a community of practitioners
I would like some input on a situation. I've been negotiating to purchase a small Massage Clinic from someone who is retiring (retiring from ownership but will continue to do massages at the clinic as long as possible, he is currently 70 years old). They currently have 3 full time and one part-time massage therapist and then a few that only do one or two massages a week. I started there in April to begin building a clientele base. We're getting close to signing the deal but I have so many concerns that I feel like I'm about to walk away. And one of my main concerns is how I am not being given any clients from this Clinic (sounds strange doesn't it, you would think the current owner would do all he could to help me build a strong clientele base). Since April I believe I've been given two or three new clients I've retained two of them plus gotten referrals from those two. And I believe I've been given about two or three existing clients there weren't seeing any particular therapist regularly. We get about 10 or 12 new clients per month but they're not being scheduled with me. I have given them availability of a full day, plus one evening, plus at least one morning and a weekend morning per week. Last week I was scheduled with no clients. I started addressing this over a month ago and asking why I wasn't being scheduled with new clients and I was given the answer that I didn't have as much availability as some of the other therapists. There's really only one that has regular availability during the week. She got all but a couple of the new clients last month. I cannot understand that. And if this was my Clinic that I was trying to sell and had a very motivated buyer, I would facilitate him getting clients and building up a client base there. Which is why I can't understand why the current owner is not doing that and he is risking losing me is a motivated buyer. I would appreciate some input? I'm scratching my head asking myself what the heck am I buying if I'm not getting clients from this place.
Uhm, if you end up the owner. Don’t you get a percentage of all the massage work being done in the clinic? And the busier the other Therapists are, the more income you make, right? And if you plan on working as a massage therapist yourself. Sounds like you are. If everyone else in the clinic is busy and booked up, that means the new clients have to go to you. Seems like a busy clinic would be the concern?
Anyway, I’m not a good business guy. I have a feeling others can answer your question in a more qualified way. I guess I don’t understand your concern or complaint about your own personal clientele not being given too you?
It would be great if the therapist (that they continue giving the new clients to) actually retained clients. But she doesn't have a good track record retaining regular clients. She has a few, but that's one of the things I was told about her in particular. But that's another reason it doesn't make sense to me, why would you give all your new clients to somebody that has a hard time retaining regular clients. So yeah it would be great if she continued to retain them and kept busy and then yes I would get the new clients and everybody would be busy, that's just not the case. Where as if I saw the new clients, I don't want to too my own horn, but I'd probably have a better chance of retaining them. In response to your question about would I get a percentage of all sessions (as the owner) yes, that is true but I can't live on the net profit alone from the business.... It's only about $30,000 a year. The current owner pays a very generous commission rate unheard of in the industry, at about 65%. I've been told it's unsustainable. However I know if I changed it for the current full-time therapists, they would take the option to buy out their clients. Because it's another thing the current owner made very generous, he allows them to purchase their client list by just paying him for two full sessions per client. So basically they can pay him about $160 for each client they take with them. And one is already communicated that she likes having that option. So I also have to think that she's got an eye on the door. I am just starting to think there's way too much risk with this business. I appreciate your comments.
It doesn't sound like a good plan of action if you are needing to work this hard on the negotiations. Especially if the rate of money going out is already unsustainable and you know you are going to have to correct for that in the future. You may do best to just bow out now. But, only you can know for sure what you are willing to put up with!
You will have to decide if you want to keep these items as an option for the therapists or not. It does not sound like it is in your favor. I am all about being fair, but it has to be fair on both sides.
I am not knowledgeable to buying and selling businesses, but you may want to talk to an accountant. You may also want to let the therapists know that within so many weeks or months, a new pay scale will come into play, and that they will no longer have the option to by out at the price the former owner allowed. Then again, maybe it is in your best interest to not say anything and just take care of it with one fell swoop. A consultant may be able to help you know better what to do.
As far as getting or not getting clients currently. That should be a fair process for all therapist in the facility, and should be a plan that is already in place. It should not be haphazard. And, the therapists should not have to guess at how it works. You can't get more just because you plan to purchase the clinic, after all, you may back out, and then you would have been getting more than your fair share in hopes you would purchase the place.
Once you do purchase it, you can decide if you want to change whatever the policy is.... owner gets first choice or however that works for you.
It sounds like it could get complicated.
Well, much of what you mention in this most recent post, has to do with your decision making as to how you will run things once you become owner. No one says you have to run the business as it is in the current state. And, when you purchase the facility, you'll need to have an attorney draw up papers so that you aren't held liable for the back taxes. That should be on the gentleman you purchase the facility from.
Do you even have an attorney looking over this purchase?
In regard to one thing you mentioned... if you do decide to purchase the clinic and you know for sure that one of the therapists is going to buy out her clients before you take over... you could make a pre-emptive offer for her to lease space in the facility, while she's trying to figure out where she wants to go. A win-win for both of you, and may decrease any bad feelings.
Your accountant can help you decide if you are going to put everyone on an employee status or leave them as IC's. If you leave them as IC's you'll probably have to change the way a number of things are done.
Don't forget to make sure the landlord is going to be open to you being the new renter.