Once you know you know you’re ready to sell the agency, you’re likely to have a lot of questions about what to do next. Keeping customer and employee morale up during this time period isn’t going to be easy to do, which can make managing the office a nightmare. There are ways to soften the blow and cushion the landing so that current business isn’t (as) affected by the sales process. It may take a little finesse and understanding, but it is entirely possible.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
As difficult as it may be for certain people to hear about the sale, it’s usually a smart move to be upfront with employees as soon as possible. Letting people adjust their expectations can be the key to reducing hurt feelings and subverted expectations. But even if this sale is strictly business to you, it’s still good to consider the needs of the people who work at the agency. You’ll probably still need their cooperation when it comes to all the changes coming down the pipeline. Your CFO or finance director should be kept fully in the loop so they can help you organize the financials before the sale. And for goodness sakes, start pulling back from the office as much as possible to really drive the point home. Your employees will need to get used to you not being there (and you need to do the same!)
Update Your Exit Strategy
Once you have a firm offer on the table, you should update your exit strategy. The more specific it is, the more likely it is that everything will be followed according to plan. Even if you haven’t had an offer, you may want to start digging into the current document. Businesses can change a lot in even a few months, so there may be clauses or directions that are no longer relevant to how the company is structured now. This is also one of the best ways to preserve the company culture that you’ve no doubt worked so hard to build. The buyer obviously wants your company for a reason, so it’s important to stay true to your principles even as you get ready to start the next chapter of your life.
If it’s difficult for your employees to keep up with customer demand on a normal day, then it’s not going to get any easier during the sales process. Whether the majority of the customers are going to be kept by the current staff or they’re going to be mixed and matched with other employees, the stress can make it difficult to be a customer during a sales period. Your business isn’t going to be worth as much to the buyer if you devalue your current relationships as you get ready to hand over the company. Part of this problem can be solved when you overestimate the amount of work it’s going to take to keep the business going during a sale. Talk to employees about what’s going to change, and how you’re working to alleviate the pressure for them as much as possible. You may even want to ask for their suggestions (just make sure you implement them too!)
A consultant won’t be able to solve all of an agency’s problems during a sale, but they can take care of thousands of tiny details that would otherwise fall on an owner and their staff. Even one mistake can kill a deal or land an owner in a lengthy litigation case that could have easily be avoided. Agency Brokerage Consultants has handled countless agency sales, and we’ve seen how often owners falter under the weight of trying to keep their business going in the middle of the sale. Let us step in to give advice, handle financial questions, and square away personnel matters. We offer a fresh eye and unbiased opinions — both of which are invaluable during an emotional transition. We oversee it all so you can concentrate right up to the moment the ink has finally dried.