These lessons would have helped those physicians:
1. Retain an attorney or business agent who has genuine expertise in contract law and in contact negotiations of this type. Physicians are all too familiar with the adage that a doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient. A doctor who negotiates the sale of his or her own practice, especially to a large corporation, has a fool for a patient, or, rather, a business client. Advantageously negotiating the sale of a medical practice is not a matter of intelligence, and it certainly is not a matter of medical knowledge and skill; maybe it should be, but it is not. What matters most is professional experience in such matters. Extensive background in contract law and employment law is a virtual must in negotiating such a contract with a corporation.
In our recounted saga, some of the physicians used their personal attorneys, who were very good at providing legal services to successfully operate the practices but were unfamiliar with such contracts and their potential pitfalls. Some of the lawyers simply succumbed to their client's enthusiasm for supposedly mutually beneficial deal; the lawyers followed the client's instructions to get the deal done. The lawyers were not forceful enough to get the client to step back and analyze the deal pragmatically.
2. Be ready to walk away, even at a late stage of the negotiations. Do not act simply to follow the crowd or because someone or some group has managed to scare you about the short-term or long-term future of the practice of medicine.
3. Determine your business' value. There are several different business methods, ranging from asset-based to future earnings approaches. Recognize that no single approach can be used in isolation. Consider the current market, economic trends, and the purchase price of other similar recently sold practices in your geographical area. And remember that the corporation would not want to buy your practice were it not beneficial to it to acquire it.
4. Be absolutely clear about what you are selling. Consider all the assets of your business, which includes many non-tangible assets such as the practice's location, time in business and patient goodwill. Decide exactly what you are selling.