- Have the Seller stay on after the sale. The Seller can serve as an advisor or consultant for a pre-arranged period of time. This can add some much-needed stability during the transitional period.
- Start with minor changes. Customers will react unfavorably to big changes. Therefore, at the beginning, less is more. Make minor changes and pay attention to your customers' initial reactions.
- Meet your employees. If you are buying a small business, take the time to sit down with the people who work for the company and are now under your guidance.
- Boost employee morale. Pay close attention to the morale of the current employees. It's inevitable that some employees will be worried about the security of their jobs. Do whatever you can to maintain and even boost employee morale.
- Ask lots of questions and take notes. Let the Seller and the staff teach you how to run the business. You can implement new procedures, but before doing so, make sure you know how things are currently done. Only then can you make informed decisions on changing business procedures.
- Maintain current record keeping-procedures. It’s important to keep the paper trail in place. Do your best to ensure that employee records, purchasing policies, invoices, payroll, taxes, and all other paperwork remain on schedule through the transition.
- Review customer service policies. Customers are used to having issues handled in a certain manner. Review the policies and maintain them for the first few months. After the transition is complete, amend them as necessary.
- Meet the vendors. If the business is large and there are many vendors, you may not be able to meet each and every one. However, interview the Seller about each vendor and try to make contact with all of them.
- Familiarize yourself with your new technology. While meeting the people behin d the business and learning the procedures is important, you must also learn as much as you can about the technology that supports the business. You need to familiarize yourself with software programs and learn about their shortcomings. Learn what has gone wrong and how the technical staff (or individual) has handled such problems.
- Do something nice for your customers. You don’t have to do this right away, but once you are comfortable running the business, offer some type of special offer, have a promotional giveaway, or do something special for your customers. This will help create goodwill with your customer base.
We have sold a number of businesses over the last 5 years. Regardless of the size of the business it is seldom a smooth transition. After all, buying a business is a complicated process. When you buy a business, ensuring the seller is focused on operating the business as usual to his/her last day of ownership should be your top priority as drastic drop in sales and/or lost of key staff are detrimental to the business and hence is best avoided. There are plenty to do prior to the formal change of ownership and there are a lot more after you take over the business. Below are ten tips that you can adopt to try and achieve a smooth transition.