Do your homework.
For Parke and Simpson, the deal between Greek Corner and Bigfish was amiable and healthy. However, Parke has heard stories of M&As gone wrong, and he advises business owners to thoroughly research before signing anything. Parke compares acquiring a business to buying a house: “You may get a signed contract, but it’s not official until the closing date,” he says. At this phase, much is transparent, and the buyer gets a chance to read over the seller’s books, assets and information. “Be diligent in your research,” Parke advises. “A signed contract in business acquisitions is similar to a home inspection in real estate. If you see something you don’t like, it could end the deal.” Assuming everything is as it was advertised, move to the next step: merging assets and employees.
Take a team-based approach.
Parke believes merging office cultures might be the most challenging part of an acquisition. While much of the rest of the process can be handed off to brokers and lawyers, this deals with everyday interpersonal communication. “At Greek Corner, we have shifted some employees between buildings; we’re trying to merge those cultures together so it never feels like ‘us against them,’” Parke says. “We’re trying to get our staff together as often as possible to ensure we’re one team. Develop that culture as soon as you can.”