There are many reasons to sell a pharmacy. Perhaps it is time to retire, you have an offer you cannot refuse, mounting frustrations take the fun out of ownership, or the store is no longer meeting expectations. Regardless of the reason, selling your store can be very emotional. Many owners spend years of hard work and dedication and their stores become part of their personal identity. Despite the financial reward that comes with a sale, it still can be difficult to hand over your “baby” to a new owner. The unknowns of what will I do next, how will people react, and is the timing right can make it a very difficult decision.
I have been fortunate to be a partner in numerous pharmacies. I will never forget the excitement of each new venture and the satisfaction of helping our staff have success for their families. So, there was a lot of mixed emotions when we were approached to sell some of our stores. Like most owners, there were times of great frustration, but for the most part being a pharmacy owner was very rewarding. I truly loved our staff and customers and I had worked very hard over the years to never disappoint them.
My partner and I struggled with the decision but ultimately, we had to consider our primary obligation, our families. As store owners, we were not alone in making personal sacrifices. Sometimes our spouses felt like single parents due to the long hours at the store. While our families enjoyed the financial rewards, they understood that sometimes that meant we would not be at every sporting event or school play. Ensuring the financial security of our families was certainly a major factor in our decision.
It was heartbreaking to know the sale would disappoint the staff and customers who had meant so much to me. They had given me their loyalty for many years and had certainly been the key to my success. Although we did everything we could to be sure the staff was rewarded and taken care of, I am sure many were disillusioned. If you are a pharmacy owner and you do not feel this disappointment, my guess is you did not have a very good store, for all successful owners owe a debt of gratitude to their staff. I was fortunate that most of the staff was understanding and I have been able to retain their friendship, but it is important to realize the impact it had on their lives. As you make the decision to sell, ask yourself how you will deal with this emotion.
Likewise, the sale will affect your loyal customers. In many cases you live in the community and you will still see the customers on a regular basis. How will they react? In an ideal situation, selling to an independent certainly lessens this impact. Knowing they will still receive great service and that the loyal staff will remain will help you feel better about the sale. If you are selling to an independent, be sure to do all you can to introduce the new owner and ensure his or her success. As you encounter customers after the sale many might tell you, “it’s not the same since you left”. I learned that frequently it was their way of saying they missed me not that the store was deteriorating. Do your best to not second guess the new ownership and be as positive as you can.
Selling your pharmacy is not like selling your house, or your car, or a mutual fund. In the end it must be a logical and not an emotional decision. As you make the difficult choice, it is helpful to consult with others who have been through the process and to have a broker who can understand all aspects of a sale. Think first, what is best for you and your family then prepare for the mixed emotions you are certain to experience.