How To Prepare A Veterinary Exit Strategy (In 2023)

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli

What Is A Veterinary Exit Strategy?

Not to complicate things: a veterinary exit strategy typically refers to a plan prepared to transition out of the veterinary practice. This can include selling the practice to another veterinarian, merging with another practice, or closing the practice altogether.

Benefits Of A Veterinary Exit Strategy

A well-planned veterinary exit strategy can offer several benefits, such as ensuring a smooth transition for clients and patients, maximizing the vet practice value, providing financial security for your retirement, and minimizing potential disruptions to the practice’s operations.

There’s more:

It also allows you to maintain control over the timing and terms of your departure, while ensuring that your staff and patients are taken care of under new leadership.

Options for exiting a veterinary practice:

Selling to a Colleague or Associate

This traditional approach involves selling your practice to a fellow veterinarian or an associate within your practice. The upside? This option often ensures a smooth transition for both the existing clients and the staff, as the buyer is already familiar with the practice’s operations and culture. However, negotiation and financial agreements must be carefully managed to ensure a fair deal for both parties.

Corporate Consolidation

With the rise of corporate veterinary groups, many practice owners are tapping into this trend. These corporations offer financial stability, advanced resources, and streamlined management practices. The big selling point: this can provide a lucrative exit, yet allow the practice owner to maintain their legacy. Additionally, it won’t hurt to evaluate the impact of a “corporate buyer” on the practice’s identity and patient care, as well as potential leadership changes.

Gradual Transition

For some practice owners, a leisurely exit where they reduce their involvement over time does it for them. Should you consider this strategy, it could involve mentoring a younger veterinarian or partner while scaling down your duties. In the end: a smooth transfer of expertise while maintaining the practice’s reputation.

Merger with Another Practice

Picture this: a fusion of your practice with another well-rooted clinic. Think of shared resources and expanded clientele. However, this strategy requires careful planning to navigate legal, financial, and operational challenges.

Sale to a New Graduate

As the newer generation of veterinarians enters the field, the capable amongst them often seek opportunities to “own” – and what better way than buying an existing practice? Selling to a recent graduate can provide them with a chance to step into ownership and can be financially favorable for both parties. But don’t forget the script: clear terms and support systems are crucial for the success of this transition.

Key takeaway: As you consider your options, it’s crucial to sync your choice with your personal goals, the well-being of your staff and patients, and the grand roadmap for the practice’s future.

In your exit plans, the following components are essential.

Practice Valuation

For the majority of veterinary doctors who are looking to sell their practice, understanding and maximizing the value of their practice is a primary focus. But here is the thing:

Factors like revenue, profitability, clientele, location, assets, goodwill  collectively influence its appraisal.

Having said that, there are three core methods of veterinary practice valuation. They are:

  • Income-Based Approach. Historical revenue, profitability, and growth prospects are used to evaluate a vet practice’s worth usually by applying a multiple of earnings or a capitalization rate aids in determining the value.
  • Market-Based Approach. Here, the practice is measured against similar ones recently sold and its value is estimated.
  • Asset-Based Approach. The focus is on tangible and intangible assets to gauge value. Tangible assets include equipment, real estate, and inventory. Intangibles span goodwill, reputation, and client connections.

So, what is the best evaluation method?

Well, each method boasts strengths and constraints, with the selection riding on practice nature, market dynamics, and financial standing. Veterinary valuation experts can guide you to the right method and help you get a complete evaluation.

Negotiating The Sale Price

Striking the right balance between obtaining a fair price for your practice and offering a competitive deal for the buyer is another important aspect of exiting a practice. Know this: negotiations can cover various terms, including the payment structure, down payment, earn-outs, and non-compete clauses. Buyers, on the other hand, need to ensure the price aligns with the practice’s potential for growth and profitability.

Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Know Your Practice Value: Before entering negotiations, have a clear understanding of your practice’s value hence thorough vet practice valuation is very important.
  • Highlight Value-Add: Clearly articulate the unique strengths and value your practice offers. Whether it’s a loyal client base, specialized services, or a prime location, showcasing these factors can justify your asking price.
  • Payment Structure: Aim for larger lump sum payments. As for installments, they should not exceed a 5-year term; do well to include interests.
  • Due Diligence Contingencies: Buyers may include due diligence contingencies to ensure the practice meets their expectations. Define the scope and timeframe of due diligence, balancing their need to verify information with your desire for the right price.
  • Engage Professionals: Having business advisors that specialize in vet practice sales on your side can be significantly important . They can help you navigate complex terms, protect your interests, and ensure a legally sound agreement.

Financial Due Diligence

Conducting due diligence is crucial for both buyers and sellers. Buyers should review the practice’s financial records, contracts, and operational aspects to ensure transparency and identify potential risks.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Before disclosing sensitive information during negotiations, make arrangements for potential buyers to sign an NDA. This legally binding document protects confidential information and prevents competitors from gaining access to sensitive practice details.

Letter of Intent (LOI)

A non-binding LOI from the potential buyers outlines the terms and conditions of the proposed sale. It sets the stage for negotiations and provides a framework for the formal purchase agreement. Do well to request this document from intending buyers to signify their interest to enter negotiations.

Purchase Agreement

The purchase agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of the sale, including purchase price, payment structure, contingencies, warranties, and representations. It’s essential that this agreement is thorough and covers all aspects of the transaction.

Both parties should conduct thorough due diligence. Sellers provide financial records, contracts, leases, and other relevant documents. Buyers review these materials to ensure accuracy and identify any potential risks.

Non-Compete Agreements

It is not uncommon for buyers to ask the selling veterinarian to sign a non-compete clause to prevent them from opening a competing practice nearby. These agreements are crucial to protect the practice’s value after the transition.

Licensing and Permits

Ensure that all necessary licenses, permits, and certifications are transferred to the buyer in compliance with local regulations. This includes veterinary licenses, business permits, and DEA registrations.

Staff Contracts and Employment

If there’s a change in ownership, existing staff contracts and employment agreements should be reviewed and possibly renegotiated to ensure a smooth transition for employees.

Client Notification

Sellers must communicate the transition to clients and inform them about the change in ownership. Clients’ medical records and data privacy must also be handled in compliance with laws and regulations.

Real Estate Considerations

If the practice includes real estate, addressing property ownership, leases, and transfer of property rights is crucial. Real estate transactions have their legal intricacies that need attention.

Ensuring A Smooth Transition

Beyond dollars and cents, the success of a vet practice transition also hinges on ensuring a seamless transfer of operations, staff, and clientele. Here’s what we mean:

Staff Retention and Transition

Prospective buyers seek practices with minimal staff turnover after acquisition. Thus, preserving a dedicated and motivated team during a transition shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought. Communicating changes, addressing concerns, and offering incentives for staff retention can help ensure the continuity of patient care and client relationships.

Client Communication

Keeping clients informed about the transition at the appropriate time, introducing the new owner or leadership, and affirming an unbroken commitment to top-tier care can nurture trust and inspire lasting loyalty.


To sum it all up, creating a strong exit plan for your veterinary practice in 2023 is incredibly important if you want to sell it for the best price. This ensures a smooth transition while securing the future of your practice. Keep in mind, a well-thought-out exit not only keeps your legacy alive but also passes on your love for animal care to the perfect new owner. We hope the details in this post guide you in the right direction.

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