Case Study: Glass & Glass
As we speak on the phone one dreary winter morning, there is a chirpiness in Douglas Glass’ voice that you can’t mistake. You can almost picture him sitting at his kitchen table, a cup of coffee in hand, happily chatting away to us - content to be living the life he now lives. Because, for Douglas and his wife and business partner, Natalie, they are at a pivotal moment in their lives: they have just sold their optical business, Glass & Glass.
Read ahead to discover Douglas and Natalie’s journey through business development, selling their practice and the excitement of early retirement.
Congratulations on selling your practice! How do you feel?
“I’d say we feel lucky, but the truth is we worked damn hard to achieve what we’ve achieved, so we deserve everything we now enjoy. Back in 2005, we acquired two optical practices - Culver & Glass and Ryley & Evans - and have spent every day since putting our heart and soul into our business.”
It’s a big moment for any optometrist and business owner to sell.
So take us back; how did you decide to sell?
“By profession, Natalie and I are optometrists. However, we knew we had the potential (and the drive!) to be successful business owners too. So, in 2011 we hired a business coach - and that changed our mindset completely. We started to see the practice in a more critical and analytical light, which prompted us to make positive changes in every sense. From staff retention to award-winning, we became focused and strategic.
“In August 2020, we commissioned Myers La Roche to carry out an annual business review to allow us to benchmark our performance and take stock of our options going forward. The assessment and insights went beyond what we had expected and the 50 odd page report also included a business valuation, We were delighted with the ‘number’ they came up with – and this together with the context provided by their market assessment meant that we immediately knew with absolute certainty that we were ready to sell.”
Myers La Roche conducted an Exit 360 for Glass & Glass. This is a detailed report to help you decide how and when to exit your optical business. Learn more here.
“We were approaching fifty. I’d done twenty-odd years in the same dark and dingy room. As much as I love my profession, did I really want to do twenty more? No. The valuation and market appraisal solidified our feeling that our hard work was done. We’d hit the ‘sweet spot’, so it was now time to move on to the next part of our lives - which largely meant more time for family and our personal lives. Selling the practice would give us the finances and time to do this.”
So, how did the selling process go?
“The sale went well. Perhaps surprisingly, our ultimate buyer was NOT one of the big chains who had at the time started to approach pretty much every UK practice. Myers La Roche found two great buyers offering the asking price - and we could choose to sell to someone who held the same ethos and values as us when it came to running an optical practice”
“We did experience some hiccups along the way, but Georgie Myers was fantastic. She was professional. She fought our corner. But, she was always realistic - which we appreciated hugely.”
Hurdles are common when selling practices - but we will always try hard to overcome them. Can you explain more about what happened?
“There was a room that wasn’t part of the original lease. We never used it, and it was originally rented out to a third party. However, when it came to reassigning the lease to the new owners, the landlord stipulated that the lease include the additional room - as this room was no longer occupied. Thankfully, Georgie saved the day! It could have stalled without her problem-solving.”
That’s great to hear. What’s next for you now the sale has been completed?
“Honestly, not a lot at the moment. We’re ‘Steady Eddies’; we didn’t go out and buy a big car or anything like that. However, we are more stress-free nowadays. I wouldn’t say completely stress-free as receiving a large sum of money brings fresh concerns. However, as they say, ‘nice problems to have’.
“Essentially, selling our optical business has removed the actual stress of running the business - and given us the freedom of choice. And, we are still working part-time in the business as part of the post-sale agreement. We work as the primary optometrists - so we still get to practice our vocations and receive a salary, which adds financial security. It also allows us to consult and support any transition with clients and staff.”
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Douglas.
We’re delighted that selling your optical business has resulted in such a great outcome for you and your family.
Considering the sale or purchase of a practice in the next 1-5 years?
Has this story inspired you to take the leap into retirement? Selling your practice is a big step but with our support, we can ensure you’re heading in the right direction. Get in touch today to arrange a free and confidential consultation.