Dodging A Bullet - Successful Opticians Business Sale Case Study
Are you dreaming of retirement and freedom from the life you’ve always known? Discover how married couple and working partners, Ruth and Gary Low, sold their optometrist practice with Myers La Roche, allowing them to wind down and start a new phase of their lives.
A popular village location in Somerset. A thriving high street spot. Dedicated staff. A long-standing reputation in the local community. Loyal clients travelling from far afield for trusted specialist services. All underpinned by passionate owners. That’s Orriss & Low Optometrist, the practice that Ruth and Gary Low had spent over 34 years ploughing their heart and soul into.
However, like many business owners, Ruth and Gary were yearning for a new pace of life - one that represented more freedom. Retirement. And as they were healthy, fit and well, now was an amazing time to seize that opportunity.
When retirement means sellingIn some cases, it’s natural to pass your practice on to your children. Yet for Ruth and Gary, their children had carved their own career paths long ago - so there were no plans for the business to stay in the family. This meant selling the business and moving on. Of course, how and when to sell is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. It goes much further than a financial or practical decision. It’s emotional. But the desire to retire overrode any attachment - and it was time to take the first steps.
Considering an exit planIn 2017, Ruth and Gary took the first steps and invested in formal exit planning via a Myers La Roche Exit360. This service gave them a comprehensive review of their business and provided clarity to enable fully-informed decision making. From strategic recommendations, the couple gained the knowledge to improve the practice. This was a great move for the vendors-to-be, as by actioning our recommendations they grew and added value before they took the steps to sell it.
Direct approach, not so direct successWhen 2018 rolled around, Orriss and Low had received three direct enquiries within three months. They soon accepted one. Great news? Well, although a direct deal can seem sound on the outset, it soon got muddy - and the sale fell through.
Selling to the right purchasers with the same valuesFortunately, in 2020, the couple appointed Myers La Roche to sell their practice. After an unpleasant experience with the direct approach, they had unearthed what mattered to them, and it circled back to their emotional connection with their business. Something the direct sale failed to address.
Keeping this importance at the forefront of our minds, we discovered a potential purchaser with great credentials - an optometrist first-time buyer. With a clear alignment of values, a sale was finalised in four months from offer accepted - completing in January 2021. The purchaser also remarked on the “quick, fuss-free service throughout”.
“We’d heard awful stories of staff being sacked, pay cuts and redundancies. We dreaded that happening to our team.”
“It was important to find the right successor - someone who we wanted to sell it to. Someone like us! We did accept this wasn’t 100 per cent possible but we came pretty close….” - Ruth Low
A considerate change of handsOne of the most important things for Ruth and Gary? Their moral responsibility to their employees and clients, who they cared deeply for. Therefore, we negotiated a post-sale consultancy, which facilitated a smooth changeover period for all involved.
Retirement in clear sightOn summarising their experience, Ruth commented,
“Other colleagues had been through this sales process [with other agents or directly] and had been quite negative about it.
We didn’t feel like that with Myers La Roche.
“They were there to support throughout. Fortunately, Gary and I have a good partnership… so we could talk about the process with each other… but even if you were a single seller, you would be in very supportive hands. Joanne [their sales agent] was always there asking if we were alright with everything.
“In the end, we [both purchaser and vendor] both gained - amicably. There was no commercial bite [that was previously experienced with the direct sale attempt], which is often unpleasant. Our purchaser was great and very easy to work with. Joanne was consistently there to help - and we appreciated working with the same person throughout.”
- Ruth Low