But What Price Does the Seller Pay?

December 5, 2022

Imagine the sale of a healthcare entity in which you, as one of the sellers, will remain involved after the closing. Depending upon the deal, you might remain as a minority owner, or you might remain as an employee; the exact role isn’t important at this point.

The deal could involve the sale of your medical group or of a controlling interest in an ASC; again, it doesn’t matter, those are just two instances of the sort of transaction we’re talking about.

For now, though, let’s use the sale of a controlling interest in an ASC as our example.

Certainly, everyone who owns an interest in a surgery center is familiar with the concept of the price that you would receive were you to sell all or a part of your interest.

But have you ever considered the price that you might pay, as the seller, in a deal?

Huh? “Seller” paying a price? Is that a typo? After all, it’s the buyer who pays the price – the seller collects the price! Right?

Well, that’s certainly true, but that’s a shortchanged way for you to look at it. That’s because in any deal, the deal is about more than the stated sales price.

This is the case for selling anesthesia groups to, well, wheat.

For example, I read a story in The Wall Street Journal about farmers who normally sell grain to a local grain elevator. Traditionally, that’s how farmers would sell their crop.

Then a couple of years ago, someone came along with their great, high-tech thinking, and decided to create an online marketplace in which farmers can sell their grain to the highest bidder, not only to the local buyers.

However, for all the great-sounding talk, there were lots of problems. For example, trucks didn’t come to pick up the grain as scheduled. When trucks finally did come, it would be in the middle of the night when no one was available to load them. When it came time to pay for the grain, the buyers were weeks, if not months, late – as opposed to the customary industry practice of payment within hours of delivery.

You see, the price the farmers received via the online marketplace was higher than the price of a local sale. But the price the farmers paid as a result of the sale was a bad and extremely troubling deal that, in the end, cost them far more than they thought they had gained.

The same thing applies in connection with the sale of, in our example, an ASC. Not every buyer is going to be a good buyer, a buyer that, post closing, fosters the growth of the ASC. Some are going to choke the ASC to death by cutting expenses to the bone. Some are going to make doing cases there hell.

In every deal, there’s far more involved than simply the money that changes hands; there’s the price that you, as the seller, will pay, one way or another, for the deal. Stop looking only at the monetary figure of a deal, the figurative “sticker price”. Look at all the elements that come into play that contribute to your actual price of doing the deal, one that ranges from the price of an inconvenience to the price of your career.

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