniel and then our initial meeting where he flew up to Brisbane to meet with me personally.

What have you been up to in the 18 months since you sold? 

 The business sale included a 12 months transition period where I worked full time for the first 4 months, then had 4 months off, and then worked for the next two months (May and June).  So I was pretty busy during this period and was always “on call”, however it was really nice not having the stress of all the day-to-day business ownership issues. The four months break in between was great and much needed. I didn’t do an awful lot, but spent some much needed time with my family. 

 Since the business fully settled (post the 12 months transition date), we spent six months preparing for our travels around Australia and did a four week shakedown trip up the Queensland coast.  We have been on the road full time since 8 January 2022 travelling Australia. First stop was Tassie where we spent three months exploring this unbelievable part of Australia.

Looking back, was the process of selling your practice what you expected, and would you have done anything differently? 

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after meeting with Daniel initially, he was very clear on the process and what DMY would assist me with.  The market was quite good for sellers at the time so that definitely put my mind at ease to some degree.  I was very anxious about staff and clients finding out what was going on, so to be reassured of DMY’s processes, particularly in respect of confidentiality with staff was, as I said, reassuring. I will talk more below in the next question about the one stressful part which, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting. 

 I really wouldn’t have done anything differently. I was very grateful for DMY’s assistance at all stages of the process and I honestly felt I was not pressured at any stage to take an offer that wasn’t right (and we did have a number of offers that weren’t right or acceptable to me).  I have seen plenty of instances of “pushy sales brokers” with clients that have sold their businesses over the years and I was very impressed with the professionalism from DMY’s end in this respect.

What was the most stressful part of the process and how did you deal with that? 

 Without a doubt, there were two stressful parts of the process.  The first was the actual contract negotiation part of the process.  This was quite difficult and very stressful.  We had found a very good purchaser, a perfect fit actually who ticked all the boxes, including the “gut feel” test.  However, they wanted to acquire the practice very quickly. I didn’t really understand the amount of time that would need to be spent in liaising with lawyers, my bank and DMY in this part of the process (whilst still running the practice).  I did not want to tell my staff or any of my clients until I had an unconditional contract, which added to the stress.  Finalising the contract with all the nitty gritty details was stressful, particularly as the buyer did not want to extend the settlement date (this sounds good but it wasn’t in the end).  This meant that there was a very short window of time (three weeks) between the contract going unconditional and settlement date.  Being a sole practitioner, I had to do ALL aspects of the sale process myself.  I didn’t have a partner to assist and therefore trying to get everything done in this three week timeframe was exhausting and incredibly stressful.  I had to tell my staff and reassure them, tell my 120+ clients (a large number I have had for over 15 years) so I wanted to see as many of these in person as possible – which ended up being almost possible in the timeframe.  Then I also had to manage and negotiate all the terms of the settlement including logistics of transferring business names, clearing titles to assets and equipment etc etc.  If I had my time over again, I would have definitely extended the settlement timeline.  Again, I was fortunate I had good relationships with my bank, my lawyers and DMY and in the end we got there. 

The second stressful part was actually the entire 12 months transitional period.  We structured the sale so 10% was payable after 12 months based on retention of clients.  This ended up being quite stressful actually, a lot more so than I thought it would be and, in the end, I found myself quite invested in the business post sale to try and ensure our 10% was protected and would be paid to us.

 How did you feel over those first few weeks and months after the sale, when you were no longer the owner? 

It was a great feeling to be honest. Almost immediately the day to day stresses and issues were gone.  It was nice not having to come to work at 5.30am and being the last to leave at 6 or 7pm at night.  No weekend work too – wow! It also helped greatly that the buyer was a great fit for my practice, as it made the transition a lot easier, I think, than what it could have been.

What has been the best thing about selling your practice? 

Spending more time with my wife and kids, doing some things for me that I haven’t ever done and, of course, now travelling around Australia full time and not having to worry about working. (At least for a while as I know I will do something at some point in time as I’m not the sort of person to do nothing).

 Any regrets about selling? 

 Nope not one!

 And finally, any tips for practice owners struggling with the decision of whether to sell? 

 Just do it, you won’t regret it.

 And ensure you have a good team around you (like DMY) as it will greatly assist in the process.

 

To discuss this article in more detail and what it may mean specifically for your situation, contact DMY’s Directors below:

 

Mark Emney

Mobile: 0434 079 530
Email: mark@dmyassoc.com.au

Daniel Jones

Mobile: 0401 493 773
Email: Daniel@dmyassoc.com.au