Finding the Right Practice
How did Dr. Feola arrive at her enthusiastic decision to take on the responsibility of owning her own practice? Dr. Feola says that when she came to Dr. Coomb’s office, she wasn’t looking to purchase a practice. She was first hired for a short-term position.
When Dr. Feola arrived, Dr. Coombs had been looking to sell, and his progress was stalled. He tells a story of encountering many difficulties in his search to find someone to buy his practice. “I started the process of gathering data and making information available about my practice in 2014,” says Dr. Coombs. “During that process, along came a small group of pediatricians and we began some discussions. Most of that year I was talking with them, and it looked like I was going to sell. It came down to pretty much the last day before we were going to close, and they backed out. It was more than they thought they could handle. I had a pretty big practice. I don’t think they realized that they’d have to supervise my nurse practitioners. At the time I had seven nurse practitioners working for me. They backed out, and I was crestfallen.”
Dr. Feola’s transition period seemed to align perfectly with Dr. Coombs’. She explains her motivations for considering a change. “I was in a transition in my career,” she says. “I had been working as a pediatric director for a multi-site clinic organization, overseeing 10 employee-based offices. After four years I decided I wanted to move on, and was looking to get back into primary care. I actually saw an ad in the AAP Utah chapter newsletter that Dr. Coombs had posted, seeking part-time help at his office. I thought I’d work for him part-time while I figured things out.”
Dr. Feola’s subsequent purchase of the practice was unrelated to her initial position in Bountiful. In fact, the opportunity took her by surprise. “Dr. Coombs and I connected right away,” she explains. “I developed a great rapport with patients and with the staff. Pretty shortly after, he came up to me and said: ‘I think you should buy my practice.’ I told him: ‘Thank you for the vote of confidence; I wasn’t even considering buying your practice. Let me think about it.’”
Dr. Coombs’ success in selling his practice was influenced by outreach and marketing, but more so, his success resulted from the strong working relationship he built with Dr. Feola. For Dr. Feola, the spontaneous opportunity seemed too good to pass up. “There aren’t a lot of instances where an up-and-thriving practice comes up for sale,” says Dr. Feola. “It was an opportunity that I really wanted to consider. I thought about where I was in my career, and about my family, and decided that this was an opportunity that wouldn’t necessarily come up again.”
Before taking over the practice, Dr. Feola wanted to thoroughly understand Dr. Coombs’ business. And Dr. Coombs was ready to help her. “I told Dr. Coombs I wanted to do some due diligence and get an assessment of the office,” says Dr. Feola. “He told me, whatever you need, I’ll help make it happen.”
Open access to information prior to her purchase was an essential component of Dr. Feola’s decision. She speaks highly of Dr. Coombs’ graciousness in allowing her access to “the office manager, the billing director, the accountant, anyone and everyone.” Dr. Feola also hired external evaluators to assess the practice. “Dr. Coombs opened all of his books and made his time available to help me feel comfortable with my decision,” she says.