Believe it or not, some business owners will take a qualified buyer’s visit too
lightly to the point where they only see it as a quick meet-and-greet before pushing him or her out
the door that he or she came in. This cannot be stressed that a buyer visit has to be taken very seriously for a number of reasons if you want to move closer to a deal and check.
A visit from a buyer is an opportunity for him or her to
meet not only with you but with your management team as well as tour the
company’s offices and other facilities. In most cases, a rigorous exchange of
information occurs that will determine the viability of a sale or acquisition.
The buyer will ask you specific and in depth questions about
your business to determine what are the benefits and risks. He or she will
want to know if there are any signs of financial distress or legal liabilities
that could result in killing the transaction. If the buyer is experienced, he
or she will study how closely the physical space and operations match your
reported numbers and description of the company. It is imperative then that you
communicate the pros and cons before they walk through the door because they
could just as well leave as quickly when or if they do.
There are other issues that you will need to take into
consideration such as the possibility that key staff and customers may not
continue to remain after the acquisition is complete. The buyer will look for
potential opportunities to turn weakness around for greater profits such as a
company that may have an understaffed marketing department and bring in a
strong team to help raise the market position.
On the other end, you should be asking questions to make
sure that the buyer has the financing to even proceed. Learn more about his or
her motivations and how your business fits into his or her strategic plans.
Remember, you know your company better than anybody else, so you should be
asking questions that will help put your mind at ease, knowing that the
business that you’ve spent blood, sweat and tears on will be in good hands.
Finally, be sure to assemble current financial statements
and other essential documents pertaining to accounts receivable, working
capital, cost of goods sold, inventory turns and earnings, vendor payment
terms, employee benefits, marketing strategies, training techniques, and
billing and collection procedures that will help better understand your
business’ complete picture.
You should be showing the buyer that you’ve
solidified relationships with key customers and suppliers, successfully negotiated
leases for facilities and equipment, and documented and safeguarded any proprietary
processes or patents. And last but not least, keep your business visually
appealing by cleaning up, organizing and painting the facilities as well as
repair or replace equipment if necessary.