If you are purchasing an existing business to add into your own, you are taking a step that involves a lot of terrific potential but also a lot of risk. In truth, a considerable portion of company mergers fail.
But there is a lot to you can do to tilt those odds more in your favor. They are all part of the business alchemy known as Acquisition Integration. Let’s take a look at a couple of the key elements of integration success to familiarize and equip you.
The single-most important step that you can take to make business acquisition succeed is this:
Acknowledge the fact that merging two companies is not the same as running two companies… or even running one big company.
If you accept that premise, you will approach the integration process with more awareness and more thoroughness and you will be much more likely to succeed. Period!
Why is that so? Because running a company is largely about maintaining and optimizing existing systems. Merging two companies is about changing them.
There is no project that will affect more corners of your company, more of your staff, and more of your outside stakeholders than a merger. None. So the odds are that something somewhere will go wrong if you don’t play the integration game mindfully.
Here are ten useful tidbits to get you started on the road to properly integrating your next acquisition:
- Never ever lose sight of the strategic rationale for the acquisition. “Why are we doing this deal?” Tattoo that question on the back of your right hand.
- Start the integration at the strategic planning phase of your deal process and keep it going much longer than would seem necessary. It affects everything and its stumbling blocks can be very subtle.
- Appoint a special team to manage the integration process. Treat them as the biggest value creation opportunity that your company has. Put one person in charge who, if at all possible, has no other “day job.”
- Err heavily on the side of over-communicating. The time to guard secrets is not when your company’s work environment is at its most turbulent and uncertain.
- Go fast. Make decisions as quickly as possible. Think well ahead and wait only for good information, not perfect.
- Speed and communication are particularly important when dealing with people, i.e., your staff, your customers, your investors, your suppliers. People worry, assets don’t.
- Financial and legal matters represent only the tiniest fraction of effective due diligence. “How is this actually going to work?” Tattoo that question on the back of your left hand.
- A short due diligence checklist that is based firmly on strategic rationale and achieving operational excellence AND is prioritized is way better than a gigantic list of random pretty-good things to do.
- Target a few key metrics to measure your progress against your strategic objectives and share that progress regularly around the combined companies.
- Identify a couple of “quick wins” that can be used to reinforce to all your stakeholders the intent and the benefits of the business acquisition.
It is entirely possible to tilt the bad odds of acquisition history in your favor with effective integration. It will cost money and time but is a proven tipping point in the value creation art of doing deals.
Douglas Yorke is Managing Partner of Rumson Acquisitions. He created Rumson Acquisitions to help smaller and less frequent acquirers realize the value of their corporate development investments by providing acquisition preparedness, integration expertise and ongoing integration management services for deals ranging in size from $3-30 million. You may follow Mr. Yorke’s commentary on acquisition integration at http://mergerverger.com.
A Neumann & Associates, LLC is a professional merger & acquisition and business brokerage firm with 30 years of experience in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia that assists business owners and investors with the business transfer process in a completely confidential manner. The company covers the entire Northeast US market, has representations from NY state to VA state, and has access to a 50 office national network of qualified investors and sellers. For more information, please contact A Neumann & Associates at 732-872-6777.