Customers are at the heart of your business so it is important to consider how the sales process could affect them. In order to get the best price for your business, you need to show potential buyers that you have a loyal customer base who will stick with them. You must also reassure these customers that they will continue to enjoy the same level of service under the new owner.
The importance of good customer service
Good customer service is essential for a successful business. Customers who feel valued will want to return the favour by leaving good reviews online or telling friends and family about you. Customer service is what brings people in through word of mouth and then keeps them coming back for more. The relationships you build and the impact you have on your customers can also be a big part of what makes running a business worthwhile.
When it’s time to move on, these relationships and the reputation you have built up in the community can make your business highly attractive to potential new owners. It is one of the main reasons to buy an existing business rather than starting up a new one. Working with a local business broker is the best way to ensure that your reputation and links to the community are correctly valued and highlighted to potential buyers. Your broker can also ensure a smooth transition when you find the right buyer.
Keeping customers happy during handover
Selling the business will mean big changes for you, but with the right preparation it shouldn’t cause any problems for your customers. The best way to achieve this is to plan a gradual handover so that the new owner can take over your role as you step back.
An effective handover plan should include four key stages:
1. Sharing knowledge: write down everything the new owner needs to know about the business, including passwords, customer and supplier contacts, instructions for equipment, details of your marketing plan, and a step by step guide to what you do each day, month, or year. Letting the buyer shadow you at work can also give them a good sense of how you run things.
2. Training: show the new buyer how things are done and let them complete tasks under your supervision. You’ll be there to guide them and add any details that were missed out of your written advice. You can introduce the new owner to your customers and highlight any services that help you to maintain good relationships, such as providing reminders to regular customers or identifying individuals who need extra assistance accessing or using your business.
3. Handover: the new buyer should gradually take on your responsibilities. You don’t need to supervise directly, but you should still be on hand to answer any questions. By the end of this phase, the buyer should be ready to take charge. Your regular customers should now be familiar with the new owner and they should have all the skills and knowledge needed to provide continuity.
4. Support: make yourself available to answer questions or provide assistance after the handover, if necessary.
How long these stages take and how much support you need to provide along the way will depend on the scale of the business and the needs of the new owner. An experienced broker can get to know your business and then provide tailored advice on the best timescale and approach for the handover. At Business Partnership, we match businesses with the right buyers and provide support throughout the sales process to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Entrusting your customers to a new business owner can be difficult, especially if you’ve spent years building these relationships. However, it is important to remember that this won’t be an ending for your customers. A carefully-handled transition should enable the new owner to step in and offer the same level of service, preventing any disruption for your customers or damage to the brand.
Contact your nearest partner here to discuss selling your business.