Deciding to leave your financial practice to a new set of hands is not a simple task. The process can be tedious, and it may take months or even years to transition a book of business from one owner to another. Although statistically, almost half of all acquisitions fail, success is possible with the proper planning techniques ¹. The following steps can help you start planning for a pain-free succession.
Whether you are getting ready to retire or move out of the industry, selling the practice you worked so hard to build is no easy process. Are you truly ready to turn your business over to someone new? Do you know when exactly you plan to retire?
If you are not sure about leaving the business entirely, consider staying on part-time to help the buyer transition into ownership. This not only helps you steadily ease into retirement, but it also improves customer retention, lowering the buyer’s risk and increasing the value of your practice.
Studies show that buyers prefer practices in which most revenue comes from fees ². If you need to implement any changes to make your practice more appealing, now is the time.
While there is no such thing as the ‘perfect match,’ having an idea of exactly what you are looking for makes it easier to locate someone who fits the mold.
Over the years you built trust, loyalty and most importantly, relationships with your customers. They will most likely respond well to someone who shares your values. Look for a buyer that you would not only trust to run your business, but to establish the same kind of relationships you have with your customers.
Similarly, think about your vision and how it has shaped your business. Are you a small, referral-only practice that caters to a few customers, or is your business growing more and more each year? If you would like to see your practice continue moving along the course you set for it, try to find someone whose professional vision aligns with your own.
Once you have located the ideal successor after narrowing your search either by yourself or with the help of an acquisition specialist, it is time to work out the details and develop a structured plan that works for both of your finances, schedules and needs.
Have you determined exactly how much your business is worth? Often, it is difficult to put a price tag on something so dear to you, and emotional attachment can cloud your judgment. A professional acquisition specialist will give business valuations; sometimes, at no cost.
Utilizing a professional as a resource can alleviate some emotional stress. While the burden of due diligence is perceived to reside with the buyer, sellers have just as much responsibility to scrub their records and present all relevant information.
However, before opening your financial records to a buyer, request a down payment to ensure they are truly committed to the transaction. Conduct thorough audit checks on the potential buyer as well, checking they possess the proper licenses and registrations required to work with your customers.
Sit down with your acquisition specialist and devise a clear-cut integration plan including customer acclimation and record-keeping. Once the buyer takes control of the practice, customer retention is crucial.
The seller should accompany the buyer to the first few meetings with each customer to help familiarize them and alleviate any concerns the customers may have, increasing customer retention and the value of your practice. Keep record of all payments, meetings and finished tasks to use as reference once the transition is complete.
With the proper timing and resources, successions can go smoothly, amiably and at your own pace. If you have any further questions about acquisition or succession planning or to schedule a free valuation, contact Prestige Acquisitions at 888-527-5871 or submit an inquiry online.
1. Price, J. (2012, Oct 26). “6 Reasons Why So Many Acquisitions Fail” Business Insider. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-acquisitions-fail-2012-10
2. Fazzi, R. (2001, May 1). “What’s Your Practice Worth?” Financial Advisor. Retrieved from: http://www.fa-mag.com/news/article-333.html