Buy a Practice Now?
What a crazy time we are in. At least to me, this is a sober reminder that major disrupters are almost impossible to predict. I am reassured that our nation seems to be taking the situation seriously and I do firmly believe we can weather this storm. Most of you reading this have had your professional world rocked. You’ve probably had your hours cut, maybe by 100%. Unemployment is likely a new reality. Fortunately, there is a strong support system in this industry ready to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out. I think you will find all of us willing to go the extra mile right now to help you keep your ship afloat.
Most of you have thought about buying a practice at some point, some of you have been seriously pursuing ownership. There is going to be a lot of advice out there right now saying that it is far too risky to buy a practice and it is better to get/keep a nice safe, secure job. I am going to give you four reasons why you should do exactly the opposite.
One, financing. Interest rates are at an all-time low. Most banks are willing to defer principal payments or even the entire payment for months. Some have even said a year. I’m not going out on much of a limb to say these are the best lending conditions you will see in your career. Historically, there have been periods of higher interest rates. When I was a kid in the early eighties, they were fourteen percent. There have been many times when banks weren’t as generous on the amounts they would lend. One hundred percent financing is not a given.
Two, taxes. The government is going to spend a fortune to deal with this crisis, we have an aging population, new social safety nets will probably be put in place, etc… It is hard to imagine a scenario where taxes don’t go up, maybe way up. Nobody gets hit in a tax hike as hard as a non-business owning high wage earner who makes between $150,000 and $300,000 per year. That $200,000 salary doesn’t look as good when half of it is taken out for taxes.
Three, working for a corporation in a down economy. Corporations aren’t inherently bad entities. Many are fabulous. That said, unless they are a non-profit, they aren’t set up to be a charity. The shareholders and private equity backers are going to demand performance once this crisis is over. If patients hold off on elective treatment, keeping revenue up will require a high volume, much like a Medicaid clinic. You could be expected to see many more patients, in less time, than you currently do. It happened to physicians, it happened to pharmacists, it could happen to you.
Four, time. Odds are you have more free time than normal. No one, especially the bank, is going to expect you to complete a practice purchase before this crisis is over. That said, doing the work now could put you in a position to complete the purchase when the restrictions are lifted and capitalize on the built-up demand, which inevitably will occur.
In the words of Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”