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How to pick your pharmacy transition team’s lead advisor

If you are planning to exit your pharmacy business, you need a good team of advisors on your side. It should include an accountant, a corporate lawyer, a tax expert and a financial advisor, but the single most important member is the team lead – a “quarterback” who will ensure the players are working together and who will represent your interests from start to finish.

What qualities should you look for in this vital member of your team?

They should have an intimate knowledge of the pharmacy industry.
Ideally, your team lead will understand the pharmacy business as well – if not better – than you do. You need to be able to trust them, and shared knowledge and experience can go a lot way toward building that trust. Beyond that, they should be armed with objective knowledge, such as recent and similar prior transaction data. Being a previous owner – and having sold their own pharmacy – is a welcome bonus.

They should have extensive experience in many pharmacy sale transactions.
The reasons for this are self-evident, but you might be surprised by how many self-styled “experts” have little specific experience in assisting pharmacist-owners.

They should be qualified.
Credentials are good – an MBA and/or certification in valuation or negotiating – but even more important are soft skills, especially the ability to actively listen. Advisors with a background in corporate law, financial accounting and tax are assets.

They should have the infrastructure to support you effectively.
One aspect of infrastructure is technical: your team lead should have the IT to process and protect your information, including a secure data room built for the M&A process. Another aspect is human: the lead should have a backup who is aware of the ongoing process and can step in at any point – for instance, in the case of vacation or illness.

They should represent you and only you.
Your team lead is looking out for your interests, not the interests of the buyer, and it is important that they act as your fiduciary and are not accepting payment in any form from the buy-side. (This can and does happen regularly in transactions) The quarterback should never be willing to cross any legal or ethical lines in representing you and, furthermore, should disclose potential conflicts of interest.

Finally, your team lead should be methodical, thorough, and detail-oriented.
Your quarterback should give you every confidence that their level of sophistication is on par with that of your potential buyers. They should be armed with an evidence-based valuation of your business before opening for sale. They should be able to describe several approaches to the sale process and describe the pros and cons of each of them.

In short, do your homework. You should be confident that the potential benefits of your team lead’s guidance will outweigh the cost of hiring them. Remember: in the inherently adversarial dynamic of selling a business, the side with the most information – and the best preparation – wins.

Next: How to choose a lawyer for your transition team.


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