Showing Your Business to a Buyer for the First Time
Like most things in life, when presenting your business to prospective buyers, making a good first impression matters. The image that you present to potential buyers comes to them in many ways as you will be revealing your business to them incrementally while you, in turn, learn more about them and their veracity as a buyer.
Update Your Business’s Online Presence
The very first thing that a prospective buyer is likely to do will be to research you and your business online. So it pays to make sure that your website is up to date and fully functional well ahead of your listing. Check to make sure that all links are active. A website that isn’t informative and user friendly doesn’t speak well for the business it represents.
Be aware that a savvy buyer will go beyond looking at your website to check out your social media sites as well as to Google you and your business. Go through all your sites, and take the time to Google both your name and your business name so that you can edit anything that may seem unbusinesslike in advance. You want your business’s online presence to create a strong first impression for you.
Prepare for Your Initial Buyer Meeting
After you’ve determined that a potential buyer may be a good prospect, but before you reveal the identity of your business, set up a meeting with the buyer and his or her professional advisor in your broker, accountant, or attorney’s office. This not only gives you a chance to find out more about the buyer’s interest and ability to follow through with the sale, it also provides you with an opportunity to present yourself, and by association, your business to the buyer in a positive light.
Be courteous and respectful in all your dealings with prospective buyers. Respond promptly to their calls and show up to meetings professionally dressed and on time. Looking at the sale from their point of view, address their concerns, and be prepared to answer any questions about the business included in the selling memo. In addition, be prepared to share how the business valuation was determined and how you arrived at your asking price. At the same time, ask the buyer questions and get to know them. This meeting provides the time for you and the potential buyer to learn more about each other in order to establish if you’d both like to move forward with the sale process. Go over your sale timeline and selling memo summary at this time so you can gauge each other’s confidence in the sale. If either of you don’t feel comfortable at this point, this is the time to part ways.
Presenting Your Business to Buyers
Before you offer a physical tour of your business, you’ll want to take some steps in order to present it in its best light. Remember that this is yet another first impression for your prospective buyer.
- Tidy the place up. Try to look at your business through fresh eyes to note any areas that may need cleaning, painting or repair. Buyers appreciate a business that looks like a clean, well-oiled machine which they can envision themselves transitioning into easily, so it pays to take the time to clean up clutter and obsolete equipment before your first showing.
- Clear out old stock. A business stocked with popular, fast-moving items appears fresh and active. Clearing out old inventory will not only improve sales figures, it will also mitigate disputes about old inventory when it’s time to sell. This is also a great opportunity to clear out old, slow moving items.
- Prepare your workforce. Potential buyers will look beyond your building and equipment to the people involved in your business. Demonstrating that you’ve built up a solid workforce with staying power who may be willing to stick with the company through the transition adds an extra incentive to prospective buyers.
- Review all commercial leases. You’ll want to contact your landlord in advance to review your property lease and determine if it can be easily transferred to a new owner. A deal can fall through quickly if the landlord is not notified ahead of time and a new owner/tenant does not meet certain lease requirements.
Preparing in advance to present yourself, your online presence, and the physical aspects of your business, in addition to having your financials in order, allows you to offer your business as a tidy and enticing package to prospective buyers. It may even increase your asking price, while allowing you to relax and rest assured that your business is well represented while you negotiate your sale.