Q: What should I avoid saying when I first meet a seller?
A: Just like asking strong questions can work for your benefit, asking wrong questions will be to your detriment. Here are 4 questions to avoid at all costs when meeting the seller.
Topic 1: “Can you tell me about line 18 on your 2018 tax return?”
Don’t get into any nitty-gritty details. This first meeting is about bigger-picture things and is a time for you to figure out whether you feel good about moving forward. If you do move forward, there will be plenty of time later to run the numbers and find out if it’s also smart to move forward.
Topic 2: Anything about the price of the practice.
You won’t get good, detailed answers to questions about price during this first meeting, and they will almost certainly put the seller on the defensive. So stay away from anything about the listing price until later in the buying process.
Topic 3: Anything related to negotiating.
You may have some concerns right off the bat about some of the seller’s stipulations…and maybe you’re right about all that! But this is way too early in the process to be getting into negotiating. Going into a possible purchase with a defensive seller and an overly aggressive buyer is a sure-fire way to cause more friction in your future than you want.
Topic 4: Things that will be covered later in due diligence.
Some things you should just worry about later. Equipment age and lease terms matter a lot! … Eventually. Due diligence — the time when you and your team get serious about looking under the hood of the practice — will help you know what to negotiate as the sale moves forward. For now, use your first meeting to judge the feel of the fit between you, the seller, and the practice in question.
That first meeting between you and a seller is crucial because this is your chance to make a good impression. Be sure to make the most of it. Just don’t try to make too much of it.