I did something I've never done before yesterday - and discovered a new way to help.
My client sold her practice to a major corporate earlier this year.
It was the "usual" type of deal, including a cash payment up front and a 5-year earn out with CPI related uplift targets for business turnover over the earn out period.
Usually, when a client goes into corporate ownership, that's me done as their business coach.
"Goodbye and thanks for all the fish."
In 30 years, I've never yet had a corporate contact me with:
"Chris we know you helped them to get to the sale and we'd now like you to carry on helping them get to their earn out targets."
I'm not taking that personally, but it does seem a bit counter-intuitive.
However, I accept that as corporates get bigger, they suffer from "not invented here syndrome" and the opportunity for external consultants becomes limited (although I'm glad to see that they hire Ashley to teach their clinicians how to ethically sell).
Yesterday, my client paid out of her own pocket to get me in for the day to work with her and Practice Manager on maximising earn out potential.
We spent the morning conducting an M.O.T. on the current business and looking at ways to improve every aspect.
By lunchtime we had a 15-point list that included changes to working practices, redeployment of clinicians, a review and tweak of their already excellent marketing systems, the possible addition of team members and better use of TCO and IOS in the building.
After lunch we were joined by the corporate area manager (thank God - someone who has worked in dentistry for over 20 years and not straight from Pets-R-Us), presented the proposed changes and collaborated on the submission of a "value case" to the corporate Head Office - a business plan and cash flow forecast that would show how the proposed changes and investment would increase EBITDA.
In 30 years, the first time I have been asked to work with a practice in corporate ownership on business improvement - how daft is that?
So my client finished the day with an action plan and the promised help of her area manager in getting a green light for the proposals.
Perhaps most importantly, I know enough about how corporate dentistry works to be able to help my client in presenting the case in the correct way - a language that the Head Office folks will understand.
I discovered a new coaching service - "increasing the likelihood of reaching your earn out targets."
To be honest - I'm not holding my breath and waiting for further bookings to appear.
It took an enlightened former practice owner to invest in herself by investing in me.
A very special former Principal with a Champions League Practice Manager.
The corporates may well argue that business is booming at the moment and so they don't have many worries about former owners knocking those earn out targets out of the window - even so, doesn't make sense to underwrite that with some good advice, just in case things get tougher?
Given that every corporate is under the microscope on EBITDA at the moment, with their investors scrutinising every penny spent - wouldn't it make sense to ask people like me to offer a second opinion?
Like I said - not holding my breath.