To merge—or not to merge

To merge—or not to merge

Jul 01, 2006

What are the possible pros and cons of merging two practices?

"Theoretically, mergers make sense," says Lorraine Monheiser List, CPA, MEd, a consultant with Summit Veterinary Advisors, LLC, in Littleton, Colo. "There are several pros that are largely financial. Yet cons, mainly related to staffing issues, deter some owners." Here's more:


  • Lower costs because you can remove duplication of basic equipment and supplies. You could also see price breaks when buying drugs and supplies in larger quantities.
  • Access to better technology. Merged practices can afford to buy—and share—expensive lab or diagnostic equipment.
  • Efficient use of space. If one practice has excess space, merging with a practice that needs space can offset the cost of maintenance. If both are squeezed tight, moving into a larger facility together is less risky than either doing it alone.
  • Reduced need for relief veterinarians.
  • Competitors become compatriots and can offer higher quality services at higher prices.

Lorraine Monheiser List
  • Owners must share control which might be difficult for independent-minded practitioners.
  • Change is hard. Without good planning and effective communication, team members can feel threatened or fearful during the transition.
  • Consolidation. If each practice has a manager, head technician, or receptionist, will the merged practice need both? Who stays and who goes?
  • Mergers can be expensive. Determining the relative value of the practices requires two separate valuations. Plus, you must have well-drafted legal documents.
  • Practice cultures vary. If one owner maintains tight control while the other delegates, then the merged team members may have different expectations.