It's a fair question. Often buyers get deeply immersed in the buying process: the search, the negotiations, and the financing and quickly neglect the purpose of the end result. Then when the sale closes, the buyer must shift gears quickly and may not feel fully prepared to dive into their newly acquired business.
To get you started here are some things to consider following the successful purchase of your business:
Employees. In most cases, you can rely on the employee's efforts to continue to get work done, as well as their institutional knowledge of how the business actually works. However, this is not the time to isolate yourself in your office and let the employees operate on autopilot. They will have questions for you! It is imperative that you make yourself available to them to provide answers, reassurance and to begin to develop a solid relationship. Consider doing a joint announcement, along with the current owner, to the group. It may also be worthwhile to arrange one-on-one meetings with key employees to address their specific concerns. It is important to inspirit your employees, but especially the key players, that you value their contributions to the business.
Customers. The positive handling of this group is critical to keeping them as continued and ongoing customers. It would behoove you to identify top customers and make their satisfaction a priority. If the situation allows, it would be great to have the outgoing owner provide a personal introduction to the top customers. They will want to know that their needs will be handled as well, if not better than in the past. And often times building a strong relationship with them will mean good reviews early on during the transition period from old management to new management - creating word of mouth referrals etc.
Financial Services. Keeping your bank and credit card processor in the loop is critical during this transitional time in the life of your business. At a minimum, you will need to have a new business checking account established and ready on Day One (And don't forget to order checks)! Starting with your financial basics available will give you the ability to pay your bills and your employees in a timely fashion, both of which are integral to daily operation. It will also be important to route credit card payments to your new bank account to stifle issues before they occur.
Accountant/Payroll Service. Consider continuing with the seller's accountant and payroll service because this will make the handoff much simpler. Even if you anticipate making a change down the road, preserving the status quo in the short term is often the best course for stability. You will be managing many other changes that simply can't wait, so lightening your workload as much as possible is a great idea. Fumbling on your first payroll or tax filing would be deadly! My advice is to give the current relationships some time to see how they work for you and reevaluate once the situation has settled and decide then if you want to explore alternatives.
Taking over a new to you business can be just as overwhelming as it sounds, but you don't have to go it alone. At Transworld, we have a network of trusted service partners who can assist you in making your new business a success. Your Transworld broker will be happy to introduce you to these service providers whenever you are ready! To speak to one of our team members about buying a business, schedule a consultation today!
Ross Haymes is a Business Broker at Transworld. He draws on his decades of experience in corporate finance and entrepreneurship to guide buyers and sellers toward their goals. During his 20-year career with NYSE-listed Burlington Industries, Ross served as an economist before becoming Investor Relations Director. Upon retirement, Ross realized his own dream of becoming a small business owner. In his role at Transworld, he works directly with business owners to orchestrate, step-by-step, the buying, selling, and growth of their companies.