Can the sale be kept confidential?

How to minimize insecurity at the workplace during a sale.

 A sale can absolutely be kept confidential. Here are details on the “how” and the “when” you can share the transition details in a way that makes the most sense for your practice staff.

There are numerous reasons to keep a sale confidential when negotiations are ongoing. The most important reason to be discreet is to ensure you can share the details with your staff at the appropriate time. Your team is one of your most valuable assets and you need to be sensitive to the impact this transition will have on them. 

To ensure the confidentiality of your practice sale, we verbally remind your accountants, your lawyers, and any other third parties when we communicate with them. In addition, we sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) because we’re aware of the impact that staff quitting could have on your practice sale.

From our experience, premature word and rumors have shown us some common negative outcomes, including:

1. We’ve seen staff quit over uncertainty about the future which can cause your value to decrease.

Observation – Instability breeds insecurity. We have observed valued staff learn about pending sales, especially from people other than the practitioner, and interpret the news as a break in trust inherent to a healthy working relationship. These staff who have helped make your practice a success are an important part of its value. A business cannot operate without quality employees.

2. Informing staff can disrupt workflow.

Observation – As all teams go, workplace environments are built on individuals’ opinions, strengths, and weaknesses. In most cases, our team’s medical business brokers have observed that prematurely letting staff know you are looking to sell the practice is typically not ideal.

Notifying staff of an imminent sale may lead to them taking steps to minimize personal risk. We have witnessed the consequences of staff growing insecure and distracted, playing out in ways such as taking time off work to interview for other jobs. 

3. Staff can do research on the buyer and develop negative impressions which can lead to low morale.

Observation – As health care practice brokers who walk practitioners through the selling process, we know that the process is taxing for all those involved. Breaking the news to staff is inevitable, but it is crucial that you break the news at a point when you have the capacity to manage their concerns and expectations and can provide accurate information. Try not to leave staff to research and deduce on their own what their life will be like working for corporate. Instead, make space yourself to help them work through questions or task a trusted office manager to help staff navigate new concerns and expectations as they surface.

Summary

The business of selling a dental practice or a medical practice is not for the faint of heart. It requires perseverance, a sharp mind, and artful people management skills. Lean on your health care practice brokers to bring their experience to the table to help fill in the gaps and be a sounding board. The long view they offer is critical in offering a sense of stability during a naturally wobbly transition.  

Morgan Burrell

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