I had been excited to start my business. I had been ecstatic to sell my business. But now I was just angry. Why would the gym back out of the sale and not tell me? Why would they string me along and waste my time? Why would they let me close my business if they weren’t going to buy it? It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. Now I had no money from the (cancelled) sale and no income. I needed to find a new buyer… fast.
December 2013 – After the initial shock and subsequent anger, I managed to calm down enough to think more clearly about what to do next. I realized that the gym/medical spa’s owner might not agree with the manager’s decision. The owner had been excited to take over my business. I also realized that new managers sometimes try to make a big power move to show their worth and status within the company, and perhaps he was using me to demonstrate his authority to make decisions. But I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my business to help his career. I decided to talk to the owner one last time. He was arrogant, but I always got the impression that he liked and supported me. It was worth a shot!
I recounted my story of unreturned phone calls and disregarded agreements. However, surprisingly (and idiotically), he supported the manager’s decision. Obviously the manager had filled his head with distorted facts that I will never understand. He told me the same unfortunate tale about buying the unknown, cheap machine instead of mine. I knew I would never convince him otherwise, but as a parting note, I added that my asking price for my industry-leading equipment was a fraction of what equipment of that caliber costs new, and it was a great deal. He said (a bit defensively) that I should tell the manager and try to convince him to reconsider. I was so frustrated, I couldn’t speak. All I could do was half-heartedly nod and walk out. I had absolutely no intention of talking to the manager ever again.
Side Note: Shortly after that, I overheard that the manager had purchased a machine for the medical spa from another risky, unknown manufacturer (who promises everything and delivers nothing) only to find out later that the manufacturer went out of business. That means no customer service, no warranty, no maintenance, no replacement parts. They’ll be left with nothing but a very expensive coat rack. I tried to warn him. But it was their loss. I had my own loss to worry about.
All I could do now was look for a new buyer. But in the meantime, one thing was for sure: I was not moving again. I was already in my third location in less than a year (not by choice). Since they wasted my time, I would waste their space and use their medical spa as my free storage facility. Yes, I was bitter (and maybe a little petty).
I found a few outlets to advertise my business for sale, although I was not optimistic. As if things weren’t bad enough already, now it was the holiday time of year, and I didn’t expect that buying a medical spa would be at the top of anyone’s list of priorities. (Yet another reason I was so angry with the medical spa for wasting my time!)
However, much to my surprise, two days after I placed the ads, I got a response! Someone was interested in purchasing my business! The interested party was a local salon owner who was renovating his space to include a medical spa in addition to the salon. It was perfect! As a new medical spa owner, he was happy that I had everything he would need to get started: equipment, furniture, supplies, and even clients. It almost seemed too good to be true… it was a Christmas miracle! (Sorry, that was cheesy, but that’s how I felt.) We spoke on the phone and e-mailed several times while we discussed the possibility of the sale. He assured me that he was very interested in buying my business and would be finishing the renovations and getting financing for the purchase soon. I was so relieved to find another buyer and so pleased to be able to help a fellow new medical spa owner!
In addition to the salon owner, there were several medical equipment dealers and brokers who were interested in purchasing my machines. It was great to have them as an option, however, there were two problems with selling to a dealer or broker: 1) their offers were below market price since they expected to make a profit re-selling the equipment, and 2) they had no interest or ability to take over my clients. I hated closing my business and abandoning my clients. Transferring (i.e. selling) my clients to another business would be a win-win situation for everyone involved. If I had a choice, I wanted to sell the business to a local business owner who was willing and able to pay a fair price for my equipment and clients. But the window of opportunity to capitalize on my client list was closing, and the clock was ticking. I couldn’t keep the clients waiting much longer.
I let the salon owner know that I was getting other offers as well. He reassured me that he was still very interested. To prove that he was serious, he wanted me to visit his salon and see his renovations. He asked (i.e. begged) me to meet with him in person, which I ultimately, reluctantly agreed to. (I’m skeptical about people wasting my time now. For some reason. Weird.) The salon was located in a very nice area, but my first impression was not good. It was very small, cheaply decorated, and outdated (wood-paneling… seriously). I wondered how he expected to charge medical spa prices in a discount salon setting. However, we spoke for nearly two hours, and by the end of the meeting, he had me convinced. He had a great business plan, great renovation plans, and a great outlook for the future of his business. Business-wise, he was prepared. He was not prepared for the medical spa aspect, however. He had a lot of questions for me about pricing, services, equipment, procedures, training, etc. I felt like I had been summoned there to conduct an impromptu business seminar, but I was happy to impart on him the knowledge I had gained and pass the theoretical medical spa torch on to a new business owner.
After our meeting, he sent me a message to thank me for coming by and asked (i.e. begged) me not to sell to anyone else. He expected to have the funds to complete the purchase in two weeks and stated that he would pay more than the other offers I received. I believed in him and his vision for the future of his business, and I was happy that he could take over my clients. I agreed to wait the additional two weeks.
His deadline came and went. I tried to contact him. No response. Was this a flashback, or was this really happening again? I’d already been burned once by someone who lacked the decency to return a phone call, and I wasn’t going to let it happen again. I sent him a message and set a deadline one week away. If he really wanted to buy my business, he would have to prove it by making a down payment within the week. I would wait no longer. I heard nothing for five days. Then I received a jolting message: He declared that the price was too high, and I was trying to swindle him; he balked at the mention of signing a contract; and he rudely proclaimed that I had paid too much to start up my business. What?! We had discussed and negotiated the terms of the sale many times and had come to an agreement. That was so insulting, especially after I had given up my time to tutor him on the medical spa industry for free. Most companies charge hefty fees for training. I was trying to help him, not deceive him. But I still didn’t want to lose the sale. I calmly responded that the price was a fair market price, and there were many resources where that could be verified. I never heard from him again. Seriously?! It really was happening again. There were no words… except anger. That’s a word.
Another word was why. Why did he waste a month of my time if he wasn’t really serious? Why did he continually beg me to sell to him and not accept other offers? Why did he originally agree to the price? Could he not get financing for the purchase and took his frustrations out on me? This was the second time someone backed out of the sale after we had come to an agreement. Why did this keep happening?! Once again, all he had to do was tell me! And once again, I’m screwed. If this is how people were in this city, I wanted nothing to do with it. I couldn’t wait to sell the business, so I could get away from this foreign land of thoughtless sociopaths. (That might have been the anger talking.)
The other offers I received to purchase my business were from equipment dealers or brokers, which meant I would have to settle for a below-market price and wouldn’t be able to transfer (or sell) my clients. I might have to choose the best of the bad options.
However, in the midst of the deadline showdown with the salon owner, I got a very unexpected text message, “Did you sell your equipment yet? We might be interested.” It was from none other than the incompetent medical spa manager who had refused to return my calls and messages the month before and ultimately backed out of the sale. Now he was contacting me?! He didn’t deserve my business. Unfortunately, I probably needed him more than he needed me. I might have to set aside my pride and detest for him and try to work with him again. Ugh…
Month 13: Money at Risk – Half my Life Savings
Months with No Income – 1
Failed Sale Agreements – 2