Acquisition – Are You Ready for It?

Selling your business is not that different from selling your house. The home shows on television give all kinds of tips about preparing your house to get the best offer. Here are three things you can do to get a better offer for your company.

1. Curb appeal is important. You probably don’t stop at a restaurant that looks dirty and poorly maintained. You pass by service stations that look dirty and have visible maintenance issues. If you were buying a house, there would be many you would just drive by based on their lack of curb appeal. The same rule applies to a business. If it’s a mess on the outside, people assume the worst about the inside. Your outside is not just your building. It’s your reputation, your website, how you answer your phone, – in short, every face that you show a potential customer. Your potential buyers are looking at every way that you communicate value or lack of value before they even come into your building. Be sure that they see value from the outside to get them inside.

2. Up to date equipment is essential. If you go into a restaurant and can see ancient equipment and hear the employees telling customers that they can’t make a milk shake because the machine is broken or they don’t have waffles today because the waffle iron broke, what does that tell you about the restaurant? If you’re looking at a home, and the kitchen and bathrooms are seriously out of date, you can tell at a glance that there is work for you to do. The same rule applies to a business. If you go out on a shop floor and see equipment that is obviously not being used but taking up floor space, you can definitely assume the worst about the things that aren’t immediately visible. Can you find current preventive maintenance manuals for your equipment?

3. Neatness counts in the organization. If you’re on a shop floor and you can see tools in odd places, inventory piling up, or just plain clutter, you have to wonder about what you can’t see. If people aren’t taking care of the little things, do you think your buyer will believe they’re taking care of the bigger, much more costly issues? What does your inventory area look like? Can you find a specific part if you try? Will your potential buyers be able to ask for a part and see a quick response from your employees or will they discover a lack of inventory accuracy? Is your documentation where it should be? Are people following clearly defined standards and procedures? Do people know where things are supposed to be kept and make sure they’re in their proper place?

Conclusion: Relevant, clear, concise communication of your expectations to your employees sets the stage for your exit plan. Making sure that they know, from the webmaster and the line worker to your top managers, how you expect your business to be seen will make the difference in your return on the investment you’ve made when you’re ready to move on to your next venture.