In the usual course of our business we are asked to assist when a sudden disability or death of a health care practitioner/owner has occurred.

The initial reaction and concern from the disabled practitioner, staff, family or advisors is that the practice is going to suffer without the presence of the principal owner and that patients will seek other providers. Most conclude that a business disaster is imminent. Much to their surprise, history proves them all to be incorrect.

Our first advice is to install a professional locum practitioner to attend to the patient needs. This is critical and not to be ignored. As difficult as it may be to accept this advice, it has to be business as usual for the preservation of the practice to assure the staff that their jobs are secure and that all practice financial obligations can be met. A short, temporary closure of 3 to 5 days is understandable and expected but after that the practice must be open for regular business hours at all costs!

And then a very unusual phenomenon begins to reveal itself.

Empathetic goodwill is our descriptor to explain why people go out of their way to show support for the business and the business owner.

Once the initial shock of the tragedy or the situation is absorbed, we often find that the staff begins to show incredible support for the business and they actually go above and beyond the call of duty. This is a natural empathetic response that happens after people adjust to the new norm. A norm where you, the principal, are no longer present.

We also learn that patients may show extra enthusiasm for helping your practice through the tribulations and they respond by honoring appointments.

Once some time has passed, usually about a month, we see that the practice with the support of the staff, the loyalty of the patients, and the aid of a professional locum, is actually doing as well and on some occasions even better than it did under the guidance of the previous owner. Yes, better than when you, the principal, were present!

This phenomenon can be further explained by the fact that people genuinely care and want to help those in need.

The summation of this discussion and this article is to suggest that if something terrible should happen to a business owner, you will be shocked, amazed, and surprised at how their staff’s loyalty and their patients’ support impacts the business in an incredible way. Your practice remains vibrant, productive, and is able to meet its debt and overhead obligations. The long-term result of taking the actions outlined here is that when it becomes necessary to sell the practice, it will have held its true monetary value.

Timothy A. Brown

Timothy A. Brown

CEO of Canada’s largest and longest standing appraisal and brokerage company.

Jackie Joachim

Jackie Joachim

is Chief Operating Office of ROI Corporation, Canada’s national professional practice and brokerage firm. Please contact her at Jackie.joachim@roicorp.com or 1-888-764-4145.