How to Try Before You Buy!
While the due diligence process helps you to gain a better understanding of a business you may wish to buy, too often the experience can still leave you feeling much like an outsider.
So if additional insights can help you make the right decision about whether to make a purchase, here are some ways you can ‘try out’ a prospective business.
Making a retail purchase or having a consumer exchange with a business for sale gives you a golden opportunity to experience everything about the outfit from a client’s perspective.
You can learn a lot about the correlation between staff and corporate attitudes to customer care. And likewise, you will also gain a clearer understanding of the company’s workflow practices and be able to make some well-informed judgements about their quality of service.
Hopefully, there will be a lot you like and will definitely want to keep – and your encounter with the business as a customer could well be one thing that finally persuades you to go ahead and finalise the deal.
The experience might also reveal some aspects of the business you won’t be so keen on should you then become the owner.
There will be some features you would certainly wish to change or improve – in which case your undercover persona will have provided you with all the data you need to carry out the necessary reforms once you have completed the deal and assumed control of the business.
Check out your business rivals
Building on your accumulating expertise as a secret shopper, you can complete much the same exercise by also approaching your main competitors in the guise of a customer.
This should preferably be done after your shopper contact with the business for sale. By then, not only will you already have some things you will want to look out for, you will also find it quicker and easier to make meaningful comparisons when you come across things which are done differently.
And remember that as a customer you have every right to ask a whole series of ancillary questions about each business and its products.
You will, of course, be anxious to gauge whether or not each competitor is further ahead of the game. More importantly, your customer role will help you to understand some of the features which are likely to be giving them a specific competitive advantage.
As a result, you should be able to gather a list of what they are doing, or not doing, which could cause problems for your potential business in the future. In addition, your approach should also help you assess each rival’s business reputation and note how well it compares with the standing of the enterprise you may be seeking to buy.
Get to work!
If you are impressed by what you have seen after some preliminary due diligence, it does no harm at all to then spend some time getting to know the working environment further.
It is a rare occurrence for a business vendor to allow you to work temporarily for the business, as staff are usually unaware of a sale and this can have a danger of exposure before the seller is ready to divulge this information to their staff.
If this is the case, working for a similar business will give you a real feel for what the day to day running of the business is like.
In an ideal world, you would want to experience different roles within the company at several levels. However, any opportunity to explore the everyday working environment will prove extremely valuable.
So, whether you’re actually working or just shadowing various tasks, this kind of immersion is sure to give you some immensely detailed ‘insider’ feedback about the sector and offer you a real chance to form your opinions on working within it.
By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.