Industry sector:

Osteopath: Buy an existing business

You might decide to buy an existing osteopathic clinic rather than start your own from scratch. Buying an existing clinic can mean that:

  • the premises, equipment and fittings are already in place
  • there is an established patient list
  • the clinic can generate income immediately
  • there are existing relationships with local GPs, businesses, hospitals, sports centres and so on, which should mean continued patient referrals
  • the business has a track record, which can help if you are looking for finance
  • staff are already in place
  • a business website has already been set up

However, look critically at any clinic that you are interested in to make sure that the price you negotiate with the seller is a fair one. Try to establish why the clinic is for sale - for example, is the owner keen to retire or is there another personal reason for selling up.

Your market research into your local area will help you to establish whether or not the owner is selling because he or she can no longer generate enough income from the clinic. This may not necessarily deter you - you may feel that you have the necessary skills (both business and professional) to turn an ailing clinic around. The important thing is to have established the current position so that the price you pay for the practice is not too high.

Other matters to consider include:

  • the state of the premises, fittings, equipment and so on. Will you have to spend money refurbishing or replacing assets
  • existing staff rights
  • how to retain key personnel once you've taken over
  • does the clinic owe money that you will be responsible for
  • if the reputation and success of the clinic depend on specific skills of the seller do you have comparable abilities

Ask your accountant to look critically at the clinic's accounts for the past three years and discuss with him or her the selling price in the light of what the accounts reveal. Make sure you budget for other professional fees such as legal fees and valuation and survey costs.